Saturday, December 3, 2011

Raffy was Campy's "cousin"

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

I don't suppose they use the term anymore, but years ago when a player had unusual success against a pitcher, the pitcher was referred to as the player's "cousin," implying some sort of familial connection that caused the pitcher to ease up on the player when he was at bat.

Such a relationship was supposed in 1950-51 between Hall of Fame Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella and Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ken Raffensberger. 

Another baseball-related term you don't hear anymore is "figger filbert." i.e., a statistics "nut." Today they call them SABRmetricians. 

Allan Roth, was the first full-time Major League statistician. Dodgers GM Branch Rickey hired him in 1947, and he remained with the team in Brooklyn and Los Angeles until 1964. 

In a 1952 issue, The Sporting News applied the figger filbert label to Roth when they quoted his findings about Campy's success against Raffensberger.  

According to Roth, Campanella was 8-for-22 (a .364 average) against Raffensberger in 1950-51 -- and seven of those hits were home runs. 

The left-handed Raffensberger pitched for 15 seasons between 1939-54 in the National League, with a career record of 119-154 and a 3.60 ERA. 

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