Teri Silver is a journalist, commercial copywriter, editor, broadcast anchor, and Public Relations Specialist.
Baseball has a lot of statistics—many that have gotten lost in today’s internet world of trivial information. But baseball trivia is more than just silly or interesting information that may or may not be useful. You never know what may come in handy! As a baseball lover, I have always found this sport to be a constant … something to hold onto for keeping life’s rocky waters from sinking the boat.
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
This quote from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams reminds us of how important the game of baseball really is to America.
Check out some special (and not-so-special) moments in baseball’s history.
Random Trivial Moments in Pitching, Offense, and Defense
Who did what for which team, and when?
Bert Campaneris (b. March 9, 1942): With the Kansas City Athletics in 1965, “Campy” became the first guy to play all nine positions in one game (against the California Angels). Campaneris, a shortstop by trade, played an inning at each position, including catching part of the ninth before leaving the game due to injury.
Dizzy Dean (January 16, 1910–July 17, 1974): Born Jerome Herman Dean (also known as Jay Hanna Dean), “Dizzy” was the first National League pitcher to win an All-Star game (1936). (The first Major League Baseball All-Star game was in 1933, the American League beat the NL 1-0. The AL beat the NL 9-7 in 1934, and the 4-1 in 1935).
Dean played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1930, 1932–1937), Chicago Cubs (1938–1941), and St. Louis Browns (1947). He was a four-time All-Star and, in 1934, Dizzy Dean was given the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.
Dick Drago (b. June 25, 1945): Drago is known for dishing up Hank Aaron’s 755th (and last) regular-season major league home run. Aaron hit his dinger on July 20, 1976. (If you add All-Star and World Series games, the total was 763).
Don Drysdale (July 23, 1936–July 3, 1993): Back when Major League Baseball had two All-Star games per season (1959–1962), Los Angeles Dodger Don Drysdale was the starting pitcher for the National League All-Stars in 1959; he did not get the “W” but the team beat the American League 5-4 (at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh). In that same year (and in the 5-3 game against the AL that was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum), Drysdale was the losing pitcher for the NL.
Dave Duncan (b. September 26, 1945): Dave Duncan was the last Kansas City Athletics’ player to hit a home run (October 1, 1967). The A’s moved to Oakland for the 1968 season and beyond.
Goose Goslin (October 16, 1900–May 15, 1971): Leftfielder Leon “Goose” Goslin was the only man to play in all of the Washington Senators’ 19 World Series games. The Senators faced the New York Giants in 1924, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925, and five games with the Giants in 1933. The Senators won the World Series in 1924.
Jim “Catfish” Hunter (April 8, 1946–September 9, 1999): Catfish Hunter was the last member of the Kansas City Athletics to pitch in an All-Star Game. Hunter pitched five innings of that 15-inning game, losing to the National League, 2-1.
Ransom Jackson (b. February 10, 1926): On September 28, 1957, infielder Ransom “Randy” Jackson was the very last person to hit a home run for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In his career, Ransom Jackson played for the Chicago Cubs (1950-1955), Brooklyn Dodgers (1956-1957), Los Angeles Dodgers (1958), Cleveland Indians (1958-1959), and then ended his career with the Chicago Cubs (1959). Jackson was a two-time All-Star (1954 and 1955).
Billy Martin (May 16, 1928–December 25, 1989): Alfred Manuel Martin, Jr.—known as Billy Martin—may have been more known for his outlandish managerial antics. However, Martin was an infielder for seven teams in his playing days (1950-1961) and was a part of some amazing baseball moments. He played in a World Series “perfect game” (New York Yankees’ pitcher Don Larsen; October 8, 1956, game 5 against the Brooklyn Dodgers); a four-home run game (New York Yankees’ outfielder Rocky Colavito; 1959); and a four-home run game from Willie Mays in 1961. Billy Martin was with the Milwaukee Braves when Mays played for the San Francisco Giants.
Willie Mays (b. May 6, 1931): With the many accomplishments in his 22-year-long career, Willie Mays was the last member of the National League’s New York Giants to play in an All-Star Game. It was in 1957 when, in four at-bats, Mays hit a single and triple. The game was played in St. Louis.
Dale Mitchell (August 23, 1921–January 5, 1987): In the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, Dale Mitchell is the only player to have participated in a World Series game with both teams. On October 2, 1954, when he played for Cleveland, Mitchell pinch-hit in the game against the Giants. October 10, 1956, he stepped for Brooklyn against the New York Yankees. In his Major League Baseball career, Dale Mitchell played 11 seasons with a .312 batting average, 41 home runs and 403 Runs Batted In. He was a two-time All-Star (1949 and 1952). Mitchell spent most of his career in Cleveland but ended his playing days with Brooklyn in 1956.
Red Schoendienst (February 2, 1923–June 6, 2018): Schoendienst’s long career in baseball includes his playing days as the St. Louis Cardinals’ second baseman. In the All-Star game of 1950, played in Chicago’s Comiskey Park, Schoendienst hit a 14-inning home run off of pitcher Ted Gray of the Detroit Tigers; the National League beat the American League, 4-3.
