I'VE ALWAYS had an affinity for the stranger side of sports, and now the people at Ripley's Believe It or Not! have turned their attention to baseball.
They recently sent me a copy of their 2005 Baseball Media Guide, which is a compilation of new and previously published Ripley's items about the national pastime.
For example, did you know the highest-scoring professional baseball game on record took place on June 8, 1869, when the Buffalo Niagaras scored 209 runs in a victory over the Buffalo Colombias? If you're keeping track at home, that was more than 100 years before the birth of Mike DeJean.
Sadly, the entertaining media guide is not available to the general public, so I thought I'd reprint a sampling (with permission) and throw in a few odd entries of my own.
Ripley's Believe It or Not: In 1948, legendary Dodgers executive Branch Rickey traded minor league catcher Cliff Dapper to the Atlanta Crackers for legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell.
Schmuck's Believe It or Else: I've been told the Orioles would make the same deal for Jim Hunter ... and Dapper is 85 years old.
Ripley's Believe It or Not: Add Babe Ruth's year of death (1948), his age at death (53) and his uniform number (3). When totaled, it adds up to 2004, the year the Red Sox finally broke the "Curse of the Bambino."
Schmuck's Believe It or Else: Add up my year of birth (1955) and my age at present (49). When totaled, it also comes to 2004, because my birthday is in September. Cue The Twilight Zone theme.
Ripley's Believe It or Not: If a baseball game were played on the moon, an average major league home run would travel 4,200 feet.
Schmuck's Believe It or Else: If a baseball game were played on the moon between the Orioles and Washington Nationals, Peter Angelos would own the universal broadcast rights under the terms of his compensation agreement with Major League Baseball.
Ripley's Believe It or Not: The longest distance a single baseball has ever traveled is 6.6 million miles - orbiting the Earth with the space shuttle Columbia in 1995.
Schmuck's Believe It or Else: Because it was 10 years ago, Jorge Julio could not possibly have thrown that pitch.
Ripley's Believe It or Not: The Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs set the record for lowest attendance ever recorded at a professional baseball game. On "Nobody Night" in 2002, fans were not allowed into the stadium until the end of the fifth inning when the game became official.
Schmuck's Believe It or Else: The Kansas City Royals are planning a "Nobody Night" on Aug. 1, but it's a slightly different concept. They plan to have nobody in their lineup you've ever heard of after the July 31 trading deadline.
Ripley's Believe It or Else: In 1909, it was illegal to play baseball on a Sunday in New York City.
Schmuck's Believe It or Not: In 2005, it should be illegal for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to play baseball on any day ending in "Y."
Ripley's Believe It or Not: The baseball throw was an event at the 1932 Olympics.
Schmuck's Believe It or Else: Several Olympians complained of fatigue after being forced to throw on four years' rest.
Ripley's Believe It or Not: Ty Cobb walked up to 30 miles a day during the offseason with lead in his shoes to maintain his lower-body strength.
Schmuck's Believe It or Else: I don't have to worry about that. I have to have tremendous lower-body strength just to carry the rest of my body.
Ripley's Believe It or Not: The shortest game in the history of Major League Baseball lasted 51 minutes. The eighth inning of the April 19, 1996, game between the Orioles and Texas Rangers lasted 56 minutes, thanks to a record 16-run rally by the Rangers.
Schmuck's Believe It or Else: The Orioles actually had a pretty good bullpen that year.