Think you’re smarter than Bobby Valentine? Prove it. Here is our First Annual Cryogenic Baseball Quiz, designed not only to test your memory and research skills, but to enlighten you about current events in the world of baseball.
The grand prize winner will get two baseball books: Allen Barra’s Clearing the Bases and Richard Tofel’s A Legend in the Making. Four runners-up will receive one of the two books. All of those smart people will also get Voice baseball caps.
The rules: E-mail entries must be sent ONLY to email@example.com no later than 11:59 p.m. July 31. Snail-mail entries MUST be addressed to Sports Editor, Village Voice, 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003 and be postmarked no later than July 31. No faxed or phoned entries will be accepted. All entries must include name, address, and daytime telephone number. Only one entry per person, please.
The grand prize will go to the entrant with the most correct answers. In the event of a tie, the answer to the quiz’s essay question, as judged in a strictly arbitrary fashion by the Voice, will decide the winner. (We’re not using a major auditing firm; none of them can be trusted.) The results of the contest will be published in the Voice, and the answers will be posted on www. villagevoice.com. This may be the only baseball game in town by then.
1. About which current major leaguer did Bill James recently write, “Somebody asked me did I think [ X ] was a Hall of Famer. I told him, ‘If you could split him in two, you’d have two Hall of Famers.’ ”
2. Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, whose errant throw probably cost the Yankees the 2001 World Series, was charged with two errors in the first half of the 2002 season. How many regular-season errors did he have entering the 2002 season?
3. Who am I? As a hitter, I’m a virtual clone of Jason Giambi. Entering this season, my career slugging percentage was one point higher than his, my career on-base percentage was one point lower. Even though I’m only six months older, I’ve hit almost a hundred more home runs, and played in 11 postseason series to Giambi’s two.
4. In the 1972 Flood v. Kuhn decision that temporarily upheld baseball’s reserve clause, Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun pontificated about the “many names, celebrated for one reason or another, that have sparked the diamond and its environs and that have provided tinder for recaptured thrills, for reminiscence and anticipation in-season and off-season.” He then listed more than 80 of the game’s greats and not-so-greats. Which of the following was not included in the list?
a) Heinie Groh
b) Branch Rickey
c) Stuffy McInnis
d) Kenesaw Mountain Landis
e) Cap Anson
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.
6. Name three records held by Babe Ruth that were broken last season.
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)?
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.
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)?
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?
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.
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?
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?
15. Essay question: In 200 words or less, who is the greatest living baseball player, and why?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 16, 2002