Can’t Top This: Hornsby’s 5-Year Run

Nobody in baseball history — not Cobb, not Ruth, nor Williams or Bonds — ever put together a better five-year run than Rogers Hornsby.

Between 1921 and 1925, the St. Louis Cardinals second baseman won five consecutive batting titles — with averages of .397, .401, .384, .424 and .403. Overall the Rajah won seven batting crowns and hit .358 lifetime, highest for a right-hand batter in the history of the game.

During that five-year stretch, Hornsby also:

  • Led the NL in HRs in 1922 and 1925, winning Triple Crowns both years.
  • Hit .424 in 1924, the highest average ever recorded in a single season
  • Led the NL in OBP, slugging and OPS five straight times
  • Led the NL in hits, doubles, runs and RBIs three times, and triples once

In 1922, Hornsby led the league with 42 home runs, 152 RBIs,  a .401 average and 450 total bases. Only Ruth with 457 in 1921, ever had more. Not too shabby.

After winning his second Triple Crown and the NL MVP in 1925 with 39 homers, 143 RBIs and a .403 average, the Rajah’s numbers slipped to a more pedestrian .317 the following season. However, as player-manager he led the Cardinals to their first World Championship with a seven-game triumph over the Yankees.

Six Straight Batting Titles
Hornsby also won the NL batting title in 1920, when he hit .370 and led the NL in hits, doubles, RBIs, OBP, slugging and OPS. Not even the great Ty Cobb can match Hornsby’s run of six straight batting titles, between 1920 and 1925.

Throughout baseball history, other players have had remarkable five-year runs. Beginning in 1911, Cobb won five straight batting titles — .420, .409, .390, .368 and .369 — but couldn’t match up to Hornsby in some of the other categories. Babe Ruth won four home run titles, three RBI crowns and a batting title in his first five seasons with the Yankees, beginning in 1920.

Ted Williams hit .401 in  1941 and won American League Triple Crowns in 1942 and 1947 (the only player besides Hornsby to win two), but lost three years to World War II service. And more recently Barry Bonds had a remarkable run between 2000 and 2004, capped by a record 73 home runs in 2001.

But none can match the Rajah’s brilliant five-year run.

Just before Christmas in 1926, Hornsby was traded to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring. Following the 1927 season, the Giants shipped Hornsby to the Boston Braves for Shanty Hogan and Jimmy Welsh.

Hornsby played just one year in Boston. Despite winning his seventh and final batting title in 1928, Hornsby then was traded to the Cubs for Bruce Cunningham, Percy Jones, Lou Legett, Freddie Maguire, Socks Seibold and $200,000.

That deal paid off handsomely for the Cubs, as Hornsby earned his second MVP in leading the Cubs to the 1929 World Series.

Hornsby went on to manage the Cubs, St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds, and was a coach for the original 1962 New York Mets. He passed away in 1963.


The SportsLifer Top 50 Countdown (11-20)

The SportsLifer countdown of momentous events attended continues this week with the fourth installment, numbers 11-20. Baseball dominates the top 50 more than any other sport, and this segment includes record-setting moments by Barry Bonds, Jim Hickman, Roger Clemens and Eric Young.

We’ll conclude next week with the SportsLifer Top Ten. Don’t miss it.

And readers, it would be great to hear your own lists.

20. Yankees hit 8 home runs to equal team record for one game, beat White Sox 16-3, Yankee Stadium, 2007

19. Yankees and Tigers play to 3-3, 19-inning tie, second game of twi-night doubleheader, 1968

18. Rockies outscore Dodgers 16-15, 10 home runs, Eric Young steals 6 bases, Coors Field, 1996

17. Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk brawl at home plate, Red Sox edge Yankees 3-2, Fenway Park, 1973

16. El Duque Hernandez tames Padres 9-3, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada homer, game 2, 1998 World Series

15.
Roger Clemens beats Cardinals 5-2 for 300th win, also gets 4,000th career strikeout, 2003

14. Follow Tiger Woods, others, at first round of U.S. Open Golf tournament, Winged Foot, 2006

13. Dolphins defeat Patriots 16-13 in overtime at Miami’s Orange Bowl on night John Lennon is shot, 1980

12. Outfielder Jim Hickman hits for natural cycle for Mets who defeat Cardinals 7-3 at Polo Grounds, 1963

11. Giants’ Barry Bonds hits home run #756, breaks Hank Aaron’s record, San Francisco, 2007

Special Category:

Ran a press conference on IBM scouting technology called “Advance Scout” at NBA All-Star game in Oakland, 2000

First installment: 41-50. includes the St. Louis Hawks, Holy Cross, and a Ranger rout.

