sun, 03-may-2015, 09:22

Yesterday I saw something I’ve never seen in a baseball game before: a runner getting hit by a batted ball, which according to Rule 7.08(f) means the runner is out and the ball is dead. It turns out that this isn’t as unusual an event as I’d thought (see below), but what was unusal is that this ended the game between the Angels and Giants. Even stranger, this is also how the game between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers ended.

Let’s use Retrosheet data to see how often this happens. Retrosheet data is organized into game data, roster data and event data. Event files contain a record of every event in a game and include the code BR for when a runner is hit by a batted ball. Here’s a SQL query to find all the matching events, who got hit and whether it was the last out in the game.

SELECT sub.game_id, teams, date, inn_ct, outs_ct, bat_team, event_tx,
   first_name || ' ' || last_name AS runner,
   CASE WHEN event_id = max_event_id THEN 'last out' ELSE '' END AS last_out
   SELECT year, game_id, away_team_id || ' @ ' || home_team_id AS teams,
      date, inn_ct,
      CASE WHEN bat_home_id = 1
            THEN home_team_id
            ELSE away_team_id END AS bat_team, outs_ct, event_tx,
      CASE regexp_replace(event_tx, '.*([1-3])X[1-3H].*', E'\\1')
            WHEN '1' THEN base1_run_id
            WHEN '2' THEN base2_run_id
            WHEN '3' THEN base3_run_id END AS runner_id,
   FROM events
   WHERE event_tx ~ 'BR'
) AS sub
   INNER JOIN rosters
      ON sub.year=rosters.year
            AND runner_id=player_id
            AND rosters.team_id = bat_team
      SELECT game_id, max(event_id) AS max_event_id
      FROM events
      GROUP BY game_id
   ) AS max_events
   ON sub.game_id = max_events.game_id
ORDER BY date;

Here's what the query does. The first sub-query sub finds all the events with the BR code, determines which team was batting and finds the id for the player who was running. This is joined with the roster table so we can assign a name to the runner. Finally, it’s joined with a subquery, max_events, which finds the last event in each game. Once we’ve got all that, the SELECT statement at the very top retrieves the columns of interest, and records whether the event was the last out of the game.

Retrosheet has event data going back to 1922, but the event files don’t include every game played in a season until the mid-50s. Starting in 1955 a runner being hit by a batted ball has a game twelve times, most recently in 2010. On average, runners get hit (and are called out) about fourteen times a season.

Here are the twelve times a runner got hit to end the game, since 1955. Until yesterday, when it happened twice in one day:

Runners hit by a batted ball to end a game, since 1955
Date Teams Batting Event Runner
1956-09-30 NY1 @ PHI PHI S4/BR.1X2(4)# Granny Hamner
1961-09-16 PHI @ CIN PHI S/BR/G4.1X2(4) Clarence Coleman
1971-08-07 SDN @ HOU SDN S/BR.1X2(3) Ed Spiezio
1979-04-07 CAL @ SEA SEA S/BR.1X2(4) Larry Milbourne
1979-08-15 TOR @ OAK TOR S/BR.3-3;2X3(4)# Alfredo Griffin
1980-09-22 CLE @ NYA CLE S/BR.3XH(5) Toby Harrah
1984-04-06 MIL @ SEA MIL S/BR.1X2(4) Robin Yount
1987-06-25 ATL @ LAN ATL S/L3/BR.1X2(3) Glenn Hubbard
1994-06-13 HOU @ SFN HOU S/BR.1X2(4) James Mouton
2001-08-04 NYN @ ARI ARI S/BR.2X3(6) David Dellucci
2003-04-09 KCA @ DET DET S/BR.1X2(4) Bobby Higginson
2010-06-27 PIT @ OAK PIT S/BR/G.1X2(3) Pedro Alvarez

And all runners hit last season:

Runners hit by a batted ball in the 2014 MLB season
Date Teams Batting Event Runner
2014-05-07 SEA @ OAK OAK S/BR/G.1X2(3) Derek Norris
2014-05-11 MIN @ DET DET S/BR/G.3-3;2X3(6);1-2 Austin Jackson
2014-05-23 CLE @ BAL BAL S/BR/G.2X3(6);1-2 Chris Davis
2014-05-27 NYA @ SLN SLN S/BR/G.1X2(3) Matt Holliday
2014-06-14 CHN @ PHI CHN S/BR/G.1X2(4) Justin Ruggiano
2014-07-13 OAK @ SEA SEA S/BR/G.1X2(4) Kyle Seager
2014-07-18 PHI @ ATL PHI S/BR/G.1X2(4) Grady Sizemore
2014-07-25 BAL @ SEA SEA S/BR/G.1X2(4) Brad Miller
2014-08-05 NYN @ WAS WAS S/BR/G.2X3(6);3-3 Asdrubal Cabrera
2014-09-04 SLN @ MIL SLN S/BR/G.2X3(6);1-2 Matt Carpenter
2014-09-09 SDN @ LAN LAN S/BR/G.2X3(6) Matt Kemp
2014-09-18 BOS @ PIT BOS S/BR/G.3XH(5);1-2;B-1 Jemile Weeks
thu, 30-apr-2015, 18:14
Memorial Stadium, 1971

Memorial Stadium, 1971
photo by Tom Vivian

Yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox played a game at Camden Yards in downtown Baltimore. The game was “closed to fans” due to the riots that broke out in the city after the funeral for a man who died in police custody. It’s the first time a Major League Baseball game has been played without any fans in the stands, but unfortunately it’s not the first time there have been riots in Baltimore.

After Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in April 1968, Baltimore rioted for six days, with local police, and more than eleven thousand National Guard, Army troops, and Marines brought in to restore order. According to wikipedia six people died, more than 700 were injured, 1,000 businesses were damaged and close to six thousand people were arrested.

At that time, the Orioles played in Memorial Stadium, about 4 miles north-northwest of where they play now. I don’t know much about that area of Baltimore, but I was curious to know whether the Orioles played any baseball games during those riots.

Retrosheet has one game, on April 10, 1968, with a reported attendance of 22,050. The Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics by a score of 3–1. Thomas Phoebus got the win over future Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter. Other popular players in the game included Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Rick Mondy and Bert Campaneris for the A’s and Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Davey Johnson, and Boog Powell for the Orioles.

The box score and play-by-play can be viewed here.

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