The 3,000 club

THE BALTIMORE SUN

1. Honus Wagner

3,415 hits (7th)

Date: June 9, 1914

Age: 38

Game: 2,332

Team: Pirates

Hit 3,000: The Flying Dutchman, who dominated the first decade of the century, winning seven batting championships and seven doubles titles, doubled off the Phillies' Erskine Mayer during the ninth inning of a 3-1 loss at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia.

Time line: Two months earlier, Wrigley Field, then known as Weeghman Park, opened in Chicago.

3,000 club ranking: Of current members in the exclusive hit club, Wagner was the first to join. Cap Anson, a 19th-century star, was the charter member with what variously was reported as 3,418, 3,081, 3,041 and 3,000 hits, but those figures have been revised to 2,996. . . Mayer went on to win 21 games that season, making Wagner the only man to get his 3,000th hit off someone who won 20 the same year.

What others said: "I name Wagner first on my list, not only because he was such a great batting champion and base runner, and also baseball's foremost shortstop, but because Honus could have been first at any position, with the possible exception of pitching." - Hall of Fame manager John McGraw

2. Napoleon Lajoie

3,242 hits (12th)

Date: Sept. 17, 1914

Age: 40

Game: 2,224

Team: Indians

Hit 3,000: At the time, his single off the Red Sox's Rube Foster at Cleveland's League Park was thought to be hit No. 2,991, but subsequent research proved he hadn't been credited with nine hits during the 1901 season. Ten days later, when Lajoie got what was presumed to be his 3,000th, umpire Bill Dinneen stopped the game - in violation of the rules of the day - to give Lajoie the baseball.

Time line: Two months earlier, the Red Sox bought Babe Ruth from the Orioles.

3,000 club ranking: Lajoie needed the second smallest number of games, 2,224, to join the hit club.

What others said: "Lajoie was one of the most rugged hitters I ever faced. He'd take your leg off with a line drive, turn the third baseman around like a swinging door and powder the hand of the left fielder." - Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young

3. Ty Cobb

4,189 hits (2nd)

Date: Aug. 19, 1921

Age: 34

Game: 2,135

Team: Tigers

Hit 3,000: His single off the Red Sox's Elmer Myers came during a 3-for-5 performance in the second game of a doubleheader at Detroit's Navin Field. Nearly six years later, on July 19, 1927, he reached 4,000 and learned of the feat afterward by reading of it in a late edition of an afternoon newspaper.

Time line: Two weeks before Cobb's 3,000th, the first baseball game on radio was aired.

3,000 club ranking: The Georgia Peach was the youngest to join the club (age 34) and needed the fewest games (2,135). He is first in the club in batting average (.366), runs (2,246), triples (295) and on-base average (.433).

Cobb on hitting: Asked near the end of his life why he thought he would hit only .300 against modern-day pitching, he answered, "You've got to remember - I'm 73."

4. Tris Speaker

3,514 hits (5th)

Date: May 17, 1925

Age: 37

Game: 2,341

Team: Indians

Hit 3,000: The Grey Eagle, regarded for many years as baseball's best defensive outfielder, was hobbling, having just returned from Rochester, N.Y., where doctors treated his dislocated knee. His single at Cleveland's League Park came during a 3-for-4 game and was off the Senators' Tom Zachary, who would give up another significant hit two years later: Babe Ruth's 60th home run.

Time line: Five days earlier, Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra was born.

3,000 club ranking: He was the first to get his 3,000th hit as a player-manager. Less than a month later, he's joined by White Sox manager Eddie Collins. One of Speaker's three hits that day was a double - appropriate for the major-league career leader in that category.

Speaker on hitting: "It would be useless for any player to attempt to explain successful batting."

5. Eddie Collins

3,315 hits (9th)

Date: June 3, 1925

Age: 38

Game: 2,505

Team: White Sox

Hit 3,000: He joined the club at Detroit's Navin Field with a single off unrelated Rip Collins, a Tigers pitcher whose nickname came from a pre-Prohibition brand of whiskey. Collins, whose own nickname was "Cocky," had three singles and a stolen base in the game. It was a typical outing for the man who has fewer extra-base hits than any other club member but is third in steals.

