Baseball Oddities Aug. 2020

HADDIX: This season is an odd one and one factor contributing to that is the fact that double headers are only scheduled to go seven innings. One rule pertaining to that has it that if a pitcher throws no-hit ball through a seven inning complete game, it counts as a no-hitter.

Meanwhile, and this always bugs me, Harvey Haddix throws not just a no-hitter through 12 innings, but a PERFECT game and, due to an inane rule change, while that outing had been recognized as a perfect game (easily arguable as the greatest game ever pitched), it is no longer on the list of recognized no-hit games.

GREENBERG: Slugger Hank Greenberg had already reached the 100 RBI mark by, get this, the All-Star break one year, 1935. He had accumulated an incredible 103 RBI (of the 170 he’d end up with), and he did that in just 76 games which is almost exactly half a season as they played 154-game schedules back then.

The next closest to Greenberg for ribbies by the break was Juan Gonzalez with 101 in ’98, the year he concluded the season with 157 RBI. However, as an ESPN article reminded us, his career and his feats were under a cloud of suspicion of PED use. “A piece of Juan’s luggage was also snared at the Cleveland airport after he left Texas because it contained PEDs and steroid paraphernalia. It was claimed by one of Gonzalez’s associates and Juan disavowed any knowledge of the contraband . . .” Greenberg’s feat was more special than what Gonzalez did, too, because the break comes at different points each year and, as mentioned, Gonzalez had a dozen more games to reach his 100+ RBI total than Greenberg did.

A SHOCKER: Despite being on a tear by the break, the 24-year-old Greenberg was NOT on that year’s All-Star squad. Back then he was playing first base, not the outfield as would later be the case, and two other first basemen were chosen instead of Greenberg even though, get this–his own manager selected the All-Star squad! The two first basemen weren’t too shabby: Lou Gehrig who played the entire game at first and Jimmie Foxx who played almost the whole game but did so out of position as the starting third baseman. Here’s a link to an article with some more info on the Greenberg snub. Hank had to be thinking, “What do I have to do to make this team?! 103 runs driven in isn’t enough?!” In addition to all his ribbies, he hit .317 up to the break, had 101 hits, and 55 extra base hits including 25 HR; and his OPS was a lofty 1.062!

Back then, things were much different than what we see today in All-Star play. For example, in ’35, the A.L. team used only 11 position players for the entire contest. They also used just two pitchers, Lefty Gomez for six innings (another huge difference between then and now) and Mel Harder for three innings.

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