From 1920 through 1964, the Yankees went 95.4-58.7 in the regular season on average, for a .619 winning percentage. From ’36 through ’64, they went 96.5-58.2, for a .624 winning percentage. From 1995 through 2012, they went 96.2-64.6, for a .598 winning percentage. Their sub-.500 winning percentages since 1920 are 1925 (.448%), 1965-67, ’69, ’73, ’82, and ’89 through ’92.
The coldest MLB game ever was apparently played on April 23 of 2013: the Rockies against the Braves, and a 23F temperature in Denver at the start of the game. Quoting from this post by meteorologist Cliff Mass:
“Denver was an expansion team that played its first season in 1993. Thus, considering its unique meteorological location and altitude, it is quite possible that the 23F would have been the coldest temperature on record for all major league games at any location. Yes, you might argue about Minnesota, but keep in mind that the baseball season usually starts around April 1, and the all-time record low daily maximum temperature in Minneapolis for April was 22F in 1896.”
The Phillies-Rockies NLDS game 3 in Denver in 2009 apparently got into the mid-20s by the end of that game, with a wind as well. When you look at attendance for World Series games in the deadball years, you see quite a few times that cold and/or wet conditions kept the number of fans well below 10,000.
Finally: another meteorologist says MLB would drastically reduce the chances of games played in cold/snowy conditions if it just avoided home games in Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Boston during the first 10 days of April.
Wynn is the least well-known 300-game winner pitching mainly after World War II (his career began in 1939). I don’t have an image of him in my mind. He was not a fireballer, did not have many great seasons, pitched for three different teams, none of them in New York, didn’t win a World Series, and, somewhat like Jamie Moyer, didn’t have an impressive start to his career. His first 20-win season came in his 30s, he won 22 games at age 39 (and got the Cy Young Award for it), and won 16 games in his 40s. Here is his SABR biography: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/6d0d8788
Despite his relative obscurity, reading the bio shows that Wynn led a dramatic life and was no shrinking violet. His life was at least as intriguing as Gaylord Perry’s, another Southerner with a roughly similar career that started about two decades after Wynn’s. Why isn’t Wynn well known today? To hazard a guess: even ardent baseball fans can pay only so much attention to the past, have only so much space in their memory devoted to cataloging great players who played before a fan was born. When they think of A.L. pitchers in the 1940s and 50s, Feller and Whitey Ford are the first to come to mind, maybe Herb Score as well, and perhaps a Yankee or two, like Allie Reynolds, and that’s all. When you look at this page of A.L. pitching leaders in 1953, listing last names only, how many of the names do you recognize?
Here, from Baseball-reference, is a list of the multiple Cy Young winners who (Roger Clemens aside) are least likely to join the Hall of Fame. All of them won 2 of the awards:
Scherzer might wind up in the Hall, depending on how long he pitches and/or if he has several more outstanding seasons.
This is a short list of some of the intriguing/surprising names that show up on the list of the top 50 MLB players in career walks:
Joe Morgan 5th, with 1865
Eddie Yost 11th, with 1614
Willie Mays 22nd, with 1464
Dwight Evans 29th, with 1391
Tony Phillips tied for 40th, with 1319
Ken Singleton 50th, with 1263
This is from the biography on Kinsella’s own website: “Ironically, Kinsella had originally called the novel Dream Field, a choice which was overruled by his editor of the day.”
What would the response to Shoeless Joe, as the novel was finally named, and Field of Dreams have been if the original title had stuck?
Here, from Retrosheet, is a list of the 7 ejections Pete Rose had during his playing career:
Date Team Umpire Reason
6- 2-1966 BOX CIN N John Kibler Call at 1B
8-18-1968(1) BOX CIN N John Kibler Call at 2B
9- 9-1969 BOX CIN N Andy Olsen Claiming Gaylord Perry throwing spitters
6-15-1971 BOX CIN N John Kibler Called third strike
8- 8-1977 BOX CIN N John McSherry Call at 2B
7- 7-1982 BOX PHI N Randy Marsh Called third strike
6-22-1984 BOX MON N Dave Pallone Balls and strikes
The same list for Babe Ruth (ejected 11 times):
Date Team Umpire Reason
6-23-1917(1) BOX BOS A Brick Owens Balls and strikes
9-13-1917 BOX BOS A George Moriarty Bench jockeying
8-22-1919 BOX BOS A Brick Owens Called third strike
5-25-1922 BOX NY A George Hildebrand Call at 2B (Threw dirt)
6-19-1922 BOX NY A Bill Dinneen Call at 2B (from LF)
8-30-1922 BOX NY A Tommy Connolly Called third strike
4-19-1924 BOX NY A Billy Evans Called third strike
8- 1-1924 BOX NY A Pants Rowland Call at 2B
7- 8-1930(1) BOX NY A Brick Owens Balls and strikes (from bench)
8-21-1931 BOX NY A Roy Van Graflan Home run call
5- 7-1932 BOX NY A Brick Owens Called third strike
Ruth was also ejected once as a coach with the Dodgers. I don’t have a great point to make here-clearly Ruth did not like Brick Owens, and Rose did not like John Kibler-but it’s interesting that Rose, allegedly a much fiercer competitor than Ruth, was ejected fewer times despite playing in many more games.
Here is a list of all 32 Philadelphia Phillies for the 1937 season. The Phillies went 61-92, finishing 7th in the National League, and the franchise was in the midst of a long stretch of bad seasons. The question is: How many of the 32 players do you recognize?