Diego Segui (b. August 17, 1937): Segui was the only player to pitch for both the Seattle Pilots and Seattle Mariners. Segui began his career with the Kansas City Athletics in 1962 (until 1965); for the Washington Senators (1966); Kansas City/Oakland Athletics (1967); Seattle Pilots (1969); Oakland Athletics (1970-1972); St. Louis Cardinals (1972-1973); Boston Red Sox (1974-1975); and the Seattle Mariners (1977). A couple of months before turning 40 years old, Segui pitched the Mariners’ first-ever game in 1977–earning the nickname “the Ancient Mariner.”
Jeff Torborg (b. November 26, 1941): In professional baseball, catching a no-hitter is a coup for any major league catcher; Jeff Torborg has caught two of them. While with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Torborg caught Sandy Koufax’s final no-hitter (and perfect game) against the Chicago Cubs in September of 1965. In May of 1973, Torborg was with the California Angels—he caught pitching ace Nolan Ryan’s no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals.
Maury Wills (b. October 2, 1932): With the Los Angeles Dodgers, Maury Wills was the first player to bat on artificial turf in a major league park–the Astrodome. Wills led off for the Dodgers against the Houston Astros on April 18, 1966.
Carl Yastrzemski (b. August 22, 1939): “Yaz” man was the very last player to get a base hit when batting against THE Satchel Paige. The 59-year-old Paige, pitching for the Kansas City Athletics at the time (September 25, 1965), allowed only one hit in the three innings he pitched that day; a two-out double by Yastrzemski in the first inning. Paige led the game 1 to 0 when he was pulled in the fourth inning. (Boston won that game 5 to 2).
Cy Young (March 29, 1867–November 4, 1955): The name behind Major League Baseball’s biggest pitching award was the only guy to pitch no-hitters before and after the year 1900. Young played for the National League’s Cleveland Spiders on September 18, 1897; he pitched his first career no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. On May 5, 1904, then with the Boston Red Sox, Young threw a perfect game against the Philadelphia Athletics. He also pitched a no-hitter for the Sox on June 30, 1908.
Stats and Dimensions
How much room does a pitcher have to throw a strike when floating the ball over the plate? How thick is the fattest part of a baseball bat? Here are some random pieces of “wow, I didn’t know that” notes of baseball glory.
- 4:11 P.M.: October 3, 1951. Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants hit the “shot heard around the world” on this date and time; the three-run home run that clinched the pennant that year.
- 5.25: The number of ounces that a regulation baseball weighs.
- 12: Roger Maris hit dingers off of left-handed pitchers during his 61-home run season in 1961.
- 15: The number of home runs that Joe DiMaggio clubbed during his 56-game hitting streak with the New York Yankees in 1941.
- 19: In 1927, slugger Babe Ruth hit 19 home runs off left-handed pitchers during his 60-HR season.
- 20: The number of All-Star Games that Mickey Mantle played in.
- 30: During his 61-home run season (in 1961), New York Yankees’ slugger Roger Maris hit 30 of those dingers on the home field. (31 of them were hit on the road). Maris hit 49 of those homers off right-handed pitchers. And the number of grand slam home runs during this time? Zero. Also, zero was the number of intentional walks. Pitchers didn’t want to give Maris a free pass when slugger Mickey Mantle came up next.
- 37: Well, maybe 37.2 feet tall. This is the height of the “Green Monster” left-field wall in Boston’s Fenway Park.
- 50: The 1981 Major League Baseball player’s strike lasted for 50 days.
- 54: The number of base hits a ball team can get and still be shut out. There are many different scenarios for this; and they are all debatable (depending on who you ask).
- Bases (first, second, and third) are 15 inches wide and 15 inches long.
- Bats, according to Major League Baseball rules, must be made of smooth, solid wood and rounded so that it is not more than 2.61 inches around at its fattest part. The stick must be no longer than 42 inches. Bats cannot be laminated but they can be cupped (where a 1¼ inch dent is carved into the end). Bat handles can be treated with resin or a like substance (such as pine tar) that improves the grip, but the material must be within a designated 18-inch area. (Major League Baseball Rules; The Bat; 3.02).
- Home Plate is 17 inches at its widest point. The white rubber, beveled disk has two equal sides of 8 ½ inches, and another two sections of 12 inches each. The point faces toward the batter. Field dimensions are 90 feet between bases, and 60 feet, six inches from the pitcher’s mound to the tip of home plate. (Major League Baseball Rules; Home Base; 2.02).
- 108: The number of double-laced stitches in a regulation baseball.
- 275: Roger Maris, who hit 61 home runs in 1961, hit 275 in all of his career.
- 416: The number of home runs that Babe Ruth hit following his 60th dinger in 1927; breaking his own season record (of 59). Ruth’s total number of home runs was 714. His final baseball season was in 1935 with the Boston Braves.
Did You Know That….
