Baseball Library Vault of Lists: February 11, 2009
Seasons Cycles by Madison McEntire
Baseball Library Vault of Lists
From 1900 through 2008, major league players hit for the cycle 240 times in the conventional manner – collecting a single, double, triple, and home run in one game. However, just five players achieved the statistical quirk of a “season cycle” -- getting just four hits in a season, yet getting one hit of each type.
The first two hitters to achieve a “season cycle” were pitchers Ray Poat of the 1947 New York Giants and Bruce Kison of the 1978 Pittsburgh Pirates. The three position players to do it are Fred Manrique with the Montreal Expos in 1985, Curtis Pride, also with Montreal, in 1993, and Matt Diaz with Tampa Bay in 2004. During his “cycle” year, Kison had the most at-bats with 29, followed by Poat and Diaz with 21 each, Manrique with 13 and Pride with only nine.
Ray Poat (New York, 1947)
Purchased from the last-place Baltimore Orioles of the International League, Ray Poat joined the New York Giants on August 26, 1947, and was immediately pressed into service. He made a sensational debut the next night, August 27, by leading the Giants to a 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at the Polo Grounds. In addition to going the distance, (allowing eight base hits, four walks and claiming five strikeouts), Poat shocked the Cardinals with a homer and a triple. The Redbirds jumped to a 3-0 lead against the 29-year-old right-hander, getting two runs in the second and a solo homer by Terry Moore in the fifth. The Pirates began their rally by getting two runs in the bottom of the fifth, the last coming when Poat tripled against Harry (The Cat) Brecheen, which scored Sid Gordon.
The score was tied going into the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a sixth-inning RBI single by Johnny Mize and a great catch by Willard Marshall on Stan Musial’s smash to the right field wall with two men on in the seventh. Poat put the Giants ahead in the bottom of the seventh by leading off against Brecheen with a homer into the right field stands. On September 1, Poat posted another complete game (allowing eleven hits), and pitched the New Yorkers to a 12-2 win over the Boston Braves in the second game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds. He knocked in the first two Giant runs by doubling against Clyde Shoun in the bottom of the second. Poat completed his “season cycle” during a 2-0 loss to the Braves at Braves Field on September 26. Poat singled against Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and yielded just seven hits in eight innings but was done in by Boston’s Bob Elliot who had two doubles and a single.
Bruce Kison (Pittsburgh, 1978)
Bruce Kison knocked out the hits in his “season cycle” in order, beginning with a single against Dodgers pitcher Terry Forster on July 20. Pitching in relief, Kison batted with one out in the bottom of the tenth of a tie game with Phil Garner on first base. The Dodgers played the infield in and Kison singled to left, moving Garner to third from where he later scored the winning run on a single by Frank Taveras and error by Forster. On September 1, Kison hurled 7.2 innings of two-hit, no-run ball to pick up another win and also smacked a double to left against Atlanta’s Rick Mahler in the bottom of the third. Kison got no decision in a 5-4 Pirate loss to the Cardinals on September 7, but he did pick up a triple to left field against Pete Falcone and scored on a Dave Parker homer in the top of the third. Lacking a home run to get his “season cycle”, Kison connected in his last at-bat of the season on September 29. He failed to get the win but he did homer against Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, helping the Pirates to a 2-1 victory in the second game of a doubleheader.
Fred Manrique (Montreal, 1985)
After brief stints with the Toronto Blue Jays in both 1981 and 1984, which resulted in only seven singles in 37 at-bats, Fred Manrique was sold to the Montreal Expos on April 7, 1985. Playing for Indianapolis, Montreal\'s Triple-A farm club, Manrique batted only .240 with 8 home runs and 37 RBI yet earned a September visit to the big leagues. On September 15 during Montreal\'s 6-2 home loss to New York, the 23-year-old Manrique collected his first hit of the 1985 season. Pinch-hitting for Expo pitcher Bert Roberge, he singled against Met pitcher Ron Darling to lead off the bottom of the eighth. It was his eighth career hit, all of which were singles. Batting for Montreal hurler David Palmer on September 23 at Wrigley Field, Manrique collected his first career extra-base hit by tripling off Steve Trout to lead off the bottom of the top of the seventh as the Expos beat the Cubs 9-8. Manrique failed to collect another hit until October 3. Starting the game at second base, he belted his first big league home run when he led off the bottom of the first inning against Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Shane Rawley. In the fifth inning, with Rawley still on the mound, Manrique doubled to complete his "season cycle". Despite his two hits and two runs, the Expos lost at home to the Phillies by the score of 9-8. Prior to the 1986 season, Manrique was traded to the Cardinals, making these four hits the only ones he collected with the Expos.
