April is the Cruelest Month for Baseball Trivia

No, no, don’t worry: there isn’t a line in “The Wasteland” that refers to baseball – um, as far as we know. (And no, Eliot’s reference to “apeneck Sweeney” in another poem is not a comment on the Steroid Era.) It’s just that it is April: Baseball factoid freaks have been Jonesing for some tough trivia nuts to rap on their friends’ heads, and all they generally get until at least mid-May are incredibly inflated or deflated early season numbers that are meaningless because of tiny sample sizes (e.g., a few days into the season Ryan Howard was on a pace to drive in 360 runs this season – I did the math personally on April 3rd).

So, let’s see if we can’t help out here – your challenges:

First, Cliff Lee’s 12-strikeout, 99-pitch, complete game shutout of Washington April 14th was the Phillies’ second complete game in a row, following up Roy Halladay’s 3-2 win over the Nats the night before with a 4-0 victory. Lee’s effort, however, was a genuine MLB rarity, only the second whipping of an opponent with at least 12 K’s and less than 100 pitches. Name the first pitcher to accomplish this feat.

Second, exactly one MLB pitcher faced both Ted Williams (in 1959) and Julio Franco (in 1983). Who could that have been?

Need a hint? This pitcher won 15 Gold Gloves.

Third, name the first MLB player to take a paternity leave from his team under the new paternity leave rule.

Answers:

One: Sandy Koufax also did this during one of his no-hitters, according to Tom McCarthy, one of the Phils’ TV broadcasters. In which of his four no-hitters Koufax punched out 12 and stayed under 100 tosses is the tougher question because he recorded 12, 13 and 14 strikeouts in three of those four efforts, but pitch counts were not routinely published in the ’60’s. So, good luck with that; my money’s on his 1965, 14-K effort over the Cubs, a 1-0 win with no walks on September 9th. (The Elias Sports Bureau keeps such information hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s porch, to steal baldly from Johnny Carson.)

Two: The only pitcher to face both the Splendid Splinter and Julio the Ancient was Jim Kaat. (DOCUMENTATION ALERT: There is – here – no firm source on this alleged fact. I received this challenge and the answer to it myself via text messages from Paul Stone, MD, the noted New Jersey internist/oncologist and Phillies fan on April 14th, and as we all know, he could be lying. Perhaps Dr. Stone will comment and give up his source.)

Three: Colby Lewis of the Rangers left his team April 13th to attend to his wife, Jenny, and their newborn daughter, Elizabeth Grace. Before we go all warm and squishy about MLB’s family consciousness here, though, it should be noted that players may go to the “PL” for only 24 to 72 hours. Lewis is expected to make his next start on Tuesday…but we offer him and his family appropriate congratulations with the hope that single players uninvolved in relationships do not press the point that this rule, arguably, discriminates against them.

Sources:

Delgado, Francisco. “A.L.: Low & Outside.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 16 Apr. 2011: E4.

“Florida at Philadelphia.” Major League Baseball. Comcast SportsNet. CSN-P, Philadelphia, 15 Apr. 2011.

“National League No Hitters.” Baseball-Almanac.com. 16 Apr. 2011.