Like so many stories involving the greatest player ever born on Christmas, this story might be apocryphal. But as Rickey Henderson tales go, it sounds plausible to me.
As I heard it — from my fellow Mets beat writers in 2000, the year I joined The New York Times — the Mets decided to have some fun with players’ walk-up music one day in 1999. For a few precious seconds as each hitter strode to the plate, the Shea Stadium loudspeakers would play the No. 1 song in the country the day that hitter was born.
The inimitable Henderson, then the Mets’ left fielder, was born on Dec. 25, 1958. The No. 1 song that day happened to be “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late),” a novelty tune by The Chipmunks with David Seville that won three Grammys with its distinctive falsetto sound. It’s a cute song, but decidedly not one that Henderson — or anyone, really — would choose to follow his name at a major league ballpark.
Apparently Henderson vented about this to the writers after the game, using the third person — as he loved to do — while insisting that Rickey was no Chipmunks fan and did not like cartoon rodents introducing a player of his stature. Oh, how I wish I’d been there to record that little rant for posterity.
Anyway, in honor of Henderson, here’s our second Christmas baseball trivia quiz, featuring sections on Rickey and two of his many former teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who met in the last World Series. There’s also a section on strikeouts, after the first season in history with more strikeouts than hits, and a few other topics you might enjoy.
Last year’s quiz featured 50 questions in honor of Houston Astros pitcher Charlie Morton, who wore No. 50 while winning the 2017 World Series clincher. Now we present 50 more questions in honor of Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, who homered in the 2018 World Series clincher while — quite conveniently — wearing No. 50.
So, Merry Christmas — and, to paraphrase from Dr. Seuss’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” may you puzzle and puzzle ’til your puzzler is sore!
Answers are below the quiz.
Red Sox trivia
1. Who are the three players depicted with Ted Williams in the “Teammates” statue outside of Fenway Park?
2. Carl Yastrzemski played the most games in Red Sox history, with 3,308. Who ranks second, with 2,505?
3. Who is the Red Sox career leader in innings pitched?
4. Who were the starting shortstops for each of the last four Red Sox championship teams?
5. Why does the Red Sox mascot, Wally, wear No. 97?
1. Only one team in major league history, the 1977 Dodgers, had four teammates with at least 30 home runs each. Who were those sluggers?
2. Kenley Jansen needs eight appearances to become the Dodgers’ franchise leader in games pitched. Who holds the record?
3. Who are the three pitchers who have thrown a perfect game against the Dodgers (in 1956, 1988 and 1991)?
4. Which Dodgers reliever was the winning pitcher in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which ended with Kirk Gibson’s famous home run? Hint: Three years later, he lost Game 7 of the 1991 World Series for Atlanta.
5. Which two Dodgers appeared on “The Brady Bunch”?
1. Who are the only two pitchers to strike out 300 hitters in a season for the Houston Astros?
2. Reggie Jackson holds the record for strikeouts by a hitter, with 2,597. Which pitcher struck him out the most times?
a) Nolan Ryan
b) Frank Tanana
c) Jim Palmer
d) Bert Blyleven
3. Who was the only pitcher to strike out Tony Gwynn three times in one game?
a) Bob Welch
b) John Denny
c) John Tudor
d) Mario Soto
4. Randy Johnson and C. C. Sabathia rank first and second in strikeouts among left-handed pitchers over the last 35 seasons. Who ranks third?
a) Mark Langston
b) Johan Santana
c) Chuck Finley
d) Cliff Lee
5. The 1968 season is known as the “Year of the Pitcher,” mostly because of Bob Gibson’s 1.12 E.R.A. and Denny McLain’s 31 wins. But who led the majors in strikeouts that year, with 283?
a) Mickey Lolich
b) Luis Tiant
c) Dean Chance
d) Sam McDowell
The final teams of New York stars
1. Keith Hernandez:
c) White Sox
2. Hideki Matsui:
3. Graig Nettles:
4. Jesse Orosco:
5. Mike Piazza:
1. Name the only franchise that has never played in a winner-take-all postseason game.
2. Which team has the longest active streak of losing seasons?
3. Name the only franchise that has never lost more than 95 games in a season.
4. Name the only franchise to win three World Series, each while representing a different city.
5. Which is the only franchise that has never had a future Hall of Famer, even for one game?
1. Who are the only three pitchers to throw a no-hitter and lead a league in saves at some point in their careers? Hint: The no-hitters took place in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 2000s, and all were in the American League.
2. Who is the only player since 1900 to hit four home runs in a game his team lost? Hint: He was the first overall pick in the 1978 draft and never played a day in the minors.
3. Who is the only man to play for both teams in the Los Angeles area (Dodgers and Angels) and the Bay Area (Giants and A’s)? Hint: He won a World Series with the A’s in 1989 and played for all four teams in the 1990s.
4. Who was the first Hall of Famer to have had Tommy John surgery? Hint: He is the only player ever to have five hits in a World Series game.
5. Who holds the record for most hits in a career (three) without making an out? Hint: He played just one game, in 1963, but his brother played 18 seasons and made the 1981 All-Star team for Seattle.
1. Only one World Series most valuable player has won the award against his former team since Darrell Porter did it for St. Louis against Milwaukee in 1982. Who was it?
a) Dave Stewart
b) Jose Rijo
c) Scott Brosius
d) Edgar Renteria
2. Here are the last five World Series games to end with a home run. Who hit the homers?
2001, Game 4 (Yankees vs. Diamondbacks)
2003, Game 4 (Marlins vs. Yankees)
2005, Game 2 (White Sox vs. Astros)
2011, Game 6 (Cardinals vs. Rangers)
2018, Game 3 (Dodgers vs. Red Sox)
3. Nine pitchers started World Series games for Joe Torre’s Yankees, including Roger Clemens, David Cone, Orlando Hernandez, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and David Wells. Can you name the three others?
