Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 1970'S" #20: RON HUNT GETS PLUNKED. AGAIN AND AGAIN AND.....

Growing up a Yankee fan in the mid-1980's, Ron Hunt's name started popping up a lot because of slugger Don Baylor, who was getting hit by pitches in bunches at the time.
As Baylor was setting the Yankee record for getting hit by a pitch, Yankee announcers couldn't help themselves by citing that back in the early 1970's, Ron Hunt was a baseball magnet, getting plunked a record 50 times in 1971!
Not really one of those "highlights" from the 1970's people think about. But it WAS something I used to marvel at when hit with that statistic.
So I went ahead and designed a 1972 highlight card of Ron Hunt's record breaking (pun intended) run0in's with a baseball while batting.
Take a look:


As far as post 1900 baseball goes, he still hold this record, with Don Baylor coming closest with 37 hit by pitches in 1986.
Technically Hugh Jennings is credited with 51 hit by pitches waaay back in 1896.
But for our purposes, Hunt is still the man.
Ron Hunt had a decent 12-year career that started in 1963 with the New York Mets.
He actually finished in second place for the National League Rookie of the Year award behind a scrappy Cincinnati second baseman, Pete Rose.
The following year he was named to the all-star team, batting over .300 for the cellar-dwelling Mets team.
By the time he hung up the cleats after the 1974 season, he collected over 1400 hits to the tune of a .273 batting average, which isn't bad at all when you consider the era he played in.
He played for five teams, all in the N.L., the Mets, Dodgers, Giants, Expos and Cardinals, and led the league in hit-by-pitches seven years in a row: from 1968 through his last season in '74.
One of those quirky highlights I loved to be reminded of as a kid growing up.

12 comments:

  1. I always contended that Ron Hunt's hit-by-pitch "record" was bogus, and not something to be celebrated. This guy led the NL in being hit EVERY season from 1968 to 1974. What a coincidence!

    Also, his single-season high mark of 50 in 1971 is double his own season high before or after that. If any season were to be an anomaly, you would think it would be 1969, with 20 otherwise minor-league pitchers in the major leagues.

    I submit that this guy found a way to cheat the rules (about making an attempt to get out of the way), and for some reason the umpires let him get away with it. His "record" should be considered in the same category as the home run totals of the steroid-era players, including Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Brady Anderson, etc.

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    1. Forgot to mention that in the 1971 season (supposedly filled with wild pitchers), the next-highest HBP total in the NL after Hunt's 50 was Rusty Staub, with 9.

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    2. I think it was pretty much a given that Hunt was indeed flouting the rules, even if he never admitted it.
      But considering that he did this without the body-armor guys wear today, it was ballsy to say the least!
      I wouldn't say it was cheating, but kind of like when a catcher catches a "ball" and quickly moves him glove into the strike zone to get the called strike. Just a tactic to get on base that was left-of-center.
      As for the "steroid-era", we can go on and on about that for eons. A blog all unto itself!

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    3. You say Hunt was "ballsy". I'm betting that the opposing players back in that day had another phrase to describe Hunt, after the 4th or 5th time he pulled that stunt.

      Still, as you and others have said, if the ump is not going to prevent him from flouting the rule, then so be it. I just don't think it should be viewed as an "achievement".

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    4. Sorry, wasn't meant to be a tirade. Does read like that and I apologize. Was actually really surprised to see someone wound up about the Hunt card. Genuinely interested by your view of it.
      Not my intention here at all to go on tirades. Please feel free to express any views regardless of my opinion.

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    5. I don't think I've ever laughed this hard seeing a fake baseball card.

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  2. Every batter walks to the plate with the intent to do something that will lead to runs for his team. If getting on base an extra 50 times by any means should be discounted I don't understand the game. Was he doing anything that any other player in the majors could have done? Absolutely. Was he breaking any rules? Not really. He was doing it right in front of the umpires, the other team, and every fan in the ballpark. If Bonds or McGwire had shot up right at home plate, they would have never gotten away with it.

    From all accounts Hunt was a prickly personality - at best. But he found a way to help his team (and probably extend his career quite a bit). I say good for him.

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  3. Excellent! Have to admit I am a hot head. ;)
    Thanks!

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  4. Excellent card. I'm a Hunt fan from his Met days and all he did was crowd the plate (almost hung over it) and didn't budge on inside pitches. If taking one (or 50) for the team is cheating, then I'm a monkeys uncle (if I am I hope my nephew does not read this ).

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