I recognized Klein, Camilli, Walters, and Passeau, but Klein, the team’s only Hall of Famer and the only one of the four to spend most of his career in Philadelphia, is also the only one about whom I have any slightly detailed knowledge.
The involvement recent presidents have with baseball has been covered on a few posts on this blog. With Donald Trump set to become president in January, here are a couple of stories on Trump from 25+ years ago, talking about his connections to baseball. This, from a Trump profile by Greg Boeck of USA Today in 1990:
“Donald Trump,” said Ed Tracy, who oversees Trump’s Atlantic City properties, “is out there like a gladiator, running to the goal line. He enjoys the hunt. To him, athletics reflect the business world.”
Long before he wrote The Art of the Deal, in which he regaled readers with tales of his Babe Ruthian home runs in real estate, Donald Trump was a first baseman.
As a youth at the New York Military Academy in Cornwall-on-Hudson, where he was known as D.T., not The Donald, the piece of real estate he valued most was a spot on the ballfield. It meant a chance to compete. And win. “He didn’t like to lose,” said Col. Theodore Dobias, his high school coach.
“Nothing’s changed,” said Jeff Walker, senior vice president of the Trump Organization who was a year ahead of Trump at New York Military Academy. “It’s in his genes.”
Trump, once scouted by the Philadelphia Phillies for his slick glove and .300 bat, never made it as a million-dollar superstar in baseball. He opted for the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania and billionaire status in another arena.
But sports still flows through his veins like money through his vast empire. In the last six years, Trump has owned a pro
football team, been temporarily involved in a proposed third baseball league, evolved as a force in boxing, jumped into international cycling and staged a power boat race.
Trump the first baseman might have put his glove away long ago, but much of what molded Trump the businessman took place on the playing fields of his youth. Even as an adult, he has remained an ardent fan – he met his wife, Ivana, who was once a world-class skier, at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He still mixes sport and romance: Before his much-trumpeted breakup this year, he was seen at boxing matches with Marla Maples.
“In the entrepreneurial ring, it’s him and the ultimate goal. He loves the opportunity to win a prize, the top prize. He’s probably shooting above it, and we don’t understand.”
Mainly, he gets exposure. Trump, who declined interview requests, loves his name in lights. “He considers sports his advertising,” said Bob Woolf, agent for Larry Bird and Doug Flutie. “It elevates everything he does.” Added boxing promoter Don King: “Donald Trump is a performer. By getting into boxing, he’s become well-known from the masses to the classes.”
At 6-2 and slim, Trump maintains an athletic look at 44. At his Palm Beach, Fla., home, he has a swimming pool, tennis court and workout facility. At his New York apartment, he has a gym. His most common exercise is walking up steps. Occasionally, he skis or plays golf, though largely for business purposes.
As a youth, Trump was a multifaceted athlete. At the New York Military Academy, from 1959-64, he won trophies in intramural softball, basketball, softball, bowling and freshman football. He lettered in varsity football, varsity soccer and varsity baseball.
“Whatever he did he was good at,” said Col. Anthony Castellano, who has been at New York Military Academy 40 years. “He wasn’t a follower. He always got out front.” Castellano’s most vivid memory of Trump: “He looked good in a baseball uniform.”
Baseball was clearly Trump’s first love. It’s the only sport he played every year, and he was team captain his senior year, 1964. “He was a pure hitter,” Dobias said. “Great glove at first base. Good range, stretch. He kept the infield alert. He took over. He was very agile, very knowledgeable. And very, very competitive.”
Dobias remembers one game in particular. In his senior year, Trump tripled to tie a game against Cheshire Academy of Connecticut. The next batter squeezed Trump home with the winning run. “He came running home,” Dobias said, “pumping his arm up and down in the air. It was a cold, bitter day in April, but he was really into it.”
Otherwise, Trump was on the quiet side. “He was reserved, not boisterous,” Dobias said. “He just sat back and analyzed everything.”
Trump started every game his last two seasons. Dobias batted him fifth his last year, but Trump didn’t go out a winner – the team finished 5-6-1.
That was the end of his baseball career. “If he worked at it, he could have gone on to Double-A,” Dobias said. “But he had other interests and didn’t want to pursue baseball.”
Apparently Trump will be the best ex-player in the White House since George H.W. Bush. In 1989, Murray Chass of the New York Times had reported on Trump’s stated willingness to take part in an effort to start up an 8-team third major league to rival MLB, with Trump’s team to be located in northern New Jersey. Here’s a screen shot of the first part of Chass’s story (you can get all of it on the Times’ site):
These two were teammates on the Brewers from 1978 through 1992. Molitor missed almost all of 1984, and about half of the strike-shortened 1981 season. Yount, aside from 1981, never played fewer than 100 games in a season. Despite Molitor coming up at a later age, playing designated hitter for a large portion of his career, and being injured more often than Yount, he stole 504 bases, compared to Yount’s 271 steals. They were in the All-Star game a total of just 9 times.
Yount and Molitor were the first two 3000 hit players to play a large part of their careers as teammates. Yount in particular seems to be little remembered: if you’re under 25 and not a Brewers fan, I don’t know that you have any real familiarity with him. Aside from his two MVP years, Yount didn’t have attention-getting seasons, he was not in the playoffs after 1982, and he hasn’t had a high profile in the 25 or so years since his playing days ended.