Beyond the Box Score

Beyond the Box Score

Hitting his stride
New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter became just the sixth Major Leaguer to get a hit in at least 59 of 61 consecutive games when he recorded a safety on May 3, extending his hitting streak to 20 games. Jeter's batting barrage began on Aug. 16, 2006, when he launched a 25-game hit streak that ended Sept. 16.

After he was unable to get a knock the next day, the Yankees captain began a 14-game streak that carried him through the first three games of this season. After he took another one-day hiatus from the hit column, Jeter started the 20-gamer that ended when he was unable to hit safely on May 4.

Only two big leaguers had longer stretches of consistent hitting, according to streak authority Trent McCotter of The Society for American Baseball Research. In 1894, Bill Dahlen hit in 60 of 61 games by putting together a 42-game streak followed by an 18-gamer. Joe DiMaggio matched Dahlen's feat when he rattled off his record 56-game streak in 1941, then followed that by hitting in four straight. The six Major Leaguers who hit in at least 59 of 61 games were:

Player, Year(s) (Streaks), Total Games
Bill Dahlen, 1894 (42-18), 60 of 61
Joe DiMaggio, 1941 (56-4), 60 of 61
Gene Demontreville, 1896-97 (36-15-8) 59 of 61
Willie Keeler, 1896-1897 (45-9-5), 59 of 61
Ed Delahanty, 1899 (31-18-10), 59 of 61
Derek Jeter, 2006-07 (25-14-20), 59 of 61

A towering fly
Friday marks the 82nd anniversary of the great Chicago ball drop. In 1925, White Sox catcher and future Hall of Famer Ray Schalk caught a ball dropped from the top of the brand new 462-foot Tribune Tower. The lunchtime gimmick, which had been heavily promoted in the Chicago Tribune, stopped traffic on Michigan Avenue for 20 minutes. The first ball released didn't clear the scaffolding that still surrounded the building. The second ball bounced off Schalk's mitt when he tried to one-hand the catch. But on the third attempt, the Pale Hose backstop nailed the catch using both hands. Reportedly, White Sox owner Charles Comiskey wasn't pleased that his catcher participated in the stunt. That may explain why Schalk was not in the lineup when the Sox took on the Washington Senators later that afternoon.

Radio days
Another member of the Caray family has joined the family business. Josh Caray, 25, made his baseball broadcasting debut this season with the Rome Braves of the Class A South Atlantic League. Josh is the grandson of Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Caray and both his father, Skip, and his half-brother, Chip, broadcast games for the Atlanta Braves.

Grumpy old men
Julio Franco and Randy Johnson combined for a new record last week when the New York Mets first baseman homered off the Arizona Diamondbacks ace on May 4. The pair became the oldest batter-pitcher duo to combine for a long ball, smashing the previous record set last year by Barry Bonds and David Wells. Franco, the Major's oldest player, and Johnson were a combined 92 years and 125 days of age when Franco connected. Bonds and Wells were 85 years and 159 days old. The five oldest batter-pitcher combos to produce a big fly were (age -- in years and days):

Year, Batter (Age), Pitcher (Age), Combined Age
2007, Julio Franco (48.254), Randy Johnson (43.236), 92.125
2006, Barry Bonds (42.047), David Wells (43.112), 85.159
1990, Carlton Fisk (42.234), Charlie Hough (42.224), 85.093
2004, Edgar Martinez (41.220), Terry Mulholland (41.154), 83.009
1986, Hal McRae (41.069), Don Sutton (41.168), 82.237

Spell checking
A tattoo might not be the best way to celebrate your team's World Series win as Jason Harris discovered. According to "The Smoking Gun" Web site, Harris has sued The House of Ink in St. Louis for shoddy workmanship on body art he commissioned to memorialize the 2006 World Series triumph of his beloved Cardinals. Harris wanted the words "St. Louis Cardinals, World Series Champions, 2006" etched on his back. The tattoo parlor completed the work, but allegedly misspelled "World" as "Worlb" and inked "Champs" instead of "Champions" and "2000" instead of "2006." Harris paid $190 for the tat and is asking for $25,000 in damages.

When both starting backstop Brian McCann and backup catcher Brayan Pena were hit by backswings last week, the Atlanta Braves had to reach down to Double-A Mississippi for reinforcement. In the process, they helped set a record by calling up Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who became the first Major Leaguer with a 14-letter surname. Saltalamacchia debuted on May 2, which also happened to be his 22nd birthday. He's the 15th player with a surname of 13 letters or more to debut in the bigs, the 14th having been pitcher Tim Spooneybarger in 2001. The 15 Major Leaguers whose names might give an equipment manager nightmares are:

Player, Letters, Primary Position, Year (s)
Jarrold Saltalamacchia, 14, Catcher, 2007
Gene Demontreville, 13, Second base, 1894-1904
Ossee Schreckengost, 13, Catcher, 1897-1908
Lou Schiappacasse, 13, Right field, 1902
Lee Demontreville, 13, Shortstop, 1903
Bonnie Hollingsworth, 13, Pitcher, 1922-24, 1928
Al Hollingsworth, 13, Pitcher, 1935-40, 1942-46
Austin Knickerbocker, 13, Right field, 1947
Bill Knickerbocker, 13, Shortstop, 1933-42
Ken Raffensberger, 13, Pitcher, 1939-41, 1943-54
Kirk Dressendorfer, 13, Pitcher, 1991
William Van Landingham, 13, Pitcher, 1994-96
Steve Wojciechowski, 13, Pitcher, 1995-96
Todd Hollandsworth, 13, Left Field, 1995-2006
Tim Spooneybarger, 13, Pitcher, 2001-2003

