Editor's note: Fall 2017 Baseball Research Journal
This article was published in the Fall 2017 Baseball Research Journal.
Many of the best conversations I’ve had at SABR conventions — and at ballparks around the world — begin with the question “Did you know...?” Nearly every baseball fan knows some amazing story or fact about the game, the players, or the team. Some of them are even true. And no matter how well read or knowledgeable about the game I may be, there’s always something I haven’t heard before.
Sometimes it’s because the story comes from the misty past. Check out the examples of early scorecards in Stew Thornley and Bob Tholkes’s article on the evolution of the official scorer in this issue. Or Paul Doutrich’s recap of the 1885 postseason series between Chicago and St. Louis, a precursor of the World Series. Did you know bad umpiring in that series provoked the fans to storm the field and umpire David Sullivan to need a police escort back to his hotel for his own safety?
Other times the novelty is because the story comes from the margins, from an unexpected source, like the Bush Library. Herm Krabbenhoft presents here an exhaustive study of former president George H.W. Bush’s collegiate baseball career. Did you know that while he was Vice President, Bush played in an old-timers' game with the likes of Warren Spahn, Tony Oliva, Ernie Banks, Moose Skowron, and Brooks Robinson? Then there are the tales from the bushes: Rich Arpi brings us inside a 1914 prison in Minnesota to see the birth of the “Sisal Sox,” and Bob LeMoine takes us to the farm where Cy Young retired. Did you know that at age 67 Cy Young went on a barnstorming tour?
And sometimes we learn something new about something we thought we knew. Sometimes we learn a new way of thinking about something old, or we re-think in the face of new information. Jose Luis Lopez and a team of researchers from Venezuela prove beyond much doubt that Andres Galarraga did indeed hit a homer well over 500 feet at Pro Player Stadium. Two Canadian researchers, Lori Livingston and Susan Forbes, challenge the notion that amateur umpires quit because of the negative image and verbal abuse heaped on them. Did you know that although hitting for the cycle is a rare feat, hitting for the “quasi-cycle” (like a cycle but replace the single with an extra-base hit) is even rarer? Herm Krabbenhoft is at it again, identifying all 88 instances of the quasi-cycle since 1876 (compared with 318 regular cycles).
I’ve arranged this issue roughly chronologically, from the nineteenth century to the present. Next time you go to the ballpark, you’ll have plenty of did-you-know’s to share, if you just keep turning these pages.
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CECILIA M. TAN is SABR's Publications Editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.