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The Joy of Needless Baseball Details – NYTimes.com

Posted by Sean Forman on October 3, 2011

35 Responses to “The Joy of Needless Baseball Details – NYTimes.com”

  1. It's a fun piece by Tanier. But even in jest, I don't care for the assertion that the level of detail is "oppressive" or is "not important to anyone on earth."

    For me, part of the beauty of the baseball encyclopedias, from the first MacMillan right up through Baseball-Reference, is their completeness -- or at least, attempted completeness.

    It's good to have a record of everything that happened, as near as possible. You never know what might be important later on, in some small way.

  2. @1

    I think that's why the impressive/oppressive dichotomy is mentioned in that article. Taken out of context, Counsell's 44 lines of defensive stats could surely seem oppressive (at least to the right...er wrong person). In the context of the site/database as a whole, the completeness is certainly impressive.

    Either way, it's pretty cool to see a B-R mention in the NYT.

  3. Maybe it is just me, but this article is the exact reason I can spend hours on baseball-reference if I don't pay enough attention to the time.

  4. So who has the most circles?! Why has nobody figured this out yet?! (Extra punctuation necessary!!) It can't just be guys who have played on a lot of teams, but guys who have played on a lot of teams, AND changed numbers, AND (possibly) been on a team for multiple seasons, during which time it changed jerseys!

  5. Richard Chester Says:

    @4

    Mike Morgan has 17 circles. I don't know if that is the most.

  6. Bobo Newsom has 20 circles.

  7. Richard Chester Says:

    @6

    Here's another piece of useless information. Bobo Newsom was the first player to wear 00 as a uniform number.

  8. Matt Stairs has 19. Can't find anyone with more than Newsom's 20.

  9. That is a great article. I'm definitely going to pay more attention to those uniform numbers now.

  10. I wonder how many different jerseys Matt Stairs would have if you counted every one he actually wore...so, including home/road/alternate variations.

  11. The Original Jimbo Says:

    Is there any chance of stats from non MLB leagues ever being available in any similar fashion to this site?

    Japan leagues I could see being available, maybe on some site they already are.

    How about Mexican Leagues, Winter Ball Leagues, etc?

  12. Ken Brett has 16 to his brother's 2.

    Russ Springer has 18, but couldn't find a team to help him continue the assault on Bobo in 2011.

  13. The Bretts combined for 18 uni numbers
    Bells with 25 (all 3 were named David Bell at birth)
    Waner's with 14
    Alou's with 31
    Alomar's with 30
    Dimaggio's with 13 (I think Dom was the only player from this entire group of families with just one number)
    Boone's with 29
    Griffey's with 13
    Niekro's with 25 including Lance (Niekro son) (Phil's 11 numbers were all 35)
    Perry's with 20

    I'm sure i missed other baseball families but these i thought of off the top of my head..

  14. Michigan and Trumbull Says:

    Ruben Sierra also has 19.

  15. In addition what is the most circles with only one number worn? Rich Gossage wore 54 12 different times.

  16. As far as I can tell, the 5 longest tenured 1 circle guys are Carl Yastrzemski, Lou Whitaker, Ted Williams, Bill Russell and Derek Jeter

  17. @1 I read that whole article and Baseball Ref comes off looking very good as it should. Stats can be oppressive if allowed to substitute for independent thought. Athletic contests have probability, but are still slaves to chance, and can be greatly influenced through hard work and determination for which there will never be a statistical number attached. I agree with you that the more stats kept the better because at some time they may become valuble. If the Indians would have written some stuff down they might still own large swaths of America, that and being able to forge steel to make rifles and bullets.

  18. Richard Chester Says:

    @17

    Looking at Stan Musial's home page there are two circles with the same number 6. Can anyone supply an explanation? He played 22 seasons for the Cards.

  19. Different types of uniforms?

  20. Missed a stretch of playing time for WWII?

  21. I would love to see some sort of "tool" on B-R to be able to search for a specific jersey number.
    Example: Who hit the most HR's while wearing number 1?
    This is probably not possible, but it sure would be fun to see.

