FIRST PRIZE -- When the Padres drafted Matt Bush with the first pick in the draft, a brilliantly useless question occurred to loyal reader Josh Evans: How frequently has a first-round draft pick (not necessarily first overall) shared a last name with the sitting president?
And the answer (after way too much research) is ... never. Not until Matt Bush, anyhow.
Closest call: The Red Sox drafted Eddie Ford No. 1 in June 1974 -- two months before President Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford took office.
SECOND PRIZE -- The last edition of Really Wild Pitches reported on a truly epic event -- the first back-to-back homers in history by two guys whose names started with an I (Brandon Inge and Omar Infante). So loyal reader Laren Richardson wondered what the most consecutive homers was by players whose names started with consecutive initials.
Well, we looked this up personally. And the answer is: three -- by Alex Kampouris, Bill Lohrman and Jo-Jo Moore of the New York Giants, on Aug. 13, 1939.
And as long as we were on a roll, we also found the only set of back-to-back-to-back homers by players whose names started with the same letter:
Sept. 4, 1969, 9th inning -- Yankees (Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson, Gene Michael).
THIRD PRIZE -- Thursday was a big day in the life of Rangers pitcher Brian Shouse. In the 112th appearance of his career -- 11 years after his big-league debut -- he finally won a game.
Amazingly, just a few days earlier, loyal reader Tim Adams had checked in to inform us that no pitcher in history had appeared in more games without winning than Shouse. Which, of course, provided an instant reverse jinx.
So now that Shouse has unbroken his own record, it reverts back to a two-way tie between current Marlins farmhand Juan Alvarez and now-retired journeyman reliever Ed Olwine (with 80). So watch that transactions column for a Juan Alvarez sighting.
FOURTH PRIZE -- Loyal reader Conor McCreery went on a research binge after Junior Griffey's 500th home run. Our favorite nuggets from him include:
Griffey's five-game drought between his 499th and 500th homers was the third-longest since 1967. Just Mickey Mantle (six games) and Harmon Killebrew (13 games and 16 days) went longer. Eddie Murray also had a five-game drought.
Apparently, 500th homers are very inspirational. The Reds' win on Griffey's day raised the record of the 500 Homer Club's teams to 14-6 in games when their man hit No. 500.
FIFTH PRIZE -- Loyal reader Andrew Giebel got to crunching Barry Bonds' walk data one day and, naturally, couldn't help but be blown away. There have only been nine games all year, for instance, in which he hasn't walked (and the Giants are 5-4 when he doesn't). But what's really ridiculous is that Barry has a walk-strikeout ratio of 106-16 -- and only one multi-strikeout game (against Roger Clemens).
So Giebel inspired us to look up the fewest strikeouts in a season by players who walked 100 times or more (since 1900):
And if you're curious, the fewest whiffs in a 150-walk season is 44, by Ted Williams, in a 156-walk season in 1946.
Speaking of Bonds, he went into the weekend hitting .352 -- five points off the lead in the batting race -- but owned only 11 doubles all year. Which prompted loyal reader Zachary Kamin to wonder what the record was for fewest doubles by a batting champ.
Well, we couldn't find that. But we did find he has an outside shot at the fewest doubles in a season by a guy who hit .350 in the live-ball era. The leader board, according to Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Encyclopedia:
Loyal reader Steve Montgomery just had to ask -- after pitchers Woody Williams and Glendon Rush both pinch-hit in a recent Cardinals-Cubs series -- what the last series was to feature pitchers on each team who both started a game and pinch-hit. Turns out, you just need to follow your Glendon Rusch offensive history.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it happened in an Astros-Brewers series on April 17-20, 2003, when Wade Miller and (yep) Glendon Rusch both did it.
