Sunday, December 8, 2019

Worst Baseball Career Ever - Pitchers

Last week, we looked at the worst baseball careers ever, for batters. We defined that as coming up to only once, then whiffing.

So, how can we define something similar for pitchers? How about get on shot in the bigs, and never record an out? Makes sense to me.

  • I eliminated any position players who were in just to mop up.  These had to be real honest-to-goodness hurlers
  • Hey, they can’t bat anyway, right?
  • I limited it to the modern era (1903 and after).
  • I’m listing them from least disastrous to most disastrous (and using earned runs as way to do that)

BTW, no Walter Alstons in this group

Lou Bauer
Year:  1918
Team:  Philadelphia A’s
Eared runs:  1
Game notes:  Walked the 2 batters he faced
Player tidbits:  Only 1 season of minor league ball for his whole career

Gordie Sundin
Year:  1956
Team:  Baltimore Orioles
Eared runs:  1
Game notes:  18 years old
Player tidbits:  All state in high school for baseball, football & basketball

Bill Moore
Year:  1925
Team:  Detroit
Eared runs:  2
Game notes:  3 straight walks
Player tidbits:  Played one year in Williamsport PA (home of Little League)

Marty Walker
Year:  1928
Team:  Philadelphia Phillies
Eared runs:  2
Game notes:  Starter on the last day of the season; got the loss
Player tidbits:  Full name was Martin Van Buren Walker

Joe Brown
Year:  1927
Team:  Chicago White Sox
Eared runs:  3
Game notes:  Starter
Player tidbits:  With such a common name, it’s surprising to know that there’s only one other Joe Brown among the almost 20,000 players who have donned an MLB uniform

William Ford
Year:  1936
Team:  Boston Braves
Eared runs:  3
Game notes:  Starter
Player tidbits:  Gave up pitching & played OF for 4 years in the minors  

Mike Palagyi
Year:  1939
Team:  Washington Senators
Eared runs:  3
Game notes:  Faced 3 Hall of Famers: Joe Cronin, Jimmie Foxx, and Ted Williams
Player tidbits:  Live to be 96

Jim Schelle
Year:  1939
Team:  Philadelphia A’s
Eared runs:  3
Game notes:  A's would end up losing 16-3
Player tidbits:  Never got above C league otherwise

Fred Bruckbauer
Year:  1961
Team:  Minnesota Twins
Eared runs:  3
Game notes:  Twins would end up losing 20-2
Player tidbits:  Slated to be a starter for the Twins that year, but blew his arms out in spring training

Doc Hamann
Year:  1926
Team:  Cleveland Indians
Eared runs:  6
Game notes:  No other professional baseball before (or after) his MLB debut
Player tidbits:  He and Bruckbauer were both from New Ulm, MN

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Worst Baseball Career Ever – Batters

So, what could possibly constitute a “worst baseball career ever” – in this case, if you’re a batter?  How about if you got up only once, and then struck out?  Yup, that’s it.  Just one shot at glory, and you blew it big time.

  • I eliminated any pitchers.  Hey, they can’t bat anyway, right?
  • I also eliminated anyone who was listed without any position.  Just wanted to make sure they weren’t pitchers.
  • I limited it to the modern era (1903 and after).
  • I’m listing them from oldest to most recent.  

BTW, the famous Moonlight Graham actually got his bat on the ball.  He at least avoided a big K.

There is one famous major leaguer here though.  In fact, he’s in the Hall of Fame!  Can you guess who he is?  Read on …

Claude Gouzzie
Year:  1903
Team:  St. Louis Browns
Position:  2B
Interesting Tidbit:  Born in France

Willy Fetzer
Year:  1906
Team:  Philadelphia Phillies
Position: OF
Interesting Tidbit:  Head baseball coach at Davidson, NC State & UNC

Hunky Shaw
Year:  1908
Team:  Pittsburgh Pirates
Position:  3B
Interesting Tidbit:  Actually had his own (T206) baseball card

