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Sisler Hit Record On The Brink.

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  • Sisler Hit Record On The Brink.

    George Sisler's 1920 record year of 257 hits for the season is in serious peril of falling this final week to Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners. Like the 1961 Roger Maris 61* homer assault upon the 1927 60 home run record of Babe Ruth, it's my view that this one equally deserves the stainful taint of the dreaded asterisk, should it occur, as it now seems probable. For Ichiro to break Sisler's single season hit record, he will need the advantage of the 162-game season that clubs play these days. Sisler accomplished his remarkable feat during the era of the 154-game schedule.

    Here's an article that just came to me as a link from friend and fellow writer Al Doyle. It's an article that now appears at the www.seattlemariners.com site. ...

    http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/NASA..._mlb&fext=.jsp

    Here's the reprint of the article by Jim Street from that MLB site. For photos and all the sidebars that accompany this story, please check out the source site coverage:

    Gorgeous George a 'perfect player': Hits record holder also known for speed, defense

    By Jim Street / MLB.com

    George Sisler hit .407 in 1920, accumulating a record-setting 257 hits. He hit .420 two years later. (AP)

    A record that has stood untouched for nearly 84 years meant so much to the record-setter himself that later in life he called it the best year of his Hall of Fame career.
    "My dad was very modest, very humble and never said much about his own career," Dave Sisler said during a telephone interview. "But he once told me that he thought 1920 was the best year he ever had. Even better than the year (1922) he had a 41-game hitting streak and batted .420."

    Now 73 years old and living near St. Louis, where his father, George, spent 13 of his 16 Major League seasons playing first base for the Browns, Dave Sisler starts almost every morning going directly to his newspaper and checking out the Mariners box score to see how many hits Ichiro Suzuki had the previous day.

    It usually tells him that the Mariners right fielder moved a little closer to the Major League-record 257 hits his dad accumulated during the summer of '20, the first year of the so-called "live-ball era".

    "I'd be kidding you if I said I wanted him to break the record," Sisler laughed. "The best thing about this is that it has brought more attention to my dad. The only thing that bugs me is that people say he had 257 hits, but they don't mention he played 154 games, which are eight fewer than they play now. If Ichiro breaks the record, I hope he does it in 154 games."

    Not a chance.

    Ichiro's chase of Sisler's record moves to Arlington, Texas, Friday night when the Mariners open a three-game series against the Rangers. He needs 11 more hits to erase Sisler's name from the record book and the series opener will be Seattle's 153rd game of the season.

    Asked how his father would react to Ichiro's bid to set a new single-season hit record, Dave said, "Outwardly, he wouldn't enjoy it, but inwardly he would."

    What a year 1920 was for the senior Sisler, who was 5-foot-11, weighed 170 pounds and ran like the wind.

    He played every inning of every game, batted .333 in April, .360 in May, .407 in June, .325 in July, .442 in August and .448 in September, finishing at .407 overall. He went hitless in just 23 games that season and his longest "slump" was two games. He scored 137 runs, drove in 122 runs, stole 42 bases and ended the season with a three-hit game against the White Sox.

    Those are the three hits that have separated him from other challengers all these years.

    Sure, records are made to be broken. But most Major League records don't last this long.

    When Sisler had his 257-hit season, it broke a record set nine years earlier by Ty Cobb (248). But the current record really hasn't been challenged since 1930, when Bill Terry had 254 hits, matching the total Lefty O'Doul accumulated the year before. Terry, by the way, would be the last National Leaguer to hit .400, finishing at .401. O'Doul batted .398 in 1929.

    Ichiro had 242 hits in 2001 -- his first season in the Major Leagues -- but there wasn't nearly as much talk about Sisler's record as there is this season. Ichiro's was the most hits in one season since 1930, but the speedy Mariner never was on pace to break the record. He had 229 hits after the Mariners' 152nd game.

    But this season has been different ballgame.

    Ichiro has kept pace with the single-season hit record largely because of three 50-hit months (May, July and August), and a consistency similar to the one Sisler had in 1920. Ichiro's longest hitless drought also has been two games, and he comes into the Rangers series on a roll -- 11 hits in his last 13 at-bats.

