Go Figure: Never a shortage of trivia when numbers meet baseball
Eventually, that is.
The reason for the 2020 Major League Baseball season's delay is unprecedented. However, it is hardly the only time that there has been a work stoppage on the professional diamond.
In fact, my wife and I were on our honeymoon in the Bay Area when we attended the White Sox 1994 finale, a 2-1 win over the Oakland A's Aug. 11 that year. (No, that was not part of the newlywed plans and yes, my wife is a sweetheart!)
To help baseball fans get at least a little bit of their National Pastime Fix, here are some trivia questions that test your acumen while employing an "out of work" theme. That common thread is a reminder that work stoppages have happened before.
• • •
Only one Major League Baseball player was born on the first day of the 1994 strike that eventually resulted in the cancellation of the World Series that year. He plays for a Chicago team. Who is it?
A) Ian Happ
B) Tim Anderson
C) Kyle Schwarber
• • •
After being sent to Triple-A Iowa for two weeks nearly midway into the 2017 season, Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber returned with more success, notching 51 hits in 200 at bats (.255 avg., .565 slugging percentage), including 18 of his 30 home runs on the season.
Before that demotion, however, his struggles included a .171 average that meant he was hitting only one teammate's listed weight. Who was that slender fellow (and now former) Cub?
• • •
The first players' strike in MLB history came in 1972, covering the first 13 days of April. That year, the White Sox racked up an impressive 87-67 record, good for second place, 5½ games behind the eventual World Series champion Oakland A's.
The South Siders were carried by strong pitching, including 24-game winner Wilbur Wood and 21-game winner Stan Bahnsen, and the MVP performance of first baseman Dick Allen.
Along with Allen, another White Sox player led the team with a .308 batting average. Who was it, and if you strip away this pair's numbers, what was the rest of the squad's batting average?
A) Jorge Orta & rest of Sox batted .233
B) Carlos May & rest of Sox batted .220
C) Bill Melton & rest of Sox batted .242
(American League overall batting average was .239, tied for third-lowest in AL history)
Extra credit: Name the White Sox pitcher who was 10-for-19 at the plate in '72, including eight hits in his last nine at-bats?
• • •
In 1981, the White Sox won four games in a row before a strike halted play for two months. The last game before the strike, on June 11, was a 3-2 win over the Yankees.
In that game, a Trout (Steve) had the upper hand on a Bird (Doug), reversing the results of their last confrontation five days earlier at Yankee Stadium. Who was the future Cy Young Award winner who saved that final pre-strike game for the Sox at Comiskey Park?
Ian Happ (born Aug. 12, 1994)
Carl Edwards Jr. (170 listed weight)
Carlos May and rest of Sox batted .220 / Terry Forster (career batting average: .397)
• Matt Baron is an Oak Park-based freelance writer. He supplements his baseball brainpower with Retrosheet.org for much of this research.