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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Bill Chuck

This baseball quiz is no Mission: Impossible

Since 2014, Jose Abreu led all Chicago players in games played, home runs, extra-base hits, RBI, runs scored and batting average. (Stephen Brashear/AP)

Emil Richards, the famed percussionist, vibraphone specialist and L.A. session musician (the fabled Wrecking Crew), died at the age of 87 in December 2019. If the name is unfamiliar to you, Richards performed with Frank Sinatra, George Harrison, Frank Zappa, Judy Garland, Charles Mingus, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, The Monkees and dozens more.

Yet you are very familiar with his work. Really. Because Emil Richards played the xylophone parts on the opening theme of ‘‘The Simpsons,’’ did the finger-snapping on the theme song for ‘‘The Addams Family’’ and beat the bongos on the ‘‘Mission: Impossible’’ theme song.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do your best on this quiz. As always, should you or any of your quiz forces be caught or killed, the Quizmaster will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Have fun and learn a lot.

1. Reader Bernie M. suggested Feb. 7 for a question. It is indeed an interesting offseason date. On that date in 1940, Walt Disney’s ‘‘Pinocchio’’ was released (and you can tell by the nose on my face, that’s no lie). On that date in 1949, Joe DiMaggio signed with the Yankees for $100,000, the first six-figure contract in the major leagues. On Feb. 7, 1958, the Dodgers officially became the ‘‘Los Angeles Dodgers Inc.,’’ a move that changed baseball history. The next year, 1959, in a move that changed Chicago baseball history, White Sox president Mrs. Dorothy Rigney agreed to sell the team for a reported $2.7 million. Who was the buyer?

a. Bill Rigney

b. Bill Veeck

c. Charles O. Finley

d. Charles Comiskey

2. Reader Ed S. points out that in June 1972, Sammy Davis Jr. had a No. 1 hit with the song ‘‘Candy Man,’’ written for the film ‘‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.’’ The 1972 White Sox hit 108 homers, with Dick Allen, Carlos May and Ed Herrmann leading the way, and went 17-11 in June. The Cubs hit 133 homers, with Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Jim Hickman and Jose Cardenal at the plate, and also went 17-11 in June. Which team hit the most homers in June?

a. The Cubs

b. The White Sox

c. The same

3. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry recently died. In 1962-83, Perry appeared in 777 games, starting 690 of them for the Giants, Cleveland, the Rangers, the Padres, the Yankees, the Braves, the Mariners and the Royals. He allowed 399 home runs. Which Chicago batter hit the most homers against him?

a. Ron Santo

b. Billy Williams

c. Bill Melton

d. Dick Allen

4. Reader Marysue J. was born on Oct. 8, 1958, the same day that the Yankees drew even in the World Series (3-3) by defeating the Braves in 10 innings when a Moose drove home the winning run. The Yanks won the Series the next day, becoming the first team to come back from being down 3-1. The big Game 7 blow was a three-run home run off Lew Burdette in the eighth inning. The shot was hit by a Moose who soon would find his way to playing first base for the White Sox. Who’s that Moose?

a. Bill Skowron

b. Bob Moose

c. Moose Haas

d. Mike Mussina

5. Since 2014, who led all Chicago players in games played, home runs, extra-base hits, RBI, runs scored and batting average?

a. Jose Abreu

b. Jose Abreu

c. Jose Abreu

d. Jose Abreu

6. On June 8, 1969, the Yankees’ uniformNo. 7 was retired on Mickey Mantle Day. A crowd of 60,096 came to Yankee Stadium to honor Mantle. In that crowd were reader Bruce B. and Bill B., who might have been slightly hung over (what better way to salute The Mick?) while watching the Yankees sweep the White Sox in a twin bill. Don Pavletich wore No. 7 for the Sox that day, and Tim Anderson wears it these days. Which of the following Sox players also wore No. 7?

a. Kenny Williams

b. Steve Sax

c. Mark Kotsay

d. Jorge Orta

e. All of the above

7. The ‘‘Bill James Handbook’’ is my must-read every offseason (and during the season, as well). The 2023 edition is available right now, and after you have purchased my book, the ‘‘Handbook’’ is a must. It’s filled with varied items, most of which I never even had considered. I love looking at the various leaderboards for items of interest. For example, Freddie Freeman led the National League with a home batting average of .347 (minimum of 251 at-bats). Which NL shortstop finished second on the list?

a. Dansby Swanson

b.Trea Turner

c. Nico Hoerner

d. Francisco Lindor

8. Congratulations to new Hall of Famer Fred McGriff. The ‘‘Crime Dog’’ played 19 big-league seasons, including 195 games with the Cubs. He totaled 493 homers and hit 42 for the North Siders. His 493 homers are the same number hit by what other Hall of Famer?

a. Lou Gehrig

b. Al Kaline

c. Stan Musial

d. Willie Stargell

9. ESPN’s Chris Berman gave McGriff the nickname ‘‘Crime Dog’’ after the cartoon public-service-announcement dog McGruff. The pitcher who was known as ‘‘Barney’’ or ‘‘The Big Train’’ died Dec. 10, 1946. Who was he?

a. Eppa Rixey

b. Barney Rubble

c. Walter Johnson

d. James Trainer


1. Bill Veeck, one of my heroes, was the buyer. Chicago insurance broker Charles O. Finley said that he could match the price. Charles Comiskey would try to stop Veeck from buying the Sox but would be unsuccessful.

2. Each team hit 25 homers in June 1972. The Quizmaster mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.

3. In his fourth big-league appearance (and start), Gaylord Perry allowed his first homer on May 5, 1962, to Billy Williams. Williams hit eight more homers against Perry, the most of any player. And that’s no spit.

4. Bill ‘‘Moose’’ Skowron, who was born in Chicago on Dec. 18, 1930, attended Archbishop Weber High School. After his playing days, Skowron owned a bar in suburban Cicero.

5. Jose Abreu hit .292 with 243 homers and 863 RBI in a White Sox uniform, trailing only Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko on the team’s all-time homer list. No first baseman in baseball has collected more homers and driven in more runs than Abreu since his first season. His presence at the plate, in the field, in the dugout, in the clubhouse and among fans of great baseball will be missed in Chicago.

6. Jorge Orta wore No. 6; the rest wore No. 7.

7. Nico Hoerner hit .318 at Wrigley Field and .244 on the road. He clearly loves the hometown fans.

8. Fred McGriff hit the same number of homers as Lou Gehrig. Stan Musial and Willie Stargell each hit 475 homers.

9. Sportswriter Grantland Rice gave Walter Johnson his nickname ‘‘The Big Train’’ because of his size and his fastball. The express train was the fastest vehicle known at the time. He was nicknamed ‘‘Barney’’ in honor of Barney Oldfield, the race-car driver. Johnson was a brilliant pitcher who had 38 1-0 victories and took 26 1-0 losses.

UNABASHED PLUG: Don’t forget that ‘‘In Scoring Position,’’ published by Triumph Books, is a great holiday gift for the baseball fan in your life.

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