Bump: What 377,340 games over 146 years tell us about scoring in baseball
From Philip Bump at the Washington Post on September 7, 2017:
On June 28, 1871, the Philadelphia Athletics — not, incidentally, the team that later became the Kansas City Athletics and then the Oakland Athletics — traveled to Troy, N.Y., to play the Troy Haymakers in a game of “base-ball.” It was the first season in which a professional league existed in the United States and, on that day in Upstate New York, something happened that, as far as I can tell, never happened again in the next 146 years.
Both teams scored a run in every inning.
The question of how often this might have occurred over the course of baseball history first struck me about 20 years ago, while standing in the parking lot of Kauffman Stadium, the home ballpark of the Kansas City Royals. I was there with my father, Lary Bump, a sportswriter and member of the Society of American Baseball Research. It was that organization’s annual convention which had me thinking, in my own numbers-centric way, about the history of the sport.
Both the Internet and I were too young to be able to answer the question easily back then. We’ve each since matured to some extent.
Now, there’s a site called Retrosheet, which uses an army of volunteers to cobble together as complete a set of data about professional baseball games as possible. They provide files of information stretching all the way back to the earliest years of play, allowing me to run through every game on file and figure out when and if a box score had wound up free of zeros. And, as it turned out, a number of other little details about the history of the game.
This page was last updated September 8, 2017 at 11:46 am MST.