Fun Facts About Your All-Time Hit Leaders

So you think you're smarter than the next trivia buff when it comes to major leaguers at the top of numerous hit lists? Here's 22 questions for you to prove it.

By Eric Gouldsberry, This Great Game
Revised August 27, 2012

This Great Game Opinion.

On July 9, 2011, Derek Jeter became the first player in the history of the New York Yankees to collect 3,000 career hits. When he became the all-time team hit leader two years, we marveled at how, despite of all those championships, all those legends, all that glory, no previous Yankee had ever reached the milestone.

The other icons of Yankee stardom never reached the quantitative heights of Jeter's hit collection. Not Lou Gehrig (2,721 hits), the man Jeter passed, and whose shot at 3,000 was cruelly denied by ALS. Not Joe DiMaggio (2,214), who had three years of his prime taken away by wartime service and later quit at the relatively early age of 36. Not Mickey Mantle (2,415), who was hurt too often, walked too often, drank too often and also retired at 36. And not even the one, the only, Babe Ruth, whose 2,518 hits came over 15 seasons as a Yankee; even when you count in his years at Boston, he still managed to total less than 3,000, because of his early life as a pitcher and, once he became an everyday hitter, because opposing pitchers continuously walked him out of fear of getting belted.

There are four players from the 3,000 Club who performed for the Yankees: Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs and, very briefly during World War II, Paul Waner. But they all collected the majority of their 3,000 hits elsewhere. Only Jeter stands alone on the list of those who did it all in pinstripes.

Alright, so all of the above you now know—or perhaps, you already knew it. Are you ready to test your good knowledge further? Here’s 22 more questions to ponder. At the end of each questions, click on the hyperlink to see the answer below. One rule: Don’t look for the answers online or in your encyclopedia. We can’t punish you if you do, but you’ll be guilty in your own mind.

Questions

1. Q: Of the 16 teams that have been around since 1901 or earlier, how many have players who’ve collected 3,000 hits exclusively for them? All 16, 12, nine or five? (Answer)

2. Q: Out of those same 16 teams, the one with the lowest number of hits for an all-time leader is the A’s. Take a good guess at who that player it is. (Answer)

3. Q: Of the other 14 major league teams who began business after 1961, which one has the lowest number of hits from its all-time leader? (Answer)

4. Q: As of late 2009, how many franchise hit leaders are still adding to their totals? (Answer)

5. Q: Which player has the most hits for one team? (Answer)

6. Q: Which major league team can claim two players with 3,000 hits playing in its uniform? (Answer)

7. Q: Which major league team has fielded the most players from the 3,000-hit club who at some point played for it? (Answer)

8. Q: How many teams have never had a player on their roster who eventually made the 3,000-hit club? (Answer)

9. Q: Only twice has a major league roster included three players who finished their careers with 3,000 hits. Name the team and the year. (Answer)

10. Q: How many players in the 28-member, 3,000-hit club played their entire career for just one team: 15, 12, ten or five? (Answer)

11. Q: You know that Jeter leads the Yankees in hits, but across town, who is the all-time leader for the New York Mets? (Answer)

12. Q: Only one player accrued 3,000 hits playing exclusively in the 19th Century. Name him. (Answer)

13. Q: How many players in the 3,000-hit club played a portion of their careers at the catcher spot? (Answer)

14. Q: Which player with over 3,000 hits had no more than 1,300 for one team? (Answer)

15. Q: Which player with 3,000 or more hits played for the most teams? (Answer)

16. Q: How many players with 3,000 hits tested positive for steroids? (Answer)

17. Q: Name the player who retired just 13 hits shy of 3,000. (Answer)

18. Q: Which players likely missed out on 3,000 hits because of time served in the armed forces during World War II? (Answer)

19. Q: Name the only two switch-hitters in the 3,000-hit club. (Answer)

20. Q: How many players can claim 500 home runs among their 3,000 career hits: 16, 12 eight of four? (Answer)

21. Q: Of the 28 players with 3,000 or more hits, how many are in the top 28 in batting average: All 28, 18, 12 or six? (Answer)

22. Q: Of the 28 players with 3,000 hits, how many are also in the top 28 in walks? All 28, 12, eight or four? (Answer)

Answers

1. A: Nine of the “Original 16” major league teams have all-time hit leaders totaling 3,000 or more hits—although some sources list eight, having recorded 2,995 hits for Cap Anson while he was with the Chicago Cubs (we go by retrosheet.org, who has Anson at 3,012 for the Cubs).

