Weird and Wacky Line Scores

If you’re like me, you know all about scanning box scores for unusual line scores. Typically, I’m looking for players who had big games, with some crooked numbers in the H and RBI columns, but just as interesting are the line scores that leave you scratching your head. This post is about those games. More after the jump.

If you’re new to baseball, box scores, in their most basic form, show you the inning by inning game score, and the contributions of individual players. The latter are represented by line scores, or the “batter’s line”, being his At Bats, Runs, Hits and RBI, in that order.

As an example, here’s a box score from Aug 8, 2003, as it might have appeared in your newspaper (back when there were newspapers).

Of course, the newspaper wouldn’t have been so nicely formatted, and there would only have been the player’s last name (plus a first initial, if there was more than one Smith or Jones or whatever). And, if it was a long last name, there would be a few letters removed to make it fit in the available space (thus, Yaz would end up as Ystrzmsk or something similar). But, this is what you had to go by, so your attention would quickly focus on Nick Johnson‘s big game for the victors, Randy Winn‘s for the losers, and perhaps Jeff Nelson getting the better of his former teammates (Nelson and Armando Benitez had switched teams two days earlier) by striking out the side in the penultimate frame.

So, with that introduction, let’s move on to the very unusual box score lines. I’ll start with the 0-0-0-0 line, common enough for pinch runners or last inning defensive replacements (like Bernie Williams in our example above). But, pretty rare for players who have played the whole game. In fact, B-R shows only 18 quadruple zero lines with more than 4 plate appearances. All eighteen had 5 PA, and fifteen of them resulted from 5 walks (the other three had one or two HBP instead of walks). Only Barry Bonds has two such games. HOFers are well represented, with appearances by Ott, Gehrig, Musial, Santo and Ivan Rodriguez.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H RBI BB SO HBP SH SF Pos Summary
1Bryce Harper2018-09-18WSNMIAW 4-25000050000CF RF
2Joey Votto2017-08-27CINPITL 2-550000500001B
3Matt Holliday2017-04-09NYYBALW 7-35000050000DH
4Steven Souza Jr.2015-06-15TBRWSNW 6-15000050000RF
5Jason Bay2009-07-12BOSKCRW 6-05000030200LF
6Alex Gordon2008-07-30KCROAKW 4-350000500003B
7Barry Bonds2004-09-25SFGLADW 9-55000050000LF
8Mark Teixeira2004-09-23TEXOAKW 5-450000500001B
9Ivan Rodriguez2003-04-08FLANYML 2-45000050000C
10Barry Bonds2002-09-12SFGSDPL 2-35000050000LF
11Joe Ferguson1978-06-24HOUSDPL 5-65000050000C
12Danny Walton1970-05-22MILKCRL 3-65000050000LF
13Ron Santo1966-06-01 (1)CHCPHIL 3-45000040100SS 3B
14Stan Musial1950-06-11 (1)STLNYGW 6-15000040101B
15Hersh Martin1944-09-01NYYWSHL 7-10500005000LF
16Lou Gehrig1935-08-27 (2)NYYCHWL 3-45000050001B
17Mel Ott1933-09-01 (1)NYGBSNW 2-0500005000CF RF
18Fred Tenney1907-08-16BSNSTLL 3-45000050001B
Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 6/24/2020.

The “bad day at the office” line is the triple zero preceded by a big number. How big? The record goes to Charlie Pick of the Braves with an 11-0-0-0 line when Boston and Brooklyn battled to 1-1 tie in 26 innings on May 1, 1920 (and did so in less than four hours). To Pick’s credit, he put the ball in play, striking out just once. There are seven 10-0-0-0 games, including two from Pick’s game: Chuck Ward and pitcher Leon Cadore, who together struck out just once for the Robins. The are also two Mets, Ron Swoboda and Tommie Agee (who struck out a total of 9 times) from a 24 inning 1-0 loss to the Astros on 4-15-68. And, there’s even a HOFer as George Kell of the A’s makes this list in a 24-inning 1-1 tie with the Tigers on Jul 21, 1945.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB
R H RBI BB SO BOP Pos Summary
1 Charlie Pick 1920-05-01 BSN BRO T 1-1 11 11 0 0 0 0 1 2 2B
2 John Shelby 1989-06-03 LAD HOU L 4-5 10 10 0 0 0 0 2 6 CF
3 Wayne Garrett 1974-09-11 NYM STL L 3-4 11 10 0 0 0 1 4 5 SS 3B
4 Tommie Agee 1968-04-15 NYM HOU L 0-1 10 10 0 0 0 0 4 3 CF
5 Ron Swoboda 1968-04-15 NYM HOU L 0-1 10 10 0 0 0 0 5 4 RF
6 George Kell 1945-07-21 PHA DET T 1-1 10 10 0 0 0 0 1 7 3B
7 Leon Cadore 1920-05-01 BRO BSN T 1-1 10 10 0 0 0 0 1 9 P
8 Chuck Ward 1920-05-01 BRO BSN T 1-1 10 10 0 0 0 0 0 7 SS
Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 6/24/2020.

