Every day, until baseball returns, Tim Kurkjian will use the day on the calendar to tell a story (or two ... or three) as only he can.
Wait, this guy has a last name with with two "Z's" and two "Y's"? Meet lefty Rob Zastryzny.
Rob Zastryzny needs a nickname
In 2016, the Cubs proved then-rookie reliever Rob Zastryzny's name was absolutely baffling to all of his teammates and manager.
His son came and picked him up. They went straight to the batting cage, where the Hit King reminded everyone he still had it.
Kurkjian recalls Rose's hitting display after getting out of prison
With March 27 being the anniversary of a 1989 story Sports Illustrated wrote about Pete Rose's gambling, Tim Kurkjian tells the story of when Rose put on an impressive display at a batting cage after getting out of prison.
Joy Kurkjian turns 96 years old. She went to every game her sons played. She almost turned one of her kid's homers into a double.
Kurkjian celebrates his mom's birthday with a humorous story
With March 28 being the birthday of Tim Kurkjian's mother, Joy, he recalls the time when she almost cost his brother a home run in a game.
How good was Cy Young? Well, the award is named after him. But maybe you didn't know that Ted Kluszewski cut off the sleeves of his uniform or Rusty Staub was such a good cook he took pots and pans on road trips.
On this date: Cy Young is born, Rusty Staub dies
In honor of March 29, Tim Kurkjian tells stories of Cy Young on the anniversary of his birth and Rusty Staub on the anniversary of his death.
Dwight Gooden, when he arrived in the majors, was scary good. So good, in fact, that when Roger Clemens got in the batter's box against him, Clemens learned something important about pitching.
Anniversary of Gooden's retirement reminds Kurkjian of funny Clemens story
Dwight Gooden retired on March 30, 2001, and that reminds Tim Kurkjian of a humorous story related to Gooden and Roger Clemens.
Michael Jordan tried his hand at baseball. He wasn't the best player, but he was still the most competitive -- going so far as to find creative ways to take manager Terry Francona's money.
Kurkjian recalls MJ, Francona's friendship and Yahtzee rivalry
March 31 is the anniversary of Michael Jordan signing with the Birmingham Barons, which prompts Tim Kurkjian to recount MJ's friendship with Terry Francona.
The idea was for Phil Niekro and his brother, Joe, to both pitch on the day Phil was going to win his 300th game. But once Phil had a chance to make history, he scrapped the plan.
On this date: Ichiro makes history with MLB debut
With April 2 being the anniversary of Ichiro Suzuki's 2001 major debut, Tim Kurkjian reflects on the significance of the event.
Ichiro Suzuki enjoyed one of America's staple meals. He could figure out an equation in seconds. And he never, ever threw his bat -- ever.
Anniversary of Mets signing Seaver recalls funny Ali story for Kurkjian
On April 3, 1966, the Mets signed Tom Seaver, and that reminds Tim Kurkjian of a Seaver story that involves Dick Schaap and Muhammad Ali.
Tom Seaver was undeniably the best New York Mets player ever. Yet, Muhammad Ali thought he worked for a newspaper when the two met.
Stories to remember Adrian Beltre by on his birthday
Tim Kurkjian celebrates Adrian Beltre's birthday by sharing some of his favorite stories about the third baseman.
On Opening Day 1994, he hit three homers, prompting a teammate to drive home that night thinking "This guy might be better than Strawberry or Bonds." It was part of a weird run on Opening Day three-homer games.
On this date: The Highlanders become the Yankees
On April 10, the New York Highlanders became the New York Yankees, and Tim Kurkjian marks the occasion by recapping the Yankees' success and legacy over the years.
The Hall of Fame manager never understood why anyone would bunt. He had no use for players on the DL. And he had a suggestion for one of his players who was thinking of becoming a minister.
Hrbek's birthday recalls some good stories from Kurkjian
As May 21 is Kent Hrbek's birthday, Tim Kurkjian tells his favorite stories about the Twins legend.
Plays that should have never been close were turned into outs when Roberto Clemente, in right field, had the ball in his hands a runner trying to take an extra base in his sights.
On this date: Quisenberry and Quirk team up for first QQ battery
Tim Kurkjian details how history was made on April 13, 1980 when Dan Quisenberry pitched to Jamie Quirk.
Playing third base in the majors and not wearing a cup seems like a bad idea. But Adrian Beltre, a future Hall of Famer, believed his defense was good enough to save him.
