[Baseball History] Not really trivia, but...
Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 10:26 AM

There was some talk that Pudge Rodriguez, after taking a foul ball off of the side of his foot in the previous game, might sit in last night's game against the O's (he didn't). Someone pointed out that Justin Verlander (age 24) and Mike Rabelo (age 27) would be, together, only barely older than Julio Franco is all by himself (age 49, allegedly)... I came up with Francisco Liriano and Joe Mauer in 2006 (22 and 23) and Jeremy Bonderman and Brandon Inge in 2003 (20 and 25) as the lowest total battery age (45) I could summon off the top of my head. And, in case you're wondering, I looked up the year during WWII when the Reds used Joe Nuxhall at age 15... I can't be sure, but Ray Mueller caught north of 150 games that year, and he was 32 at the time.

Anybody else able to come up with anything lower than 45?

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 10:33 AM

OK, so not a moment after I typed this, I realized that I should have been thinking of catchers that came up at young ages, which is the more unusual thing than a young pitcher. Came up with this one:

Johnny Bench's second major league game, August 29, 1967. He's 4 months short of turning 20, and he's catching Gary Nolan, who turned 19 in May. So, 19 plus 4 months and 2 days for Nolan, 19 plus 8 months plus 21 days for Bench. I get a total of 39 years, no months, and 23 days. That's pretty dang low.

tomhamilton : April 12, 2007 11:09 AM

I can't think of any younger, so how about the oldest battery?

I haven't verified it with retrosheet but I would assume that Carlton Fisk and Charlie Hough were battery mates at least once while they were teammates in Chicago in 1991 & 1992. They would have both been 43 and 44 in those years. So can anyone beat 86 or 88? I will have to check box scores this evening for exact ages.

Tom

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 12:28 PM

One problem... I did just check it with retrosheet (used Hough's game log, made it easy)... The old man never did catch the old man. Not once. Not even when Hough turned in 3 innings of relief in a 19-inning affair.

Here's another effort, though: It's June 25, 1994, and Hough has the starting call for the Marlins. He's 46 years, 5 months, 20 days. His catcher is the oldest catcher on the Marlins roster for the entire year, Ron Tingley. Tingley is 35 years, 0 months and 29 days. I get 81 years, 6 months, 19 days.

It's too bad that in the final days of Nolan Ryan's career, he was often caught by a teenage or early-20s Ivan Rodriguez, which, come to think of it, might be the greatest distance in age between the batterymates ever.

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 12:37 PM

And you may have noticed that right in there is another thought on the youngest.... Ivan Rodriguez. In his rookie year, the youngest member of the staff was Hector Fajardo. By time Fajardo appeared in a game (a September call-up), Pudge had already passed his 20th birthday, and Fajardo was a couple months shy of turning 21. No luck there.

The other obvious uber-young catcher is Tim McCarver... Lo and behold, the first time he actually dons the Tools of Ignorance (shameless plug, plus he had appeared once before as a pinch-hitter only), who should he be catching but the youngest member of the 59 Cards, Bob Miller. Miller on that day (9/11/59) was 20 years, 6 months, 24 days. McCarver was 17 years, 10 months, 26 days. Add that up, I get 38 years, 5 months, 20 days.

Ugh.

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 12:51 PM

Jesse Orosco and John Flaherty on the Yankees as Orosco is coming down to his swan song. It's August 20, 2003 and the seemingly ageless Orosco nevertheless can be counted at 46 years, 3 months, 30 days. Flaherty is the oldest catcher the Yanks have around, but he's a mere babe compared to Jesse at just 35 years, 9 months and 30 days. Wouldn't you know it, both Orosco and Flaherty were born on the 21st day of their respective months, which means on the 20th of August, they're 30 days away from their last even "month birthday". For the sake of convenience, we'll call those both an even month, and total it up to 82 years, 2 months, 0 days.

Ford Fricks Asterisk : April 12, 2007 12:58 PM

If you can find who was pitching for the New York Giants on Sept. 22, 1904 when John McGraw brought back his "old" friend Jim O'Rourke to catch one of their two games that day, you might find the answer to at least one of these questions.

O'Rourke became the oldest catcher ever at age 51, and if Joe McGinnity was pitching that game, their combined age was over 84. If it was Christy Mathewson (23), Hooks Wiltse (23) or Red Ames (21), it was probably the largest distance between ages of a battery.

tomhamilton : April 12, 2007 01:04 PM

I figured that Fisk wasn't going to be catching a knuckleballer very often but I'm surprised that he never did in the two year that they played together.

I have no idea who caught Satchel Paige's (age 59) 1965 game but their catchers ages where:
BBryan - 26 + 59 = 85
RLachemann - 20 + 59 = 79
JBlanchard - 32 = 91
DEdwards - 28 = 87
BCampaneris - 23 + 82

The age differences would range from 27 to 39. I'm too lazy to look up exact ages to the day.

Tom

tomhamilton : April 12, 2007 01:06 PM

I really need an edit button for that last post.

Tom

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 01:12 PM

I think I have a winner... It's July 20, 1987, and the Indians pull into then-Royals stadium for the opener of the last 3-game series in an 11-game, 3-city road trip. Like most Indians teams of the era, it's less than a week after the All-Star Game, and they're a hideous 27 games under .500. Despite this circumstance, they continue to entertain the swan song of knuckleballer Phil Niekro. Today, Phil is aged 48 years, 3 months, 19 days. His catcher today is the Orioles retread and best known for his rain delay antics, Rick Dempsey. As of today, Dempsey is aged 37 years, 10 months, and 7 days. Add that up, I come up with 86 years, 1 month, and 26 days.

