The HyperTexts

Weird Sports Trivia
Strange but True Sports Stories

This page contains some of the weirdest "strange but true" sports trivia. Here you can discover the answers to unusual questions like: "Why was it necessary to put a man on the moon in order for a weak-hitting pitcher to finally hit a home run?" Or how about: "Which first baseman was such a notoriously terrible fielder that 30,000 fans once gave him a standing ovation for catching a stray hotdog wrapper?" 

A young boy named Tim Smith had Tug McGraw's baseball card taped to his bedroom wall. One day he found his birth certificate and learned that Tug McGraw was his father. The boy then changed his last name. He grew up to become country music superstar Tim McGraw. (As a bonus, he got to marry Faith Hill.)

Cecil Fielder and Prince Fielder were father and son. They both played major league baseball and both finished with exactly 319 home runs. What are the odds? They are also the only father-son pair to both have 50 homers in a single season. Such 50-homer seasons are very rare in modern baseball. In fact Cecil broke a 13-year drought when he hit 51 home runs in 1990. We then have to go back to George Foster in 1977, then to Willie Mays in 1965. So for 25 years there were only two players to hit 50 homers, then Cecil Fielder and his son both did it. Again, what are the odds?

When Elgin Baylor retired during the 1971-1972 season, he was the greatest player in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, with career averages of 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Ironically, with the first game after Baylor's retirement the Lakers began an NBA record 33-game winning streak!

On August 17, 1957, hall-of-fame centerfielder Richie Ashburn of the Philadelphia Phillies hit spectator Alice Roth with a foul ball, breaking her nose. As Roth was being carried off the field on a stretcher, Ashburn hit her with another foul ball, breaking a bone in her knee. The odds of a fan being hit by a baseball are 300,000 to one. The odds of the same fan being hit twice during the same at-bat, and breaking bones both times, are beyond astronomical.

On April 8, 2021, during the first round of the Masters, Rory McIlroy hit a spectator with an errant approach shot to the seventh hole. What were the odds that the victim would be his father? Fact really is stranger than fiction! Gerry McIlroy joked that he should ask for an autographed glove. But his son was having none of it: "I think he just needs to go put some ice on it," Rory McIlroy snorted after his round. "Maybe I'll autograph a bag of frozen peas for him."

ODDLY EVEN ROUND NUMBERS: Ashley Force was the first woman to win a national funny car race. Ironically, in winning she beat her father, John Force, denying him his 1,000th winning round in his 500th NHRA tour event! And surely it was fate, with the last name Force for a family of drag car racers!

A different level of arrogance? Larry Bird was famous (or infamous) for talking trash. But Bird took arrogance and trash talking to a new level, when he told teammates and the press that he was going to play the final game of a road trip left-handed. Sure enough, Bird scored 10 of his 21 field goals against Portland with his left hand, and finished the game with 47 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists! 

How good was Wayne Gretzky, really? Is he really The Great One, or has he been overrated? The craziest Gretzky stat I’ve heard is that the gap between his career points total and that of the second all-time scorer, Jaromir Jagr, is the same as the gap between Jagr and Dave Keon, whose 986 points make him 93rd all-time. And Jagr had to play 28 seasons, from age 18 to 45, to end up nearly 1,000 points behind Gretzky. The great Gordie Howe played even longer, 34 years, from age 18 to 51, and is even further behind. It seems safe to say that Gretzky really was The Great One, and perhaps add an exclamation mark.

Perhaps we should call Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus the "Bookends" since Tiger was the youngest Masters winner at 21 and Nicklaus was the oldest at 46. Tiger Woods was not just the youngest player to win the Masters in 1997. That year he had the lowest score ever recorded at the Masters, 270, and the widest margin of victory, 12 strokes. The Golden Bear's final Masters victory in 1986 may have been the most thrilling comeback in golf history ... at least until Tiger's phenomenal comeback in the 2019 Masters. When asked to compare the two, Nicklaus pointed out that in 1986 no one thought he would contend for victory, including himself! Those were comebacks and victories for the ages, by the two best golfers the planet has seen to date.

Before Donald Trump fell in love with Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean dictator's most famous bromance was with Dennis Rodman. Rodman has called the murderous despot a "great guy," a "great dad" and a "friend for life." Stephen Colbert opined that Rodman may be "all that is standing between us and thermonuclear war."

The oldest tennis court in the world is the one built at Hampton Court in 1530 for Henry VIII (the king who kept beheading his wives).

Golf was banned by England in 1457 because it was considered a distraction from the serious pursuit of archery.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Old Tom Morris won four British Opens, the last one in 1867. The next year his son, Young Tom Morris, won the first of his four British Opens.

Dave Winfield, a hall-of-fame outfielder playing for the Yankees in 1983, was arrested for killing a seagull with a thrown ball. The cop who arrested him and fans who witnessed the event claimed that Winfield hit the bird deliberately. But Yankees manager Billy Martin questioned whether Winfield possessed the necessary accuracy: "Cruelty to animals? That's the first time he hit the cut-off man all year!"

