Friday, May 10, 2013

The sport that evokes more nostalgia among Americans than any other is baseball. So many people play the game as children (or play its close relative, softball) that it has become known as “the national pastime.” It is also a democratic game. Unlike football and basketball, baseball can be played well by people of average height and weight. Although the rules remain the same, baseball is a far different game than it was at its inception.
It may not be the most popular sport anymore at this time, but there is something about baseball that always captivates, said Jimm Hendren, the ultimate fan of baseball.
Here are 10 interesting things baseball fans might appreciate.

#1 Fact: Jimmy Piersall celebrated his 100th home run by running the bases backwards.
Jimmy Piresall was eccentric to say the least; his life became the basis for the book & movie Fear Strikes Out, which chronicles his battle with bipolar disorder.
Some of Piersall’s stunts include, walking up to bat wearing a Beatles wig, talking to the monument of Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium, and climbing a grandstand roof to heckle an umpire.
The grandaddy of all his stunts occurred while playing for the Mets; in the fifth inning of a game against the Phillies, Piersall hit the 100th home run of his career, and promptly ran the bases in correct order…just facing backwards.
Needless to say, Mets manager Casey Stengel was not amused; Piersall was quickly given the pink slip.

#2 Fact: Don Baylor played in three straight World Series….for three different teams.
Don Baylor was a world-class manager and a very good player for a number of teams, winning the MVP in 1979 and three silver slugger awards. Baylor is regarded as one of the most underrated players of all-time.
Baylor made the World Series three times in his career, and they just happened to be consecutively, in 1986 (Red Sox), 1987 (Twins), and 1988 (Athletics). Only the Twins won him a championship in 1987, a year he was seldom used.

#3 Fact: Bobby Richardson won the World Series MVP for a losing team.
The team he played for was the Yankees in the historic 1960 World Series. Coming off a down year the Yankees chewed up the league, and going into the World Series against the Pirates; people had already given the Yanks another title.
It was not meant to be, as we all know the script: Bill Mazeroski hit a home run to win it for the Pirates and pull off a major upset. Richardson stole the show, however; batting .367, driving in 12, and hitting a grand slam.
Richardson is the only player to win an MVP on the World Series runner-up.

#4 Fact: Gaylord Perry hit a home run after his manager said they’d put a man on the moon first.
Debuting in 1962, Perry played in an era where pitchers weren’t only expected to pitch but hit as well.
Talking to reporters over his pitcher’s inability to hit, San Francisco Giants manager Alvin Dark joked “They’ll put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.”

During a game on July 20, 1969; a mere 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Perry stepped up to bat and hit his first career home run.

#5 Fact: Ken Ash won a game on only one pitch.
On July 27, 1930 Reds pitcher Ken Ash was brought into a game against the Cubs with two on and no outs. Facing what any reliever dreads (a runner in scoring position and no outs), he delivered the pitch and the Cubs promptly delivered a triple play.
Ash was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the inning, and the Reds staged a rally to win the game 6-5 which named as the only man to win a game on only one pitch.

#6 Fact: The Garbank brothers finished a season with the exact same batting average.
If you’ve never heard of the Garbanks, don’t feel bad; 99.9 percent of fans haven’t, either. The year was 1944, and the brothers who would go down in history were Bob and Mike Garbank.
Mike played for the Yankees while Bob played for the Athletics, Mike played in over 80 games while Bob only got in 18, yet both posted a respectable .261 average.
The odd occurrences don’t stop there; they were both catchers in the American League, and they both threw out 39 percent of would-be base stealers in their careers!
Did I mention they almost had the same number of games played for their careers?

#7 Fact: Clarence Blethen injured himself with his own false teeth.
In 1923, Clarence Blethen was a rookie pitcher for the Red Sox; he also happened to wear false teeth. When he was pitching, Clarence thought that he would look meaner if he took his teeth out, which he would place in his back pocket.
Running the bases one day, Clarence forgot about his false teeth in his pocket. As he he went to steal second, his teeth clamped down, thus making Clarence Blethen the only man to be injured by biting himself in the butt.

#8 Fact: Bill Voiselle wore the name of his hometown on his uniform.
Bill Voiselle was a pitcher for the Giants, Braves and Cubs, who had three stellar seasons in his nine-year career. For the last four seasons of his career, he switched to a number that was more suited for him: 96.
So what? High numbers usually mean your gonna go down to the minors, right? Not for Bill; you see, 96 was not just a number to him; it was his South Carolina hometown.
#9 Fact: Jack McCarthy threw out three runners at home plate in the same inning.
While playing for the Cubs in 1905, outfielder Jack McCarthy was possibly a little angry with his team’s inabilty to get anyone out. So McCarthy decided to take matters into his own hands.
He threw out not one, not two but three runners trying to score. It is such an amazing feat that nobody has come close to matching it in the 108 years since, and unless the outs per inning expand to four, no one will ever have a shot at eclipsing him.

#10 Fact: No one had an RBI in the 1968 All-Star game.
 In 1968, the All-Star Game was played indoors for the first time at Houston’s famous Astrodome. In the bottom of the first, the National League put a runner on third with no outs. Willie McCovey then stepped up and hit into a double play that scored the runner on third.
After Hank Aaron walked, Ron Santo was retired on a ground-out, the game remained 1-0 for the remaining eight innings, and since no RBI is awarded on a fielder’s choice; the NL won without an RBI.

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