In an article that I wrote over two years ago (August of 2007), I discussed a handful of records in Major League Baseball that I still feel will never be broken. The article was entitled “Records in Baseball that Will Never be Broken”, a very opinionated piece about certain MLB records that will eternally withstand the sands of time and never be erased. Some of them were fairly obvious and fell into what are considered major categories while others were ones that I felt were significant enough to be mentioned.
The following was the list that I put into that content, but I have now added how long the record has stood where that factor applies. Additionally, although some records are not that old according to when the player retired, there are a career accumulation that will most likely never be equaled.
There are 3 Hitting Records that will never be broken:
> most career home runs by a switch hitter – Mickey Mantle 536 (41 years – retired 1968)
> most career hits – Pete Rose 4,256 (23 years – retired 1986)
> longest hitting streak – Joe DiMaggio 56 (68 years – record set in July of 1941)
There are 4 Pitching Records that will never be broken:
> most career pitching victories – Cy Young 511 (98 years – retired 1911)
> most career Cy Young Awards – Roger Clemens (6 – last MLB appearance in September of 2007)
> most career strikeouts – Nolan Ryan (5,714 – retired 1993)
> most career no-hitters – Nolan Ryan (7 – retired 1993)
There is one Base Running record that will never be broken:
> most career stolen bases – Rickey Henderson (1,406 – retired 2003)
For the purposes of this article I wanted to focus on some “single-season” records that have stood for at least 68 years or longer. And if history is any indication as to what you can expect to happen in the future, these following 9 records may never be broken.
Batting Average: .426 – Nap Lajoie – 1901 (108 years)
Wins: 41 – Jack Chesbro – 1904 (105 years)
Triples: 36 – Chief Wilson – 1912 (97 years)
Extra Base Hits: 119 – Babe Ruth – 1921 (88 years)
Runs: 177 – Babe Ruth – 1921 (88 years)
Total Bases: 457 – Babe Ruth – 1921 (88 years)
RBI’s: 191 – Hack Wilson – 1930 (79 years)
Doubles: 67 – Earl Webb – 1931 (78 years)
Hitting Streak: 56 games – Joe DiMaggio – 1941 (68 years)
Longevity is the key here with these above records, and considering how many decades these records have remained intact, it makes me wonder if these will ever fall. I think not. Additionally, even though DiMaggio’s hitting streak record is only 68 years old and the youngest of the above 9 records, the only time his record was ever challenged was in 1978, 31 years ago.
That year, Pete Rose attempted to equal Joe Di’s hitting streak but fell short by 12 games when Gene Garber ended it on August 1st of that year. Since then, no one has come even remotely close to matching that record. Despite the fact that the game has changed a lot in the last 68 years since that record was set, it’s hard to imagine that those changes in the game have given and edge to the hitter where this record is concerned.
Where records accumulated throughout a player’s career are concerned, there are 5 that come to mind, the youngest record of which is 81 years old.
Career Pitching Wins: 511 – Cy Young – retired in 1911 (98 years)
Career ERA: 1.82 – Ed Walsh – retired in 1917 (92 years)
Career Triples: 309 – Sam Crawford – retired in 1917 (92 years)
Career Doubles: 792 – Tris Speaker – retired in 1928 (81 years)
Career Batting Average: .366 – Ty Cobb – retired in 1928 (81 years)
It is highly unlikely that we will ever see these records erased, especially Cy Young’s and Ty Cobb’s. Pitchers today consider 300+ wins as the career mark to achieve if they have any hope of entering the MLB Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb’s .366 average is just untouchable even by today’s standards considering that a .330 career average is considered commendable.
I really don’t think this article would be complete without mentioning 6 long-standing records that were eventually broken, but took 60 or more years for that to happen. Here’s that list including the original record, the year it was established, who broke it, and how many years the record had stood.
On-Base Percentage (single season): .553 – Ted Williams – 1941 / broken by Barry Bonds with .582 in 2002 / 61 years
Career Base on Balls: 2,062 – Babe Ruth – retired in 1935 / broken by Rickey Henderson with 2,190 in 2001 / 66 years
Career Runs: 2,246 – Ty Cobb – retired in 1928 / broken by Rickey Henderson with 2,295 in 2001 / 73 years
Base on Balls (single season): 170 – Babe Ruth – 1923 / broken by Barry Bonds with 177 in 2001 / 78 years
Slugging Percentage (single season): .847 – Babe Ruth – 1920 / broken by Barry Bonds with .863 in 2001 / 81 years
Hits (single season): 257 – George Sisler – 1920 / broken by Ichiro Suzuki with 259 in 2004 / 84 years
The question now is will the new records hold up with any longevity compared to the original record? There is some speculation here where Barry Bonds is concerned, and not just because of the “steroids” issue. His single season mark of 73 homers and his .863 slugging percentage will most likely hold up. Considering the fact that Alex Rodriguez was the only one to come close to challenging the single season home run mark in 2007 when he hit 52 home runs, it is likely that we will never see Bonds’ homer mark erased.
Additionally, Barry Bonds’ single season Home Run record of 73 set in 2001 probably had a lot to do with him breaking the two Babe Ruth records that same year. Based on that number of homers, it explains the significant amount of Bases on Balls as well as the lofty slugging percentage. Where his 762 career Home Run mark is concerned, I am speculating that that one will eventually be broken by Alex Rodriguez by the time his 10-year deal with the Yankees ends 8 years from now.
Baseball Almanac – http://baseball-almanac.com
MLB.com – http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/history/longest_standing_records.jsp