A friend pointed out that CC Sabathia is only 14 strikeouts short of 3,000. That started me thinking about other rare baseball feats. Because baseball has gone to a five man starting pitching rotation, there will be fewer exceptional pitching feats in the future.
3,000 strikeouts – 16 players
For us older folks, this doesn’t seem so rare because 15 of the 16 players accomplished it during the period we have followed baseball. I would not have guessed it was the rarest of the four feats on my list. There was almost a 51 year gap between the first one (Johnson in 1923) and second one (Gibson in 1974). Except for Schilling, these players are all in the Hall of Fame.
Four home runs in a game – 18 players
Only five of the 18 players are in the Hall of Fame.
Perfect game – 23 players
Seven of the pitchers are in the Hall of Fame. Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game has to be the best pitching performance ever.
Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings in a 1959 game and lost in the 13th. This no longer makes the list but it was legendary in my childhood.
300 wins – 24 players
This will become rarer in the future because of the five-man rotation. Because some of the players hung on for many after their prime, they won #300 for teams they are not usually associated with. For example:
Randy Johnson – Giants
Gaylord Perry – Mariners
Phil Niekro – Yankees
Tom Glavine – Mets
The active leaders are Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (246). I doubt either will get to 300.
500 home runs – 27 players
I went to a baseball autograph show in 1989 with all of the living 500 home run hitters. There were only 11 at the time. There were three who were deceased (Ruth, Foxx, Ott). 24 of the 27 have accomplished the feat in my lifetime.
This stat has been devalued because of steroids. There are people on this list that we know have cheated. In the future, people could look at the list and conclude that Sammy Sosa is better than Frank Robinson which is certainly not true.