    The run to the record books has led to Ichiro being asked by reporters what he knows about George Sisler. Other than the name, Ichiro says he doesn't know much at all about the Hall of Fame first baseman that was inducted into the baseball shrine in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1939.

    Sisler was born on March 24, 1893, in Manchester, Ohio, and died two days after his 80th birthday in 1973. He attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1915 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He compiled a 50-0 record as a pitcher for the Branch Rickey-coached Wolverines.

    When he was 17 years old, Sisler agreed to play for a minor league team in Akron, but never accepted any money or played any games. His "contract" later was sold to Columbus and then to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Soon after his graduation from Michigan, Sisler received a telegram from Rickey asking him to come play for the St. Louis Browns.

    After a three-man commission settled a contract tug-of-war between the Pirates and Browns, Sisler and Rickey were reunited in St. Louis, continuing a relationship that worked out splendidly for both Hall of Famers.

    Sisler went directly to the Major Leagues from Ann Arbor, joining the Rickey-managed Browns as a pitcher. He had a 4-4 record that season, including a victory over his idol, Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators.

    According to newspaper clippings provided by the Hall of Fame public relations department, beating Johnson was something special to Sisler.

    "When he pitched his 56 consecutive scoreless innings in 1912, I was as proud as though I'd done it myself," said Sisler, a college student at the time. "Naturally, admiring him as I did, I decided to be a pitcher and even though I wound up as a first baseman, my biggest day in baseball was a hot, muggy afternoon in St. Louis when I pitched against him and beat him."

    As a pitcher, Sisler beat Johnson twice, by scores of 1-0 and 2-1. But his destiny was as an all-around player.

    He became a first baseman out of the blue.

    "Rickey came over to me one day, handed me a first baseman's glove and said, 'Here, put this on and get over there and play first base,'" Sisler recalled. "He would pitch me one day, stick me in the outfield the next and then put me over on first base for the next three or four games."

    A baseball legend and record-holder was born.

    "Sisler could do everything," Ty Cobb once said. "He could hit, run and throw, and he wasn't a bad pitcher, either. He was the nearest thing to a perfect ballplayer."

    The feeling was mutual.

    "My dad told me that Cobb was the greatest hitter he ever saw," said Dave Sisler, who also played in the Major Leagues (1956-62), along with his brother Dick (1946-53).

    The senior Sisler won two American League batting titles (1920-'22); was selected as the AL Most Valuable Player in 1922; led the AL in stolen bases in 1918 (45), '21 (35); '22 (51) and '27 (27); led the AL in triples in '22 with 18.

    He also led AL first basemen in assists six times and NL first basemen once, and his .340 lifetime batting average ranks 15th on the all-time list.

    Nicknamed "Gorgeous George" because of the way he played his position, Sisler was extremely quick on his feet.

    How quick?

    Well, legend has it that there was one play in his career when a ground ball hit the first-base bag. That forced Sisler to react quickly just to catch the ball, which caromed towards second base. He snagged the ball and, thinking the pitcher was covering the base, flipped the ball to where he thought the pitcher would be.

    But Sisler looked up and the pitcher wasn't covering the base. So he ran after the ball, caught it before it hit the ground, and made the out at first base -- a 3-3 if you're scoring at home.

    "I've heard that story, but I don't know if it's true," Dave Sisler laughed. "You have to take it with a grain of salt."

    The usually mild-mannered superstar had a little bit of a temper, though.

    According to Hall of Fame sportswriter and MLB historian Jerome Holtzman, George was once suspended for slapping an umpire with his mitt. And Gorgeous George punched out a teammate after being chewed out for missing a high throw at first base. Sisler decked the complaining pitcher with a left hook.

    The senior Sisler didn't smoke or drink, leading to another fable.

    Comedian W.C. Fields, a baseball fan, admired the way Sisler played the game. So after a game one afternoon, the two met and Sisler was offered a drink by Fields. George politely refused, prompting Fields to say: "Even the perfect ballplayer isn't perfect in everything."

    Dave said he father loved to talk about good hitting and knows that Ichiro would be in the conversation somewhere.

