Quiz – Off and Running

A new baseball season is upon us (at least here in North America).

To get into the swing of things, since 1918, what do these players (and only these players) have in common?

Congratulations to John Autin, who solved the quiz in (gulp!) 7 hours, 53 minutes. The quiz answer is that these 7 players are the only non-pitchers who, since 1918, have appeared in 5 or more opening day games, but never as a starter.


Quiz – Off and Running — 48 Comments

  1. Its not most non-starting appearances on opening day, although Mark Sweeney is #2 on that list. The leader in John Vander Wal with 8 PH ABs on opening day.

  2. I know three of those men as ace pinch hitters. Perhaps pinch hit homers on Opening Day? Perhaps game winning pinch homers on opening day?

    • That wasn’t it, but I’ll see if I can find someone else who fits that criteria.

      Do all of the guys in this quiz have 1000 PAs?

          • Three step process.

            1. Get list of guys with most opening day appearances as a sub.
            2. Scan down the list and make educated guesses of who might not have had an O.D. start
            3. Verify guess by running a player-specific game finder search looking for O.D. starts

          • BTW, in case you were wondering, the quiz answer is more deterministic than the approach above.

          • Doug:
            I think there is a way, without guesswork, to find players who never had an opening day start but did appear as a sub. As stated in your post #21 run step 1, then repeat the process for guys with most OD appearances as a starter. Then copy and paste each list into an Excel spreadsheet, one directly above the other. Then sort both lists by name and with proper use of the =IF(…) command you can sort out the guys who appeared only as a sub. It’s cumbersome for me to describe but maybe you could figure it out. I am not a PI subscriber so I cannot perform the procedure.

          • Yes that can be done, Richard. Thanks.

            But, it would be tedious because you would have huge long lists of players for both queries, so many screens worth of data would have to be copied and pasted.

            Like I said in #22, the quiz answer isn’t anywhere near that complicated.

  3. “Get list of guys with opening day appearances as a sub.” As a newbie to the P-I, how would you find this, or would that be cheating?

    • Not cheating at all.

      1. Go to P-I Batting Game Finder.
      2. Select Find Players with Most Matching Games in Multiple Years
      3. Select the years of interest and regular season.
      4. Select positions of interest (or all)
      5. Selected Sub under Starter or Reserve
      6. Type a 1 in box for “Team’s first ___ gm”

    • –Go to the Batting Game Finder
      –At the top of the page, choose the option that says “Find Players with Most Matching Games in Multiple Years”
      –In the middle of the page, you can choose from “Starter”, “Sub” or “Either”. Choose “Sub”
      –At the bottom right, where you can choose “In the team’s first __ game”, insert 1 in the blank.
      –In order to avoid having relief pitchers (who do count as “Subs”) cluttering your list, in the Batter’s Defensive Postion” section you can click on Non-Pitcher (or, with the same effect, uncheck the Pitcher box)

      Then when you hit “Get Report” you should get a list of the players with the most Opening Day appearances as a non-pitching sub.

  4. Maybe everyone’s watching the Marlins-Cards game, Doug. They wheeled out Ali to “hand off” the first pitch…..I choked up.

  5. More than one opening day appearance in which the player did not have an official at-bat, pitchers excluded? Hocking had PH-BB, defensive replacement, and 0-for-1 in his first three.

    • Nice try, but 137 players (excluding pitchers) have 2 or more O.D. appearances without an AB.

      The answer is a lot simpler. Look at comment #1.

  6. Doug, you’ve obviously found a good stumper.

    Would it be OK if I make a guess? No hard feelings if you’d rather I stay out of it.

      • OK, here goes:

        Those 7 players all have 5+ Opening Day appearances but never as a starter.

        Lenny Harris, Greg Gross, John Vander Wal and others have more O.D. games off the bench, but they all started at least once.

        • Bingo! Well done, John.

          How to find it. For players in this instance, I mean non-pitchers.
          – Search for players with most OD appearances as sub. Cut off the list at a convenient point (I chose 5).
          – Search for players with most OD appearances of any kind. Prune list to only include number of games in range of the first list (5 to whatever the max of the first list was).
          – Find players on both lists and with same number of appearances on both lists.

  7. The first guess was right, just didn’t have the cutoff. It was also a little misleading because this list was really a group of guys who did something the “most often” instead of a group of guys who “were the only to do something”

    Also, today Justin Verlander, MVP first place 2011, will throw his first pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury, MVP #2nd place 2011. I don’t feel like checking them all but this must be a first.

    • Just checking leadoff MVPs, this is the closest I can find to the Verlander/Ellsbury matchup:

      – In 1950, Phil Rizzuto (’49 MVP runner-up) was the first batter against #4 man Mel Parnell, with MVP winner Ted Williams standing in LF.

    • I gave in and looked around, the only other 1-2 MVP finish by a pitcher and leadoff batter was 1968, Bob Gibson and Pete Rose. They did not play on opening day.

      In 1963 1-2 was Koufax and Dick Groat, they played each other on opening day in ’64 but Groat hit 2nd, so close.

      1958 1-2 finishers were Jackie Jensen and Bob Turley who did face each other on opening day in 1959, but Jensen hit 5th.

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