Records, especially baseball records, are made to be broken, but there are some baseball records that will never come close to being topped. Everyone immediately thinks of Joe DiMaggio’s baseball record 56 game hitting streak when the sport’s benchmarks are discussed, but that baseball record is child’s play compared to some of the others that have been standing the test of time. Pete Rose came relatively close to Joltin’ Joe’s most cherished of baseball records with his own 44 game stretch, but the baseball records that I am talking about will never be approached as closely as Rose eventually got to DiMaggio.
Let’s start off with a pair of baseball records that Pete Rose does own, a pair that will live long after he is gone and the debate whether he should be in the Hall of Fame has died down. They are the two baseball records that help to make him a Cooperstown candidate to begin with; Rose’s 4,256 base hits and his 3,215 singles. Neither of these baseball records is in jeopardy, ever. To accumulate that many hits, a player would have to average 200 hits for over 21 years. Rose himself played 24 seasons, and had 200 or more hits ten times while setting his extraordinary baseball records. He needed to play to age 44 to finally surpass Ty Cobb’s baseball record of 4,189 base hits. The closest active player right now on the all-time hits list is 39 year old Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros. He has over 2,800 hits, still seven full seasons of 200 hits a year from the baseball record! As Rose piled up the hits, the singles mark was passed; Cobb also lost this baseball record to Charlie Hustle. To show how far out of reach the singles record is, the only player active since 1965 with more than 2,400 singles was Rod Carew, who smacked 2,404 of them, still 800 short of the baseball record. By the way, Rose also holds another baseball record that will not be touched, his 14, 053 total at bats. Biggio is the only active player with more than 9900, and would need to play about eight and a half seasons to top Rose.
Barry Bonds holds the single season home run record of 73 and is within sight of Hank Aaron’s Holy Grail of baseball records, 755 round trippers for a career. Bonds may very well achieve this, but the mere fact that he has reached Ruth and Aaron means others could too, especially a slugger like Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. Bonds does hold one of the baseball records though that will never be broken, and to garner it he never had to swing his bat. Barry Bonds has been intentionally walked 624 times as I write this, a baseball record by so much over the next player that it borders on the ridiculous. Only nine other players in the history of baseball have been intentionally walked on more than 200 occasions; eight of those are in the Hall of Fame and the other two, Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr, will someday be. But Barry Bonds’ baseball record of 624 free passes on purpose is 331 ahead of Hank Aaron’s 293! In other words, the difference between the two is more than Aaron’s original baseball record was! Bonds also has the baseball record of over 2,300 total bases on balls that is secure for the ages.
The baseball record for the most triples, described as the most exciting play in baseball, belongs to one Sam Crawford, a Hall of Famer who must have been very exciting. “Yahoo Sam’s” nineteen year run in the majors ended in 1917, and he wound up with 309 three-base hits. Next on the list is Cobb at 295, not that far off, but then you have to go all the way to 252 to find the third man, Honus Wagner. To show how far beyond reach this baseball record is, consider that Rose had only 135 triples to rank at 75 on the list, and that there are no active players in the top 100, which ends with Lloyd Waner’s 118! How rare are large numbers of triples? Roberto Clemente and Willie Wilson are the only two players since 1965 to finish their careers ranked in the top sixty.
Enough about baseball records concerning hitting; there are several pitching marks that are out of harm’s way forever. Cy Young holds a bunch of the most obvious of these baseball records; most wins (517), losses (316), batters faced (30,058), complete games (749), and hits allowed (7092). Take my word for it. You could go into suspended animation for the next 200 years and find that these baseball records are still intact when you are thawed out.
Walter Johnson, the “Big Train” of the Washington Senators, holds a baseball record that may be the most impressive of this entire group of unbreakables. Over the course of his twenty one campaigns, he tossed 110 shutouts. Pete Alexander is second on this roster of greatness with 90, then Christy Mathewson with 79. What about currently active players taking a shot at this baseball record? If you consider Roger Clemens active, since he may or may not come back, then you can see his total of 46 shutouts is not even 42% of Johnson’s total whitewashings. Of the top ten active leaders in shutouts, only Pedro Martinez is under the age of 37. The Dominican right hander has tossed 17 heading into 2006. The Cardinal lefty Mark Mulder is the active leader under the age of thirty; he has 8! If you do the math, you can see a pitcher would have to throw 5 shutouts a season for 22 years to equal Johnson’s 110, making his mark the most certain not to be topped of all existing baseball records.