This baseball quiz is a numbers game

For those of you keeping score, this quiz holds special meaning: it’s by position

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Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox reacts at second base after his double in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 04, 2022 in Chicago

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The countdown has begun. There are 29 days until Christmas. During the baseball season, I spend my time counting down magic numbers, the time until a team clinches a postseason berth, and tragic numbers, the number of wins or losses it takes until a team is eliminated. But as a baseball stats guy, historian and the Quizmaster, I spend most of my time thinking about numbers.

When I was a student, I never was great at math. Then again, I had no math teachers who taught me while using baseball as a tool. So I ask you: Was it my fault or my teacher’s fault for my poor grades in math?

Today’s quiz uses the code one uses when scoring a game. If you know it, you honestly can state that you are bilingual because anyone who watches a game anywhere in the world will understand your scorecard. So have fun and learn a lot.

Let’s get to the quiz:

1. Pitcher: There has been one perfect game in World Series history, thrown by the Yankees’ Don Larsen in 1956. In the World Series this past season, the Astros threw a combined shutout in which they permitted no hits. Their starting pitcher, Cristian Javier, was lifted after six innings and 97 pitches. Did he throw more, less or the same number of pitches as Larsen in the one game of perfection?

2. Catcher: Sherm Lollar starred for the White Sox behind the plate for 12 seasons and was an All-Star eight times. He started his career with the Yankees before moving on to the St. Louis Browns. In 1947, Lollar played in 11 regular-season games and two World Series games for the Yankees. In one of those Series games, the first postseason pinch-hit homer was hit. Who hit it?

a. Sherm Lollar b. Roy Campanella

c. Yogi Berra d. Joe DiMaggio

3. First baseman: Since 2017, first-base power in Chicago primarily has come from two players: Jose Abreu and Anthony Rizzo. In 2017, they each hit their high point in homers while playing first base.

a. Did Abreu have more homers?

b. Did Rizzo have more homers?

c. Did they hit the same number of homers?

4. Second baseman: Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg was a Gold Glover for nine consecutive seasons (1983 to 1991). Now, more than ever, we judge Gold Glove candidates by many factors. But in those days, the number of errors weighed heavily. What was the lowest number of errors that “Ryno” committed in a season in which he played at least 150 games?

a. 4 b. 5

c. 6 d. 7

5. Third baseman: There have been 19 third basemen who have won an MVP Award. Mike Schmidt won it three times, the most ever. Two have won the award twice. Who are they?

a. Ron Santo b. Alex Rodriguez

c. Miguel Cabrera d. Brooks Robinson

Be a part of the quiz. Send me a date, or just a year, and I will try to craft a quiz question around it. I will credit you in the quiz with your first name and last initial. Type “YEAR” in the subject line of your email. This has become very popular, so it might be a week or two before you are included.

6. Shortstop: Ken K. offered the date of Sept. 18, 1972, for the quiz. That’s when the No. 1 song in America was Three Dog Night’s “Black and White.” This prompted me to ask about two great players, Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Ernie Banks, who were known for their amazing play at shortstop. Ripken played 2,297 games at shortstop and 670 at third base. Banks played 1,068 games at shortstop and 1,241 games at first base. Ripken hit .269 as a third baseman with 86 homers, and Banks hit .260 with 210 dingers as a first sacker. Who had the higher batting average as a shortstop?

7. Left fielder: In the last seven seasons (since 2016), which Chicago player had the most RBI while playing left field?

a. Melky Cabrera b. Eloy Jimenez

c. Kyle Schwarber d. Ian Happ

8. Center fielder: Here’s a fun question (at least I really like it): Mickey Mantle played 322 games against the White Sox. Willie Mays played 358 games against the Cubs. Who hit more homers against Chicago?

a. The Mick b. Willie c. The same

9. Right fielder: Reader Bill M. suggested I write a question about 1952, so here goes: Below are the outfielders who played in the 1952 All-Star Game. Who were the two starting right fielders?

a. Stan Musial b. Hank Bauer

c. Hank Sauer d. Jackie Jensen

e. Dale Mitchell f. Enos Slaughter

g. Minnie Minoso h. Dom DiMaggio

i. Larry Doby

Don’t forget, “In Scoring Position,” published by Triumph Books, is a great holiday gift for the baseball fan in your life.


1. Cristian Javier was lifted after 97 pitches. Don Larsen threw 97 pitches in his perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

2. In Game 2 of the 1947 World Series, the Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the Yankees 9-8, despite Yogi Berra’s pinch-hit home run for the Yanks.

3. In 2017, Jose Abreu hit 33 homers and Anthony Rizzo hit 32. But the Quizmaster was very specific in his instructions. In 2017, Abreu hit one homer as a DH. That means they each hit 32 homers that season as a first baseman. Rizzo also hit 32 HR at first in 2016 and 2014. Those were the most homers by a Chicago first sacker since Paul Konerko hit 34 in 2010.

4. In 1991, Ryne Sandberg had 786 chances in 157 games and made only four errors. He had a .995 fielding percentage.

5. A-Rod won in 2005 and 2007, and Miggy won in 2012 and 2013.

6. At short, Junior hit .278 with 345 homers; Mr. Cub hit .292 with 269 homers.

7. The winner, with 218 ribbies, is Kyle Schwarber. Whatever happened to that guy?

8. Mickey hit 72 homers against the Sox (30 in Comiskey), and Willie hit 92 against the Cubs (54 in Wrigley).

9. The Yankees’ Hank Bauer started for the AL (Bauer later managed the 1966 world champion Orioles). The NL starter was ‘‘Country’’ Enos Slaughter of the Cardinals. Slaughter is famous for his mad dash in Game 7 of the 1946 Series that enabled the Cardinals to top the Red Sox.

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