The 3,000 club

A historical look at the 23 players who have hit the milestone - from Honus Wagner on June 9, 1914, to Cal Ripken on April 15, 2000

April 17, 2000|By Andy Knobel

1. Honus Wagner

3,415 hits (7th)

Date: June 9, 1914

Age: 38

Game: 2,332

Team: Pirates

Hit 3,000: The Flying Dutchman, who dominated the first decade of the century, winning seven batting championships and seven doubles titles, doubled off the Phillies' Erskine Mayer during the ninth inning of a 3-1 loss at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia.

Time line: Two months earlier, Wrigley Field, then known as Weeghman Park, opened in Chicago.

3,000 club ranking: Of current members in the exclusive hit club, Wagner was the first to join. Cap Anson, a 19th-century star, was the charter member with what variously was reported as 3,418, 3,081, 3,041 and 3,000 hits, but those figures have been revised to 2,996. . . Mayer went on to win 21 games that season, making Wagner the only man to get his 3,000th hit off someone who won 20 the same year.

What others said: "I name Wagner first on my list, not only because he was such a great batting champion and base runner, and also baseball's foremost shortstop, but because Honus could have been first at any position, with the possible exception of pitching." - Hall of Fame manager John McGraw

2. Napoleon Lajoie

3,242 hits (12th)

Date: Sept. 17, 1914

Age: 40

Game: 2,224

Team: Indians

Hit 3,000: At the time, his single off the Red Sox's Rube Foster at Cleveland's League Park was thought to be hit No. 2,991, but subsequent research proved he hadn't been credited with nine hits during the 1901 season. Ten days later, when Lajoie got what was presumed to be his 3,000th, umpire Bill Dinneen stopped the game - in violation of the rules of the day - to give Lajoie the baseball.

Time line: Two months earlier, the Red Sox bought Babe Ruth from the Orioles.

3,000 club ranking: Lajoie needed the second smallest number of games, 2,224, to join the hit club.

What others said: "Lajoie was one of the most rugged hitters I ever faced. He'd take your leg off with a line drive, turn the third baseman around like a swinging door and powder the hand of the left fielder." - Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young

3. Ty Cobb

4,189 hits (2nd)

Date: Aug. 19, 1921

Age: 34

Game: 2,135

Team: Tigers

Hit 3,000: His single off the Red Sox's Elmer Myers came during a 3-for-5 performance in the second game of a doubleheader at Detroit's Navin Field. Nearly six years later, on July 19, 1927, he reached 4,000 and learned of the feat afterward by reading of it in a late edition of an afternoon newspaper.

Time line: Two weeks before Cobb's 3,000th, the first baseball game on radio was aired.

3,000 club ranking: The Georgia Peach was the youngest to join the club (age 34) and needed the fewest games (2,135). He is first in the club in batting average (.366), runs (2,246), triples (295) and on-base average (.433).

Cobb on hitting: Asked near the end of his life why he thought he would hit only .300 against modern-day pitching, he answered, "You've got to remember - I'm 73."

4. Tris Speaker

3,514 hits (5th)

Date: May 17, 1925

Age: 37

Game: 2,341

Team: Indians

Hit 3,000: The Grey Eagle, regarded for many years as baseball's best defensive outfielder, was hobbling, having just returned from Rochester, N.Y., where doctors treated his dislocated knee. His single at Cleveland's League Park came during a 3-for-4 game and was off the Senators' Tom Zachary, who would give up another significant hit two years later: Babe Ruth's 60th home run.

Time line: Five days earlier, Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra was born.

3,000 club ranking: He was the first to get his 3,000th hit as a player-manager. Less than a month later, he's joined by White Sox manager Eddie Collins. One of Speaker's three hits that day was a double - appropriate for the major-league career leader in that category.

Speaker on hitting: "It would be useless for any player to attempt to explain successful batting."

5. Eddie Collins

3,315 hits (9th)

Date: June 3, 1925

Age: 38

Game: 2,505

Team: White Sox

Hit 3,000: He joined the club at Detroit's Navin Field with a single off unrelated Rip Collins, a Tigers pitcher whose nickname came from a pre-Prohibition brand of whiskey. Collins, whose own nickname was "Cocky," had three singles and a stolen base in the game. It was a typical outing for the man who has fewer extra-base hits than any other club member but is third in steals.

Time line: Two days earlier, Lou Gehrig began his streak of 2,130 consecutive games played by appearing as a pinch hitter for Pee-Wee Wanninger.

3,000 club ranking: Collins had the fifth-highest batting average among club members yet never won a batting title. Ty Cobb played outfield for Detroit on Collins' historic day, marking the first time one member of the 3,000 club was present when another joined.

What others said: "Eddie Collins was the greatest infielder I ever saw. He could do anything." - Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack

6. Paul Waner

3,152 hits (14th)

Date: June 19, 1942

Age: 39

Game: 2,314

Team: Boston Braves

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