Publish date:


SI presents its own baseball quiz: questions and answers compiled by Paul Abramson on the game's plays, players, incidents, and history. If you bat .500 on these you're good.

Q. How many games does a major league team play each season?

A. 154, or 22 games against each of the seven other teams in the league.

Q. How many ways can a batter reach first base?

A. Nine: hit, walk, error, forceout, fielder's choice (when the man on base is not forced out or not retired), hit by pitched ball, interference by catcher or other member of fielding team, missed third strike, and batted fair ball hitting a runner or umpire before it is touched by a fielder.

Q. What two teams have met most often in the World Series?

A. The New York Yankees have met the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants six times each.

Q. How many hits could be made in an inning without a run being scored?

A. Six. For example, say the first three batters single without a run scoring. The pitcher then picks one man off third base and the catcher throws out the man on second on an attempted steal. Then the next two men up single, leaving the bases loaded, two outs and five hits already accounted for. The sixth hit comes when the batter hits a ball that strikes a base runner. The batter is credited with a hit (the sixth), the man who was struck is out (the third), and the runner who crossed the plate does not score because the side is retired.

Q. How is a slugging average computed?

A. By dividing the total bases the man has hit for by the number of times he has batted. For example, a player who singles and triples (four bases) in five times at bat has a slugging average of .800.

Q. Must a team always line up in the field with a catcher, pitcher, four infielders and three outfielders?

A. No, the fielding team can place its men in any manner it wishes, provided they have a pitcher and catcher in their assigned positions. Examples of odd fielding positions are the Williams shift, designed to stop Ted Williams (three men on one side of the infield), and the shift often used against slow-footed Ernie Lombardi in the '40s—six men in the outfield.

Q. Who can call time-out during a game?

A. Only the umpires. A player, coach or manager may ask for time-out; he cannot call it.

Q. Can a fielder throw his glove at a batted ball?

A. Yes, but if the glove touches the ball the batter is entitled to three bases. There is no penalty if the ball is not touched.

Q. Who hit safely in the most consecutive games?

A. Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games in 1941. He was stopped by the Cleveland Indians when Third Baseman Ken Keltner made two sensational plays to rob DiMaggio of hits. DiMaggio went on after that game to hit safely in 16 more games before being stopped again.

Q. Has anyone ever played a full season (150 or more games) without making an error?

A. Yes. Danny Litwhiler, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder, played 151 errorless games in 1942. Willard Marshall, Boston Braves, in 1951 (139 games); and Buddy Rosar, Philadelphia Athletics, in 1946 (116 games) also had errorless seasons.

Q. Who are the oldest and youngest players in the major leagues today?

A. Based on the spring rosters, Ellis Kinder, St. Louis pitcher, is the oldest player. He will be 42 on July 26. Youngest player listed is Alex George, Kansas City infielder, who will be 18 on September 27. Jim Pagliaroni, Boston catcher, is the youngest listed player sure to stay. He is a bonus player.

Q. What team won the fewest games in one season?

A. The Philadelphia Athletics (now Kansas City): 36 in 1916 (and again in 1919 in a 140-game season). Before the modern era of baseball (since 1901) Cleveland (in N.L.) won only 20 of 154 games in 1899.

Q. What is the pitcher's mound?

A. The point from which the pitcher makes his deliveries during a game. It is a slight hill 15 inches above the level of home plate and gradually sloping to the plate and the other bases. On the mound is the pitcher's plate, or rubber, a white rubber slab 24 inches long and six inches wide. This slab is exactly 60 feet six inches from home plate, and the pitcher must always have a foot on the rubber when he makes his pitch.

Q. Is there a minimum salary for a major league player?

A. Yes: $6,000 a year. Even a minor league player brought up to the majors for a trial must be paid at the rate of at least $6,000 per year for every day he is in the majors though his minor league contract might call for less.

