30 Little Known Facts About Major League Baseball

John Miller

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

No other sport in America has the same lore and legend that surrounds baseball. And Major League Baseball has featured some of the best athletes, stories, and drama in the history of sports. In this quiz, do you think you can recall these little-known facts about the MLB and its statistics-laden past?

Baseball garners some of the most amazing (and bizarre) stories in sports. From pitchers killing birds with their fastballs to steroid-fueled home run rampages, the MLB is a breeding ground for odd and thrilling drama. Did you know that in 1930, a batter named Joe Sewell struck out just three times in 353 at-bats? And two of those strikeouts happened — you guessed it — in the same game? 

And did you know that during the 19th century, you could throw out base runners by beaning them directly with the ball? After one too many fistfights, that particular act was banned by the league.

In 1976, Texas Rangers' Toby Harrah became the first shortstop ever to play every single inning of a doubleheader … and not have a single ball hit toward him. In 1966, Tony Cloninger became the first National League player ever to hit two grand slams in a single game. Even crazier? He was a pitcher, and during the same game, he also hit a single, meaning he had nine RBIs in that one game. Do you know any other reality-warping stats from MLB history?

Whether you’re talking the heroics of Hank Aaron or the steely gaze of Nolan Ryan, pro baseball is the stuff of legends. Take our little-known MLB facts quiz now!

Deion Sanders is the only player to play in the World Series and the _____.

Sanders was an NFL star who won the Super Bowl with both the Cowboys and the 49ers. He also played in the 1992 World Series with the Atlanta Braves​ but lost to Toronto.

How many players have pitched a perfect game in a World Series?

In the 1956 World Series, Yankees pitcher Don Larsen threw the first and only perfect game in World Series history. He was later named the Series MVP.

The oldest pro baseball team is from _____ and was founded in 1869.

Founded in 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings — now just the Reds — were the first pro team.

What was the fastest recorded pitch in MLB history?

Few pitchers can consistently top 100 mph in pro baseball. In 2010, Aroldis Chapman threw a pitch of 105.1 mph. It’s why he’s nicknamed the Cuban Missile.

How many MLB players have been killed by pitches during games?

Just one unlucky player — Ray Chapman — has ever been killed by a pitch. In 1920, he was struck in the head and died 12 hours later.

In 1952, in his first at-bat, Hoyt Wilhelm hit a home run. How many home runs did he hit in his career?

Pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm hit a home run in his very first at-bat. He played 20 seasons and never hit another.

How many stitches are there on each MLB ball?

Baseballs are precisely manufactured. Each ball has exactly 108 stitches to match the standards of the game.

The longest game in MLB history lasted how many innings?

In 1920, the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Robins battled for 26 innings ... and then it got dark. The game was recorded as a tie.

What was unique about pitcher Jim Abbott, who once threw a no-hitter in 1993?

Abbott was born with just his left hand ... but went on to excel in the big leagues. He took the mound for the Yankees in 1993 and threw a no-hitter versus Cleveland.

In 1920, which practice was banned?

In 1920, the league banned spitballs, in which pitchers altered balls to gain an advantage on batters. But 17 pitchers were grandfathered into the clause and allowed to keep using spitballs for the duration of their careers.

True or false? Did Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig have the exact same number of hits?

False. However, Ruth had the exact same number of hits as Hank Aaron. Both legends had 2,147 hits in their storied careers.

Sammy Sosa is the only MLB player to hit more than ___ home runs in three different seasons.

Sosa is the only player to hit more than 60 home runs in three seasons. Oddly, he didn’t win the home run title in any of those seasons, each time being bested by players having even more phenomenal years.

Before every pro game, new baseballs are rubbed with what substance?

To make them easier for pitchers to handle, umpires rub all new balls with mud before games. The mud is traditionally harvested from an area near the Delaware River.

In 1963, San Francisco pitcher Gaylord Perry said, "They’ll put a man on the ____ before I hit a home run."

Perry said they’d put a man on the moon before he ever hit a home run. On July 20, 1969, NASA landed a man on the moon ... and less than half an hour later, Perry hit the first — and last — home run of his career.

William "Dummy" Hoy was the first _____ player in the MLB.

Starting in 1888, Hoy was the first deaf player in pro baseball history. He was no dummy — he had more than 2,000 hits and stole 596 bases in 15 seasons.

In the 1960 World Series, Bobby Richardson achieved which first?

Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson hit a home run and 12 RBIs in the 1960 World Series ... but the Yankees lost the title. Richardson was the first MVP ever from the losing side.

Cal Hubbard was a pro football player who changed which aspect of baseball?

Hubbard was a pro football player who became an umpire later in life, and his suggestions improved umpiring in many ways. He’s the only person ever elected to both the football and baseball Halls of Fame.

True or false, are MLB umpires required to wear black underwear in case their pants split?

It’s not required, but it is recommended — many umpires do wear black underwear during games. That way, if their pants split during a crouch it won’t be totally obvious.

In 1963, how did Mets player Jimmy Piersall celebrate his 100th home run?

Piersall was 33 when he (finally) hit his 100th homer. He celebrated in style ... by running the bases backward​. It sounds funny, but the dude was seriously weird and possibly disturbed. He even spent time in a mental hospital.

How does Eddie Gaedel stand out in the annals of MLB history?

Eddie Gaedel was just 3 feet, 7 inches tall, the shortest man ever to play the game. In 1951, he was sent to the plate (as a stunt) and was walked. A pinch runner replaced him at first.

True or false? In earlier times, were hits that bounced off the field and out of the stadium counted as home runs?

It’s true. Until the early ‘30s, players were credited with home runs if their hits bounced off the turf and out of the stadium.

Ralph Kiner led the league in ____ for the first seven seasons of his career.

Kiner began his career with the Pirates in 1946, and for seven seasons he led the league in home runs. No other player has led in home runs for that many consecutive years.

In 1920, Edd Roush was ejected from a game for what reason?

As players and umpires argued a call, outfielder Edd Roush got tired of the ruckus. He promptly fell asleep in the outfield ... and was ejected when he didn’t wake up for the next pitch.

In 1983, Dave Winfield’s practice throw struck and killed a _____, and he was thrown in jail.

Winfield’s throw killed a seagull and fans reported him to the police, who arrested and jailed him for animal cruelty. He was released the next day.

In 1970, Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter and said he did so while using which substance?

After his no-hitter, Ellis claimed he was tripping on LSD during the game. Journalists at the game, however, didn’t believe his story.

In 2009, Felipe Lopez became the first player to do what?

Lopez was a switch hitter who hit two home runs, one from each side of the plate, in one game. It was the first time anyone had ever done such a thing on the first day of the season.

Jon Rauch was the tallest player in MLB history. How tall is he?

At 6 feet, 11 inches, Jon Rauch was tall enough to play center in the NBA. He was drafted in 1999 as a pitcher and played until 2013.

Where are MLB baseballs made?

MLB baseballs are hand-stitched by workers in Costa Rica. Each year, a single authorized factory makes more than 2 million of the official balls.

In 1914, at the end of a 21-inning game, outfielder Red Murray finally snagged the game-ending fly ball. Then what happened?

Giants player Red Murray finally ended the agonizingly-long game, and just as he caught the ball he was struck by lightning. As the ​legend goes, he didn’t drop the ball.

In Game 4 of the World Series, the Yankees Johnny Damon stole two bases _____.

A defensive setup by the Phillies allowed Damon to steal second ... and left third completely uncovered. He stole two bases in a single play.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes