The Triple Double
by Adam J. Ulrey
Power and Speed make up Unusual Triple Crown
One of the most exciting plays in baseball is watching someone run
the bases for a triple after lacing one into the gap or down the line.
In today's game, however, the triple has almost vanished in favor
of the long ball. Teams seem to build their teams for three-run homers
instead of the combination of speed and power. I wanted to look at
a rare feat that has only been accomplished by 292 players in the
history of this game and that is double figures in doubles, triples
and home runs in the same season. This has become very rare since
1990, but in the last two years there are a few players who are
this particular Triple Crown back. Since 1901 there have been 9,118
opening day starters, including the years they added the DH, and only
292 players have achieved the "triple double." That is only 3% of
the eligible players. This particular Triple Crown has been done 530
times since 1901. The following table will show how many times this
has been done in each decade:
As you can see from the table this feat was more prevalent in the
'20s and '30s when teams were built for speed and the parks were much
bigger than today's band boxes. The ball of today is wrapped
than in the early days of baseball. Today with smaller parks and
bigger and stronger players the game has changed into a power game.
The last really good team that relied on speed was the St. Louis
Cardinals of the early '80s, who took advantage of artificial
turf. The Yankees of the past six years were built on pitching and
defense, but still had anywhere from as many as 6 to 8 players every
year with more than 10 homers. This particular triple crown was only
done 19 times in the '90s, but already in the first two years of the
21st century this has been done 10 times.
|1901-1909 || 14|
1910-1919 || 32|
There were a ton of interesting numbers that came out of this study.
Such as who has done it the most? I would think of somebody like Willie
Mays or Roberto Clemente. In the early years I would have thought
it would be Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins or even Frank "Home Run"
Baker. It was actually the great Lou Gehrig who achieved this feat
9 times in his career. In 1927 in fact he had 117 extra base hits,
the second most to Babe Ruth's 119 in 1921. The Babe did it 4 times
in his career, but it's some of the players that did it 8 times that
caught my eye. It's no surprise that Joe DiMaggio was one of them,
but he also had the best ratio, having done it 8 in just 13 years.
In the 1930's there were three players who did it 8 times. Jim
of the Cardinals, Earl Averill of the Indians and Goose Goslin of
the Senators and Cardinals. Goslin did most of his damage in the late
20's. Averill, Goslin and Gehrig also accomplished it the most
years at 7 each. Stan "The Man" Musial also is part of the group that
was able to achieve this 8 times in his career. The late Roberto
did it 7 times for the Pirates, along with Joe Medwick of the Cardinals
and the Dodgers. The following players did it 6 times and this is
a great group of players: Enos Slaughter (Cardinals), Al Simmons (Phil.
Athletics), Babe Herman (Brooklyn Dodgers) and one of the great Detroit
Tigers of all time, Harry Heilmann. There were four players who
it five times, with Willie Mays of the Giants leading the way followed
by Vada Pinson of the Reds, Gus Suhr of the Pirates and Rogers Hornsby.
As you can tell from the table there was a little bit of resurgence
during the '60s. This was in part due to five players. Clemente did
it 6 times, followed by Pinson's 5 and Dick Allen, Johnny Callison and
Lou Brock all achieved this 4 times. So out of the 60 times that this
was done in the '60s these five did it 23 times. In the following two
decades, the '70s and '80s, it was only done 65 times. Home run king
Hammerin' Hank Aaron had
some wheels earlier in his career and was able to achieve this feat
3 times himself.
Joe DiMaggio is the only player to have accomplished this in three
different decades, the '30s, '40s and the '50s. Bruce Campbell is
the only player to have done it for three different teams: the St.
Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers. There were
five players who have done this by getting at least 20 doubles, triples
and homers, which is truly special. Frank "Wildfire" Shulte of the
1911Cubs, Jim Bottomley in 1928 for the Cardinals, Jeff Heath of the
1941 Indians, Willie Mays for the Giants in 1957 and the most recent,
the Royals' George Brett in 1979. The 1930 Dodgers were the only team
with four players to do it in the same year. These players were Del
Bissonette, Babe Herman, Johnny Frederick and Glen Wright. On eleven
different occasions there have been three teammates on the same team
who achieved this feat.
Some of the players who achieved the "Extra Base Triple Crown" might
surprise you. One of them was the big first basemen of the Tigers,
Hank Greenberg. Not only did he do it once, he actually did it twice.
In 1935 he had 46-16-36 and in 1937 49-14-40; over 100 extra base
hits each year. I could see if he just barely got 10 or 11 triples,
but he went out in '35 and hit 16 triples. Considering how big he
was those numbers are astonishing. The late Lyman Bostock, who was
murdered at the age of 28, accomplished this the year before he died.
Harold Baines, who many people might not realize had very good speed
before all the knee injuries turned him into a DH, accomplished it
once. Two big strong third basemen each achieved it once. One's a
Hall of Famer and the other should be. Mike Schmidt of the 500-homer
club did it in 1977 and in 1964 the Cubs' Ron Santo hit 13 triples
to join this elite fraternity. One of the slowest players I can ever
remember, Keith Hernandez, did it back in 1979 with the St. Louis
Cardinals by getting both 11 triples and homers.
Then there were some players whose names you may not have heard of
that achieved this feat. Gino Cimoli of the 1962 Kansas City Athletics,
Lou Clinton of the '62 Red Sox; Adam Comorosky of the 1930 Pirates;
Hoblitzel of the 1911 Reds; Darrell Porter, a catcher with the 1979
Royals; and Moose Solters of the 1937 Indians. I love to watch extra
base hits, but especially enjoy those players who combine both power
What do you think of this article?
Leave feedback on our
Hi, I'm Adam J. Ulrey, I am co-host of the number #1
Sportstalk show in Eugene, Oregon on 1120 KPNW. I do a
lot of color analysis for High School football games,
Hockey games and some baseball. I have been married
for 15 years to a beautiful lady named Jhody and have
one son name Camran who just made his first Babe
Ruth team to make Dad proud. I also have a little
girl who barks a lot and we call her Montana, a
beautiful Lab and Pit Bull mix. I root hard for the
Dodgers and Indians. I hate the DH, Artificial Turf
and players who don't hustle.
Read some of Adam's writing:
The Hidden Stars of Baseball
The Quiet Assassin--Rafael Palmeiro
Lou Piniella, My Kind of Manager
Adam Looks at the 2001 Season
A Look at the Strike Zone