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Hits in Consecutive ABs: Investigating the Nineteenth Century.

While playing for the Cleveland Indians over the course of four consecutive games in July 1920, Uris Speaker got hits in eleven consecutive at bats, setting both the American League and major league record. Although Speaker is now tied for third on that list, this article's subject is what happened regarding the hits in consecutive at bats record before Speaker's feat, not after. According to Total Baseball, the previous record of ten was shared by two players, Ed Delahanty and Jake Gettman, who both accomplished the feat in 1897 in the National League. The NL portion of "Most Consecutive Hits" table in Total Baseball also includes Joe Kelley with nine. (1) But there is one additional nineteenth century player, Jake Stenzel, who must be included in this discussion, and my research has uncovered a discrepancy in the number of hits comprising the actual record. (2) This article will detail the hits in consecutive ABs streaks related to each of the NL leaders, including Stenzel, as well as provide the details related to the hits discrepancy for Delahanty and Kelley.

JAKE STENZEL

In 1893, Jake Stenzel, then of the Pittsburgh Pirates, registered a streak of eleven hits in consecutive ABs, a performance which was detailed by Al Kermisch in the Baseball Research Journal in 1991. (3) As stated by Kermisch, the Stenzel streak began on July 15, in a game against the Washington Senators, with three hits. Although he had five hits that day, the first five-hit performance of his career, it was the final three of those hits that began Stenzel's streak. (4) On July 17 against the Cleveland Spiders, Stenzel went four-forfour, with two walks, to bring the total to seven hits in seven consecutive at bats. The Kermisch article incorrectly dates the next game on July 19--it was July 18--but nevertheless the streak was continued with four singles in six ABs.

I researched six relevant newspaper articles covering the game but unfortunately they only provide the details of when the first three hits occurred (singles in the first, second and fourth innings) as well as a ninth-inning strikeout. (5) It isn't clear in which at bat the fourth hit occurred. The Kermisch article didn't include references, but it seems fair to presume that Kermisch based his conclusion that "Stenzel singled in his first 4 times at bat to make it 11 hits in a row" on sound evidence. Eleven hits in eleven consecutive times at bat is significant of course, be- Jake Stenzel cause it increases by one the NL record over that listed in Total Baseball and means that Speaker's performance only tied the MLB record rather than set it.

But that's not all. My research shows that Ed Delahanty also had eleven hits in consecutive ABs, rather than the 10 listed in Total Baseball.

ED DELAHANTY

The Delahanty streak is demonstrably 11 hits in 11 at bats. It began with the doubleheader games on July 13, 1897, with Delahanty playing for Philadelphia against the Louisville Colonels. In the first game he went four-for-four and in the second game five-for-five, making nine hits on the day. The streak continued the next day, also against Louisville, when Delahanty managed to get two more hits in his first two times at bat--in the first and fourth innings. That would make eleven hits in eleven consecutive ABs to equal the MLB record set by Stenzel in 1893.

Let us examine the evidence. The home and away newspapers covering the first game of the July 13 doubleheader differ markedly in their batting statistics for Delahanty. The Louisville newspapers listed Delahanty with only three hits in three at bats. (6) The Philadelphia newspapers listed him with four hits in four at bats. (7) The box score in Sporting Life along with the ICI game-by-game data sheets for Delahanty in 1897 each also indicated four hits in four at bats. (8) After the Delahanty hit spree, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper commented:
   Delehanty [sic], the Phillies' heavy hitting outfielder,
   must be afraid that Burkett may become
   the three-time champion batter. When he saw
   that the Cleveland hitter was crawling up, the
   Quaker champion took out a fresh supply of
   bats, and the way he has been hitting the ball is
   wonderful. Out of fifteen times at bat in the last
   three games, he has made fourteen hits [sic].
   That is a record for the season. (9)


