Howie Bedell recorded a 43-game hitting streak while in the American Association in 1961 which ended up tied for the league record after the league folded in 1997. Baseball Almanac likes to take a look "beyond the stats" and we hope you enjoy the following historical baseball article about Howie Bedell:
In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. - Andy Warhol (1968)
It's ironic that the famous artist uttered those words in the same year that Howie Bedell did something that put his name on the lips of baseball fans all over America. On June 8 of that year, as a member of the Phillies, Bedell plated a teammate with a sacrifice fly in a game against the Dodgers.
No big deal, right?
Well, for the left-handed hitting outfielder, it was the last RBI in a brief major league career that saw him drive in a total of three. In brief stints with the Braves ('62) and the Phils ('68), Bedell managed a paltry .193 average in 67 games.
Bedell was a good minor league hitter. In 1961, the Clearfield, Pennsylvania native delivered a then-American Association record 43-game hitting streak. From 1964-66, Bedell starred for the York White Roses in the Eastern League, winning a batting title and earning two All Star team berths.
However, by 1968, Bedell's chances of becoming a star in the big leagues had faded to practically zero. The Phillies were an aging team, on the way down, and were hoping for some left-handed pop off the bench when they promoted Bedell from their Reading, Pennsylvania farm team.
Bedell promptly disappeared offensively, recording 1 hit in just 9 pinch-hit appearances. The team would soon cut him loose but not before the outfielder's "fifteen minutes" in the baseball spotlight.
In 1968, Dodger pitcher Don Drysdale had carved himself a niche in the record books. Earlier in the June 8 game against the Phillies, Drysdale had broken Walter Johnson's record of 56 consecutive scoreless innings. Drysdale was virtually unhittable during the streak and except for Dick Allen, the Phillies didn't have much in the way of offensive punch. The streak looked like a cinch to extend to 62 innings with a Drysdale shutout against the Phils.
It was at 58 2/3 innings when Bedell stepped to the plate in the top of the 5th inning. Tony Taylor was on third but no one expected the talented Cuban to go any further. On paper, Bedell looked totally overmatched.
The superstar hurler versus the weak-hitting scrub on a crummy team.
Who ya gonna pick?
One of the great things about baseball is that you actually have to play that "on paper" stuff. Bedell delivered a deep fly to the outfield, Taylor tagged up and scored, and Drysdale's scoreless run had ended.
Drysdale had the record and held it until Orel Hershiser broke it in 1988 with 59 scoreless innings pitched. But it must have been hard for Drysdale to accept the fact that someone like Bedell had delivered the blow to break the streak.
Willie Mays? OK.
Roberto Clemente. Sure.
Hank Aaron. Understandable.
The Lord must have a sense of humor!
The next day, Bedell was famous. His name was in newspapers and on sportscasts as being the David who faced a baseball Goliath and succeeded. However, any kind of joy he may have experienced was short-lived.
Less-than-a-month later, the Phillies released Bedell, ending his playing career. Philly, impressed with Bedell's knowledge of the game, hired him to be a manager in their farm system for 1969. During six seasons as a minor league skipper, Bedell won a couple of Eastern league titles and was instrumental in nurturing future superstars Greg Luzinski, Mike Schmidt and Larry Bowa.
He later coached for the Mariners and Royals and was the Reds' Farm Director in 1990 and '91.
In the mid-90's, the Mayor of York, Pennsylvania hired Bedell to spearhead an effort to being Minor League Baseball back to the city. Their efforts succeeded; in 2006, the York Revolution began play in the Atlantic League.
Bedell's post-playing days accomplishments are impressive.
But his "fifteen minutes" in 1968 is what he'll best be remembered for.
A Baseball Almanac exclusive written by Yahoo! contributor Chris Williams.
You can follow the team links in the chart above to locate common statistics (singles),
advanced statistics (WHIP Ratio & Isolated Power), and unique
statistics (plate appearances & times on bases) not found
on any other website.
If you find this type of "free" data useful please consider
making a donation to Baseball Almanac :
a privately run / non-commercial site in need of financial assistance.