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Find the unifying theme

Posted by John Autin on October 21, 2011

[Note: The mystery has been solved -- see comments 5, 8 and 10....]

What do these 34 pitchers have in common?

A tiny hint: I deleted one name from the list to prevent a dead giveaway.

Elden Auker
Jack Bentley
Joe Black
Pedro Borbon
Hank Borowy
Lew Burdette
Tommy Byrne
Danny Cox
Mike Cuellar
Bill Donovan
George Earnshaw
Bob Gibson
Hal Gregg
Livan Hernandez
Waite Hoyt
Walter Johnson
Jim Kaat
Bob Klinger
Don Larsen
Jim Lonborg
Christy Mathewson
Jon Matlack
Bob McClure
Scott McGregor
Charles Nagy
Don Newcombe
Bobo Newsom
Alejandro Pena
Mariano Rivera
Jack Sanford
Calvin Schiraldi
Mel Stottlemyre
Ralph Terry
John Tudor

45 Responses to “Find the unifying theme”

  1. Matt Says:

    My first guess is that they were all starting pitchers that won two games in one World Series and lost two in another.

  2. John Autin Says:

    @1, Matt -- Thanks for guessing, but (a) that's not true, and (b) I'm looking for more of a singular event.

  3. James Smyth Says:

    They've both won and lost the deciding game of a postseason series?

  4. John Autin Says:

    @3, James Smyth -- That is not a true statement.

  5. James Smyth Says:

    They've all taken the loss in a WS Game 7

  6. John Autin Says:

    @5, James Smyth -- Oooh, you're good! But I have to be a stickler about the phrasing....

  7. Brian S Says:

    Starters that pitched in relief and got the loss in Game 7 of the WS?

  8. Larry Says:

    Mathewson took the loss in Game 8 of the 1912 Series. One of the games in that Series was a tie. My goodness, you certainly are a stickler. 🙂

    I can't figure out whose name you left off "to prevent a dead giveaway." If not Ralph Terry or Mariano Rivera, then who?

  9. Chris Says:

    Schiraldi was actually a big help. All pitchers were credited with a WS loss due to a fielder error.

  10. John Autin Says:

    @8, Larry -- I don't think I'm any stricter than Alex Trebek....

    But I'll go ahead and synthesize the answers from James Smyth and Larry into the official answer: They all lost a World Series "sudden death" game.

    The name I left out was Jim Burton, the Red Sox rookie who took the loss in game 7 in 1975. His MLB career was so short -- 55.2 IP in the regular season (and just 1 appearance after that WS) -- that anyone who looked at his player page could easily figure out what he was "famous" for.

  11. John Autin Says:

    @9, Chris -- That is not true. Jim Burton, for instance.

  12. John Autin Says:

    @8, Larry -- Surely you don't mean to imply that the first thing you think of when seeing the name Mariano Rivera is his one blown save out of 13 WS save chances?!?

  13. buddy Says:

    They're all pitchers.

  14. oneblankspace Says:

    I was about to say something about pitchers and their hitting in the World Series. Then I noticed Bob McClure (after reading the answers), who pitched in an all-DH series.

  15. topper009 Says:

    @12, that the first thing I think about Rivera besides that he is overrated.

  16. Ed Says:

    Oh come on, clearly the answer is "Who are 34 people who have never been in my kitchen?".

  17. John Autin Says:

    @16, Ed -- But that's just where you're mistaken! All 34 were in your kitchen very late last night. You might want to stay away from the vegetable crisper for a while....

  18. John Autin Says:

    @13 -- Buddy Ebsen, everyone! Let's hear it for ol' Barnaby Jones!

  19. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Actually. I have another thing that they all have in common. You see, I plowed in part of my corn field and built a ball diamond, and all of them have pitched there...

  20. John Autin Says:

    @19 -- So you're the owner of that corn field with the retractable dome!

  21. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    @20 - I have two retractable domes. I also have a toupee!

  22. Ed Says:

    No wonder why I couldn't sleep last night!!!

  23. jake Says:

    Lonborg lost Game 7 after throwing a 1-hitter in Game 2 and and 3-hitter in Game 5.

    Almost had a legendary series.

  24. Cliff Clavin Says:

    34 men who have never been in my kitchen.

  25. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    @24: Funny, they haven't been in Ed's (#16) kitchen either.

  26. nesnhab Says:

    This is the complete list, is it not? In other words, besides Burton, is this "everyone who ever lost a sudden death World Series game?"

  27. Jimbo Says:

    John, who was the pitcher who you deleted??

  28. John Autin Says:

    @27, Jimbo -- The deleted pitcher was Jim Burton -- see #10 for why.