Larry McClure
Year:  1910
Team:  New York Giants
Position:  OF
Interesting Tidbit:  Attended Choate & Amherst

Ed Conwell
Year:  1911
Team:  St Louis Cardinals
Position:  OF
Interesting Tidbit:  Nickname was “Irish”

John Vann
Year:  1913
Team:  St Louis Cardinals
Position:  C
Interesting Tidbit:  Played in minors for 17 years

George Tomer
Year:  1913
Team:  St Louis Browns
Position:  3B
Interesting Tidbit:  Once managed the Kalamazoo Celery Pickers

Delos Brown
Year:  1914
Team:  Chicago White Sox
Position:  SS
Interesting Tidbit:  Only played 2 years of professional baseball

Al Cypert
Year:  1914
Team:  Cleveland Indians
Position: 3B
Interesting Tidbit:  Had a law degree from Harvard

Frank Fletcher
Year:  1913
Team:  Philadelphia Phillies
Position:  3B
Interesting Tidbit:  AKA Fletcher Franks

Buck Sweeney
Year:  1914
Team:  Philadelphia A’s
Position:  OF
Interesting Tidbit:  Born Charles Francis

Harry Daubert
Year:  1915
Team:  Pittsburgh Pirates
Position:  SS
Interesting Tidbit:  Once played for the Lima (OH) Cigarmakers

Newt Halladay
Year:  1916
Team:  Pittsburgh Pirates
Position:  SS
Interesting Tidbit:  Died of TB at age 21

Ed Murray
Year:  1917
Team:  St Louis Browns
Position:  SS
Interesting Tidbit:  ???

John Cavanaugh
Year:  1919
Team:  Philadelphia Phillies
Position:  3B
Interesting Tidbit:  1st player born in 1900s to play in MLB

Augie Swentor
Year:  1922
Team:  Chicago White Sox
Position:  3B
Interesting Tidbit:  Only played 3 seasons in professional baseball

Uke Clanton
Year:  1922
Team:  Cleveland Indians
Position:  1B
Interesting Tidbit:  Also made an error in that one game

Joe Price
Year:  1928
Team:  New York Giants
Position:  OF
Interesting Tidbit:  Nickname was “Lumber”

Dutch Fehring
Year:  1934
Team:  Chicago White Sox
Position:  C
Interesting Tidbit:  Head baseball coach at Purdue & Stanford

Walt Alston
Year:  1936
Team:  St Louis Cardinal
Position:  1B
Interesting Tidbit:  In the Hall of Fame as a manager for the Dodgers

Bill Sodd
Year:  1937
Team:  Cleveland Indians
Position:  OF
Interesting Tidbit:  107 home runs in 7 minor league seasons

Carl McNabb
Year:  1945
Team:  Detroit Tigers
Position:  2B
Interesting Tidbit:  Nickname was “Skinny”

Doc Daugherty
Year:  1951
Team:  Detroit Tigers
Position:  SS
Interesting Tidbit:  1945 West Virginia Amateur Athlete of the Year

Dick Teed
Year:  1953
Team:  Brooklyn Dodgers
Position:  C
Interesting Tidbit:  17 seasons in the minors

Moose Morton
Year:  1954
Team:  Boston Red Sox
Position:  C
Interesting Tidbit:  Father Guy played in MLB for 11 years

Rod Miller
Year:  1957
Team:  Brooklyn Dodgers
Position:  OF
Interesting Tidbit:  At bat came at age 17

Leroy Ream
Year:  1969
Team:  Philadelphia Phillies
Position:  OF
Interesting Tidbit:  High school teammate of Hall of Famer Joe Morgan

John Bormann
Year:  2017
Team:  Pittsburgh Pirates
Position:  C
Interesting Tidbit:  Called up from A ball 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Hall of Fame Chokers - Batters

A week or so ago, I looked at pitchers who were good enough to make the Hall of Fame, but who sucked when it came to the postseason. It seemed only fair to roast those position players who did the same.

