George Will: Step up for some baseball trivia
When umpire Dutch Rennert blew a call at first base, then-St. Louis Cardinals manager Joe Torre trotted out and asked, “How come you’re such a good ball-strike umpire and such (expletive) on the bases?” Rennert, equally puzzled, amiably replied, “Isn’t that something?” Try to be as serene as Rennert was if you miss some of these calls:
1. What two players hit over .400 in a season without winning the batting title?
2. Who is the only third baseman in history to have at least 50 doubles and 30 homeruns in a season?
3. What third baseman lost the 1953 American League batting title, and hence the Triple Crown, on a close play at first on the last out of the season?
4. Who won the batting title?
5. What six-time All-Star’s first major- league hit was a grand-slam home run?
6. Who is the only pitcher with 100 saves and 100 complete games?
7. What four players have more than 500 home runs and at least three World Series rings?
8. Who took his team to the postseason in his first four years managing?
9. Who has the most first-inning home runs in MLB history?
10. Who won 27 games with 317 strikeouts and a 1.73 ERA in his last season?
11. Whose team managed only two base runners while he pitched a perfect game?
12. Who is the shortest Hall of Famer?
13. Who went 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and averaged nine innings a start in nine World Series games?
14. What franchise won the World Series in three cities?
15. What World Series winner had the worst regular-season record?
16. What team had a Triple Crown-winning hitter and Triple Crown-winning pitcher (most wins, most strikeouts, lowest ERA) in the same season?
17. What two hitters had an extra-base hit in 14 consecutive games?
18. Who was the most recent pitcher to have four consecutive 20-win seasons?
19. Who averaged 301 innings per season during the 1950s with 237 complete games?
20. What was the only World Series featuring two teams not among the original 16 of 1901?
21. What four players hit home runs before they were 20 and after they were 40?
22. Who was the youngest to get 100 homers and 100 stolen bases?
23. What team won three games in a World Series by 10 or more runs?
24. Who hit the most extra-inning home runs?
25. Who holds the record for most consecutive World Series games with a hit?
26. What pitcher had 311 more strikeouts than walks in a season?
27. Who wore the uniform of all four New York teams?
28. What two players hit home runs for 11 different teams?
29. Which three managers led four different franchises in the postseason?
30. What NL and AL managers hold their league records for most average wins over three consecutive seasons?
31. What pitcher won the most games over three consecutive seasons?
32. What pitcher led his league in fewest walks per nine innings and most strikeouts per nine innings in the same season?
33. Who hit the most career walk-off home runs?
First bonus question: What Philadelphia Phillies manager, explaining why he retired after the first game of the 1960s season, said, “I’m 49 years old, and I want to live to be 50”?
Second bonus question: What Phillies manager said “Even Napoleon had his Watergate” and “Mike Andrews’ limits are limitless”? Answers: 1. Joe Jackson (1911), Ty Cobb (1922); 2. Alex Bregman; 3. Al Rosen; 4. Mickey Vernon; 5. Chase Utley; 6. Dennis Eckersley; 7. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, David Ortiz; 8. Mike Matheny; 9. Albert Pujols (145); 10. Sandy Koufax (1966); 11. Sandy Koufax (1965); 12. Wee Willie Keeler (5’4”); 13. Bob Gibson; 14. Braves (Boston 1914, Milwaukee 1957, Atlanta 1996); 15. 2006 St. Louis Cardinals (83-78); 16. 1934 New York Yankees (Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez), who did not win the pennant; 17. Paul Waner, Chipper Jones; 18. Dave Stewart; 19. Robin Roberts; 20. Kansas City Royals vs. New York Mets in 2015; 21. Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez; 22. Mike Trout; 23. The 1960 Yankees, who lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates; 24. Willie Mays (22); 25. Hank Bauer (17, 1957-58); 26. Sandy Koufax (1965); 27. Casey Stengel; 28. Todd Zeile, Matt Stairs; 29. Billy Martin, Davey Johnson, Dusty Baker; 30. The Chicago Cubs’ Frank Chance (1906-08 averaged 107.33 wins), the Baltimore Orioles’ Earl Weaver (1969-71 averaged 106 wins); 31. Walter Johnson (97, 1912-14); 32. Walter Johnson (1913); 33. Jim Thome (13); First bonus answer: Eddie Sawyer; Second bonus question: Danny Ozark
George Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and can be reached via email.