Sunday, May 22, 2011
Bobby Abreu's 534th double in context
By Mark Saxon
As Atlanta reliever Scott Proctor was warming up in the seventh inning, fans behind the Angels dugout got wind of Bobby Abreu’s milestone – the right-field scoreboard tipped them off -- and gave him a localized standing ovation.
Abreu, standing on second base, looked like he didn’t know what to do with himself. He sheepishly reached for his helmet, but never got it all the way off.
He’s always been a bit unassuming, maybe a bit underappreciated.
With Abreu’s RBI double that thwacked off the right-field wall, he pulled into a tie at No. 32 with Lou Gehrig on the all-time doubles list, with 534. He’s got seven more Hall of Famers, including Tony Gwynn and Rogers Hornsby, in his sights and probably will pass them by the end of this season.
These, of course, are not minor names in baseball history. Tris Speaker has the career record for doubles with 792, followed by Pete Rose at 736. Abreu would need to play until he's about 50 to have a chance to catch those guys.
Abreu, 37, played with the New York Yankees from 2006 through 2008, but he said he’s never visited Gehrig’s monument at either Yankee Stadium. He said he felt emotional after tying Gehrig.
“It’s a long career,” Abreu said. “To get even 500, it’s a lot. Five thirty-four, especially to tie Lou Gehrig, come on.”
Abreu and Angels cleanup hitter Torii Hunter, 35, aren’t relics, of course. They’re the oldest players on the Angels’ roster and clearly the leaders of an otherwise young lineup. Struggling to drive the ball most of the season, they’ve snapped awake in this series, going 9-for-21 combined with two home runs and five RBIs.
Hunter, 35, got a hanging curveball from Derek Lowe in the fourth inning and pummeled it over the left-field wall, his first home run in more than a month. He joked that he couldn’t remember the last one, which came on April 21.
“I haven’t seen one of those in a while. I’ve seen them on TV and I’ve seen that in the movies,” Hunter said. “It’s a lot of fun to get one out of the way for this month.”