(THANKS TO MARTY PICK FOR THE FOLLOWING)
Before closing the door on the 2019 MLB season, here are a few of the bizarre happenings that occurred last season proving, once again, that you never know what you'll see at a baseball game.
* Last season was the first time the Dodgers did not have an African-American player on their roster since they signed Jackie Robinson in 1947.
(This will change next year with the Dodgers recently receiving Mookie Betts and David Price in a trade with the Red Sox.)
* Last season the Houston Astros became the first team in history to lead the majors in strikeouts by pitchers and leading the majors in the fewest strikeouts by their batters.
* Home runs are exciting but it got ridiculous last season. There were more dingers hit in 2009 than any previous season in history, shattering the old record by 671. Fifty-eight players hit 30 or more homers, the most all-time. Pete Alonso set a new rookie record with 53 bombs. The Twins, Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers all set new franchise records for homers.
* St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt is the first man to be awarded the "Manager of the Year" Award despite never having played professional baseball.
* Speaking of the Cardinals, St. Louis scored 10 runs in the first inning of the NLDS (Game 5) against the Braves in Atlanta. It is the most runs scored by any team in the first inning in postseason history.
* Ketle Marte homered from both sides of the plate in three different games last season, becoming only the third switch-hitter in MLB history to do so in one season, and all of them came within the first 31 games of the year.
* In 2019, Mike Yastrzemski hit 21 homers as a Giants rookie. His grandfather, Carl Yaztzemski, hit 20+ homers eight times in his career. The two became the third grandfather-grandson combo to hit 20 homers in one season.
* Last year, Cody Bellinger hit 47 home runs off 46 different pitchers. The only hurler he crushed twice was Rockies pitcher Jake McGee.
* On April 17, Joey Votto popped out to the first baseman. It was the first time he ever did that and it was in his 6,829th career plate appearance.
* On April 21, Joey Gallo hit a sacrifice fly. It came in his 1,337th career plate appearance, the most plate appearances by a player before his first sacrifice fly in major league history.
* On June 27, in a game between the Rays and Twins, both teams had scored a run by the bottom of the second inning. Neither team would score again until the 18th inning. It was the most innings between runs being scored in a game since 1906. The Rays won the game 5-2.
* On July 1, Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room. On July 12, the team's next home game, every Angel player wore number 45 in honor of their teammate. Angel pitchers Taylor Cole and Feliz Pena threw a combined no-hitter to secure the win for Anaheim. The last time there was a combined no-hit game in California was on July 13, 1991 which, weirdly enough, was the day Skaggs was born. One might thing that Skaggs, now a real Angel, might have had something to do with it from above.
* On July 23, Angel teammates Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun each threw a runner out at the plate and homered in the same game. The last time two players on the same team did that was 20 years ago.
* On July 25, Orioles outfielder Stevie Wilkerson became the first position player to earn a save by retiring the Angels in order in the bottom of the 16th inning to preserve a 10-8 Baltimore victory.
* On August 3, Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez played left field because of all the position changes that game. The ball was hit to him and he threw out Jose Abreu at the plate. It was the first time a pitcher recorded an outfield assist since 1950. The throw was clocked at 94.7 mph. Velasquez's average fastball is 94.5 mph, but that's at a distance of 60' 6".
* On August 14, the minor league Lancaster Jet Hawks (Class A) may have accomplished the greatest comeback ever. They were losing 13-3 in the bottom of the ninth and were down to their last out with a runner on first base. They then began the rally of the century by scoring 10 runs to tie the game and then winning it with another run in the bottom of the 10th. And they did it with "little ball" by compiling a collection of bloop singles, grounders through the infield, stolen bases, and several walks (there was one double). The losing team was the Lake Elsimore Storm.
* On September 3, Jorge Soler became the first Kansas City Royals player to hit 40 home runs in one season. (The Royals had been the only MLB franchise never to have a player hit 40 homers in one season.)
* On September 4, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen became the first player since Babe Ruth to homer, play a position other than pitcher, and record a win in the same game.
* On September 5, Florida Marlin pitcher Brian Moran made his major league debut. In the bottom of the fourth inning, he faced his brother Colin Moran, playing for the Pirates. It was the first brother-vs-brother, pitcher-vs-hitter match up since 1900. Brian struck out his sibling.
One of the most lovable ball players of all time, Yogi Berra was known for some great malapropisms - or in this case, Yogi-isms. Enjoy 25 of his best:
1. “It’s like deja vu all over again.”
2. “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
3. “You can observe a lot just by watching.”
4. “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
5. “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”
6. “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
7. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up some place else.”
8. Responding to a question about remarks attributed to him that he did not think were his: “I really didn’t say everything I said.”
9. “The future ain’t what it use to be.”
10. “I think Little League is wonderful. It keeps the kids out of the house.”
11. On why he no longer went to Ruggeri’s, a St. Louis restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”
12. “I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”
13. “We have deep depth.”
14. “All pitchers are liars or crybabies.”
15. When giving directions to Joe Garagiola to his New Jersey home, which is accessible by two routes: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
16. “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”
17. “Never answer anonymous letters.”
18. On being the guest of honor at an awards banquet: “Thank you for making this day necessary.”
19. “The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”
20. “Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.”
21. As a general comment on baseball: “90% of the game is half mental.”
22. “I don’t know (if they were men or women running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.”
23. “It gets late early out there.”
24. “Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?” -Carmen Berra, Yogi’s wife. “Surprise me.” – Yogi
25. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Way to go, guys! (Names in BOLD designate Schaumburg players.)
LET'S PLAY BALL! Eight senior softball players who enjoy casual pickup games in the Naperville Park District’s Men’s 50+ League at Gartner Park on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings have found their competitive edge.
They also play on a regional team, the Challengers, that is part of Senior Softball USA. The team recently won its third gold medal at the 2019 National Senior Games, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Team manager John Patti recalls the turning point in this year’s championship: “In the third game, with two outs and trailing by six runs, 85-year-old Chris Argianis stepped to the plate and hammered the ball deep into right center field for a grand slam. The inspired team then scored three more times for the victory.”
The eight Naperville players on the Challengers team (shown at left in jerseys from another local team they play on) are: Chris Argianis, John Fieser, Rich Fleming, Steve Gadja, Larry Hall, George Pappas, Tom Vancura and Manager John Patti.