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Game 151

September 27, 1914 (Game 1) – Nap Lajoie Notches His 3000th Hit

Honus Wagner became the first player in modern baseball history to record 3,000 hits on June 9, 1914 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Some historians also recognize Cap Anson of the Chicago Colts as a member of the 3,000 hit club, but all of his hits came in the nineteenth century under significantly different rules. 

Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie’s star power helped to make the early American League a success. When he signed with the Cleveland club in 1902, his former team disputed the validity of the contract. As a result, Lajoie did not travel to Pennsylvania for two years (missing all away games against the Athletics). In 1902, his .378 average led the American League. To start the 1903 season, local media held a poll to rename the team that had been the Blues and the Bronchos in its first two campaigns. “Naps” was the runaway favorite. 

1902 was the first of 10 years LaJoie would hit above .300 for Cleveland. He led the league in hits in 1904 (208 hits), 1906 (214), and 1910 (227 hits). All of those hits piled up into quite a career.

The Yankees were visiting League Park on the second-to-last weekend of the baseball year. In Game 1, Guy Morton and his abysmal 1 and 13 win-loss record was on the mound for Cleveland. He was facing off with Marty McHale.

The play-by-play account of this game has been lost to history, but we know that one of Cleveland’s seven hits on the day was Lajoie’s 3000th. The Cleveland Press reported that, “Lajoie, of Cleveland, made his three-thousandth big league hit in the first game. It being a two-base hit, the ball being taken out of play and presented to Lajoie as soon as he reached second.”

The Cleveland club went on to win 5-3. However, they would finish the season with only 51 wins–dead last in the American League. 

Twenty-nine players have joined the 3,000 hit club since Wagner and Lajoie reached the milestone in 1914. However, none have been so dominant or so beloved that the team was re-named in their honor. Lajoie finished his career with 3,243 hits, 2,052 of those came with the Naps. He remains the all-time franchise hits leader, 87 ahead of Tris Speaker. Modern, long-tenured stars like Omar Vizquel and Kenny Lofton are more than 400 hits behind Lajoie. The Indians active hits leader is Carlos Santana 1,143.

Retrosheet Box Score


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Game 49

May 29, 2001 – Jim Thome Passes Belle as Indians All-time Home Run Leader

In 1990, minor-league hitting coach Charlie Manuel would instruct a young Jim Thome to relax and extend his bat toward center field at the beginning of each at bat. That pose is now immortalized as a statue in the plaza beyond center field in downtown Cleveland.

After breaking into the big-leagues full-time in 1994, Jim Thome became a prolific slugger who was sometimes overshadowed on team’s full of power hitters with big personalities.

After Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez had signed elsewhere as free agents, Thome continued on with the Tribe through the 2002 season, bringing continuity and continued production year upon year.  

In the middle of a weekday series with Detroit, Thome was hitting 5th in the lineup when Dave Burba matched up with the Tiger’s Victor Santos at Comerica Park.

Santos struck out Jacob Cruz and Omar Vizquel to start the game. Robbie Alomar tripled, and Santos walked Juan Gonzalez on five pitches. Thome kicked off the scoring with a line drive RBI double down the right field foul line.

The Tigers manufactured two runs off Burba in the bottom of the third, taking the early lead.

Leading off in the top of the fourth, Thome sent an opposite-field home run over the wall in left-center. This was his 243rd career home run, all with the Indians. This put him over Albert Belle as the all-time franchise home run leader.

There was plenty of offense in the game, with several lead changes. Robbie Alomar’s two-run home run off Heath Murray in the top of the 7th would end up being the winning run. The Tribe went on to a 6-4 win on the day.

The next year, Thome would break the single-season home-run mark of 50 also set by Belle in 1995 when he smacked 52 before departing for Philadelphia as a free agent in the off season.

Baseball Reference Box Score

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