Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Countdown to Opening Day, by the Numbers

Today is Tuesday, February 1st, 2011. There are 59 days until opening day in big league baseball.

I thought I'd enter each day looking ahead to March 31st, by looking back, looking back to the great past of our National Pastime by the numbers, until we get to the start of the 2011 baseball season.

So, here we go, starting today with #1.

 #1 IS...the pitcher, #1 in the baseball scorecard.

#1 is 1st base..."who's on first?" by Abbot and Costello.

#1 is the Dodgers Andy Pafko, card #1 in the Topps 1952 baseball card set.

#1...is Sweet Lou Whittaker, Billy Martin, Pee Wee Reese, Bobby Doerr, and the Wizard, Ozzie Smith.

#1 is the first day of Spring Training, when  pitchers and catchers report, this year it's Valentine's Day, Feb. 14th.

#1 is baseball's All-Time leader in home runs, Barry Bonds, who passed the fans #1, Hank Aaron, finishing with 762 long balls.
Pete Rose isn't in the Hall of Fame, but he's #1 in All-Time hits, 4,256 of them.

Derek Jeter of the Yankees wears #2, but on opening day he's #1, the #1 active leader in career hits, with 2, 926, 74 base knocks away from the magical 3,000.

#1 is Phillies great Richie Ashburn, and the "Miracle" Boston Braves Rabbit Maranville.

#1 is the fastball, hard cheese, the gas, the heater.

#1 is Tyrus Raymond Cobb, the Georgia Peach, who, even though he played when there were no numbers on players uniforms, is #1 in lifetime batting average, .367, and #1 All-Time in batting titles, with 12.

#1 is the top of the order, #1 is the top of the 1st,the lead off hitter, like Rickey Henderson, who is considered the #1 All-Time lead off hitter, who's #1 in lead off home runs, with 81.
Rickey is also #1 in stolen bases All-Time, with 1,406.

#1 is Cookie Rojas, and Buddy Biancalana of the KC Royals, and Lance Johnson, the 1 Dog, #1 for the Chicago White Sox on the South Side and for the Cubs across town on the North Side.

#1, numero uno, is Jose Cardinal of the Cubs, eating the vines off the Wrigley Field outfield wall.

#1 is the fiery Larry Bowa, playing hard nosed shortstop for the Phillies and Cubs.

I mentioned Sweet Lou Whittaker of my Detroit Tigers at the beginning, and one...1 day, the Tigers will get around to retiring the #1 of Whitaker, but...did you know...

...no one has worn #1 since Sweet Lou retired, but can you Tiger fans remember the last Tiger player to wear #1 for the ole English D.?

The answer is...Jerry Manuel, who wore #1 for Detroit in 1976.

How about extra trivia...before Manuel, #1 was worn by...Tigers manager, and former player, Billy Martin.

Martin managed the Tigers in 1971-72-73, and he also wore #1 as a Tigers infielder in 1958.

 #1 is were baseball begins...every team on opening day is #1 in the standings, and every fan thinks their team, their boys, will be #1.

Opening Day makes fans feel great, makes them feel #1.

#1 is the start, the beginning, the place where teams, and fans start the season.

#1 is the ceremonial 1st pitch, the 1st cry by the ump to "play ball."

#1 is the 1st pitch..."Halladay looks for the signals, winds and delivers... on the outside corner, and the 1st pitch of 2011is a fastball called strike."

Feel free to leave your comments about #1 and baseball.

What's #1 mean to you? I'm sure, I know there is much more out there, more #1 baseball uniforms, players, stats.

Let me know what you think, let's talk baseball and numbers every day.

See you tomorrow for day two, and #2.

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