15 Nerdiest Figures in Baseball History

Joe Acampado@@AwesomepadoCorrespondent INovember 15, 2011

15 Nerdiest Figures in Baseball History

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    There have been many nerds in the history of baseball and it has fallen upon me to find the 15 nerdiest.

    This is no easy task as there are many different factors when it comes to determining a nerd.

    There are the looks.  Anything out of the social norm, either incredible acne, a lanky figure or the human incarnation of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

    There's also the smarts:  intellect, street smarts, being tech-savvy, proficiency in many skills.

    Then there's gaming habits, skills and social habits.  Most nerds tend to stay introverted and those that don't, go on the extreme extroverted route.

    I will be using all of these criteria in determining the 15 nerdiest figures in baseball history.  Notice how I said figures and not players since this list will include some GMs and managers.

Don Mossi

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    You gotta be a nerd if your ears will make Dumbo jealous.

    Don Mossi was a relief pitcher who made his debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1954.  He would go on to play for the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals before retiring in 1965.

    It's obvious what definition of nerd fits him.  He wasn't exactly blessed with Hollywood looks.

    Mossi was blessed with solid control which gave him a job in the majors for 11 years. Betcha some of you pretty boys and non-nerds can't say that about yourselves.

John Kruk

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    Just look at that hair and body.  Anybody think he could do a convincing truffle shuffle?  I sure do.

    John Kruk's a good guy.  He's just not blessed with an athlete's body.  Kruk was kinda like that chubby kid back in elementary school or middle school.  

    Everybody knew him, he was fun to have around (outside of snack/lunch time) and was extremely quotable.

    Now as an ESPN analyst, he's not helping his nerd status since everyone knows of his chowing down habits, and the guy seems to know his stuff.

    Kruk's like a cross between pre-metamorphosis Jonah Hill and Chunk from The Goonies.   

Ross Ohlendorf

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    Now here's a guy who looks the part and plays the part.

    AOL's Sporting News section has Ross Ohlendorf ranked as the third smartest athlete.  That's right, athlete, as in he's the third smartest guy out of every single sport combined.

    He must be, considering he went to Princeton to study Operations Research and Financial Engineering with a 3.8 GPA.  Oh, and his SAT score was only 1520 on the 1600 scale.  So yeah, he might be a bit smart.

    Granted, he's not as nerdy looking as some guys, he can still pass the nerd lookalike test.

Chris Young

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    Chris Young is following in Ross Ohlendorf's shadow.  Literally.  He's No. 8 on that same list Ohlendorf was on.

    He kinda looks like a nerd and definitely has the intellect to back it.

    By intellect, I mean compiling and finishing a thesis titled "The Impact of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball on Racial Stereotypes in America:  A Quantitative Content Analysis of Stories about Race" in The New York Times, while in the minors.

    I think that sums it up, does it not?

    But just to be on the safe side, he also went to Princeton for politics and has admitted to doing research before doing pretty much anything.

Lew Ford

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    The man Bert Blyleven calls "way too smart to baseball" according to the Marinerds' blog.  On there, they have him ranked as the fourth nerdiest player.

    Makes sense since Lew Ford loves Sudoku puzzles and playing Doom online.  More on players' gaming habits later.

    Ford got a 1400 on his SATs on the old 1600 scale.  Not too shabby if you ask me.  He also majored in Computer Science and Engineering while in college.  

    Which is pretty good considering most NBA players have enough trouble staying for two years with a major in First-Round Pick. 

    So he's got the looks, the brains and the gaming abilities down.  It's safe to say Lew Ford's one of the nerdiest players in baseball history.

Jason Szuminski

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    I never would've found this guy if not for that Marinerds blog.

    Let's do the rundown on Jason Szuminski to see if he qualifies:

    Looks?  Check, he's rather goofy looking.

    Brains?  Does it count if he went to MIT and obtained a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering which literally makes him a rocket scientist?

    My guess is that it kind of does.  I'm also gonna throw in he got his MBA from Stanford.  I don't know of too many guys in any sport that has done any of those, let alone both.

    Betcha he might make a better negotiator than high school graduates Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.  I can't believe they're sending guys like them in there to deal with lawyers with MBAs and Ph.Ds.  Sorry, enough about the NBA.

    Back to baseball, anybody who says a rocket scientist isn't an athlete should look Szuminski up.

Pat Gillick

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    Pat Gillick is going to be one of the GMs on this list.  This guy's been successful pretty much any place he goes.  

    While success isn't usually associated with nerd, you have to have some type of smarts to put together three World Series champions.

    His first success came with the Toronto Blue Jays with their back to back championships in 1992 and 1993.  

    After leaving them, he put together two playoff caliber teams in the Baltimore Orioles.

    After that, there's his stint with the Seattle Mariners, of course.  There's that 116-46 record in 2001 and he was able to bring Ichiro Suzuki State-side and to his team.

    His latest endeavor was pulling the Philadelphia Phillies, and pretty much the entire city as well, from the purgatory of losing by giving the city its first championship in 25 years.

    You could say it was luck, but it takes a lot of intelligence to be able to put together winning teams everywhere you go.

