Baseball lore is filled with the tales of the heroic feats of athletes from bygone eras. It is a game that has transcended generations to become America’s favorite pastime. Over baseball’s 130 years of history, it has attracted a plethora of interesting individuals that have given the sport some of its most beloved characters. These traditions, superstitions, accomplishments and oddities are still present in today’s game to remind us of legends from the past.
Baseball has the longest regular season of any of the major professional sports leagues in North America. From early April to late September, teams battle for the right to appear in the playoffs over the course of 162 regular season games. Baseball is considered a pastime because of its exhausting schedule, which requires players to commit to extensive training even when not playing every day. Baseball’s limitless possibilities allow players to make history in unique ways and display their particular skill sets and personalities which give the game an appeal for the everyday fan.
Here are 25 weird and interesting facts about some of your favorite legends from the past and today’s greats.
25 Dave Winfield was Charged with Animal Cruelty for Errant Throw
As he was finishing his warm up tosses for the fifth inning warmup, a ball thrown by Dave Winfield struck a seagull. The seagull fell to the ground of Exhibition Stadium dead on impact. a gruesome crime that a police officer stationed in right field determined was worthy of a citation. Winfield was charged with causing “unnecessary suffering to an animal.” Ball boy Jeff Pinchuk was sent to remove the dead seagull from the AstroTurf, and it was later used as evidence in the citation. The charges were eventually dropped against Winfield, but the incident is still remembered over 30 years later.
24 Elvis Andrus Missed Games for a Tattoo
Baseball players miss a lot of games for various reasons throughout the year, but Elvis Andrus is a true original because he missed time due to post-tattoo sensitivity. During a February 2013 spring training stretch, Andrus missed some time after spending nine hours in the tattoo chair getting an expansive memorial tattoo for his late father. Rangers manager Ron Washington took the somewhat bizarre injury in stride and Andrus returned to the lineup a few days later.
23 Hunter Pence’s Swings and Throws Ugly for a Reason
Hunter Pence is known for his distinctive violent batting stance and swing as well as his unique throwing motion. Pence suffers from Scheuermann’s disease, which is caused by abnormal growth of the vertebrae, often resulted in people appearing round shouldered. Pence’s symptoms present themselves through a lack of flexibility in his thoracic spine, and went unnoticed until new exercises were added to a spring training routine. Pence was first notified by doctors while signing his five-year, $90 million contract with the San Francisco Giants in 2013.
22 Robinson Cano Starred in a Children’s Book
Robinson Cano has been a long-time supporter of the Hackensack Medical Center, making visits to young patients and having a rehabilitation wing named in his honor. Cano has visited the facility many times to visit patients and one particular case was so inspiring that Ray Negron wrote a book, The Boy of Steel, about the experience. Negron’s series of children’s books were eventually transformed into the children’s movie Henry and Me.
21 David Ortiz Finished 3rd in Race for Boston Mayor
Last year’s Boston Mayoral race had a surprising unannounced candidate make a late charge as a write-in candidate, Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz. Big Papi inspired the city of Boston in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and led the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2013. With the election taking place only days after the World Series triumph, Ortiz received 560 write-in votes from voters around the city. He was still a good margin off of the eventual winner Marty Walsh, but with that type of grassroots support, Ortiz might want to consider a second career in politics.
20 Dock Ellis Pitched a No-Hitter on LSD
Dock Ellis made big league history when he pitched a no-hitter while under the influence of a potent cocktail of illegal substances including LSD. Ellis once stated that he pitched every game of his 12-year MLB career under the influence, which makes this story believable. A short Dockumentary film was made about the event called Dock Ellis & the LSD No No. What is certain is that on Friday, June 12th, 1970, Ellis pitched a complete game no hitter, with 8 bases on balls and six strikeouts. The Pittsburgh Pirates won the game 2-0 and is a story that lives on in Major League history.
19 Rollie Fingers Moustache Bonus
Rollie Fingers visage is closely associated with his trademark moustache, where the ends are curled upwards with moustache wax. One would think that it was a facial hair trademark that Fingers used throughout his career, but it was actually started because of an incentive by former Oakland A’s owner Charles O. Finley. Finley encouraged his players to grow distinctive facial hair by providing a $300 bonus to his players that sported them. Finley took it one step further by admitting fans with moustaches free admission on “Moustache Day.”
