They came to play

The major league baseball season is a real grind, you are scheduled to play 162 games in about 185 days give or take and that includes travel time. I am not even going to mention spring training and the post season. Many of us go to work Monday through Friday but we usually have week-ends off and a few holiday scattered in to re-charge our batteries. Once the baseball season starts the player’s life is totally baseball, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that playing baseball is tougher than a normal job that we all do, I am just saying that it is not as easy as many of us would like to think. I know, I know, we would all still gladly trade places with any player out there.

Baseball is a marathon, you need to keep chugging along, working through illness and injury while you strive for peak performance and you do this in front of the general public and all the writers and reporters that are out there every day looking for something they can put on TV or in the paper. Ability is critical but if your team doesn’t also have durability you are probably headed for a long season.

The Baltimore Orioles Cal Ripken Jr. holds the major league record for consecutive games played with 2,632 in a streak that started on May 30, 1982 and ended on September 19, 1998. Think about that, every game from 1982 to 1998, an amazing streak and a record I am sure will never be broken.

Justin MorneauSo that takes me to why I am writing this post, what is the Minnesota Twins record for most consecutive games played and who holds the record? The Twins have played in Minnesota for 52 years and yet the Twins record for consecutive games played stands at 319, a far cry from 2,632. I think many of you will be surprised to learn that the Minnesota Twins consecutive games played record holder is still playing for the Twins today and is none other than Justin Morneau, yes the same guy that has not played more than 135 games since 2008. Let’s take a look at the Twins six longest consecutive games played streaks and see who owns them. Some of the “gamers” on this list will probably surprise you.

  1. 319 games – Justin Morneau (1B/DH) – Streak started on June 29, 2007 and ended on June 20, 2009.
  2. 249 games – Harmon Killebrew (3B/1B, and OF) – Streak started on September 21, 1965 and ended on July 4, 1967.
  3. 245 games – Harmon Killebrew (3B/1B) – Streak started on September 23, 1968 and ended on July 7, 1970.
  4. 230 games – Gary Gaetti (3B/OF) – Streak started on September 29, 1983 and ended on June 22, 1985.
  5. 210 games – Roy Smalley (Shortstop) – Streak started on April 6, 1979 and ended on June 2, 1980. Smalley’s streak would actually have stood at 254 and in second place on this list had he not chose to sit out the last day of the 1978 season.
  6. 203 games – Cesar Tovar (played all over) – Streak started on September 4, 1966 and ended on May 4, 1968.

In the Twins 52 year history only 5 players have appeared in every game that the Twins played that particular season so it is a fairly rare occurrence with only one player accomplishing this feat twice. The most recent occurrence was Justin Morneau appearing in all 163 games in 2008 and that was 24 years after Gary Gaetti appeared in all 162 games in 1984. In 1979 Roy Smalley played in all 162 games, Harmon Killebrew did it twice playing in 162 games in 1966 and again in 1969 and Cesar Tovar played in all 164 games in 1967.

The list of players that have led the Twins in games played over the years is an interesting list indeed. Who has led the Twins in games played the most frequently? That would be Kirby Puckett who did it eight times including five years in a row.

2012 – Joe Mauer played in 147 of a possible 162 games.

2011 – Danny Valencia played in 154 of a possible 162 games.

2010 – Michael Cuddyer played in 157 of a possible 162 games.

2009 – Michael Cuddyer played in 153 of a possible 163 games.

2008 – Justin Morneau played in all 163 games.

2007 – Torii Hunter played in 160 of a possible 162 games.

2006 – Justin Morneau played in 157 of a possible 162 games.

2005 – Lew Ford played in 147 of a possible 162 games.

2004 – Lew Ford played in 154 of a possible 162 games.

2003 – Torii Hunter played in 154 of a possible 162 games.

2002 – Jacque Jones played in 149 of a possible 161 games.

2001 – Luis Rivas & Corey Koskie played in 153 of a possible 162 games.

2000 – Cristian Guzman & Matt Lawton played in 156 o fa possible 162 games.

1999 – Todd Walker played in 143 of a possible 161 games.

1998 – Matt Lawton played in 152 of a possible 162 games.

1997 – Chuck Knoblauch played in 156 of a possible 162 games.

1996 – Paul Molitor played in 161 of  a possible 162 games.

1995 – Karby Puckett & Marty Cordova played in 137 of a possible 144 games.

1994 – Chuck Knoblauch played in 109 of a possible 113 games.

1993 – Kirby Puckett played in 156 of a possible 162 games.

1992 – Kirby Puckett played in 160 of a possible 162 games.

1991 - Chili Davis played in 153 of a possible 162 games.

1990 - Gary Gaetti played in 154 of a possible 162 games.

1989 – Kirby Puckett played in 159 of a possible 162 games.

1988 – Kirby Puckett played in 158 of a possible 162 games.

1987 – Kirby Puckett played in 157 of a possible 162 games.

1986 – Kirby Puckett played in 161 of a possible 162 games.

1985 – Kirby Puckett played in 161 of a possible 162 games.

1984 – Gary Gaetti played in all 162 games.

1983 – Gary Gaettti and Gary Ward played in 157 of a possible 1962 games.

1982 - Gary Ward played in 152 of a possible 162 games.

1981 - John Castino  played in 101 of a possible 110 games.

1980 - John Castino played in 150 of a possible 161 games.

1979 – Roy Smalley played in all 162 games.

1978 – Roy Smalley played in 158 of a possible 162 games.

1977 - Rod Carew played in 155 of a possible 161 games.

1976 - Rod Carew played in 156 of a possible 162 games.

1975 - Rod Carew played in 143 of a possible 159 games.

1974 - Rod Carew played in 153 of a possible 163 games.

1973 - Rod Carew played in 149 of a possible 162 games.

1972 - Bobby Darwin played in 145 of a possible 154 games.

1971 - Cesar Tovar played in 157 of a possible 160 games.

1970 - Cesar Tovar played in 161 of a possible 162 games.

1969 – Harmon Killebrew played in all 162 games.

1968 - Cesar Tovar played in 156 of a possible 162 games.

1967 – Cesar Tovar played in all 164 games.

1966 – Harmon Killebrew played in all 162 games.

1965 – Zoilo Versalles played in 160 of a possible 162 games.

1964 - Tony Oliva played in 161 of a possible 163 games.

1963 - Zoilo Versalles played in 159 of a possible 161 games.

1962 - Zoilo Versalles played in 160 of a possible 163 games.

1961 - Bob Allison played in 156 of a possible 162 games.

When I looked back over the entire franchise history going back to 1901 for the Washington Senators I found that there was a true “iron man”  who currently stands number 9 on the MLB all-time consecutive games played list with 829 games. Senators 3B Eddie Yost started his streak on August 30, 1949 and he played in every game through May 11, 1955. That is a lot of games.

Prince FielderThe current active MLB consecutive game streak is in the firm grasp of Detroit Tiger 1B Prince Fielder who stands at 343 and counting. Actually Fielder has missed just 1 game (September 13, 2010) since September 3, 2008 and if he had not skipped that game due to a stomach virus his streak would be at 669 today. The man has been in the big leagues since 2005 and full time since 2006. Since 2006 he has played in 157, 158, 159, 162, 161, 162, and 162 games. An amazing streak for a man his size.

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