A pretty good weekend. Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my 29th birthday, I’m hanging out with family and friends this weekend for my first weekend not working in over a month, I found me some Topps Heritage, and this is post #800 of this humble little blog.
I’m getting perilously close to 1,000 posts, and this is another milestone along the way. I try to do something different for any milestone post, either a look back at the blog or a tie-in to the number of the post. Or both. Which is what I’ll do here.
800 isn’t quite the hallowed number or milestone that some numbers are in the lore of baseball history. It doesn’t mark some kind of special club for a certain statistic like 300 or 500 do, or even like 600 or 700. That’s mostly because no MLB player has hit over 800 home runs. One professional player has, though! Sadaharu Oh hit 868 homers in Japan, about 200 more than any other Japanese player and about 100 more than any recorded professional player (noting that Josh Gibson is believed to hit a ton of homers as well).
But I don’t have any cards of Sadaharu Oh, so I’m going to go with the five guys who have stolen 800 bases or more.
5. Tim “Rock” Raines – 808
The first time I ever featured Raines was when going through the 1981 set, about 2.5 years ago.
In my view, Raines is the most egregious snub in the Hall of Fame. At least among current players with no tie to steroids (Alan Trammell is also up there). He’s best known for his incredible base-stealing ability, but, like the guy at the top of this list, that fact tends to short-change how good he was at everything else. The most he ever stole in a season was 90 in 1983, though he likely would have topped 100 in his rookie campaign if not for the baseball strike. If not for work stoppages, he’d have a few more swipes, though he wouldn’t have moved up ahead of #4 on this list…
4. Ty Cobb “The Georgia Peach” – 892
I think the first time I featured Cobb was 2011 Gypsy Queen. Here’s a side-by-side of his 2011 and 2012 cards.
Like many other statistics, Cobb used to be the modern record holder in this category. He also had the most in a single season with 96 in 1915, though he also got caught stealing quite a bit.
3. “Sliding Billy” Hamilton – 912 (or 937 or 914)
The only time I’ve featured the Hall of Famer from the turn of the 20th century was in 2012 Goodwin Champions. I was going over the base set, and put the scan up of Hamilton and some other 19th century players.
The number of stolen bases Hamilton is credited with depends on the source – Baseball-Reference says 914, MLB says 912, and the baseball Hall of Fame credits 937. Regardless, during the early part of his career, there were different rules for what counted as a stolen base or not. There’s no way to estimate what that number would be under modern rules, especially since the above three sources differ from where you’d start anyways. But I’d hazard a guess his total would be less than Cobb but more than Raines. Regardless of how he got there, Hamilton was a run-scoring machine. In 1894, he crossed the plate nearly 200 times – his 198 runs are 21 more than the next best total,
2. Lou Brock – 938
I first featured Brock with his rookie card when comparing 1962 Topps to 2011 Heritage, but I like this card better. It’s a variation from 2011 Heritage that shows him with President Jimmy Carter after getting his 3,000th hit.
Brock was the career leader for the first third of my life. He also broke the (modern) single season record held by Maury Wills (who had passed Cobb as the first player with 100 in a season). He broke Cobb’s career record toward the end of his run, and by some accounts broke Hamilton’s on the last swipe of his storied career.
1. Rickey Henderson – 1,406
Rickey has been featured prominently on my blog from the start. This card has been on the right hand side since I set up the blog. Henderson is one of my 3 favorite players of all-time, and going after the 1980 set (which is my birth year) was a big reason I wanted to start this project to begin with.
Henderson is the king of stolen bases – he holds the single and career records by a wide margin. His 1,406 make him the only player with over 1,000 and only Vince Coleman is within a score of his single season mark of 130. He has also crossed the plate more times than anyone in history, and he briefly held the walks record, too.
Honorable Mention – could this guy someday be on that list?