Fred McGriff recently extended his own record for most ballparks homered in (43). But loyal reader Andy Lathom got to wondering which pitcher has won a game in the most ballparks. Here's the answer, courtesy of Elias:
In the last edition of Useless Reader Information, we chronicled the tale of Jose Macias switch-hitting triples from each side of the plate. But the legendary Phil Pepe, longtime New York baseball writer of great renown, reports he covered a Yankees-White Sox game on Aug. 28, 1981 in which Jerry Mumphrey had a chance to hit triples and homers from each side of the plate in the same game.
Mumphrey tripled right-handed in the first, homered right-handed in the sixth, tripled left-handed in the seventh and got another left-handed at-bat in the ninth. But with his chance to make future Useless Info history, he bounced out to the mound. Oh well.
Useless Name-Game Information
USELESS RBI TAG-TEAM INFO -- Last time we rolled out a Useless Reader Information column, Frank Catalanotto had just knocked in Frank Menechino in a game. So we challenged you to come up with the most combined letters in the last names of a player who drove in a run and the player who scored it.
Turned out you liked playing that game. We sifted through about 200 emails before we ran out of steam -- and were stunned by how many of you came up with the correct answer:
Twenty five letters, with Todd Hollandsworth and Mark Grudzielanek doing the honors in their three seasons with the Dodgers, from 1998-2000. And yes, they have a chance to do it again this year with the Cubs (but haven't yet).
Loyal reader Tim Braun also provided us with a fascinating list of all-time teammates with the most letters in their names. The only other pair with a total of 25 letters was Dom Dallesandro and Ken Raffensberger, of the 1940 Cubs. But we have no evidence they ever drove each other in.
So pending that, congratulations to the firm of Hollandsworth and Grudzielanek -- and all of you who figured out they were No. 1.
USELESS Z-MAN INFORMATION -- We also asked you tireless readers earlier this month to figure out which team fielded a starting lineup that featured the most players with a Z in their name. Two of our most loyal readers, Nathaniel Lee and Michael Mavrogiannis, both came up with the same answer.
It was those magnetic 2002 Mets, who fielded a bunch of September lineups that included six Z-men. And with all those zzzzzzzs, no wonder they put their fans to sleep. The six Z-men in question:
Hard to believe that they never got Armando Benitez into a game with that crew, but both these guys actually checked. As any good Useless Info-maniac would, of course.
USELESS Z VS. Z INFORMATION -- Meanwhile, in a related development, Barry Zito pitched against Carlos Zambrano on June 20. And the Elias Sports Bureau determined it was only the third time in history both starting pitchers had last names starting with Z. The others: Boston's Paul Zahniser vs. Washington's Tom Zachary in 1925, and Zito vs. Tampa Bay's Victor Zambrano in 2003.
USELESS 3-ON-3 INFORMATION -- Once all those long names had been exhausted in our previous challenge, it was just a matter of time before you readers came up with the other variation on this game -- shortest names involved in an RBI/run-scoring duo. And the indefatigable Nathaniel Lee found three different three-letter Dodgers who once drove in Ron Cey:
9/26/75 -- Leron Lee knocks in Ron Cey
4/10/75 -- Doug Rau knocks in Ron Cey
8/20/76 -- Leron Lee knocks in Ron Cey
But, of course, he couldn't stop there. Lee also came up with two combos with the biggest difference between the length of their names:
This month's reader challenger
All of this just leads us to our latest challenge to our favorite Useless Info devotees. We'll present two slightly different permutations for your research pleasure:
Loyal reader Tom McDonough asked if the recent duel of Darrell May (Royals) vs. Jae Seo (Mets) was the fewest combined letters in any pitching matchup.
Meanwhile, David Holtzman, of the Royals public-relations department wondered, after the Royals were swept in a June 10 doubleheader against Montreal whether the two winning pitchers -- Zach Day and Sun-woo Kim -- represented the fewest letters in the last names of two winning pitchers in a doubleheader.
If you want to delve into answering those fascinating questions, it's all yours. And if you really want to work yourself into a lather, you might have also noticed the winning pitcher in three straight Royals games had a three-letter name: Day, Kim and May. Just try to top that.
Send your contributions to email@example.com. Operators are standing by.