On March 24, 2001, during the seventh inning of a spring training game between the Diamondback and Giants, a wayward dove flew into a Randy Johnson heater and literally exploded into a shower of white feathers. Unfortunately, the small symbol of peace did not survive. The event can be viewed on YouTube and there are pictures of Jeff Kent holding the nude corpse like a tiny plucked turkey.

YOUR SPORT IS FOR THE BIRDS!: One stroke below par in golf is called a birdie. Two strokes below par is called an eagle. In bowling, three consecutive strikes is called a turkey.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the two greatest players of their era, or at least until Michael Jordan started winning rings. Bird and Johnson were both six-foot-nine and weighed 220 pounds in their primes. They played against each other for the NCAA championship in 1979. Larry Legend played for Indiana State, Magic for Michigan State. They both entered the NBA in 1979. They joined the NBA's two most storied franchises: the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. They were probably the two best-passing big men of all time. Both were more cerebral than supremely athletic. They both played 13 seasons in the NBA. They were both three-time MVPs. They both made twelve all-star teams. They both were all-NBA ten times. In their first seasons, Bird led the Celtics to 61 victories while Johnson led the Lakers to 60 victories. If you add their career scoring and assist averages per game, Bird averaged 30.6 and Magic averaged 30.7. They both played on the greatest basketball team ever assembled, the famous 1992 American Olympic "Dream Team." They were, apparently, made for each other. Twin sons of different mothers, perhaps?

Jack Burke Jr. set a PGA record by coming from eight strokes down in the final round to win the 1956 Masters, defeating the unfortunate Ken Venturi. So who was the first golfer to tie the new record? It was Venturi, three years later in the 1969 Los Angeles Open.

Dick Stuart, a first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, led the league in errors a record seven years in a row, from 1958 through 1964. Stuart was renowned for his atrocious fielding and earned the nicknames "Dr. Strangeglove," "Stonefingers," and "The Man with the Iron Glove." Stuart recalled that "One night in Pittsburgh, 30,000 fans gave me a standing ovation for catching a hotdog wrapper on the fly." He owned a car with the license plate "E3." His 29 errors at first base in 1963 remain the major-league record for the position.

When the University of Nebraska sells out a home game, the stadium becomes the state's third largest "city."

Maryland's official sport is jousting. 

George Brett once hit a game-losing home run! Brett's apparent game-winning home run with two on and two outs in the ninth inning of a game against the Yankees was reversed in the famous "pine tar" incident. Brett was declared the last out, so he managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Billiards, now commonly known as "pool," was originally an indoor version of an outdoor game similar to croquet. The object was to strike a ball with a mallet and maneuver it around a course faster than one's rivals. A billiard table's felt is green because grass is green. A "bank shot" is so called because a billiard table's cushions simulate river banks. The pockets were originally hazards to be avoided, like those on a golf course. The original pool cue was called a "mace" because it had a large bulky head similar to a croquet mallet or putter. The tapered end of a billiard cue was originally used only when balls were too close to the rails for the bulky head to be employed. Billiards was a game of kings, lords and the affluent. Bloody Mary complained that her billiard table had been taken away shortly before her execution. Marie Antoinette was a billiards enthusiast with a custom-made cue. George Washington kept a diary of the money he won and lost playing billiards.

A striped billiard ball weighs .1 ounce more than a solid due to the extra paint.

Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter while tripping on LSD. Unfortunately, he was unable to remember his greatest game!

Yankees pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson went a step beyond wife-swapping by swapping their families, kids and all!

Here's a related page for baseball buffs: Weird Baseball Facts and Trivia

In 1870, British boxing champ Jim Mace and American boxer Joe Coburn fought for nearly four hours without landing a single punch.

The yo-yo was once used by hunters in the Philippines to stun prey from trees.

Imagine how hard it would be to hit a 4-inch-wide NFL goal post with a booted ball. Yet Chicago placekicker Cody Parkey somehow managed to do it five times in a single season! The fifth time hurt the most, because it came at the end of the Bears' 16-15 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card Game in Chicago on January 6, 2019. To make matters worse, the season-ending kick was a tantalizing "double-doinker" because it hit the left upright, then the crossbar, before ricocheting the wrong way, forward into the end zone. But the playoff kick does not begin to compare to Parkey hitting the uprights on all four kicks (two field goal attempts and two extra point attempts) in the Bears' 34-22 victory against the Lions in Week 10. One wit suggested there must be magnets involved, the way Parkey's kicks seem to head unerringly toward the uprights. Or perhaps Parkey made Mr. Magneto angry.

"Pistol" Pete Maravich is the greatest scorer in college basketball history, with 3,667 points in only three seasons and an average of 44.2 points per game, without the three pointer. Second place isn't within 10 points per game (Oscar Robertson with a 33.8 scoring average, followed by Elvin Hayes, Freeman Williams and Larry Bird, the only other players to average 30 ppg for their careers). Furthermore, John Wooden called Pistol Pete the greatest ballhandler of all time. Maravich averaged 5.1 assists, so altogether he accounted for 54.4 points per game! And that's with everyone on the other team knowing who to gang up on. With the three-pointer, who knows what Maravich could have done?

So who is the greatest three-point shooter in college basketball history? Fletcher Magee of Wofford is the NCAA's all-time leading three-point maker with 509. Travis Bader of Oakland is second with 504. The single-season record holder is slightly less obscure: Stephen Curry of Davidson.

Here are some candidates for the worst sports teams of all time: The 1962 New York Mets had the most losses and the worst winning percentage in MLB history, going 40-120. (The Mets were rained out twice, denying them a chance to "improve" on their record.) The 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers went 9-73, setting an NBA record for the most losses and finishing 59 games out of first place. However, the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats racked up the worst winning percentage in NBA history (.106) in a strike-shortened year. The Bobcats won their first game (by one point), then dropped 26 of their next 28 games, before ending the season on a 23-game losing streak. The 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers set an NBA record by losing 26 straight games in the season after LeBron James made "The Decision" to play elsewhere in search of championship rings. The 1986-1987 Los Angeles Clippers went 12-70 and finished dead last in both scoring and scoring defense. The 2016 Cleveland Browns went 1-15 but the 2017 Browns were even worse, going 0-16 and setting an NFL record for the most losses in consecutive seasons. But the Browns barely "won" over the Detroit Lions, who followed up a winless 2008 campaign with a 2-14 season in 2009. The 2008 Lions were amazingly bad on defense. They were last in the NFL defending the run, 27th in pass defense, and gave up 32.3 points per game. The 1974-75 Washington Capitals are widely considered to be the worst team ever to lace on skates. Washington had 21 points for the entire season, its .131 winning percentage is the worst in NHL history, and the Caps somehow managed to lose four games by 10 or more goals. Prairie View A&M lost every game for nearly a decade, 80 in a row, from 1989 to 1998.

While modern basketball prizes "length," thanks to the three-pointer the little guys are making a comeback. In 2019, for instance, 17 of the top 25 college scorers were 6-foot-3 or shorter. The NCAA's leading scorer, Chris Clemens of Campbell College, was only 5-foot-9, but was averaging 30.1 points per game. Nearly half his shots (46%) were three-pointers. The highest-scoring major college player, Markus Howard of Marquette, was 5-foot-11 and 42% of his shots were threes. Bubba Parham, a 5-foot-11 guard for VMI, was scoring 20.8 points per game by throwing up treys an astonishing 54.9% of the time. What these mighty mites have in common is that they shoot a LOT of threes. And it seems the little guys are more accurate outside shooters than their taller counterparts. Seven of the top ten NCAA players in three-point accuracy were 6-foot-2 or shorter, and only one was over 6-foot-5. And shorter players were making the most three-pointers as well: 25 of the top 27 players in terms of "makes" were 6-foot-5 or under, while 13 of the top 27, or nearly half, were 6-foot-1 or shorter. And the NBA seems to be taking notice, since 29 of the top 60 players in mock drafts, or virtually half, were 6-foot-6 and under. And so, while the NBA prizes "length," it seems to prize outside shooting just as much. Perhaps NBA coaches have been taking note of what undersized guards like Steph Curry, Kemba Walker, Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas, Ty Lawson and Kyle Lowry have been "up" to, pardon the pun!

Nazi Germany hosted the 1936 Olympics. Adolph Hitler wanted to prove to the world that his Aryan "supermen" were superior to people with darker skin. Swastikas were everywhere. But Jesse Owens disproved Hitler's "superman" theory by winning gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4×100 meter relay. Owens was the most successful athlete at the Games and, being a black man, was credited with "single-handedly crushing Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy." But unfortunately Owens wasn't invited to the White House in those dark Jim Crow days. That honor was reserved for white athletes. In fact, when Owens attended a non-presidential reception in his honour at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, he and his mother had to use the service elevator!

Steve Young, who won the Heisman trophy as a Brigham Young University quarterback, is the great-great-grandson of Brigham Young.

In 1943, Slingin' Sammy Baugh led the NFL in passing, punting and interceptions (as a defensive back!). So he had a claim to be the NFL's best offensive player, its best defensive player and its best special teams player. It may have been the greatest individual season in NFL history. In 1943, Baugh set an NFL record by throwing six touchdown passes in a single game. He set another record with eleven interceptions for the season. And his 45.9 average yards per punt was 8.4 yards better than the league average. That magical year Baugh was like Tom Brady, Deion Sanders and Reggie Roby—rolled into one! In 1943 he also had the greatest game in NFL history: In a 42-20 win over the Detroit Lions, Baugh threw four touchdown passes, intercepted four passes and had an 81-yard punt, the longest of the year! And it wasn't a fluke. Baugh led the NFL in passing completion percentage nine times. He is the only punter of his era to average over 45 yards per punt for a career, and he still ranks in the top 25. His 1940 average of 51.4 yards per punt has stood as the record for nearly 80 years.