Kurkjian has some fun with uniform numbers in honor of Yankees
On April 16, 1929, the Yankees became the first team to wear numbers on their uniforms, which causes Tim Kurkjian to comes up with his own numbers game.
The Braves' relievers held a lottery for the best spot in the bullpen where the homer might land. When Tom House caught the ball, he ran it to home plate to give to Aaron. He saw something he'd never seen before.
Truman's unusual feat makes Kurkjian think of baseball ambidexterity
On April 18, 1950, former president Harry S. Truman used both of his hands to throw out first pitches, prompting Tim Kurkjian to recall other stories of baseball ambidexterity.
Bo Jackson ran up a wall. He homered in his first at-bat after hip replacement surgery. Those are just a few of the stories that make up the legend of Bo.
Kurkjian remembers Henry Chadwick by telling box score stories
Henry Chadwick died on April 20, 1908, and his creation of the baseball box score causes Tim Kurkjian to reflect on his love of box scores.
Once upon a time, they were the New York Highlanders. Then, in 1913, they became the New York Yankees. What has happened since has made them the most loved and hated franchise in the history of sports.
Kurkjian tells his favorite Brady Anderson stories
On the anniversary of Brady Anderson hitting a leadoff home run for a fourth consecutive game, Tim Kurkjian shares some stories about the former Orioles OF.
The game was a blowout. He just needed a single for the cycle. He had it -- until he kept going to second.
Kurkjian celebrates Francona's birthday with stories
In honor of Terry Francona's birthday, Tim Kurkjian tells his favorite stories about the skipper.
Hrbek was beloved at the Metrodome. Just because he was retired and the Twins moved to Target Field, people in Minnesota didn't stop loving a guy who carried around tape recordings of fart sounds.
Kurkjian reminisces on POTUS' phone call with Frank Robinson
Tim Kurkjian tells the story of how at dinner he pressed Orioles manager Frank Robinson into giving the details behind his phone call with the President of the United States.
There was Quisenberry to Quirk. Then there was Q to Z and Z to Q, then Black and Decker and Abbott and Castillo. You can have a lot of fun when looking at batterymates.
Kurkjian tells stories about Bochy's extremely large helmet
Tim Kurkjian reminisces about Bruce Bochy's abnormally large helmet on the anniversary of his first win as a manager.
One time, Nolan Ryan struck out the first batter of the game on three pitches. Ralph Garr walked back to the dugout and told his teammates, "This game is over."
Kurkjian reflects on the day a 2015 game was played with no fans
On April 29, 2015, a White Sox-Orioles game was played with no fans, and Tim Kurkjian remembers the unusual circumstances of that day.
Jackie Robinson was the first black player in the majors. It was a significant moment in American history, and it wasn't easy. "I don't know how Jackie did it,'' Dodgers pitcher Rex Barney said. "... He's the strongest man I've ever seen."
Kurkjian reflects on the day Gehrig's streak ended
Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak ended on May 2, 1939, which prompts Tim Kurkjian to reflect on Gehrig's legacy.
Sure, you might not agree, but it's a fun debate to look at each number and see what name is the best.
Kurkjian explains his fascination with sacrifice flies
On May 3, 1986, Don Mattingly tied the MLB record with three sacrifice flies in a game, which causes Tim Kurkjian to break down several notable sac fly stats.
Someone tried to strike him out on three pitches on his day. Someone else knocked him down with a pitch in an Old-Timers' game. Frank Robinson, ever the competitor, took care of it.
Kurkjian marks anniversary of Counsell's hiring with funny stories
On the anniversary of Craig Counsell being hired as Brewers manager, Tim Kurkjian tells his favorite stories about the skipper and former player.
Babe Ruth threw and hit lefty, but ate and wrote right-handed. Craig Biggio and Brooks Robinson did it the other way. And don't even try to figure out Mark Mulder: "I'm completely screwed up."
How jersey numbers carry special significance for some MLB players
Tim Kurkjian explains why Carlos May and other baseball players specifically picked their jersey numbers.
They are the ones who call the games, who make up the sound of baseball -- from Russ Hodges and Vin Scully to Ernie Harwell and Jon Miller. Those are the voices that have long brought baseball to life.
Kurkjian recalls times pitchers raked at the plate
On the anniversary of Jim Tobin's death, Tim Kurkjian tells stories of impressive hitting feats by Tobin and other pitchers in major league history.
In baseball, the numbers tell a story. Always have. You just need to look at a box score. Every box score. Every day. You won't believe what you'll find.
