From Lynn Zinser at The New York Times on August 18, with quotes from SABR member Joe Dittmar:
Baseball is dependent on its numbers and has legions fascinated with its statistics, but it turns out some of those numbers were written in pencil. One hundred-plus years ago.
Such was the case with Bill Bergen’s epic hitless streak in 1909. The researcher who dug up the streak, Joe Dittmar, the vice chairman of the records committee for the Society for American Baseball Research for 18 years, originally counted Bergen’s string of offensive ineptitude as no hits in 46 consecutive at-bats.
That number was reported as the record in The New York Times and many other news media outlets as Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell recently bore down on Bergen with a hitless streak that reached 0 for 45.
But the Elias Sports Bureau weighed in, saying that Bergen’s streak had reached 0 for 45, but not 0 for 46, which meant that Counsell had already tied the mark and now shared it with Bergen and Dave Campbell, a former infielder and current baseball broadcaster who reached that peak of futility while playing for three teams in 1973.
In a humorous twist, not only did Campbell’s streak get no notice when it happened, but Campbell also said he had no idea how long his streak was, and he didn’t know it was any sort of record until the recent debate over Bergen and Counsell.
Originally published: August 18, 2011. Last Updated: August 18, 2011.