As you have so often heard and read, baseball is a game of numbers. It’s true, and I have long been one of the nerds who is fascinated by it all. It goes back to when I discovered my brother Paul’s 1954 Baseball Almanac. I used one of the chapters in that book to get the drop on most of my classmates by learning long division so I could figure out batting averages and earned run averages for myself. In no time I was totally boring my friends as I told them their new average after each at bat. So let us continue the obsession while we deal with off season blues.
13. That is the number of times that Joe DiMaggio struck out in 1941, the year that he hit safely in 56 consecutive games. Superstars of today like Kris Bryant and Aaron Judge can fan that many times in a three game series. On the other hand, the Yankee Clipper (how did he get that nickname, by giving haircuts?) would not have been so good on social media. His first and last twitter would probably have been, “Why don’t you all just go defecate in your fedoras?”
369. The number of times Joltin’ Joe struck out in a 13 year career. For a guy like Bobby Bonds or Reggie Jackson, that’s two seasons. So he averaged 28.38 strikeouts per season and 27.8 home runs.
155. The number of pounds that Elroy Face weighed. The 5’8″ relief pitcher was a fork baller who averaged 107 innings pitched per season between 1953 and 1969. He had a wacky 18-1 won lost record in 1959 but his best seasons were probably 1960, when he finished 61 games for the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, and 1962, when he had 28 real saves and a 1.88 earned run average.
0. Zero is the number of managerial victories credited to new Yankees manager Aaron Boone. Zero is also the number of games he has ever managed. However, based on his astute observations as an ESPN analyst, I expect that Boone will do well. We shall see. His father, Bob, was 371-444 managing some mediocre Kansas City and Cincinnati teams when his catching career ended. Grandpa Ray Boone never managed but knew how to hit, averaging .275, 18 homers, and 87 runs batted in over 13 major league seasons.
5. Seasons with 400 or more putouts by an outfielder for Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. He was not related to the Union Gap guy, Gary Puckett. But Kirby’s is the better record.
3. Stolen bases in one inning by Dusty Baker on June 27, 1984. He totaled four for the season and 137 in 19 seasons. There were 9,982 paid customers at Candlestick Park that day as the Giants beat the Reds, 14-9. Baker stole second base off Frank Pastore and third base and home off losing pitcher Bob Owchinko. As you know, you can’t steal first base. The other weird thing about that game was that Johnnie Lemaster hit a home run. Chili Davis had a pinch grand slam in the fifth inning. Randy Lerch gave up a hit and a walk and got one guy out to nail the win in relief of Mike Krukow.
I could go on and on but, mercifully, that’s it for now. I hope you were the 5.584th person to enjoy it.