For this go-around, I couldn’t think of anything that said sucks-at-hitting quite like batting below the Mendoza Line. Yup, there were half a dozen Hall of Famers who couldn’t make it to .200 in the postseason.

Ain’t Been There, Ain’t Done That

Before we take a look at those poor fellows, though, it’s important to point out that three times as many Hall of Famers never even got the chance. Now, a third of this group played primarily in the period when there really wasn’t any post-season:

  • Ed Delahanty
  • Hugh Duffy
  • Billy Hamilton
  • Jake Beckley
  • Joe Kelly
  • Hughie Jennings
  • Willie Keeler

Poor Hughie Jennings was know mostly for 
striking this pose, then yelling, “Ee-yah!”

The rest, though, surely should have:

  • Ron Santo
  • Ernie Banks
  • Luke Appling
  • George Sisler
  • Ralph Kiner
  • Nap Lajoie
  • Harry Heilam
  • Elmer Flick
  • George Kell
  • Rick Ferrell
  • Bobby Wallace

If they hadn’t been cursed, that is, by having to play for clubs the Cubs, White Sox, Indians, and Browns.

Poor guys

Been There, But Barely

It’s hard to believe, but there are a couple of Hall of Famers who got in the postseason, but never got a hit. At the same time, they accomplished all that with under ten at-bats. It didn’t really seem fair to put them in this particular hall of shame – at least not without a big asterisk.

And, so, our small sample size heroes are:

  • Earl Averill, who went hitless in three at bats for the 1940 Detroit Tigers, at age 38. Previously, he had spent almost his entire career with the lowly Cleveland Indians. Yup, they’re lowly right now, and they were lowly back then too. 
  • Billy Williams, who went hitless in a much more impressive seven at-bats. And that was for the 1975 Oakland A’s, in a losing effort in the ALCS. Interestingly, his brush with the postseason was at age 37, having spent his career with the extremely lowly Cubs.

Hey, wait a minute! That’s not Earl. 
(Well, yes, it actually is – Earl Jr., that is)

Can’t Hit Their Own Weight

And, without further ado, here they are, the worst of the worst. Let’s take them in order, from bad to worst:

Andre Dawson. 

A Rookie of the Year and an MVP, “The Hawk” would get into two postseasons, in 1981 with the Expos (that team’s only appearance) and in 1989 with the Cubs. And all that amounted to was two championship series and one division series – i.e., no World Series for Andre. In total, Dawson would “amass” 59 at-bats, a .186 average, zero homers, and three RBIs. 

Joe Morgan. 

Here’s our only true surprise. And I’m not saying that because Morgan was so great in the regular season. It’s also surprising as Morgan’s stats reflect quite a large sample size. I’m talking 11 series and 181 at bats. He also seemed to do pretty well outside of average – five HRs, 13 RBIs, 26 runs, and 15 stolen bases. Unfortunately, none of that is going to help him overcome a .182 average. Just to top it all off, there were actually two times when he went 0-for-the-series (the ‘76 and ‘79 NLCS’s), for a grand total of 18 at-bats.

No, not that Joe Morgan

Richie Ashburn. 

Not known for a big bat, Ashburn could nonetheless slap singles with the best of them. But just not in the postseason. Ashburn’s sole stint in October (a defeat in the 1950 World Series) amounted to 17 ABs, a .176 average, no homers, no runs, no stolen bases (a specialty of his), and a measly one RBI.

Go “Put Put,” go!

Dave Bancroft. 

Dave who? Yup, we’re getting squarely into that zone of Hall of Famers who maybe, you know, probably really shouldn’t be there in the first place. It’s really not too surprising, though, that the likes of these guys are helping us fill out this list. I mean, the only thing Bancroft ever led his league offensively was caught stealing (and, no, that doesn’t mean he was a catcher either). And that kind of futility is reflected in his totals from no less than four World Series – 93 ABs, .172 BA, 0 HRs, and 1 SB. Somehow or other, he did manage to get 7 RBIs and get into double figures in runs (with 10).


