Tuesday, March 25, 2008

50 Biggest Baseball Myths

I came across 50 Biggest Baseball Myths by Brandon Toropov and in it were some curious selections.

48- Candy Cummings invented the curveball. Cummings played in 1876 and 1877 only. While tearing up the league in 1876 he fell on hard times in his last season, 1877. (In 1876 he won 16 and lost 8, while posting a 1.67 ERA. But in 1877 he won 5 and lost 14, with an ERA of 4.34. So his lifetime record was W-21 L-22) Maybe him getting credit for discovering the curveball despite having a losing record is similar to that of managers having poor playing career numbers but respectable won/loss records as a skipper.

In Wikipedia it says he left after only 19 games with the Cincinnati Redlegs to become the president of the new International Association for Professional Base Ball Players and that the Old-Timers elected him into the Hall of Fame, saying that Cummings had the strongest claim to having invented the curveball.

43- Babe Herman tripled into a triple play. Babe Herman played for the Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers. This team was dubbed as the Daffiness Boys. Sportswriter Frank Graham noted, "They were not normally of a clownish nature, and some of them were very good ballplayers, indeed, but they were overcome by the atmosphere in which they found themselves as soon as they had put on Brooklyn uniforms."

Herman was known for base-running gaffes and as a poor fielder and this lead his 1931 teammate, Fresco Thompson to observe: "He wore a glove for one reason: because it was a league custom." When informed by a local bank that someone had been impersonating him and cashing bad checks, he said, "Hit him a few fly balls. If he catches any, it ain't me."

The game in question happened on August 15, 1926 at Ebbets Field. Herman tried to stretch a double into a triple, with one out and the bases loaded. Chick Fewster, who had been on first, advanced to third base-which was already occupied by Dazzy Vance, who had started from second base but was now caught in a rundown and was lumbering back to third base. All 3 of them ended up at third base, with Herman not having watched the play in front of him, and third baseman, Eddie Taylor, tagged all 3 just to be sure of getting as many outs as possible. The slow-footed Vance had been a major contributor to this situation, but according to the rules the lead runner was entitled to the base, so umpire Beans Reardon called Fewster and Herman out. Thus, Babe Herman was said to have "doubled into a double play."

(Note: On 2 occasions in 1930-May 30 and September 15- Herman stopped to watch a home run in between running the bases and was passed by the hitter, making the home run a single.)

29- Duane Kuiper, current San Francisco Giants' broadcaster and former Cleveland Indian and SF Giant player, was the worst non-pitching home run hitter of all-time. The guy was solid on defense and a lifetime .271 hitter but only hit the one homer, off of fellow broadcaster and former Giant pitcher as well as the 1980 Cy Young Award winner with the Baltimore Orioles, Steve Stone.

I guess as a home run hitter he would have to be the worst. But as for worst hitters period, my vote goes to Ray Oyler, a member of the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers (he batted .135 that year, 30 points under his playing weight. Oyler's lifetime batting average was .175, in which he somehow managed to belt 15 home runs.

26- The system of hand signals to signify balls and strikes was acredited to Cy Rigler, who wanted to help out deaf outfielder, William Hoy. Albeit touching that someone would care for their fellow man the only truth is that ole Cy was known as the initiator of practicing hand signals to note balls and strikes, so that the outfielders would be able to follow the game more clearly. But as noted in Wikipedia, by the time he arrived in the majors, he discovered that the practice had become so widespread that it had preceded him. (To show you how much anyone cared about William Hoy being deaf, his nickname was Dummy.)

It appears every name on this list of 50 can be questioned as to the authenticity of the claims, further proving that the writers had a hand in most things dealing with baseball. How accurate doesn't seem to be as important as putting something in print that so intrigues its readers they spread the word-like wildfire- to others. And we all know what happens when you tell a story, the details change over the course of time(s) the story was told).

Thanks to Wikipedia and Baseball Almanac.

Kevin Marquez