Baseball quiz: The curious case of Sidd Finch — and other phony facts

To commemorate the greatest hoax in sports history, guess if any of these statements are hogwash, too.

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Former Cubs first baseman Bill Buckner in February 1984.

Former Cubs first baseman Bill Buckner in February 1984.

AP

Some of you of a certain age might have heard about Sidd Finch. He was raised in an English orphanage and spent a good portion of his life in Tibet, raised by Buddhist monks. He was a talented musician who played the French horn. But Hayden Siddhartha Finch could do more than that.

He could throw a baseball with outstanding accuracy at unheard-of speeds. Some say 168 mph. This amazing pitcher, who often pitched with just one shoe (a hiking boot, no less), was signed by the Mets in 1985 and was assigned a spring-training locker between George Foster and Darryl Strawberry.

Finch’s talent was so significant that before the season began, he was the focus of a story released in late March, and he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated on April 1, 1985. “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch” was written by George Plimpton, the founder of The Paris Review.

The key to the story can be found in the article’s subhead: “He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd’s deciding about yoga — and his future in baseball.” The first letters of these words spell out “Happy April Fools’ Day — a(h) fib.”

Sidd Finch was indeed the greatest hoax in sports history. In honor of April Fool’s Day, today’s quiz will consist of nine baseball statements. You tell me if it’s a hoax or a fact. Have fun and learn a lot (and don’t make a fool of anyone today).

1. The Cubs and White Sox have combined to win the same number of pennants as the Yankees have won world championships. Fact or hoax?

2. Prince Fielder (18 career stolen bases and 319 homers) had more inside-the-park homers in his career than Rickey Henderson (1,406 career stolen bases and 297 homers). Fact or hoax?

3. Cubs third-base coach Willie Harris was born on June 22, 1978. Longtime star Ian Kinsler was born on June 22, 1982. Those are facts. On June 22, 2008, Kinsler’s Rangers and Harris’ Nationals faced each other. That’s a fact, as well. On that birthday, Harris and Kinsler homered in the same inning. Fact or hoax?

4. Red Sox great Ted Williams had 71 more hits in his career than former Cub and Red Sox player Bill Buckner. Fact or hoax?

5. Stan Musial famously had 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road. Musial also had 39 steals at home and 39 steals on the road. Fact or hoax?

6. Carlton Fisk had his uniform No. 27 retired by the Red Sox. He also had his uniform No. 72 retired by the White Sox. Fisk hit 188 home runs at home and 188 home runs on the road. Fact or hoax?

7. Many of you might remember pitcher Jamie Moyer, who started his 25-year big-league career with the Cubs. It’s doubtful you remember the only other Moyer to play in the majors, Ed Moyer, who had a cup of coffee with Washington in 1910. The elder Moyer died on Nov. 18, 1962. The younger Moyer was born on the same day. Fact or hoax?

8. Nolan Ryan finished his career with 5,714 strikeouts. Half of that is 2,857. That’s still more than Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster combined for in their Cubs careers. Fact or hoax?

9. Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter had only one more save than non-HOF closer Jason Isringhausen. Fact or hoax?

I’ll be back next Saturday with another quiz. That’s a fact. Have a great week.

ANSWERS

1. The Yankees have won 27 world championships. The Cubs have won 17 pennants, and the Sox have won six. That’s a hoax.

2. Fielder had two inside-the-park homers. Unbelievably, Henderson only hit one. That’s a fact.

3. In the top of the sixth, Kinsler homered off John Lannan. In the bottom of the inning, Willie Harris, pinch-hitting for Lannan, also homered. That’s a fact.

4. That’s a hoax. The opposite is true. Williams had 2,654 hits. Buckner had 2,715.

5. That’s a fact. He was caught 28 times at home and 39 times on the road.

6. That’s a question filled with facts. Wherever “Pudge” wore his cap at home, he hit the same number of homers on the road.

7. Their only relationship is that date of death and birth.

8. That’s a fact (surprisingly). Zambrano had 1,542 strikeouts and Dempster 1,070. That’s a total of 2,612.

9. Hoax. Before you think how many more saves Sutter had, let me tell you they each finished their careers with 300.

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