Detailing Roy Oswalt's night in left field
Updated: August 25, 2010, 1:13 PM ETBy Jayson Stark
The texts, tweets and e-mails started roaring in just before midnight, as Roy Oswalt was trotting out to play left field in Philadelphia.OswaltI'm not sure where my life took the insane turn that led me to this goofy niche I occupy -- as the official historian of baseball weirdness. But it was clear, as Tuesday night turned to Wednesday morning, that there was no way I was going to escape that niche for the rest of my existence. A pitcher was playing the outfield, after a team with no remaining position players had gotten its first baseman ejected in the 14th inning. And the world was pretty much demanding that I come up with some impressive trivia on all this instantly -- at midnight. Even on the TV broadcast, my friend Chris Wheeler was announcing: "This is a Jayson Stark game." So obviously, there was no way I was going to be allowed to call it a night and hop into the sack. I think I'd just been subpoenaed to report to the research room. OK, so here goes. You people needed to know how bizarre it was for Oswalt to play left field -- and even catch the first fly ball hit to him. Well, here's what I could dig up: • First off, I need to remind you that Oswalt wasn't even the only pitcher to play the outfield this year. Kyle Lohse played left field for three innings for the Cardinals during that nutty 20-inning game with the Mets on April 17 -- and even caught two fly balls. That caused one Tweeter, Kevin Asher, to ask the last time two pitchers played the outfield in the same season. Good question, but I even went one better. I asked the Elias Sports Bureau the last time two pitchers recorded a putout in the outfield in the same season. The answer: Nearly 50 years ago, in 1961. That year, Don Larsen played an entire game in left field -- and batted cleanup -- for Joe Gordon's Kansas City A's on May 23 and racked up three putouts. Still not sure why. Larsen was a .242 lifetime hitter, but it was the only time in his career he played the outfield. Three months later, Jim Maloney played the ninth inning in left for the Reds in an 8-1 blowout of the Pirates on Sept. 29 and caught one fly ball. And that was the last time two pitchers gathered in a fly ball in the same year -- until 2010, more than 100,000 games later. Who knew?
• Now let's move along to Oswalt's place in Phillies history. The easy part was this note, courtesy of Elias: He was the first Phillies pitcher to play the field since Bill Wilson moved to third base -- for one hitter -- in the eighth inning of a one-run game Aug. 6, 1971.
Why? So a left-handed reliever, Joe Hoerner, could come in and pitch to Willie Stargell. Wilson then moved back to the mound and pitched the rest of the game. Even got a win out of it in relief.
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