Patrick Mazeika rewrites MLB history books (no, really) with walk-off fielder’s choice

They didn’t do this in the early 1900s.

They didn’t do this in the early 1900s.
Image: Getty Images

Patrick Mazeika has had an incredible first week in the major leagues. It’s one thing to make history, but quite another to rewrite it entirely.

The Mets’ eighth-round pick from the 2015 draft, who grinded his way through the minor leagues before breaking out with 16 homers for Double-A Binghamton in 2019, Mazeika was called on to make his debut last Wednesday in St. Louis, grounding out to first base as a pinch-hitter for opener Miguel Castro in the second inning of a 7-2 Mets win.

When the Mets got home, that’s when the magic began. Mazeika’s next pinch-hitting appearance came on Friday night, with the bases loaded in the 10th inning. The 27-year-old dribbled a little grounder between home plate and the mound, Diamondbacks reliever Stefan Crichton’s one-motion scoop couldn’t get the ball home in time to nab Pete Alonso, and the Mets walked off with a 5-4 win.

Sunday afternoon, Mazeika got another chance with ducks on the pond, pinch-hitting for Castro in the sixth inning against Arizona. A walk from J.B. Bukauskas upped the Mets’ lead to 3-1 in a game they went on to win, 4-2, completing a sweep of Arizona.

The spotlight found Mazeika again on Tuesday night, as he pinch-hit for Jeurys Familia following Dominic Smith’s game-tying single in the bottom of the ninth. Facing Tanner Scott of the Orioles, Mazeika grinded out an eight-pitch at-bat, finally smacking a ground ball to first base. Jonathan Villar bolted from third base at the crack of the bat, Trey Mancini’s throw home was too high, and the Mets had another walk-off win and another shirt-ripping celebration for their veteran rookie.

Because his two walk-offs were fielder’s choices, Mazeika is now 0-for-3 as a major leaguer with three runs batted in. That makes him, for now, the most productive .000 career hitter in baseball history. According to Stathead, the only other player in major league history with no hits and three RBI in his career is Roy Luebbe, who went 0-for-15 in eight games with the 1925 Yankees, but drove in Ben Paschal with a groundout and Babe Ruth with a bases-loaded walk on Sept. 8 against the Red Sox, and Paschal again with a sacrifice fly against Cleveland eight days later.

There have been five other players with multiple runs batted in without ever getting a major league hit. At least, that’s what the records say. For now.

One who for sure did it is the former Mets closer Armando Benitez, who drove in Roger Cedeño with a groundout in 1999 and Tsuyoshi Shinjo with a groundout in 2001. Benitez and Mazeika are the only players with the distinction of having multiple RBI with no career hits since the Great Depression, and that’s where things get wild, and baseball history needs to be corrected.

The remaining four no-hit wonders are Henry Bostick, Hoge Workman, Roger Carey, and William McCarthy. Not only on Baseball Reference, but on MLB’s website, each man is credited with two runs batted in.

Bostick is rather mysterious. He appeared in two games for the Philadelphia A’s at the end of a road trip in 1915, going 0-for-7 in a pair of losses to the White Sox. The games were 11-6 and 9-7, and Bostick had a walk in the first of those contests, but neither the Philadelphia nor Chicago newspapers of the time gave details on how the runs were scored. We just have to take the records’ word for it that Bostick drove in those two runs, played out the rest of the season with the Western League’s Topeka Jayhawks, then was never seen in the majors again — and going by his portrait, may have turned out to be D.B. Cooper… or maybe D.B. Cooper’s father, given that Bostick died in 1968 and Cooper’s notorious hijacking was in 1971.

With Workman, there’s clearly a glitch somewhere in the system. Baseball Reference’s game log for the 1924 Red Sox pitcher shows that he didn’t drive in any runs, and the play-by-play data shows that in Workman’s two career plate appearances, he lined out against Sloppy Thurston on July 12, and struck out against Lil Stoner on July 16. So, Workman may not have driven in any runs, but he did have his two career at-bats against SLOPPY THURSTON and LIL STONER, which is amazing in its own right.