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali won his three heavyweight championships on three different continents: North America, Asia and Africa.

On March 3, 1985 a new Celtics franchise record was set when Kevin McHale scored 56 points in a game against the Detroit Pistons. Unfortunately for McHale, one of his teammates was the ultimate alpha male. Nine days later, on March 12, 1985, Larry Bird broke McHale's shiny new record by scoring 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks. One sportscaster called Bird's performance a "video game" because he was hitting fade-away jump shots from three-point territory. It may have been the best "real game" shooting exhibition in NBA history.

Larry Bird, despite standing 6 feet 9 inches and averaging 10.0 rebounds per game for his career, was one of the best outside shooters in NBA history. He won the first three three-point shooting contests, hitting nine three-pointers in a row in one contest, and eight in a row in another.

On Valentines Day, February 14, 1986, Larry Bird told his teammates and the media that he planned to play the next game left-handed. He ended up scoring ten field goals with his left hand. Bird finished the game with 47 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. He also scored a clutch basket to send the game into OT and eventually hit the game-winning shot with three seconds left to lift the Celtics to a 120-119 victory over the Trail Blazers.

Jerry West is famously the NBA's logo. But did you know that the silhouette on the Major League Baseball logo is Harmon Killebrew?

Tiger Woods' real name is Eldrick Tont Woods. It's hard to imagine his mother yelling, "Eldrick Tont, finish your veggies before you leave the table!"

The original name for basketball, when invented by Dr. James Naismith, was "indoor rugby." The name "basketball" was adopted because of the peach baskets that acted as the original goals.

Gheorghe Mureșan was the tallest NBA player, at 7 feet 7 inches (2.34 meters). Mureșan is also the tallest living person in the European Union. Manute Bol was slightly shorter (2.31 meters) and much lighter at only 200 pounds. At 325 pounds, Mureșan outweighed Bol by 125 pounds. Yao Ming and Shawn Bradley were both 7 feet 6 inches. None of them compare to the tallest human being on record, Robert Pershing Wadlow, who when last measured was found to be 8 feet 11.1 inches, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Manute Bol is the only NBA player to have more career blocks than points.

While Andre the Giant was listed as 7 feet 4 inches during his pro wrestling days, in reality he was "only" around 6 feet 10 inches according to wrestling historian Dave Meltzer. If you want confirmation, there is a photo of Wilt Chamberlain, who stood 7 feet 2 inches, standing next to Andre. Chamberlain was barefoot and Andre was wearing thick heels, but Chamberlain was still around 3 inches taller. Andre was a giant primarily because of his girth and thickness. His weight was billed as 520 pounds, although that may also have been an exaggeration.

Yogi Berra inspired the name of the famous cartoon character Yogi Bear. Their names became irretrievably linked, to the extent that when Yogi Berra died, the Associated Press announced the death of Yogi Bear to newspapers around the world! (Honest to God, no one can make these things up!) So how did Lawrence Peter Berra come to be called "Yogi" in the first place? Was he really a swami? No, but he used to sit cross-legged in the on-deck circle. One of his friends started calling him "Yogi" and the nickname stuck.

Only two players in the history of major league baseball have made the exclusive 30-30 Club five times. The first to do it was Bobby Bonds. Who was the second? His son, Barry Bonds! The power-speed genes obviously run in that family!

Did you know that Babe Ruth once threw a perfect game? Well, sorta. During a 1917 game against the Washington Senators, Ruth was the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Ruth walked the first batter on four pitches, argued vehemently with home plate umpire Brick Owens, slugged him, and got ejected. Ruth's replacement, Ernie Shore, promptly picked off the runner on first base, then retired the next 26 batters, finishing baseball's wildest and most improbable "perfect game." But if the keen-eyed Ruth was correct that the first batter shouldn't have been awarded first base, it really was a perfect game!

Babe Ruth was the best left-handed pitcher of his era, and Red Sox manager Ed Barrow was understandably reluctant to tamper with success by letting him play in the outfield. But in 1918 when Barrow finally agreed to let the Bambino play on his non-pitching days, Ruth hit home runs in four consecutive games and the rest―as they say―is history.

Moon Shots and Spitballs

Gaylord Perry was a notoriously weak hitter. For seven major league seasons and over 300 plate appearances, he failed to hit a single dinger. San Francisco Giants manager Alvin Dark joked with reporters, saying: "They'll put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run!" Then on July 20, 1969, a matter of minutes after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Gaylord Perry hit his first major league home run! Was it written in the stars, perhaps? Or are we trapped in the Twilight Zone?

But even Gaylord Perry had nothing on Bartolo Colon, who hit his first-ever home run when he was 42 years, 349 days old! No major leaguer had ever waited until such an advanced age to hit his first four-bagger. "You could tell it was his first home run," quipped Jimmy Fallon, "because at each base, he stopped to ask directions to the next one." Unfamiliar territory indeed!

