The Best of Baseball’s 3,000 Hit Club
The 3,000 Hit Club gained a new member this past weekend as Texas Ranger Adrian Beltre knocked a double against the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth inning. Not only did Beltre become the 31st member to join one of the MLB’s most exclusive groups, he also became the youngest player to have done so. But who are some of the more notable players to have 3,000 hits–or more?
Pete Rose is the all-time hits leader in the major leagues — and with 4,256 hits it isn’t even close. In fact, he and Ty Cobb are the only two members of the 4,000 club, and Cobb did it nearly 100 years ago. Of course, Rose’s name is forever tainted by his controversial gambling expulsion and he doesn’t even qualify for the Hall of Fame despite his achievements. But, dang, dude new how to get the wood on the ball.
Those unfamiliar with MLB history might hear Anson’s name and wonder who he is. But he was the first player known to have more than 3,000 hits, having done so clear back in 1897. In fact, it was so long ago that the record-keeping was a little suspect, and nobody knows his real career total, only that it was somewhere north of the big 3K.
Hank Aaron’s name is familiar to virtually everybody who has ever heard of baseball. Indisputably one of the greatest players to ever play the game, Aaron also happens to be a member of another highly exclusive group of just 27 players: Those with more than 500 home runs. Four other players share the distinction of being in both groups: Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Eddie Murray. Each was a special talent in their own right and are household names among fans, but Aaron is the elite of the elite.
Rickey Henderson was another uncommon talent. Not only is he a member of the 3,000 Hit Club, but he is the all-time leader in steals, runs, unintentional walks, and lead-off homers. If this dude was at bat, he was almost always going to get on base. And if he got on base, he was always a threat to score.
Alex Rodriguez is one of those love-him-or-hate-him types. On the one hand, he has so many awards his house must be one giant mantle. On the other, his legacy was tainted by erratic behavior and the specter of performance enhancing drugs. Either way, A-Rod was a heck of a player to watch when he was on, and he joined the 3K club in style with a homer in 2015.
Another household name among fans and non fans alike, Willie Mays is another one in the conversation for the best player ever. Always a fan-favorite, Mays is tied with Stan Musial and Hank Aaron for the most All-Star Games played, and had he not been inducted into the Hall of Fame overwhelmingly on his first ballot, it’s possible the MLB would have had to shut down for good in shame.
Rounding out the trio of the best players of all time is good old Stan Musial. Musial is third all-time in hits, but his consistency in making contact is legendary — so much so that players of all levels study his swing in an effort to mimic his style. Musial went to 22 straight All-Star Games after taking a year off to fight in World War II, and led his team to three World Series Championships as a player and was as a coach.
(Image courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.)