Collecting baseball facts and trivia can be an engaging pursuit for a baseball enthusiast, for the game known as “America’s Pastime” has been around for well over a century. From little-known rules to remarkable events on the field, baseball has a rich and exiting lore. This article will discuss just a few of the many interesting baseball facts there are.
One of the things which makes baseball distinct from the other popular team sports in America is its lack of a clock. The analog of a clock in baseball is the out: twenty-seven outs equal one game.
However, if those outs are never recorded, the game – or even a single inning – can theoretically go on forever. Of course this never actually happens, but anyone who has watched baseball for years has witnessed that nightmare inning in which their pitcher gets the first two outs easily, but an innocuous little infield single leads to eight runs scoring before that final out is recorded. On the other hand, he or she has also seen the miracle inning in which their team scores eight runs, all with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, to shock the opposing team and come away with their greatest win of the season. Because of this fact, no baseball game is ever over, until the final out is recorded; the concept of being “out of time” does not exist in baseball as it does in other sports.
Among the more interesting events that can occur during a baseball game is the scoring of a run without a base hit. Take the following inning, for instance: the leadoff hitter walks, and then steals second base. The next hitter hits a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to third, now with one out. A sacrifice fly to the outfield scores the runner from third, and a strikeout ends the inning. Innings like this occur every now and then over the course of a season; these become even more interesting when they occur in the context of a no-hitter.
The term no-hitter, sometimes shortened to “no-no,” is a shortening of “no-hit game.” It refers to a complete nine-inning game pitched by a starting pitcher in which he allows no hits. No hit games pitched by multiple pitchers can also occur; Major League Baseball considers a game to be a no-hitter as long as nine innings are completed and no hits allowed, regardless of how many pitchers appeared in the game. There have been two hundred and fifty-five no hitters in Major League history since 1876 (including the American Association, Federal League, Player’s League, and Union Association in addition to the surviving American League and National League). The first occurred on July 15, 1876, a 2-0 win pitched by George Bradley for the St. Louis Brown Stockings over the Hartford Dark Blues, and the most recent occurred on September 1, 2007, when Clay Bucholz of the Boston Red Sox no-hit the Baltimore Orioles in a 10-0 Boston win.
Of these two hundred and fifty five no-hitters, a run or more was allowed in twenty three, most recently on September 8, 1993, when Darryl Kile of the Houston Astros defeated the New York Mets 7-1. The most runs allowed in a no-hitter is two, which has occurred five times. Once has a team pitched a no-hitter and lost; this occurred during a game on April 30, 1967 between the Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles. Steve Barber and Stu Miller combined to pitch a no-hitter for the Orioles, but the Tigers scored two runs in the ninth inning, one on a wild pitch and the other on an error, to defeat the Orioles 2-1.
The youngest player to appear in a Major League game in the modern era was Joe Nuxhall, who in 1944 pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing five runs, at the age of fifteen for the Cincinnati Reds. If we go back even further, we find that in 1887, fourteen year old Fred Chapman pitched five innings for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association (this was his entire Major League career).
At the other end of the scale, the oldest player to have played in Major League Baseball was fifty-eight year old Satchel Paige, who pitched 3 innings for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965. Paige was one of the best pitchers in the Negro Leagues, a segregated league of colored baseball players that existed from 1920 to 1951 (at least, when they were considered “major” leagues; segregated leagues existed as early as 1885 and as late as the 1980s). Paige did not pitch in Major League Baseball until 1948, when he was already forty-one years old. He pitched as a regular starter until 1953 (he was forty six), and sat out for a dozen years until his final appearance in 1965. Two other players, Minnie Minoso (54) and Charley O’Leary (51) played in Major League Baseball in their fifties.
This is just a sampling of the vast lore of interesting baseball facts that exists. There are people who have devoted themselves to studying the history of baseball, though we may never know everything there is to know about baseball history; most people are happy just to recall the more interesting events they have seen in the time they have watched baseball . A subject that is the topic of many a book, baseball lore will never cease to fascinate the fans of America’s Pastime.