Time line: Two days earlier, Lou Gehrig began his streak of 2,130 consecutive games played by appearing as a pinch hitter for Pee-Wee Wanninger.

3,000 club ranking: Collins had the fifth-highest batting average among club members yet never won a batting title. Ty Cobb played outfield for Detroit on Collins' historic day, marking the first time one member of the 3,000 club was present when another joined.

What others said: "Eddie Collins was the greatest infielder I ever saw. He could do anything." - Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack

6. Paul Waner

3,152 hits (14th)

Date: June 19, 1942

Age: 39

Game: 2,314

Team: Boston Braves

Hit 3,000: Big Poison reached the milestone with a single to center at Braves Field in Boston off Rip Sewell of the Pirates, his longtime team, but he could have done it two days earlier. On June 17, he apparently singled, hitting a bouncer off the glove of Reds shortstop Eddie Joost, who had scrambled to reverse field after moving to cover second base on a hit-and-run. But Waner refused to accept the ball from umpire Beans Reardon and persuaded the official scorer to reverse his call so he could reach 3,000 in a more dignified manner.

Time line: Two days later, the White Sox's Ted Lyons won his 250th game.

3,000 club ranking: Waner is the only club member of his generation. His predecessor, Eddie Collins, joined in 1925, the year before Waner's major-league debut; the next member, Stan Musial, was a rookie in 1942. Waner needed the fifth fewest games (2,314) to reach 3,000. He is the shortest (5 feet 8) and lightest (153 pounds) member.

Waner on 3,000: "Even as a batting coach, my small size [5 feet 8, 153 pounds] has helped me. Because the youngsters figure that, with me being small and all, I must know something about how to hit. It's obvious I can't strong-back the ball, and yet they know I got over 3,000 hits, over 600 doubles and all that. So they say to themselves, 'Gee, he must know the secret.' "

7. Stan Musial

3,630 hits (4th)

Date: May 13, 1958

Age: 37

Game: 2,301

Team: Cardinals

Hit 3,000: A game-turning double to left off the Cubs' Moe Drabowsky at Chicago's Wrigley Field made Stan the Man the only member to join as a pinch hitter. Manager Fred Hutchinson had planned to rest Musial so he could get the 3,000th at home but batted him in the sixth inning for pitcher Sam Jones. Musial's first at-bat the next day at home? A home run.

Time line: The next month, fellow club member Wade Boggs was born.

3,000 club ranking: Musial was the only new club member between Paul Waner (1942) and Hank Aaron (1970). . . He needed the fourth fewest games (2,301) to reach 3,000. . . Musial has the club's best slugging average (.559). His career batting average dropped a club-worst nine points from .340 the year he reached 3,000 to .331 upon retirement in 1963.

Musial on 3,000: "I never realized that batting a little ball around could cause so much commotion. I know now how Lindbergh must have felt when he returned to St. Louis."

8. Hank Aaron

3,771 hits (3rd)

Date: May 17, 1970

Age: 36

Game: 2,460

Team: Braves

Hit 3,000: After beating out a dribbler off the Reds' Wayne Simpson for a single, Hammerin' Hank was congratulated by Stan Musial, the only other living club member, who hopped a fence at Cincinnati's Crosley Field to congratulate him. "Stan the Man was eager to have some company," Aaron recalled.

Time line: Five days earlier, Ernie Banks hit his 500th homer.

3,000 club ranking: Aaron was the first black member. . . He homered that same day (his 571st), and was the first member of the 3,000-hit, 500-homer club. Eventually, he became the lone member of 3,000-hit, 700-homer club. . . . Aaron would have finished with more than 3,000 hits even if you subtract every one of his major-league-record 755 home runs. . . He's first in the club in homers and RBIs (2,297) and second in runs (2,174).

Aaron on 3,000: "It took me 17 years to get 3,000 hits. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course."

