Completing the MLB Jobs Circuit

Bucky Walters was one of the 1920s to 1950s pitchers who had a long career, won about 200 games with an unremarkable win-loss percentage, and is little remembered today. In Walters’ case, this is despite him winning the National League MVP award in 1939. The purpose of this post is to highlight that Walters, in the course of his life in major league baseball, did a circuit of the available jobs on the field. The circuit is: coach, umpire, manager, infielder, outfielder, pitcher.

Walters began as a position player, mostly third base but also a smattering of games at second base and the outfield, became a pitcher, umpired two games in 1942 and 1947, presumably as an emergency fill-in when a regular umpire fell sick or missed a train, then managed the Reds for a year and a half, in 1948 and 1949, and then was a coach for three different National League teams in the 1950s. Here are links to his Retrosheet page and SABR biography:

Bucky Walters

Published in: Uncategorized on March 1, 2021 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  

The 1986 Chicago Cubs

A post on this blog talked about Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux on the 1986 AAA Iowa Cubs. Moyer and Maddux would pitch nearly 120 innings for the big league team in 1986. What’s intriguing about the ’86 Cubs is the array of top-level talent on a team that went 70-90. Here is a list of notable position players at Wrigley that year:

Jody Davis
Leon Durham
Ryne Sandberg
Ron Cey
Shawon Dunston
Gary Matthews
Keith Moreland
Davey Lopes
Chris Speier
Manny Trillo
Rafael Palmeiro

And pitchers:

Dennis Eckersley
Rick Sutcliffe
Scott Sanderson
Lee Smith

Published in: Uncategorized on February 1, 2021 at 6:40 pm  Comments (2)  

A Reading Suggestion

You may have heard of Christy Mathewson’s book, Pitching in a Pinch. It is a worthwhile look at major league baseball in the early 1910s, seen from the perspective of perhaps the greatest pitcher of that time. You can read it on Project Gutenberg, at

Published in: Uncategorized on January 1, 2021 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Landmark MLB Seasons at 40-Year Intervals

Major league baseball has had landmark seasons at 40-year intervals, starting with 1901, when the American League began. Here are the next three intervals:

1941: Pearl Harbor. It happened after the season was over, but some players had already joined the military. Baseball, of course, wasn’t the same after the war.

1981: The strike: an unprecedented, lengthy mid-season work stoppage. One of the impacts was establishing the precedent of a division playoff series, though in a different form than the series that began in 1995.

2021, whatever it will be like, probably will be another landmark season.

The point here is not to propose that professional baseball is governed by 40-year cycles. It’s to note these years as food for thought, to consider them and how MLB changed over each 40-year period.

Published in: Uncategorized on December 11, 2020 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Roger Maris After Baseball

Maris got a major distributorship for Budweiser in Florida that began right after his playing career ended. He operated the distributorship for longer than he was an MLB player, and it might be a bigger legacy than his baseball career. His family had a long legal battle with Anheuser-Busch after he died, and settled the battle over the distributorship for a sum that was much larger than what Maris had earned playing baseball.

Here are two links to news stories about the battle:

Published in: Uncategorized on December 1, 2020 at 5:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Independent Baseball in 2020

At least a couple independent leagues had a baseball season this year, with curtailed schedules and fewer than normal teams. The American Association just wound up its season with the Milwaukee Milkmen winning the title in a roughly 60-game season. Six teams in the upper Midwest, and Winnipeg. This is an account of the season’s final game:

The Pecos League had a roughly 30-game season that ended about a month ago, with four teams playing, in the Southwest. Tucson won that title:

Published in: Uncategorized on September 23, 2020 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Celebrating an Absent Championship

If MLB’s current regime for the 2020 season remains unchanged, the World Series winner this year will have not played a single game before a live audience. What will the lack of fans do to the tangibility (perhaps legitimacy is a better word) of this season?

For the World Series winner, presumably there will be no victory parade, perhaps not any kind of ceremony that’s open to the public.
Published in: Uncategorized on August 20, 2020 at 1:06 pm  Comments (1)  

Bucky Harris’s Managerial Career

Harris is one of the least-known long-time MLB managers. From 1924 through 1956, he managed his teams in 4410 games. A near-symmetry emerged from all those games: Harris wound up with a 2158-2219 record (a .493 winning percentage), which is close enough to even to be close to a rounding error. But what’s more, his teams scored 21,464 runs: they allowed 21,449 runs. Take away or add 15 runs over the 4410 games, and Harris’s teams even the score.

