Baseball Oddities

Felix Hernandez not in an Angels uniform. - Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

In which I point out something weird from baseball's history

I'm thinking of starting a new Wednesday feature about baseball history on Lookout Landing. Each week, I'd like to cover one oddball event, occurrence, statistic, or some other piece of information or minutiae from the game's history that is both fun and not necessarily all that well known. I ran a similar feature back back when I wrote for Pro Ball Northwest, and it appeared to have been received with some enthusiasm.

Additionally, I'd like to cap each of these posts with a trivia question about something from Mariner history. This might seem like a weird combination of ideas, but I think it'll make for a fun little weekly article. Feel free to post your feedback -- or your opinion on whether the question was too easy or the oddity too benign -- in the comments.

Oddity:

From 1990-1995, Jeff Shaw was a thoroughly average pitcher. He bounced between the rotation and the bullpen and shuttled from the minors to the majors. He pitched for three teams in that time period, but never quite established himself with any of those clubs, or in any particular role.

His career took off when he signed as a free agent with the Reds in 1996. Shaw worked as a super-reliever, tossing 105 innings out of the bullpen his first season, and then 95 more the following year. By that time, Shaw had become the closer in Cincinnati. He posted a league leading 42 saves and compiled a tidy 3.6 bWAR.

In 1998, Shaw was even better. In the first half of the campaign, he posted a 1.81 ERA, and while he didn't strike too many men out, he didn't walk a whole lot of hitters either. Moreover, he was downright stingy with the longball, allowing only two in 50 innings, a particularly impressive feat for the era.

While Shaw was in the midst of his best year, Cincinnati was a middling team. 11 games under .500 in early July, the Reds were a full fifteen paces behind Houston for the division lead entering the all-star break. A lockdown closer is a luxury mediocre ball clubs don't necessarily need, and when presented with the opportunity to acquire young slugger Paul Konerko, the Reds jumped at the chance, shipping Shaw to Los Angeles to complete the deal on Independence Day.

As it happened, the 1998 All-Star Game was to be played on July 7th. Shaw, having made the team weeks earlier as a member of the Reds was put in the odd situation of joining a new club on the eve of the midsummer classic. The timing of the trade meant that he was going to suit up for the game as a Dodger, his first appearance in an LA uniform.

For Shaw, it was a whirlwind couple of days. His jersey didn't arrive until the day of the game, so he took in the home run derby wearing Gary Sheffield's shoes and Raul Mondesi's pants. Asked if he felt like a Dodger, Shaw replied: "I feel like a Dodger outfielder."

In Shaw's first apperance for his new team, he allowed three hits and a run in his lone inning of work. Far more memorable than the outing itself though were the odd circumstances surrounding it. Though Cliff Lee came close to turning a similar trick in 2010, Shaw is, as far as I know, the only player in baseball history to make his team debut in an All-Star Game.

Trivia Question:

On June 23rd, 2008, Felix Hernandez hit a grand slam off of New York's Johan Santana. The blast gave the Mariners a 4-0 lead, and the team cruised to a rare 5-2 victory that evening.

The question: Who was the winning pitcher in that game?

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