Crediting Delahanty with only three hits in three at bats appears to be unique to the Louisville newspapers. The discrepancy apparently stems from whether or not Delahanty reached on an error in the seventh when his ball got past Clark at second base for Louisville. If the play was interpreted by the Louisville press as an error, that should have been reflected accordingly in the box score of the Louisville papers. Strangely, they neglected to do so. It is clear from the newspaper articles that Delahanty made a hit every time he came to bat and The Louisville Courier-Journal specifically alluded to Clark failing to corral balls off the bats of Delahanty and Lajoie. (10) This could mean Clark had a shot at fielding the Delahanty hit in the seventh but wasn't up to the task. If that was the case, then by rule Delahanty should be credited with a hit rather than Clark being charged with an error on the play. (11) (There was also another discrepancy regarding the reporting of the first game on July 13, 1897, which is not relevant to this article. (12))

JOE KELLEY

Delahanty isn't the only one whose achievements seem to be under-recorded. There is a discrepancy in the number of hits during consecutive ABs for Joe Kelley of the Baltimore Orioles during the 1894 season. As mentioned, Total Baseball lists Kelley with nine hits in consecutive ABs. My research shows the streak was actually ten.

The Kelley streak began with the game on September 1, 1894, with a hit in his final at bat, and finished with the doubleheader games on September 3, 1894, against the Cleveland Spiders. That day he went four for four in the first game and five for five in the second game, to add nine hits to the one that ended the previous game, totaling ten.

As with Delahanty, I examined multiple newspaper accounts of Kelley's performance. In the September 1 game Kelley managed two hits--a double and a single--in three ABs and also reached on a base on balls. The September 1 game was played in Baltimore, the Orioles won, 5-2 and it wasn't necessary for them to bat in the ninth inning. (13) The Cleveland Leader reports that Kelley managed a double in the first and a single in the seventh, which implies that Kelley's two other plate appearances were likely in the third and fifth innings. (14) One of them was a walk and the other had to be the second hit. (Kelley also came within one batter of batting in the eighth inning but Kid Gleason appears to have been the final out.) The ICI gameby-game data sheets also indicate that Kelley had a BB to go along with a double and a single. (15) At the very least, his final at bat on September 1 was unquestionably a hit.

Then we come to the doubleheader of September 3 in which Kelley went nine-for-nine across the two games. In fact, his performance in the second game is noteworthy because four of his five hits were doubles, which tied the NL (and MLB) record for most doubles in a game by an individual. Not only that, it was done in a six-inning game against none other than Cy Young. Baltimore had 22 hits, 12 of them doubles, off Young in that game, which may have been the most hits that Young gave up in six innings in his career. One reason for the preponderance of doubles may have been a ground rule that limited extra-base hits to two, and Kelley lost a home run due to this. (16) Umpire Tim Keefe called the game on account of darkness after six full innings had been played.

JAKE GETTMAN

The last consecutive ABs with a hit performance that needs to be included in this discussion is that of Jake Gettman, who played with the Senators in 1897 and at the time of his acquisition by Washington was known as the "Keeler of the Texas League." (17) Gettman registered a mark of ten hits in ten consecutive ABs that began on September 10, 1897, with a four-for-four performance against the Cleveland Spiders, continued with a five-for-five performance on September 11 in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds, and concluded with a single in his first AB in the second game. As I have just demonstrated, Gettman's streak equaled the third best record of the nineteenth century--Kelley's 10 in 1894--and was third to Jake Stenzel's 11 in 1893 and Delahanty's 11 of a few months earlier in July 1897. In their coverage of Gettman's feat, the Washington Post described him "... making ten successive hits out of ten turns at the bat, which will stand as a batting achievement for the season." (18) The Post were apparently unaware that Delahanty had recorded eleven hits in eleven consecutive ABs earlier in the 1897 season. Sporting Life published a short article that read:
   Washington, D.C., Sept. 12.--President Nick
   Young announced yesterday afternoon that
   Gettman's feat of making 10 safe hits out of 10
   consecutive times at the bat established a record
   in the National League. In Friday's game against
   Cleveland Gettman made four hits, with a total
   of eight bases--two singles, a double and home
   run--and Saturday the first six times he faced
   the Cincinnati pitchers he drove out four singles,
   a three bagger and a home run, a total of 11
   bases, and a grand total consecutively of 19
   bases. This record is liable to stand unmarked
   for a long time. (19)


Young may have been caught up in the fact that Gettman played for Washington, but apparently he, like the Washington Post, was not aware of the Delahanty performance, not to mention the previous performances of both Stenzel and Kelley.

