Book of lists is gourmet feast of Oriole trivia

DAN RODRICKS

June 19, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

On the back of "The Book of Baltimore Orioles Lists," just out from American Literary Press ($9.95), are splendid photographs of the two authors, Linda Geeson and David Pugh, along with brief biographies of both. The minibio on Mr. Pugh notes that he was "born in Harford Memorial Hospital."

To understand why that footnote to the life of this affable Trivia Head was included, one must turn to page 50. There we find the category, "Two Orioles Born in The Same Hospital as One of the Authors of This Book." Cal and Billy also saw first light at Harford Memorial, and it figures that Mr. Pugh, baseball nut and Orioles fan, has long been proud of this totally meaningless coincidence, enough to slip it into this terrific book.

That category is far from the book's most spectacular, but I mention it to show how the Pugh mind works. It is an astonishing mind, not just because it is full of the lint and dust balls of modern Orioles history, but because it is clever enough to make Mr. Pugh's obsession with baseball palatable to even the casual trivia gourmet. Add to this the witty Ms. Geeson -- "She's a baseball nut, too," says Mr. Pugh -- and you have a collaboration that is highly entertaining and, at times, astounding.

This is trivia to the nth power -- way out beyond mere statistics. "The Book of Baltimore Orioles Lists" is fun, approaching parody of the overwrought baseball trivia books we have come to expect. As Jim Bready, respected authority on Orioles history, notes in the foreword: "It may be that [Dave Pugh and Linda Geeson] like baseball even more than some of the players do."

The authors read musty record books, programs, media guides and yearbooks, connecting what they discovered with the contents of their own cluttered minds. I don't want to give away all the good parts; that would not be fair to authors who deserve to make a few bucks from this labor of love. But you need a taste of what Mr. Pugh and Ms. Geeson came up with.

For me, their deepest penetration into the cosmos of baseball statistics resulted in the following category: "Six Orioles Who Stole Home Against a Once or Future Oriole Catcher." They provide all the names and dates, too. You can look it up.

The book includes the heaviest (Boog Powell), the lightest (Dan Boone), the shortest (Albie Pearson) and tallest (Rich Bordi, Ben McDonald, Tim Stoddard and Rick Sutcliffe, all 6-foot-7) Orioles. If you are a trivia addict -- or just an enabler of one -- you'll enjoy categories such as: "Eleven Different Players Who Started in Right Field for the Orioles on Opening Day 1954-1965," or "Five Great Pitchers Who Lost at Least 20 Games to the Orioles," or "Seven Players Traded for Elrod Hendricks."

Mr. Pugh and Ms. Geeson, a former Baltimore Sun reporter now director of public relations for Center Stage, go where no baseball buff has ever gone before. Here's my list of the 10 Best Categories from "The Book of Baltimore Orioles Lists":

10. "The All Eyeglass-Wearing Team"

9. "20 Orioles with a Relative Who Played in the Major Leagues"

8. "Four Orioles Who Have Appeared in Movies"

7. "Three Orioles With a Football-Playing Relative"

6. "Nineteen Orioles Who Had 'Spirited' Post-Baseball Careers" (They owned bars or worked for liquor distributors.)

5. "Seven Things That Andy Etchebarren and Frank Zupo Have in Common"

4. "Bob Brown's Five Most Emotional Moments in Orioles History" (Mr. Brown, longtime Orioles public relations director, is managing editor of The Orioles Gazette.)

3. "Three Orioles Who Should Have been Marx Brothers"

2. "Four Orioles Who Hit Grand Slams on August 26th"

1. "Three Orioles With Fishy Names" (I'll give you this one: Paul "Dizzy" Trout, Chico Salmon and Harvey Haddix.)

Several local journalists -- not including me -- contributed to the book. I hope that, in the next edition, Mr. Pugh and Ms. Geeson will feel free to use a list I put together for The Evening Sun. These were my "Top Ten Proposed Opening Day Events For the New Ballpark, 1992":

10. Combination human wave and structural integrity test.

9. National Anthem by Zamfir, master of the pan flute.

8. Roseann look-alike contest.

7. Gary Hurley balloon over stadium.

6. Visa and Mastercard accepted by concessionaires.

5. First 5,000 fans get an I'm-a-Close-Personal-Friend-of-Barry Levinson T-shirt.

4. Governor Schaefer and Bird do lambada.

3. Nintendo on JumboTRON.

2. Giveaway of Jose Canseco voodoo doll.

1. Vice President Quayle throws first ball -- into stands.

Kudos to Mr. Pugh and Ms. Geeson. Their book is a smile.

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