It is 100 here again today. It is hot and humid and sticky. It is miserable.
If it is not 100 degrees where you are, I am both happy for you and a little annoyed that you deserve better weather than me.
There is baseball this afternoon in Richmond – minor league ball – and in younger times we would go.
But, not today. Not when it’s 100. Because these are not younger times and age slows you down. Age tires you out. And, age protects you from doing stupid things like going to a baseball game when it is 100 degrees outside.
Because 100 is a lot of anything.
Dennis Eckersley threw 100 complete games in his career. Which is strange because I’m of the generation that remembers him mainly as a shaggy-headed closer.Embed from Getty Images
Randy Johnson, also shaggy-headed, threw 100 complete games in his career, too.Embed from Getty Images
(Similarly shaggy Mike Flanagan of the Baltimore Orioles threw 101 which doesn’t quite fit the roundness of this post, but I’m mentioning him anyway because Flanny was amazing. And, an Oriole.)Embed from Getty Images
It took Eck 15 seasons as a starter to get to 100. It took Johnson 22, because pitchers just don’t do that sort of thing anymore.
There was a time in baseball when 100 complete games was no big thing. More than 400 pitchers have done it, including Babe Ruth (107).
Elton “Ice Box” Chamberlain threw 264 complete games back in the 19th century. (I just wanted to write “Ice Box.”)
Cy Young threw 749.
(I have anticipated your next question: My Metropolitan Dumpling Bartolo Colon of the Mets at 36 and the similarly dumplingesque C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees at 38 have the most career complete games among current pitchers.)
No Orioles starter has pitched a complete game since 2014. (The San Francisco Giants have thrown nine this season.)
Today, a “quality start” from a pitcher requires just six innings giving up no more than three runs.
That level of quality for a starter was a faux statistic invented in the mid-1980s by John Lowe, a Philadelphia sportswriter.
Now, it’s how we measure pitchers.
But, enough about pitchers.
Let’s talk about how hot it is.
It’s hard to know for sure, but it’s thought that the hottest baseball game on record took place on August 26, 1988, a Friday night in Arlington, Texas.
The Rangers beat the Blue Jays, 5-1.
It was 109 degrees.
(Game Attendance: 13,642 incredibly hardy, sweaty, possibly drunk fans.)
(No complete game by either starter, but if you check out the box score you’ll find that three of the four pitchers that night also played at some point for the Orioles.)
Back in the 1920s, before a game in Washington, DC on a sweltering day, President Calvin Coolidge came by to meet the visiting Yankees. Babe Ruth shook his hand, wiped the sweat from his brow, and said, “Hot as hell, ain’t it Prez?”
They say it’ll hit 100 degrees in Virginia again today. It’s already thick outside. It even smells hot. Hot as hell, ain’t it?
Yuck! No thanks. Too hot. Too sticky.
Here’s a pretty number for you – 303. That’s the number of complete games Gaylord Perry threw. His first was at age 23 and his last was at age 44. Yes. he was 44 and still finishing games. I bring him up because the SF Giants unveiled a statue outside the ballpark for him yesterday. He spoke and in good nature, handed out some vaseline as part of the fun. It was a different game back then when players had names like Gaylord and got away with spitballs and other shenanigans.
Today is the last day of our orange and black series. I see the orange uniforms out in the field at AT&T and have thoughts such as, wait a minute, that looks more like Mark Trumbo than Hunter Pence. Sure enough. It was Mark Trumbo. He hit a 441′ Trumbo Jumbo Friday night. It almost cleared the left field bleachers. That doesn’t happen too often over there.
You know, you’re right … I should have mentioned Gaylord! The O’s broadcasters were telling us about the statue unveiling yesterday — and the jars of Vaseline that he taped under all the chairs at the event. Like you, we’ve been a little confused by the orange-and-black series, too. Wait, are we rooting for the black jerseys or the orange jerseys tonight? Well, at least it’s not 100 degrees in San Francisco today … I sure wish I was there at the game.
Isn’t it easy to love Ruth? What a great comment.
BTW we’ve had 4 100 plus degree days here this year. Our average is six.
I bet I could seamlessly mention Babe Ruth in every single post and never run out of obscure and interesting bits of Ruthian trivia.
If ever you are in the Kansas City area – you must go to the Black Baseball museum. It is full of interesting things those guys were doing! I had the privilege to meet Buck O’Neil – you didn’t leave with out a smile! He had plenty of stories! Can you imagine playing in those temps in WOOL uniforms?! I think the nearest bucket of water would have me crammed in it! Agree – skip this one and watch at home!
Sharon … How lucky you are to have met Buck O’Neil … such a legend! You should add Buck’s autobiography “I Was Right On Time” to your baseball reading list.
I think I read that awhile ago…but it deserves a re-read! Onto the list it goes!
This summer has been a corker when it comes to heat. But both the Orioles and the Cubs seem to be enjoying it so far. At least we’ve been getting the occasional rain relief these past couple of weeks.
I know it’s only Tuesday, but I’m going to go ahead and give you the “Best Comment of the Week” award for using the word “corker” in a sentence. What a great — and, sadly, underused — word!