Paradise by the Dashboard Light
November 12, 2007 3 Comments
I have to start off this post by saying that I can’t take any credit at all†for what’s to follow.† But it wins the award for the most creative use of baseball research data for 2007.† On the Retrosheet distribution list, for those of us who spend way too much time on Retrosheet, an e-mail came through from Ted Turocy concerning the Meatloaf song “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”† If you’ve been to a wedding reception, you’ve heard it.† Loud, off-key, and very very drunk, but you’ve heard it.† They played it at mine, anyway.† (Our first dance was actually another Meatloaf song from the same album.)
The song is about (how to keep this PG?) an amorous encounter that Meatloaf (himself a very good professional softball player!) and a female companion are having, apparently in a car.† Midway through the song, there’s a cut to a clip of the late Phil Rizzuto announcing a fictional baseball game in which a player (who is never named) hits a double to center (depending how you interpret the call, it could be a single and an error, as the ball is bobbled in the outfield).† He then steals third on the first pitch of the next at-bat (so he’s advanced from “first base” to “second base” to third… I think we have a metaphor for something…) and then the batter lays down a squeeze bunt.† In the song, we only hear that it will be a close play at the plate, and never find out what happens to the poor “runner.”† (This is the part where all the bridesmaids start yelling “Stop right there!”)
Ted wanted to find out if the sequence of events described in the song (double or single and an error, steal of third, squeeze bunt) had ever actually occured in an actual game.† In the beginning of the interlude, Rizzuto says that there’s no score, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and no manager, other than Ozzie Guillen,†would attempt a squeeze with two outs (when this was pointed out to Meatloaf, composer Jim Steinman, and producer Todd Rundgren, they didn’t care; Guillen hadn’t yet made his Major League debut when the album was recorded in 1977), so we can’t get quite an exact match.† Ted did what any baseball-obsessed researcher with an odd question and a little free time would do: he looked it up.† He sent the results out to those of us on the Retrosheet list.† Everything that follows represents his hard work, not mine.† I e-mailed him and specifically asked him if I might post this and he was kind enough to grant me permission.
Turns out that the double-then steal of third-then squeeze attempt with the throw coming home (which†would be scored a†fielder’s choice no matter the outcome)†has happened thrice in the games which Retrosheet has available.
- In a 1977 game between the Mets and Expos, with one out in the bottom of the fourth, Bud Harrelson doubled to left and stole third and scored on a squeeze bunt laid down by pitcher Jerry Koosman.
- In 1995, during a Twins-Mariners game, Rich Amaral actually won the game when he doubled to left, stole third, and scored on a squeeze bunt by Chad Kreuter.
- Finally, in the fifth inning of a 2006 game between the Padres and Giants, the Giants’ Randy Winn hit an RBI double to right, and stole third on the second pitch of the next at-bat, and scored on a squeeze bunt by Omar Vizquel.
None of the doubles were to center, and none of the steals of third happened on the next pitch after the double.† (Winn stole his base on the second pitch of the next at-bat.)
However, in 1988, with the Red Sox playing the Rangers, Oddibe “Young Again” McDowell came up in the seventh inning and hit an RBI single to center which was bobbled by Red Sox center fielder Ellis Burks, allowing Curt Wilkerson to score and McDowell to go to second.† McDowell†stole third, and the next hitter (Scott Fletcher) dropped a squeeze bunt, although the throw didn’t come home.† It went to first.† Fletcher was out and McDowell scored.† So, that doesn’t match up.
Sadly, it looks like there’s no perfect match.† However, Ted did end his e-mail with a rather cryptic statement.† “Finally, there are no sequences fitting this where the runner is out trying to score on the bunt.”† Not exactly sure what he meant by that…