    @26, Nesnhab -- Yes, to the best of my ability, that list (plus Burton) is complete for pitchers who have lost a WS sudden-death game.

    P.S. So let me see if I've got this straight: When I open a diner, it wouldn't be a great idea to call it Cliff Clavin's Kitchen?

  29. nesnhab Says:

    @12 Same goes for a lot of these pitchers, even the less well known ones.

    The fact that Borbon allowed a baserunner, who later scored, in a tied World Series game doesn't make me think any less of him...think of how good you have to be for your manager to have put you into that position.

    Here's a partial accounting of Newcombe's reaction to his loss:

    "It is only 35 miles and 70 minutes between Ebbets Field and Colonia, N.J., but for Don Newcombe it was a lifetime. This was his longest voyage home and he wept all the way.

    He drove his Ford station wagon with his right hand and with his left hand he held a handkerchief to his face. Sometimes he put it to his mouth, sometimes to his eyes and sometimes he dropped it on the seat between his legs. He balled it into his fist or he rolled it between his fingers and always he stared straight ahead, almost unseeing, because there was a mist before his eyes and memories he cannot erase."

    --Milton Gross (who was in the car)

  30. nesnhab Says:

    I guess that article by Milton Gross was memorable for more than just me:

    The next day I [Jack Newfield] was slumped in the Hunter College cafeteria reading the New York Post.

    That's when I found one of the best post-game sports columns ever written, by Milton Gross.

    Gross had somehow gotten into the car with Newcombe and driven home to New Jersey, with the emotionally destroyed pitcher and his father. [...]

    "Milton Gross eased my despondency. He made my disappointment seem like a rainy day compared to Newcombe's torment.

    It wasn't my life, but it was Newcombe's .

    I always identified with Newcomb after this game, and after this column.

    It taught me the hero can always fail. Nobody is perfect

    The hero doesn't have to choke under pressure.

    He can just be human, do his best, try his hardest, and just face a better team on one particular day."

  31. nesnhab Says:

    Larsen's game 7 loss in '57 was his first start (in the World Series) since his perfect game. Tommy Byrne was in that game too (but was not the losing pitcher this time.) He finished up the game--and got a hit in the ninth inning against Burdette.

  32. Shping Says:

    Here's an additional trivia question or two:

    A) Which of these picthers also WON a WSeries sudden death game the year before they lost the sudden death game? (I know of at least one; there may be more)

    B) Which of these pitchers also won 3 WSeries games the year before? (my hunch is that there's only one answer to this one, but again, there could be more)

  33. Shping Says:

    ... first correct answer wins choice of either a kitchen remodel or a retractable dome

  34. nesnhab Says:

    @32 Good one. Burdette, Gibson, Johnson off the top of my head. Surprised myself that it happened that many times

  35. nesnhab Says:

    @32 part 2 would be Gibson and Burdette

  36. Shping Says:

    Burdette was who i had in mind -- good job.

    And sheesh, i shouldve at least known Gibson too. I guess one of us should do the research before i award the prize, but what kind of retractable dome would you prefer -- sliding shield or fan/clamshell type? Taxpayer financed or privately funded?

  37. Shping Says:

    Here's another good slice of trivia (we'll see i have any better luck than John A at stumping people):

    Which of the above pitchers (John's complete list at top) lost a heartbreaking sudden death playoff game one year, then later won an almost-as-dramatic sudden death playoff game?

    (Hint, which may make it too easy, but what the heck: the win was a 4-hit shutout to boot)

  38. Richard Chester Says:

    Ralph Terry, 1960 and 1962

  39. Shping Says:

    Well done Mr. Chester.

    Of course the '60 game ended with Mazeroski's blast and you probably knew the '62 game ended with McCovey's line drive too, but i'll mention that anyway.

  40. Richard Chester Says:


    You don't have to call me mister, we're all friends here.

  41. Shping Says:

    Of course, but Mr. Chester just kinda rolls off the tongue so well 🙂

    Richard is my middle name, by the way, so maybe we should figure out who the best all-time Richard is? -- and would J.R. count?

    I actually cant think of any others who went by "Richard", and i dont want to settle for Dick Allen! -- or Rick Honeycutt, or Rick Manning...

  42. Richard Chester Says:


    I always liked Richard (Goose) Gossage.

  43. Shping Says:

    yes, good choice!

  44. Luis Gomez Says:

    Rich Renteria!

  45. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @16/ - Ed, @24/ Cliff Clavin -
    "Oh come on, clearly the answer is "Who are 34 people who have never been in my kitchen?"."

    Well, you know what the problem is - you need to serve better coffee in your kitchen!"

    I see we have a few crossover posters from BBTF.