"Strange But True" turns 50

May 1, 2016
When I was growing up and started getting interested in baseball, one of the things that accelerated my appreciation for the sport and its history was reading books on the subject.  One of my early favorites was Behind the Mask, Bill Freehan’s journal of the 1969 season as the Tigers attempted to defend their 1968 championship, only to be foiled by one of the better teams of that era, the 1969 Baltimore Orioles.  That started a connection that I feel towards Freehan that still exists to this day, and as I’ve mentioned before on this site….if Freehan ever makes the Hall of Fame, the drinks are on me.
 
I also enjoyed, at a fairly early age, The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter (1966) , a collection of interviews that he conducted (and retold in the first person) with 26 notable players who mostly played in the first half of the 20th century.  Among the stars interviewed were Paul Waner, Edd Roush, Sam Crawford, Hank Greenberg, Goose Goslin, Stan Coveleski, and Harry Hooper, but it also included players who were not quite as well known as those others, such as Specs Toporcer, Al Bridwell, George Gibson, and Davy Jones.  It also included interviews with players who were involved with two of the more famous incidents in World Series history, Bill Wambsganss (he of the unassisted triple play in 1920) and Fred Snodgrass ("Snodgrass's Muff, in 1912).
 
The success of that book spawned several others of that same genre, including Baseball When the Grass Was Real, (1975) by Donald Honig (Ritter and Honig, you might recall, later teamed up for a book about the 100 greatest players of all time that Bill referenced often when compiling his initial top 100 list in the first Historical Abstract).  Similar in format to The Glory of Their Times, Honig’s book mostly focused on the late ‘20’s through the ‘40’s, and included narratives from the likes of Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Grove, Bob Feller, Johnny Mize, Billy Herman, and "Cool Papa" Bell.  It also contained a memorable entry by Clyde Sukeforth, a Dodger coach and scout, who was a witness to history by participating in the very first meeting between Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson.
 
There were others along the way.  The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book by Brendan C. Boyd & Fred C. Harris in 1973 was great fun.  Baseball is a Funny Game by Joe Garagiola (1960) was enjoyable as well.  And of course, as I got a little older, the introduction to Bill James’ Baseball Abstracts and other publications completely changed my way of thinking about and analyzing baseball.
 
But, the very first baseball book I ever owned and read was Strange But True Baseball Stories by Furman Bisher, the long-time sportswriter from the Atlanta area, who ended up with nearly 60 years on the job.  The subtitle on the cover referred to it as "Amusing, amazing, and offbeat moments in baseball history", and it certainly was that and more.  The book was first published in 1966, so it now celebrating 50 years of existence.
 
It’s definitely a book geared towards the young reader.  It’s classified as being geared to ages 10-14, and that seems about right.  I was probably about 10 when I read it, and it had a huge impact on me.
 
It covered a wide spectrum of events, players, and stories.  I no longer have the book, but I was able to locate a table of contents online.  Below is a list of the chapters/titles, along with my personal summary of each story’s main topic:
 
Chapter/ Title
Story
1. Immortal by Accident
Stan Musial’s injury forces a switch from pitcher to the outfield
 
2. The Greatest Defeat
Harvey Haddix's "Perfect Game"
 
3. The One-Armed Big Leaguer
The story of Pete Gray
 
4. One Last Game
Jim O'Rourke, future Hall of Famer, returns at age 54 for one game after more than a decade away from the game
 
5. The Pitcher Who Pitched All Night
Catcher Odell "Red" Barbary pitches all 22 innings of a minor league game
 
6. The "Miracle Braves" of 1914
George Stallings manages an unlikely champion
 
7. The Dog That Made a Box Score
Minor league game in which a player's dog joined him on the basepaths and received a footnote in the box score
 
8. Corporal Brissie and Dr Brubaker
Lou Brissie suffers a major injury in World War II but manages to make the Majors wearing a brace on his leg, and even makes the All Star team
 
9. The Midget of St Louis
The story of Bill Veeck’s famous stunt of having Eddie Gaedel take a turn at bat.
 
10. Dusty Rhodes Breaks Up the Series
Pinch hitter Rhodes of the Giants goes wild in the '54 series
 
11. A Game of Records
The wild game 5 of the 1920 World Series – The Wambsganss unassisted triple play, the 1st World Series grand slam, the first World Series homer by a pitcher.
 
