As I do research for my blog posts I come across interesting bits of baseball trivia. One of the great things about baseball is its history. There so many stories to be told. Below are a few baseball firsts that you may or may not be aware of.
The New American League
The Chicago White Sox won the first American League game played in history. On April 24, 1901, it didn’t look good for the league’s debut. With four games scheduled, three were rained out. Chicago defeated Cleveland 8-2, with pitcher Roy Patterson getting the first win. The White Sox name was adopted only 10 days prior to the start of the season. Newspapers complained that they could not get the name ‘Chicago White Stockings’ on one line for a headline. The White Stockings name was the very first pro team in Chicago in the mid-1800s.
The Cubs in the World Series
Joe Tinker who was mostly known for being a part of a famous double-play combination hit the first Chicago Cub home run in a World Series. Tinker’s two-run shot came in game two of the 1908 World Series against the Tigers.
The Cubs won the game 6-1, then the series four games to one. Tinker is perhaps best known for the “Tinker to Evers to Chance” double play combination in the poem “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” written by the New York Evening Mail newspaper columnist Franklin Pierce Adams in July 1910. Tinker was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
Extra, Extra, Extra
Babe Ruth was the first player in Major League history to slug over 100 extra base hits in one season. Ruth had 119 extra base hits in 1921 with the Yankees. He had 44 doubles, 16 triples and 59 home runs. The number that surprises me the most is the 16 triples. Ruth just missed 100 three other times with 99 (’20), 99 (’23) and 97 (’27). Since then, fourteen other players have compiled at least 100 extra base hits. The last time was in 2001 when four players reached or exceeded the century mark in extra base hits.
The Most Valuable Player
Jimmie Foxx was the first player in history to win three season MVP Awards. Foxx won two with
the Athletics in 1932 and 1933. His third came with the Boston Red Sox in 1938. He almost had his fourth in 1940, but finished runner-up to Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees. Barry Bonds has won the most MVP awards with seven. He won four in a row from 2001 to 2004.
A Dominating Lefty
Sandy Koufax was the first pitcher to throw four no-hitters, and they were all in a four-year span. His last one was a perfect game. Koufax of the Dodgers accomplished this from 1962-
1965. He retired in 1966 at the age of 31 with elbow problems. Even so, he went 27-9 with a 1.76 ERA in that final season and won his third Cy Young Award. He finish his shorten career 165-87 record and a 2.76 ERA
The Hits King
Pete Rose was the first switch-hitter in the National League to win a batting title. Rose, a National League switch-hitter won his in 1968 with the ‘Big Red Machine’ of
Cincinnati. Rose batted .335 and finished .003 points above Pittsburgh’s Matty Alou for the title, and .018 ahead of brother Felipe of Atlanta who finished third. Rose also finished second in the MVP voting in 1968 to pitcher Bob Gibson of the Cardinals. Mickey Mantle was the first American Leaguer to win a batting title in 1956.
Clemens in Better Times
In 2001, Roger Clemens was the first pitcher in Major League history to win 20 games and
have only one loss in the season. Clemens ended up going 20-3 in his 2001 Yankee season. For his efforts, he was awarded his sixth Cy Young Award.
A Great Beginning
On August 23, 2001, Colorado Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings threw a shutout and hit a home run in his first Major League game. This was the first time in 100 years for this to happen. He appeared in seven games
with a 4-1 record. Jason went 4-for-15 with a double and home run, batting .267 for the season. In 2002, Jennings was 16-8 and batted .306. However, he never had another winning season, retiring in 2009 with a 62-74 career record.