It seemed like a good idea
Panera Bread, a national chain with 16 sandwich and soup shops in the Kansas City area, canceled what was supposed to be a season-long promotion with the Kansas City Royals after they were overwhelmed by fan response. Panera had promised to give a baker's dozen of bagels to fans that attended any home game in which the Royals registered 13 hits or more. But after the Royals posted 15 knocks in a game on April 20, the chain was swamped with fans asking for their 13 bagels. The ensuing chaos convinced Panera to pull the plug on the promotion.

Rules of the road
The Washington Nationals are banning alcohol in their clubhouses at home and on the road and on all team flights back to Washington, D.C. However, the club will continue to allow players to drink on any flights into other cities on road trips.

It ain't over 'til graduation
St. Louis University has decided to go with a baseball theme for their commencement this year. The featured speaker at graduation will be Yogi Berra. Although Berra never played for the Cardinals or Browns, he was born and raised in the Gateway City. This is Berra's second commencement at the university. He received an honorary degree from the institution in 1992. The 1,900 graduates may be hoping to hear the 83-year-old icon tell them no one comes to commencement anymore, it's too crowded.

Around the Horn
Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench is marketing his own brand of scotch called Johnny Bench's Bench 5 Scotch Whiskey. ... Jonah Bayliss of the Pirates joins Jonah Goldman and Jonah "Joe" Knight as the only Jonahs to play in the Majors. ... If Ryne Sandberg progresses from his current managerial assignment at Class A Peoria to the helm of a big-league club, he would become the 61st Hall of Famer to both play and manage in the bigs. ... Reds infielder Juan Castro is the only active Major Leaguer with 1,000 or more career at-bats to have never been hit by a pitch. Through Wednesday, he had gone 2,148 at-bats without being plunked.

The Brewers offered free prostate exams on Tuesday at Miller Park plus two free tickets to a future Brewers game for all who completed the screening. ... When Giants catcher Bengie Molina hit two homers in the fifth inning of Monday's game against the Mets, it was the 51st time a Major Leaguer had gone long twice in one inning. Willie McCovey, Andre Dawson and Jeff King are the only players who accomplished it twice. ... Brad Penny, on Monday, became the ninth Dodgers pitcher since the team relocated to Los Angeles to whiff 14 or more in a game. Of those nine, Sandy Koufax registered the most 14-plus contests with 14.

The weather in April was so bad that three Minor Leagues, the International, the Eastern and the Midwest, had to cancel a total of 82 games. ... When Johnson of the Diamondbacks and Jamie Moyer of the Phillies opposed each other as starters on Wednesday, they had gone 17 years and 230 days between match-ups. The last time the veterans had met was on Sept. 21, 1989, when Johnson pitched for the Mariners and Moyer for the Rangers. ... Torii Hunter, through Wednesday, had batted .372 with five homers and 19 RBIs during his 23-game hitting streak. ... Vladimir Guerrero has batted .430 (28-for-65) with seven homers and 24 RBIs in Angels victories this season, but just .244 with two homers and six RBIs in losses.

The Mariners became the first team since the 1966 White Sox to play seven different opponents over the course of 11 games. ... The Brewers, with the best record in the Majors, have lost consecutive games only once this season: on April 4 to the Dodgers and, after an off-day, on April 6 to the Cubs. ... Padres closer Trevor Hoffman needs 24 more strikeouts to join Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Lindy McDaniel, Jesse Orosco, Lee Smith and Hoyt Wilhelm as the only big leaguers to record at least 1,000 K's in relief. ... Before being designated for assignment on Tuesday, Josh Wilson of the Nationals had made five errors in 36 1/3 innings at shortstop. ... Fans spent $310 million in Arizona during the six weeks of Spring Training there. ... Mark Teahen joined Mark Kotsay (2000), Brandon Inge (2004), Craig Monroe (2006) and Endy Chavez (2006) as the only players since 2000 to have three outfield assists in a game. The Royals outfielder had three on May 5.

Dodgers tickets are now for sale at big box retailer Costco in Southern California. Two field box seats plus programs cost $54, a savings of 40 percent off face value. ... According to Boston-area statistician Chuck Waseleski, through Wednesday, Mets infielder Franco needed to play in two more games to pass Billy Williams (2,488) for the fourth spot behind Ernie Banks (2,528), Dawson (2,627) and Rafael Palmeiro (2,831) for most games played in the Majors without a World Series appearance. ... The Astros were the only team to score five runs in the fifth inning on Cinco de Mayo. ... The injury-riddled A's have used eight different center fielders and seven left fielders so far this season. They used just four center fielders and six left fielders for all of 2006. ... Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis autographed a shoe and sent it over to Padres manager Bud Black after Black complained to the umpires about the white stripes on Willis' shoes during a recent series.

Bill Arnold is a contributor to Other writers and sources contribute to Beyond the Box Score Copyright 2007, Sports Features Group. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.