Chris Roberson at-bat for Águilas de Mexicali
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The Chase for 3,000

Derek Jeter, Willie Mays, Pete Rose, and Cap Anson are but a few members of baseball’s 3,000 hit club. Those four, and many others, are recognized for their efforts because they tallied the majority of their hits in Major League Baseball. The reality is that all of them had more hits than they are ever given credit for because they also accumulated hits in minor league and unaffiliated baseball. They also have plenty of hits from the playoffs in MLB and elsewhere that have either not been counted or lost to time. Still, they are members of baseball’s exclusive 3,000 hit club and that can never be taken away from them.

One man is on the cusp of joining the 3,000 hit club and the chances are that you probably have never heard of him or barely remember that he exists. Chris Roberson last appeared in an MLB game in 2007 and a true affiliated game in 2009. That doesn’t mean he’s stopped playing baseball. The former Philadelphia Phillie is in his 19th professional season in 2019-2020. He’s split his winter between Águilas de Mexicali and Venados de Mazatlán of Liga Mexicana del Pacífico. The switch-hitting center fielder lost a few steps and oscillates between regular, spot starter, and bench player at this stage in his career. No matter his role Roberson continues to suit up and with each passing game comes closer and closer to joining Jeter, Mays, and the rest.

When Roberson was selected in the 9th round of the 2001 MLB Amateur Draft I’m sure he envisioned a long and fruitful career with the Phillies. He’s gotten that long and fruitful career, except not with the Phillies and mostly out of affiliated baseball. The former first-rounder has become a staple of the Mexican baseball season. He plays in Mexico year-round, usually with Sultanes de Monterrey of Liga Mexicana de Béisbol during the summer and Mexicali in the LMP during the winter. His recent release from Mexicali dashed some hope for a storybook ending for his chase of the 3,000 mark. Roberson has been viewed as an icon by both Sultanes and Águilas fans. Father time came for him in Mexicali, he does not care about your icon status. If Roberson does not reach the mark by season’s end with Mazatlán there is still hope that next year with Monterrey he will join the club.

As of this writing, Roberson is at 2,986 documented hits. If there were accurate records of his playoff appearances throughout the years he would already be at the 3,000 hit mark. Alas, people have this silly notion that playoff results shouldn’t co-mingle with regular-season results. Thus, Roberson continues to plug away, moving the needle closer and closer to 3,000 every week. The hits haven’t been as plentiful this LMP season. There have been moments when a hit brings an almost exhausted smile to Roberson’s face. His career has been long and he is very clearly pressing to reach an attainable goal. Roberson isn’t a bright-eyed 22-year-old prospect anymore. His days in professional baseball are numbered, but that 3,000 number is just within reach.

In his career, Roberson compiled 909 hits in the minors, 1,936 hits in various foreign leagues, and 125 hits in stateside unaffiliated ball. He only amassed 16 MLB hits. In that sentence “only” is doing a heck of a lot of work. To believe that the only in that sentence matters is to believe that only MLB matters. Roberson had his time in the bigs and surrounded that with a successful career in Mexico and elsewhere. There’s nothing only about Chris Roberson’s career, and sometime soon he will take his rightful place as a member of the 3,000 hit club.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), fiancé, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Baseball.FYI, Beyond the Box Score, & Internet Baseball Writer’s Association of America; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writer's Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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