9. Willie Mays

3,283 hits (10th)

Date: July 18, 1970

Age: 39

Game: 2,639

Team: Giants

Hit 3,000: His second-inning single off Mike Wegener through the Expos' infield at San Francisco's Candlestick Park helped Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry get his 14th victory of season. During the same game, Ron Hunt set his own "hit" record, being plunked by a pitch for a National League-most 119 times, breaking a black-and-blue mark he had shared with Frank Robinson.

Time line: During the same busy week, Pete Rose won the All-Star Game by crashing into AL catcher Ray Fosse, the Pirates' Three Rivers Stadium opened and the Dodgers' Bill Singer pitched a no-hitter.

3,000 club ranking: The Say Hey Kid is second in homers (660) and slugging average (.557). Mays was the first member with 200 homers, 200 steals and 100 triples, totals not achieved again until Robin Yount did it.

Mays on 3,000: "I'm glad to get it over with. I didn't feel any special pressure about reaching 3,000. I don't think I played like I did. You guys [sportswriters] are reminding me about it all the time. I just want to get out of here and go home."

10. Roberto Clemente

3,000 hits (22nd)

Date: Sept. 30, 1972

Age: 38

Game: 2,433

Team: Pirates

Hit 3,000: Using a bat picked out by teammate Willie Stargell, he doubled to deep left-center off the Mets' Jon Matlack at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium. Clemente thought he had No. 3,000 one day earlier after beating out a ball that never left the infield, but the official scorer ruled an error on Mets second baseman Ken Boswell.

Time line: On the same day, Ted Williams announced that he was stepping down as Rangers manager.

3,000 club ranking: Clemente is the only player to get his 3,000th hit in his final regular-season at-bat. He was killed Dec. 31 that year when flying relief supplies to the victims of a Nicaraguan earthquake. He's next to last in runs (1,416), doubles (440) and walks (621).

Clemente earlier in season on 3,000: "I have to get that hit this year. I might die."

11. Al Kaline

3,007 hits (21st)

Date: Sept. 24, 1974

Age: 39

Game: 2,825

Team: Tigers

Hit 3,000: The Southern-Baltimore alumnus sliced a double off the Orioles' Dave McNally five feet inside the right-field line at Memorial Stadium with both parents in the crowd. More than a month earlier, Kaline had a dream in which he recorded his 3,000th hit off McNally. Why was McNally on his mind? The left-hander had helped Kaline obtain a Ford dealership through company president Lee Iacocca.

Time line: The next day, Tommy John underwent a revolutionary tendon transplant surgery on pitching arm that came to be known as "Tommy John surgery."

3,000 club ranking: Kaline was the first American Leaguer to join since Eddie Collins nearly a half-century earlier. . . He needed the third-highest number of games (2,825) to reach 3,000.

Kaline on 3,000: " I'm glad it came here with my parents and relatives watching. When I reached second, I said a little prayer of thanks to God for giving me a strong body."

12. Pete Rose

4,256 hits (1st)

Date: May 5, 1978

Age: 37

Game: 2,370

Team: Reds

Hit 3,000: The hard single to left field off the Expos' Steve Rogers, his future Montreal teammate, was celebrated at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium with a hug from first baseman Tony Perez, his longtime friend on the Big Red Machine.

Time line: Less than a month later, the Orioles chose Cal Ripken in the amateur draft.

3,000 club ranking: Charlie Hustle was the first to reach 3,000 as early as his 16th season, and eventually became the all-time leader in hits with 4,256. He's second in doubles (746) but last in slugging average (.409).

Rose on 3,000: "People ask me how many more years I intend to keep playing. I tell them I don't think of it in terms of years. I think of it in terms of 706 more hits. If I can get them, I'll beat [Stan] Musial's [National League] record, and that's what I want to do."

13. Lou Brock

3,023 hits (19th)

Date: Aug. 13, 1979

Age: 40

Game: 2,629

Team: Cardinals

Hit 3,000: Brock's line-drive single against the Cubs, his former team, bruised Dennis Lamp's pitching hand, knocking him out of the game at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. "I guess I'd better send my fingers to Cooperstown," the reliever quipped. During the same game, the Cardinals' Ken Reitz got his 1,000th hit.

