Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ty Cobb Becomes The First Player to Reach 4,000 Hits July 18, 1927

On This Day in Baseball History July 18, 1927: Philadelphia Athletics outfielder Ty Cobb became the first Major League Baseball player to reach the 4,000 hit plateau against his former team the Detroit Tigers at the Tigers home Navin Field. He would hit his 4,000th hit against Tigers pitcher Sam Gibson in the top of the first inning.

Unlike the fanfare that reaching such a milestone would garner in today's Baseball world, Cobb reaching 4,000 barely garnered any press. The New York Times of July 19, 1927 not only doesn't mention Cobb reaching 4,000 hits, he isn't even mentioned in the two paragraph article describing the 5-3 loss by the Athletics. The blogpost No hoopla when Ty Cobb got his 4,000th hit by Richard Bak from the Detroit Athletic Company dated November 18, 2013 mentions some of the Detroit press from that day's baseball action:
As Harry Salsinger wrote in the next day’s Detroit News, “Cobb hit a line drive into right field and [Harry] Heilmann, trying for a one-handed catch, got his glove on the ball but it bounced out and gave Cobb a scratch two-bagger.” Harry Bullion of the Detroit Free Press described Cobb’s hit as “a lucky double [that] slid off Heilmann’s gloved hand and helped in the making of two runs.” The 2-0 lead didn’t last long as Detroit countered with three runs in the bottom of the first off Lefty Grove.
Significantly, the game was not held up to acknowledge the historic base hit and Cobb didn’t ask for the ball. In fact, Cobb’s accomplishment was scarcely acknowledged in the next day’s papers. One reason is that little emphasis was put on such arcane records then. Another is that it was considered just another ho-hum day at the office for the 40-year-old Cobb, a hitting machine who seemed likely to go on forever. Who was to say that he wouldn’t reach 5,000 hits someday? The same attitude prevailed at the end of the summer when Babe Ruth clouted his 60th home run, breaking his own record. Like 4,000 hits, 60 home runs made for a nice round number, but many observers figured the Yankees’ slugger might one day hit 65 or 70, so why get too excited?
The Free Press ran a column of notes with the headline: “Bengals In Third Place; Ty Cobb Gets 4,000th Hit.” Bullion wrote: “When Cobb made his fluke double in the first inning, it was his 4,000th major league safety. He’s so far ahead of all records of other batsmen that he will never be beaten or tied.”
Trying not to be defeated in trying to find something on Cobb's 4,000th, I decided to look into a trusted resource that I have used before when posting about Cobb.

I pulled my worn copy of Ty Cobb: My Life in Baseball with Al Stump off my Baseball book shelf and to my dismay, I found NOTHING about the day Cobb delivered his 4,000th hit. The only mention of his accomplishments during the 1927 season for the A's is on page 257:
My personal performance in 1927 was satisfactory: a matter of 175 hits in 134 games, 104 runs scored and another 93 driven in for an average of .357. At forty-one, I could still leg it a bit, if 22 stolen bases was any evidence.
Cobb would become the charter member of the 4,000 hit club that day and finish his career with 4,191 hits. On page 146, Cobb would claim that out of the 4,191 hits he collected over his 24-year career, 72-plus percent of them were singles. He had 3,054 singles out of his total of 4,191 hits for an accurate 72.9 percent.

There is only one other member of the 4,000 hit club and that is the man who would eventually pass Ty Cobb as Baseball's All-time hit king: Pete Rose. Rose would reach 4,000 hits on April 13, 1984 and would pass Cobb on September 11, 1985 with his 4,192nd hit. Rose would finish his career with 4,256 hits.

So much for trying to find something Cobb may have said concerning the day he hit his 4,000th hit. Oh well. Though the article doesn't mention the accomplishment here is the boxscore for the Philadelphia Athletics vs. The Detroit Tigers on July 18, 1927 from the July 19, 1927 edition of the New York Times:

Will we ever see another player reach 4,000 hits? I always thought that Derek Jeter had a chance before he broke his ankle in the postseason against the Detroit Tigers in 2013. He would finish his career in 2014 with 3,465 hits. Anyone want to take a guess on who, if anyone, can reach 4,000 hits in today's game?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco