I was watching the Rays-Rangers game the other night when I heard an interesting statistic.
As Michael Young stepped to the plate for the first time, the local announcers referred to him as the Texas Rangers’ all-time hits leader. Really? Michael Young? Who knew? I certainly didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. Young’s had a perfectly respectable, yet seemingly non-descript, career: .301 lifetime batter, five consecutive 200-hit seasons. But if I was asked that question at a trivia contest at my local sports pub, I would have definitely swung and missed. In fact, I’m not even sure I could pick Young out of a lineup. I guess a better question is how many in Arlington could.
That got me thinking though. How many all-time hit leaders, by team, could I actually name? I was miles off on Young. How would I fare among the rest of the teams in the league? I haven’t memorized the back of a baseball card in about twenty-five years but I do run a sports website and like to pretend I know a thing or two about baseball.
So I looked them all up, team by team, and to be perfectly honest, I fell flat on my face, at least with the American League. Naming the National League leaders, as you will see, was considerably easier.
Now it’s your turn to step to the plate. No cheating, folks. Hands over one eye and scroll down carefully. I only scored 6-out-of-14 in the A.L. See if you can do any better.
Baltimore Orioles: No-brainer. Cal Ripken at 3184. There, I started you off with a meatball. If you didn’t get that one right, you probably have no business continuing.
Boston Red Sox: Another pretty easy one. Carl Yastrzemski with 3419. And as a friend recently reminded me, Ted Williams does NOT have 3000 hits. In fact, he’s nearly 800 hits behind Yaz. We have world-wide conflict to thank for that.
Chicago White Sox: Okay, here’s where things get a little dicey. Chicago’s all-time hits leader is none other than Luke Appling with 2749. He played in the 30s and 40s, kids. Nellie Fox is second on the list and Frank Thomas is third. For the record, over the past few seasons, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has dropped nearly as many F-Bombs in considerably fewer plate appearances.
Cleveland Indians: My source for all things Cleveland, Richie G., would probably be upset with me for missing this one but I haven’t given him this quiz yet, so we’ll see if he gets it right. Technically, Cleveland’s all-time hit leader is Nap Lajoie, who played for the Naps at the turn of the century. And by turn of the century, I mean the turn of LAST century. Lajoie, one of the greatest hitters of all-time, finished with 2046 hits over the 12 years he played, and managed, in Cleveland. The Indians all-time hit leader? Tris Speaker with 1965.
Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb. Pretty easy one here considering it was Cobb’s all-time hit record (4191, 3902 of them with Detroit) that Pete Rose broke. Whoops, I just gave one away. Like most of these guys were over their career, I’m currently 3-for-5.
Kansas City Royals: Another no-brainer. George Brett is the Royals all-time hits leader with 3154. Amazingly, Brett is still better known for one of the greatest on-field tirades in sports history. Pine tar anyone?
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Okay, I struggled here. The first name that came to mind was Rod Carew but I knew he played most of his career in Minnesota. (Carew is still 10th on California’s all-time hit list). Believe it or not, Garrett Anderson is the Angels’ all-time hit king. Another Michael Young-like surprise.
Minnesota Twins: Okay, I’m giving myself a pass on this one. I guessed Kirby Puckett (2304). The correct answer is actually Sam Rice with 2889, but Rice played for the Washington Senators between 1915-1933. The Senators eventually became the Minnesota Twins. Considering Rice probably never imagined playing baseball indoors or that he likely never even knew what a Hefty bag was, if you also guessed Puckett, feel good about yourself and take a point for your efforts.
New York Yankees: Derek Jeter. 2884. Yea, yea, yea, we know, we know. He’s also slept with nearly that many women. I still find it amazing that no Yankee has ended his career with 3000 hits. Well, one is about to.
Oakland Athletics: If you guessed Rickey Henderson, you’d be wrong. I was. Not a bad guess as he’s third on their all-time hit list. But the correct answer is Bert Campaneris, who finished his A’s career with 1882 hits.
Seattle Mariners: If the first name that popped into your head was Ichiro Suzuki, don’t feel bad. He’s not far off. The actual Mariners hits leader is Edgar Martinez with 2247, but with 2181 career hits, Ichiro should pass him in a week or so.
Tampa Bay Rays: Ah, an expansion franchise. I live in Tampa and even I got this one wrong despite the fact that I’ve been following them quite a bit lately. Any guesses? I’ll give you a hint. The area fears they’re about to lose this guy to free agency. That’s right, after nine seasons in Tampa, Carl Crawford has 1426 hits and counting. We’ll see if he continues to rack them up in the same uniform next season.
Texas Rangers: As we discussed earlier, Michael Young is the Rangers all-time hit leader (1801) followed by Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Ruben Sierra, at least two of whom took steroids.
Toronto Blue Jays: Another tough one that’s also likely to fall next year. I’ll admit I kept thinking of John Olerud (10th) and Joe Carter (7th) but the correct answer is Tony Fernandez with 1583. Vernon Wells is on his heels with 1484 and should pass him early next season. Think anyone outside of Canada will notice?
So how’d you do? Did you get more than half of them right? If not, don’t feel bad. I run a sports website and only nailed six and that’s giving myself Kirby Puckett.
Stay tuned for the National League version which, as I promised is considerably easier.