There have been a dozen players born on Leap Day (February 29), who have appeared in major league baseball. With such a small sample it is pretty remarkable that a number of them have such an amazing history.
February 29 batters trivia
- Terence Long began and ended his career playing in New York. He began with the Mets and ended with the Yankees. (Do you know which HOF-er ended with the Mets and began with the Yankees?) Speaking of Terrence, he was the batter who hit the shot down the right field line that resulted in Derek Jeter‘s famous “flip-play” (Who was the Yankee pitcher on the play that saw Jeremy Giambi thrown out at the plate?)
- Speaking of “Flip,” that was All-Star and 1953 AL MVP’s (won unanimously) Al Rosen‘s nickname while playing for the Indians. In 1953, Rosen had a 10.1 WAR after leading the league in HR (43), and RBI (145). Rosen hit .336 and lost the batting crown by one point (who was the winner?) when in his last at bat of the season he missed touching first base on an infield grounder and consequently was called out. (When “The Hebrew Hammer” took over at third base for the Tribe in 1950, he took the position from a player who played a significant role in Yankee and baseball history, who was he?). In 1978, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner named Rosen president and chief operating officer of the team. After that tumult, he had success in the Astros and the Giants front offices.
- Johnny Leonard Roosevelt (Pepper) Martin was a four-time All-Star for the Cardinals for whom he played his entire career.Martin had a .298 lifetime batting average, scoring more than 120 runs three times and leading the league in stolen bases three times. Amongst batters with at least 60 World Series PA, Martin’s .418 is tied for the highest BA (Which HOF-er is he tied with?) Martin had 12 hits in the 1931 Series and 11 hits in the 1934 Series, bothe seven-game wins for the Cardinals.
- Ralph Miller played in four games in the 1924 World Series for the Washington Senators, the only time the Senators captured a World Championship.
- Sadie Houck was banned from baseball in 1882. In September, 1881, the Detroit Free Press reported: “Houck is one of the best short stops in the country and a thorough ball player. Were his habits good, he could command $250 or $300 per month during the season, but he is addicted to drink, and is not, therefore, entirely trustworthy. He was warned of his fate two months ago.”
- The Ken Rosenthal-like Dickey Pearce (5-feet-3½, 161 pounds) introduced to baseball, the “tricky hit” to baseball, known today as the bunt.
February 29 pitchers trivia
- Bill Long is one of 179 players who pitched for both the White Sox and the Cubs.
- There have been 111 pitchers whose entire big league career consists of one appearance/one start. Alphabetically, that list ends with Charlie Zink and begins with Al Autry.
- After starting his career in the Reds organization and then playing four years, for the Indians, Steve Mingori pitched seven years for the Royals in Kansas City where he was born and raised.
- After serving in France during WW I, Ed Appleton never pitched in the majors again. He did continue to pitch in the minors for a number of seasons until finally retiring in 1926.
60 years ago today
On February 29, 1956, the Cleveland Indians were sold to a group that included their GM and Hall of Famer, Hank Greenberg.
But not as fascinating as the cost for the Tribe: $4,000,000.
44 Years ago today
On February 29, 1972, Hank became the first player to be paid $200,000 dollars per season when he signed a three-year deal with the Braves for $600,000.
The first $100,000 a season player was signed by the Pirates in 1947, and nicely closing our circle, his name was Hank Greenberg mentioned in the note above.