Kurkjian celebrates the grand slam
Tim Kurkjian takes a look at the grand slam on the anniversary of the date when six of them were hit in one day.
He wasn't quite the one-year wonder everyone thinks he is. But what made him truly memorable were some of the wild things he said and did.
Kurkjian reflects on White House visit, President Bush's WS pitch
On the anniversary of his visit to the White House, Tim Kurkjian recalls baseball players with presidential names and President George W. Bush's first pitch at the 2001 World Series.
Terry Francona is a certain Hall of Famer. He's also one of the funniest people in baseball. After all, he once threw a suit in a trash can and suggested it was a good time to make s'mores at Disney.
Two HOF 1B born on the same day and other baseball connections
Tim Kurkjian reflects on crazy baseball coincidences over the years, including May 27, 1968 being the birthday for both Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell.
Hoyt Wilhem proved for years that a knuckleball is impossible to hit, catch or call. In the movies, actors and directors learned the same thing.
Kurkjian celebrates the triple
Tim Kurkjian takes a look at the triple on the anniversary of the Blue Jays hitting three consecutive triples in 2011.
Omar Vizquel made playing shortstop look so easy. The magician explains how he made it look so effortless.
Kurkjian remembers Don Zimmer
Tim Kurkjian reflects on the joy Don Zimmer brought to baseball on the anniversary of his passing.
The 1988 Orioles were historically bad. It got so ugly, then-President Ronald Reagan even called then-Baltimore manager Frank Robinson to offer some support. His response: "Mr. President, you got no idea what I'm going through."
Kurkjian celebrates the little guy in baseball
In honor of Eddie Gaedel's birthday, Tim Kurkjian recalls several stories about shorter players in baseball history.
Wade Boggs knew how to use all fields. So much so that perhaps the best plan anyone ever came up with was to line up eight guys behind the pitcher and have them scatter as soon as the ball was released. They didn't do that, but they should have.
The crazy things scouts will do to find baseball players
Tim Kurkjian goes in depth on the different ways MLB scouts will find players, including crawling under the bleachers and climbing orange trees.
Sure, he could manage. After all, he was three World Series rings. But he also had self-deprecating humor and a head so big he had to travel with his own helmet.
How slumps can impact hitters
On the anniversary of Jack Clark striking out nine times over two games, Tim Kurkjian looks at slumps and how they affect hitters.
In 2001, nobody expected Albert Pujols to become Albert Pujols. But it didn't take long to realize something special was happening in St. Louis.
Kurkjian remembers Mike Benjamin's historic hitting streak
Tim Kurkjian reflects back on Giants Infielder Mike Benjamin setting a MLB record for most hits in three consecutive games.
In 2015, Oriole Park was quiet. No fans. You could hear every sound on one of the most surreal days in baseball.
Kurkjian gives a birthday shoutout to Dusty Baker
Tim Kurkjian shines the spotlight on Astros manager Dusty Baker who celebrates his birthday on June 15.
Most times, Ted Williams started getting ready the night before. With Feller, who threw three no-hitters, struck out 17 when he was 17 years old, even the greatest hitter ever knew he had his hands full.
Kurkjian recounts baseball's quirkiest name combinations
Tim Kurkjian breaks down the different name quirks that have happened throughout baseball, including one involving Elvis Presley.
Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock worked on a speech for when Rickey broke Brock's all-time steal record. He had it in his pocket. Instead, Rickey decided to write his own on the fly. That's how "Today, I am the greatest of all time" came out.
Kurkjian marvels at Bobby Cox's style and success
On the anniversary of Bobby Cox becoming the manager of the Braves, Tim Kurkjian reflects on his marvelous career and unique style, including wearing metal spikes.
He is most remembered for The Streak and the "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth" speech he gave at Yankee Stadium. He was a force on the field. Just look at the numbers.
A celebration of the walk-off home run
Tim Kurkjian recalls some great stories about walk-off home runs, including Dodgers rookies hitting them for three games in a row.
The sacrifice is way more interesting than you think. We promise. Let Tim Kurkjian explain.
He didn't really look like a Major Leaguer. He was mistaken for a lot of things, but Craig Counsell had a strong career as a player and now a manager.
His father was friends with Tommy Lasorda. That's how Mike Piazza got drafted -- in the 62nd round. But with hand strength, work and a home run no one will ever forget, he vaulted himself into baseball history.
The argument can be made that Willie Mays was the greatest player of all time. Look at the numbers. And listen to his opponents, who had a hard time beating him and an even harder time believing he wouldn't make the impossible look easy.