12. Ol' Diz Makes a "Comeback"
Dizzy Dean's one game comeback after 5 years away from the game
 
13. The One-Inning Home Run King
Gene Rye, all 5'6"" of him, hits 3 home runs in one inning for Waco
 
14. The Day the Tigers Struck
Ty Cobb beats up a fan, is suspended, and for one game the Tigers strike in support of him, while replacement players lose to the A's 24-2
 
15. Connie Mack's Big Gamble
Connie Mack gives a special World Series assignment to Howard Ehmke
 
16. Opening the Door to Hollywood
The story of "Rifleman" Chuck Connors
 
17. The Shoeshine Pitch
Nippy Jones starts a rally in the 1957 World Series
 
18. Back Road to the Hall of Fame
The story of Dazzy Vance and his unusual career path
 
19. Lt Shepard of the Big Leagues
War hero Bert Shepard, pitching on a wooden leg, makes a successful appearance for the '45 Senators
 
20. The Tag-Along
Track star Gordie Windhorn accompanies a friend to a big league tryout for moral support, but ends up getting signed himself
 
21. Young Man in a Hurry
Ty Cobb writes his own scout letters to big league teams
 
22. Two For the Price of One
The double no hit game featuring Hippo Vaughn and Fred Toney
 
23. The Iron Horse
Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak
 
24. The Double No-Hit
Johnny Vander Meer pitches consecutive no hitters
 
25. The Batboy Who Played
A minor league team puts the bat boy into a game
 
26. The Miracle of Coogan's Bluff
The 1951 comeback by the Giants, capped by Bobby Thomson's home run
 
 
Now, I’m not sure how many of those seem "strange" to you.  I suppose it depends on which version of the definition of "strange" you apply.  Here are just a few of the many synonyms for "Strange":

  • Unusual
  • Odd
  • Curious
  • Peculiar
  • Funny
  • Bizarre
  • Weird
  • Uncanny
  • Unexpected
  • Unfamiliar
  • Atypical
  • Extraordinary
  • Puzzling
  • Mystifying
  • Mysterious
  • Perplexing
 
I remember when I first read the title of the book, my young mind interpreted "Strange but True" as being something inherently mysterious or bizarre.  However, I think the stories really tend to fit more under "unusual" or "unexpected".
 
As you can see, the stories covered a lot of ground.  Some of the stories, like Vander Meer’s consecutive no hitters, the story of Lou Gehrig’s rise and his resulting consecutive games streak, Haddix’s "perfect" game, the appearance of Gaedel, and Thomson’s home run, are among baseball’s most famous tales. 
 
Other stories, like one-armed Pete Gray, Mack’s usage of Howard Ehmke in the World Series, Dusty Rhodes’ pinch-hitting exploits in the ’54 Series, Nippy Jones and the shoeshine pitch, and the Tigers using replacement players as the team protested Cobb’s suspension, are ones that most baseball fans with a sense of history are likely familiar with.
 
Then, there are some that are more obscure, like the batboy who played, the dog who got in the box score, and Windhorn getting an offer from a major league club despite the fact that he was merely accompanying his friend to the tryouts.
 
As a young reader, I ate it all up.  I didn’t have any sense as to which stories were more well-known than others….to me, it was all brand new, and it brought the game to life for me.  They became part of my foundation for learning about this great game and its rich history.
 
So, in celebration of Strange but True turning 50, I got to wondering about what an updated version might look like, focusing on "amusing, amazing, and offbeat moments" over the past 50 years.  Now, this is not the first attempt at this.  In fact, about a year and a half ago on "Reader Posts", shortly after I had created a thread on baseball books and mentioned my affection for this book, Bill James Online member MarisFan61 started a new thread on this very same topic, seeing if the members could come up with our own "Strange But Trues".  So, some of this was sparked by that endeavor.
 
Note that not just any story qualifies as "Strange but "True".  It’s not enough just to be famous or to have an outstanding accomplishment.  "Strange but True" needs that that little extra something, that extra twist of the unusual.  Now, there was an actual follow-up book (not by Bisher) called "More Strange But True Baseball Stories" written a few years later, but I have no idea what stories were in it or how it was received. 
 
So, if we were writing a sequel now, what might it contain?  Here are some ideas as a starting point for chapters (with working titles) and stories, but I also invite you to submit comments on what you would envision that an updated version would contain. 
 
