Though he was usually used as a relief pitcher, on August 31, 1990, Mariano Rivera was given the start in a game on the final day of the season for the Gulf Coast Yankees. The opportunity allowed him to throw enough innings to qualify for GCL’s ERA title, an accomplishment that carries a contractual bonus. Rivera threw a seven-inning no-hitter against Bradenton to finish the season with a 0.17 ERA, 0.46 WHIP, 58 strikeouts in 52 innings, and $500 dollars richer.
This infographic from the Smithsonian provides an interesting looks at runs in baseball. The bit I find most interesting is in regards to the home runs. Even though there is a noticeable increase in the number of home runs hit, the average number of runs per game seems to have (relatively) leveled out after the 1920s.
This is the second day now that I do not know the result of the juegos he thought. But I must have confidence and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel.
~Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
I have previously shared here variations of the legendary poem, “Casey At the Bat.” It’s interesting, coming across the various spin-offs and seeing how fans might opt to continue Casey’s tale. In this piece by Clarence McDonald, mighty Casey gets a chance to redeem himself — much later in his life.
The Bugville team was surely up against a rocky game;
The chances were they’d win defeat and not undying fame;
Three men were hurt and two were benched; the score stood six to four.
They had to make three hard-earned runs in just two innings more.
“It can’t be done,” the captain said, a pallor on his face;
“I’ve got two pitchers in the field, a mutt on second base;
And should another man get spiked or crippled in some way,
The team would sure be down and out, with eight men left to play.
“We’re up against it anyhow as far as I can see;
My boys ain’t hitting like they should and that’s what worries me;
The luck is with the other side, no pennant will we win;
It’s mighty tough, but we must take our medicine and grin.”
The eighth round opened- one, two, three- the enemy went down.
The Bugville boys went out the same- the captain wore a frown.
The first half of the ninth came round, two men had been put out,
When Bugville’s catcher broke a thumb and could not go the route.
A deathly silence settled o’er the crowd assembled there.
Defeat would be allotted them; they felt it in the air;
With only eight men in the field ‘twould be a gruesome fray,
Small wonder that the captain cursed the day he learned to play.
“Lend me a man to finish with!” he begged the other team;
“Lend you a man?” the foe replied; “My boy, you’re in a dream!
We came to win the pennant, too – that’s what we’re doing here.
There’s only one thing you can do – call for a volunteer!”
The captain stood and pondered in a listless sort of way.
He never was a quitter and he would not be today!
“Is there within the grandstand here”- his voice rang loud and clear
“A man who has the sporting blood to be a volunteer?”
Again that awful silence settled o’er the multitude.
Was there a man among them with such recklessness imbued?
The captain stood with cap in hand, while hopeless was his glance,
And then a tall and stocky man cried out, “I’ll take a chance!”
Into the field he bounded with a step both firm and light;
“Give me the mask and mitt,” he said; “let’s finish up the fight.
The game is now beyond recall; I’ll last at least a round;
Although I’m ancient, you will find me muscular and sound.”
His hair was sprinkled here and there with little streaks of gray;
Around his eyes and on his brow a bunch of wrinkles lay.
The captain smiled despairingly and slowly turned away.
“Why, he’s all right!” one rooter yelled. Another, “Let him play!”
“All right, go on,” the captain sighed. The stranger turned around,
Took off his coat and collar, too, and threw them on the ground.
The humor of the situation seemed to hit them all,
And as he donned the mask and mitt, the umpire called, “Play ball!”
Three balls the pitcher at him heaved, three balls of lightning speed.
The stranger caught them all with ease and did not seem to heed.
Each ball had been pronounced a strike, the side had been put out,
And as he walked in towards the bench, he heard the rooters shout.
One Bugville boy went out on strikes, and one was killed at first;
The captain saw them fail to hit, and gnashed his teeth and cursed.
The third man smashed a double and the fourth man swatted clear,
Then, in a thunder of applause, up came the volunteer.
