A Brief History of the Last Player Alphabetically

Tuesday, this transaction burst onto the Twitterverse: #Mariners recall OF Stefen Romero & Jose Ramirez from AAA Tacoma; select INF Shawn O’Malley & RHP Tony Zych from AAA. — MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) September 1, 2015 The VORG instantly recognized that “Zych” would set a new record for the last player, alphabetically, to appear in the Majors. … Read more

Opposing Pitchers Sharing a Birthday

In a group of 25 people (such as a baseball club), there is a 57% chance that at least two people will share a birthday. In a group of 50 people (such as competing ballclubs), there is a 97% chance of at least two people sharing a birthday. Given this, how often have opposing pitchers … Read more

The Day’s Games are Home or Visitor Sweeps (or close to it)

On Tuesday, all 15 home teams won their games, a first in MLB history. That got the VORG wondering about other “sweeps”, by either the home or visiting teams, based on the number of games on a day. Thanks to the gamelogs from Retrosheet, here are the most wins on a single day by the … Read more

Q & A with “Mashi” Author Rob Fitts

71hJJD1zE6LIn 1964, 20-year-old Masanori Murakami became the first player from Japan to play in the Major Leagues. Japanese baseball expert/author Robert Fitts documents Murakami’s journey from the Nankai Hawks of Japan’s Pacific League to the San Francisco Giants in “Mashi.

Fitts was the winner of the Society of American Baseball Research’s 2013 Seymour Medal for the best baseball book with Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, and Assassination during the 1934 Tour of Japan. Prior to that he had penned Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Baseball.

Fitts was kind enough to take some time after a recently-concluded book tour with Murakami to answer some questions from the VORG ….

A few general questions before we get into the book …

VORG: Its quite a leap of faith to go from a career in archaeology/anthropology to writing about baseball history. Can you describe what pushed you towards giving up one career for the other?

RF: That’s a really long story. The gist of it is: in the late 1990s I created a website for selling off of Japanese baseball card doubles. The site did well enough that I left my job as a consulting archaeologist to focus on the website. I began writing about Japanese baseball history to promote the card sales but soon realized that I enjoyed the research and writing far more than selling cards. After meeting Wally Yonamine in 2003 and hearing his stories about playing in Japan, I decided to write Remembering Japanese Baseball. That got me hooked and I’ve been writing full-time ever since.

VORG: Your bio mentions that you lived in Tokyo from 1993-1994. What were you doing over there at that time?

RF: My wife was a Japanese major in college and could speak fluent Japanese. Her law firm sent her over for 2 years and I went along.

VORG: There are all types of baseball fans, and SABR helps niches within the fandom grow. What drew you to study and write about baseball in Japan specifically?

RF: During my time in Japan, I fell in love with the Japanese game. I enjoyed that atmosphere of the games.

VORG: I would suspect that doing research about Japanese baseball history is a magnitude more difficult than most other baseball interests, given the written and oral language barriers. What sort of resources (online, library, societies) have provided you with the broadest help in navigating the language differences?

RF: I’ve built an extensive library on the topic so that I can do most of my research at home. I also have a wonderful research assistant named Keiko Nishi who translates for me as well as interprets when needed.

VORG: How good is your Japanese these days?

RF: It’s pretty poor. I can accomplish basic tasks like ordering food, asking directions etc. Sometimes I can follow a conversation. I can read names, box scores and stats but not much beyond that.

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More Pitching Matchup Weirdness

Friend of the VORG Tim Moore on the “Effectively Wild” Facebook page earlier this week: Curious about pitchers with the same surname as the opposing pitcher’s birthplace. Bonus points if it’s a Capitol. resulting in the following discussion … Diane Firstman Tim ….. are you serious about that? Tim Moore Always. OK, so pulling the … Read more

Same Last Name Pitching Matchups

Today’s Diamondbacks/Rockies matchup features Jorge De La Rosa versus Rubby De La Rosa.  Its far from the first time a game has featured two pitchers with the same surname.  Here is the complete list through the end of 2014. (Data from Retrosheet.  Please donate to their cause.)

More Fun with “Quarter Pole” and the Baseball Season

Three years ago, I wrote about bloggers/journalists misusing the term “quarter pole” when discussing the first quarter of the baseball season.  I mentioned that the “quarter pole” specifies the point on a racetrack one-quarter mile from the finish line, not the starting gate.

Here we are in 2015, and the misuse continues. Some examples:

“The New York Yankees hit the quarter pole of their season on Wednesday night, …”

“As they close in on the quarter pole of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, the Red Sox remain a work in progress.”

“Castellanos epitomizes the nervousness in this town as a still-young season just passed the quarter pole with the Tigers struggling to keep pace with division-leading Kansas City.”

Just this evening, during FOX’s “Baseball Night in America” pregame show, the studio host used the term twice within the first two minutes.
Listen gang. I’m not a “semantics Nazi.” My followers don’t think so.

However, when I see sportswriters incorrectly co-opting terms from other sports, I have to call it.

So, in order to hopefully help stop this from happening (again), I am providing the approximate “quarter pole” of each baseball season, based on the original schedule as listed on Retrosheet. Basically, take the total number of games to be played in each year, multiply by .75, and that is the game number that represents the “quarter pole.” Most years, it will involve a team playing in game 120-123 (out of 162), some time between August 15 and August 21.  This season, the “quarter pole” should be reached on August 22nd. (The “quarter pole” game might be slightly different than the one listed, based on the ordering of the Retrosheet list.  However, the basic theme remains intact)

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