“On a side note, while I was researching 1918 starting lineups I found a few games — I think involving the Giants — where the batting order by position went rf cf lf ss 3b 2b 1b c p except for two spots… I think maybe 1b was flipped with 2b or c. Never did find one that went in strictly numerical descending order. That would be a pretty cool find.”
Of course I was intrigued by this possibility, so back to the Retrosheet starting lineups I went. This time I would be looking for three things: 1) batting orders in ascending position, 2) batting orders in descending position and while I’m knee-deep in the data, 3) identical batting orders for both teams.
Turns out there have been at least 75 instances of batting orders going from 9-1 (or 10-2, in the case of DH games, with “10” being the DH, as per Retrosheet game logs) in major league history.
The earliest recorded occurrence was on August 25, 1924, when the host Pittsburgh Pirates posted this lineup:
|Eddie Moore RF||3||2||1||0||2||0|
|Max Carey CF||4||1||1||0||1||0|
|Kiki Cuyler LF||4||2||2||3||1||0|
|Glenn Wright SS||4||0||1||1||0||0|
|Pie Traynor 3B||3||1||2||1||1||0|
|Rabbit Maranville 2B||3||0||2||0||1||0|
|Charlie Grimm 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0|
|Earl Smith C||3||1||2||1||1||0|
|Lee Meadows P||4||0||0||0||0||0|
This same order was seen in 30 additional games for the Buccos during the final five weeks of the season.
As of the end of 2010, the last of these 9-1 lineups occurred on August 16, 1943 at Comiskey Park, as the White Sox went RF-to-P against the Yankees. It was the 43rd time the White Sox went in reverse fielding order during the season.
With the “DH” noted as “10”, there have been no “10-2″ orders in history. The closest we get is the Tigers lineup on July 24, 2000 versus the Devil Rays, when it went “10-9-8-7-6-3-2-4-5″.
As for ascending order, that’s a complete whiff. There have been only three recorded occasions featuring the pitcher even batting leadoff. The first of these happened on May 30, 1871, as the Rockford Forest City’s Denny Mack was the first batter of the game (the home team batted first in this game). The second instance was on the last day of the 1953 season. Both the Giants and Pirates were long since eliminated from pennant contention. New York Giants 3B Alvin Dark actually started on the rubber in the September 27 game against Pittsburgh. He pitched one inning, then assumed his normal position. The last sighting of the pitcher batting first was actually the closest to our 1-9 order. It occurred on September 22, 1968, in the midst of the Twins’ Cesar Tovar playing all nine positions. Tovar pitched a scoreless first inning, then went around the diamond 2-3-4-6-5-7-8-9.
Finally . . . how about games which featured both teams with the same batting order? Thru 2010, its happened 38 times. The first: June 29, 1921, when Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson and Phillies skipper Bill Donovan each submitted lineup cards that went: 2b-ss-rf-lf-1B-cf-3b-c-p. Most recently, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had copycat orders in the first game of an August 31, 2009 doubleheader.