His feet were planted in the earth, he swung a warlike club;
The captain saw his awkward pose and softly whispered, “Dub!”
The pitcher looked at him and grinned, then heaved a mighty ball;
The echo of that fearful swat still lingers with us all.
High, fast and far the spheroid flew; it sailed and sailed away;
It ne’er was found, so it’s supposed it still floats on today.
Three runs came in, the pennant would be Bugville’s for a year;
The fans and players gathered round to cheer the volunteer.
“What is your name?” the captain asked. “Tell us you name,” cried all,
As down his cheeks great tears of joy were seen to run and fall.
For one brief moment he was still, then murmured soft and low:
“I’m the mighty Casey who struck out just twenty years ago.”
At Forbes Field on August 26, 1912, Owen “Chief” Wilson hit three triples in a doubleheader against the Braves. The Pirates outfielder’s third triple of the twin bill established a new major league record for triples in a season with 32, breaking the mark he shared with Dave Orr (1886 Metropolitans/AA) and Heinie Reitz (1894 Orioles/NL). Wilson finished the season with 36 three-baggers, a record that stands to this day.
On August 22, 2007, the Texas Rangers became the first major league team in over a century to score thirty runs in a game. The Rangers defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 30-3, setting a club record with 29 hits in the game. This match was the first of a doubleheader, and the Rangers also won the second game, 9-7.
I have finally gotten around to watching Fever Pitch, the 2005 flick starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.
When the movie starts, seven-year-old Ben Wrightman is going to a Red Sox game with his Uncle Carl, and he quickly becomes a hardcore Red Sox fan. After Carl dies from cancer, Ben inherits his season tickets and for 23 years he remains a loyal, game-attending Sox fan.
When thirty-year-old Ben starts dating Lindsay Meeks, things go very well at first. But, of course, it is the off season when they start dating, so Lindsay doesn’t have a full perspective on how deep Ben’s baseball obsession runs — she just knows that everything in his apartment has a Red Sox logo on it. Lindsay agrees to go to Opening Day with Ben, but as the season progresses, it becomes evident how little Lindsay knows about baseball or the Red Sox. Lindsay tries hard to understand and accept Ben’s passion, but her determination to earn a promotion in her job, which means working long hours, causes friction in the face of Ben’s determination to attend every game.
Things come to a head when Lindsay invites Ben to join her on a work-related trip to Paris, but Ben declines because the Sox are in the midst of a heated playoff race. The relationship ends up in serious trouble, though the resolution proves both amusing and touching — fitting for a romantic comedy.
This is the first time I’ve watched a Jimmy Fallon performance as an actor, and I have to admit that I was impressed. This movie is definitely more rom-com than baseball movie, but it does have enough baseball in it to keep a fan interested. It doesn’t make me want to become a Sox fan anytime soon, but it does make me wonder if I might be able to find some Minnesota Twins toilet paper.
This piece, published by Spitball Magazine in 2013, was written by a Tigers fan living in California. I think it’s safe to say that every baseball fan has the experience outlined in this poem at some point or other.
It’s all I can do
To pay attention and drive
While the last half of the 9th is played out
The last battle of the regular season
It’s now or never
A baseball cliche, but who cares?
It is now or never
I listen to games from spring to autumn
Grab the morning paper
Read, critique, coach aloud to no one and anyone
I count the games, study the box scores
When the magic number is 1
I believe in magic
Until the third out.
It happens in the parking lot.
I leave my car and wander down the street
Buy some bread I do not want
Stare mindlessly at a purse in a shop window.
Then I see the clerk in the wine store, his head in his hands,
Eyes covered, and I know, I know despair.
I back up, go inside.
He has the game on,
The final season wrap-up among all the bottles of wine.
He lifts his head, looks at me
“Let me know if I can help you,” he says dejectedly.
“Thanks,” I say, and pretend to shop. Just to keep company.
We both know there is nothing to be done.