Hysterical Abstract

When writer’s block sets in and you’re all out of ideas, make a lame attempt at humor. From the ol’ personal archive … gits and shiggles from before WWII:

1902

You’d think they’d try an intentional walk …

Texas Leaguer Nig Clarke went 8-for-8 with eight home runs.

1903

Manager Bill Armour can’t see the Forrest for the Gump?

Cleveland Naps shortstop John Gochnauer made 98 errors. Of course he must’ve been a heckuva hitter to stay in the lineup—right? Wrong. He hit a lusty .185.

Why the Phillies sucked so bad for so long (or call him the original Dick Allen) …

Bill Keister led his team in home runs and RBIs, while batting .320. Did he win team MVP? Not sure;they released him—you can say the Phillies gave their team a kick in the Keister.

Could happen in 2006 …

Detroit Tigers manager Win Mercer commits suicide in the preseason.

1904

Couldn’t they just spit on him like regular ballplayers?

Giants players, led by skipper John McGraw, beat an umpire unconscious during spring training. Had that happened in this era, the ump would likely be forced by Don Fehr to apologize to the players for bruising their knuckles thereby risking their careers.

Taking veteran experience a little too far…

Jim O’Rourke caught a game for the New York Giants—he was 52.

1905-06

Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz …NOT

The Boston Braves had four 20-game losers in their rotation: Irv Young (20-21), Vic Willis (12-29), Chick Fraser (14-21), and Kaiser Wilhelm (3-23). Interestingly, all four pitchers surrendered 122 earned runs that year.

And just to prove it wasn’t a fluke …

After that kind of abysmal season the best thing to do is revamp the pitching staff, right? Wrong. With three new starters, the Braves still have a quartet of 20-game losers: Young (16-25 ), Vive Lindaman (12-23), Jeff Pfeffer (13-22), and Gus Dorner (8-25).

And you thought Don Baylor was tough on pitchers …

The Cubs/Cardinals right hander Jack Taylor tosses 118 consecutive complete games (streak ended in 1906), and the PCL’s Rube Vickers hurls an all time organized baseball record 526 innings.

1907

Quit stahling …

Red Sox skipper Chick Stahl commits suicide during spring training.

1908

And you thought Don Baylor was tough on pitchers (part two) …

The Chicago Cubs’ Ed Reulbach tosses shutouts in both ends of a doubleheader. Walter Johnson tossed three shutouts over a four day stretch against the New York Highlanders (Yankees).

1909

In the “But you can’t measure his contributions with raw statistics! He had great intangibles and could call one hell of a game and offered leadership in the clubhouse!” department …

In 1909, Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Bill Bergen catches 112 games, and hits a magnificent .139. Bergen had over 3000 ML at bats and hit .170. His career OBP was .194 and he slugged .201, giving him a jaw-dropping, eye-popping career OPS of .395! On Aug. 23, 1909 Bergen goes 7-for-7 in throwing out base stealers.

1910

No drug testing needed here, no siree …

White Sox Hall of Famer Ed Walsh led the AL in ERA (1.26) and lost 20 games (18-20). The White Sox that year slugged a lusty .261.

But did they call him “The Chairman of the [Emery] Board”?

Canadian Yankee (OK, Highlander) Russ Ford, who popularized the “emery ball,” sets an AL rookie record with 26 wins and eight shutouts. After a two-year stint in the Federal League, Ford retired as he no longer could throw his best scuff.

1911

The blind leading the blind …

This is the first year that baseball employs more than one umpire on the field.

Giving both closers the day off …

On May 13, the New York Giants score 10 runs in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals before the Cards get their first out.

1912

Mo Vaughn matched this in an afternoon at Wendy’s …

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Chief Wilson legs out 36 triples. His next highest season total was 14, which he accomplished the following year. Shoeless Joe Jackson sets the AL mark that year with 26.

1913

But did they have to burp him afterward? …
Merito Acosta, a 17 year old rookie with the Washington Senators becomes the youngest player to get a pinch hit in AL history.

1914

Obeying the Eighth Commandment …

Cardinals SS (and future Hall-of-Fame manager for the Yankees) Merito Acosta>Miller Huggins is caught stealing 36 times (in 68 attempts).