18 Hideki Matsui had a Massive 'Adult Entertainment' Collection
Hideki Matsui retired in 2012 as one of the most successful imports to Major League Baseball from Japan. Throughout his career, tales were told of Matsui’s massive collection of adult entertainment, which is rumored to total over 50,000 videos, which he traded with members of the Japanese media. The size of the collection was eventually verified by GQ. Now that he is retired, Matsui no longer is followed by as many as 35 Japanese writers and should have much more privacy to enjoy his private stock.
17 Chase Utley is a Dog Lover
Throughout his Major League career, Chase Utley has adopted three dogs and been an advocate for animals throughout the Philadelphia region. Utley has appeared in PETA ads with his adopted dog Jack to encourage prospective pet owners to adopt their dogs instead of buying them from breeders or pet stores. Utley has said that he has benefitted from having his dogs present during his baseball career. He has also worked to raise money for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
16 Jean Segura’s Base Running Misadventures
In the bottom of the 8th inning in a 2013 game, Jean Segura reached first base with a single. He followed that up by stealing second base, a fairly routine occurrence in his career. Ryan Braun worked a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Segura then got caught in a run down while Braun advanced to second base, where Segura had also retreated, where they were tagged. Segura, still an active runner, retreated to his dugout thinking he was out, but then realized it was Braun who was out and successfully stole first base. Jean then attempted to atone for his base running sins, but only made things worse because he was thrown out attempting to steal second for the second time in the same inning.
15 The Upton Brothers Homer in Same Inning
The Upton Brothers made history in 2013 by becoming the only pair of brothers in the history of Major League Baseball to hit game-tying and game-winning home runs in the same inning. The feat was accomplished in dramatic fashion in a game between the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. The Braves were trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th inning when B.J. led off the inning with a solo home run to tie the game. With one out in the inning, Justin stepped to the plate and launched a home run to center field to give the Braves the win.
14 Mark Reynolds Leads Indians in Homers, Gets Released
Mark Reynolds has a reputation for being a streaky hitter with some significant power during his 8-year career in the majors. During the 2013 season, he became one of the few players to ever be designated for assignment despite leading their team in home runs. Reynolds had a respectable 15 home runs during his 99 games with the Cleveland Indians when he was released by the club. The Yankees saw an opportunity and signed him and he finished the season with 21 for the season, only one less than eventual Indians home run leader Nick Swisher.
13 Jimmy Piersall Runs the Bases Backwards
Jimmy Piersall had a rather tumultuous beginning to his Major League career that saw him get into fist fights with opposing players, his own teammates, and even fans. Jimmy Piersall battled bi-polar disorder throughout his Major League career and was once committed to a sanitarium, where he underwent treatment. Piersall celebrated his 100th career home run by running the bases backwards and his story is told in the book and movie Fear Strikes Out.
12 Jonny Gomes Cheats Death Five Times
Jonny Gomes has cheated death five times in his life, which makes winning a World Series title seem pretty insignificant. Gomes was 14 when the first incident occurred: his sleeping bag caught fire. When he was 16, he was in a car accident that left him hospitalized and killed his friend. In 2002, he slept through the night after suffering a heart attack, only going to the hospital after passing out the next day. Gomes also survived attacks from a wolf and a man with a gun to continue his Major League Baseball career.
11 Edd Roush Ejected for Sleeping During Game
Edd Roush remains the only player in Major League history to be ejected from a game for falling asleep. Roush spent 18 seasons in the Major Leagues for several teams, but was always remembered for the game in June 1920, when he took a seat in the first row during an argument on the field. He decided to take the opportunity for a short nap, and when teammate Heinie Groh was unable to wake him to return to the field, he was ejected by the umpire for delay of game.
10 Babe Ruth’s Major League Salary was Equivalent to Jose Altuve’s
Babe Ruth made a maximum salary of $80,000 at the peak of his Major League career. $80,000 is equivalent to $1.4 million, which is just about the salary that Houston Astros 2nd Baseman Jose Altuve earned during the 2014 season. While he may not ever produce like the Sultan of Swat, Altuve can rest knowing he is certainly better compensated for his performance.
