In a stats-driven game like baseball, there are some particular numbers that everyone pays attention to. For a single season, 60 (and later 61) home runs was the magic number, and probably still is, although the juicers (McGwire, et al.) exceeded that number several times. There’s also 20 wins for pitchers, 200 hits for batters, and so on.
But in my view, career numbers are much more significant, because they demonstrate achievement sustained over many years. We all know Derek Jeter will be a Hall of Famer someday, but his 3,000th career hit this season seemed to certify this fact. 3,000 hits, like 500 home runs, is a number that makes everyone sit up and take notice.
I’ve not been so fortunate as to see anyone’s 3000th hit in person, and I don’t expect that I ever will be, either. But at tonight’s White Sox-Indians game, I was lucky enough to see Juan Pierre get his 2,000th career hit. The game stopped for a minute or two as his feat was announced, and he received a sustained ovation from everyone in attendance. At 34 years of age, he’ll need to play another 6 or 7 seasons to have a shot at 3,000 hits. We’ll see if he makes it that far. As a onetime Cub, I’ll certainly root for him to get there.
I cannot imagine how difficult is must be to even set foot on a major league field, to say nothing of connecting for a hit–of any description–off of a major league pitcher. I’m sure it’s a wonderful feeling to get to the majors in the first place, but to then play in enough games, and get enough at-bats where 2,000 hits are even possible in the first place, must be beyond all comprehension. In all of major league history, only 268 players have achieved what Juan Pierre did. And he’s a long way from being finished, too.
Congratulations to Mr. Pierre for having a stellar career, and for reaching an impressive career milestone on a misty night in Chicago that I’ll always get to say I was a part of.
UPDATE: I sent my ticket stub from that night’s game to Mr. Pierre in care of the White Sox, along with a copy of this post and a humble request that he sign the ticket stub as a souvenir of the game. It came in today’s mail, signed as requested. A big thank you is certainly in order!