1. "Flint’s One-Handed Wonder"
The compelling story of Jim Abbott, who overcomes the lack of a right hand to achieve a string of successes, including pitching a no-hitter in the Major Leagues.
 
2. "A Change of Plans"
Rick Ankiel’s journey, starting as one of baseball’s best pitching prospects, to someone who completely unraveled in the playoffs and could no longer pitch effectively, and then eventually transforming himself  into an everyday outfielder with a signature strength.
 
3. "The Accidental All-Stars of the 1976 Tigers"
Teammates Ron LeFlore and Mark Fidrych arrive out of the blue, each with his own unique background, as two very unlikely stars.
 
4. "The Hall of Famer from the 62nd Round"
Mike Piazza is drafted as a favor to family friend Tommy LaSorda, and becomes one of the all-time great catchers.
 
5. "Simply Amazing"
The story of the 1969 Miracle Mets and their rise from laughingstock to World Series champion.
 
6. "In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time"
The Bartman Incident takes its place as the latest in a long line of Chicago Cub misfortunes.
 
7. "Putting the Curse of the Bambino to Rest"
The 2004 Boston Red Sox win the World Series after an 86 year drought, including coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to the Yankees.
 
8. "The Natural Makes a Comeback"
The roller coaster career of the talented Josh Hamilton, who went from #1 pick, to a drug addiction, to being out of baseball, to an MVP and 5-time All-Star, then a relapse, and now he’s trying for another comeback.  And he’s still only 34.
 
9. "The Sinkerballer and the Surgery"
Tommy John resurrects his career after receiving the surgery that eventually came to bear his name.
 
10. "Mad About You"
The Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky, and his transformation into a pitcher who became known for his outrageous behavior and his behind-the-mound antics.
 
11. "Better Late than Never"
Former first-round draft choice and subject of "The Rookie", Jim Morris makes his major league debut at age 35.
 
12. "The Rain Delay Thespian"
In the fine tradition of baseball clowns like Max Patkin and Al Schacht, Rick Dempsey turns the tarp into his own personal stage.
 
13. "The Night They Drove Old Disco Down"
In the category of "bad idea all the way around", the White Sox end up forfeiting a game on "Disco Demolition Night" as the 1970’s came to a close.
 
14. "From Heart Attack to Fireman of the Year"
John Hiller recovers from a devastating heart attack to post some historic relief seasons.
 
15. "Getting a Grip"
The story of the infamous 1983 Pine Tar game between the Royals and the Yankees, as George Brett goes ballistic.
 
16. "The Patriotic Cub"
During the Bi-Centennial year, Rick Monday saves the flag at Dodger Stadium.
 
17. "The Great Potato Prank"
Minor leaguer Dave Bresnahan, great-nephew of Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan, uses a potato as a fake baseball to deceive a baserunner (thanks to BJOL reader evanecurb for this one)
 
18. "The 3,000 Hit Humanitarian"
The story of Roberto Clemente reaching 3,000 hits in his last official at bat, and then tragically dying while trying to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. 
 
19. "The Knuckleballer Gets His Hand Caught in the Cookie Jar"
The story of Joe Niekro and his emery board.
 
20. "From the Gridiron to the Diamond"
Legendary football players Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders leave their mark on the Major Leagues in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.
 
Taking a closer look at just a few of these:
 
Jim Abbott would be a perfect fit for this book.  His story has some similarity to those of Pete Gray, Lou Brissie, and Bert Shepard from the original book, although Brissie and Shepard’s situations were war-related injuries rather than something they were born with. 
 
The thing I love about Abbott’s story is that he seems like a genuinely decent guy with a great attitude.  I got the sense that he didn’t see himself as handicapped, but rather that, while he was missing a right hand, he was blessed with an exceptional left arm.  I was always amazed by that move….you know, the one where he catches the ball in his glove and instantly the ball is transferred to his hand and the glove is neatly stowed away.  It happened so quickly, it was difficult to follow. 
 
His whole journey – from local sports legend to winning the Sullivan Award as the best amateur athlete in college to the Olympic triumph to a successful 10 year career in the majors which featured a 3rd place finish in the 1991 Cy Young balloting and throwing a no-hitter in 1993 for the Yankees.
 
I also love that on his baseball-reference.com page, you find this entry near the top:
 
Bats: Left, Throws: Left , Fields Left as well
 
I love it.  "Fields left as well".  And by the way, I checked Pete Gray’s entry, and sure enough, he’s listed with the same designations.
 
