Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yellow Pig Day and a remarkable birthday coincidence involving major league shortstops

Usual Suspect brownielocks.com is among the many sources that recognize today as Yellow Pig Day, a holiday for mathematicians.

Yellow Pig Day has its origins in the sleep-deprived musings of a couple of then-Princeton students, Michael Spivak and David C. Kelly. Back in the early 1960s Spivak and Kelly began listing interesting properties of the number 17... and somehow wound up imagining a yellow pig with 17 toes or 17 eyelashes, or maybe both. Today, Yellow Pig Day boasts its own Wikipedia page (a sure sign of cultural acceptance) and its own catalog of Yellow Pig Carols. If you follow that last link, you can sing some of these songs at your local tonight. If you do attempt to sing Yellow Pig songs in the tavern tonight, please remember that The Blog of Days is not responsible if you are tossed out your keesters.

Meanwhile, July 17 is also the birthday of two prominent shortstops with Chicago connections, Lou Boudreau (1917-2001) and Don Kessinger (1942- ).

Lou Boudreau was born in south suburban Harvey, Illinois. A Hall of Famer, Boudreau was the 'boy wonder' player-manager of the 1948 World Champion Cleveland Indians. When his playing and managing careers were over, Boudreau came home to Chicago and became a long-time broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs.

Indeed, Boudreau was broadcasting Cub games when Don Kessinger was in his prime as a shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. Cubs fans, sad, limited persons that they are, might think that this is the extent of the coincidence, but it's not.

For most of the 1979 season Kessinger served as player-manager of the Chicago White Sox. So Kessinger and Boudreau were both shortstops with a Chicago connection born on July 17 and both player-managers on teams owned by Bill Veeck. (Kessinger was replaced as Sox skipper on August 2, 1979 by a kid named Tony LaRussa. He turned out to be a pretty good manager, too.)

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