Time line: Eight days earlier, fellow club member Willie Mays was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

3,000 club ranking: Brock is first in the club in stolen bases (938) but last in RBIs (900) and strikeouts (1,730) and next to last in on-base average (.344) and slugging average (.410).

Brock on 3,000: "The will to make it happen is what separates the thoroughbred from the donkey. A player may be on a collision course with mental anguish, pain, inability to play. You want to crown your career with performance, and 3,000 hits is a star in the crown."

14. Carl Yastrzemski

3,419 hits (6th)

Date: Sept. 12, 1979

Age: 40

Game: 2,848

Team: Red Sox

Hit 3,000: Stuck in a 13-for-79 slump and 0-for-his-past-7, Yaz singled off the Yankees' Jim Beattie under second baseman Willie Randolph's glove in the eighth inning. "It took so long," he jokingly told fans at Boston's Fenway Park, "because I really enjoyed all those standing ovations you've given me the last couple of days."

Time line: Two weeks earlier, fellow club member Eddie Murray hit three home runs in a 7-4 Orioles win over the Twins.

3,000 club ranking: Yastrzemski needed the most games (2,848) and at-bats (10,936) to join club. . . He was the first AL player to reach both 3,000 hits and 400 homers, joining the NL's Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. No club member has more walks than his 1,845.

Yastrzemski on 3,000: "I often think about why the 400 [homers] and 3,000 almost overpowered me. I guess it became so important because of who didn't do it: [Mickey] Mantle, [Babe] Ruth, [Ted] Williams, among many other superstars.

15. Rod Carew

3,053 hits (18th)

Date: Aug. 4, 1985

Age: 39

Game: 2,417

Team: Angels

Hit 3,000: With one out in the third inning and a man on second base at Anaheim (Calif.) Stadium, Carew looped a single to left off the Twins' Frank Viola. He celebrated by lifting first base off its moorings. The active leader in career steals of home had finally stolen first base.

Time line: On the same day, Tom Seaver became the 17th pitcher to reach 300 wins, doing it on Phil Rizzuto Day at Yankee Stadium.

3,000 club ranking: Carew, who played for the Twins from 1967 to 1978, was the third player to get his 3,000th against his former team, joining Paul Waner and Lou Brock.

Carew on 3,000: "I think when guys get things like [3,000 hits], it means more to them than the dollars and cents. You're at the top of your profession with all the other greats that ever played the game."

16. Robin Yount

3,142 hits (15th)

Date: Sept. 9, 1992

Age: 36

Game: 2,708

Team: Brewers

Hit 3,000: Yount lined a seventh-inning single off the Indians' Jose Mesa and over second baseman Carlos Baerga. The first player to greet him during a nine-minute, mid-game celebration at Milwaukee County Stadium was future club member Paul Molitor. Cleveland pitchers also gave up Yount's 1,000th and 2,000th hits.

Time line: Two days later, fellow club member Cal Ripken twisted his right ankle while hitting a double against Yount's Brewers but remained in his 1,713rd consecutive game.

3,000 club ranking: At 36 years, 11 months and 24 days, Yount was the third youngest member of club, behind Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron. . . He's third from last in on-base average (.346).

Yount on 3,000: "I never really gave it that much thought what it was going to be like. All along, I said it wasn't any big deal, it's just going to be another hit. Obviously, it turned out not to be just another hit. . . . It's hard to describe. Obviously, it's as exciting a moment as I've ever had."

17. George Brett

3,154 hits (13th)

Date: Sept. 30, 1992

Age: 39

Game: 2,559

Team: Royals

Hit 3,000: Nursing a strained left shoulder that forced him to miss the previous two games, Brett connected off the Angels' Tim Fortugno, driving a one-bounce, bad-hop single over the shoulder of second baseman Ken Oberkfell for his fourth hit of the game at Anaheim (Calif.) Stadium. Earlier in the season, with the team 1-16 and his batting average at .150, Brett was talked out of retiring by manager Hal McRae.

Time line: Six days earlier, fellow club member Dave Winfield, at the age of 40, homered at Camden Yards and became the oldest major-leaguer with 100 RBIs in a season.

