The Streak Killer: Andre Ethier and 19 Other Hitting Streaks Ended at 30

John Ewen@HashtagEwenningContributor IIIMay 8, 2011

The Streak Killer: Andre Ethier and 19 Other Hitting Streaks Ended at 30

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    The baseball world has been abuzz with talk of Andre Ethier's impressive 30 game hit streak which started on April 2.

    The talk ends tonight, however, as Ethier was held hitless by the Mets pitching staff Saturday.

    While Ethier's accomplishment still warrants appreciation, 30 game hit streaks are more common than one might think.

    Excluding the Los Angeles outfielders streak, there have been 19 other players to hit in 30 straight games, only to see their streak die the next game.

    Here's a look at the 20 men who fell 26 shy of Joe DiMaggio's record.

Cal McVey, Chicago White Stockings, 1876

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    McVey's streak was actually the record for a time, until Louisville Colonel Jimmy Wolf broke it in 1885-86.

    McVey's career was one filled with socks; he played for both the Cincinnati and Boston Red Stockings as well as the Chicago White Stockings where his streak took place.

    He has the National Association record for most RBI with 276 and was part of the inaugural National League pennant winning White Stockings in 1876.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that McVey's hit streak had something to do with the Chicago pennant winning season. Just a hunch.

Dusty Miller, Cincinnati Reds, 1895-96

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    I couldn't find much information on Mister Miller other than that his 10 year MLB career was spent on the St. Louis Browns/Perfectos, the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. His career batting average was .301, and he retired with 22 home runs and 421 RBI.

    A Google Image Search for "Dusty Miller" warranted pictures of plants, and since I'm pretty sure botany can't maintain a hitting streak, Mister Redlegs must serve as the photo for this slide.

Elmer Smith, Cincinnati Reds, 1898

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    Not to be outdone by Dusty Miller's streak, another Red came along two years later and put together 30 straight games with hits of his own.

    The man was Elmer "Mike" Smith, who played as both an outfielder and pitcher in his 15 year MLB career. He spent time on the Red Stockings of Cincinnati from 1886 to 1889 before making the switch to outfield during a stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates that lasted from 1892 to 1897.

    He returned to Cincinnati in 1898 after they decided to remove their association with "stockings" in their team name, where he stayed until 1900. He played the remainder of the 1900 season with the New York Giants, then spent 1901 on both the Pirates and the Boston Beaneaters.

    (Side Note: The Beaneaters win the award for best team name in this article.)

Tris Speaker, Boston Red Sox, 1912

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    I'm noticing a connection with all these early streaks occurring on the "stocking" related teams. Make of that what you will.

    Baseball historians will know well of Speaker. He holds the record for most career doubles with 792. His .345 batting average is the fourth highest career BA of all-time. He holds records for assists, double plays, and unassisted double plays. Oh, and he played outfield, so figure that one out.

    The Grey Eagle's glove was where "triples went to die", as his fielding abilities were bar none.

    Speaker's incredible career lasted 21 seasons playing for Boston, the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics.

    I could spend an entire slideshow discussing Speaker's accomplishments alone, but the key thing to note was the Red Sox World Series championship the year of Speaker's streak.

    Another interesting thing to note about his 1912 season: He had three separate hitting streaks that lasted over 20 games each.

    The man could hit.

Charlie Grimm, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1922-93

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    Next on our list of the 30 game streakers is Pirates first baseman Charlie Grimm.

    Grimm's career is most noted for his time on the Chicago Cubs where he spent 11 of his 20 MLB seasons. In addition to his six years in Pittsburgh, Grimm spent time on the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Grimm's time in Chicago was a memorable one, as he led the team to National League championships in 1932, 1935 and 1945. He spent his post-playing career as manager, where he spent three separate stints as the Cubs manager.

    While not commemorated in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Grimm was certainly remembered by the city of Chicago. After losing a battle to cancer, Grimm was set off in the only fitting way-by having his ashes spread throughout Wrigley Field.

Lance Richbourg, Boston Braves, 1927-28

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    Talk about hard to find information.

    Looking around on several websites, all I was able to find out about Richbourg was that he had an eight season career with Philadelphia Phillies, the Washington Senators and the Boston Braves. The only somewhat impressive stat I found was his 51 career triples, but that's all.

