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Today is Leap Day (i.e. February 29th). To celebrate this day that happens only slightly-less-often-than every-4-years

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, I present the (short) list of MLB players born on Leap Day.

All told, there have been 11 players born on a Leap Day: 6 hitters and 5 pitchers. First up, here are the hitters, ranked by their career WAR (Baseball-Reference version).

Rk Player WAR From To G PA H HR BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Al Rosen
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33.0 1947 1956 1044 4374 1063 192 .285 .384 .495 .879 *5/3647
2 Pepper Martin
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21.3 1928 1944 1189 4523 1227 59 .298 .358 .443 .801 589/71
3 Terrence Long
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5.1 1999 2006 890 3325 824 69 .269 .318 .404 .722 879/D
4 Dickey Pearce
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0.8 1876 1877 33 135 26 0 .198 .222 .206 .428 /*647
5 Jerry Fry
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-0.4 1978 1978 4 10 0 0 .000 .100 .000 .100 /*2
6 Ralph Miller
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-2.2 1920 1924 163 586 138 3 .248 .274 .311 .584 *5/6437
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 2/28/2012.

Al Rosen

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‘s career basically lasted 7 seasons (he barely played his first 3 years), but he sure made the most of that time, especially the 5 years from 1950 to 1954. In those years, he averaged 6.1 WAR and 31 homers while posting a .298 / .396 /.528 line. He also won a deserved MVP for his monster 1953 campaign, when he posted a .336 / .422 / .613 line and led the AL in runs, homers, RBIs, total bases, OPS, and OPS+. Add in some good defense at third base and you have a superb 9.7-WAR season.

Pepper Martin

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was the only other All-Star born on Leap Day (like Rosen, he made the team 4 times). He didn’t have much power, but he could hit for average and draw enough walks to be very useful. In addition to the nickname “Pepper” (his real name was Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin), he had a great secondary nickname: “The Wild Horse of the Osage.”

Terrence Long

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is the only other notable position player. Most of you will probably remember him from his days with the Moneyball-era Athletics. He finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2000, behind only Japanese import Kazuhiro Sasaki
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.

Poor Jerry Fry

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got 10 major league plate appearances and never got a hit.

Next up, let’s look at the pitchers.

Rk Player WAR From To G GS IP BB SO ERA ERA+
1 Steve Mingori
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6.1 1970 1979 385 2 584.2 225 329 3.03 127
2 Bill Long
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2.2 1985 1991 159 52 518.2 140 247 4.37 96
3 Al Autry
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0.0 1976 1976 1 1 5.0 3 3 5.40 76
4 Roy Parker
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-0.8 1919 1919 2 0 2.0 1 0 31.50 11
5 Ed Appleton
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-1.4 1915 1916 48 13 185.1 84 64 3.25 85
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 2/28/2012.

Steve Mingori

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was a pretty good reliever for the Indians and Royals in the 70′s. He never was a full-time closer, but he recorded 42 saves in his career, at least 1 in each of his 10 seasons. His best year was probably 1971, when he posted a 1.43 ERA in 56 innings for the Indians.

Bill Long

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bounced between starting and relieving in his career. His best year was 1987 for the White Sox: a 4.37 ERA in 169 IP and a league-low 1.5 walks per 9 innings. If you’re a keen observer, you may have noticed that Bill Long and Terrence Long (no relation) are the two most recent Leap-Birthday players in MLB. What are the odds that any 2 of these 11 players would have the same last name?

Al Autry

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pitched in just 1 MLB game, but at least it was a not-terrible 5-inning start. Roy Parker
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pitched in 2 games but went only 2 innings while giving up 7 runs.

What if these players’ birthdays only counted in years that had a Leap Day? How old would they be today?

Terrence Long, the youngest player on the list, was born in 1976. That means today is his 36th birthday by conventional measurement. But his Leap Age is only 9. Bill Long was born in 1960, giving him a Leap Age of 13 (conventional age: 52). Only 3 more Leap Birthdays until you can drive, Bill!

Jerry Fry was born in 1956, making him one Leap Year older than Long: 14. By conventional standards, today is his 56th birthday. Al Autry was born in 1952, so he’s 15 Leap Years old today (60 normal years).

Al Rosen is the oldest living Leap Birthday player. He was born in 1924, which makes this his 88th birthday and his 22nd Leap Birthday. I guess 2008 was a big year for him, since he could finally buy a leap drink legally.

For the 6 deceased players, here are their birth & death years and Leap Ages at death:

  • Steve Mingori (Born 1944, Died 2008): Leap Age 16, actual age 64
  • Pepper Martin (Born 1904, Died 1965): Leap Age 15, actual age 61
  • Ralph Miller
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    (Born 1896, Died 1939): Leap Age 9*, actual age 43
  • Roy Parker (Born 1896, Died 1954): Leap Age 13*, actual age 58
  • Ed Appleton
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    (Born 1892, Died 1932): Leap Age 8*, actual age 39
  • Dickey Pearce
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    (Born 1836, Died 1908): Leap Age 17*, actual age 72

* Leap Days do not occur in years that are multiples of 100–unless that year is a multiple of 1000. So there was a Leap Year in 2000, but there wasn’t one in 1900. Because of this, players born in the 19th century don’t add to their Leap Age in 1900.

So we can say for sure that Al Rosen holds the MLB record for oldest Leap Age. Congrats to Al, and a Happy Leap Birthday to all of these players.

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