Major League Baseball History: Top 10 Most Untouchable Records
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Major League Baseball has some of the most difficult records to break of any sport. With many teams' histories beginning in 1876, there's been plenty of time for the best to separate themselves from those who held a fluke record.
Some records are untouchable.
We remember our favorite players by what we've seen them accomplish. That's why it's often hard for us to grasp why some of the names are as hallowed as they are.
It's for this reason I find it completely appropriate to revisit what your great-grandfather may have told you: How special some of the achievements were.
Here are the 10 most untouchable records in Major League Baseball history.
Pete Rose getting one of his record 4,256 hits, a mark that may never be broken.
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MOST CAREER HITS (4,256)
Pete Rose has left a tarnished image on the game of baseball, but his accomplishments can never be forgotten. The one that stands out above the rest is his career hits mark of 4,256. The closest active player to that number is Derek Jeter with 3,242.
CAREER STOLEN BASES (1,270)
Ricky Henderson didn't just surpass Lou Brock's stolen base record, he shattered it. Brock's mark of 938 was viewed at the time he retired as one that would stand the test of time. Henderson, however, put a healthy amount of breathing room in between himself and Lou with 1,270. The closest active player is Juan Pierre with 582.
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A HIT (56)
Anytime a player gets a 10-game hitting streak, he's the talk of the league. If it gets up to 20, he's highlighted on SportsCenter every night. Get to 30 and people will start to talk that maybe this is the guy. But it never goes much farther beyond that. Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak is one for the ages. Although it is perhaps the most likely of all the records mentioned in this article to be broken, it may not happen any time soon.
GRAND SLAMS IN AN INNING (2)
St. Louis Cardinal Fernando Tatis didn't know that the team's trip to play the L.A. Dodgers would result in history. But in April of 1999, Tatis became the first player ever to hit two grand slams in the same inning. The blasts also broke a record for most RBI in an inning. It is possible that someone could tie his record, but the odds of someone hitting three are microscopic.
No. 10: Most Consecutive Games Played (2,632)
Cal Ripken, Jr. is baseball's "Ironman."
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The Iron Man.
When Lou Gehrig set the record for most consecutive games played in, many considered it to be unbreakable.
As time went on, this feeling was reaffirmed.
But along came Cal Ripken, Jr. who, in 1995, surpassed Gehrig and set a new record with every game he played beyond that.
Gehrig finished with 2,130, but Ripken totaled 2,632, a mark that overshadows a record many thought would never fall.
No active players are even close to this record, which will likely never fall due to the fact players are given regular days off in today's MLB.
No. 9: Most All-Star Game Appearances (25)
Henry "Hank" Aaron has played in more All-Star games than any player in Major League history.
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When most people hear the name Hank Aaron, the thing that usually comes to mind is home runs.
Although the steroid era claimed his home run record, there is still one achievement no amount of HGH will be able to take away from him.
Aaron was a part of a whopping 25 All-Star rosters; 24 for the National League, one for the American.
To put this record into perspective, the closest active Major League player is Alex Rodriguez with 14. He needs 11 more All-Star seasons to tie Aaron. He would have to play until he was 48, making the All-Star game every year, just to tie the record.
It's a record that may fall some day, but not some day soon.
No. 8: Most Career Triples (309)
Sam Crawford, pictured here pursuing a fly ball in the 1912 season. Photographer unknown.
Sam Crawford began his career with the Reds and after four seasons was traded to the Tigers.
But it never effected his ability to hit the ball into the gap. He is baseball's triple machine.
In four of his 19 Major League seasons he recorded more triples than he did doubles, an amazing feat in itself likely to never be touched.
But his career total of 309 triples will likely never fall.
Second on that list is Ty Cobb with 295.
It's a shame that we can't find true grace in the media anymore. Crawford offered some genuine words about Cobb during his career.
"But who knows, if he [Cobb] hadn't had that terrible persecution complex he never would've been about the best ballplayer who ever lived." — Sam Crawford
No. 7: Most Career No-Hitters (7)
Nolan Ryan has many records that will stand for some time, but none greater than his career no-hitters record. Photo courtesy of MLB.
In the modern era, there's no better pitcher, and with all due respect to Albert Pujols, perhaps no better player.
The Express as he was called, a nickname earned rather than one just handed out.
No one threw more no-hitters than Ryan, seven of them all together. That's almost double the man in second place; Sandy Koufax threw four in his career.
In addition, Ryan leads in "broken up" no-hitters, that is, games where the pitcher had a no-hitter go into the 7th inning or beyond, only to be foiled.
Ryan had 24 such games. Randy Johnson is in second place with just 11.
