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12 Baseball Feats That Only Happened Once

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

I've been a Major League baseball nut since I was about 12 years old. I will read and study box scores and baseball record books and derive the same joy other men probably derive from reading Shakespeare, Poe, or Dickens. My mind is a reservoir of odd baseball facts, statistics, and trivia. So here is a list of "only occurred once" baseball facts.


On September 3, 1908, while on first base, Herman "Germany" Schaefer of the Detroit Tigers stole second base, then ran in reverse and stole first base, then stole second base again! Germany remains the only player ever to steal second base twice in the same base-running series. Before 1920, there was no official rule that you couldn't steal bases in reverse order.


In the longest game in Major League baseball history, on May 1, 1920, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves played to a 1-1 tie after 26 innings. Braves second baseman Charlie Pick has "the bad day" at the plate, going 0 for 11 (poor Charlie made an error that day, too).


(Image source: Number 5 Type Collection)

On June 11 and 15, 1938, Johnny Vander Meer pitched back-to-back no-hitters for the Cincinnati Reds. The second no-no was pitched at Ebbets Field and was the first night game ever played there. Babe Ruth was in attendance. Vander Meer, a lifetime "fairly good" 119-121 pitcher, is enshrined in the Cincinnati Hall of Fame. No, Pete Rose can't get in that one, either.


On August 17, 1957, Richie Ashburn of the Philadelphia Phillies hit spectator Alice Roth with a foul ball, breaking her nose. As Alice was being carried off the field on a stretcher, Ashburn hit her with another foul ball, breaking a bone in her knee.


(YouTube link)

New York Yankee Don Larsen, a mediocre 81-91 lifetime pitcher, pitched the only perfect game in World Series history on October 8, 1956, in series game five. A few days earlier, Larsen couldn't hold a 6-0 lead in game two and lost 13-8. The perfect game took Larsen 97 pitches. Strangely, Larsen's wife filed for divorce that same day.


On June 27, 1986, Robby Thompson of the San Francisco Giants was caught stealing a record four times in one game. Small consolation for Thompson: it was a 12-inning game.


On September 10, 1963, three Alou brother, Jesus, Matty, and Felipe, all batted in a row for the San Francisco Giants. Jesus and Matty were both pinch-hitters before eldest brother Felipe stepped up.


On June 25, 1976, Texas Ranger shortstop Toby Harrah played a doubleheader and never touched a batted ball nor had a single ball hit to him -no chances, no putouts, no assists.


(Image credit: Wikipedia user Jtesla16)

This is, obviously, the saddest entry on this list.

On August 16, 1920, Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was struck by a submarine pitch from Yankee hurler Carl Mays. Unsteadily, Chapman took a few steps toward first base before collapsing.

He died in the hospital the next day and remains the only Major League baseball player ever killed by a pitch. Incredibly, batting helmets did not come into common use by players until 1941, over 20 years after Chapman's fatality.


On April 12, 1962, L.A. Dodgers pitcher Pete Richert, pitching in his first-ever Major League game, struck out the first six batters he faced.


In a 1939 game, pitcher Bob Feller's mother was cheering her boy on from the stands on Mother's Day. While Feller was pitching, a foul ball was hit into the stands, smacking poor Mrs. Feller in the head and injuring her over the eye.


On a 1963 episode of Mr. Ed (TV's talking hose), Mr. Ed bats against Dodger ace pitcher Sandy Koufax. In the classic episode titled "Mr. Ed Meets Leo Durocher," Mr. Ed holds the bat in his mouth, hits Koufax's first pitch, and proceeds to scramble around the bases, sliding into home plate. Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest pitchers in history, remains the only pitcher to give up a run to a talking horse. The punchline:

LEO DUROCHER: "That's the smartest horse I ever saw."

WILBUR: "He's not so smart. He forgot to touch second base."

(YouTube link)

See also: 12 More Baseball Feats That Only Happened Once

According to Wikipedia:

With runners on first and third, a common ploy in baseball at the time was an attempted double steal, where the runner heading from first (in this case Schaefer) ran for second, hoping to draw a throw from the catcher as the runner on third tried to scamper home. The catcher did not throw the first time, inspiring Schaefer to steal first base in reverse and then attempt the double steal once more on the following pitch. It worked in Jones' recollection although factual evidence of this is lacking.