And if he hadn’t played for the Giants, 
he wouldn’t even be here

Travis Jackson.

 Another case in point. Unlike his buddy Dave Bancroft, though, Travis Jackson never led his league offensively in anything. Like Bancroft, on the other hand, Jackson was another slick-fielding shortstop who happened to play for the Giants, back when that major-market team was very good indeed. Jackson’s postseason stats were even more underwhelming – 67 at-bats, a .149 average, no homers, one steal, four RBIs, and seven runs.

I dunno, I’m having kind of a hard time 
telling these two guys apart

Heinie Manush. 

You can actually make an argument that Mr. Manush belongs in Cooperstown. Not much of an argument, but you can at least make one. In a 17-year career in the bigs, Heinie finished with a .330 average, the 32nd best all time. In the postseason, unfortunately, that average drops to a measly .111. Getting 18 at-bats in the 1933 World Series, Manush would get a mere two hits. Except for two runs, the rest of his stats would be goose eggs – no homers, no RBIs, no steals, no nuthin.

Hard to believe, but he got into that one Series 
with the famously inept Senators

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Hall of Fame Chokers - Pitchers

Poor Clayton Kershaw. You’d think a surefire Hall of Famer like he is would have a little better record in the postseason. Unfortunately, he’s 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA over 158 innings. And that’s like a whole season of mediocrity.

Same goes for poor Justin Verlander. He’s looking a little better, at 14-11 and 3.40, but is 0-6 and 5.68 in World Series play.

Well, at least he’s a hero to someone

So, baseball’s recent postseason really got me thinking. What actual Hall of Famers could possible be so bad in the postseason?

Ain’t Been There, Ain’t Done That

Well, first of all you gotta get to the postseason, doncha? Hard to believe, but that eliminates ten Hall of Famers, including:
  • Ted Lyons
  • Fergie Jenkins
  • Jim Bunning
  • Jack Chesbro
  • Addie Joss
  • Rube Waddell
At least for those first three, I guess playing for the White Sox, Cubs, and pre-Mike-Schmidt Phillies didn’t help any.

That’s Sen. Bunning to you, rookie!

The last three simply weren’t up for that many years.

Addie Joss passed away at age 31 of tuberculous meningitis
(and is not looking too good in this picture)

And then there’s the four who played before there really was a postseason:
  • Pud Galvin
  • Candy Cummings
  • Al Spalding
  • Amos Rusie

And now you know why they called him “Pud”

Bigtime Losers

Well, one sure way to identify a loser is to find someone with a losing record. So, here they are, from least to most loserific:
  • Mike Mussina – 7-8
  • Tom Glavine – 14-16
  • Randy Johnson – 7-9
  • Burleigh Grimes – 3-4
  • Trevor Hoffman – 1-2
  • Eddie Plank – 2-5
  • Phil Niekro, Vic Willis, Juan Marichal, Mickey Welch, Early Wynn, Marquard, Rixey – 0-1
  • Dennis Eckersley – 0-3

Oddly, he still wears the same hairdo to this day

Winners Who Are Really Losers

This group includes a couple of pitchers without losing records, but with absolutely no reason to do so. I’m talking about Gaylord Perry, with a record of 1-1 but a 6.14 ERA, and Hal Newhouser, who was 2-1 but with an ERA of 6.53.

Interestingly, Perry would get to the postseason
with only one of those teams – the 71 Giants

Total Losers

Hard to believe but there were a couple of Hall of Famers who were losers both record wise and stat wise as well. 

We’re all probably familiar with poor Lee Smith. The guy with the third-most saves all time also famously choked in the big games. Which is kind of odd, as I have him down for only two postseasons. That said, I do have him down for a 0-1 record and an 8.44 ERA.


Our other candidate for complete infamy is a bit of a surprise. Playing back in the day when the postseason was only the World Series, this guy got in only one of those. His team’s ace, he would go 0-2 with a 5.02 ERA. Somehow or other, though, his team would win. And that team hasn’t won the World Series again in 65 years. Have you guessed who I’m talking about?