Curtis Pride (Montreal, 1993)
Curtis Pride\'s "season cycle" is the most unique of the group. The four hits that he had during the 1993 season were the first four hits of his career, each came as a pinch-hitter, and (like Ray Poat) he collected the three extra-base hits before he singled. The 24-year-old Pride, who was born almost completely deaf, earned a September call-up with the Expos after compiling 21 HR, 61 RBI, 50 SB and a .324 average while splitting time between the Double-A Harrisburg Senators and the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx. He made his major league debut as a late-inning defensive replacement in left field and flied out to St. Louis centerfielder Mark Whiten on the first pitch from Cardinal reliever Todd Burns in the ninth inning of Montreal\'s 12-9 win at St. Louis on September 14. Batting for the second time in his brief major league career, Pride collected his first major league hit against Philadelphia on September 17 at Olympic Stadium. Pinch-hitting for Expo pitcher Chris Nabholz, Pride doubled in the seventh inning off Philadelphia pitcher Bobby Thigpen, driving in teammates Randy Ready and Sean Berry, and later scoring his first run as a big leaguer as Montreal beat the Phillies 8-7 in twelve innings.
During a 6-3 home loss to Atlanta on September 23, Pride (hitting for pitcher Butch Henry) ripped a ninth-inning, two-out, RBI-triple off Braves pitcher Greg McMichael. Florida Marlins pitcher Richie Lewis served up Curtis Pride\'s first major league home run on September 30 at Joe Robbie Stadium. Batting for pitcher Jeff Shaw, Pride hammered a two-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and provided the margin of victory in the Expos 5-3 win over Florida. With the extra-base hits taken care of, Pride completed his "season cycle" during the seventh inning of Montreal\'s 6-3 home win over Pittsburgh on October 1. Pinch-hitting for pitcher Brian Barnes, Pride singled to center against Pirates pitcher Danny Miceli, stole second base (the first steal of his career) and later scored on Marquis Grissom\'s single.
Matt Diaz (Tampa Bay, 2004)
After one hit in nine at-bats in four games with Tampa Bay in 2003, Matt Diaz earned a September call-up in 2004 and appeared in 10 games. After starting off hitless in 12 at-bats over six games, he had a hit in his final four games of the season, beginning on September 22 when he connected against Kansas City’s Darrell May for his first career home run. On September 30, he was given another start and managed a double against Detroit’s Wil Ledezma before being lifted for a pinch hitter. The following day, Diaz was in the starting lineup and singled in two at-bats before again leaving for a pinch-hitter. On October 3, the final day of the season, Diaz collected a two-run triple in three at-bats and helped his team to a 7-4 victory. His triple would be his last hit with Tampa Bay, as he was released following the 2004 season.
While only these five players have achieved a "season cycle", dozens of players came close in various ways. Except for one glaring exception, these players were typically rookies who had limited playing time, journeymen who picked up a few at-bats while struggling to hang around or weak-hitting pitchers who happened to flash a little power at the plate.
Many players, like Chicago Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs, collected one hit too many. In his first year with the Cubs in 1961, Hubbs had two singles, double, triple, and home run. Two players, Ron Henry of the 1964 Minnesota Twins and Brandon Berger of the 2001 Kansas City Royals, missed because of a little too much power - each collected a single, double, triple, but belted two home runs. In 1917, Babe Ellison singled, doubled, and homered, but legged out two triples, making him the only player to reach this combination.
Rich Reese did have a "season cycle" (the final four hits in his career) in 23 at-bats while playing for the Minnesota Twins in 1973; however, he had already had accumulated 14 hits with Detroit before he was released by the Tigers late in the 1973 season.
Most players who came close to reaching a "season cycle" collected three of the hits but could not come up with the fourth, usually the triple or home run. The most famous of this group is Hall of Famer Bill Dickey, who singled, doubled, and tripled in 15 at-bats with the New York Yankees in 1928. Frank Howard, during his brief stint with the 1959 Dodgers, managed to single, triple, and homer but could not double in any of his other 18 at-bats. Other notables in this group are pitchers Dazzy Vance (1934), Bob Lemon (1957), and Vida Blue (1970).
Lack of speed may have kept several players from a "season cycle". For example, Ernie Whitt, playing for Boston before being drafted by Toronto in the expansion draft, managed four hits in 1976 - a single, two doubles, and a home run. If Whitt had just been able to take an extra base while running out one of his doubles, he would have had his "season cycle".
Other notables in this group include Tug McGraw (1971), Bobby Murcer (1983), and Hideo Nomo (2002). The glaring exception mentioned earlier is the legendary Ted Williams, who came close to this odd achievement in his Korean War-shortened 1952 season. If the Boston Red Sox slugger could have stretched one of this two singles into a double he would certainly have become the most unlikely hitter to have a "season cycle". Instead, he settled for two singles, a triple, and a home run in only 10 at-bats.