Jargon buster

BBC: Suzuki sets Major League record
Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki broke the Major League record for hits in a season with three singles in the 8-3 victory over the Texas Rangers. The Japanese star matched George Sisler's 84-year record of 257 with a single in the opening inning before adding another two runs to his total.

I had absolutely no idea what this meant when I first read it. Having recently read a book about baseball by one of my heroes, the late Stephen Jay Gould, I knew enough to realise that Suzuki's achievement was a very big deal in the world of baseball. But, as I bemoaned at the time, Gould's book didn't contain a glossary, so I hadn't a clue what a hit might be (presumably it involves hitting the ball), and as for a hitting streak or a batting average, well I was totally stumped.

But, yet again, the good old Beeb comes to the rescue. For they have been thoughtful enough to compile a useful baseball jargon buster. It turns out:

  • a hit is when a player connects with the ball and gets to at least first base. This is the most important statistic for a non-pitcher.
  • a batting average, as in cricket, is the key measure of player's worth. In short, it is the number of hits made divided by at bats (q.v.).

But the jargon buster still doesn't explain what a hitting streak is; nor why Joe DiMaggio's legendary 56-game hitting streak was (according to Gould) the greatest ever achievement in any sport. I'm guessing it's a sequence of 56 games where you have at least one hit per game.

Anyone who knows for certain what a 56-game hitting streak is, please leave a comment.


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