Andrew Friedman

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    Andrew Friedman looks like he could've been the one to swindle the Winklevoss twins instead of Mark Zuckerberg.  Friedman even looks like he could still be in college.

    At 35 years old, he's one of the youngest GMs in the league and he's doing one heck of a job.

    Let's not forget that he started being the Tampa Bay Rays' GM at 28 years old.

    Since that 2005 season, Friedman's been able to erase that perennial losing culture in the Tampa Bay clubhouse.  Every team in the league, especially two certain ones in the AL East have learned to fear the Rays instead of seeing them as a guaranteed win.

    The guy has to know what he's doing in order to pull that off.  To do that, Friedman has to be a nerd.  No question. 

Joe Maddon

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    Helping Andrew Friedman turn that image around in Tampa Bay is Joe Maddon.  The glasses alone should be enough to convince you he's a nerd.

    In two years, he took one of the worst teams and baseball and brought them to the World Series in 2008.

    The Rays haven't had a losing season since, making the playoffs twice since then, including an amazing September comeback facilitated by some team's collapse.  

    Maddon's been able to manage one of the youngest teams in baseball and keep them competitive each year.  

    He's got baseball smarts and the nerd look, so while he's only had recent success, I'm ready to call him one of the nerdiest baseball figures ever.

Tony La Russa

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    Does Tony La Russa know how to go out on top or does Tony La Russa know how to go out on top?

    The guy has a law degree but he also has three World Series rings.  La Russa's also ranked third in major league wins by a manager.  You've gotta be pretty nerdy to do that.

    Also helping his ballot chances to Baseball's Nerd Hall of Fame is the fact that was always very interested in baseball statistics and was known as a tactician when he managed.

    La Russa also experimented with his lineups, especially that number nine spot which was usually reserved for the pitchers.  

    Experiments?  Sounds a little nerd-like to me.

Connie Mack

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    I did say the nerdiest figures in baseball history and we're going a bit back in time for this one.

    He holds the record for just about everything related to managers and that's partially because of his longevity.

    Mack is also the first to win the World Series three times and is the only manager to win it back-to-back on separate occasions (1910–1911, 1929–1930).

    To obtain all these records, Mack had to be some sort of an intellectual or at least a tactician.  

    Mack was considered a master tactician since he didn't have the best teams around.  He even had the nickname of the "Tall Tactician"

    His managing was innovative and valued players' intelligence just as much as their ability, maybe even more.  

    In today's age, he probably would've schooled everyone on World of Warcraft and Battleship at the same time.

Mike Mussina

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    Mike Mussina graduated from Stanford with a degree in Economics.  He also could've become his high school's valedictorian but just barely failed to make the cut.  

    For that, Mussina gets 20 nerd points.

    He was the most cerebral Yankee I've ever seen.  I remember people always saying he would study footage of games and play crosswords whenever he had a chance.

    Mussina mainly kept to himself when he was a player and he's keeping to himself now that he's retired.

    There's another nerd trait:  introversion.

    Degree from Stanford plus runner-up to high school's valedictorian plus his tendencies as a baseball player plus his introversion equals a nerd in my book.

Billy Beane

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    I've gotta include the guy who's got a book and movie based off him because he did something with numbers.  Jeez, is Billy Beane a nerd or what?

    But honestly, I respect Beane and what he did for the Oakland Athletics.  Beane cut down payroll while managing to stay competitive.  He brought in a whole new way to build baseball teams and win games.

    Beane also helped bring sabermetrics to the forefront and while many haven't embraced all of those sabermetric stats, it's certainly gaining momentum.

    Nerds are known for their skills with numbers, so it's no secret that Billy Beane has to be one of the nerdiest people in baseball history.

Greg Maddux

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    A nickname like "The Professor" pretty much pegs you down as a nerd.  Not to mention a bunch of scouts weren't too keen on his skinny, nerd-like build.

    There was also his pitching style and the way he approached the game.  

    He was one of the better tacticians among pitchers, maybe among all baseball players.  Maddux would know the players' strength and weakness and even anticipate facing them later on.

    There are many stories of him predicting plays and at-bats that it's almost uncanny how he knew what was going to happen.

    Maddux's a nerd when he first came into the league, he had that prototypical nerd body.  

    He's also a nerd because of his insane baseball smarts.  He knew just about everything there is and was about baseball.

    He truly is "The Professor" indeed.

Curt Schilling

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    You know, if someone showed me this picture and told me it was their Design and Analysis of Algorithm professor, I'd believe them.

    Then I'd realize it was Curt Schilling, but I wouldn't be surprised if he moonlighted as a college professor sometime in his life.

    It's no secret that Curt Schilling is a BIG gaming fan, particularly of the Everquest franchise and MMORPGs (to the uninitiated that means Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games like World of Warcraft).  

    Schilling also has his own gaming company called 38 Studios.

    On the baseball side of things.  He was known to keep pitching info on a laptop and study it.  Schilling's also a fan of sabermetrics, even way back when it was just starting up.

    Needless to say, Schilling's got a case of nerd-itis. 


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