The Memorial League

Randy Johnson

A message board post from David Mendonca (tresh791) got our attention recently.

David is the keeper of records for the Memorial League, a Eugene, Oregon-based group that has completed 75 seasons together.  David noted that Randy Johnson had just recorded the first 30-win season in the league’s history.

We wrote to David and asked him to tell us more about the history of the Memorial League.  This is what he had to say:

The Memorial League began roughly 4-5 years prior to the start of Simnasium at the old place.  The core of the group was formed here in Eugene, OR— myself, Ron Chase, Paul Wanke, Jamie Selko and Michael “Coyote” Connelly.  Ron and Paul are still members and Drew Foster (Corvallis) stepped in for Coyote when he “retired” from the game a few years ago.  Selko left the league after two seasons.

Others who have been with the league from the start are Mars McDonald (Seattle) and my nephew, Adam San Miguel (now in Chicago after migrating from the Bay Area to Phoenix).

The rest of the current roster includes Richard Rubinstein, John Hirt, John Tulac, Tim Killian, Will Albers and Ed Kosiarski.  Most in this group have been with the league from between 5-10 years.

Ron has been the New York Yankees of the Memorial League, making 18 trips to the World Series and winning it nine times.  Richard is the St. Louis Cardinals to Ron’s Yankees, making 11 World Series appearances and capturing seven titles.

For the most part, the Memorial League is named in honor of a deceased Major Leaguer each season.  The first was named in honor of Roger Maris, the current one in honor of John Antonelli.  There have been exceptions.  Twice the league was named in honor of a deceased league owner, once a respected Oregon politician (former governor Tom McCall), and once a famous baseball clown (Max Patkin).

Only once has the league taken the name of someone living.  League member John Hirt is friends with former Major Leaguer Billy Sample.  When Mr. Sample learned of our league, he asked John to ask me if I would consider naming a league in his honor.  I did, at the cost of a personally autographed photo of said Mr. Sample.  (I can be bought cheaply).

Each new season has a different theme in order to have smaller/more challenging pools.  One of our more common themes is to restrict the players we can draft to the teams that they played for as teammates of the league honoree.

As I told you before, we keep a detailed league record book.  Among the current season records:

Home runs: Josh Gibson and Babe Ruth, 68 (there have been 5 other 60-HR seasons)
Hits: Joe Jackson, 273
Batting average: Rogers Hornsby, .413 (the only .400 hitter we’ve had)
Wins: Randy Johnson, 30 (accomplished today)
ERA: Randy Johnson, 1.77 (a previous season)
Strike outs: Randy Johnson, 435 (also a previous season)
Shut-outs: Carl Hubbell, 13
Saves: Ted Abernathy, 47

We vote on MVP and Cy Young at the end of each season.  Mickey Mantle has claimed the most MVP trophies (9) and Greg Maddux the most Cys (12).

The league has recorded 55 no-hitters, including five perfect games and three that ended in losses.

The best team record was achieved by Kevin Pho (116-46), while the worst was posted by Jamie Selko (47-115).  Selko is a multiple trivia champion at SABR National conventions.

This is probably more than you were looking for, but if there’s anything else you’d like to know, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thanks again for your interest in our league.  This is a great group of guys.  I know they will appreciate it.

Dave Mendonca

Four Home Run Performances

In the history of the Major Leagues, 18 players have hit four home runs in one game.

The first was Bobby Lowe, for the Boston Beaneaters on May 5, 1894.

Lou Gehrig posing with Bobby Lowe after his four HR performance

The first to accomplish the feat in the American League was the Yankees’ Lou Gehrig on June 3, 1932.  (And Tony Lazzeri hit for the cycle for the Yankees in the same game!)

Jimmie Foxx vs. Lou Gehrig

After Rocky Colavito became the eighth major leaguer to do it, for the Cleveland Indians on June 10, 1959, no American Leaguer managed it again for 43 years, until Mike Cameron belted four home runs for the Seattle Mariners on May 2, 2002.

The most recent was J.D. Martinez for the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 4, 2017.

Through the end of the 2018 season, a total of 217,042 major league regular season games were played, so a player hitting four HR in a game occurs roughly once every 12,000 games. But here in the Diamond Mind world, at least 12,000 games get played every few days.  Hence, four home run games are rare, but not infrequent, occurrences!

Recent Four Home Run Games

  • Ken Williams did it for Pittsburgh Joke in the C.D. Pelham League
  • Mickey Mantle bashed four HR for BCBoyo in the Turbo – just try it league
  • And Junior Griffey did it – TWICE – for the Sheboygan City Slickers in the Keeper Progression 1994 league. #1 and #2

2020 Projection Season-ZiPS is Here

The Projected 2020 season is now available for the both the PC and Online versions of Diamond Mind.  For those of you not familiar with our projections, each player’s performance rating is based on the highly-regarded “ZiPS” projection algorithms developed by ESPN and Fangraphs analyst Dan Szymborski rather than being based on the real season’s statistical performances, which obviously is not happening right now. So, what you will see in your player searches is how the ZiPS system projects those players would likely have performed in 2020 had there been a full 2020 season.


The Tipping Point

Each month we’ll offer a few tips in this space that may come in handy for the beginner as well as the experienced team owner

Comparing players from different eras can be difficult, as the level of offense in baseball has fluctuated greatly over the decades.  Carl Yastrzemski led the AL in the Year of the Pitcher, 1968, with a record-low batting average of just .301; in 1930, the entire National League, including pitchers, posted a league-wide batting average of .303.

Carl Yastrzemski MLB Career Highlights

When selecting players from the Classic (career-rated) player pool, this difficulty is obviated by searching “sim stats” – how the player has performed in simulated leagues – rather than “real life” stats.  The best approach is to limit yourself to Standard Leagues – All Parks stats, since all player stats in that category were accumulated in leagues with the same salary cap, era of play and other characteristics.

N.B.  Do not rely on “park specific” stats.  While these are interesting, there is no special connection between particular players and particular parks.  If a player has done particularly well or particularly poorly in a particular park compared to other similar parks, this almost certainly is an aberration.

When selecting players from the single-season (SSG) player pool, things are a bit trickier.  Because the pool is so large and the characteristics of the leagues in which players are used vary so much, accumulated sim stats would be of little help in comparing players.   So only real-life stats are searchable.

One way to compare players based on real-life stats is by their OPS+ (or, for pitchers, OPS+ against).  And for seasons beginning with 1934, where players have ratings based on real-life split stats, OPS+ v L and R.  These + stats have the further virtue of being park-adjusted.  They can be accessed from either Retrosheet or Baseball Reference, by clicking on the RS or BR links displayed for players.  (Note that the split stats on BR are not complete for earlier seasons, so the OPS+ stats v L & R displayed there can be skewed.)

There’s lots of helpful material on the Diamond Mind Reference page.  A good place to start is with Frequently Asked Questions.

Past Newsletters You May Have Missed