The Original Mr. 4000

Mario Impemba
Mario Impemba March 9, 2018

It’s an exclusive club. One that includes only two players.

To become a member of this exclusive fraternity, plenty of skill is certainly required. Beyond that, the good fortune to stay healthy is also a must.

Only two players in the history of the game have reached the 4000 hit plateau. Collecting 3000 hits makes you Hall of Fame worthy. Reaching 4000 puts you in another stratosphere.

The original member of the club was Tigers great Ty Cobb.

Cobb reached the 4,000 hit plateau in Detroit at Navin Field on July 18, 1927.

There was one oddity in the game that day. Cobb reached the milestone wearing a different uniform. Cobb spent 22 seasons as a member of the Tigers before resigning his post as player-manager for the club following the 1926 season. As a Tiger, he collected 3900 hits and established himself as one of the game’s all-time greats.

No longer a Tiger, the Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns both made offers to the Georgia Peach in February of 1927. Cobb settled on a contract with the A’s for a reported $60,000.

1927 Detroit Free Press article on Ty Cobb’s 4000th hit.

On July 18th of that season, Cobb ironically recorded hit number 4000 in Detroit, wearing a visiting uniform. His double off Sam Gibson was hardly celebrated. The following day, Detroit Free Press writer Harry Bullion called Cobb’s 4000th hit, a “fluke” double.

It was written that day by Bullion that Cobb’s hit totals would never be surpassed.

Then Pete Rose showed up 35 years later.

Rose amassed 4,256 hits to become the all-time hit king.

For as popular as Cobb was in his playing days in Detroit, toward the end of his Tigers career, the shine began to fade. He was named player-manager of the club in 1921 and in the six years he held the reins, the Tigers never won more than 86 games in a season..

Related:  The Day Cobb Faced Edison

It seemed unlikely that Cobb would ever leave Detroit, let alone sign with his fiercest rival, the A’s. But he did just that.

Earlier in his career, Cobb spiked Athletics third baseman Frank Baker. He suddenly became a villain in Philadelphia. He received death threats in Philly and often jousted verbally with iconic A’s manager Connie Mack.

Now, in the twilight of his career he had, against all odds, joined forces with Mack to play out the final days of his career.

In two seasons with the Athletics, Cobb would hit .343, bringing his final lifetime average to .366.

Rose meanwhile is the all-time hits leader in major league baseball history with 4,256 hits, but remains ineligible for the Hall off Fame because of the lifetime ban he agreed to in 1989.

Rose placed bets on the Reds while he managed the club. His gambling involvement led to his ban.

In the history of major league baseball, nearly 19,000 players have played in the big leagues.

Only two have reached 4,000 hits. Cobb and Rose.

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