    (Side Note: I can only assume the picture is that of Richbourg. Like I said, hard to find information.)

Sam Rice, Washington Senators, 1929-1930

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    Another pitcher-turned-outfielder, Sam Rice had a pretty impressive career.

    He holds the record for most hits by a player to not reach 3,000 with 2,987 (a record that I'm still debating over whether it is something to brag about).

    Rice was a 1924 World Series champion with the Senators, and became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963.

    His hitting streak has been out-shined by his infamous catch in the 1925 World Series, where he toppled over the outfield wall while robbing Earl Smith of a home run. The play remained in question until his death, debating whether or not he maintained possession of the ball the entire time.

    A 30 game hit streak and an immortal catch? What more could a player ask for?

Goose Goslin, Detroit Tigers, 1934

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    Another Hall of Famer with a 30 game hit streak, Goslin was known for his left-handed power.

    Goslin spent 18 seasons in the MLB with the Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns and Detroit Tigers, winning two World Series in that time.

    His 1934 streak was part of the Tigers' "G-Men" squad that featured Goslin, Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg that won 101 games. The team made it to the World Series that year in a seven game set with St. Louis in what can only be described as a chaotic affair.

    The series was filled with controversial calls left and right and was made famous by the Detroit crowd pelting St. Louis' Joe Medwick with fruit.

    Not Philadelphia level of unruly fans, but up there nonetheless. Stay classy Detroit.

Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals, 1950

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    Speaking of St. Louis Cardinals...

    Musial needs no introduction. The 24 time All-Star has more than his fair share of accomplishments and achievements that, like Tris Speaker, could make up a slideshow of its own.

    Strangely enough, the year of Musial's streak was a terrible one for the Cardinals. They finished in fifth place in the National League, 12.5 games behind first.

    I could list Musial's career highlights, but we still have 11 more players to cover. If you feel inclined to read more about Stan the Man, you can give his official site a visit.

George Brett, Kansas City Royals, 1980

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    Brett's entire 21 year career was spent in Kansas City, and what a career it was.

    He is one of only four players to accumulate 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a career .300 batting average. The others? Some guys named Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and the aforementioned Stan Musial.

    The year of his streak was arguably his best, as he finished with a .390 batting average, the second highest since 1941. He averaged one RBI per game, a first since Walt Droppo in 1950. He also led the American League in slugging and on-base percentage.

    Like Sam Rice, Brett's streak is overshadowed by an infamous event. Brett will forever be remembered for the infamous Pine Tar Incident, which provided the picture for this slide.

    I have to give George Brett the award for best reaction to an officiating call in the history of baseball.

Jerome Walton, Chicago Cubs, 1989

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    Another player from the obscure category.

    Walton played 10 years in the majors for the Chicago Cubs, California Angels, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    And that's all there is to say about Walton.

    He spent a majority of his career in a reserve role, so it's not surprising that there's little to note.

    Moving right along...

Sandy Alomar, Jr., Cleveland Indians, 1997

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    Alomar comes from a baseball family, but he has one thing that his father and brother do not: A 30 game hit streak.

    The 1997 season was a great one for Alomar. His streak was one short of tying the Cleveland record and four short of the record for catchers.

    He was named MVP of the 1997 All-Star game. He batted .324 en route to leading the Indians to their third straight postseason. His hot play continued through the playoffs as he helped Cleveland make it to the World Series where the ultimately lost to the Florida Marlins.

    Alomar's 19 season career was spent on seven different teams where he earned six All-Star selections. He is currently first base coach for the Indians, the team where he had his best years of his career.

Nomar Garciaparra, Boston Red Sox, 1997

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    Garciaparra had a 30 game hit streak of his own in 1997 in only his second year in the majors.

    His streak is, not surprisingly, a record for rookies, and his 1997 season was incredible. He hit 30 home runs and 98 RBI, which also became records for most RBI by a leadoff man and most homers by a rookie shortstop.

    Nomar's feats went well noticed by Red Sox fans, as he became a hero in Boston. His career post-Boston ranged from Chicago to Los Angeles to Oakland, but his best moments were in a Red Sox uniform.

    He retired in 2010 after signing back with Boston for a day, the only fitting way for No-mah to call it quits. He current serves as an analyst on Baseball Tonight.

Eric Davis, Baltimore Orioles, 1998

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    The third 30 game hit streak in two years belonged to Eric Davis who played 17 seasons in the majors.

