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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36 Comments on "Honus Wagner and 3,000 Hits"

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Doug
Guest

Somewhat similar to Brock passing Cobb in stolen bases. I was in attendance for the game in San Diego when Brock stole twice to tie and pass Cobb. Only later was Cobbb credited with additonal steals that pushed the date that Brock passed him to a September game in Montreal.

DaveR
Guest

I was there, too, Doug! My brother told me it was a news update on TV during a show (probably during a commercial break).
I sat in the Plaza level on the third base side.

Doug
Guest

I was at field level, on the first base side.

I remember when Brock took the field the inning after the ceremony giving him the base, etc. After a few between inning tosses, Cards manager Vern Rapp calls him back to the dugout, a call Brock heeded somewhat reluctantly/sheepishly. A calculated move by Rapp to give Brock center stage again, but the crowd was happy to oblige with another ovation.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN197708290.shtml

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@1/Doug,

I wasn’t aware that Cobb is now credited with 897 career steals; the number ‘892’ has been burned in my memory for decades. Same with Cobb’s 4,191 hits, 297 career triples and .367 BA later becoming 4,189 hits, 295 triples and a .366 BA; also Speaker formerly with 3,515 career hits and a .344 BA, now with 3,514 hits and a .345 BA.

An interesting exercise would be to go through the actual HOF plaques in Cooperstown, and see how many have factually incorrect stats on them.

RobM
Guest

I didn’t realize it either. 892 is still etched in my brain.

Isn’t there something similar with Rose breaking Cobb’s hit record? I’m guessing since they took a hit away from Cobb, Rose broke the record earlier, yet to me it doesn’t matter. The record breaker was the one recognized at the time.

birtelcom
Guest

At the plaque room at the HOF in Cooperstown, there is a sign that says: “The information on these plaques was taken from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time it was written.”

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
Baseball record-keeping was notoriously bad a century or so ago. Any sort of widely available baseball encyclopedia was decades away (the first I’m aware of was the 1951 Turkin/Thompson “Official Encyclopedia of Baseball”, which I own and is very bare-bones). For instance, when Chief Wilson hit his astounding 36 triples in 1912, no one was really sure what the actual single-season record was for triples. Nap Lajoie’s 1901 BA fell from .422 to .405 because someone misread his Hits total as 220, instead of 229 (corrected to 232 now). When Babe Ruth went nuts in 1919 hitting HRs, there was… Read more »
KalineCountry Ron
Guest

Kaline lost 2 homers to rain games;

6/1/1958: Al Kaline homered to lead off the bottom of the second inning against Chicago’s Ray Moore but the game was rained out after 3 ½ innings. This homer would have given Kaline 400 for his career.

5/17/1963: Doubleheader Tigers vs @ Senators was cancelled in the 2nd inning of the 1st game after a rain delay. Top of the 2nd, Al Kaline hit a solo homer off Bennie Daniels, then the rains came to wash it away. This could also have given Kaline 400 for his career.

James Smyth
Guest

Neat story about Gentile tying Maris with 141 RBI in 1961. He was set to receive a $5,000 bonus if he led the league, but at the time was thought to have fallen one shy. After Maris’s total was revised from 142 to 141, Gentile was honored at an O’s game in 2010 and was given a $5,000 check.

http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/06/for-jim-gentile-a-long-awaited-bonus

Doug
Editor

Seems like they missed a zero. $5,000 in 1961 would be roughly ten times that amount 50 years later.

RobM
Guest

$36,464.21.

Add in interest on top of that and he was robbed!

Richard Chester
Guest

When the 1912 season ended it appeared that Heinie Zimmerman won the triple crown. Years later it was discovered that his RBI total was overstated and accordingly reduced his total from 103 to 99. Thus Wagner was the RBI leader and Zimmerman lost his triple crown.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

A number of the early AL batting titles were in dispute, including 1902, 1910, 1914, and 1938.

Richard Chester
Guest

Doug:

I took a quick look at that retrosheet link. It’s fantastic.

