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Random Record of the Week #6
2007-05-07 04:00
by Bob Timmermann

Random Record of the Week #6

Page 119 – National League players with at least six hits in a game

Instead of a record held by one person, page 119 lists the 77 times when a National League player had at least six hits in a game. I was going to type out all the names, but that would turn out to be very tedious and not all that interesting. But there are 76 different players who have had at least six hits in a National League game, with Cal McVey of Chicago doing it twice, both times in 1876. (Kirby Puckett had two six hit games in the AL.)


When the National League opened for business in 1876, it didn't take long for someone to have a six-hit game. On June 27, Davy Force, the shortstop for Philadelphia, went 6 for 6 as his team beat Chicago 14-13. That was one of only 14 wins for Philadelphia that season and the team was kicked out of the league when the season ended for failing to play its final games of the year on the road.

There were 34 6-hit games in the NL in the 19th Century (there were none in 1900 to avoid that problem). I'm guessing that the reason there were so many in such a short time was that with the limited substitution rules of the time that if a pitcher had to leave a game because of injury and take a place in the field, a team would end up with a non-pitcher having to finish out the game. Sometimes a normally effective pitcher would be hurt, but would just to stay on the mound throwing up pitches because there was no one to replace him.

On June 10, 1892 catcher Wilbert Robinson of Baltimore went seven for seven in the first game of a doubleheader against St. Louis. Both of those teams were terrible that year. Baltimore finished in 12th (aka last) in the NL at 46-101 while St. Louis was a little better at 56-94. Robinson batted just .267 in 1892 and without the 7-for-7 game, he would have hit .251.

Sam Thompson's six hit game for Philadelphia on August 17, 1894 also saw Thompson hit for the cycle. Bobby Veach of the Tigers is the only other player to combine a six hit game with the cycle.

In 1897, a record six players had six hit games: Fred Tenney of Boston, Dick Harley of St. Louis, Barry McCormick of Chicago (as part of a 36-7 win over Louisville), Tommy Tucker of Washington, and Willie Keeler and Jack Doyle of Baltimore. Keeler and Doyle had six hits in the same game, a 22-1 win over St. Louis on September 3, 1897. The 1897 Orioles finished second in the NL at 90-40 while St. Louis was last (12th) at 29-102.

Kip Selbach of New York had a six hit game on June 9, 1901 as the Giants clobbered the Reds 25-13. An overflow crowd that shrunk the field and made it nearly impossible for the fielders or umpire to figure out what was going on helped Selbach. Umpire Bob Emslie ruled the game a forfeit for New York in the 9th inning. For a while, Selbach's feat wasn't recorded as the NL didn't count any stats from forfeited games at the time, but apparently that ruling was changed and Selbach got his six hit game.

The NL didn't see another six hit game until August 9, 1915 when George Cutshaw of Brooklyn had one in a 13-0 win over the Cubs in Chicago. Cutshaw batted just .246 in 1915. (For comparison purposes, the AL went from 1903 through 1919 without a six hit game.)

Carson Bigbee followed with the next 6 hit game in the NL just two years later on August 22, 1917. But Bigbee had some help as he played in a 22-inning game against Brooklyn and the Pirates lost the game 6-5. Bigbee was 6 for 11 in the game with no extra base hits and no runs scored.

On July 7, 1922, another pair of Pirates, Max Carey and Johnny Gooch, matched Keeler and Doyle's feat of teammates of having six hits each in the same game. But they needed 18 innings to do it and the Pirates still lost 9-8 to the Giants. Overall, the NL had 10 six hit games in the 1920s.

There were seven six hit games in the NL in the 1930s, but apparently they were subject to government rationing in the 1940s as the NL had just one and that wasn't until July 6, 1949 when Walker Cooper of Cincinnati did so in a 23-4 win by the Reds over the Cubs. Cooper had three home runs among his six hits, the second major leaguer to have six hits with three home runs in the same game. Ty Cobb was the first in 1925.

The 1950s weren't much better for six hit games in the NL as there were just two. Johnny Hopp of Pittsburgh had six hits in the nightcap of a doubleheader against Chicago (the Pirates won 16-9) and Connie Ryan of Philadelphia on April 16, 1953 against Pittsburgh. The Phillies lost that game 14-12 and the teams combined to score 24 runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

The pitcher-friendly 1960s were not fertile ground for the six hit game. Three men managed them: Dick Groat on May 13, 1960, Jesus Alou on July 10, 1964, and Joe Morgan on July 8, 1965.

Then in the 1970s, NL batters started rolling six more often as seven players did it, but only two of them did it nine innings: Felix Millan on July 6, 1970 and Rennie Stennett on September 16, 1975. Stennett didn't stop at six as he went seven for seven to match Robinson's mark from 1892.

Joe Lefebvre of the Padres had the only six hit game in the NL in the 1980s and he needed 16 innings to do it on September 13, 1982. And the Padres lost that game in Los Angeles by a 4-3 score. The Padres got 11 hits from their 1-2 hitters (Gene Richards and Lefebvre) while the #3 hitter, Ruppert Jones, went 0-for-7. The Padres, because of double switches and injuries, used 13 different players in the #5 hole.

The 1990s saw seven six hit games in the NL. Some were by unsurprising players (Tony Gwynn and Andres Galarraga), but Wally Backman and Mike Benjamin also had six hit games. Edgardo Alfonzo went 6 for 6 and scored 6 times with a double and three homers against Houston on August 30, 1999.

As the 21st Century arrived, the NL has seen only two six hit games, both of them by Dodger players. Paul Lo Duca went 6 for 6 against Colorado on May 28, 2001. Finally on May 23, 2002, Shawn Green set a new single game total base record in Milwaukee when he went 6 for 6 with four homers, a double, and a single for 19 total bases.

And since Green's big day in Milwaukee, no NL players has had six hits in a game, although seven AL players have done it subsequently, most recently by Raul Ibanez in 2004.

Sources: Sporting News Complete Baseball Record & Fact Book (2006 and 2007 eds.), Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference

2007-05-07 07:36:07
1.   Gen3Blue
How soon one forgets. I had forgotten Green's huge day. Of course I must admit that during the Green era my interest in the D's was at a low ebb. He seemed to have stored up talent and released it in a few bursts like that one
That is quite a research paper, Bob.
2007-05-07 19:00:24
2.   dzzrtRatt
As I recall, Green's big day took place during a mid-week day game, on the road. Plus, it was against Milwaukee, not exactly a Traditional Rivalry for the Dodgers. And it was in May, so nobody but Tony Soprano was riding on the income. So it didn't make that much of an impact.

I happened to listen to the last half of the game on the car radio, counting up the total bases, thinking, "Gee that's a lot of total bases. I wonder what the record is?" I don't recall the broadcaster (Monday working solo, I think...) taking any note of Green's nearness to the record until the game was over.

2007-05-07 23:22:11
3.   das411
Very very impressive Bob!

Two Qs for ya though-

1. How many hits were there total in that Keeler + Doyle game?

and 2: are Edgardo Alfonzo's six runs in the '99 game also an MLB record?

2007-05-08 00:33:31
4.   Bob Timmermann
The AL and NL record for runs in a game is 6. Guy Hecker of Louisville in the AA had 7.

The 1897 game where two players had six hits had 28 hits total for Baltimore.

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