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Hitless Seasons


While writing the bio for today’s “This Date” article on Albert Hall, I noticed a very interesting fact on him that I mentioned, he played in the majors each year from 1981-83 without collecting a base hit. I figured that had to be a very rare occurrence for a positional player, no matter how few at-bats he actually received over those seasons.

The Pirates have had 1,814 players in their history, and 1,451 of them have collected at least one hit. While that means 363 didn’t collect a hit, the only ones that played three or more seasons without getting a hit were all relief pitchers, not surprisingly. Leading that list with seven seasons is John Grabow who came to the plate a total of just six times. He is followed by Mike Williams, who batted ten times in his six seasons and Scott Sauerbeck who strolled to the plate eight times over his five years.

The Pirates player with the most plate appearances without a hit? Pete Schourek, 31 in his only season with the Pirates in 1999.

Grabow is also the leader in most games without a hit with 390.

Getting back to the position players part. As I said, no position player in team history ever matched what Hall did his first three years and in fact only one played two seasons without a hit. Mickey Keliher was a first baseman for the 1911-12 Pirates, who got into just five games over his two seasons. His bio, which is interesting despite his short career, can be read here.

The position player with the most times up without a hit was Cliff Carroll, an outfielder for the 1888 team who they gave up on after just five games. He batted 20 times, struck out eight times and made three errors. The odd part about his career was that not only did he not play anywhere else in pro ball in 1888 or 1889 but when he came back in 1890 he led the National League in at-bats with 582. He also has an interesting story that can be read here.

Finally, we get to the position player who played at least three seasons with the lowest hit total, since no one finished with zero. That honor goes to Doe Boyland, who collected two hits over his three seasons. He was a first baseman for the 1978-79 and 1981 Pirates. His story isn’t as interesting as the other two players, but during the writing of his bio I noticed a strong comparison to Starling Marte most fans would rather not see (check the comments below the story)

John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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