In a total baseball nerd experience, I was at Cooperstown last weekend for a Bachelor Party.
While in the HOF they made an announcement saying there will be a trivia contest. This being the grown up equivalent to running the bases at a Major League park I ran to the Bullpen Theatre for the contest.
The format is the same as “So you want to be a Millionaire”. The first qualifying question was
-There have been 12 pitchers to win 3 games in a World Series, who was the last?
I knew the answer right away but I let other people guess wrong first, Andy Pettite etc.
Then I threw down, Randy Johnson and I got in the hot seat.
There were nine questions or “innings”. They were mostly easy but got help on who the first two umps inducted were and what the two unretired single digit Yankee numbers.
The final question was – Who was the first batting champ of the National Association in 1871? The four options – Cap Anson, Al Spalding, Levi Meyerle and Ross Barnes. I knew Anson played later than 1871 and Al Spalding was a pitcher. I wasn’t familiar with Meyerle but I may have heard of Ross Barnes. I polled the audience and they overwhelmingly voted for Spalding. Popularity contest?
Anyways, the answer was Meyerle and I did not win the Membership to the HOF ($30 value).
“Long” Levi Meyerle was aptly nicknamed, being over six feet tall, he was a pioneer day Randy Johnson. Of Jewish descent he played third base, very poorly for several Philadelphia based clubs. He was able to keep his job with Philadelphia clubs due to his extraordinary batting skills.
Meyerle’s career was spent mostly in the National Association of Baseball Players and then his Philadelphia Athletics joined the National Association of Baseball Clubs in 1871. He entered baseball earlier playing with several Philadelphia area clubs in the National Association of Base Ball Players. The National Association of Baseball Clubs is considered the first organised league. However, Major League baseball does not consider it an Official Major League. However, some sources, authors, historians treat the NA as Major. The division between major and minor league was not as significant or even relevant in Meyerle’s time.
In 1871 Meyerle was 21 and his Philadelphia Athletics won the NA pennant with a 21-7 record. He led the league in average, with a .492 mark and also in home runs with 4. Meyerle was the leader in many offensive categories that year. He also fielded at a .642 rate in a league that fielder .833. Throughout his career he was moved around the field, he proved a burden in the field whereever he went. He certainly was a case for an early DH rule. He holds the distinction of one of the lowest fielding averages in baseball history. He was well over an error per game rate throughout his 8 year career.
Levi was among the best players throughout the history of the National Association. If the NA is ever granted major league status he should be a shoe in for the Hall of Fame. Meyerle crossed over into the newly formed NL in 1876 and continued to battle Ross Barnes for batting supremacy. Meyerle faded off after he was 27 and played in smaller minor leagues. Meyerle made a brief Satchel Paige style comeback with his hometown Philadelphia Keystones of the short lived Union Association in 1884.
He died in Philadelphia in 1921. While a fan favourite and a star of reknown in the early leagues, he was amongst the highest earning stars, he is mostly forgotten except for trivia games in the Bullpen Theatre in Cooperstown.
Check out his record at baseball-reference.com http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/meyerle01.shtml