Knowing stuff

Janis Joplin was the second artist to have a posthumous #1 single on the US Billboard charts.

I tell these, not out of boastfulness, but to show how my mind works. It seems to like knowing stuff.

Baseball and WWII

Someone posted this picture on Facebook, with the caption “Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Dom DiMaggio, 1942.” A response: “Joe was not with the Yankees in 1942. He was wearing Uncle Sam’s uniform.”

I didn’t think the “correction” was right, but I didn’t know why. Maybe I read an old bio. So I checked with Baseball Reference and confirmed it: Joe DiMaggio played for the New York Yankees in 1942, and the warrior Yanks in 1943-1945. The same was true, BTW, of the two Boston Red Sox pictured, Williams and Dom DiMaggio.


At the Olin family reunion last Sunday, someone asked their electronic helper how many states in the US are designated as commonwealths. Before the Siri-like device could respond, I said four and named them. An Olin high-fived me. BTW, these are essentially nominal differences, whereas the commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a whole ‘nother issue.

Before Janis

This issue came up a week ago Friday night when The Wife and I went to see A Night with Janis Joplin at the Capital Repertory Theatre in downtown Albany. We ran into a couple from the neighborhood, and like me, they railed at the reliance on Google, noting that it had been an issue professionally.

I asked them a trivia question. Janis Joplin was the second artist to have a posthumous #1 single on the US Billboard charts. Who was the first? (Dustbury: do not answer!)

They had no idea, but as they said, it was FUN to try to guess, not just pull out a device. Was it one of the people from The Day The Music Died? No, much later, but the artist died the same way. They guessed Jim Croce (d. September 20, 1973), but in fact, his posthumous #1 (Time in a Bottle – December 29, 1973) was AFTER Janis.

I finally indicated it was an individual on Stax Records, and while they didn’t know he had died in a plane crash, they eventually got to Otis Redding (d. December 10, 1967) and Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay (March 16, 1968).

Not incidentally, A Night with Janis Joplin was quite fine, although it’s interesting/strange that the performances her “influences” (Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Nina Simone, Odetta, et al, played by Jannie Jones, Danyel Fulton, Nikita Jones, Kimberly Ann Steele) often outshone Kelly McIntyre as Janis, who was nevertheless very good.

Baseball legend Hal Trosky

Hal Trosky suffered from migraines for a number of years, before retiring in 1941,

Hal Trosky c. 1936
Hal Trosky c. 1936

There’s this guy playing for the Chicago White Sox this season named Jose Abreu. After being a star for the Cuban team, he defected and is now tearing up Major League Baseball. I read that he’s become the fourth rookie in major league history to record at least 30 doubles, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, joining Hal Trosky (1934), Ted Williams (1939), and Albert Pujols (2001).

I know who Pujols is, a likely Hall of Famer, long with the Cardinals, now with the Angels. Williams IS a Hall of Famer who I saw at the end of his splendid career, all with the Boston Red Sox.

But who was Hal Trosky? He was a fine first baseman who came up with Cleveland at the end of the 1933 season. But 1934 was his official rookie season, and, as noted, he did well. He never made it to an All-Star Game, however, because he played in the era of Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg.

Unfortunately, he suffered from migraines for a number of years, before retiring in 1941, though he returned to baseball with less successful stints in 1944 and 1946 with the Chicago White Sox. Still, he finished as a career .302 hitter, which is impressive. Save for those nasty headaches, he might have been more than a baseball footnote.
Looking at Ted Williams’ record, it’s amazing how well he played both before and after WWII, as though he hadn’t missed a day, let alone three seasons. He also lost time during the Korean War.


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