Yes, Jim Abbott has to make this book.
 
Rick Ankiel has always been an intriguing player to me.  On one of my early fantasy baseball teams, I drafted Ankiel as a minor league player.  He truly was an uber-prospect, with amazing movement on his pitches.  He had a pretty good rookie year, but then it all came apart in the playoffs as he unleashed wild pitch after wild pitch. It was the beginning of the end for him as a pitcher, even though he had moments as he went along that made it seem like he might restore the magic.  But, eventually, he had to give up pitching.
 
However, he was able to transform himself into another type of player.  He had some hitting skill, and he was able to make a comeback all the way to the Majors as an outfielder.  He wasn’t a great position player, but he hit as many as 25 HR’s in a season, and his career figure of 19 HR’s per 162 games is nothing to sneeze at.  In addition, he gained a reputation for displaying one of the strongest and most accurate outfield throwing arms in the Majors.  There are some interesting YouTube compilations of his arm on display that you can reference.  Ironically, the player who lost his accuracy as a pitcher from 60 feet 6 inches away was able to unleash some of the strongest, most accurate throws from the outfield distance that you’ll see.  A fascinating story.
 
Ron LeFlore and Mark Fidrych probably could each justify his own entry in the book.  I combined them primarily because they were teammates for a short while, but their stories are quite different.
 
LeFlore, of course, had a very unusual path to the Majors, which included time spent as an inmate in prison.  LeFlore eventually made the Majors in 1974 and had a successful career with the Tigers, Expos, and White Sox, leading the league at various times in runs and stolen bases, and finished his 9-year career with a .288 average.  Excluding players who played most of their careers before 1900, LeFlore has the 3rd highest stolen bases per 162 game figure with 67, behind only Vince Coleman (89) and Rickey Henderson (74). 
 
Also, I believe LeFlore may be the only player in history who never had a season in which he stole less than 20 bases.  LeFlore played 9 years, and his 23 steals in his debut season of 1974 (achieved in only 59 games) was the lowest figure he ever had.  Yes, if he had played longer, it’s likely he would have eventually had a season with fewer than 20, but he never did.
 
Fidrych had a much different path to the Majors.  He was drafted in the 10th round of the 1974 amateur draft.  He made the Tigers’ team in 1976, but through the teams first 23 games, he only made 2 appearances for a total of 1 inning.  On May 15th, he got a chance to start, and turned in a complete game, 2-hit win over Cleveland, and he didn’t look back from there.  He threw 6 straight complete games (including two 11-inning efforts) and went 5-1.  He eventually went 19-9 for the season, and in his 29 starts, he completed 24 of them.
 
More than the results, though, was the manner in which he went about his job.  He talked to the ball, he manicured the mound, he vigorously shook everyone’s hand at the conclusion of each win.  "The Bird", as he was called (due to his resemblance to the Sesame Street character), was quite the sensation, and certainly looked less like a ball player than just about anyone you could imagine.  But, he quickly became immensely popular for his success, his antics, and his general likeable personality.  He was certainly an entertaining player to watch.  In his New Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill described Fidrych as "more fun than a barrel of butterflies and a bucket of mud".
 
Well, I don’t want to get into great detail on each one, because you’re probably familiar with most of them, and I think you get the idea.  Following the lead of the original book, these stories run the gamut from personal triumphs to team triumphs, from colorful personalities to controversial events, from unusual career paths to remarkable comebacks.
 
I think this would make for an interesting collection of short stories for a young reader of today to introduce him to baseball’s most recent half century.  I’m a little short on minor league entries, and sometimes those are even more interesting because they may not be as well known as those occurring in the Majors.  If you have any suggestions or any other ideas, please submit.
 
Thanks for reading.
    
 
 

COMMENTS (31 Comments, most recent shown first)

MarisFan61
DMB: Yes, after I did that comment, I had a 'recovered memory' about doing that thread, and I suspected that I had posted the same two examples.

Which would suggest another "strange but true" :-) -- Old guys forget stuff and sometimes tell the same stories over and over without having a clue.

BTW, have I ever mentioned the stories about Kaz Matsui and the 3 Yanks who went back-to-back-to-back.....
3:23 PM May 9th
 
DMBBHF
A continued thanks to everyone for all the comments and suggestions. There have been some really strong suggestions. I think we have enough for a book....now we just need to find a publisher.... :)

MarisFan,

Yes, I'm positive you're the one that started the thread I referred to. It was called "Our own "Strange But Trues"" and you created it on 11/7/2014. In your initial post on that thread, you referenced the Kaz Matsui tale.

