With that in mind, I thought I would take this Tuesday to share with you all who I view are the Top 10 Strangest Milestone Teams in baseball history. For this, I only used the four major stat categories that contain select groups: Wins, Strikeouts, Home Runs, and Hits. Baseball is famous for numbers upon numbers that have been able to rank generations of talent, and 3,000 strikeouts/hits, 300 wins, and 500 home runs are monumental accomplishments that only a select group of players can say they're members of.
Top 10 Strangest Milestones
Honorable Mentions -
Gaylord Perry's 3000th Strikeout with the Seattle Mariners
Don Sutton's 300th Win with the California Angels
Eddie Murray's 3000th Hit with the Cleveland Indians
10 - Dave Winfield's 3,000th Hit with the Minnesota Twins
Dave Winfield kicks off this week's Top 10 list with his 3,000th hit that took place on September 16th, 1993 against fellow Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. But the thing about Winfield's great career that was odd when this moment occurred was the fact that he was not in a Padres or Yankees uniform at this time. He played his first 16 and a half seasons between those two teams until his involvement in a controversy involving George Steinbrenner's temporary ban from baseball caused the Yankees to trade him to the California Angels midseason.
9 - Phil Niekro's 300th Win and 3,000th Strikeout with the New York Yankees
Niekro was 45 years young when he first arrived in pinstripes, aging similarly to a player you will later see on this list who was a Yankee past their prime. However, he was not over the hill in his first season in the Big Apple, as he won 16 games and made his final All Star team. He threw a complete game shutout on October 6th of 1985 for his 300th career victory, to go along with his 3,000th strikeout he recorded the July prior. Not many remember "Knucksie" for his appearances with any team that wasn't the Braves, but he collected his largest achievements with the Yankees.
8 - Don Sutton's 3,000th Strikeout with the Milwaukee Brewers
Don Sutton was another player from last week's list, and also came close to making this list for collecting his 300th win with the California Angels. He played fifteen seasons with the Dodgers before releasing him following the 1980 season. Sutton won 230 games in Los Angeles before leaving, and went on to play with Houston in 1981, Milwaukee between 1982 and 1984, Oakland in 1985, and the California Angels between 1985 and 1987. In this time, he struck out his 3,000th batter in Milwaukee on June 24th, 1983. Despite his multiple teams, he is mostly regarded for his time with the Dodgers, which is why he makes an appearance on this list alongside Niekro.
7 - Frank Thomas' 500th Home Run with the Toronto Blue Jays
"The Big Hurt" was known for hurting his opponents, but he himself was hurt by his most recognizable club, the Chicago White Sox; following their World Series victory in 2005. Thomas was injured throughout the postseason that year, and did not get to play in the World Series, and seeing how the team could get through the playoffs without his aging bat in the lineup, GM Kenny Williams released him shortly after. He said he was never made aware of his release, which certainly was not fair to a player who had given his heart and soul to the organization for 16 years. He won two MVP awards with the Sox in back to back seasons, in addition to three more top 3 finishes for the prestigious award.
After a year in Oakland, Big Frank traveled up north to Canada to become the designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays. On June 28th, 2007, he hurt his 500th career home run off of Carlos Silva of the Minnesota Twins. Believe it or not, this was also the same day Craig Biggio collected his 3,000th career hit with the Astros.
6 - Gary Sheffield's 500th Home Run with the New York Mets
The only reason Gary Sheffield, who never really had a team during his great 22 year career; is ahead of Frank Thomas on this list, is because people are going to forget where Sheffield was when he hit his 500th career jack. Sheffield played for Milwaukee, San Diego, Florida, LA Dodgers, Atlanta, NY Yankees, and the Detroit Tigers all before he landed in Queens. He was consistent everywhere he went, but no team was willing to hold onto him, as he did test positive for PED's and wasn't the best regarded clubhouse guy. However, Sheff managed to hold on to play into his age 40 season, and pinch hit on April 17th for his milestone achievement.
