In the background of history: What it’s like to drop the 3,000th hit for MLB pitchers

Dennis Eckersley never saw it coming.

Not that the future Hall of Fame pitcher was unaware that Minnesota Twins Slugger Dave Winfield was zeroing in on 3,000 hits.

In his own career, Eckersley felt fortunate to be at Fenway Park on September 12, 1979, when his red Sox Teammate Karl Yastrzemski became just the 15th man to reach 3,000 hits.

Since Yastrzemski’s singles, only three players had achieved the feat in the next 14 years. Eckersley and his oakland A’s teammates knew exactly how close Winfield was to the historic mark.

“Leading to it, you know it’s coming,” Eckersley said. “It never dawned on me, I’d be the f– man on the mound.”

Although 1993 was a down year for him, Eckersley was a relief ace to be dropped from the name of the American League’s Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner. He also averaged facing only 4.3 batsmen per game during his first 57 appearances in that season.

Even with Oakland playing four games at the Metrodome, it was likely that Remote Eckersley would be on the mound with 3,000 hits on the line.

And then it happened.

Winfield’s single in the seventh inning on September 16, 1993, It was the 2,999th hit of his career. Two innings later, Winfield found a hole on the left and vaunted off to drive in a run during a game-tying rally.

When Winfield arrived at base, Eckersley became another famous pitcher, standing on the mound for someone else’s monumental moment. No stranger to significant achievements of his own, there is a talented class of pitchers among 33 men who have been in the background for one of baseball’s rare achievements after serving another player’s 3,000th hit.

“If you ask, ‘How many people did you play with that had 3,000 hits? Or have you ever participated in a game?’ I remember there was only one Yaz and that was 1979,” Eckersley said. “Not that many times you are part of it, let alone pitching.”

Only 32 other pitchers have stayed where during Eckersley. major League Baseball147 years of history. Earlier this season, Colorado’s Antonio Senzatel when joined the club Detroit‘s Miguel Cabrera On 23 April she was singled out for number 3,000.

Many pitchers who have shared those moments with their Hall of Fame opponents have accomplished resumes of their own.

Inducted into the group is a Hall of Famer (Eckersley), a future Hall of Famer. Justin Verlander, multiple Cy Young winners, a few Rookie of the Year winners, numerous 20-game winners and a handful of first-round draft picks. There’s even a dad, although poor record-keeping prior to 1900 raises questions about whether Cap Anson’s September 19, 1897 single in Dad Clarke’s second inning was actually HOFer’s 3,000th hit.

Verlander, on the mound for Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit on June 19, 2015, has a theory as to why there are so many accomplished pitchers in such a small group.

“It’s just time (spent on the mound),” he said. “You always run out of time to do something big.”


Just like bugs hitting the windshield on long car rides, base hits are a part of life for starting pitchers. They are indispensable. Even aces yield them.

Despite keeping opponents at .172 batting average in 2019, Verlander allowed 5.5 hits per nine innings.

The game before becoming the 29th hitter to reach 3,000 hits, Rodriguez made his final plate appearance after going 2-for-4, leaving him at the door with 2,999 hits.

As the next day began, Verlander knew he could very well end He People.

As much as the two-time Cy Young winner didn’t want to end up on Rodriguez’s highlight reel, Verlander won’t deviate from his game plan.

“You know it’s there, but you don’t really try to change much,” Verlander said. “If the guy gets hit, he gets hit. It’s baseball. He’s got 2,999 of them for a reason.”

While the list of pitchers who have surrendered some of the most monumental homers in baseball history has a litany of nobles, the victims of the 3,000-hit club are quite impressive.

Steve Rogers, who delivered Pete Rose’s 3,000th hit, was a five-time All-Star and runner-up for both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards. Erskine Meyer (Onus Wagner) won 21 games in 1914 and 1915.

Rip Sewell (Paul Wanner) was a four-time All-Star, receiving the MVP vote three times and winning 21 games twice. Baseball-Reference credits Mo Drabowski (Stan Musial) with producing 19.7 career wins above replacements. Aaron Cook (Craig Biggio) was an All-Star in 2008.

Jim Beatty (Ystrzemsky) produced 14.9 Warfare between 1981 and 1984. Joel Pinero (Rafael Palmeiro) went 104-93 in 12 seasons. Jose Rosado (Paul Molitor) was a two-time All-Star before a shoulder injury ruined his career.

John Matlack (Roberto Clemente) was the fourth pick of the 1967 amateur draft, the 1972 National League roy and a three-time All-Star. Dave McNeely (Al Kaline) won at least 20 games in four straight seasons (1968–71) and was a three-time All-Star. Frank Viola (Rod Carew) won the Cy Young Award, was a three-time All-Star and produced 47.0 career bWARs. Jose Mesa (Robin Yount) was a Cy Young runner-up and finished with 321 career savings.

wade miley (Adrian Beltre) was a no-hitter in 2021 and an All-Star in 2012. Mike Leek (Albert Pujols) was the eighth pick of the 2009 draft and posted a 105–98 career record. Wayne Simpson (Hank Aaron) was the eighth pick of the 1967 draft and was an All-Star as a rookie before injuries derailed his career.

Eckersley and Verlander’s resumes speak for themselves. While Verlander didn’t like Rodriguez leaving a homer, it’s not something he frets about.

“I don’t really care,” Verlander said. “It doesn’t bother me. It’s an attraction to Alex. Obviously, it’s not one of my highlights, and I feel like I’ve achieved a lot in this game (it doesn’t do anything ).