3,000 club ranking: Brett is the first player to get his 3,000th hit in the same month and year as the previous club member. . . . His milestone hit came 20 years to the day after Clemente's. . . . He's the first to get four hits in the same game in which he reached 3,000. He's the only member to get picked off base immediately after the hit.

Brett on 3,000: "It was the farthest thing from my mind to get four hits tonight. If the people [in Kansas City] are upset that I got the hit out here [Anaheim], then they're not really true fans. And obviously, the 19,000 people here didn't feel like I cheated them."

Brett on 3,000 years earlier: "If I stay healthy, I have a chance to become the first player to collect 3,000 hits and 1,000 errors." (He finished with 292 errors.)

18. Dave Winfield

3,110 hits (16th)

Date: Sept. 16, 1993

Age: 41

Game: 2,840

Team: Twins

Hit 3,000: After manager Tom Kelly sat him out three straight road games, Winfield was in the lineup at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He singled off the plate in the seventh for his 2,999th hit, then grounded a ninth-inning RBI single to left field off the Athletics' Dennis Eckersley as part of a game-tying rally. Minnesota won in 13 innings before just 14,654 fans.

Time line: Nine days later, fellow club member George Brett retired.

3,000 club ranking: At 6 feet 6, Winfield is the tallest member of the club. At 220 pounds, he is tied with Cal Ripken and Tony Gywnn as the heaviest. . . Winfield joined Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only members who also had 450 homers and 200 steals. He needed the second-highest number of games (2,840) to join and, at 41, was the oldest to join.

Winfield on 3,000: "I feel the weight of the world is off me. One day I'm going to look back and say I'm glad I was in a Twins uniform when this happened. This is where I got my first hit, my first Little League hit."

19. Eddie Murray

3,255 hits (11th)

Date: June 30, 1995

Age: 39

Game: 2,764

Team: Indians

Hit 3,000: Playing at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Murray slapped a sixth-inning fastball from the Twins' Mike Trombley into right field for a single and was greeted at first base by fellow club member and teammate Dave Winfield, who wasn't in the lineup but was wielding a video camera. "I had it with me," Winfield said. "I said, 'Let me give him some mementos.' " Others got mementos, too. Murray retrieved the 33 baseballs preceding his 3,000th hit so he could auction them to benefit Cleveland high school baseball.

Time line: Two days later, Murray suffered two broken ribs while sliding into catcher Matt Walbeck. He went on the disabled list for only the second time in his career.

3,000 club ranking: He joined Pete Rose as the only switch-hitters in club. Murray, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are only members who also are in 500-homer club. He and Winfield were the first teammates with 3,000 hits since Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins for the 1928 A's.

Murray on 3,000: "It was nice. It really was. But I think there were people out there happier than I was. . . . I hope things get back to normal. It'll be a lot better once I'm done playing. I never set 3,000 as a goal.

20. Paul Molitor

3,319 hits (8th)

Date: Sept. 16, 1996

Age: 40

Game: 2,411

Team: Twins

Hit 3,000: On ex-teammate and fellow club member Robin Yount's birthday, Molitor became the only player whose 3,000th hit was a triple. His opposite-field shot to right-center off the Royals' Jose Rosado at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., was his major-league-leading 211th hit of the season; his 210th and 212th came the same night. Three years to the day earlier, fellow St. Paul native and University of Minnesota alumnus Dave Winfield collected his 3,000th.

Time line: One day earlier, fellow club member Cal Ripken homered twice as the Orioles broke the 1961 Yankees' single-season team record of 241 home runs.

3,000 club ranking: Molitor is the first player to get 200 hits in the same season he recorded his 3,000th; he finished with an American League-best 225. . . He's fifth in the club in steals with 504.

Molitor on 3,000: "I think the only time I took my eye off the ball was to make sure I touched first base. [Sliding headfirst with a triple] is probably fitting. I spent a lot of time in the dirt and grass, rolling around, in my career."