Colon was also the oldest major leaguer to earn his first walk, which he did at the ripe young age of 43! In 521 major league games, Colon managed to walk exactly once, raising his career OBP to a scintillating .095! In 316 career plate appearances, Colon has one walk and one home run ... but he is rapidly improving!

Speaking of "moon shots," Lefty Gomez helped baffled scientists identify one: "When Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, he and all the space scientists were puzzled by an unidentifiable white object. I knew immediately what it was. That was a home-run ball hit off me in 1937 by Jimmie Foxx!" In 1937, Foxx hit a ball into the third deck of the left-field stands at Yankee Stadium, a very rare feat because of the distance and angle of the stands. Gomez was the pitcher that day, and when he was asked how far the ball traveled, he said, "I don't know, but I do know it took somebody 45 minutes to go up there and get it back!" The big fish tale apparently grew and grew until it reached lunar proportions!

Getting back to Gaylord Perry ... in a roundabout way he helped create the TV show Cheers. In 1971, Perry was traded for "Sudden" Sam McDowell, a flame-throwing pitcher and the 1970 Sporting News Player of the Year. After the trade, McDowell's career tanked, while Perry went on to win two Cy Young awards and make the Hall of Fame. When McDowell retired, his strikeout rate of 8.86 per nine innings was second only to Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax. McDowell later admitted that his "flameout" was due to his abuse of alcohol, amphetamines and barbiturates. Eventually, McDowell's life became the model for Ted Danson's party-boy character Sam Malone, so "cheers" to Gaylord Perry. (But Sam McDowell still insists that he was better with the ladies than Sam Malone!)

In his very first at-bat, future Hall of Fame knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm hit a home run. His career lasted 21 more years and 493 plate appearances, but he never hit another homer. Wilhelm is also unusual because he didn't debut as a rookie until he was 29 years old, but then played to age 49. He retired with 143 wins, 228 saves and a gaudy 2.52 ERA. Oh, and that one freakish homer to go with his career .088 batting average!

Okay, there is something very fishy about these knuckleballers and their solo career homers! In 1976, Joe Niekro hit his one and only MLB home run. But it seems very "taterish" because the pitcher who served up the gopher ball was another knuckleballer ... his brother Phil!

Who were the last brothers to lead a league in wins? Who was the last pitcher to lead a league in wins and losses in the same season? It's those weird knuckleballers again! In 1979, Phil Niekro went 21-20 for the Atlanta Braves, leading the league in both wins and losses. The same year his brother Joe went 21-11 for the Houston Astros, tying Phil for the NL wins title!

Who is the best starting pitcher of all time according to the ERA+ statistic? ERA+ adjusts ERAs to account for differences in eras (please pardon the pun!). According to ERA+, Clayton Kershaw is the best starting pitcher of all time, with an astronomical 161. But here come those weird knuckleballers again, because Hoyt Wilhem is tied with Walter Johnson for sixth place with an utterly stellar 147, comfortably ahead of pitching luminaries like Roger Clemens, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Pete Alexander, Whitey Ford, Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax!

Now here's a very tricky question. Walter Johnson is generally considered to be the greatest pitcher of all time. His career ERA was a miniscule 2.167. Clayton Kershaw's career ERA is currently 2.363. Which two Hall-of-Fame pitchers will Kershaw have to pass in order to catch the Big Train? Here's a hint: the first HOF pitcher is Eddie Plank, with a brilliant 2.350 ERA. So who's the other? None other than Babe Ruth, with a glittering career ERA of 2.277! And while Kershaw could conceivably catch the Bambino in the pitching stats, it seems safe to say that Kershaw won't challenge Ruth's batting stats anytime soon. Kershaw has a miniscule 6 OPS+ and one homer in ten seasons.

Okay, back to moon shots! Babe Ruth certainly knew how to go out with a bang. Make that a triple bang, because his last three hits were all home runs! Oh, and his very last home run was the first ever to leave Pittsburgh’s venerable Forbes Field and remains the longest drive ever hit there (for all eternity, since the park has since been replaced). It was 1935 and a 40-year-old Babe Ruth was playing for the Braves against the homestanding Pittsburg Pirates. In the first inning, batting against Red Lucas, Ruth lofted career home run number 712 into the right field stands to give the Braves a quick 2-0 lead. Ruth then hit another two-run blast, number 713, in the third inning off Guy Bush. In the fifth, Ruth hit a RBI single off Bush. But the Pirates clawed back to take a 7-5 lead. With Bush still pitching, Ruth came up with the bases empty in the seventh. "By now the home crowd was solidly on the Bambino's side and rooted enthusiastically for more of his old magic." The Babe obliged by slamming home run number 714. This blast bettered the Babe's earlier efforts by "majestically clearing Forbes Field’s right field roof—for the first time in the ballpark's 26-year history." Once again, Ruth had gone where no man had gone before. Two weeks later the Babe retired, but we can always remember him by that magnificent parting shot. (Someone will undoubtedly discover the ball on Venus or Mars one day!)