Don't let Big Sexy's body fool you. He was athletic. He could also hit. And in 2016, he proved what his teammates already knew from watching batting practice: He had power.
Once Kirby Puckett figured out he couldn't just hit, but could also hit for power, a Hall of Fame career was born.
Let's keep this simple: Tony Gwynn could hit. "Some hitters use bats as more of a battering ram," one former teammate said. "Tony used his bats more as a paintbrush."
Must have certain flavor of gum. Have to stand in same spot in the shower. Need to clean spikes at exact time. And, please, don't even think about throwing an odd number in the mix.
Everyone remembers the 20-strikeout game. What about the one that followed? That would be 13 strikeouts and no walks. Consecutive starts, 33 strikeouts, one walk. Those poor hitters.
Sure, he mangled the language and was painted as a cartoon character. But he won 10 rings as a player. So he was tougher than you think. And he wasn't afraid to take on The Boss.
He is perhaps the most underrated superstar in baseball history. And in one of his 24 All-Star Game appearances, he'd seen enough. So he decided to end it.
When you go through baseball history day by day, you see the name Walter Johnson a lot. There's a reason for that.
We know George Brett could hit. But with a golf club? On a green, with a ball travelling at him? The story seems impossible, except it's real.
Jim Palmer wasn't short on confidence. He knew how to get people out. Sometimes, he went to measures not many others would to get the job done.
Sometimes it's about date of birth or height, a slight or a tribute. There's usually a reason why a player has a certain number. Here's some great explanation behind those digits.
Nothing got by Brooks Robinson, which explains why he retired with 16 Gold Gloves and is arguably the greatest defensive third baseman of all time.
There have been days when pitchers won games and hit walk-off homers, and seasons when they hit better than .300. Last year, Michael Lorenzen did something only Babe Ruth had done.
The tales of his competitiveness are legendary; Roger Clemens did not like to lose. So he worked out early and late, on days before he pitched and immediately after.
The Red Sox had at least one grand slam for 63 straight years. Don Mattingly once had six in a year, and they were the only six he had in his career. The Orioles hit two in a game -- and lost. Go figure.
Tim Kurkjian admits he cannot name all the presidents. But he can certainly come up with a baseball roster with names worthy of the White House.
He said he knew he had something special in Derek Jeter because Jeter still hadn't shaved. He didn't want players who had bright blue eyes because they couldn't see well in the sun. And he once took out Harold Reynolds with a slide -- while in a suit.
And not just at baseball. But also at golf. Or HORSE. Or pingpong. Or ... you get the idea. He hated to lose. And since he was so good at everything, he rarely did.
Babe Ruth could do so much. He was a great pitcher, but he'll be remembered for the home run. And when you really dig into the totals, it's still mind-blowing a century later.
Harvey Haddix was perfect through 12. But a 13th inning was needed. It was then, he lost the perfect game, the no-hitter, the shutout and the game.
Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell were both MVPs in '94. They were born on the same day. Dennis Eckersley picked off Kenny Williams in 1987 and didn't have another for four years -- when he got Williams again. Joe Niekro had one homer -- off his brother.
Mariano Rivera was the greatest closer ever. The gap between him and the second-best closer isn't even close. And to think, the Yankees weren't really sure what to do with him when they first got him.
The season wasn't two months old. But Mike Schmidt had standards. And he wasn't meeting them. So he decided to walk away.
Cal Ripken played and played, through pain that would have forced others to stop. Why? Because that is what his father taught him.
It was extra innings. A catcher who had never caught was behind the plate. Martinez needed to find a way to get out of the inning. So he picked off one runner, then another, then another. Side retired.
It's not just fast guys who have triples. After all, Derek Jeter went 683 at-bats without one in 2012. Jim Golden, a pitcher, once had two in a game. In 2011, the Blue Jays did it three consecutive at-bats.
One veteran coach explained Randy Johnson like this: "He is so tall,'' veteran coach Rich Donnelly once said, "he doesn't have a pickoff move to second, he just reaches out and touches the runner.''
How good was Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000? His combined ERA for those two seasons was 1.90. The league average was 4.90. At one point, he might have had the best fastball, curve and changeup in baseball at the same time.
He might not have looked the part, with that moon face, but Don Zimmer was a baseball genius. And he was revered every step of the way, for his smarts, his toughness and his humor.
