21 random baseball facts I need to get out of my head

My mind is hyperactive, inquisitive and relentless. I suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which manifests in esoteric nerdery. That can be a blessing, leading to indefatigable interest in a range of topics, but it can also be a curse, leaving me tired, frustrated and unfulfilled.

I also struggle to triage the surfeit of thoughts, ideas, notions and recollections that gush through my brain like a firehose. Even as an avid writer, I often ponder the very purpose of writing itself, attempting to parse transience from permanence, ephemerality from longevity, and fleeting flotsam from legacy cornerstones.

Why do we become interested in particular things? Why do we write certain things down but ignore others? Why do we churn some kernels of wisdom into polished, published articles – features, columns, stories, reports – while ushering others to more disposable outlets of exhibition – tweets, comments, TikToks, daydreams. Which criteria power those evaluations, and how do we arbitrarily define the associated funnels?

I have dedicated countless days, weeks, months and years to such abstruse questions, without reaching a satisfying conclusion. Searching for creative satiation, I have studied obscure, adjacent modalities – from taxonomy to logomachy, from subjective semantics to archivists’ decision-making protocols. No solution has worked, and I’m still perplexed by the messy maelstrom between inputs and outputs that keeps writers awake at night.

However, regardless of the creaky, indulgent, jerry-rigged system writers employ to triage ideas and route them to distinct, pre-set creative formats, there will always be leakage. Stray thoughts and idiosyncratic ideas will always fall through the cracks. Dynamic tchotchke will often evade rigid categorisation. And so, writers will always be left with ink-stained notebooks full of peculiar embers. We will always have effervescent ideas that linger in the ether, begging to be expressed, yearning for a physical footprint beyond the endless potentiality.

As a seasoned baseball anorak, I have gathered reams of such inane bric-à-brac – factoids, footnotes, anecdotes, arcana – and I have long grappled with how and where to express them. Many seem ‘unworthy’ of a standalone article – although, again, who makes such a determination, and how? – yet unsuitable for social media, or podcasts, or YouTube videos. I think of them as baseball espresso shots – potent jolts of caffeine that are instantly enjoyable yet arguably devoid of long-term meaning.

And so, all else having failed – content calendars, social media strategies, proposed book concepts – I have decided to dump these barking figments of my hippocampus on a singular page. Think of it as a Peter Gammons Sunday notes column crossed with a Baseball-Reference data leak. These are the random baseball facts I cannot get out of my head, and I present them to you without further ado:

  1. Hideki Matsui never spat on the Yankee Stadium turf because he considered it sacred.

  2. More people have walked on the moon (12) than have scored an earned run off Mariano Rivera in the postseason (11).

  3. Babe Ruth often placed chilled cabbage leaves under his cap during games to defend against oppressive summer heat.

  4. CJ Nitkowski was the first MLB player to have his own website.

  5. The first – and only – total lunar eclipse in World Series history coincided with the Red Sox winning Game 4 of the 2004 Fall Classic, ending their 86-year wait for a championship. As Boston celebrated, the moon above Busch Stadium in St Louis was red – a rare, cosmic nod to their storied forbearance.

  6. Derek Lowe won the clinching game of each Red Sox series during that 2004 postseason – ALDS, ALCS and World Series.

  7. In the early 2000s, there was a British baseball team named the Yorkshire Puddings. No, seriously.

  8. Trevor Hoffman proposed to his future wife, Tracy, a Buffalo Bills cheerleader, on the field at Super Bowl XXVII. Tracy said yes, but Buffalo lost to Dallas, 52-17.

  9. Xavier Nady somehow won a World Series ring with the 2009 Yankees, despite only appearing in seven games for them that season.

  10. Eric Hinske somehow has three World Series rings – with the Red Sox (2007), Yankees (2009) and Cubs (2016) – despite playing a combined total of 123 games for those teams.

  11. Tadahito Iguchi was the first Japanese position player to win the World Series.

  12. Mike Hampton held the record for the largest contract in MLB history for two days in December 2000. His eight-year, $121 million deal with Colorado was usurped 48 hours later by A-Rod’s ten-year, $252 million pact with Texas.

  13. Actress Eva Longoria sent Evan Longoria a bottle of champagne to celebrate his rookie season with the Rays. Both regularly answered questions about their similar names, despite sharing no relation.

  14. Craig Breslow and Ron DeSantis were baseball teammates at Yale. The former is now in charge of the Red Sox’ baseball operations; the latter has designs on the White House.

  15. Between 1998 and 2014, the Red Sox never won on 15 August – the birthday of Ben Affleck, one of their most notable fans. Boston lost 15 straight games on that date, bridging the era of Good Will Hunting to that of Gone Girl.

  16. Tom Brady was the last athlete drafted by the Montreal Expos to retire.

  17. Brother of Joe, and a very good ballplayer in his own right, Dominic DiMaggio was an original co-owner of the Boston Patriots – the NFL expansion franchise that later changed its name to represent the wider New England region.

  18. Former big league pitcher Jake Peavy has a full-scale replica of Fenway Park in his backyard. Well, on his 2,410-acre hunting plantation, to be precise, but still – pretty cool.

  19. Slugger Kevin Mench was renowned for having the biggest head in baseball. In fact, his cranium was so abnormally large that teams repainted his one custom-made helmet each season rather than sourcing unique iterations.

  20. Barry Bonds walked 2,558 times in his career. That equates to 230,220 feet down the first baseline, which in turn amounts to 43.6 miles – roughly the distance between San Francisco and San Jose.

  21. English: The Los Angeles Angels. Spanish: The The Angels Angels.

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