Here’s some baseball trivia with some help from readers

In a tribute to David Letterman, we take the time this week to focus on reader suggestions.

SHARE Here’s some baseball trivia with some help from readers
David Letterman

In this April 3, 2014 file photo provided by CBS, David Letterman, host of the “Late Show with David Letterman,” smiles after announcing his retirement during a taping in New York. Letterman will host his final show on May 20.

Jeffrey R. Staab/AP

On Feb. 1, 1982, late-night television — and comedy, in general — changed forever with the debut of ‘‘Late Night With David Letterman’’ on NBC.

For me, it was momentous. As great as Dave’s failed morning show was, this was even more amazing because it broke the mold of the tired ‘‘Tonight Show.’’ As much as Dave loved Johnny Carson, he managed to find a new form of comedy by not being Johnny. Stupid Pet/Human Tricks, the Velcro Wall, the Monkey-Cam, Stump the Band, Hello Deli gags, The Top 10 List and Dave’s Record Collection were just some of the great Letterman bits.

One of my favorites was called ‘‘Viewer Mail’’ on NBC. It became the ‘‘CBS Mailbag’’ when the show moved to CBS in 1993. And that’s why we are talking about Dave today. In today’s quiz, we feature several emails from the Quizmaster’s Mailbag. And in the words of David Letterman, ‘‘This is not a competition; it’s only an exhibition. Please, no wagering.’’

1. ‘‘You know him, you love him, you can’t live without him — Paul Shaffer, ladies and gentlemen!’’ David Letterman had never-ending respect for his bandleader and comedic partner, Paul Shaffer. ‘‘Paul is essential,’’ Letterman said. ‘‘It’s a long trip. And Paul is the funny flight attendant.’’ With that in mind, ‘‘You know her, you love her, you can’t live without her — Tracey Labovitz, ladies and gentlemen!’’ Tracey is the gifted person who designs the quiz each week, and I guarantee you would never enjoy it as much without her skills. Tracey’s parents always told her that she interrupted the Cubs game on July 15, 1969, to be born. The second-place Mets beat the first-place Cubs that day. Who was the Cubs’ manager?

a. Charley Grimm

b. Leo Durocher

c. Pete Reiser

d. Whitey Lockman

2. Here’s one from Nick Z, whose birthday is March 15. Here are four players who were born on the Ides of March. Put them in order of WAR (according to Baseball-Reference).

a. Harold Baines

b. Bobby Bonds

c. Kevin Youkilis

d. Bob Locker

3. Gary M. gave me the year 1973 to consider. Here we go: The 1973 Major League Baseball season was the first for the designated hitter in the American League. Who was the first DH?

a. Ron Blomberg c. Orlando Cepeda

b. Mike Andrews d. Tony Oliva

4. Larry R. asked me to come up with something about March 14, 1950 — his birthdate, presumably. It is definitely the birthdate of Dave McKay, who was the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting third baseman on their first Opening Day in 1977. What makes McKay noteworthy?

a. He was a switch-hitter.

b. He was the Cubs’ first-base coach in 2012-13.

c. In one season, he hit more triples than homers.

d. He was the only Canadian on the original Blue Jays’ roster.

e. All of the above.

5. On Oct. 15, 1968, the expansion draft for the Seattle Pilots and Kansas City Royals took place, meaning that was their birthdate. Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm (who pitched for the Cubs and White Sox) was chosen as the 49th player in that draft. Reader Jay H. is interested in a question about his birthdate, Dec. 12, 1968. That was the date that one of the two teams made its very first trade, swapping Wilhelm to the Angels for immortals Ed Kirkpatrick and Dennis Paepke. Who made that deal, the Pilots or the Royals?

6. Don R. wants us to think about May 9, 1981, the date of his first baseball-game date with his (now) wife. In that game, the White Sox topped the Royals 3-0. Richard Dotson threw a complete-game shutout. The Sox had eight shutouts that season. Six were complete games, and two were with two pitchers. In 2022, the Sox tossed 14 shutouts. Dylan Cease threw the only complete game. What is the greatest number of pitchers the Sox used to throw a shutout in 2022?

a. 6 c. 5

b. 4 d. 3

7. Ron S-L. asked me about 1964, one of my favorite MLB seasons. In the 1964 World Series, the Cardinals topped the Yankees. The day after the game, the victorious manager resigned. Later that day, the losing manager was fired. Who were these two managers?

a. Johnny Keane

b. Red Schoendienst

c. Yogi Berra

d. Ralph Houk

8. David Letterman’s CBS debut was on Aug. 30, 1993. Aug. 30 is the birthdate of which of the following legends?

a. Ted Williams

b. Tug McGraw

c. Larry ‘‘Bud’’ Melman

d. The Quizmaster

9. When Letterman first introduced the mailbag on his show, Paul Shaffer played ‘‘We’ve Got Letters,’’ the love-letter theme from the old Perry Como show. When the show moved to CBS, Paul changed the theme to ‘‘Please, Mr. Postman,’’ a song the Beatles covered on ‘‘With the Beatles’’ in 1963. Who sang the original hit?

a. The Ronettes

b. The Marvelettes

c. Ray Heatherton

d. The Mailmen

Sorry if I couldn’t get to your date/year request this week. There are many Hot Stove weeks to fill, so please be patient. Be healthy and have a great week.


1. Leo Durocher managed the Cubs that season. The Miracle Mets won it all in 1969.

2. Bob Locker pitched for both Chicago teams and had a 10.2 WAR. ‘‘Youk’’ played for both the Red Sox and White Sox and had a 32.4 WAR. Hall of Famer Harold Baines had a 38.8 WAR. And Bobby Bonds, who also played for both Chicago teams, had a 57.8 WAR. Neither he nor his son is in the Hall.

3. While Mike Andrews was the first DH for the White Sox, the Yankees’ Ron Blomberg was the first DH to appear in the AL. His autobiography is titled ‘‘Designated Hebrew: The Ron Blomberg Story.’’

4. All of the above. In 1978, the switch-hitting McKay, born in Vancouver, hit seven homers and eight triples. He was on Dale Sveum’s coaching staff.

5. Paepke played 80 games with the Royals, and Kirkpatrick played 613 games with them. Wilhelm, the 46-year knuckleballer, pitched in another 133 games before retiring July 10, 1972, just 16 days shy of his 50th birthday.

6. In 2022, the Sox used five pitchers three times to throw shutouts. In 2002, they tossed a six-pitcher shutout against the Royals.

7. On Oct. 16, 1964, Johnny Keane, the manager of the Cardinals, resigned. Hours later, Yankees GM Ralph Houk fired Yogi Berra. Less than a week later, Houk replaced Berra with Keane. The Cardinals replaced Keane with Red Schoendienst. And Berra became a coach with the Mets, managed by Casey Stengel.

8. Calvert Grant DeForest, aka Larry ‘‘Bud’’ Melman, was born on July 23. The other legends were born on Aug. 30.

9. ‘‘Please, Mr. Postman’’ was the debut single by The Marvelettes and the first Motown song to reach the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart.

‘‘In Scoring Position: 40 Years of a Baseball Love Affair’’ from Triumph Books is a Casey Award finalist for baseball book of the year and makes a great holiday present.

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