The No. 1 reason to endorse the arrival of the Internet in the mid-‘90s is that it brought us baseballreference.com. This has made covering the Grand Old Game easier than a hanging slider, compared to the days of looking through old scorebooks and microfilm to find details of a long-ago ballgame.
One drawback of Baseball Reference is this: It has been the ruination of many tall tales.
...This is brought up as a way of making a confession: Baseball Reference has caught another person in a storytelling lie.
It goes like this: Phil Miller has a story in Monday’s Star Tribune on MLB’s new rule outlawing the fake-to-third, throw-to-first pitcher’s maneuver that consumes time and doesn’t fool base runners. I was in the Strib office on Sunday afternoon, talking with Kevin Bertels, the domo of the sports desk, about Miller’s story.
And I repeated a tale that I spread as gospel for over three decades: Gene Mauch was the godfather of this maneuver. And in the hundreds of times I saw the Twins try it in Mauch’s years as manager, I saw one runner get picked off _ Cleveland’s Charlie Spikes, twice in the same series at Met Stadium.
I decided to find the games on Baseball Reference. Turns out, I owe Charlie Spikes an apology ... sort of.
On April 27, 1976, Cleveland had a runner on second and Spikes at first, and Charlie was picked off as the trail runner by Twins reliever Bill (Soup) Cambell.
On July 18, 1976, Cleveland had a runner on second and Spikes at first, and Charlie was picked off as the trail runner by Twins starter Jim (Bluegill) Hughes.
It is a grievous sin against baseball to be picked off as a trail runner, but Spikes wasn’t done in by fake-to-third, throw-to-first, so ... sorry Charlie. I promise to stop spinning that yarn.
Posted: February 25, 2013 at 05:19 AM | 40 comment(s)
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