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15 Interesting Facts Baseball Fans Might Not Know

Peter SchaeferContributor IIFebruary 11, 2012

15 Interesting Facts Baseball Fans Might Not Know

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    Baseball is America's pastime and has seen its share of interesting occurrences and just plain goofy history. That is part of the allure of baseball to hear about or see weird things happen; to witness a rare feat; or to see something that will never be duplicated.

    It is why America has a love affair with baseball. It may not be the most popular sport anymore, but there is something about baseball that always captivates.

    Here are 15 interesting things baseball fans might appreciate.

Wrong Way

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    Fact: Jimmy Piersall celebrated his 100th home run by running the bases backwards.

     

    Jimmy Piresall was eccentric to say the least; his life became the basis for the book & movie Fear Strikes Out, which chronicles his battle with bipolar disorder.

    Some of Piersall's stunts include, walking up to bat wearing a Beatles wig, talking to the monument of Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium, and climbing a grandstand roof to heckle an umpire.

    The grandaddy of all his stunts occurred while playing for the Mets; in the fifth inning of a game against the Phillies, Piersall hit the 100th home run of his career, and promptly ran the bases in correct order...just facing backwards.

    Needless to say, Mets manager Casey Stengel was not amused; Piersall was quickly given the pink slip.

One out of Three Ain't Bad

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    Fact: Don Baylor played in three straight World Series....for three different teams.

     

    Don Baylor was a world-class manager and a very good player for a number of teams, winning the MVP in 1979 and three silver slugger awards. Baylor is regarded as one of the most underrated players of all-time.  

    Baylor made the World Series three times in his career, and they just happened to be consecutively, in 1986 (Red Sox), 1987 (Twins), and 1988 (Athletics). Only the Twins won him a championship in 1987, a year he was seldom used.

Winning...Kind of

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    Fact: Bobby Richardson won the World Series MVP for a losing team.

     

    The team he played for was the Yankees in the historic 1960 World Series. Coming off a down year the Yankees chewed up the league, and going into the World Series against the Pirates; people had already given the Yanks another title.

    It was not meant to be, as we all know the script: Bill Mazeroski hit a home run to win it for the Pirates and pull off a major upset. Richardson stole the show, however; batting .367, driving in 12, and hitting a grand slam.

    Richardson is the only player to win an MVP on the World Series runner-up.

Ground Control to Major...Perry?

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    Fact: Gaylord Perry hit a home run after his manager said they'd put a man on the moon first.

     

    Debuting in 1962, Perry played in an era where pitchers weren't only expected to pitch but hit as well.

    Talking to reporters over his pitcher's inability to hit, San Francisco Giants manager Alvin Dark joked "They'll put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run."

    During a game on July 20, 1969; a mere 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Perry stepped up to bat and hit his first career home run.

Lucky Pitch

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    Fact: Ken Ash won a game on only one pitch.

     

    On July 27, 1930 Reds pitcher Ken Ash was brought into a game against the Cubs with two on and no outs. Facing what any reliever dreads (a runner in scoring position and no outs), he delivered the pitch and the Cubs promptly delivered a triple play.

    Ash was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the inning, and the Reds staged a rally to win the game 6-5. Thus getting the no-name Ash into the history books as the only man to win a game on only one pitch.

Yeah, but I'm Better

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    Fact: The Garbank brothers finished a season with the exact same batting average.

     

    If you've never heard of the Garbanks, don't feel bad; 99.9 percent of fans haven't, either. The year was 1944, and the brothers who would go down in history were Bob and Mike Garbank.

    Mike played for the Yankees while Bob played for the Athletics, Mike played in over 80 games while Bob only got in 18, yet both posted a respectable .261 average.

    The odd occurrences don't stop there; they were both catchers in the American League, and they both threw out 39 percent of would-be basestealers in their careers!

    Did I mention they almost had the same number of games played for their careers?

That's Gotta Hurt!

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    Fact: Clarence Blethen injured himself with his own false teeth.

     

    In 1923, Clarence Blethen was a rookie pitcher for the Red Sox; he also happened to wear false teeth. When he was pitching, Clarence thought that he would look meaner if he took his teeth out, which he would place in his back pocket.