    "He would say (Ichiro) is a good hitter, a very good hitter," Dave said.

    Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
    "Our fans never booed us. - They wouldn't dare. - We outnumbered 'em." ... Browns Pitcher Ned Garver.

  • #2
    Most people don't realize that Maris had less plate appearences than Ruth did. If Ichiro does take Sisler's record, and I think he will, an asterisk isn't needed. A season is a season
    Last edited by prof93; 09-26-2004, 03:05 PM.
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by prof93
      Most people don't realize that Matis had less plate appearences than Ruth did. If Ichiro does take Sisler's record, and I think he will, an asterisk isn't needed. A season is a season
      I agree. It isn't Ichiro's fault that they play eight more games per season than they did in 1920, so he shouldn't have an asterisk next to his record, if he does indeed get it, which I think he will.
      Go Rangers! :gt

      Comment


      • #4
        please explain.

        Most people don't realize that Maris had less plate appearences than Ruth did. If Ichiro does take Sisler's record, and I think he will, an asterisk isn't needed. A season is a season - Prof93
        Prof93 -

        We'll just have to agree to disagree on the importance of the asterisk here. I just happen to be one of those people who has a hard time ignoring the fact that the expansion of the schedule from 154 to 162 games per season in 1961 changed the standard for measuring all records that are attained by accumulation. Others, like yourself, have never seemed to care about that factor. My guess is that we won't resolve our differences on that issue today any better than we have for the past 43 years. That doesn't mean I think I'm right and you're wrong. It just means that we differ in our outlooks on this *arcane-to-most-of-the-world* issue.

        On your statement above, I do need to ask you to explain the math. Here's what I came up with for the total plate appearances for Ruth and Maris during their record years:

        Total Plate Appearances for Babe Ruth's 60 Homer Season (1927) = 677.

        (Ruth had 540 official at bats; 137* walks; and 0 HBP, totaling 677 above.)

        Total Plate Appearances for Roger Maris's 61 Homer Season (1961) = 691.

        (Maris had 590 official at bats; 94 walks; and 7 HBP, totaling 691 above.)

        * Baseball Reference.Com credits Ruth with 137 walks in 1927. MacMillan's Baseball Encyclopedia (my Jurassic Age edition) credits Ruth with 138.

        I'm not trying to show you up here. I'm just wondering what you base your statement upon. If anything, all these complete stats do is dilute the point. Maris had 14 more opportunities to hit one more homer than the Ruth, and he did. Look at the homers Ruth lost to walks. Only Barry Bonds could understand that kind of frustration.

        Thanks.
        Last edited by Bill_McCurdy; 09-28-2004, 09:49 AM.
        "Our fans never booed us. - They wouldn't dare. - We outnumbered 'em." ... Browns Pitcher Ned Garver.

        Comment


        • #5
          Through Game 155 ...

          ... Ichiro collected one hit on Sunday to give him 251 with 7 games to go. A hit per game over these remaining 7 games will give Suzuki 258 hits in 162 games, or one more than the 257 hits that George Sisler collected in 1920 when he played in all of the 154 games scheduled for play that year.

          I'm not arguing that Ichiro's hit total isn't legitimate. It is. He's an incredible hitter. I'm just bringing up the ancient point that the longer season schedule has made his impending record year possible. I'm not sure how his season's plate appearances compare with Sisler's, but I don't have time to research that now. Does anyone else have the numbers for both men? It still doesn't matter. If Ichiro reaches 258, the record will be his, but people like me will still remember that he had more opportunities to get it done than George Sisler had. So what? It's no big deal in the grander scheme of things.

          My wonder about Ichiro takes me to thoughts of what might have been. If Ichiro had started playing MLB baseball when he was really young, imagine the career hit total he probably would've compiled by now.

          Wow! What might have been! Maybe we then wouldn't have had to worry about keeping the career hit leader out of the Hall of Fame because he gambled on baseball.
          Last edited by Bill_McCurdy; 09-26-2004, 04:48 PM.
          "Our fans never booed us. - They wouldn't dare. - We outnumbered 'em." ... Browns Pitcher Ned Garver.

