The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Archive for the tag “Lefty Gomez”

Baseball Trivia Contest: Hall of Fame Names

Now that we find ourselves here in the dog days of August, let’s have some fun.

On the left-hand column below, I created a list of Hall of Fame baseball players by their surnames only.  On the right-hand side, you will notice a list of the real first names of each of these HOF players.   Your challenge is to match the first name on the right with the HOF player it belongs to on the left.  Each first name will be used just once.

See how many you can match up before you check the answer key at the bottom of the page,  then let me know how you did.  It might help to print out this page so you can do it by hand.

1)  Seaver                                                     A)  Rik

2)  Dean                                                       B)  Adrian

3)  Bender                                                   C)  Leon

4)  Ford                                                        D)  Gordon

5)  Grove                                                     E)  William

6)  Anson                                                     F)  George

7)  Berra                                                       G)  John

8)  Koufax                                                     H)  Edward

9)  Traynor                                                   I)  Jay

10)  Wilson (Hack)                                       J)  Charles

11)  Ewing                                                     K)  Lawrence

12)  Goslin                                                     L)  Robert

13)  Paige (Satchel)                                      M)  Lewis

14)  Fox (Nellie)                                             N)  Jacob

15)  Kelly (King)                                              O)  Harold

16)  Blyleven                                                   P)  Vernon

17) Brouthers (Dan)                                       Q)  Leroy

18)  Gomez (Lefty)                                          R)  Sanford

19)  Cochrane                                                  S)  Michael

20)  Chesbro                                                     T)  Dennis

Answer Key:

1)  F

2)  I

3)  J

4)  H

5)  L

6)  B

7)  K

8)  R

9)  O

10) M

11) E

12) C

13) Q

14) N

15) S

16) A

17) T

18) P

19) D

20) G

Major League Baseball All-Star Game Records

The first MLB All-Star Game was played at Comiskey Park in Chicago on July 6, 1933.  Babe Ruth hit the first All-Star Game home run, leading the A.L. to a 4-2 win over the N.L.

Here are several MLB All-Star Game records which may peak your interest.

Original description: Willie Mays, standing, w...

Willie Mays batted .307 in 24 All-Star Game appearances.

Most All-Star Games played:  24 (Three players)

1)  Stan Musial

2)  Willie Mays

3)  Hank Aaron

Most All-Star Game At Bats:  75, Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Hits:  23, Willie Mays (.307 All-Star Game batting average)

Highest All-Star Game career Batting Average (minimum, 5 games):  .500, Charlie Gehringer (10 for 20)

Most All-Star Game Runs Scored:  20,Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Stolen Bases:  6, Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Home Runs:  6, Stan Musial

Most All-Star Game RBI:  12, Ted Williams

Number of batters who led-off an All-Star Game with a home run:  5

1)  Frankie Frisch, N.L., July 10, 1934

2)  Lou Boudreau, A.L., July 6, 1942

3)  Willie Mays, N.L., July 13, 1965

4)  Joe Morgan, N.L., July 19, 1977

5)  Bo Jackson, A.L., July 11, 1989

Number of Grand Slams in All-Star Game history:  1, Freddy Lynn, A.L., 1983.

First inside-the-park home run in an All-Star Game:  Ichiro Suzuki, 2007.

Most home runs in one All-Star Game:  2, five players

1)  Arky Vaughan, N.L., July 8, 1941

2)  Ted Williams, A.L., July 6, 1946

3)  Al Rosen, A.L., July 13, 1954

4)  Willie McCovey, N.L., July 23, 1969

5)  Gary Carter, N.L., August 9, 1981

Most All-Star Game Total Bases:  40, Stan Musial and Willie Mays

Best single All-Star Game performance, position player:  Ted Williams, July 9, 1946.  Williams slugged two home runs, lashed a pair of singles, and drew a walk, for ten total bases.

Only All-Star Game steal of home:  Pie Traynor, on the front end of a double-steal with Mel Ott, 1934.

