Art Shamsky and “Sabbathmetrics”


Tuesday night marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.  It is a day of atonement, and one is to refrain from work, while attending synagogue and fasting.  At the VORG, it means its time for another edition of “Sabbathmetrics“. Today we examine the Sabbath/non-Sabbath performance differences of Art Shamsky.

In 1965, Shamsky made the Cincinnati Reds out of spring training as a sub and hit .260.

Shamsky tied a major league record by homering in four consecutive at bats for the Reds on August 12 and 14, 1966. The first three home runs were hit in a game in which he was inserted in the eighth inning. He homered in the bottom half of that inning and remained in the game to hit home runs in his next two extra-inning at bats, extending the game each time. The feat made Shamsky the first player in Reds history to hit two home runs in extra innings in one game. He is also the only player in Major League history to hit three home runs in a game in which he was not in the starting lineup. The fourth home run was hit as a pinch hitter in the next game. His bat from that day is on display in the Hall of Fame. He finished the year with 21 HR (2nd on the team) and 47 RBIs, and a .521 slugging percentage, in only 234 at-bats.

Shamsky was traded to the New York Mets for Bob Johnson before the 1968 season. He initially found living in New York City to be intimidating, but eventually he “fell in love with the energy, got to know the city a bit. My life changed.”

In 1969 Shamsky hit .300, with a .375 on-base percentage, as half of a right field platoon with Ron Swoboda for the World Champion Mets. Shamsky was the regular starter against right-handed pitchers, with Swoboda starting against lefties. He batted .385 as a pinch hitter. He opted not to play on Yom Kippur that year. “The funny thing was, the Mets won both ends of a double header” that day, he later said.

Shamsky’s torrid hitting continued into the post-season. He started all three games of the NLCS, where he batted .538, leading all batters.

From his bio at SABR.ORG:

In the locker room celebration after the New York Mets won the 1969 National League pennant, he was quoted by the New York Daily News as saying, “I’ll walk down the street in New York now and people will say, ‘There’s Art Shamsky of the Mets.’ People used to laugh. They won’t anymore.”1 Indeed, after his performance in the 1969 National League Championship Series, a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves, nobody would laugh. His seven hits in the NLCS led both teams and, had the honor been bestowed, Shamsky might well have been named Most Valuable Player. He hit .300 during that Miracle Mets season and became a fan favorite, particularly among the area’s large Jewish population.

In the World Series, Shamsky started only in Game 3, on his 28th birthday. Overall he went 0-for-6 in the Series.

Shamsky is a member of the New York Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

We parsed out all of Shamsky’s games by Sabbath/non-Sabbath and here is what it showed:

GAMES 512 153 665
PA 1473 440 1913
AB 1304 382 1686
R 153 41 194
H 333 93 426
2B 47 13 60
3B 8 7 15
HR 53 15 68
RBI 181 52 233
BB 144 44 188
SO 190 64 254
HBP 8 7 15
SF 9 6 15
BA .255 .243 .253
OBP .331 .328 .330
SLG .426 .432 .427
HR% of PA 3.6% 3.4% 3.6%
BB% of PA 9.8% 10.0% 9.8%
SO% of PA 12.9% 14.5% 13.3%

The only notable differences in his production came in strikeout percentage (1.6% higher in Sabbath games) and batting average (12 points lower in Sabbath games). There DOES seem to be a bit of an uptick in hit-by-pitch and sacrifice fly rates based on the number of games played.  He apparently “took one for the team” and “gave himself up” more often on the Sabbath, as a good Jew should. (smile)

Prior entries in the “Sabbathmetric” series:

Scott Radinsky
Norm Sherry
Kevin Youkilis
Steve Stone
Mike Lieberthal
Ron Blomberg
Shawn Green
Al Rosen
Ian Kinsler
Sandy Koufax

My thanks to Baseball Reference for their help with some of this data.



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