Baseball 2012: The game's best off-beat, under-the-radar statistics and trivia

Fascinating baseball firsts and notable statistics can easily be missed in the playing of more than 2,000 big-league games each year. Here are the most intriguing developments that possibly escaped your notice.

2. Grand moment for Italy

Stephen Brashear/AP
Seattle Mariners' Alex Liddi is pictured during an at-bat in baseball game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field in Seattle Sunday Sept 9, 2012.

Alex Liddi of the Seattle Mariners became the first Italian born and developed player in the majors to hit a grand slam.

Backstory:  Baseball, of course, has seen many Italian-Americans grace the national pastime – Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Ron Santo, and Rocky Colavito come readily to mind, for example. Liddi, however, not only was born and raised in Italy, he is the first graduate of the Major League Baseball International European Academy to make it to the majors.

Although Liddi didn’t actually finish this season in the big leagues, while he was up with the Seattle Mariners earlier in the year, he used his powerful 6 ft. 4 in., 230-lb. frame to jack a grand slam in a 5-3 win over Texas. Only one other Italian-born player ever hit a grand slam, and that was in 1958 by Reno Bertoia, who grew up in Canada and played in the majors from 1953 to 1962.

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