MEDDY NEW YAH!
What better way to start off the new year than with a few glad tidings from From the Bullpen? You’re stumped, right?
Anyway, hope that you all have had a happy holiday and that the new year is good to each and every one of you, so long as you finish behind the Senators in the 2005 campaign.
For starters, how many of you knew that Jeff Bagwell joined the exclusive 1500-1500 club this past season? With 104 runs scored and 89 runs driven in during the 2004 season, Bags now has career totals of 1506 runs and 1510 RBIs, putting him in the high-falooting company of 26 other Major League players, listed below (with thanks and proper attribution to my most recent issue of Baseball Digest):
Of this select group, please note that only two (besides Bagwell) are not in the Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro. With their incredible numbers, Bonds and Palmeiro are locks for the Hall of Fame, but does anyone think that Bagwell doesn’t deserve enshrinement based on these numbers, even if he never again sets foot in a major league ballpark? I understand that numbers inflation in his era works against him, but it’s pretty tough to argue against membership in the 1500-1500 club being a ticket to Cooperstown. Your thoughts, please?
The second delicious tidbit of information plagiarized from this month’s edition of Baseball Digest has to do with outfielder putouts. The feature story is on Chet Lemon, that sensational White Sock and Detroit Tiger of the ’70s and ’80s. Turns out, once somebody figured out that he could get to more balls than just about anyone, Chet the Jet was converted from third base to center field, and he was able to thus shape a fine Major League career around his great fielding acumen. According to Baseball Digest, in 1977 Lemon recorded a whopping total of 512 putouts, averaging more than three a game, to overtake the great DiMaggio (Dom, not Joe) as the all-time American League leader in outfielder putouts. Although that season was the height of Lemon’s fielding glory, he had four other seasons in which he recorded at least 400 putouts as an outfielder, nothing to sneeze at.
Although this was great information on Chet the Jet, and cast him in a whole new light for me, I was surprised that the Baseball Digest article listed but did not comment upon the all-time putout leaders among NL outfielders. Tilden, Nebraska native Richie Ashburn – a member of the Hall of Fame as much for his defensive genius as for his career BA of .308, holds down four of the top five National League outfielder putout marks, including his 538 POs for the 1951 Philly Whiz Kids, and his 514 putouts in 1949, both of which exceed Lemon’s AL mark. But even more remarkable is the fact that the all-time major league leader in putouts is some mysterious chap named Taylor Douhtit, who is listed but not otherwise mentioned in the Baseball Digest article. Having never before heard of Taylor Douhtit, I looked him up in my Baseball Encyclopedia, and found that he patrolled the outfield for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds between 1923 and 1933.
While I realize that it is a rather arcane statistic, nevertheless, wouldn’t you think that you would have at least heard of the major league baseball player who had the most outfield putouts of all time, spanning a period of time of more than 100 years? In all of the baseball books that I have read, a considerable number, and all of the record lists that I have digested or at least scanned in my life, I can’t ever remember seeing reference to Mr. Douhtit. Truly a baseball anomaly. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps in 1928, his record-setting year, his two mates in the outfield were the 1920s equivalents of Lonnie Smith and Dante Bichette. That is, perhaps the other two outfielders in the starting Cardinals lineup were so bad or so slow or so bad and slow that the redoubtable Mr. Douhtit covered not only his position, but the other two outfield positions as well. I’ll have to write to Bill James and see what he can tell me about this.
We had the annual holiday lunch at Jam’s on December 21, where a good time was had by all in attendance. A couple of the usual suspects stiffed us again, but this didn’t cut into our enjoyment factor more than a little. As usual, we held our first mock draft for the following season, the results of which I share with you now.
Rumor has it that the annual winter meeting and presentation of the Cup will take place during the weekend of January 21-22, reportedly at Itchie’s pounds. Details hopefully to follow from someone, but at least you can now block off that weekend on your social calendar so you can be sure to attend to pay tribute to yours truly. Hopefully there will be wearing apparel to distribute at that gathering.
We are still up in the air about whether we will draft on Friday, March 25, Saturday, March 26, Friday, April 1, or Saturday, April 2. Apparently, we are still waiting on Max’s practice schedule to cement this date. From Possum, I pass along this request, that you keep your entire month of March and the first half of April free from any possible conflicts, so we can squeeze the Draft in on short notice on a date and time that is most convenient for the Bridges’ clan. This may mean some of the rest of you moving around other scheduled events, like elective open heart surgery, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and the like, but it’s the least we can do to show our willingness to be accommodating.
And now, with this issue’s business out of the way, allow me to share with you my wishes for each and every one of you for the new year.
And now, having said quite enough for the first issue of the season, I will end this first 2005 edition of FTB with a little piece of personal advice, which just so happens to be another of Itchie’s favorite mantras:
Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel.
Have a great new year, mi amigos.
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