Richard Chester
Guest

I meant birtelcom, not Doug.

oneblankspace
Guest
Pittsburg was the correct spelling at that time. The Census Bureau or some other Agency ordered all place names ending in -burgh to change to -burg. Pittsburgh (Pa.) changed back a few years later; Edinburgh (Ind.) got their H back in the 1970s or 1980s. Pittsburg (Kan.) is still spelled without the H. Pete Rose is remembered for passing Ty Cobb’s record of 4,191 hits in 1985. Retrosheet shows Cobb with 4,189 now, as does Baseball Reference. When the rule was changed to allow a walk-off homerun to score all the runs and not just enough runs to win, they… Read more »
jajacob
Guest

Honus had 14 World Series hits, could it be they were counting those as lifetime hits?

Doug
Editor
I thought you might be on to something, jajacob. But, Wagner was in an uncharacteristic funk that month and was only 10 for 60 for Jun 10-28. So, that doesn’t quite square the circle. I thought the comment about Cap Anson “who is said to have made 3000 hits” was interesting in that it appears to imply that Anson’s achievement was a matter of some debate or conjecture, as opposed to being a recognized accomplishment. Hugh Duffy is another case of a “revised” record. When I was growing up, Duffy was always said to have had a .438 batting average… Read more »
jajacob
Guest

Sorry, I’m not able to do the research, and can only ask questions that might get some one else’s interest. Has Honus’s career total been changed? That might account for the remaining four hits?

Hank G.
Guest

“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.”

Didn’t Same Rice (2987 hits) claim that no one paid much attention to milestones back then?

John Autin
Editor
Good point, Hank. But I’d guess the level of general attention to 3,000 hits back then varied with the caliber of the player and the rarity of the achievement. Sam Rice was a good player for a long time, but never among the game’s elite. And by the time Rice crossed 2,700 hits in 1931, there were six men with 3,000, and Rogers Hornsby (still very much a star then) was closer to 3,000. I also think Rice’s late career start kept people from believing he could get to 3,000. He didn’t become a regular until age 27. And though… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

50+ WAR without a
5+ WAR season.

That is consistently not-Elite.

John Autin
Editor

Rice was a candidate for the Lou Whitaker All-Stars, but lost the RF battle to Sam Crawford — another guy who fell just short of 3,000 hits.

RobMer
Guest
I seem to remember reading Wahoo would have stuck around to get 3,000 hits if he thought it was a “thing.” Obviously not his word, but he implied that getting 3,000 hits just wasn’t viewed as being anything special. That’s why I thought it was interesting that the news media was reporting when Wagner hit # 3,000, even if they were off by a few weeks. I supposed it’s easy to look at Crawford’s sub .200 BA his last year and assume no team wanted him, which is the reason he never got to 3,000. Yet one can view it… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@32/RobMer, I remember reading ages ago that Crawford thought that he should’ve been credited with 3,000 hits anyway, as he got 64 hits in the Western League in 1899. Why? The Western League became the major-league AL in 1901, under Ban Johnson’s leadership. Someone later (Johnson?) told Crawford that Western League stats would count as major league stats. I did read this about decades ago, so I probably didn’t get all the facts right. Crawford had four good-to-excellent years in the PCL at ages 37-40 with excellent BA’s and goog-to-great power, so if he really wanted those last 36 hits,… Read more »
oneblankspace
Guest

In 1900, the Western League was renamed the American League (it was not yet officially “Major”) and Clark Griffith’s Chicago White Sox (or were they the White Stockings that year?) won the pennant.

Richard Chester
Guest

I remember reading somewhere that after Rice retired Clark Griffith offered him an opportunity to rejoin the Senators and play long enough to accumulate the 13 hits. Rice turned it down because he did not want to go through the rigors of getting back in shape. He shares with Joe Jackson the AL record for the longest streak of multi-hit games, 11.

jajacob
Guest

I remember reading that Ty Cobb’s 4000th hit only got a sentence or two in Detroit’s papers, not in the first paragraph of the story.

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