Tip your Cap to history

This post is a couple days late, but on July 16, 1897 (yes, 1897!), Cap Anson is credited as having collected his 3,000th hit as a baseball player.  This number is not without some controversy.  It seems that walks were counted as hits in some early days of baseball.  Score keeping was also sloppy back then.  Regardless, Cap Anson is generally credited as the founding member of the 3,000 hit club.

The fact that a baseball milestone that was revered in 1897 is still considered to be a landmark today is amazing.  Other baseball fundamental stats like batting average, career wins, and ERA can be directly compared across the various decades of baseball.  This is remarkable, and it is a strength of baseball that the product has been maintained so consistently over time.

This is turning into a pro baseball (i.e., anti basketball and football) rant.  That’s not completely fair.  The NFL didn’t even exist until the 1920s, and even then the teams sounded a little suspect (Pottsville Maroons?!?).  The origins of the NBA can be traced back to the 1940s.  Again, the early history seems shaky (Waterville Hawks).  Although the NFL and NBA are considerably newer leagues, it is virtually meaningless to compare player stats from the early days of football and basketball.

Some would say that the NFL and NBA have evolved (a good thing), and that’s why stats change.  MLB, on the other hand, has not evolved and remained stagnant.  Sure, you can compare stats, but the cost is a dying game that is past its prime.

There’s no real right and wrong here.  I just think it’s cool that 3,000 hits was recognized as an incredible feat in 1897, and it continues to be a career mark in 2012.  How many other sports have that kind of consistency over that much time?  None.



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