Linking 2009 to 1871 Within Six Degrees of Separation

For the sake of curiosity, I decided to take a look and see how quickly you can form a chain from a player active in 2009 to 1871, the very beginning of major league baseball, with the links formed by having two players in the majors during the same season. We start with Jamie Moyer, who goes back to 1986 and Pete Rose, who goes back to 1963 and Early Wynn, who goes back to 1939 and Jimmie Dykes, who goes back to 1918 and Bobby Wallace, who goes back to 1894 and Cap Anson, who played both in 1876 with Chicago White Stockings of the National League and in 1871 with the Rockford Forest Citys of the National Association, the first professional league that shows up in the baseball record book. It takes just six players to go from 2009 to 1871, a nearly 130-year span. And, you don’t have to use Jim O’Rourke, Minnie Minoso, or any other player who retired only to play in one or two games a decade later to do it.

If you’re still curious, using the Oracle tool at Baseball-reference.com to create a chain of teammates from Harry Wright to Jamie Moyer comes up with this:

Harry Wright played with Jim O’Rourke for the 1875 Boston Red Stockings

Jim O’Rourke played with Roger Bresnahan for the 1904 New York Giants

Roger Bresnahan played with Bob O’Farrell for the 1915 Chicago Cubs

Bob O’Farrell played with Phil Cavarretta for the 1934 Chicago Cubs

Phil Cavarretta played with Minnie Minoso for the 1955 Chicago White Sox

Minnie Minoso played with Rich Gossage for the 1976 Chicago White Sox

Rich Gossage played with Jamie Moyer for the 1988 Chicago Cubs

Using the same Oracle tool to create a chain from  Jamie Moyer to Cap Anson comes up with this:

Jamie Moyer played with Steve Trout for the 1986 Chicago Cubs

Steve Trout played with Wilbur Wood for the 1978 Chicago White Sox

Wilbur Wood played with Dave Philley for the 1962 Boston Red Sox

Dave Philley played with Ted Lyons for the 1946 Chicago White Sox

Ted Lyons played with Ray Schalk for the 1924 Chicago White Sox

Ray Schalk played with Nixey Callahan for the 1913 Chicago White Sox

Nixey Callahan played with Cap Anson for the 1897 Chicago Colts

What emerges from all three of these chains is the dominant presence of Chicago ballplayers, and I don’t know why that is.

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Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 12:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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