Baseball high-fives for Cinco de Mayo
An array of historical facts significant to No. 5
Today is Cinco de Mayo, a date observed to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride. In honor of the celebration on the fifth day of the fifth month, here are 55 fantastic facts about the numbers 5, 55 and 555 in baseball history.
When scoring a game, the No. 5 represents the third baseman.
The most commonly retired number in baseball (other than Jackie Robinson's No. 42 that is retired MLB-wide) is 5.
Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson had his No. 5 retired by the Orioles in 1977. Fellow Hall of Famer Frank Robinson once described his teammate Brooks' great fielding by saying: "He was the best defensive player at any position. I used to stand in the outfield like a fan and watch him make play after play. I used to think, 'Wow, I can't believe this.'"
Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett had his No. 5 retired by the Royals in 1995.
Another third sacker, Frank "Home Run" Baker, was inducted into the Hall in 1955.
That same year, Joltin' Joe DiMaggio was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Yankees retired his No. 5 jersey.
The Tigers retired Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg's No. 5 in 1983.
The Marlins retired No. 5 in honor of Carl Barger, the first president of the Florida franchise, who passed away before the team ever played a game. The number was retired before the Marlins' first-ever regular-season game on April 5, 1993. Barger's favorite player was DiMaggio.
The Reds retired uniform No. 5 for good in 1986, in honor of catcher Johnny Bench. They first retired it in 1940 in honor of catcher Willard Hershberger.
The great Indians shortstop Lou Boudreau had his No. 5 retired by the Tribe in 1970, the same year he was inducted into the Hall. Not only was he was a great player but he was their player/manager at the age of 24.
The Astros retired Jeff Bagwell's No. 5 jersey in August 2007. It was Bagwell's attitude that made him great, "I'm a professional ballplayer and what I see as my responsibility is to be ready to play. All the rest of that stuff, being a star or whatever, is never something I've been interested in."
Including Jackie Robinson, the Montreal Expos retired five numbers before they became the Washington Nationals. The other Expos who had their numbers retired are Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Rusty Staub and Tim Raines.
"It's not what you did last year. It's what you're going to do this year. That's more important," said the No. 5-wearing Albert Pujols, the Cardinals first baseman and one of the best players in today's game.
Tim Lincecum, who has won the last two NL Cy Young Awards, wears No. 55 for the Giants. Lincecum, who is less than six feet tall, has said: "It kind of gives everybody else out there who is not a big person the motivation and the inspiration that they know they can do it, too."
The 2009 World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui, wore Yankees jersey No. 55. He wears the same number now with the Angels.
Naming just five who wear No. 5: Mets third baseman David Wright, A's third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, Michael Cuddyer of the Twins, Mike Sweeney of the Mariners and Pat Burrell of the Rays.
Sandy Koufax (three times), Walter Johnson (three times), Christy Mathewson (twice), Grover Cleveland Alexander (twice), and Roger Clemens (twice) -- five pitchers who have won the pitching Triple Crown multiple times.
Hank Aaron and Frank Thomas both finished with a .555 slugging percentage.
Pitchers Adam Wainwright, Randy Wolf, Luis Tiant, John Smoltz and Robin Roberts, to name five, all hit five career homers.
Speaking of Smoltzie, in 2002 he had five decisions, going 3-2, along with 55 saves.
Closer Eric Gagne won the National League Cy Young Award for the Dodgers in 2003, the season in which he was 55-for-55 in converted save opportunities.
A game is considered official if the visiting team is leading, or the game is tied, at the end of the fifth inning. If the home team is winning it is official after the top of the fifth.
In 1955, 55 years ago, the White Sox Jim Rivera and the Braves' Billy Bruton each led their respective leagues with 25 (5x5) stolen bases.
Since 1900, the National League has had five batting Triple Crown winners: Heinie Zimmerman, Joe Medwick, Chuck Klein and Rogers Hornsby (twice).
The Brooklyn Dodgers won their only world championship in 1955, which was 55 years ago. They won 98 games and lost 55 during the regular season. Newspaperman and author Pete Hamill described the feeling like this: "In Brooklyn that day, it was the Liberation of Paris, VJ Day, New Year's Day all rolled into one."
Enrique Wilson, Joe Nuxhall, Rube Ellis and Duff Cooley all finished their careers with 555 games played.
From 1964 to 1968, Cubs beloved third baseman and longtime broadcaster Ron Santo won five consecutive Gold Glove awards.
Herbert Perry is the only third baseman to end his career with 55 homers.
From 1903 to 1957, 55 straight years, John McGraw, Bill Terry, Mel Ott and Leo Durocher managed the Giants. They all ended up in the Hall of Fame.
