Ted Williams' 16 consecutive on-base streak

charlieoscar

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The streak began after Williams had missed 14 games in September of 1957 due to injury. On his last at bat at Baltimore on September 1st, he struck out. But then he led off the 8th as a pinch hitter on 9/17, beginning a streak in which he batted 1.000/1.000/3.000/4.000 and which included home runs hit in four consecutive at bats (which took five games). Overall, he went 6 for 6 ( 4HR, 2 singles), received 9 walks (one intentional) and one hit-by-pitch before his streak ended in the top of the 8th on 9/24. He struck out in the first inning on 9/25 but homered in his second at bat. The first two games were at home against the Kansas City Athletics, the next three were at Yankee Stadium, and the last one in Washington.
 

Montana Fan

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Good post charlie. I always felt like his 84 game streak of reaching base was overlooked in the annals of the game. Wasn't aware of his 16 consecutive PA streak.
 

terrynever

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Ted hit .388 in 1957 to win the batting title. Mantle, coming off his Triple Crown season, batted .365 to finish second.
 

charlieoscar

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Good post charlie. I always felt like his 84 game streak of reaching base was overlooked in the annals of the game. Wasn't aware of his 16 consecutive PA streak.
Thanks...I remember it happening. While there are a number of other players who have hit four home runs in consecutive at bats stretched out over two or more games, I think Williams took the most games to do it.
 

Tharkin

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Baseball lends itself so well to these cool little anecdotes and factoids. There's just such an enormous sample size of games/at-bats/events over such a long time that all sorts of crazy things happen, and you could never know them all. Also, the more I learn about Ted Williams the more he seems like some big collection of myth and legend that got stuffed into one character. You put it all together and it's like "was that even a real person? One person?" What an over-the-top interesting guy he was.
 

cannonball 1729

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If I remember correctly, Teddy said that his 1957 season was the one where his bat started slowing down, so a bunch of his batted balls started going toward the left field-side of the diamond. Fortunately for Williams, he'd established such a reputation as a pull hitter that teams still played him to pull,so many of those balls fell in for hits that might not have otherwise done so. Not sure if it's entirely true, but it would explain the BABIP spike that year.
 

Spelunker

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This streak has always fascinated me, since Stephen King made me aware of it as a kid in the novella The Langoliers:

“Are you a baseball fan, Albert?” “
Huh? No. I mean, sometimes I watch the Dodgers on TV, but not really.”
“Well, let me tell you what may be the most amazing statistic ever recorded in a game which thrives on statistics. In 1957, Ted Williams reached base on sixteen consecutive at-bats. This streak encompassed six baseball games. In 1941, Joe DiMaggio batted safely in fifty-six straight games, but the odds against what DiMaggio did pale next to the odds against Williams’s accomplishment, which have been put somewhere in the neighborhood of two billion to one. Baseball fans like to say DiMaggio’s streak will never be equaled. I disagree. But I’d be willing to bet that, if they’re still playing baseball a thousand years from now, Williams’s sixteen on-bases in a row will still stand.”

That said, while Uncle Stevie (or his character, at least) call it a record- and I've seen that echoed in plenty of places over the years- I believe the consecutive on-base streak is actually 17 at-bats, set by Piggy Ward in 1893, and matched by Earl Averill Jr in 1962.
 

Zedia

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I knew I had read that in a Stephen King book but couldn’t remember. But King should’ve said PAs, not ABs.

I didn’t know about Averill, but his streak includes a FC and an error, which doesn’t really seem in the spirit. I assume Ward is pre-modern era.
 

Spelunker

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I knew I had read that in a Stephen King book but couldn’t remember. But King should’ve said PAs, not ABs.

I didn’t know about Averill, but his streak includes a FC and an error, which doesn’t really seem in the spirit. I assume Ward is pre-modern era.
It took me a while of noodling before I finally remembered what book it came from.

And agreed on Averill not really counting, which would give Teddy the modern record.
 

charlieoscar

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As has been noted, Averill Jr. batting average dropped a couple of times when he reached base, unlike Williams whose OBP was 1.000. As for Piggy Ward, there were some rules in place that would facilitate his getting on base. The Base Running Rules for the National League and the American Association in 1893 Say:

Rule 43: The batsman becomes a Base Runner:
Sec. 1. Instantly after he makes a Fair Hit.
Sec. 2. Instantly after four balls have been called by the the Umpire.
Sec. 3. Instantly after three strikes have been called by the Umpire..
Sec. 4. If, while he is a Batsman, his person (excepting hands or forearm, which make it a dead ball) or clothing be hit by a ball from the Pitcher, unless--in the opinion of the Umpire--he intentionally permits himself to be hit.

Rule 45: The Base Runner shall be entitled, without being put out, to take one Base in the following cases:
Sec. 1. if, while he was a Batsman, the Umpire called four Balls.
Sec. 2. If the Umpire awards a succeeding Batsman a base on four balls, or for being hit with a pitched ball, or in case of an illegal delivery--as in Rule 43--and the Base Runner is thereby forced to vacate the base held by him.
Sec. 3. If the Umpire calls a "balk."
Sec. 4. If a ball delivered by the Pitcher pas the catcher and touch the Umpire or any fence or building within ninety feet of the Home Base.
Sec. 5. If upon a fair hit the Ball strikes the person or clothing of the Umpire on fair ground.
Sec. 6. If he be prevented from making a base by the obstruction of an adversary.
Sec. 7. If the Fielder stop or catch a batted ball with his hat or any part of his dress.

Source: reprint of Reach's Official 1893 Baseball Guide (I must admit that I'm a little confused about being awarded a base on three strikes or wearing a dress but I'll have to see if I can find an account of Ward's game).
 

NoXInNixon

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He's not awarded a base at three strikes. He becomes a runner. If the catcher cleanly catches the third strike, the batter is out just as if he put the ball in play in the air and it is caught. If not, he has to beat the throw to first just as if he put the ball in play on the ground.
 

charlieoscar

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He's not awarded a base at three strikes. He becomes a runner. If the catcher cleanly catches the third strike, the batter is out just as if he put the ball in play in the air and it is caught. If not, he has to beat the throw to first just as if he put the ball in play on the ground.
That makes sense, although the way the rule is written doesn't make it sound that way.