This link should take you to it:

boards.billjamesonline.com/showthread.php?4489-Our-own-quot-Strange-But-Trues-quot


11:31 AM May 7th
 
MarisFan61
BTW.....

I think that things like this tend not to be "books" any more. They tend to be TV features -- and with those TV kinds of things, I'm invariably struck by how the selections are limited by the need for there to be VIDEO. In this instance, I think almost all the things you mention do have video, but some might not, like the Dave Bresnahan potato thing.

I always (ALWAYS) have the thought that I wish they'd feel free to include things that don't necessarily have video, and just tell us about it. That would be good enough for me. And it's why I'd just as soon have it be a book.
9:04 PM May 4th
 
ventboys
I wore that book out when I was a kid ... I still remember all those stories, now that you tickled my memory.

I think the research for a sequel might best be begin in Jason Stark's archives, to get yourself a few (million) good leads to chase down.
5:18 PM May 4th
 
MarisFan61
.....and the Rick Camp home run on the Fourth of July -- uh I guess that would be the Fifth of July.​
1:46 AM May 4th
 
MarisFan61
Oh -- we've got to make room for Steve Lyons dropping his pants.
12:35 AM May 4th
 
MarisFan61
Great job!
BTW, are you sure I'm the one who started that thread that you mentioned? I have no recollection of it. I hope I did, because it would have been a great idea :-) but I have doubts.

I would have thought that I had that book too -- I know that I at least had a very similar book -- except that I'm sure (pretty sure) it didn't have anything about Gordon Windhorn, since when he came up to the Yanks in spring training of '59 it was the first and only time I ever heard of him.....and hey, come to think of it, some of the stories you mention are from later than that, like the Haddix game, and I know that the book I'm thinking of was from earlier.
Maybe it was an earlier edition of the same thing.

My additions to our new edition (I need one of you to come up with clever titles):

-- The time the Yankees' "M and M and M boys" hit back-to-back-to-back home runs -- and none of them were Mantle or Maris.

First Bobby Murcer goes yard.
Then Thurman Munson comes up. It's his second major league game. He wasn't particularly a long-ball hitter in the minors, 8 HR's in 328 AB's. No matter -- he goes yard.
Then comes Gene Michael, whose nickname "Stick" had nothing to do with hitting. :-)
Sure, it would be cool if he goes yard too, including because all 3 guys names begin with M. But of course that would be asking too much. He had 2 previous HR's in over 600 AB's.
No matter -- he goes yard too. :-)

-- Kaz Matsui homering in his first plate appearance in his first 3 seasons.

He'd been a pretty good power hitter in Japan, but never would be in the majors. His career high was 9; he had a total of 32 in 2302 AB's.

His first year, 2004, he leads off the first game with a home run.
The next year,again he goes yard in his first plate appearance.
Obviously this can't continue. And it doesn't. His third year, he starts the season on the DL. He doesn't get into a game till the Mets' 15th game of the year. First time up, of course he doesn't go yard again. Don't be ridiculous. But he does get some good wood on the ball -- line drive into the outfield.
It gets past everyone. He makes it around the bases.
Inside-the-park home run. :-)
So yeah -- three years in a row.
12:28 AM May 4th
 
colloid
Great article. I've got a couple ideas:

Randy Johnson and Dave Winfield vs birds

Ken Griffey Jr and Sr hitting back-to-back HRs

Joel Youngblood getting hits for two different teams in two different cities on the same day, each off a future Hall of Famer no less.

Craig Z
11:26 PM May 3rd
 
sprox
Fantastic idea and great reading!

some other ideas

My 2 Grannies: Fernando Tatis hits 2 grand slam HRs in the same inning off the same pitcher (Chan Ho Park)

Peaks and Valleys: Barry Bonds wins 7 MVPs and Roger Clemens wins 7 Cy Young awards and neither one is getting into the Hall of Fame in the near term

Who's laughing now?: Mariners blow late inning 12 run lead to the Indians

The best game ever pitched: Kerry Wood fans 20 Astros in a near perfecto

Such an easy game: Florida Marlins win 2 world series in their first 10 years of existence - before 3 other teams break 80+ year world series droughts





7:46 PM May 3rd
 
Fireball Wenz
Great article and a very good job on choosing modern-day stories in the same vein.
7:19 PM May 3rd
 
trn6229
Thank you Dave for a well written article. I have loved baseball all my life. Playing Strat-O-Matic Baseball and reading Bill James are two great pleasures for me. Baseball is a great game and it is so interesting to me that the game continues to amaze us. Your updated stories are all true and they would fit well with the original book.

