This post marks the three-thousandth post of this site. And I rarely write quick hit posts, so you have to figure an average of seven hundred words a post. So a decent estimate is that I have written two million, one hundred thousand words. Many of you have read at least a few hundred thousand of them and I am so appreciative that you stop by and read this stuff. To celebrate this milestone, let's celebrate those players who have reached 3,000 hits for their careers. There are twenty-eight of them. It would be easy enough to just list them. That would be boring. Instead, let's give the details of each player's milestone hit (Pete Rose and Ty Cobb had another big milestone but we'll save for after the next thousand posts go by). Here we go!
Well, first, a disclaimer. With guys with a lot of hits over 3,000, I had to do some addition and subtraction to find out what year the event happened. I hope I don't get any of them wrong.
Of course we have to start with Pete Rose. If I did my calculations right, he reached hit 3,000 on May 16, 1978 in Montreal. He went three for five in the game and it was his second hit that made the mark. The hit came against Wayne Twitchell who started for the Expos. Rose doubled and scored in the first and singled to left for the milestone hit. The Reds won the game and Tom Seaver got the win. Rose made an error in the game at third base, but nobody is perfect.
Ty Cobb entered 1921 needing 144 hits to reach 3,000. He would reach the milestone in the second game of a double-header on August 19, 1921 against the Boston Red Sox. The game was played in Detroit and Cobb went three for five in the game and five for ten in the double-header. The third hit of the second game reached the milestone. The victim was Red Sox' pitcher, Elmer Myers, who was forced to pitch the entire game despite giving up ten runs on 19 hits and three walks. Like Rose, Cobb was 34 at the time. The double-header exploits lifted his average to .387. He finished the season at .389.
Sort of a weird pattern is going on here. Rose started 1978 needing 44 hits to get to 3,000. Cobb started 1921 needing 144. Hank Aaron started 1970 needing 44 hits to get to 3,000. Like Cobb, he got his milestone hit in the second game of a double-header. And like both Rose and Cobb, Aaron went three for five in the game. Aaron's happened on May 17, 1970. The big hit came in his first at bat against the Reds' Wayne Simpson in the first inning. The hit drove in a run. Unfortunately, the Braves lost both games that day in Cincinnati, the second one went fifteen innings. When Aaron got his hit, Pete Rose was watching out in right field.
A 38 year old Stan Musial entered the 1959 season needing 43 hits to get to 3,000. He was slowing down at this point and it took him until June 23, 1959 to get it done. The Cardinals were in Milwaukee to play the Braves. The hit came in his third at bat. He would go one for four in the game. He hit a single to left off of Carl Willey. Hank Aaron watched the hit from right field.
Tris Speaker entered the 1925 season in his 37th year on earth needing 39 hits to reach 3,000. He was also the manager of the Indians who finished the season in sixth place. He was in his seventh season as the player-manager. He would still finish the season batting .389 with a 1.057 OPS! He reached the 3,000 milestone on May 18, 1925 against the Washington Senators. The Senators were a great team and would end up winning the American League Pennant. The Indians won this one though, 9-6. Speaker went one for three in the game with two walks. He scored a run and drove in one.
Cap Anson finished his career before the turn of the 20th Century. We won't be able to get a game log for this one. As best I can tell, he hit his 3,000th hit sometime during the latter half of 1895. Anson was 43 at the time and still hit .335 playing for the Chicago Colts. He was also the player-manager.
Honus Wagner finished his career in 1917. We have the game logs only for his last two seasons. He reached 3,000 before that in 1914 when he entered that season needing 59 hits to reach the mark. He was 40 years old that season. According to the Sabr Baseball Biography Project:
"On June 9 he got his three-thousandth hit, doubling against Philadelphia's Erskine Mayer to become the first player to achieve that milestone in the twentieth century."
