Excerpts From the 1990-1993 Uniform Player’s Contract for MLB

I recently bought a copy of the labor agreement MLB reached in 1990 to end that year’s lockout. It’s about 100 pages long, in a spiral notebook. Here are two excerpts from the player’s contract that’s printed near the end of the agreement:

The Player agrees to perform his services hereunder diligently and faithfully, to keep himself in first-class physical condition and to obey the Club’s training rules, and pledges himself to the American public and to the Club to conform to high standards of personal conduct, fair play and sportsmanship.

The Player represents that he has no physical or mental defects known to him and unknown to the appropriate representative of the Club which would prevent or impair performance of his services.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 12, 2015 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dave Winfield’s June 1984

I recently noticed that Dave Winfield had 5 hits in a game on three different occasions in June 1984: pretty dazzling, especially for a guy who didn’t hit for an extremely high average. That led me to look up his game log for the month: he hit 49 for 103, a .476 batting average, playing in only 24 games. Winfield drew only 5 walks, hit 10 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 homers, for a slugging percentage of “just” .650. He scored only 20 runs, and drove in 19, despite the 54 times on base. And he went hitless in 3 games. The 49 hits propelled Winfield to conclude 1984 with a .340 average, three points behind Don Mattingly.

In the summer of 2004, when Ichiro seemed to be getting 2 to 4 hits in every single game, I heard quite a few times about how his 50 hits in a month-he had done it in May of ’04, then did it again in July and August-were, if I remember right, the first time an MLB hitter had reached 50 hits in a month since Pete Rose, or maybe Rod Carew, sometime in the ’70s. Winfield would have done it in June of ’84 (perhaps even reached 60 hits) if he’d played in more than 2 games after June 23, presumably because he tweaked a muscle or had some other minor injury late that month. Instead, he went 5-5 on June 25, then pinch-ran on the 29th in a game vs. the Royals. Winfield got 9 more hits in July’s first 5 games: from May 24 through July 5, he got 70 hits in 36 games, hitting .458 in that time.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

The 1979 Annual Dinner of the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association

Here is the cover of the program for this dinner, held at a Boston Sheraton in January of ’79, at which awards from the Boston chapter for 1978 were given out. Jim Rice, following his outstanding season, got on the cover:

You notice, paging through the program, how the chapter, if not quite on the Red Sox’s bandwagon, was quite a ways from showing a hard-bitten, skeptical, cynical attitude. This was not a press corps with a combative attitude toward the Sox. For example, this drawing of Dennis Eckersley, for his choice as Pitcher of the Year, has what looks like a journalist, down at Eck’s feet, saying “Gettin’ him. . . was a great deal. . . thanks Cleveland!”:

Published in: Uncategorized on May 16, 2015 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

“I’m a Lefebvre Belebvre!”

The Seattle Mariners issued this bumper sticker in 1989, in hopes that Jim Lefebvre’s personality and energy, and track record of winning as a player with the Dodgers in the ’60s and A’s coach in 1988, would propel the team to new heights in 1989 and beyond. It didn’t really happen: the team edged above .500 for the first time in 1991, but Lefebvre wound up getting fired after that year. Personality conflicts were the reason, I think. The slogan could be tweaked to apply to Justin Bieber as well, though his star seems to have fallen a bit in the past couple years.



Published in: Uncategorized on May 3, 2015 at 9:27 am  Comments (3)  

Whitey Ford Batting in the 1961 World Series

This is a little photo I got from the newspaper archives, of Whitey hitting the dirt after getting hit by a ball he’d foul-tipped off his bat. He was in the midst of extending his scoreless innings pitched in the Series streak, with the Yankees winning game 4, 7-0, before just 32,589 at Crosley Field.




Published in: Uncategorized on April 23, 2015 at 10:27 am  Comments (1)  

The First Seattle Mariners Media Guide: 1977

This is a small curiosity: the first Mariners media guide pictured the Kingdome prominently on its cover, and told everybody “We can do it together!” 38 years later, the Kingdome is long gone, and the Mariners are still trying to win their first A.L. pennant.