Steve Carlton and "Three Finger" Mordecai Brown each threw 55 shutouts.
Phillies pitcher Jack Baldschun struck out 555 batters in his career.
Bernie Williams, Alan Trammell, Willie Stargell, Fred Patek and Craig Biggio, to name five, all finished with 55 career triples.
Ty Cobb, Carl Crawford, Roger Cedeno, Cesar Cedeno and Roberto Alomar, to name five, each stole 55 bases in a season.
Buddy Bell, Tom Paciorek, Al Weis, Von Joshua and Rey Sanchez, to name five, all stole 55 bases in their careers.
Carlos Delgado, Mike Cameron, Rocky Colavito, Pat Seerey and Lou Gehrig are the five American Leaguers to hit four homers in a game. When Cameron did it as a member of the Mariners on May 2, 2002, he said: "It was just one of those days. If I could compare it to anything, it was like MJ [Michael Jordan] when he hit the six [3-pointers] against Portland and he just shrugged his shoulders. That's what I told guys on the bench. I don't know, I'm just putting a good swing on the ball."
In 1954, Cardinals great Stan Musial became the first Major Leaguer to hit five home runs in a doubleheader. Watching the game was 8-year-old Nate Colbert, who in 1972, then as the Padres' first baseman, became the only Major Leaguer to repeat the feat. Musial, who wore No. 6, said: "I love to play this game of baseball -- I love putting on this uniform."
New York Giants outfielder George Burns led the National League in runs scored a record five times -- a mark tied by Musial and Hornsby -- and led the NL in walks five times.
In 19 seasons, pitcher Jesse Haines appeared in 555 games.
On Cinco de Mayo 1962, Bo Belinsky threw the first no-hitter in Angels history and the first one ever at Dodger Stadium. It was Belinsky's fourth start in the Majors. After the game, he said: "If I'd known I was gonna pitch a no-hitter today, I would have gotten a haircut."
Ernie Padgett, Glenn Wright, Jimmy Cooney, Rafael Furcal and Troy Tulowitzki are the five NL shortstops who pulled off unassisted triple plays.
Since 1920, no batter has ever had five doubles, five triples, or five homers in a single game.
Baseball stars are regarded as "five-tool players." The five tools are: 1) hitting for average, 2) hitting for power, 3) running speed, 4) arm strength and 5) fielding ability.
On May 5, 1955, Dodgers pitcher Tommy Lasorda, making his first Major League start, threw three wild pitches in one inning. But on Cinco de Mayo 2000, the Hall of Fame skipper was named manager of the United States Olympic baseball team. The insightful Lasorda once said: "There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens."
Five years ago, in 2005, Roy Halladay led the American League with five complete games.
Kelly Shoppach, Shawn Green, Steve Garvey, Willie Stargell and Joe Adcock are the only five players to have five extra-base hits in a game.
Bill Hall, Tony Conigliaro, Jack Clark, Jose Canseco and Cameron are five former or current Red Sox who struck out five times in a game, but none did it while a member of the Sox. The five times a member of the Red Sox struck out five times in a game were by Jason Bay, Ray Jarvis, Phil Plantier and George Scott (who did it twice).
Hall of Famers Koufax, Ernie Banks, Brooks Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Harmon Killebrew, to name five, were all rookies in 1955.
On July 9, 1927, Johnny Neun went 5-for-5 with five stolen bases.
No batter has ever finished a season hitting 55 homers and no pitcher ever ended his career with 55 wins and 55 losses.
Al Kaline, Albert Belle, Barry Larkin, John Mayberry and Glenn Davis, to name five, were all hit 55 times in their careers. Ouch!
On the other hand, Don Drysdale led the NL in hitting batters a record five times. Drysdale said: "If one of our guys went down, I just doubled it. No confusion there. It didn't require a Rhodes scholar." Mickey Mantle was quoted as saying, "I hated to bat against Drysdale. After he hit you he'd come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, 'Do you want me to sign it?'"
Drysdale, Mariano Rivera, Sal Maglie, Jim Palmer and Johnson, to name five, are pitchers who won five games in their first year in the bigs. Drysdale, Nolan Ryan, Robin Roberts, Johnny Podres and Walter Johnson, to name five, are pitchers who won five games in their last year in the bigs.
Tulowitzki, Mike Lansing, Mike Helton, Neifi Perez and Dante Bichette are the five Rockies who have hit for the cycle.
"Damn Yankees," the musical adaptation of the book "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant," opened on Broadway on 5/5/55.
MLBlogs recently celebrated anniversary No. 5. Read all about it.
Bill Chuck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.