Baseball, America's pastime. The freshly mowed grass, the cheering crowds, The smell of popcorn and hot dogs in the air, the crack of the bat echoing throughout the stadium, and the wide eye'd gazes of kids watching their idols play on the field. That's the ideal image of the game, but it's not always like that. As the legendary comedy duo Abbot and Costello pointed out way back in 1937 with their hilarious sketch, "Who's On First", baseball can truly be something right out of the Twilight Zone at times. And here are 15 instances that prove that point...
1. Sometimes giving it your all works out great, for you!
New York Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson won the World Series MVP in 1960 after hitting .367 with 12 RBIs. That's not unusual in itself, except for the fact that he was on the losing team. World Series awards are usually given to a player on the winning team. The Pittsburgh Pirates with both future Hall of Famers, Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski beat the Yankees that year in 7 games, yet neither of them or any of their teammates went home with the recognition trophy.
2. Unusual injuries have put many a ball player on the bench throughout the history of the game, just ask Madison Bumgarner and Yoenis Céspedes. However, nothing beats the unusual case of Detroit Tigers pitcher, Joel Zumaya.
During the 2006 American League Championship series, Zumaya entered the Athletic Directors office with inflammation and pain in his right wrist, and was immediately put on the disabled list for the remainder of the series. After tests failed to reveal a cause, Zumaya chimed up and admitted that he had been playing a lot of Playstation 2's "Guitar Hero". The organization promptly put an end to his extracurricular activity and he recovered just in time to pitch in three World Series games, though still losing to the St. Louis Cardinals.
3. Grip is everything! When it comes to batting, a proper grip of the bat is one of the keys to success. Many players use different types of batting gloves, or pine tar, but not former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. He had a cheap (and in his opinion), effective formula to dry and roughen up his hands for the ultimate grip. His method? He would pee on his hands and rub them as one would do with soap! Posada is only the fifth MLB catcher with at least 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 275 home runs, and 1,000 RBIs in a Hall of Fame worthy career. Maybe he was on to something. Just don't shake his hand.
4. Sometimes you just have a bad day.
Joe Sewell of the Cleveland Indians struck out only three times during the entire 1930 season (353 at bats). All three were in the same game.
The Albuquerque Isotopes are a AAA minor league team in the Pacific Coast League affiliated with the Colorado Rockies. They were named after the Springfield Isotopes, the pro baseball team that plays in the fictional city where the Simpson's cartoon family live. 6. Watch yer head! The very early days of baseball was a far cry from what we see on the field today. Rules weren't nearly as strict, there was more body contact, and a lot less protective equipment.
In today's game, a player must be tagged with the ball if he is caught between the bases. Prior to 1905, that was valid as well, but even more popular was a rule called "patching", where instead of tagging you out, they could just peg you with the ball in any part of your body. Ya, a baserunner was basically target practice! And remember, this was way before players even wore helmets (helmets weren't introduced in the MLB until 1956). A huge protest among the players resulted when the rules changed to outlaw the play (too many concussions and knockouts were making the games take too long), citing that patching was an important and masculine part of the game. The commissioner ruled against patching, and our favorite sport took its first step into evolving into the wimpy game it is today <--- said sarcastically of course.
7. Eddie Gaedel holds an MLB record that is surely to never be surpassed, though Jose Altuve comes at a close second, ha!
Gaedel was the shortest man to ever play in a Major League Baseball game. He was 3 feet and 7 inches tall. St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck put him in the game as a stunt in front of 18,369 fans during the second game of a double header against the Detroit Tigers on August 17, 1951.
Being so short, Gaedel's strike zone was almost impossible to reach and he walked on 4 pitches receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. Veek later said, "He was, by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big-league ball. He was also the only one."
8. Wait, he didn't always have that?
It's hard to remember a time before Oakland A's legendary pitcher Rollie Fingers sported that handlebar mustache. He first grew his iconic handlebar mustache because A's owner Charlie Finley offered his players cash for growing a mustache by Father's Day as part of a stunt. Fingers got a $300 bonus for growing the mustache, as well as $100 for a jar of mustache wax. Can you imagine how many jars of mustache wax he's gone through since?
9. It's magical dirt
Every single MLB baseball is rubbed in Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud, a unique "very fine" mud only found in a secret location near Palmyra, New Jersey.
10. For what it's worth, Hall of Fame Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench could hold seven baseballs in one hand. Then again, he could wright in perfect cursive with both his right and left hand. And he wasn't such a bad ball player either.
11. In his very first at bat as a 28-year-old rookie, Hall of Fame New York Giants Hoyt Wilhelm hit a home run. In fact, you can say it was the shot of a lifetime, cause for him, it was. His career lasted for 21 more years where he stepped up to the plate a total of 493 times, but he never hit another home run.
12. It's been an ongoing debate for over 100 years. Are women good enough to compete in Major League Baseball? Well, this writer sure hopes the barrier is broken some day, it would be a great thing to see.
Jackie Mitchell, a 17-year-old female pitcher (the 2nd to ever play in a men's pro league) for the AA Chattanooga Lookouts, faced off against the New York Yankees in an exhibition game on April 1, 1931. She came on in relief and faced two batters, none other than Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Ruth wasn't going to let a girl get the best of him, he had a big ego and was the type to teach lessons. However, After taking a ball, Ruth swung and missed at the next two pitches. Mitchell's fourth pitch to Ruth was a called third strike. Babe Ruth glared and verbally abused the umpire before being led away by his teammates to sit to wait for another batting turn. Next up was "the Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig, who swung through the first three pitches to strike out after which Jackie Mitchell became famous for striking out two of the greatest baseball players in history. Ruth went on to say, "I don't know what's going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day."
13. Is there a doctor in the house?
At a 1978 Texas Rangers–Baltimore Orioles game, George "Doc" Medich (who had been a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh before becoming a professional baseball player) saved the life of a fan in the stands who was suffering from a heart attack.
14. Holy money stash Batman!
Los Angeles Angels superstar center fielder Mike Trout made history last off season by signing a contract worth $39,000,000 per season. Let's break that down and see how much he made this season.
- Trout played a total of 134 games earning him $291,045 per game
- 470 at bats = $82,979 each time he stepped up to the plate
- 137 hits = $284,672 per hit
- 45 Home Runs = $866,667 per shot
Don't you wish you'd have practiced more when you were a kid?
15. This lady must have angered the baseball Twilight Zone Gods
On August 17, 1957, Richie Ashburn of the Philadelphia Phillies hit spectator Alice Roth with a foul ball, breaking her nose. As Alice was being carried off the field on a stretcher, Ashburn hit her with another foul ball, breaking a bone in her knee. Ahh yes, baseball is a great game with unexplainable oddities thrown in here and there. I hope you have enjoyed these facts, and have yourself an amazing off season, Cheers!