26 Comments

  1. Not specifically a New England Patriots reference, I think, although Deflategate may have inspired the comic. After all, there was an official accusation there.

    The original “asterisk” reference is to Roger Maris’s record of 61 home runs in 1961 during a baseball season of 162 games. The previous record was set by Babe Ruth: 60 home runs during a baseball season of 154 games. This led to a suggestion by the baseball commissioner that there should be an asterisk or similar distinctive mark to show that the achievement was not really the same. The cartoonist suggests that Hook’s nonstandard catches should be similarly singled out.

    I’m not actually a sports fan, so I don’t know what kind of NFL record you might be able to set using a hook.

  2. “This led to a suggestion by the baseball commissioner that there should be an asterisk or similar distinctive mark to show that the achievement was not really the same.”

    In what way? (asks a non-sports-fan-but-interested-anyway person)

  3. Which is a more impressive “record”? 61 home runs in 162 games or 60 home runs in 159 games?

    I, however, am more impressed that someone hit the same number of home runs as the year, 61 (of course, I’m biased as I was born in ’61– the upside down year!) Those are the records that impress me.

  4. Andrea,

    They lengthened the season. Roger Maris had 8 more games than Babe Ruth to achieve the same season record. Could Ruth had done better if he played 8 more games? That is why they are not really the same.

    More recent, the asterisk has been used to flag the home-run records during the Performance Enhancing Drug years where it is probable that there was a synthetic strength advantage. I’m not sure how they are going to list the past few years home-runs in the stats over time. Something is up with the baseballs being more “lively” (they think) causing a high number of home-runs and higher scores throughout the league…..except for my Mariners 😦

  5. Andréa, in 1961, when Roger Maris was trying to top Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season, baseball’s commissioner announced that since Ruth set the record in a 154-game season (starting in 1961 the season ran 162 games), if Maris didn’t break it in the first 154 games, the record would be accompanied by an asterisk.

    There was speculation that if the more popular Mickey Mantle had been the one poised to break the record (he’d also made a run for it that year, but an injury cut it short), the commissioner wouldn’t have said anything about the asterisk.

    The asterisk was seen as a petty decision and was later reversed by a subsequent commissioner.

  6. So, is the asterisk just a marking, whose meaninh everyone understands? I always thought it was based in the common use of an asterisk to key a footnote, and that there is some official text for the record-book footnotes in each case. For the Maris HR record, was it different wherever published, or identical if they quoted an official text?

  7. I don’t think anyone ever bothered with asterisks for single-season records when the NFL lengthened the season from 14 to 16 games.

  8. — Uh-oh, he’s really puttin his ass on the line, with that sort of talk!
    — Him? Nah, he’s got no asterisk in the first place.

  9. Kilby, that’s because the NFL never had a Ford Frick.

    Karma’s a bitch, though: if anybody remembers Frick at all today, it’s as the guy who tried to saddle Maris with the stupid asterisk.

  10. Probably because I wasn’t around in 1961, but like John K, my first sports recollection of an asterisk is with the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. But really every sport has asterisks. The 3 point shot in basketball makes it pretty much impossible to compare scoring stats from different eras too.

    Mitch4, I had always heard a similar joke – “I regret that I have but one asterisk for my country”.

  11. It does get tricky with records for all sorts of reasons… the first four-minute mile was done on cinder tracks with spiked shoes, modern athletes run on a completely different surface with a different shoe. In the pool, hi-tech so-called “fast” suits engineered to replicate a shark’s skin using dermal denticles were approved and banned and approved and banned again, but they resulted in a slew of new records that have apparently been allowed to stand. I suppose everyone knows about them but I don’t think there is a literal asterisk involved.

  12. More recent, the asterisk has been used to flag the home-run records during the Performance Enhancing Drug years where it is probable that there was a synthetic strength advantage.

    Not that I have heard.

  13. The Cleveland Browns had a receiver in the 1970s named Fair Hooker, which is not really relevant but a fun thing to note. Hooker is a definite 70s NFL Hall-Of-Namer along with guys like Guido Merkins and Jubilee Dunbar.

    In any event, Hook in this comic is not catching an NFL football, which has no stripes. He is catching an NCAA (stripes on the laces side only) or Canadian football (stripes all the way around). Cartoonists and commercial artists draw A LOT of Canadian footballs, I presume because it is so easy to picture a football with stripes in one’s head.

  14. I used to work with a woman whose last name was Hooker. We were doing “outreach” / contractors / consultants with the public schools and often went on site to schools — our contacts were more with teachers and tech coordinators than with students, but still some student work was involved. I’ll say “middle-school boys” typically more than others may have seen the sign-in sheets or we got introduced to a class by a teacher, and there were occasionally some giggles or raised eyebrows from those kids.

    When she got married, she did take her husband’s name. Could be that she simply accepted that convention; or could be she was happy to ditch the Hooker name.

  15. When someone said online, “I’d really like to hear the reasoning behind women who won’t take their husband’s last name”, Emily Best replied, “BECAUSE MY LAST NAME IS BEST.”

  16. I knew someone who knew an Australian woman who happily at marriage changed her last name from the original “Ramsbottom.” And my first supervisor when I was a college dormitory R.A. was a Mr. Fink.

    Of many baseball Hall of Namers, I have a special fondness for Randy Bush.

  17. I seem to remember another factoid about baseball HR stats, that given some detail I didn’t understand, Maris’s record is unlikely to be beaten. Something to do with … nope, I can’t remember. Anybody?

  18. There was a very prominent woman in Boston in the 1970’s named Smoki Bacon. She had a different last name before she married Mr. Bacon. She was politically active and took advantage of her memorable name.

  19. Synchronicity: this afternoon I found out that Baker’s Chocolate, used in baking, was actually named after Walter Baker.

  20. I seem to remember another factoid about baseball HR stats, that given some detail I didn’t understand, Maris’s record is unlikely to be beaten.

    I don’t know what you mean exactly. His record has been beaten. The only records he still holds are for HRs in the AL, as both McGwire and Bonds were in the NL.

  21. B. A.: Samuel German, who worked for Baker, developed a special sweetened dark chocolate for baking, and a cake recipe named after himself, German’s Chocolate Cake, now usually called German Chocolate Cake. Nothing to do with Germany.

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