4. Which is the only division to have all of its members appear in the World Series during the wild card era (1995 to the present)?
5. Who is the only catcher in the last 40 years to be behind the plate for the final out of the World Series for two different teams?
a) Bob Boone (Phillies and Royals)
b) Rick Dempsey (Orioles and Dodgers)
c) Ivan Rodriguez (Marlins and Tigers)
d) David Ross (Red Sox and Cubs)
1. Who are the two active pitchers who have won the Rookie of the Year Award and the Cy Young Award?
2. Which two National League teams have never had a player win the M.V.P. Award?
3. Each decade from the 1960s through the 2000s included one A.L. Cy Young Award-winning starting pitcher with a four-letter last name. Who were the pitchers?
4. Who are the only two pitchers in major league history to win multiple Cy Young Awards plus multiple World Series titles and to throw multiple no-hitters? (Note: The Cy Young Award was first given in 1956.)
5. Who is the last player to win an M.V.P. Award in a season when he was over 30 on opening day?
1. Give the first name for each player named Johnson:
a) Won the pitching Triple Crown (league leader in wins, E.R.A., strikeouts) in 1913, 1918 and 1924
b) The only player in Angels history to win a batting title, at .329 in 1970
c) Holds Mets’ single-season record for hits, with 227 in 1996
d) Utility man who played for every team in the A.L. East from 2011 to 2014
2. Give the first name for each player named Martinez:
a) As Padres left fielder, he fielded Pete Rose’s record-breaking 4,192nd hit in 1985
b) Made the last out of Game 7 of 2016 World Series for the Indians
c) Picked off three runners in one inning as the Orioles closer in 1983
d) First player to hit a homer at Marlins Park, for the Astros in 2012
3. Give the first name for each player named Roberts:
a) Last batter at the old Yankee Stadium, for the Orioles in 2008
b) Broke up Pedro Martinez’s perfect game with a 10th-inning double for the Padres in 1995
c) Allowed 505 career homers, second to Jamie Moyer
d) No. 1 overall pick by the Padres in 1972 draft
4. Give the first name for each player named Rodriguez:
a) Made the last out of the last perfect game in M.L.B. (by Felix Hernandez in 2012)
b) Earned five victories in relief in the 2002 postseason
c) Tigers infielder of the ’70s who had all five vowels in his first name
d) Starting pitcher for the Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2018 World Series
5. Give the first name for each player named Young:
a) No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 2003 draft
b) Lost 27 consecutive decisions for the Mets
c) Hit a leadoff homer in the first major league game played in Denver
d) Threw an eight-inning, complete-game no-hitter for the Red Sox in 1992 (lost, 2-1)
1. Henderson led the A.L. in stolen bases every year from 1980 through 1991 — except for 1987, when he played only 95 games. Who led the A.L. that season?
2. Henderson played for nine teams: the Athletics, the Yankees, the Blue Jays, the Padres, the Angels, the Mets, the Mariners, the Red Sox and the Dodgers. For which team did he have the highest cumulative batting average (.298)?
3. In 1993, Henderson scored the go-ahead (and final) run of the highest-scoring game in World Series history, a 15-14 Blue Jays win in Philadelphia in Game 4. Who tripled to drive him in?
4. How did Henderson celebrate when he set the major league record for runs scored with a homer on Oct. 4, 2001?
5. Henderson set a single-season stolen base record with 130 in 1982. How many teams had at least 130 stolen bases in 2018?
Red Sox trivia
1. Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky
2. Dwight Evans
3. Tim Wakefield
4. Orlando Cabrera, Julio Lugo, Stephen Drew, Xander Bogaerts
5. He was created in 1997.
1. Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith
2. Don Sutton
3. Don Larsen, Tom Browning and Dennis Martinez
4. Alejandro Pena
5. Don Drysdale and Wes Parker
1. J. R. Richard and Mike Scott
2. d) Bert Blyleven
3. a) Bob Welch
4. c) Chuck Finley
5. d) Sam McDowell
The final teams of New York stars
1. b) Indians
2. a) Rays
3. b) Expos
4. d) Twins
5. c) Athletics
1. White Sox
2. Marlins, with nine
1. Dennis Eckersley, Dave Righetti, Derek Lowe
2. Bob Horner
3. Stan Javier
4. Paul Molitor
5. John Paciorek
1. b) Jose Rijo
2. 2001, Game 4: Derek Jeter; 2003, Game 4: Alex Gonzalez; 2005, Game 2: Scott Podsednik; 2011, Game 6: David Freese; 2018, Game 3: Max Muncy
3. Jimmy Key, Kenny Rogers and Denny Neagle
4. National League West
5. Rick Dempsey (Orioles and Dodgers)
1. Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom
2. Mets and Diamondbacks
3. 1960s: Whitey Ford; 1970s: Vida Blue; 1980s: Lamarr Hoyt; 1990s: David Cone; 2000s: Barry Zito
4. Sandy Koufax and Tim Lincecum
5. Alex Rodriguez in 2007
1. a) Walter; b) Alex; c) Lance; d) Kelly
2. a) Carmelo; b) Michael; c) Tippy; d) J.D.
3. a) Brian; b) Bip; c) Robin; d) Dave
4. a) Sean; b) Francisco; c) Aurelio; d) Eduardo
5. a) Delmon; b) Anthony; c) Eric; d) Matt
1. Harold Reynolds
3. Devon White
4. Slid into home
5. One — the Cleveland Indians