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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Bill Chuck

Baseball quiz: Who wants to be a millionaire?

Regis Philbin (right) was the genial and magnetic host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Getty Images)

August of 1999 was another typically dreadful summer month of reruns and lame replacement shows. There was no streaming, Netflix or anything of the like. Then, on Aug. 16, a deceptively simple trivia quiz show appeared on ABC in which contestants had to answer questions of increasing difficulty for amounts of money that swelled with each correct answer. But the show, adapted (copied) from a show in Britain, introduced ‘‘lifelines,’’ which helped contestants with answers.

‘‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’’ was given a two-week trial run in which it aired almost every night. By the end of the first week, it was reaching an audience of 15 million viewers. The format was great, and the block scheduling was brilliant. The set, the music and the creative questions all made the show a hit. What made it a cultural phenomenon was the host, the genial and magnetic Regis Philbin. He was brilliant. ‘‘I told David Letterman the other night that I am going to be the savior of the ABC network. I am going to resurrect ABC!’’ Philbin said.

And he was right. So today I offer my homage to ‘‘Millionaire.’’ Instead of the 14 or 15 questions from the show, I offer my standard nine. Have fun and learn a lot. I know I did in creating it for you.

1. For $100: What is the new shape of the bases on a baseball field?

a. Vinyl record album

b. Pizza box (not from Domino’s)

c. Diamond (that’s why it’s called a ‘‘baseball ­diamond’’)

d. Bar of shower soap

2. For $500: Which of the following is required for a batter to wear when coming to the plate?

a. Batting helmet

b. Bling

c. Batting gloves

d. Elbow guards

3. For $16,000: Which city never had two major-league teams simultaneously?

a. Philadelphia

b. St. Louis

c. Boston

d. Seattle

4. For $32,000: Which of these stars was not a Rookie of the Year while playing for a Chicago team?

a. Billy Williams

b. Craig Kimbrel

c. Ken Hubbs

d. Ron Kittle

5. For $64,000: In which country are all major-league baseballs manufactured?

a. Costa Rica

b. Dominican Republic

c. Uruguay

d. Honduras

6. For $125,000: In 1969, Ron Santo led the Cubs with 96 walks. Luis Aparicio led the White Sox with 66 walks. Jim Wynn led the majors with 148 walks. Who sang the 1969 hit song ‘‘Twenty-Five Miles,’’ which featured the lyric, ‘‘I got to keep on walkin’ ”?

a. Eddie Yost

b. Edwin Starr

c. Wilson Pickett

d. Art Garfunkel

7. For $250,000: Which movie had a leading ­character who had the same name as the first name of the Yankees’ current owner?

a. ‘‘2001: A Space Odyssey’’

b. ‘‘George of the Jungle’’

c. ‘‘Thelma & Louise’’

d. ‘‘The Godfather, Part II’’

8. For $500,000: Who was the all-time home-run leader immediately before Babe Ruth?

a. Ty Cobb

b. Anthony Fauci

c. Roger Connor

d. Honus Wagner

9. For $1 million: Who was the manager of the ‘‘Black Sox’’ team in 1919?

a. Kid Galahad

b. Billy Kidd

c. Kid Gleason

d. Tony La Russa

I leave you with one final question: Is that your final answer? See you next week.


1. ‘‘The bases, they’re the bases,’’ Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters in February. ‘‘Wait till you see them. They look like a pizza box, to be honest with you.’’

2. In 1971, MLB made helmets mandatory, though some veterans continued to wear cloth caps with liners under a grandfather clause. They included Norm Cash, Bob Montgomery and Tony Taylor. Montgomery was the last major-league player to bat without a helmet when he played his final game on Sept. 9, 1979.

3. Philadelphia had the Phillies and Athletics. St. Louis had the Cardinals and Browns. Boston had the Red Sox and Braves. But Seattle had the Pilots (1969) for one season before the Mariners were born in 1977.

4. Billy Williams was the National League Rookie of the Year for the Cubs in 1961 and Ken Hubbs for the Cubs in 1962. Ron Kittle was the American League ROY for the White Sox in 1983. Craig Kimbrel also was a Rookie of the Year. He won the award in 2011 while pitching for the Braves.

5. Since 1987, official MLB baseballs have been made by Rawlings Sporting Goods in Costa Rica. It takes 10 days to make one. The company makes almost two million balls a year. It wouldn’t need as many if Lance Lynn (now of the Dodgers) would stop allowing so many homers.

6. It was Edwin Starr who insistently sang, ‘‘Come on, feet, don’t fail me now.’’

7. In the 1968 classic ‘‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’’ produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, we vividly saw the dangers of artificial intelligence. The American spacecraft Discovery One, bound for Jupiter with five humans, primarily is controlled by a HAL 9000 computer with a human personality. The Yankees are owned by Hal Steinbrenner, who frequently displays a human personality. BTW: HAL got its name because each letter precedes IBM.

8. Through 1920, Roger Connor had hit 120 homers for the all-time lead. In 1920, the Babe hit 54 homers. By 1921, he was the all-time leader with 162. Ruth remained the home-run champ until 1974, when Hank Aaron took over, ending the season with 733.

9. Kid Gleason was a pretty good ballplayer before the turn of the century. He managed the ‘‘Black Sox’’ to the pennant in 1919 and led the team through the 1923 season. He never reached the World Series again.

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