With three no-hitters and 3,167 career strikes, Verlander has experienced his fair share of individual game highlights. he knows the desire to avoid being He The man goes both ways.

Verlander remembers one encounter in particular as he struck 3,000 strikeouts on September 28, 2019. He finished the third innings against angels Swinging Brian Goodwin and missing a change, that set up a Verlander-Albert Pujols matchup to start the bottom of the fourth inning.

“No one wants it to be taken away from them, just as Pujol didn’t want to be my 3,000th strike,” Verlander said. “I had a chance to score 3,000 runs against him and he shortened the first pitch and put it into play. You don’t want to be that guy. But as a pitcher, I’m not going to pitch you around. ,

With a strained right triceps in the first two months of the 2015 season, Verlander was making his second start of the season when he faced Rodriguez at Yankee Stadium.

“I felt like s-,” Verlander said. “I wasn’t good enough. The hand didn’t feel good. But I probably got my best velocity for that pitch in the whole game. I wish I could feel better and have a better chance of success.”

Verlander’s first pitch fastball for Rodriguez recorded 94.9 mph, about five mph slower than his top velocity of the season (he hit 99.8 mph in September 2015). Rodriguez blasted it right-center, becoming one of three hitters to reach 3,000 with a round-tripper, along with Derek Jeter and Wade Boggs.


sometimes He The man almost feels like fate.

in hindsight, David Price looks at it this way. Near the end of Jeter’s long march to 3,000 hits 11 years ago, Price realized he might have been the pitcher who fell straight into his historic path.

A month before that happened, Jeter acknowledged how much it would mean to complete the task at Yankee Stadium. A few days later, Jeter was placed on the 15-day injured list with a Grade 1 calf strain, only six hits shy of the milestone.

Jeter’s stay on the IL lasted 19 games and included three road events. New York Mets, a detail that provided him a great opportunity to reach the mark at Yankee Stadium. He returned to the lineup on July 4, 2011, and produced three hits during the three-game series in Cleveland, before hitting another four in the first game versus four. Tampa Bay At home to take her to 2,998.

For a second, Price thought he might avoid being a part of history. Teammate Jeremy Helicson was scheduled to pitch the next day’s game – but it was canceled due to a thunderstorm.

“They come up to me when we bump in and are like, ‘You’re still leaving tomorrow,'” Price said with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘Oh, cool. I’m definitely going to be the guy who drops it.'”

The batting leadoff, Jeter opened the competition on July 9, 2011 by tossing a 95-mph fastball for a ground-ball single. Two innings later, Jeter ripped the pitch another 3–2, this one curveball, for a long single home run off Price.

Jeter ends his storybook by going on Day 5-for-5. Price had a front-row seat.

One of the highlights was the many dramas detailed in a recent seven-part documentary on Jeter’s career, “The Captain,” which aired on ESPN.

“You could have made an entire documentary on his day,” Price said.

Price said that some of his current teammates and others Los Angeles Dodgers The staff only learned that he was on the mound for Jeter’s magical moment after watching the documentary.

Their discovery sparked a new round of negotiations, and Price doesn’t mind their being. He smiled and talked about the hit with ease, even laughing as he remembered how a Dodgers executive suggested he pitch pitches to Jeter.

“(Jeter) was one of my favorite players growing up,” Price said. “I wish it wasn’t a homer. It would be nice if it was a single to right or something. But it happened and I’ll be forever attached to him, to him. Of all the players who’ve achieved that feat, he One of those people I’m totally fine with giving it to.”

While Price went over the third-base dugout rails and rested during a long celebratory break, and even acknowledged Jeter, back in 1993 Eckersley wasn’t in much of a mood for celebration. Eckersley was not thrilled to be on the mound for Winfield’s hit, and Winfield knew it.

For one thing, Winfield’s hit made it a one-run game. Even though it was a meaningless contest, there was a save on the line.

“Before 3,000,[people]said, ‘We’ll run out there and hug you and enjoy the moment,'” Winfield said. “But I got a hit from Eckersley and he wasn’t doing it. He wasn’t happy. Our guys can tell. They were a little nervous about running out onto the field to celebrate.”

Instead, Winfield’s teammates remained in the dugout.

“They got up and came to the edge of the dugout and looked at Eckersley and said ‘I don’t think we’re going to get out there,'” Winfield said. “I climbed on them.”

Nearly 30 years later, Eckersley has a different perspective on Winfield. Both men are Hall of Famers and have discussed the moment during their annual visits to Cooperstown. And they share another connection – his birthday (October 3).

“It’s meant to be,” Eckersley said.

As Verlander noted, the longer someone’s career, the more big moments they’ll be part of—sometimes as a star, sometimes not. Eckersley played 24 seasons, won 197 games and made 390 saves. Like Verlander, Eckersley won the World Series and was voted Cy Young and MVP in the same season.

Swinging a significant save at the time, Winfield’s highlights are not recorded with Eckersley, when compared to the game-winning home run he allowed Kirk Gibson to finish Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Like the rest, this is just one more hit they allowed.

“I’m good with it, 3,000 hits, that’s fine,” Eckersley said. “It’s so much better than the Gibson thing. I can live with it. You can talk about whatever you want. I’ve got worse.”

(Photo, background, and Alex Rodriguez of Justin Verlander: Rob Tringley/MLB via Getty Images)

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