Q. How many times may a player enter a single game?

A. Only once.

Q. What President inaugurated the custom of throwing out the first ball at the start of the season?

A. William Howard Taft in 1910.

Q. Who were Big and Little Poison?

A. Paul and Lloyd Waner, outfielders for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the late '20s, '30s and early '40s. Paul (Big Poison), who was elected to the Hall of Fame, batted over .300 for 12 consecutive years from 1926 through 1937. Lloyd, his younger brother, batted over .300 for 10 of 12 years between 1927 and 1938.

Q. What two things do the following players all have in common: Red Ruffing, Wes Ferrell, Bucky Walters, Don Newcombe, Babe Ruth?

A. All were 20-game winners as pitchers and all were noted for their hitting ability. Ruffing won 20 games four times and was frequently used as a pinch-hitter. Ferrell was six times a 20-game winner and a pinch-hitter. Walters, originally a third baseman, was three times a 20-game winner. Newcombe, who twice won 20 games for Brooklyn, led the Dodgers in batting average last season. Ruth, before he became a permanent outfielder with the Yankees, was an outstanding pitcher who twice won 20 games.

Q. Has there be en a one-armed major league player during baseball's modern era?

A. Yes. Pete Gray, an outfielder, played 77 games with the St. Louis Browns in 1945.

Q. Who was the youngest person ever to play in a major league game?

A. Joe Nuxhall, Cincinnati pitcher, was 15 years, 10 months and 11 days old when he made his debut with the Redlegs on June 10, 1944.

Q. Have any pitchers won no-hitters on opening day?

A. Only one. Bobby Feller beat the Chicago White Sox for the Cleveland Indians 1-0 on April 16, 1940. Leon Ames pitched an opening-day no-hitter for 9‚Öì innings for the Giants in 1909 but lost to Brooklyn in the 11th inning.

Q. What rookie pitched a no-hitter and finished the season in the minor leagues?

A. Bobo Holloman pitched a no-hitter for the St. Louis Browns on May 6, 1953, beating Philadelphia 6-0. It was his first major league start. Holloman won two more games, but on July 23, with a 3-7 record, he was sold to Toronto.

Q. How many pitchers have thrown two no-hitters in one season?

A. Three. Johnny Vandermeer, Cincinnati, pitched two no-hit games in a row in 1938, beating Boston 3-0 on June 11 and Brooklyn 6-0 on June 15. Allie Reynolds, New York Yankees, pitched two no-hitters in 1951 and Virgil Trucks, Detroit, pitched two in 1952.

Q. Has anyone ever pitched a no-hitter in a World Series game?

A. No, but Yankee Pitcher Floyd Bevens came close. In 1947 he held the Dodgers hitless for 8‚Öî innings. Then, with a one-run lead in the ninth inning and two men on base via walks, pinch-hitter Cookie Lavagetto hit a double off the right-field wall ending Bevens' no-hitter and winning the game for Brooklyn.

Q. What modern team has the most no-hitters to its credit?

A. The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland, with 11 each since 1901.

Q. Who was the author of the baseball maxim "hit 'em where they ain't"?

A. Wee Willie Keeler, all-time baseball great who played from 1892-1910, explaining the secret of his batting success.

Q. With runner on second base, the batter hits a single. The runner rounds third and scores, but in so doing fails to touch third base. Should the umpire call him out?

A. Not necessarily. This is what is known as an appeal play. Baseball has several such situations where the umpire does not make a call unless the defending team asks him. In this case the fielder who noticed the man failing to touch third would call for the ball and touch third base himself. He would then appeal to the umpire to call the man out. If the umpire saw the runner miss the base, he will call him out. Among other appeal plays are a batter hitting out of turn and a runner tagging his base after a fly ball is caught. In none of these cases does the umpire call the infraction unless the defending team appeals.

Q. The batter hits a long drive which the outfielder catches just as he reaches the low fence. The momentum of his run carries him over the fence into the stands. Is the batter out or has he hit a home run?