The “tough luck” line score is a 0 in the second and fourth positions and a big number in between. Five hits are the most with nary a run or RBI to show for it, done 34 times. Of these, five games stand out, with multiple extra-base hits, including 3 doubles for Joe Medwick on June 4, 1940, and a pair of triples for John Knight, way back on Sep 1, 1906.

Rk Player Date
Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB SO SH Pos Summary
1Jason Kendall1999-05-03PITSFGW 9-85505200000C
2Rafael Palmeiro1990-06-30TEXBOSW 6-555052000001B
3Joe Medwick1940-06-04STLBROL 1-105505300000LF
4Cecil Travis1937-08-03WSHSLBW 3-26605200000SS
5John Knight1906-09-01PHABOSW 4-197050201113B
Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 6/24/2020.

The “dumb luck” line score celebrates the damage that can be done without a hit. Four or more runs have been scored without a hit on 35 occasions, including a pair of such games for Bryce Harper, Joe Morgan and Jim Gilliam. Morgan and Max Carey have the only such games with 5 runs scored. In 34 of the 35 games, the player reached base at least 3 times via a walk, HBP or sacrifice bunt. The lone exception is Tex McDonald, playing for the Federal League’s Pittsburgh Rebels, who scored 4 runs with no hits, no HBP, no SH and only one walk (he must have had some ROE or hit into a few FC’s). Players can also go hitless and still contribute RBI, with 74 hitless games recorded with three or more RBI. The one “more” was Ben Petrick of the Rockies, with 4 RBI against the Padres on Sep 20, 2000. And, multiple runs and multiple RBI, still with no hits, has happened 81 times, with eight of those involving 2 runs and 3 RBI, or 3 runs and 2 RBI.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R
H RBI BB SO HBP SH SB Pos Summary
1Joe Morgan1977-06-30CINSFGW 11-552500300022B
2Max Carey1913-07-25PITPHIW 12-25150040004LF
31Tex McDonald1914-05-07PBSSLMW 15-75440010000RF
1Ben Petrick2000-09-20COLSDPL 11-155300410000C
1Ramon Santiago2008-04-23DETTEXW 19-65330210100SS 2B
2Mike Sweeney1996-08-10KCRCALW 18-36330230000C
3Mickey Tettleton1996-04-19TEXBALW 26-76230231000DH
4Yogi Berra1949-05-07NYYCHWW 8-15520301000C
5Bob Elliott1947-07-04 (2)BSNPHIW 7-154302100003B
6Glenn Wright1930-08-13BROCHCW 15-56120331000SS
7Max Bishop1928-06-13PHADETW 12-563203200102B
8Bill Bradley1904-06-15CLEWSHW 8-052302300003B
Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 6/24/2020.

The “all crooked” line has totals over 1 in every slot. Four or more hits, runs and RBI has happened 141 times, of which 8 were 5 or more hits, runs and RBI. The one “more” was C.J. Cron’s unique 6-5-6-5 line on July 2, 2016. Steve Garvey, on Aug 28, 1977, has the only 5-5-5-5 game in which all of the hits were for extra bases (it was major slump-breaker for Garvey, who had had only 4 XBH and a .429 OPS over his previous 23 games).

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BOP Pos Summary
1C.J. Cron2016-07-02LAABOSW 21-2665610250061B
2Steve Garvey1977-08-28LADSTLW 11-0555530250051B
3Larry Parrish1977-05-29MONSTLW 14-4555500350083B
4Phil Cavarretta1945-07-03CHCBSNW 24-2775510050041B
5John Stone1935-06-16 (1)WSHSLBW 17-866551105002LF
6Al Simmons1930-06-23 (2)PHACHWW 17-955551025004LF
7Bibb Falk1930-05-11CLEPHAW 25-765553005106RF
8Earl Sheely1921-09-09CHWDETW 20-15555501150041B
Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 6/24/2020.

The “no zeros” line is a team award for having all 9 starters record at least one hit, one run and one RBI. It’s happened 56 times, most recently by the A’s against the Astros on Sep 10th last season. Since the DH rule came into effect, only 6 of 22 such games have been NL contests, including the Marlins turning the trick against the Brewers on June 4th last season. The most non-zero lines by the starters from both teams is 16, eight on each side, when the Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 on May 17th, 1979. The one Cub starter with a zero in his line was pitcher Dennis Lamp, who was removed from the game before having a time at bat; Phillie starter Randy Lerch took care of all four spots on his line with a home run in his only trip to the plate.

The last line I’ll leave you with is 4-4-4-0. It’s happened forty times, most recently by Juan Soto on Aug 19th last season. But, the one game of those forty that stands out is one by Bert Campaneris, won by Campy’s A’s by the score of 4-2. It’s the only time a player scoring 4 times has accounted for his team’s total run production.

Rk Player Date
Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO HBP SH SF SB CS Pos Summary
1Bert Campaneris1966-08-16KCACHWW 4-2444401000000020SS
Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 6/24/2020.

