Dittmar: Bergen’s Hitless Streak Was 45, Not 46

AUGUST 11, 2011 — We noted last week at SABR.org that Bill Bergen held the major league record for consecutive hitless at-bats with 46 for the Brooklyn Superbas in 1909, contradicting information reported by the Elias Sports Bureau, Major League Baseball’s Official Statistician. Elias maintained that Bergen’s streak was 45, a mark that was tied by Milwaukee Brewers infielder Craig Counsell last week.

That note was based on research by SABR member Joe Dittmar which first appeared in the April 1997 edition of the Baseball Records Research Committee newsletter.

After a story on Bergen appeared in The New York Times on August 3, Dittmar went back to confirm his original research — and discovered that Bergen’s streak was actually 45. Dittmar posted this note on SABR-L, SABR’s members-only e-mail listserv, on Tuesday:

It’s been more than 14 years since I did my original research on the Bergen hit-less streak, so I went back to my original files and photo copies of his day-by-day records. There was one date in particular, July 14, where the Bergen AB entry was fuzzy. Upon review it looked to be either a 2 or a 3. At the time of my original research I did not reference any play-by-play materials and interpreted that AB entry as 3. Now, upon closer scrutiny, and particularly with confirmation from the Retrosheet data, it’s pretty certain Bergen had 2 ABs on that date.

Dave Smith was gracious enough to recently provide me with all the PBP data that Retrosheet has available for the Bergen streak. Although there are some gaps in that data, it seems to confirm the DBD records, including Bergen‘s 2 ABs on July 14, not 3 as it first appeared to me.

Therefore, it now appears that Counsell tied the hit-less streak by a non-pitcher at 45 first set by Bill Bergen in 1909.

Members of SABR’s Baseball Records committee are constantly pursuing a greater degree of accuracy in baseball’s historical record. For more information, visit the committee page here.

UPDATE: On September 28, 2011, Eugenio Velez of the Los Angeles Dodgers surpassed them all by going hitless in 46 consecutive at-bats, setting a new major-league record for a non-pitcher. Click here to read the full story at ESPN.com.

Originally published: August 11, 2011. Last Updated: August 11, 2011.