Related To Somebody Famous For Something Else: Pat Riley’s dad, Lee Riley

Like many people, I’ve been watching the HBO show Winning Time, about the start of the Showtime-era Lakers. Not surprisingly, one of the main subjects of the show is Pat Riley, played here by Adrien Brody.

In one episode, Riley is shown to have a mental breakdown that leads him to smash much of his shed with a baseball bat. He then tells his wife (played by Gillian Jacobs) that he’s haunted by the missed opportunity of his father (who the bat belonged to), who was only able to have one hit in the majors despite playing the game for years.

While I have no idea if that actually happened, what Pat Riley says about his father is true. Lee Riley (also known as Leon Riley) played professional baseball for 22 seasons, but only briefly made it the majors. It was at the old age of 37 during the 1944 series for the Phillies, and even then it was largely because most of the younger players had joined the war effort. In 12 plate appearances over four games, the outfielder got one single hit: a double off Boston’s Ira Hutchinson in late April.

YearAgeTmLgGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+TBGDPHBPSHIBBPos
194437PHINL412121110010000.083.083.167.250-3020000/7H
1 Yr1 Yr1 Yr1 Yr412121110010000.083.083.167.250-3020000
16216216216216248648640404000400000.083.083.167.250-30810000

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2022.

Of course, that was just his MLB career. His minor league career was far longer. While somewhat incomplete, you can see what Baseball Reference has below:

Register Batting
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH IBB
1927 20 2 Teams 2 Lgs D-A 33 103 103 23 4 3 2 .223 .379 39
1927 20 -7.1 Lincoln WL A 10 26 7 0 2 1 .269 .539 14
1927 20 -5.1 Ottumwa MSVL D 23 77 16 4 1 1 .208 .325 25
1928 21 -5.7 Pueblo WL A 141 489 181 43 17 13 .370 .607 297
1929 22 -4.5 Pueblo WL A 159 606 185 41 27 24 .305 .581 352
1930 23 -3.2 Pueblo WL A 147 527 175 27 18 20 .332 .566 298
1931 24 -2.9 Pueblo WL A 139 534 161 39 16 16 .302 .524 280
1932 25 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-AA 151 546 546 184 40 11 15 .337 .533 291
1932 25 -3.3 Rochester IL AA STL 78 257 71 9 5 6 .276 .420 108
1932 25 -2.2 Omaha WL A 73 289 113 31 6 9 .391 .633 183
1933 26 2 Teams 2 Lgs A STL 130 450 450 114 21 11 7 .253 .396 178
1933 26 -0.4 Elmira NYPL A STL 128 448 114 21 11 7 .255 .397 178
1933 26 -0.6 Houston TL A STL 2 2 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 0
1934 27 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-C STL 105 373 373 100 15 6 11 .268 .429 160
1934 27 1.0 Davenport WL A 87 300 81 14 4 8 .270 .423 127
1934 27 2.8 Huntington MATL C STL 18 73 19 1 2 3 .260 .452 33
1935 28 3.0 Davenport WL A 112 413 132 23 7 12 .320 .496 205
1936 29 2.9 Davenport WL A BRO 123 431 129 24 6 12 .299 .466 201
1937 30 7.6 Beatrice NESL D BRO 114 393 146 27 19 14 .372 .644 253
1938 31 8.8 Beatrice NESL D BRO 115 524 425 117 155 30 15 17 122 15 82 28 .365 .480 .626 1.106 266 12 5
1939 32 3 Teams 3 Lgs A-A1-AA 81 204 204 58 8 3 7 .284 .456 93
1939 32 4.9 Baltimore IL AA 38 52 11 3 0 1 .212 .327 17
1939 32 7.2 Elmira EL A BRO 23 84 23 3 1 4 .274 .476 40
1939 32 5.0 Knoxville SOUA A1 PIT 20 68 24 2 2 2 .353 .529 36
1940 33 9.5 Oneonta CAML C 116 394 134 21 10 14 .340 .551 217
1941 34 9.5 Rome CAML C 120 404 158 27 6 32 .391 .725 293
1942 35 2 Teams 2 Lgs B-A1 PHA 132 414 414 107 16 8 7 .259 .387 160
1942 35 7.5 Memphis SOUA A1 61 203 64 8 4 4 .315 .453 92
1942 35 11.1 Wilmington ISLG B PHA 71 211 43 8 4 3 .204 .322 68
1944 37 12.1 Utica EL A PHI 125 515 383 69 98 18 5 5 70 2 117 54 .256 .435 .368 .803 141 4 11
1944 37 8.2 PHI NL Maj PHI 4 12 12 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .083 .083 .167 .250 2 0 0 0 0
1945 38 17.3 Bradford PONY D PHI 107 466 334 82 104 20 6 13 82 9 121 43 .311 .504 .524 1.028 175 9 2
1946 39 16.0 Bradford PONY D PHI 73 274 182 46 49 11 1 4 36 5 87 33 .269 .515 .407 .921 74 5 0
1947 40 16.8 Schenectady CAML C PHI 30 96 70 15 18 4 0 2 12 0 24 10 .257 .453 .400 .853 28 1 1
1948 41 17.6 Schenectady CAML C PHI 12 31 20 6 7 1 0 1 5 1 11 2 .350 .581 .550 1.131 11 0 0
1949 42 18.9 Terre Haute IIIL B PHI
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH IBB
Majo Majo Majo Majo Majors 4 12 12 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .083 .083 .167 .250 2 0 0 0 0
Mino Mino Mino Mino Minors 2265 8187 7695 335 2418 460 195 248 327 32 442 170 4012 31 19
All All All All 2269 8199 7707 336 2419 461 195 248 328 32 0 442 170 4014 31 19 0
AA ( AA ( AA ( AA ( Minors 116 309 309 82 12 5 7 .265 .405 125
A (1 A (1 A (1 A (1 Minors 1269 4664 4532 69 1399 284 120 131 70 2 117 54 .309 .511 2316 4 11
A1 ( A1 ( A1 ( A1 ( Minors 81 271 271 88 10 6 6 .325 .472 128
B (2 B (2 B (2 B (2 Minors 71 211 211 43 8 4 3 68
C (5 C (5 C (5 C (5 Minors 296 998 961 21 336 54 18 52 17 1 35 12 .350 .606 582 1 1
D (5 D (5 D (5 D (5 Minors 432 1734 1411 245 470 92 42 49 240 29 290 104 .333 .562 793 26 7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2022.