CONCLUSION

This article has identified five errors in the record of hits in consecutive at bats as published in the sixth edition of Total Baseball. The sources of these errors vary, but it would appear that, based on erroneous contemporary statements by both the National League president and published newspaper reports, there was general unawareness of the individuals who recorded streaks of hits in consecutive at bats, at least through the time when the 1927 issue of Balldom was published. (20) The following nineteenth-century changes should be made to create an accurate list of record holders:

1. Jake Stenzel holds the NL record at 11 hits in 11 consecutive ABs and should be added to the list.

2. Ed Delahanty also had 11 hits in 11 consecutive ABs, not 10.

3. Joe Kelley had 10 hits in 10 consecutive ABs, not 9.

4. The NL record should stand as 11 hits in 11 consecutive ABs; shared by 2 players.

5. Tris Speaker tied, rather than set, the MLB record at 11 hits in 11 consecutive ABs.

Notes

(1.) Pietrusza, Editors with Matthew Silverman and Sean Lahman. Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, Sixth Edition. New York, NY: Total Sports, 1999, 236-37.

(2.) The SABR record book lists Tom Parrott, Nap Lajoie, and Ed Konetchy with 10 as well as Stenzel. SABR, The SABR Baseball List & Record Book (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 146.

(3.) AI Kermisch. "Stenzel May Own NL Consecutive Hit Mark." Baseball Research Journal 20 (1991): 32.

(4.) Stenzel's first career five-hit performance went as follows: First inning single, second inning home run, fourth inning reached on an error, fifth inning bases-clearing triple, sixth inning single, eighth inning single.

(5.) "THE FATAL SIXTH: Pittsburgh Men Were Winners Up to That Inning," Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph, July 19, 1893, 2.; "CLEVELAND'S CLINCHING: They Handily Take the Second Game From Pittsburgh," Pittsburgh Press, July 19, 1893, 5; "THIS IS SAD INDEED: Our Own Spanked and Sat Upon By Those Cleveland Yawps--Stenzel Figures Largely in the Game," Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, July 19, 1893, 6; "EASY, VERY EASY: Gumbert Was Very Wild and Gifts Were Plenty--Stenzel's Dirty Work," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Wednesday, July 19, 1893, 5; "ONLY NINE NOW: Cleveland Won From Pittsburgh Just the Same as Usual," The Cleveland Leader, Wednesday, July 19, 1893; "NATIONAL LEAGUE: The Record: Games Played Tuesday July 18," Sporting Life, Volume 21, Number 17, July 22, 1893, 4.

(6.) "DROPPED TWO: Crippled Infield Responsible for Double Defeat: Pitchers Poorly Supported," Louisville Courier-Journal, Wednesday Morning, July 14, 1897; "HARD GAMES TO LOSE: Colonels Should Have Won Both From the Phillies," Louisville Times, Wednesday, July 14, 1897.

(7.) "OUR PHILLIES THROW THE COLONELS TWICE: Both Were Mighty Interesting Games and We Won Solely on Our Merits," Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday Morning, July 14, 1897, 4; "THE PHILLIES SCORE TWO VICTORIES OVER LOUISVILLE: Manager Stallings Reads the Riot Act to His Men with Good Results," Philadelphia Public Ledger, Wednesday, July 14, 1897, 14; "PHILLIES WIN TWO GAMES: Double Victory at Louisville by Good Ball Playing: Delahanty Makes Nine Hits," Philadelphia Record, Wednesday Morning, July 14, 1897.

(8.) "THE LEAGUE RACE: Games Played Tuesday July 13," Sporting Life, Volume 29, Number 17, July 17, 1897, 3; For those who aren't familiar with ICI, David Neft was the man behind ICI and it was the ICI research and subsequent resultant data that formed the basis for the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia of 1969.

(9.) "Baseball Notes," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Thursday, July 15, 1897, 3.

(10.) "DROPPED TWO," Louisville Courier-Journal.

