Hank Greenwald’s supreme compliment

From SABR member Ev Parker at the Napa Valley Register on May 14, 2012, with mention of SABR members Hank Greenwald and Bill Deane:

The other day, out of the blue, this scribe received a letter from a man I’d never met, yet his name was somewhat familiar and I’d soon discover who the writer was.

The writer’s name is Hank Greenwald, and he told me that he once was fortunate enough to have been the radio voice of the brand new San Francisco Giants from the very beginning, when Major League Baseball moved to the West Coast in 1958.


Hank Greenwald, a San Francisco citizen now retired, recalled that over a decade ago another member of SABR, a writer named Ev Parker, writing out of New York, had written a piece titled “The Supreme Compliment” for SABR’s “National Pastime” and Hank put two and two together. … In a recent exchange of letters, Hank asked me to go back to my SABR story once more and to refresh his memory on the ingredients that led me to writing “The Supreme Compliment,” so here goes.


So after many years, my pen pal, Bill “Diz” Deane, way up in Cooperstown, New York — the greatest baseball researcher I ever had the pleasure and good fortune of knowing — finally solved the now over 100-year mystery of how many batters ever received the “Supreme Compliment.”

That is, a deliberate free pass, even with the bases loaded. Bill’s list is a short one, and rightly so:

• Napoleon Lajoie, May 23, 1901, Philadelphia Athletics versus the Chicago White Stockings.

• Del Bissonette, May 2, 1928, Brooklyn Dodgers versus the New York Giants.

• Bill Nicholson, July 23, 1944, the game this scribe attended.

• Barry Bonds, May 28, 1998, San Francisco Giants versus the Arizona Diamondbacks.

• Josh Hamilton, Aug. 17, 2008, Texas Rangers versus the Tampa Bay Rays.

In the long history of the game, only a handful of major league batters — five in all — ever experienced the “Supreme Compliment,” an experience that will last a lifetime.

Read the full article here: http://napavalleyregister.com/sports/columnists/ace-parker/hank-greenwald-s-supreme-compliment/article_e00f1480-9e4f-11e1-b7a0-0019bb2963f4.html

Related link: To read Ev Parker’s story “The Supreme Compliment” — on the five players who received an intentional walk with the bases loaded — from the 1998 The National Pastime, download the magazine here (PDF)

Originally published: May 17, 2012. Last Updated: May 17, 2012.