Jackson: When Jigger Statz went west

From Frank Jackson at The Hardball Times on September 23, 2013:

When Ichiro Suzuki got his 4,000th professional hit recently, it sent the baseball writers scurrying to the record books. In this case, the level of achievement is so elite, it makes research relatively easy. One of the bonuses of these benchmark achievements is the attention paid to old-timers who got there first. Sometimes a forgotten player is exhumed, and a history lesson ensues.

No surprise that at the 4,000-hit level, familiar names predominate. Only Ty Cobb (4,189) and Pete Rose (4,256) have passed that total in the major leagues. Adding minor league totals to major league totals, a few more familiar names appear on the list. Hank Aaron had 3,771 in the majors and 324 in the minors for a total of 4,095. Stan Musial barely made the cut with 3,630 in the majors and 371 in the minors for 4,001.

It’s a bit of a surprise to see Julio Franco, who had “just” 2,586 hits in major league baseball, on the list. Before he made the big leagues, however, he accrued 618 hits in the minors. Thanks to his rigorous conditioning program, he was able to extend his career in the Mexican and Japanese leagues and end up with a grand total of 4,229 hits.

The final name that appears on the list likely was an unfamiliar one to casual fans, but in the 1930s, Pacific Coast League fans were well acquainted with Jigger Statz—a great name for a ballplayer, by the way. As for his given name, Arnold Statz … well, with a moniker like that, one might make a crackerjack grocery clerk or shoe salesman. A good nickname makes all the difference.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/jigger-statz-goes-west/

Related link: Read the SABR biography of Jigger Statz, by Bill Nowlin

Originally published: September 25, 2013. Last Updated: September 25, 2013.