Most career strikeouts in All-Star Games:  17, Mickey Mantle

Most career doubles in All-Star Games:  7, Dave Winfield

Most career triples in All-Star Games:  3, Willie Mays and Brooks Robinson

Most career All-Star Game Bases on Balls:  11, Ted Williams

Most times grounding into double plays, career:  3, Joe DiMaggio and Pete Rose

Most career All-Star Game Wins:  3, Lefty Gomez

Most career All-Star Game Losses:  2, six pitchers

1)  Mort Cooper

2)  Claude Passeau

3)  Whitey Ford

4)  Luis Tiant

5)  Jim “Catfish” Hunter

6)  Dwight Gooden

Most Career All-Star Game Balks, 2, Dwight Gooden

Most All-Star Game Innings Pitched, Career:  19, Don Drysdale

Most All-Star Game Strikeouts: Pitcher, Career:  19 Don Drysdale

Most All-Star Game Innings Pitched, one game:  6, Lefty Gomez, July 8, 1935

Most hits given up in one inning in an All-Star Game:  Tom Glavine, 1st inning of 1992 All-Star Game, surrendered seven consecutive hits.  Allowed nine hits overall, the most hits given up by one pitcher in an All-Star Game.

Most consecutive strikeouts by a pitcher in one game:  5, Carl Hubbell, A.L., 1934,  and Fernando Valenzuela, N.L., 1986.

Most runs allowed in a single All-Star Game:  7, Atlee Hammaker, N.L., 1983.  All 7 runs were scored in the 3rd inning.

First player ever selected to an All-Star Game as a write-in candidate by fans:  Rico Carty, 1970

First time the Designated Hitter rule was used in an All-Star Game:  1989

Largest Attendance for an All-Star Game:  72,086, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, August 9, 1981 (This game was played on a Sunday, the only time an All-Star Game was played on a weekend.)

Smallest Attendance for an All-Star Game:  25,556, Braves Field, Boston, July 7, 1936

Longest Game By Innings:  15, Anaheim Stadium, July 11, 1967 (N.L. won the game, 2-1)

Shortest Game By Innings:  5, Shibe Park, Philadelphia, July 8, 1952 – Rain.  (N.L. won the game, 3-2)

Fewest players used in an All-Star Game, one team:  11, A.L., July 6, 1942

Fewest players used in an All-Star Game, both teams:  27, A.L. (15), N.L. (12), July 6, 1938

Shortest 9-Inning Game, By Time:  1 Hour, 53 Minutes, Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis, July 9, 1940, (N.L. won 4-0).

Number of All-Star Games played:  83, the N.L. has 43 wins, the A.L. has 38 wins, and there have been two ties.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Baseball-Almanac.com

The Hall of Fame’s Most Under-Appreciated Players: Part 5

To this point, we have filled in each of the slots in our batting order.  Here is what my proposed batting order looks like:

1)  CF  Richie Ashburn

2)  LF  Jesse Burkett

3)  RF  Harry Heilmann

4)  3B  Eddie Mathews

5)  1B  Roger Connor

6)  SS  Arky Vaughan

7)   C  Gary Carter

8)  2B  Joe Gordon

9)  Pitcher Hits 9th  (at least in the leagues that matter.)

Not a bad lineup when nine-time All Star Joe Gordon bats eighth.

Now, let’s build a pitching staff.

Briefly, allow me to submit that, especially pre-1920, there are a great many worthy pitching candidates who could reasonably make this list.  But I will limit my pitching staff to just four pitchers (one of whom I’ll be writing about today.)  It won’t surprise me a bit if your four pitching candidates for the HOF’s under-appreciated team are each different from my own, nor will I be greatly offended.

Now, please allow me introduce to you my staff ace:

Kid Nichols (pictured) is tied with Charles Ra...

Kid Nichols (pictured) is tied with Charles Radbourn for the most earned runs allowed in a single season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting Pitcher – Kid Nichols:  Only seven pitchers (Greg Maddux just missed being the eighth) finished their careers with a WAR of 100 or better.  Charles Augustus (Kid) Nichols, born in Madison, WI and raised in British Columbia, Canada, ranks fifth.

Nichols’ 111.6 WAR was surpassed only by Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Grover Cleveland (Pete) Alexander.  His career WAR is about twice as high as fellow HOF pitcher Jim Bunning, and more than three times that accumulated by Catfish Hunter.  Or, to belabor the point, his WAR is about the same as HOF pitchers Lefty Gomez, Herb Pennock and Jesse Haines combined.