Ryan is also the career leader in strikeouts, which is a record considered for this countdown, but it is more likely that no player will touch his no-hitters mark.
No. 6: Highest Career Batting Average (.3664)
Ty Cobb was perhaps the greatest pure hitter to ever play baseball, and his career batting average proves it. Photographer unknown.
Ty Cobb wasn't just a baseball player.
He was perhaps the greatest human being at making contact with a baseball to ever pick up a bat.
Cobb had incredible focus, and has several records that have stood the test of time. The one that stands above them all, is his lifetime hitting percentage.
Officially, in Cobb's 24 seasons, he finished with a .3664 batting average.
To put this record into context, the closest active player is Albert Pujols, who currently sits at No. 40 on the all-time list with a .3251 average.
Pujols would have to average over .400 for at least eight more seasons to be able to threaten the record. I think it's safe to say this one won't ever be broken.
No. 5: Most Career Shutouts (110)
Walter Johnson's was responsible for 110 career shutouts in his Major League career.
Shutting the opposing team out as a pitcher is an achievement that will stick with you for the rest of your life. But what about doing it 110 times?
Walter Johnson had a lot of fond memories to look back on.
The only modern player to come close is Nolan Ryan, who actually had an impressive 61 shutouts, tying him for seventh place.
Pete Alexander sits in second place with 90.
To put this record in perspective, Roy Halladay is the active leader with 20 career shutouts, tied for 243rd place all time.
No. 4: Most Wins in a Season (59)
Charles Radbourn amassed 59 wins as a pitcher in the 1884 season, a mark that will never be broken. Picture courtesy of the MLB Hall of Fame website, artist unknown.
When we get to this point in the countdown, it doesn't do any good to look at these records from the perspective of "how easy is this to break?" but rather "how impossible would this be to break?"
We all know that many of these records are in no danger due to the way the modern game is played. But even if we could go back to the old ways, this record still may not fall.
Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn finished the 1884 season with 59 wins as a pitcher. The next year, John Clarkson would finish with 53, but that's as close as any pitcher would ever come to Radbourn's mark.
Recently, in 2011, Justin Verlander finished with an impressive 24 wins, good for a tie for 366th position on this list. Verlander started just 34 games in his MVP season; this record looks safe.
No. 3: Most Career Wins (511)
Cy Young put up pitching numbers that no player will touch because of the way the modern game is now played. Photographer unknown.
Cy Young's records are just silly.
Not in the sense that they're great, or unbreakable even, but in that the gap between him and second place is like a canyon.
Twenty-four players have won 300 times or more in their career, with names we might recognize like Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux.
Only two players have 400 wins or more, Walter Johnson and Cy Young. Johnson with an amazing 417, but Young with an unbelievable 511, nearly 100 more.
No. 2: Most Career Complete Games (749)
Cy Young is also responsible for the most complete games by a pitcher with 749.
If it's not the last one, it's this one. To win the game is one thing, but to go the distance of an entire game shows many things, mainly faith from your manager and team.
It's almost impossible to imagine pitching in 749 Major League games, let alone going all nine innings in the said amount of games.
But that is exactly what Cy Young did in his career.
For this particular record, Young has Pud Galvin's mark of 639 beaten by 110 games. To have that many more complete games than second place is almost unbelievable.
Such an amazing pitching prodigy, it's no wonder the best pitchers from the American and National Leagues receive the Cy Young Award, the honor that glorifies each league's greatest hurler.
No. 1: Most Consecutive No-Hitters (2)
Johnny Vander Meer is the only player to throw back-to-back no-hitters.
It's not a name that jumps out and grabs you.
But in Johnny Vander Meer's rookie season, he didn't need fame or accolades to perform his amazing feat.
It's likely a record no other pitcher will even tie. To throw a no-hitter is an amazing accomplishment, but to do it two times in a row is almost impossible.
Vander Meer owns a record that has a small number (2), but it speaks volumes.
To even be able to say "consecutive no-hitters" is because he was able to do it.
Vander Meer's record of two consecutive no-hitters was deemed the hardest record in baseball to break by LIFE Magazine.
Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, OH. Photo courtesy of MLB.
There aren't records in sports that match the overall elusiveness of these records.
Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a basketball game, which is an amazing record, but someone 20 years from now could show up who puts Kobe and LeBron to shame.
But no one will have 110 career shutouts. There will never be a pitcher who wins 511 games wearing a Major League Baseball uniform.
It's for this reason that the MLB Hall of Fame is so important. The younger generation, which never got the chance to these legends play, will be able learn about the greatness of previous generations.
We hope you've enjoyed the countdown, and any amendments or comments are welcome below.