By the way, Harris twice managed his teams to a .500 season: 76-76 each time, but in 1934 a tie game was thrown into a 153-game season, his only one managing the Boston Red Sox. But, only once did the team very nearly score as many runs as it allowed: 1929, the Detroit Tigers, who scored 926 runs and allowed 928 runs.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 15, 2020 at 11:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Ted Lyons and Red Faber

On May 20, 1920, the White Sox scored 8 in the 16th inning to beat the Senators in D.C., 13-5. Red Faber pitched all 16 innings, in his longest game; Walter Johnson pitched the last 6.

Faber was one of the few pre-1960s pitchers to combine some staggering single-season innings counts (319, 330, 352 in consecutive seasons) with a long career. Faber probably would’ve been close to a 300-game winner if he had gone to the Yankees or A’s sometime in the 1920s. His SABR bio notes that he missed the Black Sox Series: “Ray Schalk long contended that the Black Sox Scandal would have been impossible had Faber been healthy; the conspirators would not have had enough pitching to succeed.” In other words, with Faber healthy for the Series, the conspirators would not have had enough Sox pitchers bribed.

Faber became a father at 58, and he lived to 88 despite smoking for 80 years, if the SABR bio is correct about him starting at age 8.

Lyons is the fairly neat statistical twin to Faber: another pre-1960s White Sox pitcher who nearly matches Faber in wins, innings pitched, and starts (484 to Faber’s 483), and was about as good a pitcher. Lyons apparently replaced Faber as the White Sox’ ace in 1924 or 1926: if you went to a game at Comiskey between the start of World War I and the U.S. entry into World War II, there was a good chance of seeing Lyons or Faber pitch. And, Lyons lived to see his 85th birthday; Faber lived to see his 88th birthday. You can read SABR’s biography of Lyons.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 21, 2020 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who is the Greatest Living Player for Franchise X (Mariners, Reds, Indians, Blue Jays, etc.)?

The player can be active or retired. He needs to have spent at least half of his career playing for the franchise. You can weigh things like championships, character and/or reputation, how much of his career the player spent on the franchise, and whether or not this player is the first one you think of for the franchise, whether or not he’s the one you’d most want to see on the field (if an active player) or throwing the first pitch at a World Series game.

In part, this is a prompt for you to consider how the status of greatest living player has changed for each franchise over time, especially the 16 oldest franchises. For an obvious example, consider the changes in who is the greatest living Yankee, going from the 1900s onward.

Here are my fairly off-the-cuff picks for the 30 MLB franchises:

Red Sox: Yastrzemski or David Ortiz
Yankees: Jeter or Rivera
A’s: Rickey Henderson
Astros: Bagwell or Biggio
Angels: Trout
Cardinals: Pujols or Ozzie Smith or Bob Gibson
Padres: Trevor Hoffman
Giants: Mays or Barry Bonds
Blue Jays: Carlos Delgado or Dave Stieb
Orioles: Brooks Robinson or Cal Ripken Jr. or Jim Palmer

Rockies: Helton or Larry Walker or Nolan Arenado
Expos/Nationals: Tim Raines
Phillies: Mike Schmidt
Mets: Tom Seaver
Reds: Pete Rose or Johnny Bench or Barry Larkin
Rangers: Ivan Rodriguez
Tigers: Jack Morris or Miguel Cabrera
Indians: Jim Thome
Dodgers: Koufax, or Clayton Kershaw
Mariners: Griffey or Edgar Martinez or Ichiro

Twins: Joe Mauer
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton
Rays: Evan Longoria
Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez or Paul Goldschmidt
Pirates: Bill Mazeroski or Andrew McCutcheon
Braves: Glavine or Maddux or Aaron
Brewers: Yount or Molitor
Cubs: Sandberg or Sosa
Royals: George Brett
White Sox: Frank Thomas

Published in: Uncategorized on May 2, 2020 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment