Renewed interest in hit by pitch records
This article was published in the 1972 Baseball Research Journal.
Editor's note: All statistics presented below were believed to be correct and up-to-date at the time.
Batters hit by pitched balls has been an interesting baseball statistic, but not a very important one -- at least not until this year. Ron Hunt of the Montreal Expos was hit a record 50 times in 1971, and this resulted in renewed interest in this unusual batting category. Hugh Jennings of the old Baltimore Orioles was reportedly hit by pitches 49 times in 1896, which was the old time mark. This type of record was not included among the official averages until 1920, and trying to ascertain the actual figures prior to that time is a tedious process. Compiling complete and accurate figures prior to 1909 is virtually impossible.
- Related link: Click here to view single-season and career batter HBP leaders at Baseball-Reference.com
It is understood, however, that no player approached Jennings' high total at any time in this century until Hunt in 1971. In fact, very few players took the chance of being hit half that many times. Nevertheless, there were several players who had a particular knack for getting hit. Included was Louis Evans, who played with the Cardinals 1909-1913. He was hit the most times in three of those years, including 31 times in 1911. This was the modern record until Hunt surpassed it this past year. Arthur Fletcher of the Giants was another to finish high in the HBP column, leading his league five times.
In the 1930s and 1940s, when it was much easier to hit than get hit, Frank Crosetti of the Yanks led seven times. In the 1950a Minnie Minoso led ten times. While with the White Sox, Minoso's unusual talents rubbed off on teammates Nellie Fox and Sherm Lollar, who racked up some substantial HBP totals. Probably the best hitter among those frequently hit is Frank Robinson of the Reds and Orioles, who has led in both leagues. A high-priced player, he has continued to crowd the plate even in his later years.
On a career basis, Minoso has been hit 192 times to lead all players in this century. Hunt, however, is moving up rapidly with 177, followed by Frank Robinson with 176. Other players who have been hit more than 100 times since 1909 include: Arthur Fletcher 141, Nellie Fox 141, Sherm Lollar 115, Buck Herzog 114, Frank Crosetti 114, George H. Burns 111, and Jimmy Dykes 109.