2. A: If you were thinking Eddie Collins, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx or Reggie Jackson, it ain’t so; all of those players spent their careers heavily split between the A’s and other clubs. The actual answer is: Bert Campaneris, whose 1,882 hits will remain at the top of the list for a while to come—given that Cliff Pennington currently has the highest total of any active Oakland player, with 409.

3. A: The Florida/Miami Marlins, whose all-time hit leader is Luis Castillo—with 1,273.

4. A: Three current all-time franchise leaders in hits are still adding to their totals for these teams: Jeter for the Yankees, Todd Helton for Colorado, and Michael Young for Texas.

5. A: Ty Cobb has the most hits for any one team, with 3,900 for the Detroit Tigers. His 4,189 overall hits includes 289 from the Philadelphia A’s, where he played his final two seasons.

6. A: The Tigers, with Ty Cobb and Al Kaline. The Pittsburgh Pirates came close: Some would have guessed Honus Wagner to be a Pirate lifer, like Roberto Clemente, but Wagner played his first three years with Louisville in the late 1890s, and ultimately fell 33 shy of 3,000 wearing a Pirate uniform. Paul Waner, another 3,000-hit man who played the vast majority of his career in Pittsburgh, also fell short of 3,000 for the Bucs by 132.

7. A: The A’s, who, as ironically noted above, have no players who tallied even 2,000 exclusively for them. The five are: Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie and Rickey Henderson.

8. A: Three teams: Colorado, Arizona and Florida.

9. A: The 1928 Philadelphia Athletics, with Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins, and the 1996 Baltimore Orioles, with Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro. The Yankees of the late 2000s may also eventually claim three members of the 3,000-hit club at once: Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and, if he stays healthy and sharp, Johnny Damon.

10. A: Ten players with 3,000-plus hits played their entire career for one team: Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, George Brett, Craig Biggio, Robin Yount, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Jeter.

11. A: The true Mr. Met himself, Ed Kranepool, who played for the Mets from 1962-79—the first 18 years of the franchise’s existence. He has 1,418 hits, although David Wright is closing in—so long as he remains on the Mets' roster.

12. A: Cap Anson played from 1871-1997, collecting roughly 3,400 hits (as mentioned above, the exact number is debatable).

13. A: Cap Anson and Craig Biggio played sparingly at the catcher spot throughout their careers. Ivan Rodriguez has the most hits playing catcher, with 2,844.

14. A: Of Dave Winfield’s 3,110 career hits, 1,300 of them came for the Yankees; the rest are divided up between the San Diego Padres and four other teams he briefly played for at the end of his career.

15. A: Rickey Henderson split his 3,055 hits up among more teams (nine) than any other 3,000-hit player. This doesn’t include the fact that Henderson had four multiple stays in Oakland and two with San Diego.

16. A: Just one player—for now—in the 3,000-hit club has officially been nailed for steroid use: Rafael Palmeiro.

17. A: Sam Rice (2,987 hits) is the retired player closest to 3,000. It’s not that he didn’t try; he played until the age of 44. Other players who finished with 2,900 or more hits—but less than 3,000—include Sam Crawford, Frank Robinson, Willie Keeler, Jake Beckley, Rogers Hornsby, Al Simmons and Barry Bonds.

18. A: Two major leaguers likely would have 3,000 career hits had it not been for World War II. They are Luke Appling, who missed two years due to wartime service and ultimately retired 251 hits shy of 3,000; and Ted Williams, whose omission from the 3,000-hit list is a surprise to many—but he surely would have reached the milestone had it not been for three years removed for the war effort, not to mention time away from the majors in the early 1950s to pilot a fighter jet in the Korean War.

19. A: The only two switch-hitters with 3,000 or more hits are Pete Rose and Eddie Murray.

20. A: Just four players with 3,000 hits also have 500 home runs: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro.

21. A: Extreme quanity does not always mean extreme quality. Just six of the top 28 all-time hit leaders are in the top 28 for batting average—with only two (Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker) among the top 20.

22. A: Eight of the 28 players with 3,000 or more hits are in top 28 for walks, with Rickey Henderson’s 2,190 bases on balls second on the list, behind Barry Bonds.


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