August 18, 2005
Is it the ol’ “minnow-up-the-nose”? No, just a different trick.
Did you see that?
The Marlins pulled the Hidden Ball Trick tother day. And Ozzie Guillen wasn’t even at the game. It was the second time Mike Lowell has managed the feat when he caught Arizona’s Luis Terrero meandering away from third base. Is that a lot?
I went to Retrosheet and glanced through the record accumulated there. Evidently there are some 232 times (verified) that the hidden ball play worked.
About a dozen players have pulled the trick successfully three times, and about a handful four times, with Joe Adcock at the top of the list. But that isn’t the tops.
Stick Michael did it five times. The only Yankee of his era *not* in the Hall of Fame, Frank Crosetti, and George Stovall fooled the runner six times.
The maestro was Bill Coughlin. He pulled it seven times, including one in the 1907 World Series.
Who got caught the most? Yes, it was he. Ozzie Guillen was caught three times dozing on the bases. A player named Jack Martin was caught three times, and all three times was with three different teams. Evidently his owner didn’t like him not paying attention on the basepaths. Martin was also caught twice in 1914. The only other players I saw on the list twice were Bad Bill Dahlen, Birdie Cree, George Harper and Billy Werber. The only players I saw on both sides of the ledger (caught and pulled) were Orlando Cepeda and Fred “Boner” Merkle.
Does it take a “lesser” player to get fooled? Absolutely not. Willie Mays, Cepeda, Mickey Cochrane, Gary Carter, Billy Williams, Cap Anson, Harry Heilmann, Eddie Collins, Buck Ewing, Rickey Henderson, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Boudreau, Goose Goslin, Earl Averill, Rabbit Maranville, all Hall of Famers, and of course, Boots Poffenberger.
It’s a distinguished list.
Who makes the play? Is it third basemen? First basemen? Well, it’s pretty well spread around the infielders.
Making the putout:
1st base – 68
2nd base – 54
3rd base – 51
Shortstop – 55
Catcher – 3
Catcher? It appears to me that when someone gets caught off third, they make a mad dash for home.
What’s the best day for the Hidden Ball Trick? It’s happened five times on May 13, May 26, and June 17. However, the best day to pull the stunt is a day when other things are going on to distract the runner – July 4, when it has happened seven times.
Do runners pay more attention late in the season, or is it the early season funk that gets one caught?
No, you catch runners in the dog days of summer. Everyone is a little more attentive as the pennant race heats up.
The team that successfully converted the trick was the Tigers with 20. The Tigers also tied for the second most times being tricked at 16.
Which team has gotten burned the most? You guessed it – Guillen’s once and future team – the Chicago White Sox.
To play your own games with the data, check out Retrosheet’s “hidden” page.
A big thanks to Bill Deane, who is the primary compiler, and to the many listed on the Retrosheet page that have helped.
That was fun to do, but you may say “Have I read this before?” Well, when I googled to link up Guillen’s name to an old article, I found that the Miami Herald ran a story very similar to this on the 12th - they even had the pull to interview Deane. But I did all this work on my own, so I’m running with it. I suppose this means I could be writing for the Miami Herald, if I could beat deadlines.
About a dozen years ago, I thought it would be fun to write a “newsletter” about baseball and send it around to my friends in an effort to do something I liked rather than just work. I wasn’t very “enlightened” as I might be now, but I wrote about things that were interesting to me and I was pretty sure my friends would enjoy them.
As with many Primates and SABR members, we “know more” about baseball than Joe, or Josephine, Average. Sometimes it is simple things like Rod Carew’s 1977 batting average, or the record for Wins by a left-handed pitcher. Mostly we know other things like clichès aren’t always correct.
At any rate, I wrote these four-page pieces with trivia questions and mailed them all over the country – about 60-100 every couple of weeks. It was titled “Baseball: One Guy’s Opinion.” Every now and again, someone who is unaware of the internets asks me “Whatever happened to BOGO?” And I say “It became part of Baseball Think Factory.” To which they reply, “What?” I smile and say “Nevermind.” I would re-cap a season, using a variety of sources, maybe even copy some old photos into it. I’d write some long-winded diatribe piece about something I didn’t like in baseball – the DH, Don Sutton’s HoF chances – that sort of thing.
When I look at much of it now, I can see what things I have learned.
I should re-publish parts here so we can hoot about how little I knew at the young age of 27. Kids back then, heh. Maybe my writing in BOGO is why I don’t write for the Miami Herald.
Posted: August 18, 2005 at 04:09 AM | 3 comment(s)
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