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.
|1||Bryce Harper||2018-09-18||WSN||MIA||W 4-2||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||CF RF|
|2||Joey Votto||2017-08-27||CIN||PIT||L 2-5||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||1B|
|3||Matt Holliday||2017-04-09||NYY||BAL||W 7-3||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||DH|
|4||Steven Souza Jr.||2015-06-15||TBR||WSN||W 6-1||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||RF|
|5||Jason Bay||2009-07-12||BOS||KCR||W 6-0||5||0||0||0||0||3||0||2||0||0||LF|
|6||Alex Gordon||2008-07-30||KCR||OAK||W 4-3||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||3B|
|7||Barry Bonds||2004-09-25||SFG||LAD||W 9-5||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||LF|
|8||Mark Teixeira||2004-09-23||TEX||OAK||W 5-4||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||1B|
|9||Ivan Rodriguez||2003-04-08||FLA||NYM||L 2-4||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||C|
|10||Barry Bonds||2002-09-12||SFG||SDP||L 2-3||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||LF|
|11||Joe Ferguson||1978-06-24||HOU||SDP||L 5-6||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||C|
|12||Danny Walton||1970-05-22||MIL||KCR||L 3-6||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||LF|
|13||Ron Santo||1966-06-01 (1)||CHC||PHI||L 3-4||5||0||0||0||0||4||0||1||0||0||SS 3B|
|14||Stan Musial||1950-06-11 (1)||STL||NYG||W 6-1||5||0||0||0||0||4||0||1||0||1B|
|15||Hersh Martin||1944-09-01||NYY||WSH||L 7-10||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||LF|
|16||Lou Gehrig||1935-08-27 (2)||NYY||CHW||L 3-4||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||1B|
|17||Mel Ott||1933-09-01 (1)||NYG||BSN||W 2-0||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||CF RF|
|18||Fred Tenney||1907-08-16||BSN||STL||L 3-4||5||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||1B|
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.
|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|
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.
|1||Jason Kendall||1999-05-03||PIT||SFG||W 9-8||5||5||0||5||2||0||0||0||0||0||C|
|2||Rafael Palmeiro||1990-06-30||TEX||BOS||W 6-5||5||5||0||5||2||0||0||0||0||0||1B|
|3||Joe Medwick||1940-06-04||STL||BRO||L 1-10||5||5||0||5||3||0||0||0||0||0||LF|
|4||Cecil Travis||1937-08-03||WSH||SLB||W 3-2||6||6||0||5||2||0||0||0||0||0||SS|
|5||John Knight||1906-09-01||PHA||BOS||W 4-1||9||7||0||5||0||2||0||1||1||1||3B|
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.
|1||Joe Morgan||1977-06-30||CIN||SFG||W 11-5||5||2||5||0||0||3||0||0||0||2||2B|
|2||Max Carey||1913-07-25||PIT||PHI||W 12-2||5||1||5||0||0||4||0||0||0||4||LF|
|31||Tex McDonald||1914-05-07||PBS||SLM||W 15-7||5||4||4||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||RF|
|1||Ben Petrick||2000-09-20||COL||SDP||L 11-15||5||3||0||0||4||1||0||0||0||0||C||1||Ramon Santiago||2008-04-23||DET||TEX||W 19-6||5||3||3||0||2||1||0||1||0||0||SS 2B|
|2||Mike Sweeney||1996-08-10||KCR||CAL||W 18-3||6||3||3||0||2||3||0||0||0||0||C|
|3||Mickey Tettleton||1996-04-19||TEX||BAL||W 26-7||6||2||3||0||2||3||1||0||0||0||DH|
|4||Yogi Berra||1949-05-07||NYY||CHW||W 8-1||5||5||2||0||3||0||1||0||0||0||C|
|5||Bob Elliott||1947-07-04 (2)||BSN||PHI||W 7-1||5||4||3||0||2||1||0||0||0||0||3B|
|6||Glenn Wright||1930-08-13||BRO||CHC||W 15-5||6||1||2||0||3||3||1||0||0||0||SS|
|7||Max Bishop||1928-06-13||PHA||DET||W 12-5||6||3||2||0||3||2||0||0||1||0||2B|
|8||Bill Bradley||1904-06-15||CLE||WSH||W 8-0||5||2||3||0||2||3||0||0||0||0||3B|
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).
|1||C.J. Cron||2016-07-02||LAA||BOS||W 21-2||6||6||5||6||1||0||2||5||0||0||6||1B|
|2||Steve Garvey||1977-08-28||LAD||STL||W 11-0||5||5||5||5||3||0||2||5||0||0||5||1B|
|3||Larry Parrish||1977-05-29||MON||STL||W 14-4||5||5||5||5||0||0||3||5||0||0||8||3B|
|4||Phil Cavarretta||1945-07-03||CHC||BSN||W 24-2||7||7||5||5||1||0||0||5||0||0||4||1B|
|5||John Stone||1935-06-16 (1)||WSH||SLB||W 17-8||6||6||5||5||1||1||0||5||0||0||2||LF|
|6||Al Simmons||1930-06-23 (2)||PHA||CHW||W 17-9||5||5||5||5||1||0||2||5||0||0||4||LF|
|7||Bibb Falk||1930-05-11||CLE||PHA||W 25-7||6||5||5||5||3||0||0||5||1||0||6||RF|
|8||Earl Sheely||1921-09-09||CHW||DET||W 20-15||5||5||5||5||0||1||1||5||0||0||4||1B|
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.