Friday, April 07, 2006

Retrosheet.org -- For ALL Of Your Baseball Needs

Thanks to my friend Lee Panas at Detroit Tiger Tales and his ambitious but wonderfully inventive Mark Fidrych Diary, I checked out a website called www.retrosheet.org.

I'm still reeling.

I thought Baseball-Reference.com and Baseball-Almanac.com took the cake when it comes to providing baseball nuts with factoids and career stats, quotes, memorable moments, etc. But retrosheet.org digs deeper.

There are boxscores for games dating back decades, including in-game play-by-play and practically every fact about a game you'd care to know. There are schedules from years gone by. Standings, of course. Game-by-game results for individual teams for just about any season you'd like to look up. And more.

Maybe many of you are rolling your eyes and saying, "Geez, Eno -- you're just NOW hearing about retrosheet?," but I don't care. I discovered it last night and if I didn't stop myself -- which was hard to do -- I might STILL be browsing that site.

But the bestest part of retrosheet.org was that I was able to go back in time and look at boxscores and play-by-play from some of the most precious games I attended as a child.

For example, it took me a little while to find it on the schedule, but I always knew my first game in person was a 1971 Tigers-Yankees contest. I guessed that it was played after the All-Star game that was in Detroit that year, because I seem to remember the giant red, white, and blue stars that were painted in the outfield -- NOBODY else did that but Detroit, by the way -- and I thought them to be kind of grown over. Turns out the game I attended was actually played July 8, 1971 -- five days before the All-Star Game. So maybe the stars weren't grown over; perhaps they just weren't totally painted at that time. I knew the date was correct because my memory said the Tigers won, 3-1. And sure enough, the score of the 7/8/71 game was 3-1, Detroit.

I eagerly clicked on the boxscore and discovered that Tigers second baseman Tony Taylor played an inning at first base that night. I could see who the umpires were, what the attendance was, and how the teams scored. It also gives you the standings at the end of that day's games. The Tigers were about eight games out of first -- behind the frontrunning Orioles. It was a Thursday night. Sadly, just about my only memory of that game -- played about a month before my eighth birthday -- was of walking in the concourse and passing one of the ramps leading to the stands as we entered the ballpark. I remember how GREEN everything was -- the seats, the grass, the dugouts, the fences. I could see the pitching hill, and my eyes literally got wide and my father chuckled as he saw my wonderment. I remember that chuckle, but nothing from the game itself -- other than the final score. But that's all I needed to know, because retrosheet.org filled in all the blanks.

There was a Monday night game in 1973 -- on my birthday, August 6. It was the first of eight straight birthday games -- a little tradition we had. Anyhow, the game was the NBC Monday Night Game of the Week, and again the Yankees were in town. I remember the joint was packed. We sat in the upper deck in left. I also recall that Frank Howard hit a homerun in the bottom of the ninth, and the Tigers won in extra innings. So I looked it up on retrosheet.org, and my memory was dead-on: Howard hit the homer, pinch-hitting for Gates Brown, who also had homered earlier in the game. I remembered that Aurelio Rodriguez had slid home with the winning run in the 10th, and I was right about that, too.

I looked up some other games I attended throughout my life, including a couple games I saw in Toronto in 1978 with my friend Steve Hall, whose relatives lived outside of Toronto. After an hour of this stuff, I had to stop. It was after 2 a.m., after all.

Check out retrosheet.org -- and keep a cup of coffee handy. Still, don't be surprised if you fall asleep in front of your computer. Even the nuttiest of baseball nuts poops out eventually.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ozz said...

That is an awesome website. It's fun to look up the first and last games of favorite players too.

The date and score of my first Tigers game always stayed with me, but details were fuzzy until I discovered Retrosheet.

In my first Tigers game, Willie Horton hit two home runs! Unfortunately, he was playing for Seattle that day. Mariners beat the Tigers 8-4, 8/25/79.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Big Al said...

The internet is a wonderful thing, ain't it?

I've had Retrosheet bookmarked, but haven't vistited recently. I just looked up the box score from the 1972 division clincher against the BoSox. I was there that night, and I remembered correctly that Woodie Fryman, one of the greatest Tiger stretch pickups ever, got the win and Al Kaline had the GW hit. And for some reason, Duke Sims had always stood out in my memory, even though he didn't do much in that game other than getting thrown out at the plate.

But I didn't remember things like a young Carlton Fisk and Dwight Evans playing in the game. Or that the immoratal Chcuk Seelbach got the save for the good guys.

I'm starting to sound like Grandpa Simpson...

12:30 PM  
Blogger Lee Panas said...

I love retrosheet. The earliest baseball games I remember were a couple of series between the Tigers and Red Sox in 1968 when I was 5 years old. My family was on vacation at Cape Cod and my father was teaching me how to be a baseball fan. He used the Tigers as an example of a team I might follow. I listened to the games on the radio and I've always remembered them vaguely. When I first learned about retrosheet, the first thing I did was check out the box scores of those 7 games in the summer of 68.

10:10 PM  

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