Elias Is Reliable, But Not Always Unshakable
By Tracy L. Ziemer
Weekend edition: August 16-17, 2003
Being the barometer for accuracy means feeling your heart
in your throat when you may have blundered.
Steve Hirdt says mistakes by Elias Sports Bureau are rare.
Minor errors happen, he concedes, but major gaffes have been
avoided, to his knowledge. Still, Hirdt recalls when he thought
he had made a major league screw-up.
Working his first World Series, the 1979 matchup between
Pittsburgh and Baltimore, greenhorn Hirdt brushed up on some
pitchers' career hitting statistics. Since the American League
uses the designated hitter, he knew AL pitchers would have
to bat at Three Rivers Stadium and thought the data might
come in handy.
"There were no computers then, and we had to go through
books to see how Orioles pitchers had batted in the minor
leagues," Hirdt said.
In Game 4, Baltimore pitcher Tim Stoddard came to the plate.
Hirdt ruffled through his handwritten notes and discovered
Stoddard had never had a hit in the minor or major leagues.
"He gets a hit and drives in two runs (actually one
run)," Hirdt recalled. "And I know I have two-tenths
of a second to decide to use this research or not. So I told
Howard Cosell, who was announcing the game for ABC, and Cosell
says (on air), 'This is Stoddard's first hit in organized
The Orioles went on to win 9-6. Hirdt attended the post-game
press conference, where reporters asked Stoddard, the winning
pitcher, about his hitting. He said he had always been a good
hitter. Hirdt's heart jumped.
Stoddard boasted he had been used as a designated hitter
in the minors, and sometimes even as a pinch-hitter.
"I started wondering if they'd even let me finish working
the World Series, or if I'd be fired," Hirdt said.
When pressed by reporters on how many hits he'd had in his
career, Hirdt recalled Stoddard saying, "None. I said
I was a good hitter, but I never said I had any hits."
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