Second installment: 31-40. stars Lew Alcindor, The Mick, and the Boston Marathon.

Third installment: (21-30), recalls the play of Willie Mays, Joe Namath and Lawrence Taylor and others.


Lords Of The Ringless

Best Players Never to Win a World Series

Why is Ernie Banks smiling? He won’t like this list.

It’s the club nobody wants to belong to, like the best golfer never to win a major club or the guy at the front of the line when the ticket counter closes.

Just not good enough. Close but no cigar. Losers. No player wants to be on this list. They’re The Lords Of The Ringless.

Ever wonder who are the best baseball players never to win a World Series?

Almost all of them are Hall of Famers, who will be someday. They’ve won dozens of batting titles, hit thousands upon thousands of home runs, earned MVPs, Cy Young Awards and Gold Gloves and achieved milestones such as .400 averages, 500 home runs, 3,000 hits, 300 wins, 500 steals and 500 saves, just to name a few

They’ve won it all….except for a championship.

Some came close. Rube Marquard pitched in 5 World Series, came up on the wrong side every time. Don Sutton, the winningest pitcher on this list, and Gabby Hartnett who hit a famous home run in the dark in 1938 to get the Cubs into the World Series, each played in 4 World Series and lost every one.

Some never got to the World Series. And some of them were Cubs, like Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and more.

Several players on this list are still active, but have played long enough to make their statistics viable. Included is third baseman Alex Rodriguez and closer Trevor Hoffman on the first team, and starter Mike Mussina on the cut list.

Others, like catcher Mike Piazza and outfielder Barry Bonds, just retired this year.

Here they are, The Lords Of The Ringless. They’re the best baseball players never to win a World Series. Career highlights, teams played for and World Series appearances noted in descriptions.

FIRST TEAM

C — Mike Piazza: 396 HRs (most as catcher), 427 overall, .308 lifetime batting average, retired ’07, Dodgers, Mets, Padres, A’s ; 1 WS.

IB — George Sisler: ’22 AL MVP. two batting titles, .407 in ’20, .420 in ’22, .340 lifetime, Browns, Senators, Braves; 0 WS. left

2B — Rod Carew: .328 career batting average, 7 batting titles, AL MVP in ’77 with .388 average, Twins, Angels, others; 0 WS

SS — Ernie Banks: Mr. Cub, 512 lifetime homers, 277 as shortstop, NL MVP in ’58, ’59 as SS, later moved to IB. Cubs, 0 WS.

3B — Alex Rodriguez:: active, 522 lifetime HRs, .306 batting average, MVP 2003, ’05, ’07, Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, 0 WS.

OF — Ty Cobb; best ever .367 lifetime average, 12 batting titles; AL MVP in ’11, second lifetime in hits 4191, fourth in steals with 892. Tigers, A’s;3 WS. right

OF — Ted Williams: last man to hit .400, .406 in 41, Triple Crown winner in ’42, ’47, two-time MVP, .344 average, 521 homers. Red Sox; 1 WS.

OF — Barry Bonds; 7-time NL MVP, 4 in a row 01-04, 762 HRs are most ever, 73 in ’01 single season record. 514 SBs. Pirates, Giants, 1 WS

P — Juan Marichal; 243-142, 2.89 ERA, six 20-win seasons, 26-9 in ’68, Giants, Red Sox, Dodgers; 1 WS

P — Don Sutton: 324 career wins, most by non-champion, won 20 once in ’76, Dodgers, Astros, Brewers, A’s, Angels;4 WS

P — Ferguson Jenkins:284-226 7 20-win seasons, 3192 Ks, ‘ 71 NL Cy Young; Cubs, Rangers; 0 WS