    Best known for his time in Cincinnati, Davis played on six different teams throughout his career: The Reds, Dodgers, Tigers, Orioles, Cardinals and Giants.

    Right from the beginning of his career, Davis began to receive comparisons to the great Willie Mays for his home run robbing ability.

    A couple of good seasons became replaced by injury, as Davis couldn't avoid getting hurt, especially at the end of his career.

    Davis' streak amazingly came the year after recovering from colon cancer treatment, where he showed no signs of lingering pain in 1998.

Luis Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks, 1999

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    The late 90s were clearly a time for 30 game hit streaks.

    Gonzalez is best know for his years in Arizona, but he played nine years in Houston, Chicago and Detroit before making his way to the D-Backs in 1999. He went to the Dodgers in 2007, then the Marlins in 2008 where he called it quits.

    His best year was the year of his streak, batting .336 with 206 hits and his first All-Star selection.  He helped Arizona get to the playoffs where they lost to the Mets in the NLDS.

    Gonzo is best known for his game winning hit in the 2001 World Series against the New York Yankees, a bloop single off Mariano Rivera.

    His number was retired by Arizona in 2010 and he occasionally provides play-by-play for MLB games.

    Much like Nomar in Boston, Gonzalez became a hero in Arizona, opening a restaurant and having a Little League field built in his honor in Tempe, AZ.

Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals, 2003

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    Maybe you've heard of this guy.

    Pujols is arguably the best player in baseball today, with records and accomplishments that go on for days.

    Pitchers fear him for his power. Baseball fans love him for the same reason.

    2003 was Pujols' first season playing first base, where he has remained ever since. He batted .359 with 43 homers and 124 RBI. He won the NL Batting Title in 2003 while leading the league in runs, hits, doubles, extra base hits and total bases.

    A future Hall of Famer, Pujols has the ability to change the pace of a game with one swing of the bat. And as he showed us in 2003, he's capable of doing that in a few consecutive games.

Willy Taveras, Houston Astros, 2006

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    Willy Taveras is known for one thing: His speed.

    He has 195 stolen bases in his six years in the league, but in his first few years in the majors, he showed everyone he could knock a few base hits.

    In 2005 he led the league in infield hits, bunt hits and singles, as well as tops among rookies in runs, hits and stolen bases. He was voted Rookie of the Year by the players as Ryan Howard won the actual award.

    His numbers receded in 2006, but he managed to get hits in 30 straight games.

    Taveras ended up bouncing around the league for the past few years, playing for Colorado, Cincinnati and Washington since 2007. He is currently in the Rockies' minor league system.

Moises Alou, New York Mets, 2007

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    Talk about a journeyman.

    Alou's 18 year career spanned over seven teams: Pittsburgh, Montreal, Florida, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco and finally New York.

    Alou's memorable moment came in Chicago, when a fan by the name of Bartman interfered with his ability to catch a foul ball. The Cubs, in typical fashion, went on to lose the game and eventually get eliminated from the playoffs. I blame the Billy Goat.

    Alou's streak came in his second-to-last season, where he returned from injury and went on a tear. He led the Mets with a .345 batting average, and his streak was a Mets record and the longest hitting streak by a player over 40 years of age.

    But in typical Mets fashion, Alou got injured the next season and had to call it quits.

    The man just seemed to bring out the worst of wherever he played.

Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals, 2009

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    Zimmerman's best season in his young career was the year of his streak.

    He was selected to his first All-Star game, won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and Fielding Bible Award all in 2009. His hitting streak ended at 30, but he continued to work on his streak of consecutive games of reaching base. That streak ended at 43.

    A great young hitter, Zimmerman has plenty of years ahead of him to put together another streak.

Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers, 2011

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    And Ethier makes 20.

    Twenty batters spanning from 1876 to 2011 who all hit in 30 straight games. There have been only 34 instances of streaks higher than 30 in major league history, making the 30 landmark an extremely impressive feat.

    20 men of different times and different talents connected by one thing: Hits in 30 straight.

    While Etheir's streak came to a close, he becomes part of a company featuring such names as Speaker, Musial and Pujols. Throw into the mix the likes of lesser known players Dusty Miller, Lance Richbourg and Jerome Walton, and we have a truly unique group.

    So, who's next?