So who hit the longest "moon shot" of all time? In 1953, Mickey Mantle hit a mammoth blast against Chuck Stobbs of the Senators, in Washington's Griffith Stadium. The Yankees' Arthur "Red" Patterson estimated its distance at 565 feet. He allegedly used a tape measure to determine the exact distance of the home run, giving birth to the term "tape-measure shot." Ironically, the 21-year-old Mantle was almost declared out because he put his head down to avoid "showing up" the pitcher and nearly passed Billy Martin on the basepaths (Mantle was very fast and Martin was lollygagging).

But wait a minute! Apparently, Mantle was just getting warmed up! He is said to have also hit home runs of 620, 630, 643, 650 and 656 feet. Beginning with the blast in Washington, Mantle "went on a tear of longball hitting the likes of which had never been seen." Long distance homers became a topic of animated conversation. During one game Yankees hall-of-fame catcher Bill Dickey was arguing that Babe Ruth and Jimmy Foxx had both hit balls farther than the Mick. But after Mantle hit one of his gargantuan blasts in that game, Dickey did a complete about-face: "Forget what I just said. I've never seen a ball hit that hard!"

Mickey Mantle said that the hardest ball he ever hit came on May 22, 1963 at Yankee Stadium. Mantle was leading off in the bottom of the 11th, with the score tied 7-7. A's pitcher Bill Fischer tried to blow a fastball past him. Bad idea. Mantle stepped into the pitch with perfect timing, met the ball with the sweet spot of his bat, and hit it with everything he had (which was a lot of toned muscle.) The sound of the bat colliding with the ball has been likened to a cannon shot. The players on both benches jumped to their feet. Yogi Berra shouted, "That's it!" The ball rose in a majestic laser-like drive, rocketing into the night toward the farthest confines of Yankee Stadium. The question was not whether it was a home run. The question was whether this was going to be the first ball ever hit out of Yankee Stadium. It had the height and distance. But would it clear the façade of the third deck in right-field? Even Mantle was mesmerized: "I usually didn't care how far the ball went so long as it was a home run. But this time I thought, 'This ball could go out of Yankee Stadium!'" Just as the ball was about to leave the park, it struck the façade mere inches from the top with such ferocity that it bounced all the way back to the infield. That the homer had won the game was merely an afterthought. The Mick had just missed making history. It was the closest a ball has ever come to going out of Yankee Stadium in a regular season game. Later, it was estimated that the ball would have traveled 734 feet if it hadn't hit the façade.

So it seems Mickey Mantle was the strongest of all baseball's power hitters. But who was the fastest? Incredibly, it may have been the strongman, Mickey Mantle, who was allegedly timed going from home to first in 3.1 seconds. According to The Sporting News, when manager Casey Stengel saw Mantle work out, he said:  "My God, the boy runs faster than [Ty] Cobb."

In 1961, Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record for hitting the most home runs in a season, with 61. That's an interesting coincidence, because if we flip over the 19 in 1961, we have three matching 61's! Now here's a test of your baseball trivia powers. In 1961, Maris had 61 homers, 141 RBI, 366 total bases and slugged .620. That's one of the greatest power-hitting seasons in MLB history! So how many times was Maris walked intentionally that year? Hey, no cheating! If you scroll down past the REVENGE OF BASEBALL'S BEAN COUNTERS article, you can find the answer. But please take an honest guess first! Here's a clue: When Mark McGwire broke Maris's record in 1998, he had 28 intentional walks. Here's another clue: When Barry Bonds broke McGwire's record in 2001, he had 35 intentional walks. If you come within 5 of the correct answer, you can declare yourself a winner!

In 1968 Bob Gibson had an insane ERA of 1.12 and limited opposing batters to a miniscule .233 on-base percentage. In an interesting synchronicity, Gibson had a .233 OBP as a batter that year, so he turned the entire NL into weak-hitting pitchers.

Rick Wise threw a no-hitter against the fabled Big Red Machine on June 23, 1971. In the same game Wise also hit two homers, a feat no other MLB pitcher has ever achieved while throwing a no-no.

By 1925, Babe Ruth had become so overweight and ill that he experienced "the bellyache heard 'round the world." At age 30, he didn't just seem to be washed up; he seemed to be dying. In fact, The London Evening News reported his death in an obituary which said that due to his portliness Ruth wore braces (suspenders) rather than a belt and this had "started the fashion for braces in the U.S." Canadian papers also announced the Babe's death. While Ruth wasn't dead, he seemed to be well on his way. The Bambino collapsed on a train and because he was so large, a hole had to be cut into the car before medics could extract him. He had three convulsive attacks while on the stretcher and it took six men to hold him down. Ruth did eventually recover, after missing much of the 1925 season. The day he returned to the lineup, a young teammate broke into the Yankee lineup. His name was Lou Gehrig and he started his streak of 2,130 consecutive games played that very same day. Ruth would go on to play at an ultra-high level till age 39, defying all the rules of "proper nutrition" and―seemingly―physics. He and Gehrig would become the most "offensive" duo in the history of major league baseball.