Carl Yastrzemski was 39 years old when the Red Sox played the Yankees in Fenway Park on September 12, 1979. Both teams had excellent records, but by this late in the season, the game was meaningless because both teams were double-digit games behind the front-running Orioles. The Red Sox won the game, 9-2. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Captain Carl came up with two outs and nobody on base. Jim Beattie was on the mound for the Yankees and Carl Yastrzemski hit a single to right for his 3,000th hit. His hometown fans gave him a long and huge ovation and then he left for a pinch runner waving his cap to the crowd on the way to the dugout.
For Paul Molitor's 3,000th hit, we'll again turn to the Sabr Baseball Biography Project for the story:
"On September 16, 1996, at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Molitor singled in the first inning, the 2,999th hit of his major-league career. In the fifth inning, he hit a drive to right field off Jose Rosado and ended up on third base to become the first major leaguer to register a triple for his 3,000th hit. “I don’t know much about that young man [Rosado], but I know he did not try to avoid being the one who gave up my 3,000th hit,” Molitor said. “I know he shook off a couple of signs and threw fastballs—saying, ‘If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it.’”53 George Brett and Molitor’s friend Robin Yount were among those on hand see him join them in the 3,000 hit club. The milestone hit came three years to the day after Winfield had collected his 3,000th hit, also for the Minnesota Twins, and the two became the first two players from the same hometown to accomplish the feat."
The 1925 Chicago White Sox were managed by Eddie Collins. He was also their regular second baseman. His double-play partner at short was Ike Davis. Heh. And he hit .346 that season at the age of 38! Collins started that season needing 48 hits to reach the 3,000 hit mark. He reached the milestone on June 2, 1925 in Detroit in a wild game against the Tigers. It was a game the Tigers would win, 16-15 and Collins went three for five in a losing effort. The second hit was the milestone hit.
On July 18, 1970, a 39 year old Willie Mays played in a game against the Montreal Expos at Candlestick Park. He needed two hits to get to the 3,000 milestone. He went two for three to get the job done. The hit came in the sixth inning off of Bill Dillman and of course, it drove in a run.
Eddie Murray was the Designated Hitter on July 30, 1995. He batted sixth in the lineup. Albert Belle was in front of him and Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez were behind him. Woof. That is a potent lineup. The Indians were rocking with a 41-17 record and easily beat the Twins in this game, 4-1. In the top of the sixth, Murray hit a single to right off of Mike Trombley to record hit number 3,000.
It is a real shame that Nap Lajoie finished his career on some of the worst teams ever. The 1914 Cleveland Naps were one of them. They went 51-102. LaJoie was 39 that season and was on his way out as a player. He would finish his career with two seasons in Philadelphia. Lajoie had 108 hits in 1914. His very last hit that season was his 3,000th.
Cal Ripkin Jr. was 39 years old in 2000 in the next to last year of his career. He started the 1970 season needing only nine hits to reach 3,000. Before the start of the game on April 15, 1970 against the Twins in the Hubert H. Humphrey Dome, he had only managed six and was batting .179. With 2,997 hits, Ripken would go three for five to reach the milestone. It was his third hit, a line drive single to center off of Hector Carrasco that got the job done.
On September 30, 1992, the Royals and the Angels were just playing out what was a bad year for both teams. George Brett, with the season winding down, still needed four more hits to reach 3,000. Unfortunately, the game was played in California and away from his adoring KC fans. Brett roped a double to left in the first and scored. He hit a single through the hole between first and second in the third. He hit a line drive single to center in the fifth. Then in the top of the eighth facing a long-forgotten pitcher by the name of Tim Forugno, Brett hit a line drive that the second baseman could not handle for his fourth hit. It was vintage Brett with three line drives to get to 3,000. Comically, one batter later, Brett was picked off first. That has to be the only time that has ever happened! He reached on an error in his last at bat of the game, so he reached base all five times he came to the plate.
In 1942, Hall of Fame player, Paul Waner, was playing for an awful Boston Braves team managed by Casey Stengel. He was definitely on the downside of his career and only hit .258 that season. On June 19, 1942 at home in another loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Waner went one for five. But that one hit was his 3,000th hit. You can see an image of the hit here.
