Title: Introducing “The Roger Dorn,” A Pinch Hit Hit by Pitch
Date: July 11, 2013
Original Source: Beyond the Boxscore
Synopsis: This article introduced “The Roger Dorn,” looking at those instances where a batter was hit by a pitch as a pinch hitter..
In 1994, Major League II brought us one of the funniest movie baseball sequences of all time.
Roger Dorn, played by Corbin Bernsen, had purchased the Cleveland Indians franchise but is forced to sell, staying on as the General Manager. A former player (a “high priced talent” who is just “high priced,” you may remember from the first film), Dorn activates himself on the roster but rarely plays.
Late in the season, manager Jake Taylor goes to the trusty batter-vs-pitcher numbers and sees that “Busick,” a Chicago White Sox pitcher, has thrown Dorn inside a lot in his career. Dorn is told to lean into one, and the following ensues:
For those scoring at home, that’s a pinch hit by Dorn, a hit by pitch, and then Dorn taken out for a pinch runner.
Now, Baseball Reference’s Play Index doesn’t allow us to filter for such things as “coming within the confines of an excellent movie,” but I did do some digging to find out which major league players have “pulled a Dorn.” The table below shows the league’s all-time leaders in hit by pitch in games where a player entered as a substitute. That is, total times hit by a pitch in a game in which a player did not start.
It’s astounding how large Reed Johnson’s lead is, although perhaps it shouldn’t be – Johnson ranks 224th all-time in pinch hit appearances and 29th all-time in times hit by a pitch. Johnson has pulled a “basic Dorn” 19 times, meaning he’s been hit by a pitch in games where he’s been a pinch hitter eight times more than anyone else.
But this definition doesn’t really do The Dorn justice. After all, Dorn entered as a pinch hitter and was then removed from the game. The table below, however, shows the career leaders for the “Ultimate Dorn,” in which players entered the game as a pinch hitter, had just a single plate appearance, were hit by a pitch and then removed from the game (or the game ended).
Surprisingly, 948 players have done this at least once in their careers. But it’s a group of six players who have done it six times apiece who can lay claim to the crown of Real Life Roger Dorn. Unfortunately it’s tough to tell without the benefit of SQL how many times a player was lifted for a pinch runner as well.
But that’s a pretty good list there, and a pretty solid definition for The Ultimate Dorn – entering as a pinch hitter, getting beaned, and never touching the field or seeing another plate appearance.
Interestingly, The Dorn has occurred 13 times already this year, including once for Reed Johnson. Given that baseball has only averaged 13.4 Dorns per season since 1916, it’s an extreme total for the halfway point of the year. The list of 2013 Dorns is below:
There are some other interesting notes that I came across while researching The Dorn:
*Gates Brown is the only player to ever homer and be beaned in the same game as a sub more than once (three times). 37 others have done it once. Raul Ibanez is the only player to be subbed in, get beaned and homer twice all in one game.
*Brent Lillibridge and Bruce Aven are the only players to ever be hit twice in a game in which they entered as substitutes.
*All-time HBP leader Craig Biggio has only done The Dorn four times, but has been hit at a higher rate (3.1% of PAs versus 2.4% overall) as a pinch hitter.
*Don Baylor, a man many associate with the HBP and a man who is second all-time in the times hit, is 12th all-time with eight HBP as a sub but has done The Dorn just three times.
*65 players have pulled a “Dorn-and-Mays,” whereby they then stole a base after getting beaned. Wilbur Howard is the only player to have done so twice.
*There have been 12 instances of back-to-back Dorns (two games in a row with a HBP as a sub, not necessarily an Ultimate Dorn) in history, including Felipe Alou doing it twice in the same day on August 30, 1964.