Thursday, March 26, 2009

Question of the Week

James, Bismarck, ND
Subj: Baseball face-off
Which batter/pitcher combination has faced each other the most times in MLB history?

That distinction belongs to Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson who faced each other 368 times over a highly entertaining 21 year span. It may surprise you to learn that Johnson got the best of Cobb during their first eight years in the Big Leagues, holding the Georgia Peach to a .222 average. However, that all changed on August 10, 1915 when The Big Train got severely rattled after hitting Detroit infielder Ossie Vitt in the melon. Cobb soon surmised that Johnson was fearful of hitting opposing batters and he began crowding the plate during his subsequent encounters with the Senators ace. “From 10 inches or so back of the plate I moved in until at last I was standing right against it, and even out over the plate with my bent knees and arms” Cobb later explained. “With the plate tucked under me, I was giving Johnson only a few inches of target. It was cheating, if you will, but also strategy. I was gambling that Johnson would be so afraid of hitting me that he’d work to the outside corner.” His instincts paid off and Cobb averaged .435 against Johnson from 1915-1926 to finish with a .370 lifetime average against the Hall of Fame hurler.