Monday, December 29, 2014

Record-Setting Streaks (Part VII--Walt Dropo)

Walt Dropo's nickname "Moose" was derived from his hometown of Moosup, Connecticut. The moniker appropriately described his physical stature as well. Standing six-foot-five and weighing 220 pounds, the brawny first baseman burst upon the scene in 1950, leading the American league with 144 RBIs and 326 total bases. He was the first Red Sox player to capture Rookie of the Year honors, beating out Yankee great Whitey Ford by a wide margin. Though Dropo never came close to matching his rookie numbers at any other point during his career, he established a remarkable record that still stands during the 1952 slate. Traded to the Tigers in early-June of that year, Dropo made the Red Sox regret their decision when he strung together 12 consecutive hits over a two-day span. The streak began on July 14 at Yankee Stadium. Dropo went 5-for-5 (all singles) off of two different Yankee hurlers. The following day, he went 4-for-4 in the opening game of a doubleheader at Washington. In the nightcap, he established an all time record when he gathered a triple, double and single in his first three at-bats. After popping out to catcher Mickey Grasso in the seventh inning, he delivered a 2-run single in the top of the ninth. Dropo finished the '52 campaign with a .276 batting average and 97 RBIs--the second highest total of his career. In all, he spent thirteen seasons in the majors, averaging 12 homers and 54 ribbies per year.

Dropo was not the only major league player to collect 12 consecutive hits. In 1938, Red Sox third baseman Pinky Higgins broke a long-standing record of 10 straight safeties set by Jake Gettman in 1897 and tied by Ed Konetchy in 1919. Higgins needed 14 plate appearances to gather 12 hits (he walked twice during the skein). In recent times, two major leaguers have come moderately close to matching the all time mark shared by Dropo and Higgins. In 1992, Bip Roberts of the Reds hit safely in ten straight at-bats. In 2006, Matt Diaz of the Braves turned the same trick. Five years later, second baseman Josh Magee of the Greenville Astros assembled a streak of 12 consecutive hits. Since the Appalachian League is several levels below the majors, Magee's accomplishment went largely unnoticed.  

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