  22. I'd like to know if there are uni number sites for teams other than the Mets - mbtn.net - Cubs - cubsbythenumbers.com and Orioles - oriolesnumbers.com. Please list them here if you know of any.

  23. Richard Chester Says:

    @19

    Dressed to the Nines shows a slight change in the color of the Cardinals uniforms for the 1951 season. But Musial did wear only the number 6 for one team for his entire career of 22 seasons.

  24. This as a very enjoyable article. I'm such a baseball nerd that I do in fact look at the circles and try to guess what team they are from, some not being quite so obvious. And being a Detroit fan it was awesome to see the Tigers referenced in an article in a NY newspaper.

  25. @24 Timothy: There are lots of references to the Tigers in the NY media this week!

  26. I think I have a list of current active players who have only 1 circle for over a decade.

    17 years: Jeter, Rivera
    15 years: Todd Helton
    11 years: Ichiro, Pujols, Brian Roberts, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Zambrano

  27. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    AustynKC @3: Maybe it is just me, but this article is the exact reason I can spend hours on baseball-reference if I don't pay enough attention to the time.

    Dude. It is so not just you.

    From the article: Dan Johnson "has also picked up three circles for three uniform numbers in Tampa . . . [—] almost as many circles as doubles (four)."

    This fact is not useless. I may not remember Dan Johnson at all if I don’t have this to hang my figurative hat on. As John notes in his post #1, "It's good to have a record of everything that happened, as near as possible. You never know what might be important later on, in some small way." By all means, compile the numbers, and let us stat freaks search them for patterns after the fact.

    "If you have ever visited Baseball-Reference.com, you know that it is one of the greatest inventions of human history."

    There you have it. Great lead, and the unvarnished truth.

  28. Richard Chester Says:

    @23

    In addition to Musial there are several players who wore one number for 20 or more years with the same team but have more than one circle due to uniform changes. These players include Tony Gwynn, Willie Stargell, Cal Ripken and Robin Yount.

  29. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    The two players I've been able to find whose longest-worn uniform number equaled their career OPS+ are Fritz Peterson (19 OPS+), who wore 19 with the Yankees from 1967 to 1974 and with the Rangers in 1976, and Billy Pierce (also 19 OPS+), who wore 19 with the White Sox from 1951 to 1961.

    Others who wore a uniform number equal to career OPS+ for more than a few games include Herm Wehmeier (#22 with the 1954-56 Phillies), Harry Gumbert (#19 with the 1942-44 Cardinals), Pat Malone (#18 with the 1933-34 Cubs), and Rube Walberg (#15 with the 1934-37 Red Sox).

    Also, grab a look at Liván Hernández and Chan Ho Park's player pages. Don't you think all those colored-circle "61s" would make a great wallpaper pattern for a boy's room?

  30. Richard Chester Says:

    @29

    Two more teams and Hernandez will match Gossage(@15).

  31. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Richard, I just thought it was pretty interesting that Hernández and Park both have worn the same unusual number, uninterruptedly, for so many teams. Why do both players like "61" so much? Why the strong attachment to what we think of as a spring-training number?

  32. Richard Chester Says:

    @31

    I have no answer for your questions but I was wondering what would have happened if they both ended up on the same team at the same time.

  33. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    I was wondering that too. Park pitched for the Mets in 2007, Hernández at the beginning of 2009. They have no other teams in common. Maybe one of them would settle for 62, or 16.

  34. "the Internet equivalent of a statue by the main gate."

    But enough about Jeter's fielding ;-)

  35. "I think I have a list of current active players who have only 1 circle for over a decade.
    17 years: Jeter, Rivera
    15 years: Todd Helton
    11 years: Ichiro, Pujols, Brian Roberts, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Zambrano"

    In these current times where teams change uniform styles more frequently to generate the all important merchandise sale, this also speaks well for these player's organizations.