As a Red Sox fan, I’m going to miss David Ortiz. For 86 years, the Sox were baseball’s biggest chokers. Their epic collapses created a legion of fans who became eternal fatalists, or as the great Roger Angell once wrote, “lifelong doubters.”
Then Ortiz came along in 2003 – released by the Twins because they couldn’t get any trade offers – and changed everything. Little did Sox fans know at the time, but the team that always failed in the big moments had picked up the greatest clutch hitter of his time.
The Sox have won three World Series with Ortiz as their competitive heart and soul. Suddenly, they were a team that rose up under pressure. Boston fans used to fear the pressure, but Ortiz invited it. He thrived on it.
Ortiz, 40, is retiring at the end of the season, though if you looked at his stats you’d swear he was smack in his prime. But he’ll always be close at hand for us baseball trivia buffs, a trove of obscure facts.
Clutch? Ortiz is the only player to hit two walk-off homers in the same postseason (in 2004). He has 20 career walk-off hits. He holds the Red Sox record for homers in a season with 54. This season, he joined Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron as the only players with 600 doubles and 500 home runs.
Ortiz is the all-time leader in homers, RBIs and hits by a designated hitter. He’s one of four players with 500 homers and three World Series titles, joining Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson. Sox fans figured it was time to get a non-Yankee on the list.
It’s a shame he never won MVP. Ortiz finished in the top five in five consecutive years without winning from 2003-07. That must be a record. He might even have the record for mayoral votes by an active player. He got 560 write-in votes for Boston mayor in the 2013 election.
As of late June, Ortiz was leading the AL in slugging and RBIs. He was on pace for 39 homers, which would break Dave Kingman’s record (he had 35 in 1986) for home runs in a final big-league season.
So my 26th annual trivia quiz is hereby dedicated to Big Papi. We’ll see you in future quizzes, Senor October! And since this is the 75th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s record hitting streak, there are 56 possible correct answers.
It’s as difficult as ever. What else would you expect? Unless noted otherwise, stats are from 1900 onward.
1. The Athletics are the only team that has been in existence since 1900 and does not have a player with 2,000 hits for the franchise. Name their all-time hits leader.
2. Who is the only active player among the top 50 all-time in on-base percentage?
3. Who has the most career home runs of anyone who never drove in 100 runs in a season? He was also the first man to hit 20 homers for six different teams.
4. Who is the only pitcher to win 80 games for three different teams?
5. Name the six active players with 200 home runs and a career batting average of .300 or better.
6. Courtesy Jack Gray: Who is the only player to have at least 100 career homers and never hit two or more in a game?
7. In 1945, he led the AL in at-bats, runs, hits, stolen bases, batting average and slugging. He never led the league in any category again.
8. Short-term memory test, and a toughie. Who was the only player with 20 doubles, 10 triples and 20 homers in 2015? The triples were a bit of a fluke. He’s never stolen a base in the big leagues.
9. Name the two players who hit the most career homers without ever playing in a postseason game.
10. The Yankees’ Carlos Beltran recently became the sixth player to hit 50 home runs for four different franchises. Name the other five.
11. He’s the last pitcher to win 20 for the White Sox, in 2003. In 2004, he was traded to the Yankees at midseason and served up a walk-off single to David Ortiz in the bottom of the 14th inning of Game Five of the ALCS.
12. The first great Cuban big-leaguer, this Reds righty was the first Latin to hurl a shutout and appear in a World Series. In 1923, he went 27-8 and led the NL in wins, ERA (1.93) and shutouts. He threw five shutout innings against the infamous Black Sox in the 1919 Series and won the clinching game of the 1933 Series for the Giants with four scoreless innings. If you’re a trivia buff, you really should know The Pride of Havana.
13. Everyone knows the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908. Name the Hall of Fame pitcher who won two games and didn’t allow an earned run for the Cubbies in that Series. And whom did they beat?
14. He’s 12th all-time in slugging percentage, ahead of Aaron, Mantle, Mays, Musial and Mize. He’s the only man ever to steal 25 bases and slug .700 in a season. He won seven Gold Gloves and batted .350 or better four times. But despite being eligible, he’s not in the Hall of Fame.
15. Alphabet Trivia time! Name the five MVP winners whose last game begins with the letter “V.” Only one of them played before 1960.
16. Who is the only player to win Rookie of Year, regular-season MVP, World Series MVP and All-Star MVP? Not in the same year, of course.
17. Who has the top career batting average by a switch-hitter? He hit over .300 in 11 straight seasons but never led the league.
18. Name the only big-leaguer who was active when Babe Ruth hit his last home run and when Hank Aaron hit his first.
19. Name the two Hall of Famers who played for St. Bonaventure and were teammates on the Orioles in the mid-1890s. They both had 1,000 hits and 1,000 wins as a manager.
20. The Twins have had 14 American League batting champs since moving to Minnesota in 1961. The Angels, who were born the same year, have had one batting champ. Name him.
21. Who is the only Giant ever to have 200 hits and 30 home runs in a season? I had to check twice, I was so amazed. He didn’t lead the team in homers that season, if it’s any help. A fairly recent player.
22. Here’s a fun one: Who are the top 10 career home run hitters among players who share the last name of a U.S. president? Think LBJ.
23. Alphabet Trivia II: Name the top five career home run hitters whose last name begins with the letter “E.”
24. Name the two players who have stolen 50 bases in a season for four different franchises. One is a former Bison.
25. Who are the only two players with at least 200 hits, 40 doubles and 30 stolen bases in consecutive seasons? They’re a century apart, which should narrow it down quite a bit.