Jim Eisenreich had an interesting career. I think he had Tourette's syndrome. In 1982 with the Twins, I saw him play in Fenway Park. He would leadoff, play centerfield, get a hit and then leave the game a few innings later. I was sitting in the bleachers and I recall a fan yelling "Hey, Eisenreich, got the crabs?" Jim would visibly move his shoulders. He played in 1982,1983, 1984 and missed the 1985 and 1986 seasons. He came back with the Royals in 1987 and played several years after that. He hit .290 lifetime.
Take Care,
Tom Nahigian​
12:58 PM May 3rd
 
bjames
Great, great piece. Thanks a lot.
12:28 PM May 3rd
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for all of the comments. Lots of good suggestions....

Steven,

I didn't think retelling the stories in first person would work for this book...but if you co-write it with me, you can apply that technique if you like :)

MWeddell,

I'd have to agree that Joe Niekro and the emory board isn't the strongest entry, but I do think it was fairly memorable in part because of the video. Just watching that and the lame attempt by Niekro to casually (but ineffectively) discard the evidence, and the slow turn of the umpire following the descent of the evidence, and then Niekro acting all surprised over it, well....I think it was memorable. Maybe if this book ever gets done, we'll have to include a DVD :)

7:55 AM May 3rd
 
CarpeDiem
The Rise and fall of Pete Rose.

4:19 PM May 2nd
 
schoolshrink
I received Strange but True Sports Stories as a Christmas present about 40 years ago. One of the stories was of the 222-0 football game between Cumberland College and Georgia Tech. The cartooning for the story made the Georgia Tech players look gigantic relative to the ones from Cumberland. I later saw a picture of the game that showed the players as essentially the same size.

As for baseball, I would include the Fernando Valenzuela Phenomenon: The Mastery of a Pitch. For a year or two, the screwball was THE pitch that we cared about. A part of that phenomenon would also lead us to Jack Morris and the split finger fastball and Mariano Rivera and the cut fastball. I think a whole chapter could be written about how specific pitches have taken hold of the public imagination.
2:50 PM May 2nd
 
Rich Dunstan
Sept. 17-18,1968: Gaylord Perry of the Giants and Ray Washburn of the Cardinals no-hit each other's teams on consecutive days.
2:05 PM May 2nd
 
shthar
Two Great Players: One great Day. Rickey Henderson Breaks Lou Brock's stolen base record the same day Nolan Ryan throws his Seventh No-Hitter.
12:34 PM May 2nd
 
OldBackstop
Gawd, I almost can remember that Strange book word for word. Thanks for the memories.


12:01 PM May 2nd
 
MWeddell
I had about four books from that series (see greg1990's post below), but this was definitely my favorite as well.

I'm not sure what was memorable about Joe Niekro getting caught with the emory board. It seems like there were a couple pitchers each year getting caught defacing the ball similarly. Entertaining article on the whole though. Thanks.
7:55 AM May 2nd
 
Steven Goldleaf
Tell me that you're going to use Ritter's technique and recast all these stories in the first person.​
7:41 AM May 2nd
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for all of the comments, guys.

Looks like a couple of people mentioned the 33-inning Pawtucket vs. Rochester contest. I agree, that's a worthy choice.

I also really like mention of the '86 postseason (including the Buckner error)....that's another one that would work really well.

Keep 'em coming.

