Baseball History: Hank Aaron and Willie Mays

hank aaron 1970Two of baseball’s all-time greats joined an exclusive group just two months apart from each other during the 1970 season.

Hank Aaron and Willie Mays both became members of the 3,000-hit club as the ninth and 10th players on the list.

Aaron hit a single off Cincinnati Reds rookie Wayne Simpson in the second game of a doubleheader as the Atlanta Braves lost 7-6 at Crosley Field on May 17, 1970.

In his career, Aaron finished with 3,771 hits and is currently third on the all-time list behind Cincinnati’s Pete Rose (4,256) and Detroit’s Ty Cobb (4,189).

Mays singled off Montreal’s Mike Wegener for his milestone hit as the San Francisco Giants won 10-1 over the Expos at Candlestick Park on July 18.

willie mays 1970Now 11th on the all-time hit list, Mays produced 3,283 hits. Mays was the first player to hit over 600 homers and have 3,000 hits. Aaron would later join him and then become the only player to hit over 700 long balls and 3,000 hits.

One of the unique things about the Aaron-Mays connection in the same season is that they are not alone in achieving 3,000 hits in the same year. It’s actually happened five other times in baseball history.

Here is the list of players who joined the 28-member 3,000-hit club in the same season:

1914 — Honus Wagner (3,430) and Nap Lajoie (3,252)

1925 — Tris Speaker (3.514) and Eddie Collins (3,314)

1970 — Hank Aaron (3,771) and Willie Mays (3,283)

1979 — Lou Brock (3,023) and Carl Yastrzemski (3,419)

1992 — Robin Yount (3,142) and George Brett (3,154)

1999 — Tony Gwynn (3,141) and Wade Boggs (3,010)

A note about Gwynn and Boggs: Gwynn picked up his hit on Aug. 6, 1999, while Boggs accomplished the feat one day later.

The Pitchers: Simpson ended 1970 with a 14-3 record, but was later injured and didn’t finish the season as the Reds won the National League pennant. Wegener was only in the major leagues in 1969 and 1970. He was 3-6 in 1970 and 8-20 in his career.

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