- New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra cracked the first pinch-hit home run in World Series history. (Against Brooklyn Dodgers’ pitcher Ralph Branca in the seventh inning of 1947 World Series Game 3).
- Lou Brock of the St. Louis Cardinals was the first player to bat against the Montreal Expos, as the Canadian team joined Major League Baseball. (April 14, 1969).
- The first shutout in history for a World Series game was pitched by Bill Dineen of the Boston Red Sox against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Sox won Game 2 of the World Series in 1903.
- It was Don Drysdale who tossed the first pitch in the very first indoor All-Star game at the Houston Astrodome (1968).
- Lou Gehrig committed the very first error in an All-Star game; he dropped a fly ball in the fifth inning (July 6, 1933).
- The first player to hit a home run for the now-defunct Seattle Pilots was Mike Hegan; off of California Angels’ pitcher Jim McGlothlin (April 8, 1969).
- Lou Piniella was the first designated hitter in World Series games. Piniella played for the New York Yankees against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the 1976 World Series. He led off the second inning with a double.
- Rube Walberg dished up more home runs to Babe Ruth than any other pitcher; 18 in total. Walberg pitched for the New York Giants, Philadelphia Athletics, and Boston Red Sox; 1923–1937.
- Ted Williams was the last manager for the Washington Senators (1971). When the Senators moved to Texas for its inaugural season, Williams managed the Rangers in 1972. The team had three managers in 1973; Whitey Herzog, Del Wilber and Billy Martin.
- Cy Young was the first pitcher to lose a game in World Series history. It happened on October 1, 1903 when Young pitched for the Boston Red Sox; 9 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He gave up 12 hits and lost 7-3.
How About That!
Some great moments in baseball history—do you remember when …
- Pitcher Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals won the game 4-0.
- New York Giants centerfielder Willie Mays snagged a long fly ball in the first game of the 1954 World Series. The Giants were tied 2-2 with the Cleveland Indians; Mays’ over-the-shoulder catch of the ball (which had been hit about 460 feet) kept them in the game. The Giants won the game 5-4 in 10 innings. They swept the Indians in four games.
- Detroit pitcher Denny McLain notched his 30th victory of the 1968 season—he was 24 years old. The prestigious feat occurred on September 14th; it was the first time in 34 years that a major league pitcher had achieved a record of 30 or more wins. McLain ended the season with 31 wins; this record remains to this day and is expected to do so, because the number of games-per-season that a major league pitcher starts has declined, over the years.
- Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Al Downing dished up Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run on April 8, 1974—breaking then-home run leader Babe Ruth’s record.
- Los Angeles pitcher Don Drysdale pitched 58 consecutive innings of scoreless baseball in the 1968 season. The previous streak was set by Walter Johnson, who went 55 2/3 innings in 1913 for the Washington Senators.
- Boston Red Sox Slugger Ted Williams cracked a two-out, two-run home run in the 9th inning of the 1941 All-Star Game. The American League beat the National League 7-5 in Detroit’s Biggs Stadium.
- At 42 years old, pitching dynamo Satchel Paige became a rookie in Major League Baseball. He pitched his first complete game (in the majors) for the Cleveland Indians on August 13, 1948—shutting out the Chicago White Sox 5-0 at Comiskey Park. Paige continued to pitch until he was 59 years old; ending his career in 1965.
- Johnny Vander Meer closed the books on his second-straight no-hitter of the 1938 season. Vander Meer, pitching for the Cincinnati Reds, defeated the Boston Bees on June 11th (3-0), and the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 15th (6-0). (The Bees were part of the Braves’ organization).
Major League Baseball has a lot of great moments—and a few clunkers as well. But every April brings new life to our American pastime as we baseball lovers live and die with our favorite teams. Baseball memories stay with us. In fact, at this very moment as I type this, I am listening to radio announcer Tom Hamilton call a Cleveland Indians game in his own, unique way.
"The one constant through all the years … has been baseball.
This field, this game … it’s a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.
People will most definitely come."
© 2018 Teri Silver
Jennifer Halligan from NorCal on June 21, 2019:
I loved this so much! It must have taken a lot of research to find such interesting facts! My fave - I have been a baseball fan for 35 years and I never knew that Satchel Paige was a 42 year old rookie who played until he was 59. I can't believe I never knew that until tonight! And thank you for starting off with Campy playing all nine positions! I'm an A's fan and we love Campy (he's a really nice man too, always with Rollie, Vida & Blue Moon)!! And that publicity stunt pulled by Finely in Kansas City should be more well known. Will Ferrell obviously helped spread that knowledge a couple years back during the spring. Another interesting fact that I personally love (altho I'm not very fond of Reggie!) is that the A's had the second pick in the second ever draft (after having the first pick in the first draft - Rick Monday) and the Mets had the first pick. They chose a catcher who never even made it to the Majors - over Reggie! Leaving Jackson over to become an Athletic! That is so crazy! Anyway, I LOVE baseball and could talk about it for ever! But thanks for the awesome read!