(11.) Baseball rules, as published in the 1897 Reach Base Ball Guide which governed the 1897 playing season. Rule 71: Scoring, Section 3 (under Batting) reads, "In the third column should be placed the first base hits made by each Player. A base hit should be scored in the following cases: (1) When a hit ball is hit so sharply to an Infielder that he cannot handle it in time to put out the Batsman. In case of doubt over this class of hits, score a base hit, and exempt the Fielder from the charge of an error. (2) When a hit ball is hit so slowly toward a Fielder that he cannot handle it in time to put out the Batsman." Then in Section 7 (under Errors) it reads, "In scoring errors of batted balls see Section 3 of this Rule."

(12.) There is an inconsistency regarding the written game article(s) in the newspaper(s) and the scoring by inning indicated below the box score having to do with the specific inning Philadelphia scored their final two runs; were the runs scored in the seventh or the eighth inning?

(13.) "AGAIN THE ORIOLES WON: The Clevelands Lost the Second as They Did the First," Baltimore American, Sunday, September 2, 1894, 5; "ANOTHER FOR BALTIMORE: Cleveland Defeated in an Interesting and Exciting Contest," Baltimore Sun, Monday Morning, September 3, 1894, 6; "A HARD FIGHT: Cleveland Made a Worthy Struggle for Yesterday's Game," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sunday, September 2, 1894, 3.

(14.) "A TRIBE OF JONAHS: That's What the Cleveland Ball Club Is," Cleveland Leader, Sunday, September 2, 1894.

(15.) 1894 ICI Data Sheets for Joe Kelley.

(16.) Regarding the doubleheader games on September 3, 1894, at Baltimore, between Baltimore and Cleveland, there was a ground rule that limited the hits to two bases. In fact, in the first game, Kelley apparently lost a HR due to the two base ground rule. The record books incorrectly indicate the record for most triples in a game by a single team as nine, by the Baltimore Orioles, in the first game of the doubleheader on September 3, 1894, which, of course, was impossible given the ground rule that was in effect. A possible source for the error may have been Sporting Life since in their coverage for the first game the hits were identified as "Three-base hits" below the box score, no "Two-base hits" were listed, while for the second game Sporting Life correctly indicated the hits as Two-base hits, again due to the ground rule. According to the author's research the NL record for most triples in a game by a single team during the nineteenth century appears to be seven, accomplished by the Athletics on June 14, 1876, against the Cincinnatis, while in the AA it also appears to be seven, again accomplished by the Athletics on August 27, 1884, against the Brooklyns.

(17.) "Washington Gets 'The Keeler of Texas,'" Baltimore Sun, Wednesday Morning, August 11, 1897, 6.

(18.) "HONORS WERE DIVIDED: Game Each for the Senators and Cincinnatis," Washington Post, Sunday, September 12, 1897, 8.

(19.) "A BATTING RECORD: Credited to Young Gettman, of the Washington Club," Sporting Life, Volume 29, Number 26, September 18, 1897, 1.

(20.) George L. Moreland. Balldom: The Britannica of Baseball, Fascinating Facts For Fans, Fourth Edition. (Youngstown, OH: Balldom Company, Incorporated, 1927.)

Caption: Jake Stenzel

Caption: Joe Kelley's consecutive hits feat went underreported at the time, and subsequently underreported in the record books.

Caption: Jake Gettman
Table 1. Hits in Consecutive ABs by an individual. Nineteenth Century

# AB   Player/Team          Date

11     Jake Stenzel,
       Pittsburgh Pirates
       Streak Game I        July 15, 1893
                            last 3 ABs of Gm 1

       Streak Game 2        July 17. 1893
       Streak Game 3        July 18. 1893
                            first 4 ABs of Gm 3

       Ed Delahanty,        Phillies
       Philadelphia
       Streak Game 1        July 13. 1897(1)
       Streak Game 2        July 13, 1897 (2)
       Streak Game 3        July 14. 1897
                            first 2 ABs of Gm 3

10     Joe Kelley,
       Baltimore Orioles
       Streak Game 1        September 1, 1894
                            last AB of Gm 1

       Streak Game 2        September 3. 1894 (1)
       Streak Game 3        September 3. 1894(2)

