Quiz – “Great baffling box scores, Batman!” (solved)

In the game-searchable era (since 1916), there is something that has happened during a major league game only 4 times, specifically in the games below.

What is it?

1923-06-06 – White Sox 4, Yankees 1, Red Faber homered off of Herb Pennock

1929-06-24 – Tigers 13, White Sox 4, Red Faber homered off of Emil Yde

1948-09-20 – Phillies 5, Pirates 2, Bob Chesnes homered off of Robin Roberts

1962-05-05 – Athletics 18, Indians 6, Jerry Walker homered off of Pedro Ramos

Happy sleuthing!

Congratulations to Stuart! He correctly identified the above games as the only contests since 1916 to feature a home run hit by a switch-hitting pitcher off of another switch-hitting pitcher who also homered in his career. Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com for the home runs logs.

As the most prolific active power-hitting pitcher, Carlos Zambrano (assuming he finds a suitor for 2013) presumably stands the best chance to join this group. These are the active switch-hitting pitchers who played in 2012.

Here are the switch-hitting pitchers with the most PAs without ever getting a hit (at least, not yet).

Rk Player PA H From To Age G BB IBB Pos Tm
1 Carl Bouldin 23 0 1961 1964 21-24 29 2 0 /*1 WSA
2 Charlie Whitehouse 22 0 1914 1919 20-25 25 2 /*1 IND-NEW-WSH
3 Bill Denehy 18 0 1967 1971 21-25 49 4 0 /*1 NYM-WSA-DET
4 Marv Rotblatt 18 0 1948 1951 20-23 35 1 /*1 CHW
5 Jack DiLauro 14 0 1969 1970 26-27 66 0 0 /*1 NYM-HOU
6 Chris Hatcher 9 0 2010 2012 25-27 28 2 1 /*12 FLA-MIA
7 Fred Beene 9 0 1968 1975 25-32 115 0 0 *1 BAL-NYY-TOT-CLE
8 Derek Holland 8 0 2009 2012 22-25 108 0 0 *1 TEX
9 Keith Brown 8 0 1988 1992 24-28 25 0 0 /*1 CIN
10 Rich Beck 8 0 1965 1965 25-25 3 1 0 /*1 NYY
11 Jack Richardson 8 0 1915 1916 22-23 4 0 /*1 PHA
12 Guy Cooper 8 0 1914 1915 21-22 12 0 /*1 TOT-BOS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/4/2013.

That IBB by Chris Hatcher came in a game that he played as catcher. Hatcher is one of just 3 players with a career with more IBB than hits.

Rk Player PA IBB H From To Age G BB SO Pos Tm
1 Neil Wilson 11 1 0 1960 1960 25-25 6 1 2 /*2 SFG
2 Rex Johnston 10 1 0 1964 1964 26-26 14 3 0 /*78 PIT
3 Chris Hatcher 9 1 0 2010 2012 25-27 28 2 6 /*12 FLA-MIA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/4/2013.

Hatcher  has also  put just one ball into play in his career, yet debuted as a pinch-hitter, striking out for Emilio Bonifacio. Hey Chris, just havin’ some fun. We love you. Really. Just know you’re gonna knock one out the next time you’re up (probably off the Z-man).

26 thoughts on “Quiz – “Great baffling box scores, Batman!” (solved)

  1. 1
    Ed says:

    They all have a home run by a pitcher. So that’s probably part of it.

    • 4
      Doug says:

      That is correct, Ed.

      But, there’s something special about the 4 pitchers’ home runs in these games.

      • 5
        Insert Name Here says:

        They all appear to have been hit off of a HOFer or All-Star, except for Faber’s ’29 HR, hit off of Emil Yde, who obviously is no HOFer and played his entire career before All Star games, although his rookie season certainly would be an All-Star year today!

      • 6
        Stuart says:

        Is it that all of the home runs were hit by switch-hitting pitchers off of pitchers who were also switch-hitters?

        • 7
          Doug says:

          Bingo. Way to go Stuart.

          • 8
            David says:

            Was the post title supposed to be a clue leading us to *Robin* Roberts?

          • 9
            John Autin says:

            Excellent stumper as usual, Doug. I got absolutely nowhere on this one.

            Too bad there aren’t more (any) switch-pitching pitchers.

          • 10
            Doug says:

            Yes, David.

            Was trying to think of a title for this post, and when I was checking Roberts’ HR log, it came to me.

          • 21
            mosc says:

            JA, there is a switch pitching pitcher in Yankees AAA. He was rule 5 eligible for 2012 but was not drafted. He is also not on the yankees 40 man roster despite pitching 2.77 ERA (though only got in 13 IP) in Scranton 2012. Still, his career minor league ERA is 2.30. He had a torn labrum injury that cut short a promising AAA stint but he should be back and pitching soon. The Yankees have some bullpen depth but it does seem possible he will see MLB time in 2013 or if healthy a real spring training shot at making some club in 2014.

          • 22
          • 24
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            #9/John A. above –

            switch-pitching pitchers – Greg Harris actually WAS one –

            from B-R:
            Throws: Right
            Harris alternated arms during one game”

            Apparently Harris had acquired a special glove that would allow him to throw both lefty and righty in the same appearance, but Red Sox GM Lou Gorman forbid him from doing that with the Red Sox.

