A few weeks ago, I was at Brennan’s, checking out the early U.S. Open golf scores while waiting for my tire to get fixed. I met a man named Todd Hannel. We got to talking sports and Todd mentioned that his late father, Earle Hannel, had been a star pitcher for the old Simon Pures.
I told him I knew Earle Hannel. I met him the night he was inducted into the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, along with Art Ponto, Kevin Kobel and several others.
[Finished the quiz already? Get the answers here.]
Todd was thrilled. He reminisced about meeting Dick Groat, who had played with his father at Duke and also been a basketball All-American there. I reminded him that Groat won the National League MVP in 1960, the year Pittsburgh won the Series on Bill Mazeroski’s home run.
Three days later, I was watching Brooks Koepka make his Sunday charge in the U.S. Open. The announcers pointed out that Koepka’s great-uncle had been a pretty good athlete back in the day. A guy named Dick Groat.
So there’s a lovely slice of baseball trivia, with tentacles that extend into college basketball, major golf and the good old days when local amateur baseball was a huge deal in Western New York.
Larry Felser used to say all sports are local. It’s good when sports trivia can be local, too. Sometimes, I wonder if my quiz is written for the benefit of only a few twisted baseball fanatics, and if the majority of readers roll their eyes and turn to the news pages.
So last week, I put out a late call to the baseball trivia crowd, and I was encouraged by the response. Maybe it’s just the old nuts like me, who used to pass around trivia quizzes in junior high in the Sixties. But after 27 straight years of doing this, it’s nice to know you’re out there.
Thanks to Mark Benton for remembering Marion Fricano, the North Collins native who was 15-23 over four seasons with the Philadelphia and Kansas City Athletics from 1952-55. My dear pal Bud Anzalone, who grew up in North Collins and pitched in high school there, used to tell me about Fricano.
Ron Carr informed me that on the same day Lou Gehrig replaced Wally Pipp in 1925 – beginning Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 consecutive games – Niagara Falls native Benny Bengough replaced Wally Schang as the Yankees’ starting catcher. Oh, Schang was also a Western New Yorker, a native of South Wales.
You have to love this stuff. If you don’t, I have no idea how you got this far. At any rate, it’s time for the annual trivia test. There are 80 possible answers. Sorry for the bias against Pud Galvin and John Clarkson, but stats are from post-1900 only. As always, baseball-reference.com was an invaluable resource during many hours of researching this labor of love.
1. Name the three pitchers who threw a no-hitter in both the American and National Leagues and had 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in both leagues. One of them, who died this past May, is the only Hall of Famer to serve in the U.S. Senate. Cy Young had no-hitters in both leagues, but not after 1900.
2. Name the only Indians pitcher to win 20 games in a season in the last 40 years. A clue: The year he did it was the last time a pitcher won at least 22 games and lost three or fewer in a season.
3. There have been three instances where three different players from the same team won the home run title in three consecutive years. It happened twice in the NL and once in the AL. Edward Shedesky inspired this one.
4. It’s raining threes. There are three players with 125 triples, 175 homers and 300 steals in a career. Big clue, all of them played in the 1960s.
5. Name the seven left-handed pitchers with at least 200 wins, 2,000 strikeouts and a career winning percentage of .600 or better. Four of them pitched for a certain franchise that will not be mentioned.
6. Brett Gardner recently became the fifth man to have 1,000 hits and 200 stolen bases for the Yankees. Name the other four. Three are easy.
7. You know what time it is: Alphabet Trivia time! Six pitchers whose last name begins with ‘C’ have won the Cy Young. Two were in the same year.
8. This slick-fielding shortstop played with Ty Cobb on the Tigers from 1908-21. He was involved in nine triple plays, the MLB record. He’s fifth all-time in walks and runs for Detroit, second to Cobb in steals. He’s fifth in MLB history in sacrifice hits. Hey, it’s supposed to be hard.
9. Rick Neuhaus reminds me that only three players in the last 100 years have had 20 doubles, triples, homers and steals in the same season. Two players did it in the same season, and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. The other guy did it exactly 50 years before that. Name all three.
10. Who is the only player to score 400 runs for three different teams? Lou Motyka tossed me a separate question about this terrific leadoff hitter. He’s one of two players ever to get three hits in one inning.
11. In 1935, he hit .385, still the Pirates’ single-season record, and led all of baseball in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage. He hit two homers in the 1941 All-Star Game, but was upstaged when Ted Williams hit a three-run homer to win it in the ninth. Name this Hall of Famer whom Red Smith once called “baseball’s most superbly forgotten man.”
12. Short-term memory check: Whose two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth off Aroldis Chapman tied Game Seven of last year’s World Series at 6-all?
13. Since MLB went to the divisional format in 1969, four managers have won the World Series in their only postseason appearance. Name them.
14. Adrian Beltre recently hit his 450th homer and 600th double while closing in on 3,000 hits. Name the only three players with 3,000 hits, 600 doubles and 450 home runs.
15. Since 1900, only four pitchers have a career ERA under 2.40 and a winning percentage of .660 or better (minimum 1,000 innings). Two of them pitched in the same rotation a century ago. I’ll give you one. He’s active.
16. Within the last 40 years, only one team has had two different players hit 400 home runs for that franchise. Name the team and the players.
17. Alphabet Trivia II: Six players whose last names begin with ‘B’ have been World Series MVP. The award goes back to 1955, which narrows it some.
18. Who is the Angels’ career leader in games, hits, runs scored, RBIs and doubles? Something for Mike Trout to shoot for when he returns from injury.
19. Here’s one for Yankee fans, courtesy of Joey Zanghi. Name the Yankee who broke up three no-hitters in the ninth inning in a four-week span in 1970. Also, name the three pitchers and their teams.
20. I’ll warn you from the start. This one is brutal, but I love it. In 1941, Joe DiMaggio won the AL MVP after hitting in 56 consecutive games. Ted Williams hit .406 and finished second. Bob Feller won 25 games and settled for third. Name the White Sox lefty who was fourth in MVP voting after winning 22 games and leading the league with a 2.37 ERA.
21. No National Leaguer has won a Triple Crown since the Cardinals’ Joe “Ducky” Medwick did it 80 years ago in 1937. Name the last five NL players to win the batting average and RBI title in the same year, but not the home run crown.
22. OK, it’s time we got Yankee sensation Aaron Judge in the mix. Judge leads the AL in batting (.331), homers (29), RBIs (65), on-base (.449.), slugging (.697) and OPS (1.146). He’s a clear favorite for MVP and Rookie of the Year. Name the two players who won both awards in the same season.
23. All rise again. Judge is on pace to break the records for homers and slugging percentage by a rookie. What man holds both records? Judge has no shot at the rookie batting average record. Who holds that one?
24. Do you miss Derek Jeter, Yankee fans? Paul Bracci sends this extreme test of your short-term memory: Jeter hit a game-winning single in the ninth inning of his final Yankee Stadium game in 2014. Who was the pinch runner who scored from second? He was released after the season and is now out of baseball, having scored four runs in his brief career.
25. My closer is nasty. But you should know your perfect game history. Two of the more obscure perfectos were thrown two years apart in 2010 and 2012. Both were pitched in the day and ended 4-0. Both men struggled with injuries and won a combined 12 games after their perfect games. They were out of baseball two years after making history. Name the pitchers and their teams.
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