Robert Byrd and baseball

Relax – this has nothing to do with politics.

Then again, it doesn’t have too much to do with baseball, but .. ..

As some of you out there in readerland may have heard, Robert Byrd, the 92-year-old U. S. Senator from West Virginia just died.

This gives me an excuse to do something I really like doing: trying to put the elapse of time (in this case, the elapse of time between his becoming a senator and now) in perspective by looking up how the world’s changed. Since this is a baseball site, I’ll include a bunch of baseball stuff in it (though I won’t promise to limit it solely to baseball stuff). So with that in mind . ..

What to know how long it’s been since Robert Byrd first joined the US Senate?

Well, when he first had the good fortune to be one of 96 senators serving the 48 states in the union:

Buddy Holly was still alive. So was Tris Speaker. And Nap Lajoie. Ditto Frank Lloyd Wright, Ed Walsh, Fred Clarke, Ty Cobb, and the Marx Brothers.

George Brett was a new born. So were Julio Franco. Jesse Orosco was just a tad older.

Only three men had ever clubbed 500 homers. Only five were over 400. Only nine had ever hit half as many homers as Babe Ruth – only eight if you don’t include Ruth.

The 3,000 hit club had exactly eight members, six of whom still lived.

Walter Johnson was the only person to ever fan 3000 batters. Heck, he was only one of 11 to fan 2000

Finishing up the famous clubs, an even dozen pitchers had won 300 games. Only one of whom had done so in the last 30 years.

Catholic mass was in Latin.

Motown hadn’t been founded

Richard Dotson, former 20-game winner and Cy Young Award runner-up who last threw a MLB pitch over 20 years ago (well, 20 years and a couple weeks), wasn’t even born. Also not born: JTerry Francona, Tony Phillips, Mike Scioscia, and President Barack Obama.

Maury Wills was playing in the minor leagues. So were Willie McCovey, Billy Williams, Tim McCarver, Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, Ron Santo, Joe Torre and Yaz.

There was a skiffle group in Liverpool lacking a drummer, but with a bright future ahead.

Six teams had longer World Series droughts than the Cubs: White Sox, Orioles, Senators, A’s, Reds, and Pirates.

Casey Stengel managed the Yankees.

No black had ever played for the Red Sox, but Ted Williams still patrolled left field for them.

You want to know how long Byrd was in the Senate? He took control of that senate seat before Castro took over Cuba.

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  1. Nato Coles said...

    Thanks – great post, Chris!  What about a list of West Virginia natives who made the Major Leagues over the course of Byrd’s tenure?  (There’s George Brett again, if I remember correctly, but who else?)

  2. Chris J. said...


    Didn’t think of that one.  A full list of WV ballplayers can be found at b-ref here:

    Among the prominent ones since Byrd entered the senate:

    George Brett
    John Kruk
    Toby Harrah
    Steve Swisher
    John Wockenfuss
    Larry Brown
    Seth McClung
    Rick Reed

    Another WV kid, Bill Mazeroski, just finished his first All-Star season.

  3. Steve Treder said...

    Great stuff, Chris.

    Although as I’m reading all those fascinating factoids about how very different things were way back then, I suddenly realize:  wait, we’re talking about the year I was born.

    So I think you can just get off my lawn, now.  ;-p

  4. Chris J. said...

    Old man Treder,

    Just be glad I edited out the parts where you’re older than The Twilight Zone and the barbie doll.

  5. Chris J. said...

    Here’s another one:

    Byrd served as many decades in the senate and Connie Mack did in the dugout: 7.

  6. Dave Studeman said...

    I just want to point out that the owner of the Hardball Times is also a West Virginia native—as is one of our former star reports, Craig Calcaterra.

  7. jpdtrmpt72 said...

    you know what, i’m glad he’s dead. the government should have a forced retirement policy. and term limits on the senate and congress.

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