Nichols, a moderately small right-handed pitcher (5′ 10″), broke in with the N.L.’s Boston Beaneaters in 1890, age 20.  He was an immediate success, posting a record of 27-19, while leading the league in shutouts (7), and finishing as the first runner-up in ERA+ to the Reds’ Billy Rhines.

Nichols’ 2-1 strikeout to walk ratio was also the best in the league, one of four times Nichols would lead the N.L. in that category.

1890 was also the first of five consecutive seasons Nichols would toss over 400 innings, and the first of six consecutive years in which he’d complete at least 40 of his starts.  In fact, in his rookie year, he completed every one of his 47 starts, logging 424 innings while posting a 2.23 ERA.

Nichols then went on to win at least 30 games in seven of the next eight seasons, leading the league in wins three consecutive years, 1896-98.

Kid Nichols reached 300 career wins faster than any pitcher in baseball history.  Through his age 30 season, he had already accumulated 310 career wins, against just 167 losses.

English: The 1890 Boston Beaneaters team photo...

English: The 1890 Boston Beaneaters team photo. Top row: L-R: James “Chippy” McGarr (IF), Harry Staley (P), Patsy Donovan (CF), Charles Ganzel (utility), William Joyce (3B), William Daley (P), Tommy Tucker (1B). Middle row: L-R: Kid Nichols (P), Herman Long (SS), Charles Bennett (C), Frank Selee (Mgr.), John Clarkson (P), Jim Whitney (P), Steve Brodie (RF). Bottom Row: L-F: Bobby Lowe (SS/CF/3B), Paul Revere Radford (utility), Tom Brown (OF). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eleven times in his career, Nichols won at least 21 games.  That’s more times than HOF pitchers Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro and Bert Blyleven won at least 20 games in a season combined.

Nichols can also claim the dubious achievement of allowing the most earned runs (215 in 1894) in a season.  His 4.75 ERA that year was by far the highest in his career.  So he had an off-year, right?  Well, not exactly.  His ERA+ was a highly respectable 124, meaning that he was nearly 25% better than a typical replacement level pitcher.

Moreover, he finished the season with a 32-13 record.  So how does one account for all those earned runs and that apparently high ERA?

In 1894, the cumulative batting average for the entire N.L., including the pitchers, was an astronomically high .309.  In this 12 team league, each franchise played around 130 games in ’94.  Yet the league averaged nearly a thousand runs scored per team, with Nichols’ own Boston Beaneaters leading the way with 1,220 runs scored.  That’s an average of over 9 runs scored per game.

Consider that Lesson #1 in why context is so important when attempting to evaluate raw statistics.

As for Nichols, after 1901, his 12th year in Boston, there just wasn’t much left in the gas tank.  In fact, he did not pitch in either 1902 or ’03, but returned in ’04 for one final excellent season, this time with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Nichols enjoyed his last 20-win season in ’04, while also posting an excellent 2.02 ERA at age 34.

Two years later, in 1906, Kid Nichols called it quits for good.  He had started 562 games in his career, of which he’d completed 532.  He recorded 361 wins against 208 losses, good for a .634 win-loss percentage.  His career ERA+ of 140 ranks 14th best all-time, a couple of percentage points better than Cy Young.

In four seasons, 1890, 1893, 1897 and 1898, Nichols was the best pitcher in the league.  Obviously, there was no Cy Young award yet in those days.  In fact, Cy Young was a contemporary of Nichols, and outlasted Nichols by just a few seasons.

Strange, then, that while Cy Young was voted into the Hall of Fame as part of the class of 1937, it took Nichols an extra dozen years (1949) to make it into The Hall.  In fact, before ’49, Nichols never topped 4% of the votes cast for HOF induction.  Such are the vagaries, then as now, of HOF voting.

Nichols still ranks 4th all-time in complete games, 7th in victories, and 11th in innings pitched,

Perhaps surprisingly, Nichols did live long enough to experience his own HOF induction.  He passed away at age 83 in 1953.

Next time, in Part 6 of this series, I’ll introduce my #2 all-time, under-appreciated Hall of Fame pitcher.  Thanks for reading.

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