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By its very nature, baseball is the sport that is most conducive to endless debate and discussion about the relative merits of its players. Since each of the ballparks is unique with respect to the size and shape of its outfield and the height of its fences, there will never be one logical way to determine the “best” pitcher or ultimate hitter. Unlike basketball or tennis, for example, baseball is not played in a uniform environment, which makes comparison of the statistics of players, who play half of their games in their own home stadiums, dubious in The best case.

However, there are rare player achievements in baseball history that transcend the differences of the playing fields, or the weather conditions at the time, or anything else. They’re noteworthy for both their tremendous infrequency and their high level of achievement…and they also provide excellent material for baseball trivia questions. I suspect fans will argue over which feat is the the majority awesome for some time to come. Here are some to consider:

  • The Immaculate Entrance – Three batters are struck out in the same half-inning on only 9 pitches thrown by the same pitcher. This feat has been accomplished only 47 times in Major League history. Forty-four pitchers have done it once during their career while 3 have done it twice. You realize that it is a rare event when you look at the number of possible opportunities compared to the number of actual occurrences. In each game, pitchers have 8 or 9 chances to pitch a half inning. Each of the 30 teams plays 162 games each. That’s a range of between 38,880 and 43,740 chances for all pitchers to throw a Spotless Entrance…and that’s just for ONE season! Multiply those numbers by, say, just 30 seasons and you get 1,166,400 – 1,312,200 chances. Now compare that to just 47 actual occurrences. it’s amazing!
  • 4 home runs in one game by the same batter – Only 16 players in Major League Baseball history have hit 4 home runs in a game. No batter has hit more than that and no player has hit 4 in a game more than once during his career. Again, the numbers are staggering: 9 players have a chance to hit 4 home runs in each of the 162 games. There are 30 teams. Total chances are 43,740 in one season. If we multiply that number like we did in the first illustration by just 30 seasons, we get a grand total of 1,312,200 chances. We then compare 16 occurrences to that number. I’d say the 4 home run game is a rarity in baseball!
  • The triple crown of baseball to hit – This award is given to the hitter who led his league in home runs, RBI and batting average, all in the same season. Since baseball’s first Triple Crown was awarded for hitting in 1878, only 17 players have won it, making it one of the rarest achievements in baseball. 17 winners in 135 years!
  • The triple crown of baseball to throw – To win this award, a pitcher must lead his league in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average, all in the same season. While not as rare as the Triple Crown beatdown, this award has been given only 38 times since it was first presented in 1877.
  • the perfect game – A perfect game is achieved when a pitcher throws to the minimum number of batters from the opposing team and none of them reaches base in nine innings. This means no hits, walks, hit batters, errors, catcher’s interference, or strikeouts on passes or wild pitches. Since there are 3 outs per inning and there are 9 innings, a pitcher must retire 27 batters in a row to achieve a perfect game. How rare is this? A total of only 23 perfect games have been pitched in Major League history since the first in 1880. Statistically less rare (due to far fewer playoff games) but equally impressive it is the only perfect game pitched in postseason history. ; Don Larsen of the New York Yankees needed just 97 pitches to make history in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.
  • Home run during the first at bat – In the history of Major League Baseball, only 113 batters have hit a home run in their first at-bat. Of those 113 batters, only 28 hit their respective home runs in the first pitch. They were all rookies at some point in their careers, so every player who ever got to the plate had a chance to hit a home run in their first at-bat. It turns out that this achievement is one of the rarest events in baseball history.

In Major League Baseball, teams play 162 regular season games. The length of games is determined only by the time it takes to play 9 or more innings and not by a time clock. The pace is generally slow and deliberate. Winners and losers are not determined until the final out is recorded. Teams come back from huge deficits to win games when the odds are overwhelmingly unfavorable. Just one last pitch or swing of the bat can make history. The lack of time constraints can provide moments of high drama and rare feats of achievement.

We’ve discussed some of these rare feats, some of which took just seconds to accomplish while others occurred over the course of a game or an entire season. Our list was far from exhaustive, but it does include some great material for baseball trivia questions! Did you think about other baseball oddities? If so, we invite you to share them on our site.

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