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Morning Briefing

Erasing Errors From All-Time Box Score

March 05, 1987

You won't find their names in the record book, but two of the best home run hitters in baseball history were men named Maras and Hodge.

Roger Eugene Maras later changed his name to Maris. Gilbert Ray Hodge changed his name to Hodges.

The discoveries were made by Richard Topp, head of the biographical committee of The Society for American Baseball Research. He also discovered that Maris was born in Hibbing, Minn., not Fargo, N.D.

"That should upset the people at the North Dakota Hall of Fame," Topp said.

Here are some other discoveries by Topp, whose research has resulted in more than 1,400 corrections to the Baseball Encyclopedia:

--Lou Proctor, listed for years as a pinch-hitter in one game for the St. Louis Browns in 1912, was really a press-box telegraph operator. Turns out he simply put himself into a box score one summer afternoon--giving himself a walk.

--Ed Thayer, listed as playing one game for New York in 1876, never existed. He was instead George T. Fair, the result of a mixup when his name was misheard by sportswriters.

--Jake and Chick Stahl, often considered the answer to the trivia question of who were the first brothers to manage against each other, were not brothers.

Although Topp is a tireless researcher, there are some facts beyond research.

"I have 11 birthdates for Satchel Paige," he said.

Ronnie Highsmith, 25-year-old Georgetown forward who spent 4 1/2 years in the Army, told Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post: "People expect you to say bad things about the Army. But it was fun for me. I have nothing bad to say about the Army.

"I was a supply sergeant, and I worked the arms room, where the weapons are kept. It was one of the best jobs you could have. Who was bad enough to mess with the guy guarding the arms?"

Trivia Time: Name the only player who has batted in 100 or more runs every year for past five years in the major leagues. (Answer below.)

Wait a Minute: Baltimore Orioles' third baseman Ray Knight, explaining why he finally agreed to the club's terms, said: "I have to think of myself and my family."

Somehow, you'd have to think the family will survive--assuming Mrs. Knight (golfer Nancy Lopez) doesn't get a terminal case of putting yips.

What kind of a player was Danny Kaye, a self-described baseball nut who grew up in Brooklyn and rooted for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field?

"I was an outstanding ballplayer," he used to say, "but I pulled a hamstring when I was 4 and it took me 31 years to recover."

Trivia Answer: Dave Winfield of the New York Yankees.

Quotebook

San Diego State basketball Coach Smokey Gaines, on Wyoming forward Fennis Dembo, once considered an incurable hotdog: "He's become a great player--probably a first-rounder--since he's taken some of the mustard off. But there's still a little relish there."

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