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Paul E
Paul E
5 months ago

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN196909050.shtml

Billy Williams goes 4-4 (2 solo HR’s) and has all his team’s hits in a 9-2 loss to Steve Blass

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
5 months ago

Here’s something right out of the Charlton’s Chronology. Date of game was 8/13/1910.
“In the most evenly matched game ever‚ the Pirates and Superbas each have 8 runs‚ 13 hits‚ 38 at bats‚ 5 strikeouts‚ 3 walks‚ 1 hit batter‚ 1 passed ball‚ 13 assists‚ 27 putouts‚ 2 errors‚ and use 2 pitchers. Darkness ends the game before the symmetry does.”

Doug
Doug
5 months ago

There are some interesting and unique lines from this game, an 18-inning affair with the A’s beating the Indians 18-17. There were 58 hits in the game and 182 PAs. For the victors, Jimmie Foxx was 9-4-6-8 with three HR and Al Simmons went 9-4-5-2, while Johnny Burnett’s 11-4-9-2 for the Tribe set the one game Hits record that still stands. https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE193207100.shtml But, perhaps the most unusual line was in the pitching box. Eddie Rommel got the win in relief. Very long relief as in 17 innings, 87 batters faced, 29 hits, including 9 doubles, and 14 runs allowed. That’s… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
5 months ago
Reply to  Doug

Rommel pitched in 5 more games and then called it quits.

Doug
Doug
5 months ago

His game logs for that final season are curious. Before the marathon, his longest relief outings was 4 innings, and 9 of 11 were 2.1 innings or less. After the marathon, his next four outings were all at least 5 innings, and his last outing was an extra-inning walkoff loss (so it too may have gone on for some length).

Paul E
Paul E
5 months ago
Reply to  Doug

Wes Ferrell’s 161 wins from age 21 thru 28 are tops in the liveball era….several years he had more decsions than starts

Doug
Doug
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul E

Yeah, I neglected to mention that Ferrell took the loss in an 11.1 inning relief stint, one of 96 such relief stints of 9+ IP since 1904, the last (by Bob Stanley) coming in 1980. Pitchers with a decision in every appearance, min. 20 starts, since 1920: 39 – Burleigh Grimes (1923) 31 – Dazzy Vance (1925) 28 – Red Ruffing (1939) 26 – Lum Harris (1942) 23 – Ted Lyons (1935) 22 – Ted Lyons (1941) 20 – Ted Lyons (1942) Grimes and Lyons (in 1935) had one relief appearance, and the rest had none, except for Harris who,… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
5 months ago

Here’s an exercise I went through a few months ago.

Greatest number of half-innings in which at least 1 run was scored in a 9-inning game from 1907-2018 is 14 in the following games:
4/23/1927 Browns/Tigers
6/16/1930 Pirates/Phils
7/2/1940 Chisox/Tigers
5/28/1995 Chisox/Tigers
6/30/1996 Dodgers/Rockies
9/24/2001 Padres/Rockies
6/1/1923 Giants/Phils
7/5/1923 Cards/Phils
7/6/1975 Pirates/Cubs
5/5/1976 Dodgers/Cubs
6/12/1999 Giants/Mariners
7/6/2007 Twins/Chisox

Doug
Doug
5 months ago

Baker Bowl shows up twice in 5 weeks, and 3 times in 7 years. Tiger Stadium in three well-spaced seasons. Wrigley Field in consecutive seasons. Coors Field twice in its first 7 seasons. And the Kingdome, in its second-to-last homestand. Bandboxes or mile high. Only the last game in Chicago doesn’t fit the pattern.

Voomo
Voomo
5 months ago
Reply to  Doug

By far the best website I’ve found showing historic ballpark dimensions:

http://www.andrewclem.com/Baseball/Dimensions.html

Doug
Doug
5 months ago
Reply to  Voomo

Quite the site. Definitely Andrew’s passion.

https://ballparks.com/baseball/index.htm doesn’t have all the technical data and visual effects, but provides more historical information, and shows how dimensions changed over time.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
5 months ago
Reply to  Doug

Oddball trivia about Yankee Stadium in the 1930s. A ball hitting the foul pole and coming back onto the field was still in play.

John
John
5 months ago

I was browsing sabr.org’s games project when I came across an odd line score. June 25, 1881, George Gore of the Chicago White Stockings went 4-5-3-1 and had 7 stolen bases. Details of the game from 140 years ago are scarce, but it is known he had 3 singles and a walk. On base 5 times, he stole second all 5 times on base, and 3rd base twice. The White Stockings beat the Providence Grays 12-8 en route to winning the National League. “Piano Legs” Gore is nearly forgotten today, but he was a good ball player. He was considered… Read more »

Doug
Doug
5 months ago
Reply to  John

Thanks John,

I checked out Gore when I did my MMHF piece on Paul Hines. Gore would reach the requisite 60 WAR following the same method I applied to Hines. I chose Hines simply because he had more WAR than Gore and is more obscure. But, as you note, Gore is a very creditable candidate.