It’s that time of year when, our team all but technically eliminated from playoff contention, the accumulated little things start to pile up in our baseball psyche and threaten to embitter us. You know, stuff like Yadier Molina unnecessarily diving headfirst into first base, Molina getting thrown out at second trying to advance on a ball in the dirt, the Busch Stadium scoreboard displaying BA with RISP every time someone advances to second and the concession stands advertising “Cardinal’s nachos.” It’s almost enough to convert a man into an NFL fan.
So we’ll opt for something decidedly less meaningful, such as the height of leadoff batters. In today’s game, the Cardinal no.-1 man was Rafael Furcal, who stands a Tony La Russa-approved 5’8″. For the Brewers, the honor of batting first went to Corey Hart, who towers above just about any player on the diamond at 6’6″. Hart has been leading off since mid-July, though he had led off at various times in his career, going all the way back to 2005.
Naturally, we wondered if Hart is the tallest ever to strike first. Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, we now know — the tallest leadoff men since 1911:
On the strength of one game back in 1969, Frank Howard, who had two of the coolest nicknames ever (“Hondo” and “The Capitol Punisher”), quite literally inches Hart out. In fairness, though, Corey Hart could be considered the tallest “regular” leadoff man in history. As for the Cardinals, as long as TLR is running the show, don’t expect anyone much taller than Furcal height* to start games.
*The tallest leadoff batter that Tony La Russa has used with the Cardinals was 6’1″ Miguel Cairo.