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Did You Know?
Corey Seager, now with the Texas Rangers, was a Dodger in 2020 when he hit more home runs at Globe Life Field (7) than any member of the home team (Rougned Odor hit 6) . . .
The only pitcher to hit .300 and win a Cy Young in the same season was Bob Gibson in 1970 . . .
Growing up in Dallas as one of 12 siblings, Ernie Banks played on a church softball team . . .
Jayson Stark points out that after managing his Astros to victory over the Angels last Sept. 20, Dusty Baker had 1981 wins as a manager, 1981 hits as a player, and a World Series ring he won in 1981 . . .
Lindsey Nelson, original Voice of the Mets in 1962, is in 13 different Halls of Fame.
The Record of 12 Hits in a Row Was Reached on July 15, 1952
By Andrew Sharp
Does any individual achievement deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak? Given that nobody before or after his 1941 record has come near it, the answer is clearly "no." Yet of all the multi-game records of shorter duration, another far less heralded feat continues to stand the test of time.
The record for consecutive hits – 12 -- was set, we learned more than a century later, by catcher Johnny Kling in 1902 with Chicago in the N.L. His feat was matched by Detroit’s Walt Dropo in 1952 in the A.L.
Pinky Higgins of the Red Sox had 12 hits in 12 official at-bats in 1938. Not to minimize what he did, but Higgins walked twice during his streak. The 12 hits by Dropo and Kling came in 12 plate appearances.
Until 2009, Dropo’s consecutive hit mark was thought to stand alone. That year, Trent McCotter of Retrosheet uncovered Kling’s mark as part of the group’s massive on-going effort to determine as accurately as possible the play-by-play accounts of every major league game.
Dropo had the last seven of his 12 straight hits in a Griffith Stadium doubleheader on July 15, 1952, when he played first base for the Tigers. After going 5-for-5 at Yankee Stadium on July 14, Dropo went 4-for-4 in the first game in Washington on July 15. His first nine hits in a row were all singles. Then he tripled, singled and doubled in the second game before popping out in the seventh inning. He resumed his hot streak with a two-run single in the ninth.
Dropo set his record before 8,383 fans who were on hand for the Tuesday afternoon twinbill in Washington.
Despite Dropo’s five RBIs in the second game, the Senators prevailed, 9-8. Dropo had an RBI in the first game, which Detroit lost, 8-2. The Tigers lost 104 games in 1952 and finished last. For Washington, 1952 was its last winning season (78-76) before the Griffith family moved the team to Minnesota.
The 5-for-5 game against the Yankees on July 14 began a 10-game hitting streak for Dropo during which he went 23 for 41. He was batting .265 before the Yankees game and had jumped to .304 after the Tigers 1-0 win over the Senators when his hitting streak ended on July 22.
The Red Sox had sent Dropo, the A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1950, to the Tigers at the beginning of June 1952 in a blockbuster nine-man trade. Although he never matched his rookie-year numbers (34 HR/144 RBIs/.322), he had a solid ’52 season in addition to his July hot streak: 29 homers, 97 RBIs and .276 average overall.
In this century, two players have reached 11 hit in a row: Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox, August 25-27, 2016, and Bernie Williams of the Yankees, August 14-17, 2002.
Still, in this era of defensive shifts and considering Dropo’s A.L. record has stood for 70 years and Kling’s N.L. mark for 120 years, don’t count on anybody matching or topping 12 hits in a row anytime soon.
Andrew Sharp is a retired journalist and SABR member who blogs about D.C. baseball for washingtnbaseballhistory.com. His e.mail address is email@example.com.
Carve a Cooperstown Niche For Lew Burdette
By Dan Schlossberg
The New Jersey chapter of SABR [Society for American Baseball Research] held an open forum on possible Cooperstown candidates during a Zoom meeting Monday night. I happened to drop a name nobody ever considers: Lew Burdette.
A 6’2” right-hander from Nitro, West Virginia, Burdette burst onto the big-league scene after the New York Yankees traded him to the Boston Braves for Johnny Sain in a waiver deal late in the 1952 season.
Burdette went 179-120 with a 3.53 ERA over 13 seasons with the Milwaukee Braves, where he was also a three-time All-Star and World Series MVP.
He led the National League in wins, winning percentage, ERA, starts, complete games, and innings pitched once each while forming a powerful right-left tandem with Warren Spahn.
Like Spahn, Burdette helped himself with his bat, clubbing a dozen regular-season homers — three of them against Sandy Koufax — and another in the 1958 World Series.
Burdette finished his 18-year career with 203 wins — the same number as Hall of Famer Roy Halladay — against 144 defeats. Known as Fidgety Lew because of his constant gyrations on the mound, he was often suspected of throwing a spitball but never caught.
His best game came on May 26, 1959, when he pitched 13 scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee County Stadium. He yielded 12 hits but no runs, matching zeroes with lefty Harvey Haddix until the Braves pushed across the only run of the night on a Joe Adcock homer that turned out to be a double (Adcock passed Hank Aaron on the basepaths).
Two years earlier, Burdette personally secured the only world championship in the history of Milwaukee baseball. He went 3-0 with an 0.67 earned run average, allowing 21 hits in 27 innings and striking out 13 Yankees. Burdette won Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, 5-0, after being pressed into service when Spahn caught the flu.
Burdette had only two days of rest but was more than willing to take the ball; he threw 158 complete games during his star-studded career.
In addition to the Braves, Burdette also pitched for the Cardinals, Angels, Cubs, Phillies, and Yankees. Figuring he was past his peak, those teams used him mostly in relief, depriving Burdette of the chance to add many more wins to his ledger.
His tenure with the Braves coincided with the team’s stay in Milwaukee (1953-65) and enabled him to forge a firm friendship with Spahn both on and off the mound.
A practical joker long before Sparky Lyle, Burdette was once in the back seat of a car with Spahn and Hollywood pals Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis. Davis got pulled over for speeding and was attempting to plead his case. Finally, Burdette piped up, “Officer, this man has one eye. Do you want him to keep it on the road or the speedometer?”
The policeman laughed and put his ticket book away. But the Hall of Fame would be remiss if it did the same.
Lew Burdette belongs.
Former AP newsman Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has covered baseball since 1969 and written 39 books on the game. E.mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After going 0-for-10 years in extra-base hits, San Diego reliever Daniel Camarena slugged a grand-slam against Max Scherzer for his first major-league hit – helping to end the pitcher’s perfect record (52-0) in games in which his team gave him at least eight runs of support . . .
The last pitcher to homer with the bases loaded for his first hit in the majors was the immortal Bill Duggleby in 1898 . . .
Houston pitcher Zack Greinke had a two-game hitting streak in the 2021 playoffs but Dodgers infielder Justin Turner never did . . .
Boston DH J.D. Martinez missed the AL Wild-Card Game and ALDS Game 1 after twisting his ankle while tripping over the second-base bag in the last game of the regular season . . .
Before the 2021 Braves did it, the last team to win a World Series after lugging a losing record at the All-Star break was the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals . . .
The Braves never won a postseason game at Turner Field, where they played for 19 seasons.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.
Enjoyed both stories. I saw Burdette pitch many times against the Phillies. Based on his performance against them he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. 😊