With its storied history and over a century worth of stats, games and players, baseball has provided its share of emotional, joyful and tear-jerking moments.
There have been impressive wins and dramatic losses, some that to this day still seem completely improbable. There have been long-standing records that have been broken and legendary players who have departed the game in memorable fashions as well.
Here are some of baseball’s biggest moments in history.
1. 511 wins of CY Young
This record is said to remain forever in sports history. Roger Clemens presently has 343 victories entering the 2007 season. He might need more than eight 20 win seasons to break this record and he would be 53 years by the time that happens. He may not make that many comebacks.
Young retired with 511 career wins, which remains the record for most career wins by a pitcher. At the time, Pud Galvin had the second most wins with a total of 364. Cy Young’s career is seen as a bridge from baseball’s earliest days to its modern era; he pitched against stars such as Cap Anson, already an established player when the National League was first formed in 1876. When Young began his career, pitchers delivered the baseball underhand and fouls were not counted as strikes. The pitcher’s mound was not moved back to its present position of 60 feet 6 inches (18.44 m) until Young’s fourth season; he did not wear a glove until his sixth season. Things have definitely changed since Young played the sport.
2. .367 lifetime batting average of Ty Cobb
The active leader, Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies, is 24th on this list entering the 2007 season at .334. The best hitter of his generation, Tony Gwynn was a lifetime .338 hitter. This recor cannot be broken as well.
3. Johnny Vander Meer’s consecutive no-hitters
The year 1938 was Vander Meer’s first full season; however, the often wild throwing lefty did not let that get to him. On June 11th at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Vander Meer walked three while striking out four and allowing no hits against the Boston Bees. No Boston player even made it past first base. Four days later in Brooklyn, he was a little less steady. He walked eight and struck out seven in the very first night game at Ebbets Field. He needed a little help from some spectacular plays by his teammates and almost ended the streak himself when he walked the bases full in the ninth, but a well placed pop up by Leo Durocher ended the threat.
In his thirteen year career, he never again recreated the magic during his rookie season. The All-Star baseball player would never again be remembered for his so-so career split of 119-121, but will instead forever be imprinted in the minds of all baseball historians and fans as the man who created the most unbeatable, unbelievable, fabulous pitching feat in the history of the game.
4. Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games
Lou Gehrig’s was the earlier champion who had a record 2,130-game streak before the arrival of Ripken. This former Baltimore Orioles shortstop made a record of 2632 consecutive games which is still untouched.
5. Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 career strikeouts
Ryan pitched played for 27 seasons and pitched until he was 46, striking out more than 200 in a season 12 times and 300 in a season six times. His record is still unbeaten.
Ryan is a hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher that can throw pitches that are regularly recorded above 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). The high velocity remained throughout his career, even into his 40s. Ryan was also known to throw a 12-6 curve ball at exceptional velocity for a breaking ball.
He is very often compared to the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax: because Ryan broke two of Koufax’s records, for most no-hitters and the single-season strikeout mark. There are further similarities: both Ryan and Koufax started in the majors at a very young age and struggled early in their careers and both were very reserved and private. Both had long contract disputes with their owners.
6. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak
Di Maggio’s 56 game hitting streak is untouchable. In 1978, Pete Rose got to 44 and Jimmy Rollins belonging to Philadelphia Phillies had a hit in 38 in a row in a streak that started in 2005 and extended into 2006.
7. 130 stolen bases in a season of Rickey Henderson
Ever since Henderson and Vince Coleman were routinely stealing 100 bases a year the speed game has been deserted. No player has stolen more than 100 since Coleman in 1987. In fact, no player has even swiped 80 since Henderson and Coleman each had more in 1988. Hence we can conclude that Henderson’s record made in 1982, appears to be very safe.
8. Orel Hershiser’s 59 consecutive scoreless innings
Orel Hershiser’s 59 consecutive scoreless innings is truly unbreakable. Breaking this record will take a special effort, lots of luck and some great defense.
9. Pete Rose’s 4,256 hit
There are only some players who have made a shot at 3,000 hits. Alex Rodriguez (age 31 in 2007) isn’t far behind, but the star has to double his hit total to surpass Rose, who was a part-time player at age 45 when he passed Ty Cobb (4,191 hits) in 1985.
10. Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs in a season
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire each broke Roger Maris’ record of 61 in 1998, and Bonds is the only player to hit more than 60 since then. He set the record in 2001. Presently since baseball is finding players using performance-enhancing substances and punishing them, it will take a special effort. Ryan Howard is a person to watch for as he hit 58 homers in 2006.