Strange But True feats of 2013

"Who said that when you hit the ball, you have to go to first?" Donnelly wondered. "Abner Doubleday? No he didn't. The important thing is, you have to get home. It's like when we were teenagers. All your parents said was, 'You have to be home.' They didn't say which way you had to go. Did they?"

My Five Favorite Strangest But Truest Feats of the Year (non-Jean Segura Division)

• So what were the odds that the first team in baseball to clinch its division would be a team that was in LAST place on the morning of July 1? Well, that actually happened, courtesy of your Strange But True Dodgers -- 30-42 in their first 72 games, 62-28 in their last 90.

• It isn't easy to hit the first home run of your big-league career TWICE. But J.B. Shuck did it for the Angels (sort of). He thought he'd gone deep for the first time June 5 against Matt Garza and the Cubs, but a trip to the replay monitor turned that mighty blast into a foul ball. It took another 54 days, but Shuck finally thumped that first career homer again, in a game against Texas. And who was pitching? Yup. That noted Cub-turned-Ranger, Matt Garza.

Mariano Rivera

• Just when you thought the great Mariano Rivera had done everything a closer could possibly do, he pulled off a Strange But True all-timer Sept. 12. He entered a game in Baltimore with a 6-5 lead in the ninth, retired every hitter he faced, shook hands and STILL didn't get a save. (He can thank the official scorer, who decided the seeming pitcher of record, David Robertson, didn't pitch "effectively" enough.)

• You didn't have to play in the big leagues -- or even for a paycheck -- to make it into our Strange But True pantheon this year. In a U.S. semifinal game in the Little League World Series, the team from Connecticut gave up a 10-run inning to the team from the state of Washington -- and won anyway (14-13). Try that on your Xbox sometime.

• And there couldn't possibly have been a Stranger But Truer feat all year than the one the Lansing Lugnuts, of the Midwest League, pulled off July 2. They got a walk-off hit -- and still lost. Seriously. After Chris Hawkins' "game-winning" ninth-inning hit up the middle, the runner on first joined the celebration instead of running to second base. So he got forced out at second in the middle of all the delirium, to end the inning. And the Lugnuts wound up losing in the 10th. True story!

10 Strangest But Truest Reader Favorites of the Year

Submitted via the Strange But True nomination vehicle known as Twitter…

• From Dan Sostek: The Red Sox scored in every inning of their June 4 game against Texas -- except for the inning that Rangers outfielder David Murphy pitched.

• From Ryan Wood: For Strange But Trueness, you just can't beat Will Venable's unprecedented, symmetrically correct season -- 22 homers, 22 steals, 22 doubles.

• From Greg Lenihan: In the third inning of his May 10 start against the Padres, Alex Cobb faced four hitters, struck out all four and still gave up a run (thanks to: WP, SB, SB, balk). Last known instance of an inning like that? Never.

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