Carey was a second baseman who played one game for the New York Giants, on July 9, 1887. That day, the Detroit Wolverines were 8-5 winners at the Polo Grounds, and The Sun provided descriptions of all the runs the Giants scored: a two-run single by Mike Dorgan in the second inning, a Roger Conner RBI single (although the RBI was not yet an official stat) in the third, a Mike Tiernan hit in the fourth, and then Tiernan coming home on a wild pitch. Carey did make two errors in his only major league appearance, but did not drive in a run in his 0-for-4 showing at the plate.

Illustration for article titled Patrick Mazeika rewrites MLB history books (no, really) with walk-off fielder’s choice

Image: The Sun

Last but not least is McCarthy, who appears to have the most incredible line in major league history, and is the reason to have looked askance at any of these records in the first place: 0-for-1, two runs batted in, in one game for the 1906 Boston Beaneaters.

It was a wild affair at the South End Grounds, started for the Phillies by future Hall of Famer Kid Nichols, who at 36 was no longer a kid and also no longer any good (and not to be confused with 39-year-old Kid Gleason, the Phillies’ second baseman who went 1-for-6 in this game and went on to manage the 1919 Black Sox). Nichols faced 11 batters, got five outs, gave up five runs, and was relieved by Bill Duggleby, who pitched the rest of the game and wound up getting the win.

Boston starter Big Jeff Pfeffer couldn’t hold the six-run lead he was given, but it wasn’t all his fault, because the Beaneaters couldn’t hold much of anything — they made 10 errors in what turned into an 18-8 slopfest.

McCarthy relieved Pfeffer in the eighth inning, started his major league career with a scoreless frame, and then got touched up for six runs in the ninth to complete the rout. In the bottom of the eighth, McCarthy got an at-bat in the Beaneaters’ two-run flurry, but even though he’s listed today as being 0-for-1 with two career RBI, the next day’s Philadelphia Inquirer made clear that McCarthy was not involved in the scoring.

Illustration for article titled Patrick Mazeika rewrites MLB history books (no, really) with walk-off fielder’s choice

Image: Philadelphia Inquirer

“The Bostons scored their last two runs in the eighth, on a pass to Strobel and hits by Brown, Bridwell, and Doolin,” the paper reported.

That, in itself, is a mistake. Allie Strobel may have drawn a walk, with hits by Sam Brown and Al Bridwell sandwiched around a mystery out by McCarthy, but after another mystery out by Fred Tenney, the last hit was by Beaneaters right fielder Cozy Dolan, confused here with Phillies shortstop Mickey Doolin, or perhaps Philadelphia catcher Red Dooin.

McCarthy not having driven in any runs means that the Amazin’ Mazeika has managed to rewrite history and hand a different record to one man and one man alone, the only player ever to have only one major league plate appearance but drive in two runs: John Kull, who not only was the winning pitcher for the Philadelphia A’s in the first game of a doubleheader on the last day of the 1909 season against the Washington Senators, he had a two-run single off Walter Johnson in the seventh inning.

At least, that’s how it appears. The newspapers of the day weren’t concerned with the details of how the runs scored — the Washington Times already set its sights on predicting (accurately) that the Senators could only finish seventh, ahead of the St. Louis Browns, the following year. But the box score works out. The A’s only multi-run inning was the seventh, after Kull had relieved Tommy Atkins, and aside from the two times that Danny Murphy drove in Harry Davis, all of the Philadelphia runs in the game were scored by Murphy, Jim Curry, and Jack Lapp, the hitters directly preceding the pitcher’s spot.

More than a century later, Kull stands alone, as it turns out the two RBI on McCarthy’s record don’t really belong there. He can thank Patrick Mazeika, the king of the walk-off fielder’s choice.

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