Honus Wagner and 3,000 Hits
In June of 1914, “Hans” Wagner became the second major leaguer to have accumulated 3,000 regular season hits in his career. But when during that June did he reach that milestone?
Wagner’s impending 3,000th hit achievement was something fans were very much conscious of at the time. Newspapers of June 10, 1914 widely reported that Wagner’s 3,000th hit had occurred in the game of June 9, on a ninth-inning double during a loss to Philadelphia, and the crowd in the stands applauded the achievement.
For example, the Atlanta Constitution, under the headline “Hans Wagner Makes his 3,000th Bingle”, and with a June 9 dateline, wrote: “Hans Wagner, veteran shortstop of the Pittsburg National League team, today made his 3,000th hit… it was a two-bagger off Pitcher Mayer with no one on base in the ninth inning. He subsequently scored Pittsburg’s only run of the game…. He was applauded when he made the hit and again when he crossed the plate. The only other player who is said to have made 3,000 hits in his major league career was Adrian C. Anson….”
The Stockton Record of the previous day described at some length how baseball fans had been waiting eagerly for the milestone over the preceding few days, only to be faced with rainouts, an off-day and a hitless game for Honus. On the 10th, the New York World ran the same story as the Atlanta Constitution, also with the June 9 dateline, under the headline “Hans Wagner Gets His 3,000 Hit in 17 Years”. (1914 was actually Wagner’s 18th season in the majors). The Hall of Fame cites June 9, 1914 as the day of the 3,000th hit, as does Wagner’s SABR biography.
Amusing then, that Retrosheet and Baseball-reference.com (which uses Retrosheet’s data) now show that Honus actually got to 3,000 hits seventeen games later, on June 28, 1914. Retrosheet and B-ref recently posted box scores for the 1914 season, so you can now add up Honus’s hits and easily calculate that June 28 date. Wagner is shown at B-ref with 2,941 hits through the end of the 1913 season, and he is shown getting his 59th hit of the 1914 season on June 28. That master and hero of all things Retrosheet, Tom Ruane, points out the June 28 date in his “retro-review” of the 1914 season: http://www.retrosheet.org/Research/RuaneT/rev1910_art.htm, which is where I spotted it.
I’m not sure what the source might be of the discrepancies between what everyone thought back in 1914 and the numbers now memorialized at Retrosheet and B-ref. But the conflict between the new date and the old one are a reminder of the contingency of historical statistics. And the story of the conflict is a reminder of just how astoundingly long baseball fans have been avidly following the same milestone statistical achievements we follow today.
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