9 Clayton Kershaw’s Insane 2014 Season
Clayton Kershaw won his 3rd Cy Young Award last season, and along the way had one of the greatest pitching streaks in baseball history. He posted 41 consecutive innings of shutout baseball last year, the fifth best streak of any pitcher ever. Along the way, he became the third pitcher behind Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal as the only pitchers to win eight consecutive starts with at least 7 strikeouts in each game. He finished the season as the National League leader in wins, ERA, FIP, and complete games.
8 Alex Rodriguez Once Kissed a Mirror for a Photo Shoot
Alex Rodriguez has made quite a few bad decisions over the course of his career in the Major Leagues. He still has a chance at becoming the Major League’s all-time home run leader now that he returns from a lengthy suspension. Perhaps the most bizarre moment of his storied career is when he appeared in a photoshoot profile for Details magazine, where he kissed himself in a full length mirror. That’s just plain weird.
7 Albert Pujols Scored a 100 on his US Citizenship Test
Albert Pujols is an accomplished Major League slugger, and in 2007, he became an American citizen. After being born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Pujols moved to the Midwest as a teenager. He has found enormous success in the big leagues with the St. Louis Caridinals and Los Angeles Angels. Albert’s wife Deidre assisted as his citizenship test tutor, and Albert scored a perfect 100% on the test. According to the officer in charge, Chester Moyer, Pujols also provided answers to additional questions that were not even on the test.
6 Buster Posey's Injury Prompts Rule Change
When Buster Posey was involved in a home plate collision with Scott Cousins in 2011, where Cousins leveled the Giants catcher. Posey suffered a fractured tibia and torn ligaments in his ankle as a result of the collision and required season ending surgery to repair the damage. In 2014, the MLB made rule changes which prohibit base runners from leaving the base path to hit a catcher that does not have the ball. Posey was involved in the creation of the rule, but claimed only to play a small part in the process.
5 Andrew McCutchen Proposed on Ellen
After helping the Pittsburgh Pirates reach their first post-season appearance in over 20 years, Andrew McCutcheon was rewarded with the National League MVP Award. While Cutch was making the rounds on the media circuit celebrating the season, he appeared on Ellen and certified his status as a national sweetheart. Andrew used the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend, Maria Hansloven. The couple married on November 22nd, 2014.
4 Ken Griffey Jr.: Home Run Derby King
Only three players have won the Home Run Derby multiple times during the course of their careers. Prince Fielder and Yoenis Cespedes joined the club with wins in recent years, but the king of the Home Run Derby is still Ken Griffey Jr. The man with one of the sweetest baseball swings of all time won the Home Run Derby in 1994, 1998, and 1999. Cespedes has a chance to match Griffey after becoming only the second player to win in back-to-back years.
3 Yoenis Cespedes has Talented Parents
Speaking of Yoenis Cespedes, he has some serious talent in his gene pool. Cespedes’ father was a catcher in the Cuban League and his mother represented Cuba as a softball pitcher at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. El Talento has displayed his incredible athletic ability in a series of training videos that he has posted on Youtube. They are definitely worth the watch.
2 Yu Darvish Warms Up Left Handed
Sometimes when you watch Yu Darvish warm up, you might notice something a little out of place. He’s throwing with the wrong hand. Darvish is a right handed pitcher, but sometimes likes to warm up throwing left handed to maintain his balance and strength in both arms. While throwing left handed, Darvish has hit 82 miles per hour on the radar gun, which is pretty good for his non-dominant arm.
1 Mike Trout was the Youngest MLB Player Since 1971
Mike Trout turned 23 in August, but has been making history ever since he first took the field for the Los Angeles Angels in 2011. When Trout was called up to the Angels in 2011, he became the youngest Major League player since 1971. Trout was only 19-years-old when he first took the field for the Angels and has been setting records ever since, including being the first ever unanimous American League Rookie of the Year in 2012, before earning his first AL MVP Award in 2014.