Saturday May 14, 2021’s Smile of the Day: 4 Strikeouts in an Inning
On this Day:
In 1906, the New York Giants’ Hooks Wiltse struck out 4 batters in 1 inning.
There are certain laws that are inviolate. Apples drop from trees and hit the ground. The Sun comes up in the east and sets in the west. And a baseball inning doesn’t have four outs per team. Well, perhaps not so much the latter…
In baseball and softball, an uncaught third strike (sometimes referred to as dropped third strike or non-caught third strike) occurs when the catcher fails to cleanly catch a pitch for the third strike of a plate appearance. In Major League Baseball (MLB), the specific rules concerning the uncaught third strike are addressed in Rules 5.05 and 5.09 of the Official Baseball Rules: This is one of the oldest rules in modern baseball, dating at least to the Knickerbocker Rules of 1845: “Three balls being struck at and missed and the last one caught, is a hand-out.”
On an uncaught third strike with (1) no runner on first base, or (2) with a runner on first base and two outs, the batter immediately becomes a runner. The strike is called, but the umpire does not call the batter out. The umpire may also signal that there is “no catch” of the pitch. The batter may then attempt to reach first base and must be tagged or forced out. With two outs and the bases loaded, the catcher who fails to catch the third strike may, upon picking up the ball, step on home plate for a force-out or make a throw to any other base in an effort to force out a runner. An “uncaught” strike includes not only pitches dropped by the catcher, but also pitches that hit the ground before the catcher attempts to catch it.
The purpose of the “no runner on first base or two outs” qualification is to prevent the catcher from deliberately dropping a third-strike pitch and then initiating an unfair double or triple play with possible force plays at second base, third base, or home plate, in addition to putting the batter out at first base. The logic of the situation is similar to that which led to the infield fly rule.
Regardless of the outcome of an uncaught third strike, the pitcher is statistically credited with a strikeout, and the batter is statistically charged with one. Because of the uncaught third strike rule, it is possible for a pitcher to register more than three strikeouts in an inning. Numerous pitchers have recorded four strikeouts in an inning in an MLB game, though no five-strikeout innings have ever occurred.
In Little League, in the Tee-Ball and Minor League divisions, the batter is out after the third strike regardless of whether the pitched ball is caught cleanly by the catcher. In Little League (or the Major Division), Junior, Senior, and Big League divisions, a batter may attempt to advance to first base on an uncaught third strike. Little League Major Division Softball and many other youth baseball leagues (such as the USSSA) also follow the rule (per Wikipedia).
In fact, Major League Baseball currently lists 92 players who have had 4 strikeouts in one inning (https://www.mlb.com/news/four-strikeout-innings-c265544090).
First, a Story:
If brownie mix is on first base, pudding on second, and cookie dough on third base, who is hitting at the plate?
The cake batter.
Second, a Song:
Abbott and Costello were an American comedy duo composed of comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, whose work with radio, film, and television made them the most popular comedy team of the 1940s and early 1950s, and the highest-paid entertainers in the world during World War II. Their patter routine “Who’s on First?” is considered one of the best-known comedy routines of all time. Their popularity waned in the early 1950s due to overexposure and changing tastes in comedy, and their film and television contracts lapsed. The partnership ended soon afterwards.
“Who’s on First?” is a comedy routine made famous by American comedy duo Abbott and Costello. The premise of the sketch is that Abbott is identifying the players on a baseball team for Costello, but their names and nicknames can be interpreted as non-responsive answers to Costello’s questions. For example, the first baseman is named “Who”; thus, the utterance “Who’s on first” is ambiguous between the question (“Which person is the first baseman?”) and the answer (“The name of the first baseman is ‘Who'”).
“Who’s on First?” is descended from turn-of-the-century burlesque sketches that used plays on words and names. Examples are “The Baker Scene” (the shop is located on Watt Street) and “Who Dyed” (the owner is named “Who”). In the 1930 movie Cracked Nuts, comedians Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey examine a map of a mythical kingdom with dialogue like this: “What is next to Which.” “What is the name of the town next to Which?” “Yes.” In British music halls, comedian Will Hay performed a routine in the early 1930s (and possibly earlier) as a schoolmaster interviewing a schoolboy named Howe who came from Ware but now lives in Wye. By the early 1930s, a “Baseball Routine” had become a standard bit for burlesque comics across the United States. Abbott’s wife recalled him performing the routine with another comedian before teaming with Costello.
Bud Abbott stated that it was taken from an older routine called “Who’s The Boss?”, a performance of which can be heard in an episode of the radio comedy program It Pays to Be Ignorant from the 1940s. After they formally teamed up in burlesque in 1936, he and Costello continued to hone the sketch. It was a big hit in the fall of 1937, when they performed the routine in a touring vaudeville revue called Hollywood Bandwagon.
In February 1938, Abbott and Costello joined the cast of The Kate Smith Hour radio program, and the sketch was first performed for a national radio audience on March 24 of that year. The routine may have been further polished before this broadcast by burlesque producer John Grant, who became the team’s writer, and Will Glickman, a staff writer on the radio show. Glickman may have added the nicknames of then-contemporary baseball players like Dizzy and Daffy Dean to set up the routine’s premise. This version, with extensive wordplay based on the fact that most of the fictional baseball team’s players had “strange nicknames” that seemed to be questions, became known as “Who’s on First?” Some versions continue with references to Enos Slaughter, which Costello misunderstands as “He knows” Slaughter. By 1944, Abbott and Costello had the routine copyrighted.
Abbott and Costello performed “Who’s on First?” numerous times in their careers, rarely performing it exactly the same way twice. They did the routine for President Franklin Roosevelt several times. An abridged version was featured in the team’s 1940 film debut, One Night in the Tropics. The duo reprised the bit in their 1945 film The Naughty Nineties, and it is that longer version which is considered their finest recorded rendition. They also performed “Who’s on First?” numerous times on radio and television (notably in The Abbott and Costello Show episode “The Actor’s Home”, widely considered the definitive version).
In 1956, a gold record of “Who’s on First?” was placed in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. A video (taken from The Naughty Nineties) now plays continuously on screens at the Hall.
In the 1970s, Selchow and Righter published a “Who’s on First?” board game.
In 1999, Time named the routine Best Comedy Sketch of the 20th Century.
An early radio recording was placed in the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in 2003.
In 2005, the line “Who’s on First?” was included on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 memorable movie quotations (per Wikipedia).
Here are Abbott and Costello in the Definitive Version, performing “Who’s on First?” I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.” – Yogi Berra
Further to the Condensed Milk Smile, Gayle Myers of Vancouver, BC, Canada writes:
“Loved this song. Have a great weekend! Gayle”
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky