A colorful look at baseball, past and present

Let’s take a few moments to appreciate the varied hues that have made — and make — baseball the game we love.

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Milwaukee Brewers v San Francisco Giants

Players and fans pause for a moment of silence at Oracle Park in San Francisco to recognize the passing of Vida Blue this month.

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

‘‘Life is about using the whole box of crayons.’’ RuPaul

I always liked to color. As a kid, I remember the joy I felt at getting a new box of Crayola crayons. (Product placements often are rewarded with the company sending items to the endorser. Hint-hint.) Coloring is fun, whether on a piece of paper, on the computer or on the sidewalk. And this is coming from someone who suffers from a degree of colorblindness. Sadly, I’m not someone who remembers many details of my life, but I distinctly remember the first time I went to a major-league game. When I was a kid, we only had black-and-white TVs, but I can assure you I loved it nonetheless. I watched shows and sports, and baseball was my favorite. My dad took me to my first big-league game, and I remember walking to our seats from the concourse and seeing the field. I never saw anything so beautiful. The green exploded within me. As the artist Wassily Kandinsky said, ‘‘Color is a power which directly influences the soul.’’ It was then — and still is — a magnificent feeling seeing that ballfield. Today’s quiz is about colors. All the questions and/or answers will have colors in them. Enjoy it, have fun and learn a lot.

1. Shohei Ohtani became the fifth player since 1900 to record 500 hits as a batter and 500 strikeouts as a pitcher. He joined Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Smoky Joe Wood and what other talented pitcher/hitter?

a. Warren Spahn

c. Charles Ruffing

b. Bob Gibson

d. Bob Lemon

2. Daniel Joseph Staub was more commonly known as ‘‘Rusty.’’ Now, rust is a color, but that’s not the key to this question. He had a famous nickname that included a color. What was it?

a. Steely Dan

c. Le Grande Orange

b. Black Bart

d. Red Herring

3. The most popular colors for major-league teams are white, blue and red. All 30 teams use white, 21 use blue and 17 use red. The least used colors among major-league teams are purple, maroon, teal and brown. Which is the only major-league team that uses brown?

4. The song ‘‘Blue Moon’’ allegedly was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (that’s a story for another time) in 1934 and has become a standard ballad. I first learned of it when the doo-wop version was recorded by The Marcels. What baseball player was primarily known as ‘‘Blue Moon’’?

a. Razor Shines

c. Wally Moon

b. John Odom

d. Rick Monday

5. Despite being around since 1883, the Phillies (official team colors: red, blue and white) have won only two world championships. Charlie Manuel, a colorful personality, managed the team to glory in 2008. Who managed the first championship team in 1980?

a. Mace Brown

c. Dallas Green

b. Whitey Lockman

d. Red Schoendienst

6. Which one of these guys was not nicknamed ‘‘Whitey’’?

a. Edward Charles Ford

b. Carroll Walter Lockman

c. Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown

d. Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog

7. Which is the only city in the United States in which all the major professional teams share the same primary colors? Hint: It does not have a team in the NBA.

8. Which ballpark has a colored structure of Brobdingnagian proportions? It does affect the game.

9. In 1971, this pitcher went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA. He had 24 complete games and eight shutouts and tossed 312 innings. He won the American League’s MVP and Cy Young awards. He was the last switch-hitter to win AL MVP. Who was this sensation?

a. Mark Fidrych

c. Vida Blue

b. Catfish Hunter

d. Gaylord Perry


1. Warren Spahn had 363 hits and a lifetime .194 batting average. Bob Gibson hit .206 and had 274 hits, the same as Bob Lemon. Charles Ruffing, throughout his career, was known as ‘‘Red’’ because of the color of his hair. Ruffing had 1,987 strikeouts and 521 hits.

2. Staub was an original and beloved member of the Expos. In Montreal, they loved ‘‘Le Grande Orange.’’

3. It’s not the UPS Deliverymen, it’s the Padres. The Friars’ official colors are brown, gold and white.

4. ‘‘Blue Moon’’ Odom was in the rotation during the championship years of the A’s, reaching the World Series three times. He was also a two-time All-Star. The last victory of his career came on July 28, 1976. Odom was pitching for the White Sox against the A’s. He pitched five no-hit innings and was pulled after walking nine (!). Francisco Barrios pitched the final four innings, walking two more but completing the combined no-hitter.

5. Dallas Green pitched for eight major-league seasons and managed for all or part of nine seasons, including the Phillies’ first championship year. He is one of the select few who managed both the Yankees and the Mets.

6. Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown commonly was known as ‘‘Three Finger Brown’’ because he lost most of an index finger as a child in a farming accident. He had an unusual curveball as a result of his deformity. As far as I’m concerned, he should have been known as ‘‘Four and a Half Finger’’ Brown.

7. The Pirates, Steelers and Penguins all proudly wear black and gold.

8. You can hate me for this if you so choose, but I couldn’t think of another way to ask this question that wouldn’t make it super-easy. Just so you know, Brobdingnag was the name given by Jonathan Swift (in ‘‘Gulliver’s Travels’’) to a land where everything is of huge size. Kind of monstrous. The ballpark is Fenway Park, home of the ‘‘Green Monster.’’ As Red Sox pitcher Bill ‘‘The Spaceman’’ Lee asked: ‘‘Do they leave it up there during games?’

9. The walk-off question this week is an ‘‘In Memoriam’’ salute to Vida Blue, who died May 6. While he was a switch-hitter, that didn’t make him a good hitter. In 1971, he struck out at least once in 33 consecutive games in which he batted. Blue was the first pitcher in history to start the All-Star Game for both leagues. He started and won the 1971 game with A’s and the 1978 game with the Giants.

Hope you had fun this week. Remember the words of Albert Einstein (he was smart), who said: ‘‘Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece.’’

See you next week.

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