The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rare Events In Baseball

There's an old adage in baseball that every game brings the possibility (and even the likelihood) that you'll see something that's never happened before. This season has been no exception, as there have been some truly rare events (perfect games, combined no-hitters). But just how rare are they?

As I write this, there have been 202,089 games played in major league baseball history since 1871. That doesn't include post-season games, nor does it include the World Series (either in its present incarnation or in the precursors in the 1880's). In that time, the following things have occurred less than 1,000 times:
 Of these feats, there are some "subsets" (as mathematicians would say) that are rarer still:
Yes, you saw that right. Only two times in major league history - both back in the 1960's - did a pitcher lose a game without surrendering a hit.

Okay, on a pure technicality, only one pitcher has done it all by himself; Ken Johnson of the Houston Colts did it in 1964 against the Reds. The other game was a combined effort, where the late Steve Barber and Stu Miller combined to lose a game to the Detroit Tigers at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore in 1967.

Other than the two "rarest" feats - a perfect game and an unassisted triple play in the World Series - the two times a pitcher has lost a game without giving up a hit in nine innings is incredibly rare.

An aside trivia note: you can probably name the pitcher of the lone perfect game in World Series history (heck, I have his autograph), but can you name the player who turned the only unassisted triple play in World Series history?

I'll publish the answer next week. No fair cheating.

EDIT: So - how many of you out there guessed "Bill Wambsganss of the Cleveland Indians, in the 1920 World Series vs. Brooklyn"?  Those of you who did - good job. It was turned in the top of the fifth on a liner by Clarence Mitchell to second base. Wambsganss tagged the bag to retire Pete Kilduff, who was halfway to third, and then tagged a surprised Otto Miller on the run from first.