            Harris finally fulfilled his ambition of pitching from both sides in his next-to-last game of his career, on Sept. 28th, 1995, with the Expos.

  2. 2
    John Autin says:

    This is not the answer, just a delicious observation: In the 1962 game, Jerry Walker hit Pedro Ramos with a pitch in the top of the 7th, then hit a home run off Ramos leading off the bottom of the 7th.

  3. 11
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    Hatcher’s minor league hitting stats:

    .210 .290 .364 .654

    And pitching:

    95 IP
    1.32 era

    He made his debut as a pitcher, pitching a perfect inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in a 13-3 win, less than a year after making his major league debut as a position player. The last player to make a similar quick transition from the backstop to the mound was Art Doll, with the 1936 Boston Bees

    • 13
      Doug says:

      I’ll go you one better, Voomo.

      In 1941, Bill Harman made his debut as a position player catching for the Phils against the Reds, in the first game of a double-header. He then pitched in the 2nd game. Harman continued to alternate between pitcher, catcher and pinch-hitter the rest of that season, the only one of his career. Final totals: 5 games catching, 5 pitching, and 4 pinch-hitting.

      Mike Ryba (1935-46) was a pitcher who, very occasionally, also caught. Final totals: 240 games pitched and 10 caught.

      Fred Mitchell was a pitcher who was occasionally used at other positions (but not catching). He played 5 seasons (1901-05), then pitched 3 more years in the minors before (apparently) switching to catching in the minors in 1909, thereby earning a MLB return in 1910 as a catcher, splitting time with Jeff Sweeney on the New York Highlanders. Mitchell is better remembered for managing the 1918 Cubs to the NL pennant.

      Jimmie Foxx surely took the longest to transition from catcher to pitcher. Aside from one perfect inning in a blowout loss in 1939, Foxx first pitched for the 1945 Phils in 9 games (incl. two starts), 20 years after debuting as a 17 year-old catcher on the 1925 Athletics. Foxx earned the W (his only decision) in his first start, holding the Reds to 2 runs on 4 hits over 7 innings.

      The Cardinals Art Hoelskoetter (1905-08) is probably the most versatile player in major league history. In a career of just 299 games, he played at least 15 games at pitcher, catcher and every infield position (the only player to do that), and had another 20 games in the outfield (1 in left, 7 in center, 13 in right).

      • 15
        Seth says:

        Harman fascinated me in the years before the internet. He had a XB card in a 1941 APBA season set I ordered years ago. The MacMillian Encyclopedia line for him was so bizarre looking.

        • 16
          Doug says:

          Wow, Seth.

          APBA in 1941. You and Richard Chester will have to compare notes as our HHS commenters with memories of 1940s MLB.

      • 17
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        Harman’s Phillies lost all 15 games in which he appeared.
        (43-111 on the season)

        The manager was Doc Prothro, who has the worst career winning % of any manager in history (min 320 games).


      • 23
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        Speaking of position players who first pitched late in their MLB careers: there’s Granny Hammer.

        Well into his career for the Phillies as a four-time All Star/six-time MVP vote-getter as a SS and second baseman, he developed a pretty good knuckleball and pitched three games in 1956, twelve years after his MLB debut, and finishing a game in 1957. In 1961/1962 he was a player/manager at single-A in the KC Athletics system, mostly relieving in ’61, but mostly starting in 1962.

        He pitched well enough in 1962 (10-4/2.03 ERA in 146 IP) to be brought up in late July and relieve in three A’s games. There’s some sort of back-story, where I think that the A’s offered to make him a full-time pitcher on the MLB roster, but he decided to go being just a manager -maybe someone else with more knowledge can fill this in.

  4. 12
    Richard Chester says:

    Doug: Is there a quick way to track down switch-hitting pitcher HR against switch-hitting pitchers? I know one way to do it but it would take quite a while. There have been 321 switch-hitting pitchers and 54 of them have homered. You then would check those 54 HR logs individually and look for matching pitchers.

    • 14
      Doug says:

      I just copied the HR logs into Excel and searched the list of switch-hitting pitchers who had homered. Don’t know how else to do it.

      Now that I think of it, I’ll have to amend the answer to the search. Those 4 games are the only times a switch-hitting pitcher homered off of another switch-hitting pitcher who had also homered in his career.

  5. 18
    Tim Pea says:

    Darren Oliver throws left and hits right. I don’t remember him ever hitting from the left side in the majors. Carlos Zambrano homered off Darren Oliver and Darren Oliver has a HR, so close.

    • 19
      Tim Pea says:

      Speaking of Oliver, he was a decent hitter over his career. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but usually natural left handed pitchers stick to hitting left handed because the throwing arm is protected. Not to mention you pick up the natural advantage of the Coriolis force from the left side of the plate.

  6. 20
    deal says:

    He is not listed in his bio info as one but Vincente Padilla is a switch hitter check his batting splits:


    Althought there never seemed to be any rhyme or reason as to when he decided to switch hit.

    He was active in 2012, but I think I heard he is headed to Japan for 2013.

    My favorite Padilla PA is in the Bud Selig All-Star gm. He had to bat RH that day because he didn’t bring a batting helmet and he needed to borrow Scott Rolen’s helmet.


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