1915

Well, at least it wasn’t for Ernie Broglio

The Cleveland Indians get Braggo Roth and cash from the Chicago White Sox for Joe Jackson.

And his grandchildren still don’t believe him …

On April 24, the Red Sox decided to pinch hit Hick Cady for the pitcher. It was the last time Babe Ruth was pinch hit for.

Not giving in to the hitter?

The Philadelphia A’s give the ball to rookie southpaw Bruno Haas. Haas walks 16 as the A’s lose (not surprisingly) 15-7.

1916

I’m going to hell for this one …

Former major league utility infielder John “I guess I didn’t” Dodge is killed by a pitch thrown by “Shotgun” Rogers in a Southern Association game.

I guess the fans in the outfield bleachers never got the memo …

Chicago Cubs owner Charles Weegham is the first team owner who allows fans to keep balls hit out of play.

April games do count …

The New York Giants finish fourth in the NL with an 86-66 record, despite having a 26-game winning streak.

1917

Oh no, No-no-No-no …

On May 2, Cincinnati Reds right hander Fred Toney (24-16, 2.20 ERA), and Chicago Cubs southpaw Hippo Vaughn (23-13, 2.01 ERA) throw mutual no-hitters through nine innings. Toney will win it in ten innings: 1-0.

Ernie row your Babe a-Shore …

On June 23, Babe Ruth walks the first batter of a game against the Senators, argues the [ball four] call and is ejected. Ernie Shore comes into the game, picks the runner off first, and retires the next 26 hitters to face him.

This could happen in 2006 …

The Pittsburgh Pirates hire Hugo Bedzek as their manager. His previous job: college football coach.

1918

Our pitcher who Art in trouble, hollowed be our bats …

On Aug. 1, Boston Braves southpaw (184-120, 3.20 ERA lifetime) Art Nehf throws 20 shutout innings. The Braves (and Nehf) lose 2-0 in the 21st.

1919

“They stole them on the pitcher—honest” …

On July 7, Giants catcher Mike Gonzalez allows eight stolen bases in a single inning.

This will hoit. This Joe didn’t even get a song by Simon and Garfunkel and he never bagged Marilyn Monroe …

Western Leaguer Joe Wilhoit of Wichita registers hits in a record 69 consecutive games.

1920

I guess this is why they invented KY jelly …

The spitball is officially banned from baseball. Some say the impetus behind this ruling was the fatal beaning of the Indians Ray Chapman by Carl Mays. Chapman habitually hung over the plate so much that Mays claimed had the pitch not hit Chapman, it would’ve been called a strike.

There are no Eighth Commandments in baseball …

Cleveland’s Larry Gardner attempted 23 base thefts; he succeeded three times.

If a tie is like kissing your sister, I’m guessing you’d have to go Arkansas for this …

On May 1, Brooklyn’s Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger of the Boston Braves pitch all 26 innings of a 1-1 tie.

I’ll bet the guy who started game three was told to pitch a complete game …

On Oct. 2, the Pirates and Reds play the final tripleheader in MLB history.

Designate THIS …

Former pitchers Babe Ruth and George Sisler set significant batting marks. Ruth slugs an all-time record .847, and Sisler bats .407.

Landis in Wonderland after chasing a white Rabbit Maranville …

Lost in the glare of the Black Sox scandal was that former Federal League batting champ Benny Kauff is thrown out of baseball for life by commissioner (and former judge) Kenesaw Mountain Landis. His crime? Being found not guilty in court for being a part of a stolen car ring. Landis felt, despite the court’s ruling, that he was probably guilty anyway.

1921

Now if we could only get the umpires to wear them …

“Specs” Toporcer becomes the first major league player to wear glasses on the field. Any guesses what bench jockeys around the NL called him?

Usually you go to the cellar to avoid things that suck so bad they register on the Fujita Scale …

For the seventh straight year the Philadelphia Athletics finish dead last.

Not my fault …

Waite Hoyt of the Yankees starts three games in the World Series, posts an ERA of 0.00, but loses the final game of the Fall Classic 1-0 against the Giants.

1922

Not him again …

Detroit Tigers Harry Heilmann hits 21 home runs. Ten of them are hit at Shibe Park against the Athletics.

