GoFigure: Time to jog your memory of July 4 highlights
By the end of this month, the much-belated Major League Baseball season is scheduled to get its much-truncated 60-game season under way. Next week, "Go Figure" will shift its focus to that immediate future.
Meantime, with Independence Day weekend upon us, let's look back on some of the well-chronicled moments, along with the hidden treasures, lurking in box scores from the holiday during seasons past.
July 4, 1939
This day is best remembered for the Yankee Stadium retirement ceremony of Lou Gehrig. Only two weeks earlier, on his 36th birthday, the man nicknamed Iron Horse for his remarkable stretch of 2,130 consecutive games played was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Q1. On April 29, in Gehrig's second-to-last game, a teammate suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him nearly a month. The dominant Yankees went 20-4 without this Hall of Famer. Who was it?
(Babe Ruth, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio)
Q2. There were eight AL teams and eight NL teams at the time, with frequent doubleheaders. How many doubleheaders were played in the Majors on July 4, 1939?
(2, 5, 7)
Q3. The only Major League debut on this day was that of a 22-year-old Philadelphia Athletic who went on to record 66 hits in his brief career. That is 2 percent of his father's Hall of Fame career tally of 3,315 hits. What was the name shared by this Senior-Junior tandem?
(Eddie Collins, Paul Waner, Pie Traynor)
July 5, 1947
Q4. On this day 73 years ago, three months after Jackie Robinson's historic debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a future White Sox manager becomes the first Black player in American League history.
Facing the White Sox in Comiskey Park, he strikes out as a pinch-hitter for the Cleveland Indians. He later earns seven consecutive All-Star berths, finishes 2nd in Most Valuable Player voting in 1954, and wraps up his career with 1,515 base hits, three shy of Robinson's career tally. Who was this Hall of Famer?
July 4, 1983
On our nation's 207th birthday, Yankee rookie hurler Dave Righetti whiffs Wade Boggs to put the finishing touch on a no-hitter. It was the first Yankee no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series.
Q5. Three future MLB managers were in the Yankees lineup that day: Don Baylor, Lou Piniella and Don Mattingly. Two managed the Cubs. Which one did not?
Q6. On the same day, about 1,200 miles west of the Big Apple, a White Sox pitcher picked up the win at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. He gives up only one earned run over 6 innings, as the South Siders rally for a 12-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Four seasons earlier, playing for the Chicago Cubs, this righty had "a hand" in Lou Brock's 3,000th hit -- when Brock's single went off that part of his body. Who was it?
(Dennis Lamp, Floyd Bannister, Dick Tidrow)
Q7. A lefty-hitting rookie fueled the Sox win with five runs batted in, part of a 20-day stretch when he racked up 23 RBIs. He went on to be part of the Sox coaching staff -- who was it?
(Robin Ventura, Greg Walker, Harold Baines)
July 4, 1980 and 1984
Q8. Two Hall of Fame pitchers with starkly contrasting styles notched their 3,000th strikeout on the 4th of July, four years apart.
The first one, a flamethrower, did it in 1980, en route to punching out more batters in the history of the game -- Sox fans can insert their Robin Ventura quip here.
The second one, a knuckleball specialist, previously led the National League in losses four years in a row. He was 45 when he achieved the milestone as a Yankee -- and still had over three years of MLB action left in the tank.
Which of the three players below does not match either description?
(Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Nolan Ryan)
1. Joe DiMaggio; 2. Seven; 3. Eddie Collins; 4. Larry Doby; 5. Don Mattingly; 6. Dennis Lamp; 7. Greg Walker; 8. Gaylord Perry
• Matt Baron is an Oak Park-based freelance writer. He supplements his baseball brainpower with Retrosheet.org for much of this research.