One of the figures who played a primary role in establishing the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York was Ford C. Frick.
Frick was baseball’s third commissioner, but is most remembered as the one responsible for ordering an asterisk to be placed next to Roger Maris’ single season home run record.
In 1970, he was elected to the Hall of Fame himself, and even had an award named after him which is given annually to one of baseball’s revered broadcasters. Mets broadcasters Lindsey Nelson (1988) and Bob Murphy (1994) have both won the Ford C. Frick Award.
Anyway, in 1973 Frick published a list of ten baseball feats that he felt would never be broken. They are as follows:
- Cy Young’s pitching record of 511 games won during his lifetime career.
- Charles Radburn’s record of sixty pitching victories in a single season.
- Kid Nichols’ feat of winning thirty or more games per season for seven consecutive seasons.
- Walter Johnson’s lifetime record of 3,508 strikeouts.
- Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games.
- Lou Gehrig’s record of 13 consecutive 100+ RBI seasons.
- Ty Cobb’s record of 4,191 lifetime hits.
- Joe DiMaggio’s record of hitting safely in fifty-six consecutive games.
- Babe Ruth’s lifetime record of 2,056 bases on balls.
- Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game.
That’s quite a list, but hardly one that has stood the test of time. Lets break it down.
# 1, 2, 3 – The first three records will most likely never be shattered so Young, Radburn and Nichols can all rest at ease. However, you would think that the former commissioner would have had his facts straight before going public with his list as I found two big errors while researching. Old Hoss Radburn had 59 wins in that record setting season, not 60. Also, Nichols did have seven 30-win seasons, but they were not consecutive as he only had a woeful 26 wins in 1895.
# 4 – Eight pitchers would go on to zoom past Walter Johnson’s unbreakable strikeout record including Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, and the Hall of Fame’s newest member, Bert Blyleven. However, the new king of strikeouts notched his first of 5,714 K’s as a member of the New York Mets, Nolan Ryan.
# 5, 6 – Lou Gehrig already had one record fall and the other is on the verge of being broken too. Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played blew Gehrig’s streak right out of the water, but the RBI streak is perilously close to crashing down as well. Alex Rodriguez just tied Gehrig’s RBI streak with his 13th consecutive 100+ RBI season in 2010. Albert Pujols is also not too far behind as he completed his tenth consecutive 100+ RBI season. We’ll have to check back next season, but my money is on Alex Rodriguez and Prince Albert both getting it done.
# 7 – Did I just segue into this one with a gambling reference? Shame on me… Pete Rose may not be in the Hall of Fame, but nobody can dispute he is baseball’s all-time hit king with 4,256 base-knocks. Step aside Ty.
# 8 – Joe DiMaggio’s 56 consecutive game hitting streak continues to look very safe, heck, even Willie Keeler’s 45 game streak in the National League has lasted over 100 years. This one may truly be unbreakable.
# 9 – Oh boy, this one isn’t even close, as Barry Bond’s 2,558 career walks bested Babe Ruth’s mark by more than 500 bases on balls.
# 10 – This Don Larsen perfecto is kind of funny because it’s not really a record, but more of a remarkable and incredible achievement. It might be tough to match this gem, but Doc Halladay did recently show that it is distinctly possible.
So of the ten unbreakable records, four have already been broken, and one is well on it’s way to being broken. Frick is batting .500 and in this game that’s still Hall of Fame worthy.
Unfortunately, poor Ford Frick never lived long enough to see any of his ten unbreakable records fall as he passed away in April of 1978.
I hope you enjoyed the post and thanks for reading.
I’ll leave you all with this little tidbit as some of you fume over the Jeff Bagwell snub. Even the great Joe DiMaggio had to wait until his third year on the ballot before he was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. Imagine if they had Twitter back then?
My thanks to Baseball Almanac which was a tremendous resource in creating this post.