* Upon learning that the Milwaukee Brewers had set an American League record with 34 home runs in 15 games, a colleague commented facetiously, ''I wonder what the record for home runs on rainy Tuesdays is.'' Baseball truly does swim in statistics, some of which seem trivial at best. Yet the thousands of records are part of what make the game so fascinating for many fans.
As for those rainy Tuesday homers, well, you won't find them chronicled anywhere. ''For the most part, we're not adding new records, just updating existing entries,'' explains Craig Carter, editor of the 400-page Baseball Record Book published by The Sporting News. That, however, is a job that requires keen instincts, for some records are so obscure that hardly anyone notices they've been broken or tied.
Carter cites two examples from the current season: Pittsburgh's Omar Moreno and Johnny Ray hit back-to-back homers to lead off a game to tie a major league mark, and Atlanta's seven double plays in a 14-inning game also equalled a record.
* For the sake of variety or to make a headline fit, newspapers occasionally dust off words such as thinlies, netmen, and grapplers to identify athletes in track, tennis, and wrestling. These synonyms at least conjure up the right images. It's when basketball players are called cagers that many people draw a blank. The use of this word dates to basketball antiquity, when the game was often played on 60-by-40 foot courts enclosed by chicken wire. The ball stayed in play, and so did the players, who appeared to be caged.