Kind of makes you wonder why they bothered to go to the bullpen …

In late August, the Cubs beat the Phillies 26-23.

Wabbit season? …

Rabbit Maranville has 672 at bats and 0 home runs.

1923

Maybe if Christian Guzman started in 1923 …

Babe Ruth reaches base 379 times in 1923.

Go figure …

New York Giants hurler Jack Bentley hits .406 while Cleveland Indians pitcher George Uhle sets a major league record by banging out 52 hits.

Why my great-grandchildren routinely take a leak on your grave …

Howard Ehmke of the Red Sox no-hits the A’s on Sept. 7. In his next start Ehmke tosses a one-hitter; the official scorer calls a potential error the only hit of the game.

Minor accomplishments …

Paul Strand of the PCL’s Salt Lake City club notches 325 hits in 1923. Paul Schneider of the Vernon club rips five home runs and a double in a single game.

1924

Mary had a little … er, make it a double …

Lyman Lamb of Tulsa in the Western League reaches the century mark in doubles.

Thou shalt not bother …

The Cubs are caught stealing an NL record 149 times.

1925

And you thought he was just another pretty pitcher …

Walter Johnson (in 97 at-bats) bats .433 and posts an OPS of 1.032.

What’s the beaker for?

Tony Lazzeri hits 60 home runs for Salt Lake City in the PCL.

I think I saw Miguel Batista do this last year …

On June 15, the Indians are up 15-4 over the A’s in the 8th inning. The A’s rally to win 17-15.

D‘OH! …

Washington Senator Roger Peckinpaugh wins the AL MVP award then commits eight errors in the World Series.

1926

But he never got past first base until he turned 19 …

A Giants 17 year-old rookie outfielder becomes the youngest NLer to get a pinch hit. His name? Mel Ott.

Looking back in hystery …

Reading of the International League posts a .194 winning percentage (31-129). Fan Appreciation Day canceled when he didn’t show up.

1927

Eating Brownies …

The Yankees send the Browns packing 21 times in 1927.

Why you don’t want to hit after the pitcher …

Lloyd Waner scores 133 runs but notches just, 27 RBIs.

How to tell the relief corps that you think they suck without actually saying it …

35 year old Jack Scott (9-21, 5.10 ERA) becomes the oldest pitcher to hurl two complete games in the same day.

1929

Indefensible …

Poor fielding Ike Boone of the PCL’s Mission Reds collects 553 total bases. He’d hit .370 over his minor league career and .321 (1159 at-bats) in the majors. He couldn’t stick due to poor defense.

Perhaps a designated pitcher rule would help …

The Phillies have four players who notch 200 hits: Lefty O’Doul (254), Fresco Thompson (202), Pinky Whitney (200), and Chuck Klein (219); they finish 71-82 as the pitching staff posts a 6.13 ERA—Russ Miller goes 0-12.

Did you expect him to beat himself?

The White Sox Art Shires, who worked as a prizefighter in the offseason, beats up manager Lena Blackburne three times.

Under threat of death …

Ivy Wingo retires with the most career errors by a catcher (234).

1930

Once a catcher, always a catcher …

On Jan. 10, Shires K.O’s knocks out Braves’ catcher Al Spohrer at Boston Garden. Shires was obviously the better hitter. Shires hit .291 lifetime; Spohrer, .259.

When pitching hell wasn’t located in Colorado …

The Phillies’ pitching staff has a team ERA of 6.71. Leo Sweetland goes 7-15, 7.71 ERA; Claude Willoughby posts a 4-17, 7.59 ERA; Hap Collard‘s mark is 6-12, 6.80 ERA; and Hal Elliot‘s ledger reads 6-11, 7.69 ERA. Opposing teams bat .342 off Phils’ pitching and score 1199 runs.

Sit the bum down until he learns contact …

Babe Ruth becomes the first documented player to whiff 1000 times in his career.

From the “Aaaah, he won’t do it again” department …

On May 6, Gene Rye, playing for Waco in the Texas League, hits three homers in the same inning.

Holy Julio!

Jack Quinn of the Philadelphia A’s becomes the oldest player to hit a major league home run (46). He’d lead the NL in saves (15) the following season with Brooklyn.

