Mystical numbers

They're not magical numbers, just remarkable feats like George Sisler's 257 (hits) or Rickey's 2,295 (career runs).

Originally Published: September 16, 2004
By Tim Kurkjian | ESPN The Magazine

As Ichiro pursues a record that has stood for 84 years, we are reminded of other unheralded records. These records don't receive (or, in some cases, deserve) the same recognition as Cy Young's 511 wins, Cal Ripken's 2,632 consecutive game streak or Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. These records are mostly unachievable, though not as unapproachable as Jack Taylor's completing 189 straight starts in the early 1900s. Here are 10 records, some of them obscure, some of them unbreakable, that warrant some attention.

Rickey Henderson
APHenderson is the all-time leader in runs (2,295), walks (2,190) and steals (1,406).

Runs Scored, Career. Rickey Henderson, 2, 295. For some reason, runs scored isn't treated with the reverence as other critical statistics. The first statistical category ever kept in major league baseball was runs scored. Ultimately, it is the name of the game, scoring more runs than the opposition. For all of Henderson's greatness, breaking Ty Cobb's record for runs scored might be his grandest achievement. If Lou Gehrig hadn't gotten sick, ending his career at age 35, it would have been his record that Henderson broke.

Most Doubles, Season: Earl Webb, 67 for the Red Sox in 1931. Webb finished his career with 155 doubles, and never had more than 30 in any other season. A number of players have been on pace to break Webb's record, yet the pace always mysteriously slows down late in the season: no one has reached 60 since 1936. Todd Helton smashed 59 doubles in 2000.

Most Triples, Season: Owen (Chief) Wilson, 36 triples in 1912. A big man (6-foot-2) for that day, and, from all accounts, not necessarily fast, Wilson's mark nonetheless has never been approached. No one else has ever hit more than 26 triples in a season -- that 28 percent gap is the largest among seasonable batting records. It was much easier in the early 1900s to hit triples mainly because the ballparks were so big, but no one hits triples anymore. Since 1949, only twice has a player come within 15 triples of Wilson's record -- Willie Wilson had 21 in 1985 and Lance Johnson had 21 in '96. By the way, no active player has as many triples as Babe Ruth (136). Mark McGwire finished his career with six.

Most Shutouts, Career. Walter Johnson, 110. This is unbreakable, especially in this era when the Yankees have the best record in the American League, and have one complete game. Johnson had more 1-0 shutouts (38) than Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling have shutouts combined (35). Johnson lost a record 24, 1-0 games (he pitched in a total of 62, 1-0 games. No one else pitched in more than 26). He lost 10 shutout games in one season, five in one month. That was the Dead Ball Era, this is the Live Ball Era, but 110 shutouts? The Marlins don't have 110 in their 12-year existence.

Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax hit only 18 batters in his career.

Most Innings, Season, Without Hitting A Batter. Sandy Koufax, 323 in 1965. It shows that pitchers don't have to hit batters to be intimidating or successful (in this case, spectacular). Koufax's record is even more amazing considering he was on the same staff as Don Drysdale, who liked hitting batters. But even Koufax can't match the feat of Larry Benton, who went three seasons (1923-30), covering 755 innings, without hitting one batter.

Most Outs Made, Season. Omar Moreno, 560, in 1980. This covers outs on batted balls, caught stealing and grounded into double plays. Moreno's teammate, Frank Taveras, made 545 outs in 1979, followed by Horace Clarke (542) in 1970. Moreno was a terrific center fielder, but he has three of the top 10 out seasons, earning the nickname, Omar the Outmaker.

Most Outfield Assists, Season. Chuck Klein, 44, in 1930. He, not Jose Canseco, was the first 40-40 man in history: Klein had 40 homers, 40 outfield assists. Klein had a great throwing arm, but he was helped playing right field at Philadelphia's Baker Bowl, which was 281 feet to right field, 300 to right center. Still, an outfield assist every 3.9 games is amazing. The last outfielder to record 25 assists in a season was Dave Parker in 1977. Manute Bol's season high was 36 assists in 75 games for the Golden State Warriors in 1989-90.

Most Times Slugging .700, Season. Babe Ruth, nine times. Barry Bonds will have four such seasons after this year. Only 32 times in history has anyone slugged .700 in a season, and Ruth has nine of them. Ruth slugged .690 for his career.

Most Double Plays, Season, Second Baseman. Bill Mazeroski, 161, in 1966. That year, no other NL second baseman took part in as many as 90 double plays, an amazing difference between first and second. Maz was the greatest defensive second baseman of all time, especially on the pivot. He led the league in double plays by a second baseman a record eight times, and his 1,706 double plays are the most in history by a second baseman. He planted those big legs on top of the bag and never moved, there was no bailing out on the double play, no throwing from behind the bag, using it as protection. The runner, not Maz, took the hit.

Most Home Runs, Game. Blue Jays, 10, Sept. 14, 1987 against the Orioles. Ask people about this game, and few remember it. Ernie Whitt hit three home runs, George Bell and Rance Mulliniks hit two, Lloyd Moseby, Fred McGriff, and Rob Ducey one. The game was so lopsided (18-3), in the bottom of the eighth inning, Oriole shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. was taken out of a game for the first time since 1982. A week later, Oriole general manager Hank Peters called a writer into his office and popped a tape in his VCR. "I call it, 'The Barrage,' '' Peters said. It was a tape of the at-bats for all 10 home runs. "We are showing this to our minor league pitchers,'' Peters said, "on the way not to pitch.''

Tim Kurkjian is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a regular contributor to Baseball Tonight. E-mail tim.kurkjian@espnmag.com.