          Comment


          • #6
            It's Done!

            Congratulations to Ichiro!

            Tonight he tied and broke George Sisler's single season record for most hits with one-baggers in his first two times at bat against pitcher Ryan Drese of the Texas Rangers. George Sisler's daughter was there personally to applaud and congratulate the great little hitter frm Japan. It was very touching moment to watch as Ichiro Suzuki humbly and graciously accepted the applause, cheers, and congratulations of everyone at Safeco Field in Seattle, and especially when he bowed and respectfully as he shook hands with the daughter of Sisler.

            Forget my earlier point about *asterisks.* If the Sisler family can be gracious about it, so can I put aside the idea that we need to note Ichiro's record differently from Sisler's because of his extended season hitting opportunity. We Browns fans know what Sisler did and we will never forget.

            Beyond setting the new record, Ichiro showed the world nothing but class tonight. It's just too bad that he didn't start early enough to bring down the career hit record of Pete Rose. He could've done it, I'm sure. Then we wouldn't have to perplex ourselves over the absence of the career hits leader from the Hall of Fame. It would be Ichiro Suzuki, a man of accomplishment with character.

            Congratulations, Ichiro on hit # 258!

            If you want to check out the ESPN first coverage, here's the link ...

            http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1893214
            "Our fans never booed us. - They wouldn't dare. - We outnumbered 'em." ... Browns Pitcher Ned Garver.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by prof93
              Most people don't realize that Maris had less plate appearences than Ruth did. If Ichiro does take Sisler's record, and I think he will, an asterisk isn't needed. A season is a season
              Maris had 590 AB in 1961, Ruth had 540 AB in 1927.The at bats are the ones that count not plate appearences.
              Last edited by JACKIE42; 10-01-2004, 09:36 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bill_McCurdy
                Congratulations to Ichiro!

                Tonight he tied and broke George Sisler's single season record for most hits with one-baggers in his first two times at bat against pitcher Ryan Drese of the Texas Rangers. George Sisler's daughter was there personally to applaud and congratulate the great little hitter frm Japan. It was very touching moment to watch as Ichiro Suzuki humbly and graciously accepted the applause, cheers, and congratulations of everyone at Safeco Field in Seattle, and especially when he bowed and respectfully as he shook hands with the daughter of Sisler.

                Forget my earlier point about *asterisks.* If the Sisler family can be gracious about it, so can I put aside the idea that we need to note Ichiro's record differently from Sisler's because of his extended season hitting opportunity. We Browns fans know what Sisler did and we will never forget.

                Beyond setting the new record, Ichiro showed the world nothing but class tonight. It's just too bad that he didn't start early enough to bring down the career hit record of Pete Rose. He could've done it, I'm sure. Then we wouldn't have to perplex ourselves over the absence of the career hits leader from the Hall of Fame. It would be Ichiro Suzuki, a man of accomplishment with character.

                Congratulations, Ichiro on hit # 258!

                If you want to check out the ESPN first coverage, here's the link ...

                http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1893214

                Bill,
                Im not a member of the Sisler family and i think there should be an *, you had it right in your first post.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by prof93
                  Most people don't realize that Maris had less plate appearences than Ruth did. If Ichiro does take Sisler's record, and I think he will, an asterisk isn't needed. A season is a season
                  Your thinking is the difference between the traditionalist and the modern day fan who just wants to see records broken no matter what. In my mind there will be an * next to any 154 game record that is broken in a 162 game season.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JACKIE42
                    Maris had 590 AB in 1961, Ruth had 540 AB in 1927.The at bats are the ones that count not plate appearences.


                    Jackie-

                    Maris hit his 60th HR in his 684 plate appearence, while Ruth hit his 60th HR in his 689th plate appearence. The fact is Maris needed less PA to hit 60 than Ruth did.
                    Last edited by prof93; 10-01-2004, 09:48 PM.
                    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Total Plate Appearances for Babe Ruth's 60 Homer Season (1927) = 677.

                      (Ruth had 540 official at bats; 137* walks; and 0 HBP, totaling 677 above.)