P — Rube Marquard: left-hander, 201-177, record 19 straight wins to start season, 26-11 in ’12, Giants, Dodgers; Reds, Braves; 5 WS

R — Trevor Hoffman; active, all-time saves leader with 532, led NL with 53 saves in ’98, 46 in ’06 Marlins, Padres. 1 WS

SECOND TEAM

C — Carlton Fisk: 376 HRs, 351 as catcher, 269 career average, hit famous HR in ’75 Series, Red Sox, White Sox; 1 WS

IB — Willie McCovey: 521 HRs, ’69 MVP 45-126-.320, ’77 comeback player, Giants, Padres, A’s;1 WS

2B — Nap Lajoie: .broke in with Phillies in 1896, 339 lifetime average, 4 AL batting titles; Phillies, Naps (Indians), A’s; 0 WS

SS — Arky Vaughan; 318 lifetime, won NL batting title in ’35, .385, Pirates, Dodgers; 1 WS

3B — George Kell: .306 career batting average, won AL batting title in ’49; Phillies, Tigers, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles; 0 WS

OF — Harry Heilmann: .342 career average, 4 AL batting titles, .403 in ’23, Tigers, Reds; 0 WS

OF — Billy Williams: 426 HRs, .296 career batting average, ’72 NL batting title, Cubs, A’s; 0 WS

OF — Tony Gwynn; 338 average, 3141 hits, 8 NL batting titles, .394 in ’94, Padres, 2 WS right

P — Phil Niekro: knuckleballer, 318 wins, 24 years from ’64 to ’87, Braves, Yankees, Indians; 0 WS

P — Gaylord Perry, 314 wins, AL Cy Young ’72, NL Cy Young ’78, Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Mariners; 0 WS

P — Tommy John: 288-231, left-hander, 26-year career from ’63 to ’89, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, A’s; 3 WS

P — Early Wynn, 300 career wins, Cy Young ’59, Senators, Indians, White Sox, ,2 WS

R — Lee Smith, 478 saves; Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles. Angels, Reds, Expos 0 WS

FINAL CUTS

C — Gabby Hartnett: lifetime BA .297, .236 HRs, ’38 HR helps win pennant for Cubs, Giants, 4 WS

IB — Don Mattingly: .307 lifetime average; AL batting title .343 in ’84; ’85 AL MVP, 9 Gold Gloves,Yankees; 0 WS

2B — Ryne Sandberg; .284 average, 282 HRs, NL MVP ’84, 9 Gold Gloves, Phillies, Cubs; 0 WS

SS — Luke Appling, .310 lifetime hitter, 20 years with White Sox, ’30-’50, hit HR at age 75 in ’82 exhibition: 0 WS

3B — Ron Santo; 342 HRs, .277 lifetime average, 5 straight Gold Gloves ’64-’68, Cubs, White Sox, 0 WS

OF — Carl Yastrzemski; 452 HRs, 3419 hits; MVP and Triple Crown in ’67, Red Sox, 2 WS

OF –Sammy Sosa: 609 Hrs, 5th all-time, 3 years with 60 HRs, NL MVP ’98, Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles; 0 WS

OF –Lloyd Waner: Big Poison, .333 average, 3152 hits, Pirates, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees; 1 WS

OF — Paul Waner: Little Poison, .316 lifetime, Pirates, Braves, Reds, Phillies, Dodgers, ; 1 WS (’27 with brother Lloyd)

OF — Chuck Klein: .320 lifetime, 300 HRs, ’32 MVP, ’33 Triple Crown, Phillies, Cubs, Pirates; 0 WS

P — Robin Roberts:286 career wins, 6-time 20-game winner in ’50s, Phillies, Orioles, Astros, Cubs, 1 WS

P — Ted Lyons: 260 career wins, won 20 3 times,White Sox ’23-46, 0 WS

P — Rube Waddell, 193 wins, 26-11 in ’05, left-hander,Pirates., Cubs, A’s, Browns; 0 WS

P — Mike Mussina: active, 256-147 career, .635 win percentage; Orioles, Yankees, 1 WS

R — John Franco: 424 saves, 4th all-time; led NL in saves in ’88, ’90, ’94, Reds, Mets, Astros; 1 WS