On August 4, 1911, Schaefer tried the same stunt again, this time for the Washington Senators, inspiring the Chicago White Sox' manager, Hugh Duffy, to come out of the dugout to protest. With the chaos on the field, Clyde Milan attempted to steal home, where he was thrown out. This event was recorded by both the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune on the following day.
Schaefer in 1911

Although it was not passed until 1920, after Schaefer's death, rule 7.08i states that a player is out if "After he has acquired legal possession of a base, he runs the bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game. The umpire shall immediately call “Time” and declare the runner out." It is often said that it was passed because of Schaefer's thefts.
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Why did Herman Schaefer not go straight to third? I don't understand the context under which he stole second, ran back to first and then stole second again. If he was safe on second, why not stay there? If he had time to keep going, why not steal third? Was this a worry of being tagged or thrown out? This is probably covered somewhere by Ken Burns. I'd call him but now he just lets it ring.
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The "same basic topic"? No, it was the exact SAME topic. And 25% of the content was the exact same. Even the "better than a Top 10 list" concept is the same.

I've no problem with appropriating another person's ideas (knowingly or unknowingly). My problem lies with a hard-working writer (the guy from "11 Points") not receiving credit for his original content. The guy's columns routinely appear elsewhere in whole or in part.

As for the Netspeak circa: 1998 snark "kthxbai"? I don't identify myself as a writer or a comedian so the onus is not on me to come up with a "a topic - just a topic - that has NEVER been covered before". Having said that, let me offer one up: "12 Clever Wordplays by RogerD"
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@ ClubMix

Really? You are complaining that a pair of lists published 3 years apart cover the same basic topic and happen to have some content in common??!?!?!??? I could see your outrage if this was a "cut & paste" hack job, but obviously it was not. Creating a list of unique events is baseball has been done many times over the years, even before there was an internet!! Here is my challenge to you: come up with a topic -- just a topic-- that has NEVER been covered before. Can you handle that? kthxbai
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Actually, three players have stolen second, first, and second again. Harry Davis was the first:
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Actually, #1 has happened but no extra stolen bases were credited. Lloyd Moseby stole second base while with the Jays, but was faked out by the secondbaseman into thinking an overthrow was actually a fly ball so he ran back to first and slid in safely but the throw went past the first baseman so he stole second again. Lots of running to gain one base. I think it was 1989 when it happened at home but cannot say for certain.
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Hi ClubMix,
I understand your viewpoint and this is undoubtedly what happened: I have been writing a daily mailout to list of about 200 of my close friends and pals six days a week for over ten years now. I submit my articles from these intimate mailouts regularly to the Neatorama website, as well as a few other ones. I am sure I must have seen the article on that other website and used their basic theme and three of their events. I am always browsing the web for ideas. I did make many changes to it, a great majority was changed, but there are three points the same. Neither Neatorama or Miss Cellania had anything to do with this "using another's theme or items". Miss Cellania helps me tremendously, however, in the form of editing, making corrections, rearranging, retyping and dressing up everything I write. I hope you understand that it is very hard to come up with 100% completely original stuff every time. A great majority of the points were original. My sincere apologies if I used three items from the other website. Have a great weekend, Eddie Deezen
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Fantastic stuff, as always Eddie! Love the photos too. When I was just a little girl, my father took our family to a baseball game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. My brother and I got as close to the field as we could to get autographs. My day was made when my favorite player, Matty Alou, graciously came over and gave us his autograph. Happiness belonged to me. Keep up the great work, Eddie! My husband and I love your articles!
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Then let me rephrase my post:

A very popular and well-known website posted this EXACT same idea... with some of the EXACT same items... three years ago. I, myself, consider duplicating another person's idea and 25% of the content... with no attribution whatsoever... to be the practice of a hack. However, my apparently singular opinion is in no way reflective of the fine content authored by Eddie Deezen.

I prefer original content over remarkably similar (yet *surely* coincidental) content.
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I saw baseball history made when Tippy Martinez picked off the side in the Orioles versus Blue Jays in 1983. I believe that's only happened once in baseball as well.
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I liked this list a lot better when I read it 3 years ago on 11 Points:

[No name calling please - admin]
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I believe you missed one......

Father - Son Back-to-Back Home Runs.....

Ken and Jr. Griffey - Seattle Mariners Versus California Angels.
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Stealing first base? So many questions. Starting with: What kind of lead do you take if you're stealing the previous base? Was he cheating off second *toward* first?

Oh, and the big question: Why? Did he drop his can of chew when he was on first base the first time?
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