Thanks,
Dan
10:59 PM May 1st
 
greg1990
I remember that book well, and a friend recently gifted me two more books in the series that he found at a used bookstore. The back cover of Baseball's Zaniest Stars lists 15 books in the series:
Greatest World Series Thrillers - Ray Robinson
Secrets of Big League Play - Robert Smith
Great Baseball Pitchers - Jim Brosnan
Strange But True Baseball Stories - Furman Bisher
Baseball's Most Valuable Players - George Vecsey (remember Jim Konstanty?)
Great Rookies of the Major Leagues - Jim Brosnan (I think Pete Rose had a chapter in this one)
Great Pennant Races of the Major Leagues - Frank Graham Jr.
Heroes of the Major Leagues - Alexander Peters
Great No Hit Games of the Major Leagues - Frank Graham Jr.
Little League to Big League - Jim Brosnan
Great Hitters of the Major Leagues - Frank Graham Jr.
Great Catchers of the Major Leagues - Jack Zanger
Amazing Baseball Teams - Dave Wolf
Star Pitchers of the Major Leagues - Bill Libby
Baseball's Zaniest Stars - Howard Liss

Thanks for the flashback to my youth.
10:48 PM May 1st
 
W.T.Mons10
I must have had that book; why else would Gordie Wyndhorn's story resonate with me? Hope you do write a sequel; looks like it would be great.
8:24 PM May 1st
 
tigerlily
Thanks Dan. That's a good list of stories that would make a good book.
8:14 PM May 1st
 
Jack
The 1986 post-season, one of the greatest in MLB history, culminating in Buckner's Muff. (You could do a postscript on my Buckner's multiple "redemptive" returns to Fenway park, receiving standing ovations.)

The tragic life (and too-early death) of Tony Conigliaro.

Fernando-mania: Valenzuela's brilliant rookie season and career.
6:40 PM May 1st
 
doncoffin
About Jaster...he had 5 SHO in 1966--all 5 against the Dodgers--3 in LA, 2 in StL. [Park factors, pitching, in 1966: LA, 94 (91 multi-year); StL, 100 (100 multi-year).]

Combined across the 5 games:
H: 24
K: 31 (his 1966 K/9 was 5.5)
W: 8 (2.7/9 for the season
So he struck out about 1 more per game and walked about 1 less in the SHO
Balls in play (across the 5 games):
GB: 30
FB: 69
LD: 7
PopUp: 7

He gave up fewer hits (surprise) per 8 (4.8 vs. 7.6 for the season including the SHO), struck batters out at a slightly higher rate and walked slightly fewer. The distribution of balls in lay was virtually identical--slightly fewer GB--22.6% compared to 24.3%--slightly more FB--50.5%; 43.1%...1 fewer GB/9 and 1 more FB/9.​
6:31 PM May 1st
 
those
The 1905 Athletics lost the World Series to the Giants 4 games to 1. All four losses were by shutout.​
4:19 PM May 1st
 
Steven Goldleaf
I'd be interested in studying Jaster's shutout from Jaster's angle.

Were they strong shutouts, or lucky ones? High K games, men stranded in scoring position? Any runners thrown out at the plate? Many GDP? HRs caught at the wall?

What kept him from MLB success?

What was he like?

It's a little scary to imagine the '67-68 Cardinals with another dominant pitcher on the team, especially in the Year of the Pitcher.


4:17 PM May 1st
 
doncoffin
"Larry Jaster shuts out the '66 Dodgers 5 times."

The Dodgers lost 67 games--and in 17 of those--25%--they were shut out. And, in being swept in the WS, were shut out 3 times. I suspect no other team that made it to the WS were shut out in a larger percentage of their losses--during the regular season OR in the playoffs..
3:56 PM May 1st
 
evanecurb
That would make a good book. I would add these:

Rochester vs. Pawtucket 33 inning game from 1981, featuring opposing third basemen Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken, Jr.

Marichal hits Roseboro in the head with a bat.

George Brunet plays in the Mexican League till age 57, dying of a heart attack while still active.

Marty Barrett, master of the "Hidden Ball Trick."

Larry Jaster shuts out the '66 Dodgers five times.

Mickey Rivers. A whole chapter of just Mickey Rivers quotes and stories.




3:40 PM May 1st
 
those
Some possible minor league selections:

1. The 33-inning game between Pawtucket and Rochester.
2. Gary Redus hits .462 in Rookie League ball in 1978.
3. Alex Cabrera plays 53 games in AA in 2000, and hits .382 with 35 homers.
4. The Blue Jays' Dominican Summer League team went 68-2 in 1992 -- then lost in the first round of the playoffs.
5. Donnell Nixon and Vince Coleman battling for the Minor League stolen base title in 1983. Coleman stole 145 bases, and Nixon stole 144.
6. Hughes Field, where the Sacramento Solons played in 1974. It was 232 feet to left field, and 491 homers were hit in 72 games at the park that season.
3:32 PM May 1st
 
 
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