And if anybody can beat that, I dare them to do so.

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 01:14 PM

Well, except that obviously some typing was going on elsewhere while I put up the Niekro/Dempsey example...

tomhamilton : April 12, 2007 01:20 PM

Paige's catcher was Bryan (age 26) so the total of 85 comes up short of Niekro & Dempsey.

Tom

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 01:21 PM

Well, the Satchel Paige thing... Turns out the lone game he pitched in for the Kansas City A's in the 1965 season was on Sept. 25, 1965. Since it was only one game, we only get one choice of catcher, and that was the 26-year-old Billy Bryan. Satchel sat at 59 years, 2 months, 18 days. Bryan 26 years, 9 months, 21 days. Total of 86 years, 0 months, 9 days is what I get. Niekro & Dempsey beat that. And that's the only game with Box/Play-by-Play available from retrosheet in Paige's MLB career.

Ford Fricks Asterisk : April 12, 2007 01:23 PM

Funny, now that I've read that, I actually remember the topic coming up sometime over the past couple of years during a Tribe game... and I'm pretty sure they said the Niekro-Dempsey battery was the oldest ever.

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 01:29 PM

And what retrosheet does tell us about 1904 is that on that date, the Giants quite unfortunately played a doubleheader against the Reds on the day in question. O'Rourke's age would have been 54 years, 0 months, 21 days. The first game was won by Joe McGinnity at age 33 years, 6 months, 2 days. The second game was lost by Hooks Wiltse at age 25 years, 0 months, 15 days.

So if it was McGinnity's game, the combined age would be 87 years, 6 months, 23 days, or if it was Wiltse's game, the combined age would be 79 years, 1 month, 6 days.

Wow, the Niekro/Dempsey game, if it isn't first, came awfully close.

tomhamilton : April 12, 2007 01:33 PM

Paige & Bryan are still in the running for largest age gap at 32 years, 4 months, and 28 days.

Tom

Swampudlian : April 12, 2007 01:50 PM

Yup... Difference between O'Rourke and Wiltse would have been "just" 29 years, 6 days. In fact, I think that's got to be it. Phil Niekro would have to have had a 16-year-old catcher, and he's the oldest I can think of other than Satchel.

Swampudlian : April 13, 2007 10:08 AM

Then, as if on cue:

"Moyer and Glavine (2-1) hooked up in the oldest matchup of lefty starters (85 years, 163 days) in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Yankees' Tommy John and White Sox pitcher Jerry Reuss on May 2, 1988, were the previous record holders (83 years, 299 days)."

Thank God for the ESB.

tomhamilton : April 13, 2007 10:36 AM

Granted it was the post season, but Kenny Rogers faced Randy Johnson last year in the AL Division Series. Their combined ages were just short of 85 years which would have bettered John/Reuss by more than a year, had it counted.

Tom

Swampudlian : April 13, 2007 12:43 PM

It's like some kind of mental illness at this point, isn't it?

Swampudlian : May 11, 2007 12:10 PM

Just recently, Jamie Moyer faced off against Randy Johnson, and -- you guessed it -- it was the oldest combined match-up of left-handers in big-league history, surpassing the record of... Nope, not that game mentioned above of Moyer v. Glavine, but Moyer v. David Wells a week or so after that.

Jayson Stark has a pretty loyal following in his Useless Information columns that is more than willing to tell him about the longest surnames to do this or that... The most letters in last names in a pitching-catching battery, most letters in a double play, so on and so forth... I notice the pitching matchup for the Brewers-Nats game scheduled for Sunday is supposedly Wes Obermueller vs. Jason Simontacchi, 11 letters each. That's got to be right up there. Unfortunately, as much as I love a good Useless Information column, they're now ESPN Insider, and I just ain't payin' for that.

I'll be attending the much more boring Lieber/Lilly matchup (most overpaid matchup of starting pitchers of all time?) at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, is why I was looking at pitching matchups for that day.

Swampudlian : May 11, 2007 12:13 PM

A candidate for most overpaid is one from earlier this year: Jeff Weaver faced off against Gil Meche. Meche is earning his money so far, but look back on it in 3 years, I'd lay money that one is far and away the most overpaid matchup.

Ford Fricks Asterisk : May 11, 2007 03:35 PM

"The most letters in last names in a pitching-catching battery, most letters in a double play, so on and so forth..."

So, did some combination of a Grudzielanek to Mientkiewicz play set the record for most letters in a DP last year or not?

Swampudlian : May 11, 2007 03:50 PM

I don't recall (was just busy around that time of the year and sort of never bothered to go back), but... Graffanino-to-Grudzielanek-to-Mientkiewicz (that's 34 letters) would have to be very, very difficult to beat.

Swampudlian : May 11, 2007 03:56 PM

And just to prove how disturbed I am, I kept clicking around at retrosheet.org until I was able to prove where they did it:

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/2006/B05170CLE2006.htm

Off the bat of Eduardo Perez.

Ford Fricks Asterisk : May 11, 2007 06:11 PM

I guess we'll just have to wait for the Braves to acquire a first baseman with a longer name, and then hope for the right pitcher on a bases loaded 1-2-3 DP. You have to appreciate a name that throws off baseball-references columns:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/ATL/2007.shtml

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# of edits: 2
Last edited: May 11, 2007 06:12 PM

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