Babe Ruth was the greatest power hitter in World Series history, with 15 homers in 167 plate appearances (Mickey Mantle had 18, but it took him more than 100 additional plate appearances). But Ruth may have also been the best pitcher in World Series history, with a 3-0 record and a miniscule .87 ERA. He pitched 29 2/3 scoreless innings, a World Series record that would stand for 42 years.

Hey, Philadelphia is supposed to be the city of brotherly love! So how did nearby rival Pittsburgh replace Philly in brotherly affection? Well, in the eighth inning of a game at Pittsburg on September 15, 1963, for the first time in MLB history, three brothers played together in the same outfield! The brothers were Felipe, Jesus and Matty Alou.

When Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak ended in 1941, he immediately went on another 16-game spree. So Joltin' Joe had at least one hit in 72 of 73 games! Pete Rose had the second-longest hitting streak of the modern era, 44 games, in 1978. Since Rose's streak, no one has really come that close. Is the Yankee Clipper's record untouchable? Right now it certainly seems that way. But ironically the player who came closest to matching DiMaggio happened to also do it in 1941, and in the same league, no less! In 1941, Ted Williams had a streak of reaching base in 69 consecutive games. He hit .406 and that's the last time anyone crossed the magical .400 barrier for a complete season. How good was Teddy Ballgame? Well, in 1949 he reached base officially 84 games in a row, or over half the damn season! So the two greatest players of their era hold two very similar records. But wait ... the story isn't over yet! ... because in 1957 at the advanced age of 38, the Splendid Splinter had an on-base percentage of .526! So he was on base more than half the time, for an entire season! That's crazy ... for anyone else. But not for Williams, who finished with the highest career OBP in major league baseball history, a phenomenal .482. Thus, he was on base nearly every other at-bat for his entire freakin' career! And he also holds the record with 17 consecutive seasons with a .400 OBP or higher. But this may be the craziest stat of all: he only had one season with an OBP lower than .436, and that was when he was 40 years old! Oh, and the next season, at age 41, he was back up to .451! Now I understand what Williams was called The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. He definitely earned it, if the goal of hitting is to get on base rather than make outs.

How on earth did Harvey Haddix manage to lose the best-pitched game in the history of major league baseball? And how did a perfect game turn into an utter farce? Pitching for the Pirates against a loaded Braves lineup in 1959, Haddix threw 12 innings of perfect baseball: 36 batters up, 36 batters out. But then in the unlucky 13th an error, sacrifice and intentional walk to Hank Aaron brought Joe Adcock to the plate with a runner in scoring position. Adcock hit a Kafkaesque out-of-the-park "double" and the perfect game was lost 1-0, with the strangest of all possible endings when Adcock passed Aaron celebrating on the basepaths and their runs were negated. Lew Burdette, the Milwaukee pitcher that day, later said: "I have to be the greatest pitcher who ever pitched, because I beat the guy who pitched the greatest game ever pitched!" (Ironically, Burdette had been the opposing pitcher when Haddix won his first big-league game.) Elroy Face, the first great Pirates reliever, also called it the best game ever pitched. Haddix stood only 5-9, weighed just 155 pounds and was nicknamed "the Kitten," so he seemed like an unlikely candidate to throw the most dominating game in MLB history. But he did. How? With pinpoint control. Haddix later explained: "I could have put a cup on either corner of the plate and hit it." Bill Mazeroski, the great defensive second baseman, called it the easiest game he ever played because there were no hard-hit balls or difficult outs. And yet the most perfect of games was lost. As Yogi Berra would say, "You could look it up." And we might add that fact really is stranger than fiction ... in baseball's Twilight Zone.

TRIVIA ANSWER: In 1961, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record for hitting the most home runs in a season, he had ZERO intentional walks. How is that possible? Well, he had Mickey Mantle hitting behind him, and that year Mantle hit 54 homers and slugged .687 with an astronomical 206 OPS+. The numbers don't lie ... as great as Maris was in 1961, Mantle was even better! And opposing pitchers confirmed it.

Award Weirdness

We will start this wonderfully weird section with our third and last trivia question. How is this even possible? Which hall-of-fame pitcher won 20 or more games a staggering 15 times, but never once won the Cy Young Award? What a travesty! Here's a hint: He had a glittering career ERA of 2.63, just a few ticks behind the poetic duo of Noodles Hahn and Hippo Vaughn. Give up? Well, of course it was Cy Young himself!

There are some questionable members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, perhaps none more questionable than catcher Rick Ferrell, who was not even the best player in his immediate family! Rick Ferrell finished his career with only 29.8 WAR, a .363 slugging percentage and a less-than-stellar OPS+ of 95. Wes Ferrell was a pitcher whose 61.6 WAR vastly eclipsed his brother's. And according to baseball metrics, despite being a pitcher, Wes was the better hitter as well, with a .446 slugging percentage and OPS+ of 100!