Molitor on "Born to Run" tribute on video board: "It was fitting, unless you can think of something clever, like, 'Old man, take a look at my life.' "

21. Tony Gwynn

3,067 hits (17th)

Date: Aug. 6, 1999

Age: 39

Game: 2,284

Team: Padres

Hit 3,000: On his mom's birthday, six years to the day after he reached 2,000, Gwynn lined a single to right-center off the Expos' Dan Smith at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, becoming the first member to reach 3,000 outside the United States. After Gwynn's first major-league hit, in 1982, opposing first baseman Pete Rose looked him in the eyes and said: "Congratulations, kid. Don't catch me in one night."

Time line: One day before Gwynn's 3,000th, Mark McGwire hit his 500th career home run.

3,000 club ranking: Of club members born in the 20th century, none has gotten to 3,000 in fewer games (2,284) and none has a higher lifetime batting average (.339). . . . Gwynn is the first player since Stan Musial to join in fewer than 9,000 at-bats. . . He's the first member since Lou Brock to get 3,000 hits exclusively in the NL. . . . He and George Brett are the only players to reach 3,000 during four-hit game.

Gwynn on 3,000: "One day, you're sitting here with 2,999 and the next day you're sitting here with 3,003, and it's a heck of a lot better on the 3,000 side, let me tell you. It's a heck of a lot easier to breathe, it's a heck of a lot easier to sleep."

22. Wade Boggs

3,010 hits (20th)

Date: Aug. 7, 1999

Age: 41

Game: 2,430

Team: Devil Rays

Hit 3,000: Boggs has the second-fewest home runs (118) of any club member born in the 20th century (behind Rod Carew's 92), so naturally he became the only one to join by hitting the ball out of the park, driving a 2-2 breaking ball from the Indians' Chris Haney 372 feet to right at Tropicana Field in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla. Boggs celebrated by kissing home plate. "Right when it left the bat," he recalled, "I said, 'Oh, my god. That's a home run, and I'm never getting that ball back.' "

Time line: One day earlier, Tony Gwynn got his 3,000th hit.

3,000 club ranking: Three days after his 3,000th hit, Boggs saw how the other half lives, pitching in relief against the Orioles; Honus Wagner, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker are the only other club members who took the mound in a major-league game. . . . Boggs was the first man since Napoleon Lajoie in 1914 to reach 3,000 hits before his team reached 3,000 games.

Boggs on 3,000: "[After his first major-league hit] I came back to the dugout and was sitting next to Jerry Remy. And he said, 'Hey, kid. You only [have] 2,999 more to go.' That sort of stuck in the back of my mind. Wow. I know it was kind of a humorous remark, but it's sort of come to fruition. I finally put my flag in that mountain. So many guys have tried and come up short."

23. Cal Ripken

3,000 hits (22nd)

Date: April 15, 2000

Age: 39

Game: 2,800

Team: Orioles

Hit 3,000: Ripken, who entered the game batting .176 in 34 at-bats, singled in two of his first three at-bats, then hit a line drive to center field off the Twins' Hector Carrasco to reach the milestone. He was greeted at first base by coach and longtime teammate Murray, who also got his 3,000th hit at the Metrodome in 1995.

Time line: Five days earlier, Ken Griffey hit his 400th home run.

3,000 club ranking: Ripken is the seventh player in the club with at least 400 home runs. . . He's the fifth in the past decade to reach 3,000 with at least a three-hit game. . . . He's the eighth to have all his hits with one franchise. . . At 6 feet 4, he's the second tallest, behind 6-6 Dave Winfield. . . At 220 pounds, he's tied for the heaviest with Gwynn and Winfield. . . He has the lowest batting average, .278.

Ripken comparing 3,000 to his Iron Man record: "It's a little bit more nerve-wracking, I guess. At least the games just came and added up each time. Getting a hit . . .you have to do something. You can't just show up."

Note: Cap Anson reached 3,000 hits in 1897, but baseball historians later questioned his membership in the club by noting that in 1887 walks were counted as hits. Total Baseball, now the official Major League Baseball encyclopedia, has discounted 60 hits by way of bases on balls, dropping his total to 2,995, but will add one in its next edition after discovering a previously unrecorded hit that came in a suspended game.

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