Cy Young’s 511 wins, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, and Pete Rose’s 4,256 career hits. Some records will simply outlive the sport, including many set by Tacoma baseball stars.
The Giants set the bar high for Tacoma in the 1960s with three Hall of Famers and a gaggle of longtime record holders. Many of the benchmarks set by Cheney Stadium’s inaugural team still stand and will likely never been broken. Some records have been cemented simply by the changes in how the game is played. Others are just so impressive, we can’t imagine them being bested.
Next week, we’ll share 5 Tacoma baseball records that could be topped by Rainiers in the foreseeable future; the “most breakable” records. But here are 5 “unbreakable” Tacoma baseball records that will stand the test of time.
338 runs (career) – Gil Garrido, Tacoma Giants 1961-65
Only 13 PCL hitters scored at least 100 runs in a season in the 2010s. Tacoma Rainiers infielder Alex Liddi’s 121 runs in 2011 was league best. It’s also the Tacoma baseball franchise record (although we think it’s within reach).
So over the last 10 PCL seasons, only a baker’s dozen crossed home plate 100 times. Imagine a player doing that for three seasons in the 2020s.
To score runs, you need to get on base. And to get on base, you have to handle the stick pretty well. If a player scores 300 runs for the Rainiers in today’s game, it means he’s beyond Major League ready and won’t be around long enough to topple Garrido’s 56-year record.
Tacoma Baseball Career Runs Leaders
1. Gil Garrido – 338
2. Tom Kelly – 329
3. Rick Renick – 233
4. Matt Tuiasosopo – 229
5. Bryan LaHair – 226
17 complete games (1963 season) – Ron Herbel, Tacoma Baseball 1961-63, 1972
James Paxton is the most recent Rainiers pitcher to throw two complete games in a season. That was in 2013, and he went just 8 innings in one of those outings. The last Tacoma pitcher with 3 or more complete games in a season? Craig Anderson had 4 in 2003.
Ron Herbel’s 17 complete games is not only unfathomably hard to match, modern baseball managers would never allow it. Herbel was post-dead-ball era when the game’s top pitchers were throwing every inning of nearly every game. Still, complete games weren’t ancient myths in the 60s. In 2019, the entire PCL had 14 complete games, less than what Herbel accomplished singlehandedly 56 years earlier.
The conscious effort to protect pitchers’ arms in the 21st century means we’ll likely never see a Triple-A pitcher throw more than a couple complete games in a season again. The only possible path would be for a pitcher to make a handful of 5-inning rain-shortened outings here, a bunch of seven-inning doubleheaders there. That would require a lot of unfortunate weather, so we’re content watching Herbel’s record live eternally.
Tacoma Baseball Single-Season Complete Games Leaders
1. Ron Herbel – 17 (1963)
2. Mark Wiley – 16 (1976)
3. Bob Garibaldi – 16 (1963)
4. 4 players – 15
16 intentional walks (1971 season) – Adrian Garrett, Tacoma Cubs 1971
This might be the most “breakable” of the “unbreakables,” but unbreakable nonetheless. Adrian Garrett was issued 16 free passes in 1971, which is 15 more than any Tacoma hitter received in 2019. He also set another Tacoma baseball record that year with 43 home runs, which is why pitchers avoided his strike zone like I-5 rush hour traffic.
Only 4 PCL hitters have been given 10 or more freebies in a season since 2000, with Yordan Alvarez (2019) and Justin Bour (2014) leading the pack with 11. The analytics are telling teams to shy away from the “IBB” with some teams altogether refusing to put runners on.
As Joe Posnanski pointed out in 2017, “there were only 0.38 intentional walks per game [in 2016], the lowest total since statisticians started counting intentional walks back in 1955. This is a clear trend, by the way — the five lowest totals for intentional walks per game are, in order, the past five years.”
Maybe a dangerous hitter will find himself in a handful of must-walk situations. But 16 times? Not likely. At the Triple-A level, a team would rather see how its young pitcher handles facing a top dog when the pressure’s on.
It’s “breakable,” but we feel confident saying that this Tacoma baseball Hall of Famer’s 50-year record is here to stay.
Tacoma Baseball Single-Season Intentional Walks Leaders
1. Adrian Garrett – 16 (1971)
2. Randy Bass – 15 (1977)
3. Jim Holt – 13 (1972)
4. Wayne Cage – 12 (1980)
5. 4 players – 11
For the sake of putting a Rainiers record (circa 1995) on this list, let’s go with Jesús Montero’s incredible .355 clip just 6 years ago. It’s unusual in part because, like Garrido’s runs record, you don’t typically see players stay in Triple-A with those numbers.
Montero played 98 games with Tacoma in 2015, barely enough to qualify him for the leaderboards. It was the first of only two seasons (2016) that he hit over .300, so the odds were already stacked against him. But Montero finished his minor league season on an 11-game hitting streak that spanned from July 24 – Sept. 7 (with a call-up in-between), where he batted an astounding .561, which raised his average from .331 to the record-setting .355.
It’s the only time this century that a Tacoma hitter batted .326 or better, so to surpass that by nearly 30 points is overwhelmingly impressive. He narrowly edged Brian Raabe’s .352 mark that was set 18 years earlier.
Tacoma Baseball Single-Season Batting Average Leaders
1. Jesús Montero – .355 (2015)
2. Brian Raabe – .352 (1997)
3. Troy Neel – .351 (1992)
4. Gary Gray – .335 (1980)
5. Jim Holt, Lyman Bostock – .333 (1972, 1974)
18 sacrifice hits (1961 season) – Gil Garrido
Infielder Gil Garrido makes his second appearance on this list with his 18 sacrifice hits back in the Tacoma Giants 1961 PCL Championship season. This is similar to Garrett’s intentional walk record in that modern analytics have virtually decimated bunting.
The Rainiers accounted for 11 of the mere 357 sacrifice hits in the PCL in 2019. That’s a far cry from the 939 back in 2009. The anti-bunting philosophy has taken over baseball pretty recently. There were still over 700 sacrifice hits in the league as recently as 2015.
The computers say bunting leads to less runs than swinging, so that’s what teams are doing. The Salt Lake Bees laid down a whopping 2 sac bunts in ’19. The Los Angeles Angels, Salt Lake’s parent club, set a Major League record with just 4 sacrifice hits that year.
It’s the way of the future, man. The art of “small ball” is another relic in baseball’s history, gone forever with any shot of topping Garrido’s 60-year-old record.
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About the Tacoma Rainiers
The Tacoma Rainiers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Tacoma has been a member of the Pacific Coast League since Cheney Stadium opened in 1960. They have been a Mariners affiliate since establishing the Rainiers moniker in 1995.
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