Rico Petrocelli played shortstop and third base for the Boston Red Sox basically from 1965 through 1976, plus one game in 1963. He made the American League All Star team in 1967 and 1969 when he was seventh in MVP voting.
Home runs (HR) first four seasons: 13, 18, 17, 12.
Next three seasons: 40, 29, 28.
Next three seasons: 15, 13, 15.
When Ricco suddenly jumped from 12 to 40 we all attributed it to his playing his home games in Fenway Park with that silly left field wall.
If we had given it a second thought we could have reasoned as follows.
How many HR could he have reasonably hit at home? Let's say a whopping 25. That would still leave 15 on the road. Prior to that Ricco's previous high for an entire season had been 18. So obviously something more than the Green Monster in Fenway Park was involved.
Maybe it was steroids. We now know that the 1963 San Diego Chargers were given steroids by the coaches. But the real issue here is whether we baseball fans are stupid.
The type of issue involving Rico Petrocelli in 1969 is repeated every day in 2013. It's impossible to listen to a conversation about baseball for more than five minutes without an otherwise intelligent educated human being saying something comparably stupid.
Does baseball make us stupid or are we interested in baseball because we are already stupid?
By the way, Ricco's career HR:
1969: 22 home, 18 road. 18 was his previous high for a season.
Did Brady Anderson suddenly skyrocket from a previous high of 21 HR in 1992 to 50 in 1996 purely because of steroids? No, you say. It was because he played his home games in that small ball park in Baltimore. 19 home, 31 road. Lowest percentage (38%) at home of anyone hitting at least 50 HR. And that was with 300 at bats (AB) at home and only 279 on the road.
Roger Maris was MVP in his first two seasons with the Yankees: 1960 and 1961. Maris hit 61 homers in 1961 because he had that short porch in right field in Yankee Stadium, right? 30 home, 31 road. Maris did have 30 more AB on the road. In 1960 Maris hit 39 HR: 13 home, 26 road; AB: 232/267. One hundred HR in two seasons: 43 home, 57 road.
You've had two more chances to be stupid after the original Petrocelli admonition. How about one more?
Mel Ott set the National League record of 511 HR because he played his home games in the Polo Grounds. What do you think? 323 home, 188 road. I think that's the highest percentage (63%) at home for any 500 HR hitter. In 1943 Ott hit 18 HR, all at home; I think that's a record.
Baseball and stupidity. As American as apple pie and ice cream.