Lee Riley would ultimately die in 1970 at the age of 64, living long enough to see his son win stardom in the NCAA and begin his NBA career.

FAMOUS FOR SOMETHING ELSE: Kevin Johnson, NBA Star and Sacramento Mayor

Kevin Johnson is the current mayor of Sacramento, and was also a three-time All-Star for the Phoenix Suns. But he also briefly had a baseball career of two games in 1986 in the Athletics organization:

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB HBP SH SF IBB
1986 20 -2.5 Modesto CALL A OAK 2 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
1 Season 2 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/17/2015.

And now you know!

Famous For Something Else: NBA Ref David Guthrie

David Guthrie is a referee in the National Basketball Association. But before he was a ref on the hardwood, he played hardball in the Reds organization. Drafted in the 26th round of the 1995 draft out of NC State, Guthrie played infield positions from 1995 to 1998. Although he never hit well, he did reach AA by the end of his career:

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
1995 21 1.1 Princeton APPY Rk CIN 55 207 181 28 37 11 0 0 13 7 1 18 41 .204 .286 .265 .551 48 4 3 4 1 1
1996 22 1.4 Billings PION Rk CIN 48 219 181 45 41 6 3 4 28 10 1 26 48 .227 .343 .359 .702 65 4 7 3 2 0
1997 23 1.5 CharlestonĀ WV SALL A CIN 73 264 233 27 50 7 2 3 26 6 2 20 75 .215 .295 .300 .595 70 5 7 3 1 0
1998 24 -0.1 Chattanooga SOUL AA CIN 67 225 203 23 39 5 4 0 9 1 1 16 58 .192 .261 .256 .517 52 3 3 3 0 0
4 Seasons 243 915 798 123 167 29 9 7 76 24 5 80 222 .209 .296 .294 .590 235 16 20 13 4 1
Rk (2 seasons) Rk 103 426 362 73 78 17 3 4 41 17 2 44 89 .215 .315 .312 .627 113 8 10 7 3 1
A (1 season) A 73 264 233 27 50 7 2 3 26 6 2 20 75 .215 .295 .300 .595 70 5 7 3 1 0
AA (1 season) AA 67 225 203 23 39 5 4 0 9 1 1 16 58 .192 .261 .256 .517 52 3 3 3 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/9/2015.

By the way, the players who Guthrie was drafted before in the 1995 draft and signed a contract include Pedro Feliciano, Justin Speier, and Gabe Kapler.

Famous For Something Else: Reece “Goose” Tatum, Harlem Globetrotter Legend

It’s time for another “Famous for Something Else”.

Today’s individual who is far more famous for something else is Reece “Goose” Tatum. Tatum was the original “Clown Prince” of the Harlem Globetrotters, one of the finest basketball players of his era (back during a time when the Globetrotters would play and often beat actual NBA teams), and said to be the inventor of the hook shot/skyhook that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would later make famous.