Robin Yount got his 3,000th hit on September 9, 1992. Like Waner, his team lost at home and like Waner, Yount went one for five. But that one hit put him at 3,000. It was a line drive to right-center off of Jose Mesa.
Tony Gwynn got his 3,000th hit in the first inning of a game where he eventually went four for five. The hit came off of starter, Dan Smith, who could not even pitch out of the first inning. The hit was a line drive to right-center.
Dave Winfield was 41 years old in 1993 when he played for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins were a bad club in 1993 but Winfield has his last decent season that year. On September 16, 1993, The Twins were down by two runs and had to face closer, Dennis Eckersley. After a Kirby Puckett lead off triple and a strikeout, Dave Winfield hit a single through the hole between third and short. Puckett scored. Winfield later scored the tying run to send the game into extra innings in a game the Twins eventually won. That perhaps might be one of the highest WPA scores we've seen on these milestone hits.
Like Winfield, Craig Biggio was 41 when he reached 3,000 hits. Unlike Winfield, it was Biggio's last season. Like Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit game, Biggio ended up with five hits in the game. The third one was the special one. After a ground out in the first inning, Biggio could not be retired the rest of the night as he went five for six. His single in the seventh off of Aaron Cook was his third hit of the game and the milestone. The hit also tied the game up in a game the Astros won in extra innings. Another high WPA milestone. The hit came at home for his home fans.
Rickey Henderson walked so many times that we'll have to forgive him that it took 23 seasons before he finally reached the magic 3,000 hit number. It happened on October 7, 2001. He was playing for the Padres at Colorado and it was the last game of the season. Henderson swung at John Thompson's first pitch and blooped a double to the right field line. He later scored the first run of the game. Henderson then took the rest of the day off.
Like Biggio, Rod Carew's 3,000th hit came in his last season in 1985. It happened on August 4 of that season in a win against his old team, the Twins. Carew only went one for five in that game. His one hit...the big hit...came as a single against Frank Viola in the bottom of the third inning. Carew had to share the spotlight that day as it was also the day that Tom Seaver won his 300th game.
Lou Brock also reached the 3,000 hit club in his last season in the big leagues. Brock's hit came against the same Chicago Cubs that traded him away to the Cardinals. Brock's milestone came in a win for the hometown fans.
Rafael Palmeiro recorded his 3,000th hit on July 15, 2005 in Seattle with a double against Joel Pineiro. I'm pretty sure that is the only 3,000th hit batter-pitcher combo that rhymes.
Wade Boggs was one of the best hitters I've ever watched in my lifetime. It is only fitting that he hit his milestone hit a week before Tony Gwynn. The two are often compared, but Gwynn was nowhere near as good a hitter as Boggs. Most know that Wade Boggs was the first player ever to have hit a home run for his 3,000th hit. The video can be found here.
Al Kaline finished his career with 3,007 hits. So it is pretty easy to figure out which one was his 3,000th. Only one other is easier. The game was September 24, 1974 in a game the Tigers lost to the Orioles in Memorial Stadium. Kaline had two hits in the game, but it was his first one, a lead off double in the top of the fourth against Dave McNally that was the milestone hit.
And finally, it just seems kind of right that Roberto Clemente finishes our list. His very last hit in the majors was his 3,000. It wasn't that he did not have more hits in him. It was just that he never got the chance as he was killed in a plane crash attempting a humanitarian airlift. His last hit was recorded on September 30, 1972 in a game against the New York Mets. The game was in Pittsburgh so his fans got to see his last hurrah. His last hit was a double off of Jon Matlack and he would later score his last run that same inning. To keep this record straight, it should be noted that those really weren't his last hits and runs scored. Clemente had four hits in the NLCS against the Reds.
There you go. There is my opus of a 3,000th post. It just might be my longest ever. Thank you again for giving me a reason to write for all these years.