Saturday, January 01, 2005

 

January 1st, 1953

Doug "Buzz" McWeeny Dies

Although perhaps not the most fantastic example one can find, Doug McWeeny (Buzz to fans and friends) was a member in good standing of the "Hey, what did I ever do to you guys?" club, pitchers whose record bore greater resemblance to the quality of their team than to the quality of the pitching. In 1926 Doug put up a 3.04 ERA, good for 8th in the league and second best on his squad. Buzz's teammates (already the worst offensive team in the league) rewarded him for his efforts with a grand total of 28 runs scored in the 14 games Doug started that the Robins would go onto to lose. Despite his superior ERA, McWeeny finished just 11-13 (although at least he had some company in that regard, the Robins' #1 starter Jesse Petty finished 3rd in the league in ERA and was just 17-17).

After a down year in 1927, McWeeny again had the second best ERA on his team in 1928 and was ninth in the league at 3.17. And again McWeeny's teammates proved little help, as he finished 14-14, with the Robins averaging just 3 runs a game in losses started by him. Overall, Doug's two best years ERA wise combined for a 25-27 record. So, like many others, Doug McWeeny was left to shake in his head and wonder what he ever did to his teammates to deserve this.

Oh, and in case you were wondering (and you know you were), according to etymologist Douglas Harper, "weenie" (and its near cousin "weeny") entered the English language around 1911 (taken from the German wienerwurst) and took the meaning of penis (from the shape) soon after. However being a "weenie" as a pejorative was a 1960s creation, meaning hecklers had to look elsewhere during Doug's playing days.


January 1st, 1975

Fernando Tatis Born

I have something of a fondness for unique records, the kind unlikely to be topped not for their merit but for their quirkiness. Fernando Tatis, a mostly mediocre third baseman, is the holder of one such record: Most grand-slams in a single inning, off a single pitcher (2).

On
April 23rd, 1999 Tatis and his St. Louis Cardinals visited Dodger Stadium and starting pitcher Chan Ho Park. Park pitched a scoreless first two frames and entered the third with a 2-0 lead. It was in this inning that the wheels would come off and that Fernando Tatis would make his legend. Park began the inning by giving up singles to Darren Bragg and Mark McGwire, sandwiched around hitting Edgar Renteria with a pitch. With the bases now loaded, Tatis drove a pitch over the Dodgers' left field bullpen giving the Cardinals a 4-2 lead. After retiring J.D. Drew, Park gave up a solo HR to Eli Marrero. As the Dodgers gently prodded Davey Johnson back awake, Park walked pinch-hitter Placido Polanco and Joe McEwing.

Then, while Johnson tried to remember where he'd written down the number for the Dodger Stadium bullpen phone, Park threw away a bunt attempt by pitcher Jose Jimenez--this was clearly not Chan Ho's day, he couldn't even get the outs the other team was trying to give him--reloading the bases. Darren Bragg, in his second at-bat of the inning (and third of the game) hit a ball to first baseman Eric Karros, who went home only to have his throw pull catcher Todd Hundley off home plate: another run scores, bases still loaded. At which Johnson, who had clearly had enough, got himself ejected claiming Hundley had stayed on the plate. Edgar Renteria singled scoring a run and keeping the bases loaded. McGwire then flew out on a short fly ball, producing the second out but leaving the bases loaded.

Tatis again stepped to the plate. He worked the count to three and one and launched Park's next pitch in the left-center field stands, giving himself his second grand slam, eighth RBI and immortality in trivia.


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