But before his basketball career really took off, Goose played some baseball in the Negro Leagues. While his stats are a bit spotty due to the less-than-excellent record-keeping of the day, here they are:

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB SH
1941 20 Birmingham NAL NgM 6 5 1 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 .600 .600 .600 1.200 3 1
1941 20 Birmingham NAL NgM
1942 21 Birmingham NAL NgM 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0
1942 21 Birmingham NAL NgM
1943 22 Cincinnati NAL NgM 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0
1943 22 Cincinnati NAL NgM
1945 24 Cincinnati/Indianapolis NAL NgM 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 1 0
1945 24 Cincinnati/Indianapolis NAL NgM
1946 25 Indianapolis NAL NgM 19 18 6 8 2 0 0 3 0 1 .444 .474 .556 1.029 10 0
1946 25 Indianapolis NAL NgM
1947 26 Indianapolis NAL NgM 32 29 5 10 1 0 0 2 0 3 .345 .406 .379 .786 11 0
1947 26 Indianapolis NAL NgM
1948 27 Indianapolis NAL NgM 23 19 1 5 1 0 0 5 0 1 .263 .300 .316 .616 6 3
1948 27 Indianapolis NAL NgM
7 Seasons 89 80 13 27 4 0 0 12 0 5 .338 .376 .388 .764 31 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/13/2014.

Florida Gulf Coast University Basketball vs. Fresno State Baseball: What’s the bigger Cinderella?

Florida Gulf Coast University is the darling of the NCAA basketball tournament, becoming the first 15-seed to advance to the Sweet 16. It is already being called one of the greatest Cinderella stories in college history. But I had to wonder: how does it compare to perhaps the greatest Cinderella story in baseball, the 2008 Fresno State baseball team?

If you aren’t familiar with it, I can’t blame you, as I’ve mentioned before, not many people pay attention to college baseball, especially outside of the College World Series. So I’ll refresh your memory: in 2008, the Fresno State Bulldogs, who only was able to qualify for the baseball tournament thanks to winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament. They were placed into their initial pool as a 4-seed (early rounds of NCAA baseball tournament are double-elimination pools), the equivalent of being a 13 seed or lower in March Madness.

But, a funny thing happened, not only did they advance through their regional and then super-regional pool, but they ended up winning the College World Series, defeating Georgia. They became the lowest seed ever to win a NCAA championship.

So, is FGCU more impressive than that?

Well, no. Mainly, this is because FGCU hasn’t won the tournament, and it probably won’t. However, should they continue on, that answer could change. The reason for this is because of the differences between baseball and basketball.

You see, unlike baseball, basketball doesn’t have any real “equalizer” position. While having a dominant player like a Lebron James or Kevin Durant definitely can help, there is no pitcher who can shut down the opposing offense or hockey goalie who can stand on his head. That means that, usually, the entire team more or less has to play above expectations if they intend to pull off an upset, or have their opponent have a bad day on the same day they have a few players have a good day. So to pull an upset in basketball is far more impressive and rare than an upset in baseball.

However, as I said, FGCU still has a long way to go. Fresno State, after all, won the whole thing- and that means that the Gulf Coast players will have to win four more games if they aim to take the overall crown of the greatest Cinderella in college sports history.

The time where the 76ers drafted two future MLB Players

Just in time for March Madness, here’s a weird connection between hoops and Major League Baseball.

To be more specific, one year (1996), the Philadelphia 76ers drafted two college basketball stars who eventually made the rosters of Major League Baseball teams:

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 7.29.18 PMIn case you can’t see it, that is Mark Hendrickson and Ryan Minor being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, drafted one right after the other. Minor- who’s main claim to fame was starting at third the day that Cal Ripken‘s streak ended- went straight to baseball, but Hendrickson- who has been pitching in camp for the Orioles this spring- had a brief NBA career (go below the jump for the stats):

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Famous for Something Else: Danny Ainge

Danny Ainge was an All-Star with the Boston Celtics, and later would become an award-winning executive for them after he hung up the uniform. But before he started his professional basketball career, the BYU grad had a short career with the Blue Jays. Go below the jump to see his major league and minor league stats:

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Great Mysteries in Other Sports

Yesterday, I gave some of the great mysteries in baseball. But there are plenty of mysteries beyond the diamond as well. For example:

  • Was, as some conspiracy theorists claim, the 1985 NBA Draft lottery fixed so that Patrick Ewing would go to the New York Knicks? (I doubt it, but it’s one of the most talked about sports conspiracy theories of all time, so…)
  • The original trophy for Soccer’s World Cup was awarded permanently to Brazil in 1970 after they won the tournament for the third time. In 1983, that trophy was stolen. What happened to it?
  • Does the IOC really have the silver medals for the 1972 Basketball Tournament in a vault, waiting for the cold day in hell when the screwed-over USA team accepts them?
  • Was Michael Jordan’s baseball stint really a cover story for a gambling suspension? (Again, I doubt it, but since so many people often discuss the possibility…)
  • Why doesn’t the NFL give the 1925 Pottsville Maroons their due? It can’t just be because it would injure the pride of the Cardinals, right?
  • Jim Robinson was the fourth man to fight to Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) professionally. He has not been contacted or seen since 1979. What happened to him?
  • Speaking of Ali, did Sonny Liston throw either of his fights with him to pay off debts he had with organized crime?
  • Did Wilt Chamberlain really sleep with 20,000 women? (This has been mathematically debunked, but…)
  • Is Jimmy Hoffa buried underneath what was once Giants Stadium (it is now a parking lot for the new stadium)?

 

Know any other good ones?