Oh, how I missed the greatest website in the history of the Internet. Something was missing from my life without it. I felt adrift and alone, sinking in an information void, losing all touch with historical context.
For many months when I tried calling it up the spinning ball of death took over the site, depriving me of all the wonders contained within.
It was maddening and perplexing. I tried every trick at my command. Threatening my laptop. Turning it on and off in a sort of re-boot. Nothing worked. Not even an email to the website pleading for help. I never got a reply.
For many months this went on. Somehow, I tried coping and moving on as if all were normal in the world. My wise Uncle Don counseled me and tried working with me on the laptop. Alas, to no avail.
Then, this morning on a slow day with no approaching deadline, I tried once more.
I clicked on http://www.baseball-reference.com, the greatest website in the history of this planet or any other planet’s world wide web.
I expected that infernal spinning ball of death to appear any moment. It didn’t. And it hasn’t.
It’s back. Now, all that arcane baseball history and more is a click away. I don’t know how I managed without it all these months.
Whenever I used to wonder about something – say the starting lineup of the 1933 Red Sox – I knew where to look.
Curious about who is 55th all-time in homers or saves or doubles? It’s there for the asking.
Or used to be for me. Then it wasn’t. Now it’s back.
The how and why of this is a mystery.
Now, all those marvels of baseball statistics and oddities and trivia are within reach. That’s all that matters.
I was on the website’s home page a while ago and clicked on random page and got the 1920 Cincinnati Reds.
They finished third in the National League that year with an 82-71 record.
But what I enjoyed more was reading over the names on the roster, names of men born in the 19th century, names one isn’t likely to encounter in the 21st century.
Those 1920 Reds included these fellows:
Catcher Ivey Wingo.
Second baseman Morrie Rath.
Pitchers Dutch Ruether, Hod Eller and Slim Sallee.
Where have all the men named Ivey and Dutch and Hod and Slim gone?
Those 1920 Reds included a Hall of Fame player I was once in the same room with, just a few feet away.
I wish I could say I met Edd Roush. That’s not the case. Sometime in the 1980s I was at Bradenton’s McKechnie Field in the media dining room. Somebody pointed out that a real old guy at another table was Edd Roush. I knew the name, knew he played long ago and was a Hall of Famer.
He was eating lunch with other fellows and looked a bit sad. I didn’t have the courage to go over and say hello. Just hello. No interview request. Just say hello or good morning or something. I wish I had.
Edd Roush died in 1988 at McKechnie Field before a spring training game. He was 94. He was born in 1893.
In 1893, a fellow named Billy Hamilton led the National League with a .380 batting average. Hamilton is third all-time in steals with 914.
Rickey Henderson is first with 1,406 and Lou Brock ranks second with 936.
Between 1889 and 1895, Sliding Billy Hamilton, as he was known, stole 100 or more bases four times.
Now, more than a century later, there is another fast man named Billy Hamilton stealing bases in the National League.
This Billy Hamilton plays for the Reds and his 38 steals rank third in the National League.
One of the delights of baseball-reference.com is something called the Oracle of Baseball.
Thanks to software I can’t imagine, fans can call up any two players in Major League Baseball History and find a chain of players connecting them. I love doing this.
Surely, one would think, the chain between 19th century Sliding Billy Hamilton and 2014 Billy Hamilton would be very long.
Not so. It takes only eight players to link the Billy Hamiltons.
Sliding Billy played with Billy Sullivan on the 1899 Boston Beaneaters.
Sullivan played with Nick Altrock on the 1904 White Sox.
Altrock played with Ossie Bluege on the 1924 Senators.
Bluege played with Early Wynn on the 1939 Senators.
Wynn played with Tommy John on the 1963 Indians.
John played with Deion Sanders on the 1989 Yankees.
Sanders played with Corky Miller on the 2001 Reds.
Miller played with Billy Hamilton for the Reds in 2013.
Boy, I missed being able look up things like this.
Welcome back, baseball-reference.com.
Oh, by the way, Joe Carter is 55th all-time in homers with 396, Jeff Russell is 55th all-time in saves with 186 and Tony Perez ranks 55th in double with 505.