But he tested positive for prune juice …

Sam Rice of the Washington Senators registers 207 hits, 121 runs, and 271 total bases—at age 40.

Giving batters a little bush …

Cubbie hurler Guy Bush surrenders 155 earned runs.

Check the birth certificate dumbass …

George Watkins hits .373, posts an OPS of 1.037. In 1932, he hits .312, his only other .300 season. He plays his final major league season in 1936.

Next time strike out and keep the inning going …

On July 25, the Cleveland Indians hit into two triple plays against the A’s.

1931

Designed to specs …

The Cardinals’ Chick Hafey wins the batting crown (.349). He’s the first player with glasses to accomplish the feat.

Double take …

Earl Webb of the Red Sox hits a MLB record 67 doubles.

I bet the umpires just loved reminding managers of this …

Balls hit over the fence on the bounce are now ruled doubles—not home runs.

Tricycle …

Babe Herman of the Brooklyn Dodgers hits for the cycle three times.

He couldn’t even catch a buzz …

Buzz Arlett plays in his sole major league season. The giant (6′ 4″, 230 lb.) Arlett, in his sole major league season with the Phillies, finished fifth in slugging, fifth in OPS and fourth in home runs with 18. However, early in his career, a Cardinals’ scout stuck the “good hit, no field” label on him, and it haunted him the rest of his career. However, his minor league career was eerily reminiscent of another pitcher turned slugger: Babe Ruth. Arlett started his career as a right-handed spitball pitcher—with the reputation of “he’s a good hitter, for pitcher”—with the hometown Oakland Oaks in 1918, and went on to win 108 games, twice going over 25 wins in a season. The Detroit Tigers looked at him, but without the spitball, which he wouldn’t be able to use in the majors, they did not consider him a prospect.

However arm miseries set in early in 1923, and Arlett switched to the outfield; however, once becoming a regular outfielder, he turned into a monster hitter, averaging nearly .360 with 30 homers and 140 RBIs through the rest of the 1920s. However, the label put on him by the Cardinal scout kept him in the minors until the Phillies took a chance on him in 1931 (the season when the National League introduced a “dead ball” in reaction to the hitting orgies of 1929-1930). Like his teammate Chuck Klein, he found hitting in the ‘Baker Bowl’ to be a tremendously rewarding experience. Regardless, at the end of the year Arlett was sent to Baltimore, where in 1932 he hit 4 homers in a game twice within a five-week period and led the league with 54 homers for the season, but he would never return to the majors.

1932

Can it really be called ‘relief’?

On July 10, A’s hurler Ed Rommel coughs up 29 hits and 14 runs in a relief appearance.

Mission: Control …

Alvin Crowder (26-13, 3.33 ERA) of the Washington Senators pitches 327 innings and doesn’t throw a wild pitch or hit a batter. He walked just 77 hitters.

1933

And I bet they both got booed …

Philadelphia saw two players cop the triple crown. Philadelphia A’s first baseman Jimmy Foxx hit .356, with 48 home runs and 163 RBIs; and Klein batted .368, with 28 home runs and 120 RBIs.

Ever wonder what a Bud Selig wet dream looks like?

Despite winning the triple crown, A’s owner forced Jimmy Foxx to take a pay cut because his home run totals dropped from 58 to 48.

Waiting for Lefty …

Lefty Grove shuts out the Yankees on Aug. 3, the first time in 309 games that the Bronx Bombers were held scoreless.

Pulled the hitter and finger …

Nick Altrock pinch hits for the Washington Senators—he was 57 at the time.

Blame the pitching staff …

Phillies infielder Mickey Finn dies from an ulcer.

1934

Sealed with a Clip …

The New York Yankees purchase an outfielder from the San Francisco Seals for $25,000. His name? Joe DiMaggio.

They must have been awfully ugly grandchildren …

Senators’ owner Clark Griffith sells his son-in-law Joe Cronin to the Red Sox for $250,000 and Lyn Lary.

Junior achievement …

Tribe rookie Hal Trosky collects 374 total bases.

Your [pink] slip is showing …

The Yankees release Herb Pennock and Joe Sewell on the same day—both will eventually be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Today in horkory …

Burleigh Grimes wins the last game ever by a pitcher who could throw a legal spitball on May 1.

Jack Russell terror …

Jack Russell (5-10, 4.16 ERA; 7 saves) of the Senators becomes the first reliever selected as an All Star (he was 12-6, 2.69 ERA; 13 saves the previous year).

Did they stop the game to commemorate the feat?

Firpo Marberry becomes first reliever to notch 100 saves.

No one sucks like Gaston gives up home runs like Gaston likes to watch his team lose baseball games like Gaston …

Milt Gaston retires with a 97-164, 4.55 ERA ledger. He posted winning seasons in his first two seasons and none thereafter. Gaston was 23-71 over his final four major league campaigns.

1935

The perfect guest …

The Braves are 13-65 on the road.

I’m surrounded by idiots …

Wally Berger of the Braves leads the NL in home runs (34) and RBIs (130).

Not much point in keeping you too–is there?

The A’s sell Foxx and Johnny Marcum to the Red Sox for $150,000.

Turn on the lights this party’s starting …

On May 24, the first night time games is played. The Reds beat the Phillies at Crosley Field.

1936

Why the pitchers were committed …

The Phillies commit 252 errors.

However he never relieved himself on the mound …

Dizzy Dean is the last major league pitcher to lead the loop in wins (28) and saves (11).

Tom Yawkey grabs Connie’s boob …

The A’s trade Boob McNair and Doc Cramer to the Red Sox for two minor leaguers and $75,000.

1937

TINSTAAPP …

The Braves have two 30+ year-old rookie pitchers: Lou Fette (20-10, 2.88 ERA) and Jim Turner (20-11, 2.38 ERA).

You can’t always get what you want …

The Braves have the best staff ERA in the majors (3.22), but the worst team batting average (.247).

1938

O.K. let’s see you do it a third time …

Johnny Vander Meer throws no-hitters in consecutive starts on June 11 (Braves) and June 15 (Dodgers).

Pitch count hell …

Bob Feller leads MLB in strikeouts (240) and walks (208).

This achievement was positively seismic …

Hack Wilson leads the NL in stolen bases with 16.

The best support not found in a Victoria’s Secres catalogue …

St. Louis Browns hurler Bobo Newsom wins 20 games (20-16) despite an ERA of 5.08.

Oh K …

Virgil Trucks (177-135, 3.38 ERA) fans 418 in the Alabama-Florida League while apprenticing in the minors.

He also never got to first base with Marilyn Monroe …

Vince DiMaggio sets a then-major league record by whiffing 134 times (since broken—repeatedly).

1939

Maybe he just took a sip of THG …

Johnny Cooney plays from 1921-38 (1953 at-bats) without hitting a home run. He hit a home runs on Sept. 24 and 25, and then never hit another in his career (2 home runs/3372 at-bats).

Meter Rueter…

Earl Whitehill retires with a 218-185, 4.36 ERA record. It’s the highest ERA for a pitcher with more than 200 wins.

Schmidt happens …

Northern Leaguer Bob Schmidt, of Duluth, bats an organized baseball record .441.

There’s no place like home

The Browns finish with a home record of 18-59.

1940

Halitosis? Flatulence? Valedictorian of the Ty Cobb School of Charm?

Willis Hudlin plays for four teams in the same year: Cleveland, St. Louis (Browns), New York (Giants), and Washington.

And you wonder why Philadelphia fans are so hostile …

The Phillies and Athletics both lose over 100 games.

Baylor, Biggio …

The Yankees’ Frank Crosetti (career BA .245; career OBP .341) leads the AL in hit-by-pitches for the fifth consecutive year.

1941

Adam Dunn doesn’t last 77 minutes …

Lloyd Waner plays 77 consecutive games without striking out.

Canadian bakin’ …

Canadian Jeff Heath of the Indians is the first AL player to hit more than 20 doubles/triples/home runs in the same year.

And how was your day?

On May 7, Reds SS Eddie Joost handles 19 chances.

Sixty years later and we’re still not impressed …

Danny Murtaugh of the Phillies leads the NL in steals (18), but hits just .219.

Print Friendly
 Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
« Previous: Constructing Lineups
Next: Around the Majors: Ruhle has cancer »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *