By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
5. Cardinal pitcher Darryl Kile's death was not only shocking but unusual because it was a result of natural causes. Which of these was not an actual cause of death for a big league player?
a) A drunken player was ordered off a train by a conductor. As the train sped away, the slugger ran after it, but tripped and fell through the tracks and over Niagara Falls.
b) A pitcher was stabbed in the chest during a fight at a fish fry given in his honor the night before he was to leave for spring training.
c) After biting a fellow passenger during a midflight brawl in a plane he himself chartered, an outfielder was hit over the head with a fire extinguisher by the pilot.
d) When a first baseman returned to his hotel room, he was shot in the chest with a .22-caliber rifle by a deranged female fan.
e) Despondent over his pitch-calling in a one-run loss, a catcher sliced his throat.
The correct answer was d), Eddie Waitkus of the Phillies, in 1949. a) was Ed Delahanty of the Washington Senators; b) was Red Sox pitcher Ed Morris; c) was Len Koenecke of the Dodgers; d) was Waitkus; and e) was Willard Hershberger of the Reds. But Waitkus didn't die of his gunshot injuries. He recovered, married his nurse, and came back the next season to resume a productive, if not Roy Hobbsian career. Waitkus, whose saga inspired Bernard Malamud's The Natural, died in 1972.
6. Name three records held by Babe Ruth that were broken last season.
Career walks, by Rickey Henderson; single-season walks, by Barry Bonds; and single-season slugging percentage, by Barry Bonds.
7. As he will be happy to tell you, earlier this year Bobby Valentine became only the second Met manager to notch 500 wins. Who was the first?
8. Tony Gwynn retired at the end of last season with a .338 career average, good for 20th all time. Who became the active leader in batting average (entering the 2002 season with a minimum of 3000 plate appearances)?
Mike Piazza, with a .325 career average. Derek Jeter of the Yankees led American Leaguers with a .320 career average. Ichiro Suzuki had a .350 career batting average entering the season, but fell well short of 3000 plate appearances. Nomar Garciaparra, who currently has a .328 career average, didnt record his 3000th plate appearance until this season.
9. In that supposed model of competitive balance, the NFL, 18 teams have played in the Super Bowl since the 1978 season. During that same period, 21 teams have appeared in the World Series. Name the teams that haven't appeared in the fall classic since '78.
The Angels, Cubs, and White Sox (all representing cities in the top three TV markets); the Rockies (which set the single-season attendance record); the Expos (which had the best record in the majors in 1994); the Rangers, Astros, and Mariners (who among them made 11 playoff appearances since 1995); and the inexcusable Devil Rays.
10. The late, freeze-dried Ted Williams is the career leader in on-base percentage with an astonishing .481. Who is the active career leader (entering the 2002 season, with a minimum of 3000 plate appearances)?
Frank Thomas, with .438. Good for sixth all-time.
11. Free-swinging Alfonso Soriano is a midseason favorite for the American League MVP award. Who was the last person to win the National League MVP award while playing in New York?
Don Newcombe, who won the 1956 award while playing for the Dodgers. Some thought this was a trick question and answered Willie Mays for the Giants in 1954, but the last we heard, Brooklyn was part of New York.
12. Since 9-11, that seventh-inning-stretch staple, the chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" has been supplanted or supplemented by "God Bless America." Give us the first verse of Jack Norworth's original 1908 lyrics, which were written on a scrap of paper on a New York subway.
Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do."
13. Why don't major league teams move anymore? Maybe because the last time it happened, the team was forced to forfeit its final home game while leading 7-5 because fans streamed onto the field during the ninth inning. What was the team? And when and to where did it relocate?
The Washington Senators, who relocated to Texas for the 1972 season. They forfeited their last game, at RFK Stadium, on September 30, 1971, to the Yankees when fans streamed onto the field with two out in the ninth inning with the Senators leading, 7-5.
14. Marlin infielder Luis Castillo's 35-game hitting streak this season was the longest since 1987. Who held the record for the longest hitting streak before Joe DiMaggio's streak, and how long did that prior streak last?
Wee Willie Keeler, who recorded a 44-game hitting streak in 1897, a record that would last for 44 years.
15. Essay question: In 200 words or less, who is the greatest living baseball player, and why?