*I decided to tell a story and/or give a little baseball trivia at the end of each practice this season. Partly to give some background of the game we’re playing, the history of the game – I believe you can’t truly love and respect something until you know its history – but also partly for my own selfish interests to make it more interesting and enjoyable for me. These are not written down ahead of time, so this is my best recollection of what was said.
(I read each of these out sentence by sentence, fact by fact, allowing time for guesses after each piece of information. Here I have put in italics the information given that lead to the correct guess.)
- This player is a HOFer. He won the AL MVP 3 times. He was an All-Star every single year of his career. Despite missing 3 full seasons to serve during WWII, he still hit over 300 home runs. He struck out only 8 more times in his career than his home run total. Just like coach Sean, he attended but did not graduate from Galileo HS. He won 9 World Series titles. Two of his brothers also played in MLB. His #5 is retired by the Yankees. He once hit safely in 56 straight games.
- This player is a HOFer who went to HS in Oakland. He was on the same HS basketball team as Bill Russell, and same HS baseball team as Vada Pinson and Curt Flood. He won a triple crown. He is the only player to win an MVP in both the NL and AL. He is 1 of only 3 players to have his number retired by 3 different teams. As a player manager for the Indians he became the first Black manager in MLB history. He managed the Giants for all or parts of 4 seasons. His 586 home runs rank 10th all time. When he played for the Orioles, he played with Brooks Robinson and the two were sometimes playfully referred to as the Robinson Brothers.
- This player is a HOFer who went to HS in Oakland. He played his last MLB game as a member of the Oakland A’s. He won back to back NL MVP awards and in the same two seasons won back to back World Series rings. His uniform #, quite possibly the best number somebody could wear, is retired by both the Reds and the Astros. He is a member of the team HOF’s for the Reds and the Astros. He famously wrote a letter on behalf of the living HOF members a few years back begging the HOF voters to do everything in their power to not elect any player who used steroids. He was an announcer for Sunday night baseball for 20 years. Bill James ranked him the greatest second basemen in the history of the game. (No correct guesses by players. A coach had to step in with the answer).
- This player is a HOFer who went to HS in Oakland. His first MLB game was played as a member of the Oakland A’s, and he played for the team four separate times. He won an AL MVP award. He won 2 World Series rungs. No player in MLB history has ever scored more runs than this player. He held the career walks record until Barry Bonds broke it. But he is still the career leader in unintentional walks. He has two fields named after him in Oakland. He is the career leader in home runs to lead off a game. He is the single season steals leader. He is the all time steals leader.
- This player is a HOFer who went to HS in… St. Louis, and his first name is Lawrence. He won the AL MVP 3 times. He played in 18 All Star games. His uniform #, possibly the greatest # somebody could wear, is retired by the Yankees. He has the most WS rings of any player ever to play the game with 10. Until the end of his life he would tell everybody that Jackie Robinson was out. He is the only catcher in MLB history to catch a perfect game. There is a cartoon bear named after him.
- This player is a HOFer whose first name is Lynn and was born in Texas. He is one of only 3 players to have his uniform # retired by 3 different teams. He has the career record among pitchers for most walks issued all time. In fact, if you take the player with the 2nd most walks all time and have him average 95 walks per season, it would take him over 10 years to catch up. He is tied with HOFer Don Sutton for most career wins without winning a Cy Young award since the award was created. No pitcher in baseball history has ever allowed fewer hits per nine innings. He has the record for most 2-hit games in history. He is tied for 1st for most 1-hit games in history. Can you see where this is going? He holds the record for most no-hit games in MLB history. He holds the record for most career strikeouts. He was once charged by Robin Ventura, beat him up, and wasn’t ejected and got to stay in the game to pitch with blood all over his uniform. Not his blood. (now that we know he and Frank Robinson are 2 of the 3 players whose # is retired by 3 or more teams, who’s the 3rd?)
- This player’s first name is Jose and he went to HS in Missouri. He won 3 NL MVP’s and 2 World Series rings. No player in the game has ever grounded into more DP’s than this guy. He is 1 of only 4 players with over 2,000 RBI. He is top 5 all time in doubles, total bases, RBI, and home runs. He is 2nd all time in intentional walks. He is the career leader among active players in WAR, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBI and walks.
- This player is a HOFer born in New York. He went to Notre Dame on a basketball scholarship. He won 3 AL batting titles. He was an All Star 18 times. He was the last player to win a triple crown until Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He was the first Little Leaguer to be inducted into the HOF. His number, possibly the greatest # somebody could wear, is retired by the Red Sox. His grandson has been the starting RF for the Giants since 2019.
- This player is a HOFer born in New York. He went to the University of Cincinnati to play basketball. He was the youngest player ever voted into the HOF and 2nd youngest at the time of his induction. He is 2nd all time with 4 no hitters, 1 of which was a perfect game. He won 4 World Series rings. He was an NL MVP and won the Cy Young 3 times, each time unanimously. His number 32 was retired by the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw often gets compared to this player, to the point that Vin Scully would occasionally call Kershaw by this players name. They were both left handed pitchers who threw directly over the top and whose last names start with K.
- This player is a HOFer born in San Diego. He won 2 AL MVP’s, but he probably could’ve won several more since he lead the AL in WAR 5 times. He won 2 triple crowns. He is the career leader in OBP, and he lead the AL in OBP 12 times. He had only 1 season with an OBP below .400, and in his very last season, at age 41, his OBP was .451. He was an All-Star 19 times despite missing 3 full seasons and 2 partial seasons to war service. Despite those basically 5 seasons missed, he is still ranked 20th in career HR’s, tied with 2 other HOFers. He was at least partially used as inspiration for the character Roy Hobbs from The Natural, which is why Hobbs wears the number 9 that was retired by the Red Sox for this player. He is the last player to ever hit .400 for an entire season.