Last night during the Red Sox-Rays game, Wander Franco tied a record for consecutive games getting on base:
Wander Franco extends his on-base streak to 36 games with a triple, tying Mickey Mantle for the most consecutive games reaching base safely for a player age 20 or younger. pic.twitter.com/bAcNzvgexY
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 6, 2021
Setting aside the relative specificity of the record, it got me thinking about getting on base. We know about Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, and fewer may know about Ted Williams’ 84 consecutive games reaching base, but how many know the record for consecutive plate appearances reaching base?
Two players hold the record for consecutive plate appearances reaching base, with 17. Piggy Ward and Earl Averill Jr.are the joint record holders. Interestingly, both reached their milestone in June. Despite neither being in the Hall of Fame, both players have stories worth mentioning. Let me tell you their stories.
Frank “Piggy” Ward was the first to achieve the streak in his 1893 season. Before this, he had a cup of coffee in the majors as a 16 year old in 1883 for one game and again in 1889, playing 5 games. He again played relatively little in his 3rd return to the bigs in 1891 with just 6 games that season before finally becoming more of a regular, with 56 games in 1892, 53 in 1893, and 98 in 1894 before moving on to various teams in the minor leagues until 1906.
While there’s less information on Piggy’s career as a whole, he has some very interesting circumstances. This surrounds his on base streak in 1893. His streak started on June 16th while playing for the Baltimore Orioles. He was traded and finish the streak with the Cincinnati Reds. In his first game with the Reds on the 18th, Ward reached base 8 times in a 9-inning game, which also stands as a record. Comprising the eight are two hits, five walks, and a hit by pitch. While he wouldn’t play much longer in the majors, he stands in two places the record books thanks to this three game stretch.
Earl Averill Jr.
Earl Averill Jr., son of Hall of Famer Earl Averill, signed with his father’s former team in the Cleveland Indians after starring for two years at the University of Oregon, becoming the school’s first All-American. After three years in the minor leagues, he went to the majors; playing 42 games with the 1956 Indians, batting .237 with 3 home runs. Modern teams would have loved him, as he also has a .343 OBP and .398 SLG for a .740 OPS, good for a 94 OPS+ that year. However, with the prioritizing of batting average during this time, Averill Jr. spent 1957 and most of 1958 with the San Diego Padres, who were a minor league team at the time. His play for the Padres earned him PCL MVP in 1958.
However, this wasn’t enough for the Indians to keep the now 27 year old. He was traded to the Cubs before the 1959 season. He was then traded again the next season to the White Sox, playing just 10 games for them. After that, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 1960 Expansion Draft. After a great first year with the club where he hit .266 with 21 home runs, he seemed set to finally reach his potential with an everyday role. There was confirmation in June of the next year. As from the 3rd to the 10th he reached his milestone, reaching base for 17 consecutive plate appearances before losing it in the second game of a doubleheader on the 10th. Despite this, he hit just .219 on the year. He was traded to the Phillies the following year. He played in 47 games with them before spending the rest of his playing career in the minor leagues. Despite some strong play at times, he failed to live up to his full potential.
While both of these players are recognizable by only a handful of people, their record had withstood the tests of time. In recent times, the closest to do it was Freddie Freeman. He reached base 14 times in a row from April 16-19th prior to recording a ground out. Due to the rise of so many “three true outcomes” hitters, it’s unlikely we’ll see this streak repeated for a while. But maybe someday Freeman’s son Charlie will make it 18 times on base in a row!
Image Source: Baseball Reference
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