5 - Rickey Henderson's 3,000th Hit with the San Diego Padres
The allmighty Rickey Henderson played a bit too long, but that's excusable because he's Rickey. Of his 25 seasons included four stints and a total of 14 years with the Oakland Athletics, and that is where most baseball fans associate him with. But towards the later part of his career, his speed became a commodity for many teams, and he swapped uniforms almost annually, occasionally returning back to Oakland as a pit stop. Henderson played for the Padres between 1996 and 1997, but it wasn't until his second go round with San Diego in 2001 when he achieved his 3,000th hit. An interesting tidbit I learned about his hit, recorded on the final day of the season, was that it was Tony Gwynn's final game. By joining the 3000 Hit Club that day, Henderson and Gwynn became the first pair of teammates to each have 3,000 hits at one time since Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker played together in 1928.
The more you research Rickey's historic career, the more you realize just how deserving he is of the credit he gave himself.
4 - Randy Johnson's 300th Win with the San Francisco Giants
Man, the free agency era has really brought confusion to the milestone lists. Randy Johnson has been widely regarded as perhaps the greatest left handed pitcher of all time, and he was prominent for several teams during his storied 22 year career. But which team did he win his 300th game with? Not the Seattle Mariners, where he transitioned into the unhittable southpaw he became, or with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he cemented his place among the greats with his tremendous 2001 postseason. Not even the New York Yankees, who traded for his 41 year old arm in a 2005 blockbuster. Instead, the recent "dynasty" San Francisco Giants is the answer to this question.
"The Big Unit" was given a one year contract in 2009 at the age of 45 to pitch for the Giants, and it would be his final season in the big leagues. He won his 300th game on June 4th of that year against the Washington Nationals, the team that stemmed from Montreal, where Johnson was drafted and began his career.
3 - Wade Boggs' 3,000th Hit with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
The strangest part of this ritualistic legend's career actually came after his retirement, when he was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2005. It was then revealed that there may have been a clause in his contract with Tampa Bay that they would pay him to choose their logo for his hat featured on his Hall of Fame plaque. This didn't end up happening, but it gave the Hall of Fame the right to decide from that point on which team would be featured on each new inductee's plaque. If Boggs was shown with a Tampa Bay hat on his plaque, he would be number one on this list, with relative ease.
2 - Tom Seaver's 300th Win with the Chicago White Sox
It was 1984, and Tom Seaver was fresh off of returning to his New York Mets after spending six years with the Cincinnati Reds. They had planned to resign their marquee ace, even at 39 years old, but lost him as part of a free agent compensation draft to the Chicago White Sox. Seaver could either retire a Met or join the White Sox, and chose against his former team that had partially given up on him, claiming to still have more left in the tank. He would go on to win 15 and 16 games respectively in his two seasons in the Windy City, and would retire the following year. On August 4th of 1985, he threw a complete game victory against the Yankees for his 300th career win.
It wasn't all bad for the Mets however, and despite having history with the organization, it was probably for the best to let Seaver go. In doing so, they were able to call up Dwight Gooden from the minors, who would win that year's Rookie of the Year, a Cy Young the next season, and become a key contributor of their 1986 World Series victory.
1 - Eddie Mathews' 500th Home Run with the Houston Astros
This leaves us with this week's number one. Raise your hand if you remember anything about Eddie Mathews' tenure with the Houston Astros. Mathews has been a rather underrated Hall of Famer throughout time, but the 12 time All Star and 2 time World Series champion was known for fifteen incredible seasons on the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves. But between his years with the Braves and a year and a half stint with the Detroit Tigers that resulted in his second World Series ring was a half season in Houston that many seem to completely overlook. And it was in Houston where, on July 14th, 1967, Mathews quietly slugged his 500th home run. Houston's team was tanking in the standings that season, so they moved him to Detroit to attempt to start over. Today, he is the poster boy for this type of list, and easily ranked at the top spot.
As you can all see from these 10 moments in time, miracles don't always happen in baseball. Either way, these players all accomplished some very special things that should be regarded highly in baseball lore, but it is pretty strange to see them in uniforms you wouldn't normally associate with them.
Do you agree with this week's list? If you thought I left anyone out, feel free to start the debate in the comments below!
¡Felíz Cinco de Mayo! See Ya!