    Running the bases one day, Clarence forgot about his false teeth in his pocket. As he he went to steal second, his teeth clamped down, thus making Clarence Blethen the only man to be injured by biting himself in the butt.

A Nice Tribute

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    Fact: Bill Voiselle wore the name of his hometown on his uniform.

     

    Bill Voiselle was a pitcher for the Giants, Braves and Cubs, who had three stellar seasons in his nine-year career. For the last four seasons of his career, he switched to a number that was more suited for him: 96.

    So what? High numbers usually mean your gonna go down to the minors, right? Not for Bill; you see, 96 was not just a number to him; it was his South Carolina hometown.

A Roundabout Triple Play

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    Fact: Jack McCarthy threw out three runners at home plate in the same inning.

     

    While playing for the Cubs in 1905, outfielder Jack McCarthy was possibly a little angry with his team's inabilty to get anyone out. So McCarthy decided to take matters into his own hands.

    He threw out not one, not two but three runners trying to score. It is such an amazing feat that nobody has come close to matching it in the 108 years since, and unless the outs per inning expand to four, no one will ever have a shot at eclipsing him.

A Real Barnburner

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    Fact: No one had an RBI in the 1968 All-Star game.

     

    In 1968, the All-Star Game was played indoors for the first time at Houston's famous Astrodome. In the bottom of the first, the National League put a runner on third with no outs. Willie McCovey then stepped up and hit into a double play that scored the runner on third.

    After Hank Aaron walked, Ron Santo was retired on a ground-out, the game remained 1-0 for the remaining eight innings, and since no RBI is awarded on a fielder's choice; the NL won without an RBI.

    Oh yeah, who was the runner on third base?....Willie Mays, who won the MVP.

A Fair Deal

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    Fact:  The Dodgers and Cubs once traded their entire minor-league teams.

     

    Late in the 1957 season, the Dodgers were getting ready to move out west (unknown to their fans), and the Cubs were going nowhere (as usual).

    Each team deciding they needed some new blood down on the farm (plus the Cubs farm team was already in Los Angeles), traded not one, two, or even three players, but the entire 25-man roster.

    While it certainly wasn't the strangest trade ever, it definitely took the title for the biggest! 

Nothing's Changed, Except My Uniform...and My City

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    Fact: Joel Youngblood recorded a hit for two different teams in two different cities on the same day

     

    Joel Youngblood was a center fielder for the Mets; in 1982, they were playing the Cubs in Chicago, Youngblood struck out his first at-bat but knocked a single his next.

    After the Cubbies had retired the Mets in the top of the inning, Youngblood was informed he was traded to the Expos (now defunct), he arrived in Philadelphia (where the Expos were playing the Phillies) mid-way through the game.

    Coming in as a pinch hitter, Youngblood recorded his second hit of a very long day! 

1 Win, 1 Hit

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    Fact: Warren Spahn had as many career wins as hits.

     

    Warren Spahn is one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball, winning 20 games 13 times to go with a Cy Young in 1957.

    '"Spahny" was no slouch with the bat, either, as he belted 35 career home runs with 189 RBI and a .194 lifetime average.

    Spahn recorded his first win in 1946; 21 years later he retired with 363 wins; his first hit came four years prior in 1942, and when he retired, his career number of hits was...363.

A Grand Debut

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    Fact: Al Woods hit a home run in his first at-bat in the Blue Jays' first game

     

    Al Woods was a rookie for the expansion Toronto Blue Jays. On April 7, 1977, the Blue Jays played their first game, which they incredibly won.

    However, that was not the story of the game; in the bottom of the fifth with the Jays holding a 5-4 lead, Woods stepped up for the very first time and blasted a two-run home run.

    It was the only time a player hit a home run in his and his team's debut.

Three Times Not a Charm

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    Fact: The Minnesota Twins turned two triple plays in the same game.

     

    On July 17, 1990, the Twins entered the history books when they turned the ultimate rally killer twice!

    Playing the Red Sox, the first triple-dip occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning, and they did it again in the bottom of the eighth.

    Incredibly, they both occurred in the same fashion of 3B-2B-1B; even more incredibly, the Twins actually manged to lose the game! 

    The next day, the Twins and Red Sox set even more history: they combined for the most double plays ever, a game the Twins also managed to lose.

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