Published in: Uncategorized on April 11, 2015 at 1:29 pm  Comments (3)  

The 1995 “Miracle” Seattle Mariners

This is the Seattle Times section, featuring Ken Griffey’s slide into home plate to win the 1995 ALDS over the Yankees, that celebrates what’s still the best moment in Mariners history:


I post it here, now, because of enthusiasm that the M’s will finally make it back to the playoffs in 2015, and because it’s 20 years since that ’95 season.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 20, 2015 at 10:39 am  Comments (1)  

A Few Notes on Jimmie Foxx’s Hitting in 1938

These are some features I noticed, looking through Foxx’s game log. In 1938, Foxx achieved each stop from 1 to 8 RBIs in a game, which I could see being a feat no one else has achieved in MLB history. Foxx twice drove in 6 runs in one game, drove in 4 runs in six games, and closed out the 149-game season with 7 RBIs vs. the Yankees on October 1. He had a streak of 14 RBIs over 5 games, and a streak of 13 RBIs in 4 games. He drew 6 walks in one game, vs. the Browns on June 16.

He did these things without the benefit of Ted Williams: the Red Sox who finished  second to Foxx’s 175 RBIs was Pinky Higgins with 106, and second behind Foxx’s  50 homers was Joe Cronin with 17.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 23, 2015 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Team Sub-.300 Winning Percentages

Wikipedia has a convenient page listing the 34 sub-.300 winning percentages posted by MLB teams from the 1870s to the present. Here are a few observations gleaned from that list.

The only sub-.235% teams played before 1900: 5 of them.

There have been 20 sub-.300% teams from 1900 onward, versus 14 before 1900. 16 of those 20 teams were in the Northeast (that is, from D.C. to Boston and west to Pittsburgh).

Eight of the 34 teams have been editions of the Philadelphia Phillies or Philadelphia A’s. The St. Louis Browns (3) are the only team west of the Mississippi River on the list.

Three of the 34 teams played after the end of World War II; 3 played during WWII (all of them Phillies teams), and 4 played during the ’30s. The Phillies had 5 seasons from 1938-1945 of sub-.300 records. In those 5 seasons, they cumulatively went 221-539, for a .291 winning percentage. I don’t know the franchise’s history in detail, but it sounds like it suffered from malfeasance or severe incompetence during those years. All that losing explains the fervor and exhilaration that surrounded their pennant-winning Whiz Kids team in 1950.

Finally: in light of the recent scarcity of teams losing more than 105 games in a season-even the 2013 Astros only lost 111 games-the fact of the 2003 Tigers going 43-119 (.265%) is almost inexplicable.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 8, 2015 at 10:12 am  Comments (2)  

Some Notes on Walter Johnson

You probably have a decent, but somewhat vague, idea of exactly what the Big Train accomplished in baseball. You can look through his career numbers, but it’s worth spelling out some of his more remarkable stats to highlight his uniqueness and some of the best arguments his backers can make for declaring him the greatest pitcher ever.

Johnson threw 110 shutouts, including 8 years with 7 or more shutouts. He had 12 years of 20 or more wins, including 69 wins in 1912 and 1913 combined. His 1.59 ERA for the decade of the 1910s, when he averaged 7 shutouts a year, was good for a cumulative ERA+ of 183, which, as his Baseball-reference Bullpen entry notes, would rank as ten of the top 100 single seasons for ERA+ if you divided it into 10 individual years. In the 1910s, Johnson had an average of 343 innings pitched per year. And, he recorded 20 saves. (He finished in the top 10 in the A.L. for saves 11 times.)

He was first in the A.L. in strikeouts 12 times. His 2.17 career ERA is first among starting pitchers who spent a sizable amount of their careers after the deadball era ended, with Pete Alexander’s 2.56 the next closest among starters.

Johnson had 5914 1/3rd innings pitched, the equivalent of 30 seasons at 200 innings a year, which strikes me as similar to thinking of how matching Rickey Henderson’s 1406 steals would require 50 steals a year for 28 years. His two years of >300 strikeouts, in 1910 and 1912, were the last in MLB until Bob Feller came along, and he was the last to do it twice until Sam McDowell and Sandy Koufax in the mid-1960s.

As for hitting, the Big Train hit at least .270 four times in the 1920s, peaking at .433(!) in 1925, when he went 42-97, slugging .577, with an OPS+ of 163. That, I would guess, is a record for starting pitchers, or at least a record for starters older than 35. Then, in 1927, at age 39, he hit .348 over 46 at-bats. He slugged above .400 five times, twice in the 1910s.

Johnson’s career spanned 1907 through 1927: in that time, the Senators’ cumulative winning percentage was .492, quite a bit better than I would have guessed. The Senators won .506% of their games during the 1910s, his prime, and won 90+ games 4 times in the Big Train’s career. But, they were .325% in his rookie 1907 season, and .276% in 1909, which are probably the two worst records posted by a team with a great, great player who was playing relatively well. The 1935 Braves, at 38-115, had Babe Ruth for a couple months, but he hit .181 in 72 at-bats.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 24, 2015 at 9:48 am  Comments (3)  

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