november 18 in baseball history: BRETT FLIRTS WITH .400

NOVEMBER 18, 1980 | KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – This was an easy one. In 1980 Kansas City Royals’ 3rd baseman George Brett was the last American Leaguer since Ted Williams in the 1940’s to flirt with a .400 batting average since. So, who else but Brett should be awarded the American League’s Most Valuable Player award for that year?

Brett didn’t start out gang-busters in 1980. The first two months of the season his average hovered around .260 . As far into the season as May 22nd he was hitting only .255.

George Brett kicked it into gear in June and July, topping out at .390 July 31st. Brett eclipsed .400 (.401 to be exact) on August 17th, going 4 for 4 with 5 RBI.

Fans all over the country followed his march toward the first .400 average since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 for the Boston Red Sox.

Brett was hitting .406 on August 20th,  .407 on August 26th. Brett’s batting average was over .400 16 of the final 35 days  of the regular season, but not the last day. He finished the 1980 season with a .390 average with 24 home runs and 118 runs batted in.

Brett’s .390 remains the second highest batting average in the Major Leagues since 1941. Tony Gwynn hit .394 in 1994 for the San Diego Padres.

The highest averages since Brett and Gwynn are:

Larry Walker of the Colorado Rockies who hit .379 in 1999, and Nomar Garciaparra  of the Boston Red Sox and Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies both hit .372 in 2000.

Will we ever see a .400 batting average again? The Cubs won the World Series in 2016, so anything is possible.

Contributing Sources:
Single season batting average leaders
http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/batting_avg_season.shtml

Nov 17th in baseball history-BROWNS FADE TO BLACK

NOVEMBER 17, 1953 | LOUIS, MISSOURI • The story from November 17, 1953 in baseball history is – Browns fade to black. Stockholders of the beleaguered franchise voted to change the team’s name from the St. Louis Browns to the Baltimore Orioles.

The name change was the final step in the transition from former owner Bill Veeck to a new group of owners which would start the 1954 baseball season near the shores of Chesapeake Bay rather than the banks of the Mississippi.


The Browns began as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901 – a charter American League franchise – not to be confused with the present day Brewers. The team stayed only one year in Milwaukee, moving to St. Louis in 1902 and becoming the Browns, which was the color of their uniforms.

In all the years spent in St. Louis (and one in Milwaukee) the Browns went to the post-season once. They won the American League Pennant in 1944, losing the World Series to the cross-town St. Louis Cardinals.

The franchise’s change of scenery did them good. The Baltimore Orioles have been to the post-season more than a dozen times since moving to Baltimore. They won the World Series in 1966, 1970 and 1983.

The story from November 17, 1953 is Browns fade to black, and the Orioles come out a winner.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 18, 1953
World Series results year-to-year 
More on the St. Louis Browns

November 16th: Most MVP’s were outfielders

NOVEMBER 16, 2017NEW YORK, NEW YORK • The baseball world is waiting to hear who the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award winners are for the 2017. The awards are announced tomorrow (November 17th). A review of past MVP’s is that more often than not, they were outfielders.

That knowledge would be valuable for your next baseball trivia game. Here are the answers:

MVP recipients by position (as of 11/16/2017)
American League
OF       29
1B       14
P          12
3B          9
SS           8
C            8
2B         4
DH        1

National League
OF       31
1B       15
P          10
3B          9
C            8
SS          7
2B         6

There were several MVP-type awards early in the 20th Century, but the criteria were often suspect. Raising doubts about their legitimacy was the fact that players like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb never won such an award.

The Baseball Writers Association of America took over voting for the Most Valuable Player award in 1931 and continues the task to this day. This brings credibility to the conclusion that most MVP’s were outfielders.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
List of MVP winners
MVP recipients by position

NOVEMBER 15th IN BASEBALL HISTORY – THE LATE JOE NUXHALL

NOVEMBER 15, 2007 |  CINCINNATI, OHIO • The youngest player to appear in a major league baseball game died on this date in 2007. The late Joe Nuxhall was 79 when he died. He was 15 the first time he faced a major league lineup.

The 15-year old Nuxhall would have made it nowhere near a major league mound without a ticket, had it not been for World War II.

Nuxhall made it to “THE SHOW” with the Cincinnati Reds on June 10, 1944. It was the height of World War II. Able-bodied ballplayers of a more mature age were hard to come by because they were all in the service.

The 15-year old Nuxhall would have made it nowhere near a major league mound without a ticket, had it not been for World War II.

It was not an auspicious beginning. As the box score and play-by-play of that game show, Nuxhall was brought in to mop up a game pretty much out of reach for the Reds.

The Reds were down 13-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals when Nuxhall entered the game in the 9th. He gave up 5 earned runs on 5 walks, 2 hits and a wild pitch. He wasn’t even able to close-out the 9th. The Reds had to bring another pitcher to get the 3rd out.

Nuxhall’s ERA for that appearance – 67.50. He was shipped back to the minors after the game, not to return for eight years.

Nuxhall went on to have a fine career when he returned to the Reds in 1953. He won 17 games in 1955, 15 in 1963. His career record was 135-117. He wasn’t a bad hitting pitcher either, finishing with 15 home runs and 78 RBI.

Nuxhall was a victim of bad timing when he was traded to the Kansas City A’s in 1961, missing Cincinnati’s only appearance in the World Series during his playing career. He returned to the Reds in 1962.

Contributing sources:
Youngest MLB players
The Associated Press (AP), June 11, 1944
More on Joe Nuxhall