Baseball Nation, Baseball News and Fan Opinion
Stay connected for news and updates Follow @sbnbaseball
Like us to subscribe
This morning, you and I embarked on a quest to determine the funniest pitching appearance by a non-pitcher in baseball history. There is a lot of strong competition for this title, so let's get straight to it.
Jose Canseco (suggested by everyone in the entire world). This is my fault. Canseco wins this contest in a walk, obviously, and I meant to add a "besides Jose Conseco" condition to this exercise. I forgot, of course. Regardless, if you answered Canseco, the guy who begged to enter the game as a pitcher and immediately managed to foul up his rotator cuff, you are correct.
He will never be as funny as he was that day. Lord knows he's tried.
Mark Whiten (suggested by @TheRobMorse). Whiten pitched an inning for the Indians against the Athletics in 1998. He gave up the run, but somehow managed to strike out the side. Whiten is probably most famous for being one of 15 players in baseball history to hit four home runs in a single game, so I figured this would make for a slam-dunk piece of trivia.
I was wrong. Three of the 15 men to hit four homers in a game (Bobby Lowe, Rocky Colavito, and Whiten) were non-pitchers who made at least one pitching appearance in their careers. A fourth -- Jim Delahanty -- was the brother of Ed Delahanty, another non-pitcher who pitched. What the hell?
Cody McKay (suggested by @mtknowles and @mrmaguda). We have a weird one here. This guy, the son of Cardinals first-base coach Dave McKay, played only 37 games in his entire career -- a cup of coffee in 2002 and a stint in 2004. And yet, he played as a pitcher, a catcher, a first baseman, and a third baseman. Those are four very different positions.
Also strange: he made his lone pitching appearance in only his third game. In that game, he pitched two hitless innings. I can't in good conscience call this the funniest pitching appearance. It creeps me out too much.
Mark Grace (suggested by many). In 2002, Grace made the first and only pitching appearance of his career, and offered several yuks in the process by performing a dead-on imitation of teammate Mike Fetters. Video is not available on YouTube, and our lives are worse for it.
Dave McCarty (suggested by @BobbyJames11). McCarty, the patron saint of obscure journeymen (oh damn, maybe that should be our next debate), struck out three Orioles, including Rafael Palmeiro.
Also: I don't want to startle you, but how many baseball players named Dave can you name? Plenty, right? Now, how many of those are active? ZERO. Our nation's supply of Daves is dwindling at an alarming rate.
(UPDATE: Astute reader Dylan M. has pointed out that I completely forgot to account for Dave Bush. There you have it. I think that's the only one I'm missing. Then again, every time I try to consider this issue, I invariably think of Dave Martinez and then start thinking about how weird the 2001 Braves were.)
Gene Michael (suggested by meo627). This one gives Canseco's appearance a serious run for its money. In 1968, Michael made his lone pitching effort for the Yankees against the Angels. His line: 3.0 IP, 5 R, 0 ER. Here's how the top of the 8th went down.
Fregosi reaches first on error.
Reichardt bunts, is thrown out, Fregosi advances to second. (1 OUT)
Kirkpatrick singles, Fregosi to third.
Knoop is hit by pitch, bases loaded.
Repoz strikes out. (2 OUT)
Egan hits ground-rule double. Fregosi and Kirkpatrick score, both runs unearned.
McGlothlin doubles, Egan and Knoop score, both runs unearned.
Hinton singles, McGlothlin scores, run unearned.
Cottier flies out. (3 OUT)
It's especially strange, because he seemed destined to be a pitcher from the get-go. His name was Gene, which is such a pitcher's name, and his career OPS was .572. In another life, perhaps.
Thanks again for your help, friends. I feel as though we've learned a lot today. Seriously, remind me to make the next Imperative Baseball Debate about journeymen.
As far as pitching appearances by non-pitchers go, Wednesday night's effort from Wilson Valdez was a remarkable one. The Reds and Phillies took proceedings to the 19th inning, and in such contests it isn't terribly unusual to see a team trot out a player who isn't a pitcher by trade.
Valdez, though, pitched a scoreless 19th for the Phillies and picked up the win. The 33-year-old utility infielder became only the third non-pitcher in the last 100 years (High Pockets Kelly in 1917, Brent Mayne in 2000) to make only one pitching appearance and walk away with a win. So, yes, it's pretty weird, but I don't know if it's laugh-out-loud funny. Which brings us to this question:
I don't know the answer yet, which is why I'm asking you, but I would like to submit the recent example of Paul Janish for consideration.
Preface: on May 6th, 2009, the Reds' Bronson Arroyo suffered an an absolutely God-awful start; by the time he left the mound with nobody out in the second inning, he had surrendered nine earned runs to the Brewers. The Cincinnati bullpen managed to keep things respectable until the ninth, when Dusty Baker gave the ball to shortstop Paul Janish. The poor fellow managed to get through the inning, but only after being lit up for five runs on five hits.
With this in mind, can we agree that sending Janish to the mound ever again would be an explicit, if nonverbal, expression of capitulation? On July 6th of the same year, Baker's Reds were down 16-1 to the Phillies in the eighth inning. Simply declaring a forfeit, while perhaps tempting, would certainly have been unbecoming, so Baker simply trotted out his white flag in the form of one Paul Janish.
Janish surprised absolutely nobody by giving up six runs, and the Reds lost, 22-1. It's not his ineptitude I find funny -- sending a non-pitcher out to pitch is like asking your dentist to unclog your toilet, so the results were entirely expected -- but the signal sent. "Quitting would be rude, so we're just going to give up."
Mr. Janish, meanwhile, had to bear the weight of his teammates' sins. I can't imagine it was any fun, and I imagine that if he were to provide a statement detailing everything he knew about pitching, it would have looked something like this:
EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT PITCHING
by Paul Janish
As I said, Janish's example is simply a recent one within arm's reach. Help me find more "non-pitcher pitching" comedy, will you? Baseball-Reference's list of non-pitchers who have pitched is very helpful in this regard. If you'd like to nominate a particular instance/individual, leave a comment here, or tweet me at @jon_bois. I'll come back around this afternoon to sift through your answers.
The answer is out there somewhere, and you and I will find it.