Chase Utley has been in a bare-knuckle scrap with baseball for a decade and a half. For as hard as he hits baseballs, they love to hit him right back. At a historic rate.
On Friday Chase Utley was hit by a pitch for the 192nd time, tying Minnie Minoso for 9th all-time (6th since 1900). https://t.co/1g3Khs4lOL— schmenkman (@tgpschmenk) May 29, 2017
Utley has moved formally into the top ten of baseball’s all-time black and bluest, and has easily sat atop the list for the Phillies franchise for years. From 2007-09, he led all of baseball in the category with 25, 27, and 24 welts in each respective season and remains the Phillies all-time leader, and probably will forever, with 173. Our collective belief that his record will, unlike his body, stay intact forever, is evidenced by the list of pitch sponges behind him.
Mike Lieberthal, 88
This bullet sponge soaked up all the injuries in baseball for over a decade, barely leaving any for another team. Injury rates plummeted across the sport as Lieberthal absorbed pitch after pitch and wound after wound, often leaving a blood trail between home plate and the dugout. Reporters always knew where to find him. But sadly, all that destruction to his weary corporeal form was all for nought, as the closest contender to Utley for the HBP lead is almost 100 heaters in the ribs behind him.
Ed Delahanty, 80
"It was said as babies, the Delahanty boys had baseball bats instead of rattles," writes Mike Sowell in July 2, 1903, a book about Ed Delahanty’s mysterious death via falling off a train. We can presume, however, that despite the number of at-bats he had at such a young age, Delahanty was not pegged with as many pitches as in his adult life. The big Irish slugger became a larger-than-life figure among his fans, as well as opposing pitchers, who apparently considered his 6’ 1", 170 lbs. frame too large to avoid hitting. He only had ten or more HBPs in a season twice 16 years.
Mike Schmidt, 79
This man faded away into obscurity after an abrupt retirement and is currently hocking sunscreen vending machines in Philadelphia.
Sherry Magee, 78
Magee’s problem accruing a respectable HBP total was that he refused to limit his baseball injuries to getting hit by pitches. From SABR:
"In the following year's city series against the Athletics, Magee was hit by a pitch during batting practice and broke his right wrist and forearm, putting him out for the first month of the season. He was scarcely back when he went out again following an outfield collision with Paskert."
Magee’s best HBP surge was from 1908-10, when he was successfully struck with the baseball 34 times in three seasons, culminating in 1910 when he led the league in runs, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS+, TB, but finished 10th in HBP with a mere 12 - while baseball’s leaders, Steve Evans of St. Louis, was bludgeoned with a mind-boggling 31 pitches (The next highest was the Yankees’ Bert Daniels, who had 16).
John Titus, 78
In June of 1911, Oklahoma Adair Bushyhead "Paddy" Mayes was sold to the Phillies for $500. He was there to replace Titus, who had led the team - and the sport - in HBPs with 16 in 1909. "Silent" John’s noted speed had been destroyed he broke his ankle sliding into home plate, necessitating the signing of Mayes. Titus, a man who bought Cap Anson’s bat at auction and credited it with his hitting success, would play part of three more seasons and only get hit with 17 more pitches in that time. He sure loved hitting, though, saying, "When a fellow is hitting, he feels that there is something to life, after all." That passion surely applied to getting hit, as well.
Carlos Ruiz, 73
His single all-star season in 2012, Chooch got clipped 16 times, the highest amount in his career. But he knew how to take it like a champ.
Roy Thomas, 66
Only five of Thomas’ career HBPs came with him in a uniform other than the Phillies’. The man knew how to get the hell on base, and while "66" isn’t a lot of body blows compared to 173, Thomas took 32 of those licks in his combined first two seasons alone - he is seventh all-time in HBPs as a rookie with 17 (and first in OBP with .457, blah blah blah). He clearly learned how to absorb the baseball bodily from fellow Phillies outfielder Delahanty, who he played next to for two seasons. On top of that, he specialty was more about waiting pitchers out, as he proved deft at fouling off pitches and led the league in walks six times in seven seasons from 1900-06, with 731 WALKS IN THAT SPAN, GOOD LORD.
Greg Luzinski, 61
Luzinski was just a big body up there, making him hard to miss at even crucial moments. In a game against the Expos in June 1975, Luzinski took a hit as part of a real Dirty Inning on Montreal’s part. The Phillies were down 4-3, but in the bottom of the eighth, a pair of singles and a sac bunt but two runners in scoring position with one out. The Phillies got two more runs to take the lead, and the Expos went on to issue a throwing error and an IBB before hitting Bull with a pitch and walking Dick Allen to bring in a run. In June 2015, Utley surpassed Luzinski and Titus as he led the team in HBPs for a seventh season (Bull and Titus did so a mere six times).
Tony Taylor, 60
Sixty?! Is this man even familiar with how pain feels?!?
Behind Taylor are even more notable names; Ryan Howard, Scott Rolen, and Shane Victorino are all among the top twenty most battered batsmen in Phillies history. This year, the Phillies HBP leader thus far is, unsurprisingly, Aaron Altherr, with five. But none who have walked this dirt have so willingly conveyed that if this sport had a rule that allowed you to get on base by catching pitches with your bare hands and eatings them, Chase Utley would probably lead the league in that, too.