One thing lost in the Orioles’ victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night was a bit of club infamy made by first baseman Nick Johnson.
Johnson, a career .270 hitter entering this season, went hitless in three at-bats Thursday. That put him 0-for-26 for the season and gave him the club’s all-time hitless record for a position player to begin an Orioles career.
The previous record was 0-for-25, set by infielder Ron Hansen from 1958 to 1960. The all-time Orioles record is pitcher Wes Stock, who never got a hit in his Orioles career, which spanned 36 at-bats from 1959 to 1964.
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Stock, a right-handed reliever who was 19-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 173 games with the Orioles, had two walks and 26 strikeouts in his 38 trips to the plate. He was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in June 1964 for catcher Charlie Lau.
Once he got to Athletics, Stock had three hits in 15 at-bats for the season. His bat must have been cursed in Baltimore.
Thanks to the great site baseball-reference.com, I did a little more research, and there are 17 players in the franchise’s full history, dating to St. Louis Browns first baseman Ernie Gust in 1911 (12 hitless at-bats in his only major league season) to have at least 10 at-bats and go hitless in their careers with the franchise.
The longest is pitcher Karl Drews of the St. Louis Browns, who was hitless in 54 at-bats with the franchise from 1948 to 1949.
Now, if we are talking the modern Orioles franchise – from 1954 to the present – only nine players have had at least 10 at-bats and never gotten a hit as an Oriole. Only Johnson, who we can assume will get a hit at some point, catcher Tim Laker (14 hitless at-bats in 1997) and outfielder Carl Warwick (14 hitless at-bats in 1965) were position players.
The rest were pitchers: Stock (36 hitless at-bats from 1959 to 1964), Harvey Haddix (21, 1964-1965), Charlie Beamon (17, 1956-1958), Art Ceccarelli (14, 1957), Daniel Cabrera (14, 2004-2008) and Rodrigo Lopez (11, 2002-2006).
Johnson didn’t play in the majors in 2011, so his hitless streak actually goes back to 2010, when his final two at-bats were hitless, meaning he is actually 0-for-his-last-28.
Johnson’s most recent big league hit came on May 5, 2010, in Yankee Stadium as a New York Yankee. He had three hits that day. Who was the opponent?
You guessed it, the Orioles.
His last hit was a single against Alfredo Simon in the eighth inning of that game. Johnson also homered against Orioles starter David Hernandez, doubled against reliever Mark Hendrickson and walked twice, reaching base in all five plate appearances in the Yankees’ 7-5 win.