Saturday, December 24, 2011

Inspectah On-Deck: Random Fenway Pic Decoded

I noticed this picture as the background of a Red Sox blog called RSN Alberta:
So I put the baby up for adoption and got right to work. I had to know the date, the inning, the pitch.

It's always easy when you have the scoreboards to work with. The problem is figuring out what they say if they're small and blurry.

First thing I did was figure out that Kent Hrbek was the hitter. You can even see his face and blurry name on the CF board. Mo Vaughn is also pretty clearly at first, and the pitcher immediately struck me as being John Dopson, #40, though I wasn't convinced yet. But Vaughn/Hrbek narrowed this right down to a Twins game between '91 and '94.

The scoreboards tell us it's the top of the 1st with one out and one on--looks like Puckett on first.

I started going through all the games Hrbek played at Fenway in those years, and I got stuck for a little while. I was thinking he had to be batting third based on this situation. So when I wasn't sure which game this was after going through all of them, I just looked to see which of those games he batted third in. And he didn't bat third in any of them.

Then I noticed a telltale sign. Look at the linescore on the Monster scoreboard. Look at the 10th inning. There are runs up on the board. Little-cared-about fact of Fenway: Between games of a doubleheader, they will post the score of game 1 in the 10th inning slots and leave it up there into game 2. (See fourth pic down in this post from this past season.) So this was the second game of a doubleheader. Checked the Hrbek list again, and found he only played in one of these between '91 and '94. July 24th, 1992.

So now all I had to do was confirm the other blurry stuff, already being 99% sure of the answer. All the out-of-town games match up. Crowd of 34,000+ already in their seats in top of first makes sense. Newspaper said game 2 was an 8:15 start, scoreboard clock says 8:19. Hrbek's .282 BA and 11 homers are correct for that time. Dopson was indeed the pitcher, and Hrbek batted with one on and one out, and Puckett on first, in the top of the first. But the score was 1-0 Twins, as Puckett's hit knocked in a run, which explains why Hrbek was batting fourth, not third. So if it was 1-0, why do the scoreboards in the picture show 0-0? (This is why I couldn't figure out the game before I noticed the tenth-inning doubleheader secret.)

The answer is that it takes those guys who run the manual scoreboard a while to get those numbers into place. This is the first pitch of the Hrbek at bat since the count is 0-0, so the run has just scored. They have to switch the 1 to a 2 in the hit column, then slide a 1 into the first inning and into the total column. Why they haven't got the 1 up on the electronic boards on the third base side and in center yet, I don't know. But I bet they're about to change....


Hrbek would take the upcoming pitch for a ball. On a 1-1 pitch, he would foul out. The Paw Sox' hitting coach in 2011, Chili Davis, doubled home Puckett to put the Twins up 2-0. The Sox would tie it with two of their own in the bottom of the first. Each team would score twice in the 7th, and we went to the bottom of the 9th tied at 4. With one out, Bruno singled home Plantier, and Boston salvaged a split (after getting one-hit by Scott Erickson in game 1). The fans there that day got to see one of only four wins by Red Sox pitchers whose last name starts with I. (All were by Daryl Irvine, the only I-Sock ever until Jose Iglesias debuted in 2011--my pics from the end of the Irvine Dynasty are here, and terribly, I didn't realize this until right now. In fact, this Thanksgiving, I actually brought out the now-incorrect "only one Red Sox player has had a last name starting with I" trivia!) If the Yanks had lost later that night, we would have been tied for fourth. Freakin' Mariners. Oh well, we were 12 games out anyway. The Red Sox would go on to finish last. David Lee Roth went on to become America's favorite game show host.

I love detective stuff like this!!!!!!!
This was sofa king interesting. I really enjoyed reading how you found all that out. Cool stuff here, Jere.
I also love the Wu-Tang reference.
Hey Jere - that was awesome. I read your blog occasionally and just tripped across this post. To be honest, I have no idea where I got that picture from.

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