Notes on the
National Pastime

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Minnesota's Gary Gaetti, Kent Hrbek and Tim Laudner appeared in their first major league game together. All three of them hit home runs in that debut. And speaking of homers, the 1987 Toronto Blue Jays set a major league single-game record with ten round-trippers. The 1982 Milwaukee Brewers set an ML record with 1.57 homers per game on the road.
According to Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo (The Baseball Hall of Shame, 1985): "The Cleveland Spiders of 1899 were certifiably the worst team in baseball history .... [T]hese laughable losers piled up an amazing 134 losses against only 20 wins for the all-time lowest winning percentage of .130 .... The Spiders were last in runs, doubles, triples, homers, batting average, slugging percentage, and stolen bases. They were outscored by a two-to-one margin, 1,252 runs to 529 .... With losses piling up left and right, manager Lave Cross quit in disgust before the end of the first month. Blame the team's abysmal record on the owners, brothers Frank and Matthew Robison, who knew little about baseball. Rather than hire more talent before the season started, they bought a second team, the St. Louis Browns, and then set about dissecting the Spiders. To guarantee failure of the Spiders, the Brothers Robison shipped their best players, including Cy Young, to the Browns .... The two aces on the [Spiders] staff, Charlie Knepper and Jim Hughey, each won a paltry four games and together were responsible for 52 losses. The Spiders were so bad that even their own loved ones wouldn't come out to watch them. As a result, they played only 41 games of the 154-game schedule in Cleveland .... Fittingly, the Spiders ended their season by dropping 40 of their last 41 games. In their final game they recruited a hotel cigar counter clerk to pitch for them against the Cincinnati Reds. In true Spider tradition, he lost 19-3."
Here's Paul Dickson's description of barnstorming -- a practice common to baseball in the game's first century: "A series of exhibition games played by a major-league team in various cities on the way from spring training to the Opening Day game or after the regular season had ended. A. G. Spalding wrote that baseball's first barnstorming tour took place in 1860 when the Excelsiors of Brooklyn played in several cities of central and western New York State. Groups of individuals also engaged in off-season barnstorming tours, a practice which was generally frowned on by major-league owners who did not want to see their best players hurt playing for pick-up 'all-star' teams. 'The players participated in a major vs. minor all-star game in Los Angeles on February 15, thus breaking the barnstorming rule which prohibits big leaguers playing for money later than thirty days after the World Series ends.' (San Francisco Examiner, Mar. 8, 1948; Peter Tamony.) For the players, barnstorming tours were an important source of income: 'We did it to make money [in the 1950s]' (Yogi Berra, quoted in New York Times, Jan. 11, 1988)." -- Dickson Baseball Dictionary.