Player endurance records
This article was published in the 1972 Baseball Research Journal.
One measure of player endurance is consecutive games played. Another measure, which could be considered a superior one, is highest percent of scheduled games played in ten consecutive years. Only five of the highest rated players in the percent calculation compiled long consecutive game streaks.
Lou Gehrig is unquestionably the highest ranking player using either yardstick. He did not miss a game for 13 years (1926-38) and played 2130 consecutive games. Two other players with long streaks did not rank in the percent table. Joe Sewell missed only two games from 1921 to 1929, but missed 45 in 1930, finishing at 96.9 percent. Everett Scott played eight years (1917-24) without missing a contest, but over ten years he dropped to 94.1 percent. Billy Williams, the only other player with at least 1000 consecutive games, is continuing his fine record and ranks second on the percent listing.
Three other players with long streaks who rank in the percent tables are Stan Musial (895), Nelson Fox (798), and Richie Ashburn (730). But Eddie Yost and Gus Suhr, with streaks of more than 800 games, are not included. Neither is Charlie Gehringer who had two streaks of more than 500 games in one ten-year period, but in between missed 53 games in 1931. On the other hand, Willie Mays, who never played all his games in any one season, is high up on the percent list.
A good distribution of players from all periods is indicated. It should be noted that some 19th century players benefited from the fact that fewer games were scheduled in approximately the same number of days in those years.
The Chicago National League team of the 1880's had the most consistent lineup in history. Cap Anson at first, Nate Pfeffer at second, and Ed Williamson at third and short are all among the top percent players. Tom Burns, who switched with Williamson, played 94.9 percent from 1881 to 1890. King Kelly, who played right field and sometimes caught, played 96.1 percent from 1878 to 1887, with 1880 to 1886 for Chicago. George Gore, the centerfielder, Abner Dalrymple, the leftfielder, and Frank Flint, the catcher, also had fine records. Five pennants were won during those years.
A more modern Cub combination, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, had the best record of any two players with, one club over the same period, averaging 98.8 percent for 1961 to 1970. In 1618 games, Williams missed 14 end Santo 23, a tremendous record of consistency over a long schedule.
Extending the period to 15 years finds only six players over 95 percent. They are Cap Anson (1878-92), Roger Connor (1880-94), Melvin Ott (1929-43). Nelson Fox (1950-64), Willie Nays (1954-68), and Henry Aaron (1955-69). Two others had exceptionally busy schedules over 15 years, but had their records disrupted by military service -- Eddie Collins in World War I and Stan Musial in World War II.
Those 20 players who had the highest percentage of games played over a ten-year-period (through 1971) are listed below:
|Player||Years||Games Played||Games Missed||Percent Played||Longest Streak|
|Geo. Van Haltren||1891-1900||1389||22||98.4|
|George J. Burns||1914-1923||1487||25||98.3||459|
|Hugh Duffy||1889 -1898||1350||30||97.7|
Iron man of the majors since Billy Williams ended his string of 1117 games on September 2, 1970, is Sandy Alomar of the Angels. His streak now stands at 458 games.
This article originally appeared in the 1972 "Baseball Research Journal."