       Jake Gettman,        Senators
       Washington
       Streak Game 1        September 10, 1897
       Streak Game 2        September 11. 1897 (1)
       Streak Game 3        September 11, 1897 (2)
                            first AB of Gm 3

# AB   Player/Team          Opponent                AB   Hits

11     Jake Stenzel,
       Pittsburgh Pirates
       Streak Game I        Washington Senators     6     5
                            Fifth Inning
                            Sixth Inning
                            Eighth Inning
                            Streak Game Totals      3     3
       Streak Game 2        Cleveland Spiders       4     4
       Streak Game 3        Cleveland Spiders       6     4
                            First Inning
                            Second Inning
                            Fourth Inning
                            Unknown Inning
                            Streak Game Totals      4     4
                            Overall Streak Totals   H     11

       Ed Delahanty,
       Philadelphia
       Streak Game 1        Louisville Colonels     4     4
       Streak Game 2        Louisville Colonels     5     5
       Streak Game 3        Louisville Colonels     5     4
                            First Inning
                            Fourth Inning
                            Streak Game Totals      2     2
                            Overall Streak Totals   11    11

10     Joe Kelley,
       Baltimore Orioles
       Streak Game 1        Cleveland Spiders       3     2
                            Seventh Inning
                            Streak Game Totals      1     1
       Streak Game 2        Cleveland Spiders       4     4
       Streak Game 3        Cleveland Spiders       5     5
                            Overall Streak Totals   10    10

       Jake Gettman,
       Washington
       Streak Game 1        Cleveland Spiders       4     4
       Streak Game 2        Cincinnati Reds         5     5
       Streak Game 3        Cincinnati Reds         3     1
                            Second Inning
                            Streak Game Totals      '     1
                            Overall Streak Totals   10    10

# AB   Player/Team           BA     IB   2B   3B   HR   TB

11     Jake Stenzel,
       Pittsburgh Pirates
       Streak Game I        0.833   3    0    1    1    10
                                              1
                                    1
                                    1

       Streak Game 2        1.000   2    2    0    0    6
       Streak Game 3        0.667   4    0    0    0    4
                                    1
                                    1
                                    1
                                    1

                            1.000   8    2    1    0    15

       Ed Delahanty,
       Philadelphia
       Streak Game 1        1.000   4    0    0    0    4
       Streak Game 2        1.000   4    0    1    0    7
       Streak Game 3        0.800   2    1    0    1    8
                                         1
                                    1

                            1.000   9    1    1    0    14

10     Joe Kelley,
       Baltimore Orioles
       Streak Game 1        0.667   1    1    0    0    3
                                    1

       Streak Game 2        1.000   3    1    0    0    5
       Streak Game 3        1.000   1    4    0    0    9
                            1.000   5    5    0    0    15

       Jake Gettman,
       Washington
       Streak Game 1        1.000   2    1    0    1    8
       Streak Game 2        1.000   3    0    1    1    10
       Streak Game 3        0.333   1    0    0    0    1
                                    1

                            1.000   6    1    1    2    19

# AB   Player/Team           SLG    EBH   Innings

11     Jake Stenzel,
       Pittsburgh Pirates
       Streak Game I        1.667    2       9

       Streak Game 2        1.500    2       9
       Streak Game 3        0.667    0       9

                            1.364    3

       Ed Delahanty,
       Philadelphia
       Streak Game 1        1.000    0       9
       Streak Game 2        1.400    1       9
       Streak Game 3        1.600    2       9

                            1.273    2

10     Joe Kelley,
       Baltimore Orioles
       Streak Game 1        1.000    1       9

       Streak Game 2        1.250    1       9
       Streak Game 3        1.800    4       6
                            1.500    5

       Jake Gettman,
       Washington
       Streak Game 1        2.000    2       9
       Streak Game 2        2.000    2       9
       Streak Game 3        0.333    0       7

                            1.900    4
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Title Annotation:TURN OF THE CENTURY
Author:Marshall, Brian
Publication:The Baseball Research Journal
Geographic Code:1U2PA
Date:Mar 22, 2019
Words:3483
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