Nik Experiences the New Zealand Winter

One of the great things about knowing people who live in other places is that you get perspectives from those other people. For instance, I’d be inclined to say, today is the first day of summer. Or not. But Nik, who I should note I’ve never met personally, only through his writings, is an expat American about to experience winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Which is a roundabout way of saying: it’s time for my summer/winter solstice edition of (drum roll, please)… Ask Roger Anything, in which you can, well, query myself, er, about any topic. Ask me about the two times I got to shake Nelson Rockefeller’s hand or how many Supreme Court justices I’ve met, or anything about sports or race or politics or religion or music or television or being a librarian. Well, anything except the Dewey Decimal System; that’s as deep dark secret.

You may ask a maximum of 16 questions apiece, except for Gordon, who can ask as many as he wants; bring ’em on, Piscean!

But DON’T ask me bizarro trivia questions, such as the one I saw on Ken Jennings’ blog this month:

Consider the universe of baseball statistics. Forget about ones that are averages, and thus a player’s score can go up or down over time — batting average, ERA, slugging percentage, and the like. Focus on the ones that accumulate. Also, forget about statistics that nobody tracks, like ground rule doubles in extra innings under a full moon on astroturf. Stay with statistics that people have actually heard of.

Now consider that among such statistics there’s the concept of one category being a special case of another. If you do one, you necessarily do the other, but not vice versa (otherwise two statistics would be called “synonyms”). A perfect game is a special case of a no-hitter. A double is a special case of a hit. An at-bat is a special case of a plate appearance. A save is a special case of a game played, but a hit is not because you can have any number of hits in a game.

At last, the question. There are two statistics, one of which is a special case of the other. The career leaders in the two categories — the guys who did each the most times — are different men with the same first and middle names. Who are they?

Oy. I barely understood the QUESTION, let alone had any idea what the answer was.

Anyway,

the

answer

is

Henry Louis (Hank) Aaron holds the record for career home runs (755) and Henry Louis (Lou) Gehrig holds the record for career grand slam home runs (23).

Of course, Barry Bonds is in a well-publicized pursuit of Aaron’s record (currently at 748), and Manny Ramirez, last I checked, stood at 20 Grand Slams. Bonds, BTW, is the career leader of a statistic with his initials: Bases on Balls.

So don’t ask me questions like that.