                      Total Plate Appearances for Roger Maris's 61 Homer Season (1961) = 691. ... from my reply post

                      Maris hit his 60th HR in his 684 plate appearence, while Ruth hit his 60th HR in his 689th plate appearence. The fact is Maris needed less PA to hit 60 than Ruth did. ... Prof93
                      Prof93,

                      I still have to ask: How did Maris have fewer plate appearances than Ruth? The records for Ruth in '27 and Maris in '61 pretty clearly show that not to be the case.

                      Also, how did Ruth hit his 60th home run in his 689th plate appearance when the records also show that he only had 677 plate appearances total for '27?
                      "Our fans never booed us. - They wouldn't dare. - We outnumbered 'em." ... Browns Pitcher Ned Garver.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In baseballl, plate appearances is the number of times a batter has gone to bat resulting in any outcome making the batter safe or out. The is as opposed to at bats, which do not count bases on balls, sacrifice flies and hits, and times hit by pitch.

                        What I am saying is Maris hit his 60th HR (not his 61st)in less plate appearences that Ruth hit his 60th.

                        Look under Special batting in the link below
                        Ruth 1927 540AB-137BB-14SacHits-OHBP = 691
                        1927 32 NYY AL 691 368 202

                        http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/ruthba01.shtml
                        Last edited by prof93; 10-01-2004, 10:21 PM.
                        "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bill_McCurdy
                          Prof93,

                          I still have to ask: How did Maris have fewer plate appearances than Ruth? The records for Ruth in '27 and Maris in '61 pretty clearly show that not to be the case.

                          Also, how did Ruth hit his 60th home run in his 689th plate appearance when the records also show that he only had 677 plate appearances total for '27?
                          Bill,
                          Maybe if i explain it to Prof93 this way he will understand in 1927 the Babe had 540 chances to hit the ball either for an out or something else, in 1961 Maris had 590 to do the same. If you don't understand that Prof93, than i will give up.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Bill,
                            Maybe if i explain it to Prof93 this way he will understand in 1927 the Babe had 540 chances to hit the ball either for an out or something else, in 1961 Maris had 590 to do the same. If you don't understand that Prof93, than i will give up.





                            Jackie-
                            I will respond this way-

                            In 1927 Babe Ruth hit his 60th HR in his 689 official plate appearence.
                            In 1961 Roger Maris hit his 60th HR in his 684 official plate appearence.

                            For both to reach 60 HRs Ruth came to the plate 5 more times to make an out, get a hit, get a base-on-balls, sacrfice himself, or get hit by the pitch than Maris did. Its just the facts. No offense intended.
                            Last edited by prof93; 10-01-2004, 10:41 PM.
                            "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ???????

                              Look under Special batting in the link below
                              Ruth 1927 540AB-137BB-14SacHits-OHBP = 691
                              1927 32 NYY AL 691 368 202

                              ... Prof93
                              OK, I did that, and I'm ready to stand partially corrected. When you add in the extra SH/SF that was mistakenly ommited from my calculations, you do get a different final total on plate appearances for Ruth and Maris in their big homer years. You also still end up with Maris having more total PA's than Ruth did in the two full seasons of their record years:

                              Babe Ruth: 60 homers in 1927 with 691 total plate appearances.
                              Roger Maris: 61 homers in 1961 with 698 total plate appearances.

                              What you are saying is not about when Maris hit his 61st HR, however, but when Maris hit his 60th HR relative to Ruth's accomplishment of same. I will quote you again here:

                              In 1927 Babe Ruth hit his 60th HR in his 689 official plate appearence.
                              In 1961 Roger Maris hit his 60th HR in his 684 official plate appearence.

                              - Prof93
                              Interesting point. I simply couldn't get from the reference you gave us the tracking information that led you to the conclusion stated in this last quote. Did that come from some other source - or am I simply missing something that is contained in that "special batting" section you referred us to?

                              Please clarify the source that directly supports your assertion. I'd like to pin this down in my own mind.
                              Last edited by Bill_McCurdy; 10-02-2004, 05:23 AM.
                              "Our fans never booed us. - They wouldn't dare. - We outnumbered 'em." ... Browns Pitcher Ned Garver.

                              Comment

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