In this half-season alone, Palmeiro already has passed Al Simmons, Rogers Hornsby, Wee Willie Keeler, Jake Beckley, Frank Robinson, Sam Crawford and Sam Rice. He could climb as high as 18th before this season ends, passing Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Wade Boggs, Cap Anson, Lou Brock, Rod Carew and Henderson at 3,055.
With that 3,000th hit, Palmeiro also became only the fourth player in the 3,000-hit, 500-homer club. And with another 34 homers, he would join Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players with at least 3,000 hits and 600 homers.
Palmeiro is ninth on the all-time list with 566. All eligible 500-homer club members are in the Hall of Fame, with Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and teammate Sammy Sosa in waiting. Harmon Killebrew sits at 573, and McGwire (583) and Frank Robinson (586) are within reach with a productive 2006 season, if Palmeiro decides to play at 41.
Palmeiro also is eighth on the all-time extra-base hits list, 11th in total bases, 14th in doubles and 15th in RBI. He has hit .300 or better in six seasons, belted 40 or more homers four times, 30 or more homers 10 times, and driven in 100 or more runs 10 times — big numbers even in an era tilted heavily to offense. And just to show that there is more to his game, he has three Gold Glove awards, one albeit tainted by his appearing in only 28 games at first base in that season.
And for the record, this is what Palmeiro hasn’t done:
He’s never won a batting title. He’s never won a home-run title. He’s never won an RBI title. He’s never played in a World Series. And his only All-Star Game start came as a replacement at DH for injured Jose Canseco.
And if they could put more on those Hall of Fame plaques than just the player’s face under a cap, they would have to find a way to capture Palmeiro’s swing. Effortless, balanced, never awkward, generating more power than seems possible. And, the new benchmark for all sweet-swinging lefties to come. Even pitchers say so, including another future Hall of Famer, Roger Clemens.
“Rafy is so smooth,’’ Clemens said. “He’s just a great hitter. What more can you say?’’
“It’s amazing — the numbers, the longevity,’’ Helton said. “Going through what I have been going through this season makes me appreciate what he has done even more. It’s just not that easy — mentally or physically — to keep putting up those kind of numbers year after year. His swing is effortless. I enjoy watching him hit.’’
How could you not?
ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.