A. He is out. As long as the player was on the field when he made the catch, the batter is out. Had he leaped into the stands first and then caught the ball it would have been a home run.

Q. A runner advancing on a hit is knocked out by the throw from the outfield. A fielder recovers the ball and tags the prostrate runner. Is he out?

A. Yes, unless he fell on a base.

Q. The batter hits a low line drive which hits the pitcher's rubber and caroms into the stands behind first base. What is the ruling on the play?

A. If the ball passed to the outfield side of first base it is a ground-rule double, to the home-plate side of first it is a foul ball.

Q. Is there a limit to the time a pitcher can take between pitches?

A. With no runners on base the pitcher must make his delivery within 20 seconds after he has taken his position on the rubber. However, this rule is seldom enforced.

Q. How many men can a major league team carry on its roster?

A. From September 1 through the first 31 days of the following season, 40 players plus eight Service returnees (a player is thus classified for one year from the date of his discharge). From then until the following September 1 each team may carry 25 players plus five Service returnees.

Q. Do both major leagues use the same ball?

A. Yes. The balls are all made in the same factory by Spalding. The only difference between them is the label and the signature of the respective league presidents.

Q. How are the winning and losing pitchers determined?

A. The winning pitcher is the pitcher of record for the winning team at the time that team assumes the lead, provided they never relinquish it or are tied. An exception to this rule is the case of the starting pitcher who must pitch five innings or more to be credited with the victory (unless the game ends in five innings, in which case he must have pitched four). Another exception is the case of the relief pitcher in the game when the winning run is scored but who pitches "briefly and ineffectively." In this case he need not be credited with the victory and it is up to the scorer to decide which other relief pitcher should be credited with the win. The losing pitcher is the pitcher for the losing team who is responsible for the runner who scored the run giving the winning team a permanent lead. Thus, if Pitcher A walked a player to start an inning and that player then scored the key run for his team while Pitcher B was pitching, Pitcher A would be the losing pitcher.

Q. What offenses justify banishment from the game by an umpire?

A. Most frequently players and managers are expelled for protesting a play too violently. Some other grounds for expulsion include intentionally pitching at a batter's head, pushing an umpire, deliberately damaging a ball, use of language reflecting on members of the opposing team or umpires, inciting spectators, or deliberately interfering with or delaying play.

Q. When did the seventh-inning stretch originate?

A. Sometime in the 1860s. It was a combination of relieving cramped muscles and bringing the home team good luck. More recently many fans have taken to standing before the visitors come to bat in the seventh inning to show that they oppose the home club.

Q. Has a woman ever played in organized baseball?

A. Yes. It is generally agreed that Lizzy Stroud, who played in the Atlantic League in 1899, was the first woman to participate in organized ball. Most recently, Harrisburg (Pa.) of the Interstate League attempted to bring Second Baseman Mrs. Eleanor Engle into organized ball, but never did so. At that time Minor League Commissioner George Trautman stated that he would not approve a contract calling for a woman to play in organized ball.

Q. Can major league ballplayers drink and smoke?

A. This is a decision each manager has to make. Some managers ban drinking during spring training, but during the season it is generally left to the discretion of the individual player. But no player is allowed to smoke or drink on the playing field or in the dugouts.

Q. Can a major league team play midgets?

A. When Bill Veeck was owner of the St. Louis Browns, he once used a midget as a pinch-hitter. The midget drew a walk on four pitched balls, but the stunt has never been tried again. Ford Frick, baseball commissioner, has stated that there can be "no more of that kind of stuff."

Q. Has a major league game ever been forfeited?

A. Yes. Most recently, on July 18, 1954 the Philadelphia Phillies won a forfeited game at St. Louis when Cardinal Manager Eddie Stanky was charged with intentionally stalling the game to prevent its completion before a Sunday curfew. All batting, fielding and pitching statistics compiled during the game are recorded, but the score is listed 9-0 and there is no winning or losing pitcher.