His first manager Bobby Cox knew it the first time he met Chipper Jones. "Sometimes you can just tell by a guy's face,'' Cox said. "Great face.'' What came next was a Hall of Fame career.
Trevor Hoffman couldn't hit. And he wasn't going to beat out Barry Larkin for the shortstop job with the Reds. So he became a pitcher. It worked out pretty well.
On this day 10 years ago, Bryce Harper was drafted. But long before he arrived in the majors, he was doing things nobody had ever before. From tape-measure homers to making future major leaguers cry, Harper announced he was different.
From Dustin Pedroia to Tim Lincecum, Yogi Berra to Hack Wilson, baseball is loaded with little guys who can play, even if they occasionally are mistaken for jockeys.
No-hitters can come out of, well, nowhere -- from pitchers who had never thrown a complete game (before or after). From a guy making a random, unexpected start. From a guy who can't throw a strike but also can't give up a hit.
Finding a gem in the MLB draft isn't easy. And for the scouts charged with finding the right player, well, it can be hazardous.
Why would Ted Williams do that? He wanted to talk to Paul Molitor about hitting because, well, Paul Molitor knew how to hit.
In baseball, or golf, or walking down the street. It doesn't matter to Justin Verlander. He has to win.
There have been times Hall of Famers have wondered if they'd ever get another hit. Why? It's not easy. Listen to some of these tales from hitters who lay awake at night trying to figure it out.
We know, right now you're saying ... who? Well, in 1995, Mike Benjamin had a three-day stretch nobody else in baseball -- not Ted Williams nor Ichiro -- has ever had.
Dusty Baker isn't simply a retired baseball player and manager. And he was, and is, good at both. But there is so much more to the most interesting man in baseball.
Oh, but that's not all. There was Black and Decker, Ray and Romano, Nova and Cain and so many more. Only in baseball can you go down this kind of rabbit hole of names.
That's how special it was to see Ted Williams at the plate or in the batting cage. You picked up the phone and called someone.
Most of the time it is a triple that stands in the way of a cycle. But some of the names on the list of players who have hit for the cycle -- and those that are missing -- will surprise you.
The nickname fit: He was the Wizard of Oz, an artist at shortstop. He was so good his teammates admit they took those did-he-just-do-that moments for granted.
It was flawless. At 18, when Griffey was taking batting practice at the Kingdome, major leaguers stood and watched. One said: "I've never seen anything like it."
Opposing hitters were afraid of Bob Gibson. Asked to name the five best pitchers he ever faced, Doug Rader put it this way: "That's easy," he said. "Bob Gibson in 1968, Bob Gibson in 1969, Bob Gibson in 1970, Bob Gibson in 1971 and Bob Gibson in 1972.''
Like Bear Bryant's fedora or Bill Belichick's hoodie, the metal spikes were Bobby Cox's signature. But there was more to it than simply having a trademark.
Dennis Eckersley served up one of the most famous of all time, to Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series. There are other big ones, and some lesser-known ones, that dot baseball history.
The numbers, beyond just the legendary 56-game hitting streak, are staggering. Joe DiMaggio hit for power and average and, it seemed, never, ever struck out.
A player once got locked in a dugout bathroom. A ball got lodged in a pitcher's glove and he had to throw the entire glove to first base. Two center fielders on two different teams shared a glove for an entire series. Yes, baseball can be strange.
Former player and current Yankees manager Aaron Boone made it simple when framing Derek Jeter. "I thought he was a great player when I played against him,'' he said. "Then I played next to him, and he was even better than I thought.''
It could have been over after 43 innings. Something similar happened to the guy, Don Drysdale, whose record Hershiser broke. They were bailed out by an umpire.
Players love their gloves. They protect them. They don't allow anyone near them. If they misbehave, they punish them. Here are some of the tales of baseball players and their most prized possession -- their gloves.
How bad is it to be hit by a pitch in the majors? Let Mark Reynolds explain: "When you see a guy bending over at home plate [after being hit], he is making sure everything is still there.''
His career was short, but it was dominant. "No one," Frank Robinson said, "could hit that man."
Usually when a position player takes the mound it's because something weird has already happened. Then he pitches and things get even weirder.
Baseball connects generations. The Griffeys hit back-to-back homers. The Bonds hit more than 1,000 home runs. The Biggios hit for the cycle. The Boones ... well, the whole family, it seems, played in the majors.
It has been 100 days since what was supposed to be Opening Day. A lot has happened since then, most of it bad, most of it damaging to the sport. Here are 100 reasons to remind you why you loved it in the first place.