From Dillinger to Berra, Myth Trivia discovers odd baseball oddities
CHARLOTTE, NC: Back in the day when the World Series was played in the daytime, it was the ideal sports championship for the fall. October baseball was a time of lengthening shadows silhouetted on lush green carpets of grass. There was a crisp chill in the air and rust-colored earth-toned rainbows of autumn signaled a time when the boys of summer would soon retire for their annual winter hibernation.
More than any other sport, baseball is a transitional game that follows the seasons
It bursts forth each spring with promises of renewal filled with optimism. Then, in the fall, it completes its journey by deciding its champion before settling into a cocoon similar to a caterpillar that slumbers through its metamorphosis before re-emerging with the prospects of hope highlighted by the freshness of the pastel colors of spring.
During the interim, baseball is frequently filled with delicious oddities and quirkiness that are the topics for today’s Myth Trivia as a prelude to the playoffs.
We begin with former Public Enemy #1, John Dillinger who, as a young man, professional baseball player at second base and shortstop.
Dillinger’s nickname was “Jackrabbit” because he was so quick, but he never made it to the major leagues.
There is much discussion about rules changes in baseball these days
In the mid-1800s “patching” was banned from the game. In those days, “patching” allowed the defense to throw the ball directly at a runner who was between bases. If it hit him, the runner was out.
In 1911, Herman “Germany” Schaefer actually stole first base. Schaefer stole second and then ran back to first. Supposedly trying to steal second again, he got caught in a rundown in the hope that his teammate on third could score before he was tagged out.
Knuckle-ball Hall of Fame pitcher, Hoyt Wilhelm, hit a home run in his very first at-bat as a 28-year old rookie. Twenty-one years and 493 plate appearances later, Wilhelm retired without ever hitting another round-tripper.
Speaking of home runs, when Jimmy Piersall hit his 100th dinger, he celebrated by facing backward as he rounded the bases.
Second baseman Bobby Richardson of the New York Yankees drove in 12 runs and hit .367 to be named the MVP in the 1960 World Series, but the Yankees lost the series that year to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the first World Series that ever ended with a walk-off home run when Bill Mazeroski hit a Bill Terry pitch into the left-field seats in the bottom of the ninth to give the Pirates a 10-9 victory.
Yogi Berra – baseball’s loveable catcher
Many people, including non-baseball fans, remember Yankees catcher Yogi Berra as a lovable, colorful character who became known for his philosophical nonsensical “Yogi-isms” which were sayings that made no sense yet seemed perfectly logical to anyone who heard them.
What most people do not know is that Yogi stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day on June 6, 1944. He then went on to win 10 World Series Rings.
As for the nickname “Yogi”, Berra used to sit cross-legged in the on-deck circle which some of his teammates said, “made him look like a swami.” Hence the name “Yogi” which stuck and is now immortalized as part of baseball lore.
When he was growing up, a young boy named Tim Smith had Tug McGraw’s baseball card taped to his bedroom wall. One day he found a birth certificate only to discover that Tug McGraw was his father. The boy then changed his last name and grew up to become country music superstar Tim McGraw.
The baseball commissioner who negotiated the agreement banning Pete Rose from baseball was A. Bartlett Giamatti, the father of actor Paul Giamatti.
Joe Medwick, nicknamed “Ducky” because he appeared to waddle when he ran,” was a star outfielder for the St Louis Cardinals. When he met Pope Pius XII, Medwick introduced himself as a peer:
“Your Holiness, I’m Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal!”
Pumpsie Green and the Boston Red Sox’s Ugly Blunder
Believe it or not, the Boston Red Sox once had the opportunity to sign Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays for pennies on the dollar, which would have had them playing on the same team with Ted Williams.
Sadly, owner Tom Yawkey wanted to keep his team lily-white, making Boston the last MLB team to integrate. In 1959 racial discrimination lawsuits prompted a change and the team was integrated. ‘Pumpsie’ Green, shortstop and second baseman, is the first African American player for Red Sox.
Green passed away at the age of 85 (1933-2019) in July of this year.
When Don Larsen pitched his perfect game in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, his wife filed for divorce just before the game. During the 1930 season, Joe Sewell only struck out three times in 353 trips to plate. Oddly enough two of those strikeouts came in the same game.
And now for the kicker…
The MLB Comeback Player of the Year was only established in 2005, but can you guess which product endorsed the award? The answer is obvious when you think about.
Viagra was the sponsor, of course!
As batters have known since the beginning, you’ve gotta lookout for the high hard one!
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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