Who was the oddest MVP of all time? Probably Zolio Versalles, the AL MVP in 1965 when he hit .273 with a .319 OBP and led the league in strikeouts (122) and errors (39). After his MVP season, Versalles never hit higher than .249, never had an OBP over .307, and despite being only 25 when he won the MVP award, had negative 2.4 WAR for the rest of his career. Versalles finished his career with only 12.5 WAR and a not-so-sterling 82 OPS+.

Stolen Base Strangeness

How did all-time stolen base leader Rickey Henderson miss three games due to frostbite, in August? (He fell asleep on an ice pack.)

Speaking of steals ... if Rickey Henderson was the best base-stealer of all time, who was the worst ever? Ironically, according to stolen base percentage, it was the greatest baseball player of all time, Babe Ruth! From 1920 to 1935 the Bambino stole 110 bases and was caught 117 times, for a "success" rate of .485 (the lowest for a player with at least 200 career attempts). But hold on, there's another candidate for the worst base-stealer of all time, thanks to a metric called wSB. There was one playerand only onewith a worse career wSB than Babe Ruth. So who on earth was it? Well, we don't have to look very far. It was Lou Gehrig, who hit immediately behind Ruth for the Yankees! 

For a decade, from 1949 to 1958, Yogi Berra hit 257 home runs and struck out 250 times. Just in case that didn't sink in, let me repeat it a different way: Yogi Berra had more home runs than strikeouts for a freakin' decade! And to make matters worse (or better), he was a notorious bad-ball hitter! How the hell did he do it? In 1950, Berra hit 28 homers and had an insanely low 12 strikeouts. Most modern sluggers could strike out 12 times in a doubleheader!

But amazingly, Berra was not even the best player on his own team in this category. From 1937 to 1941, his teammate Joe DiMaggio averaged 34 home runs per season, but only 24 strikeouts.

In the early 1930's, someone protested that Babe Ruth was demanding more money than President Hoover made, for playing a game! The quick-witted Babe had the perfect retort for those Great Depression days: "I had a better year than he did."

Here are ten things you may not know about Babe Ruth: (1) He was apparently born for baseball: as a boy in Baltimore, he lived on the site of what later became Oriole Stadium in Camden Yards. (2) He was apparently also born to drink, as he lived above a saloon his father owned! (3) Ruth was drinking before he turned eight, and was sent to a reform school as incorrigible. (4) Ruth was destined to be a shirtmaker, before he signed with his hometown Orioles (then a minor league team) at age nineteen. (5) The Orioles were struggling financially and quickly sold Ruth's contract to the Red Sox. On his first day in Boston, Ruth allegedly met the girl he would marry and won the first game he pitched. (6) Ruth quickly became a star pitcher with the lowest ERA (2.19) and highest winning percentage (.659) among AL lefties. (7) Ruth posted a 0.87 ERA in three World Series starts and his record of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the Fall Classic stood from 1918 until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961. (8) Ruth hit his first major league home run against his future team, the Yankees. When Ruth demanded a raise in 1919, his contract was sold to the Yankees for $100,000 and a $300,000 loan secured by Fenway Park. This sale apparently ushered in the "Curse of the Bambino," as the Red Sox would fail to win a single World Series while the Yankees were winning twenty from 1920-1964. (9) Babe Ruth hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium, the "house that Ruth built" and which was built to favor his bat. How many home runs would Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron have hit, if someone had built stadiums to suit them, one wonders? (10) Babe Ruth played himself in four movies, including Pride of the Yankees (for which he lost 40 pounds to play his younger self).

The most earthshaking trade in baseball history didn't happen and may have prevented fans in two major cities from going insane! In 1947 the Red Sox and Yankees had a verbal agreement to trade Ted Williams for Joe DiMaggio. What a conundrum it would have been, for Yankee fans to cheer "Mr. Boston Red Sox" while Bostonians were cheering for the "Yankee Clipper" ... the mind boggles! But the trade didn't happen because Tom Yawkey, the owner of the Red Sox, wanted Yogi Berra to be included, but Larry MacPhail, the general manager of the Yankees, refused. Thus the tenuous sanity of Red Sox and Yankee fans was preserved!

No, the Cardinals were not named after birds or exalted priests. In 1899 a woman in the stands gushed about the players' uniforms containing a "lovely shade of cardinal." St. Louis Republic reporter Willie McHale overheard her and included her remark in his column the next day. The rest, as they say, is history. But then shouldn't it be "cardinal" singular?

In 1972, Mike Kekich and his teammate Fritz Peterson traded families. They swapped wives, children, dogs and houses!

Related Pages: All-Time Cincinnati Reds Baseball Team, The Greatest Baseball Infields of All Time, Cincinnati Reds Trivia, Is Mike Trout the GOAT?, Best Baseball Nicknames, Mike Trout Nicknames, Weird Baseball Facts and Trivia, Baseball Hall of Fame: The Best Candidates, Why Pete Rose Should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Big Red Machine Chronology, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR per Season, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR7, Who is the NBA GOAT?, The Best Tennessee Vols Basketball Teams and Players of All Time, Baseball's 100 WAR Leaders

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