|South Jersey Baseball History:
Driving Them Home, The All-Time RBI Producers
Tuesday, June 12, 2001
By Charlie Schick
Every good baseball squad has that one guy they can depend on in the clutch. A player they can count on to deliver the big hit or key sacrifice fly to drive-in an all important run or two. Many times he is the team's leading home run producer, but that is not always the case. Most importantly, this guy is his team's clutch RBI man, the player that always seems to deliver under pressure. Dependable, consistent, game after game, he seems to come through in the clutch and more often than not, he carries his teammates to victory.
This season, the Seattle Mariners, currently leading the major leagues with an astounding winning percentage of nearly .800, have found their clutch and leading RBI man in a former South Jersey resident. He is second baseman Bret Boone who played his youth baseball in Medford New Jersey and some high school ball at Shawnee High. He is currently leading the American Leagues with 66 RBI and with only about 38% of the season gone, has a shot at topping Roger Hornsby's major league record for second baseman of 152 runs batted in. Hornsby, considered by many as the greatest right-hand hitter of all time, set his fantastic mark in 1922 when he led the major leagues in slugging percentage (.722), home runs (42), and hits with 250. For good measure he also topped the National League hitters in doubles (42), RBI (152) and batting average at .401.
Just in case you're wondering, the all-time major league RBI single season record is held by Chicago Cubs power-hitting outfielder Hack Wilson. Wilson was an awesome right-handed hitter and knocked in an unbelievable 190 RBI in 1930. He also led the National League in home runs (56), slugging percentage (.723) and walks (105). Moving over to the American League, we find the all time season RBI best is owned by the New York Yankees Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig, who produced 184 runs batted in one year after Hack Wilson wrote his name into the big league record book. The powerful left-handed hitting Gehrig's banner 1931 year also featured American League bests in hits (211), runs (163) and total bases with 410.
The last second baseman to make a legitimate run at trying to put another second sacker's name alongside history's top run producing leaders was San Francisco Giants' Jeff Kent with 128 RBI in 1998. In fact, Kent has collected over 120 runs batted in three times in the last four seasons, but has never come close to threatening Mr. Hornsby. Bret Boone on the other hand is on a pace to produce between 175 to 180 RBI, which should be good enough to make him only the 2nd second baseman in history to lead the big leagues in runs batted in. Who was the first? Well it was that Roger Hornsby again, who knocked in 143 in 1925 to lead both leagues.
In review South Jersey scholastic baseball history, we discover that two pretty good area second basemen are members of our single season 50-plus RBI all time leader list. The first, Mike Bloomquist of Riverside High, was the initial second sacker to join the elite list when he knocked in 51 runs in 28 games for a 1.8 average in 1999. Bloomquist, probably on of the most underrated players in recent years, had one of the finest offensive season in Burlington County history, as he pounded the rock for a .495 average with 51 hits and 11 home runs in '99. Yet, he was not an All South Jersey Team selection that year hard to believe when you look at his numbers.
Our other star infielder is Anthony Aquillino of Gloucester Catholic High, who holds the South Jersey record for second basemen with 53 runs batted in. Aquillino posted his outstanding total just last season, when he hit for a .483 batting average with 7 home runs and his 53 RBI in 34 games for a 1.6 average. His clutch hits and key RBI helped Gloucester Catholic to one of the state of New Jersey's finest seasons in history with a 33-1 record.
Another Gloucester Catholic player, catcher Eric Filipek, is the all time RBI king of South Jersey scholastic baseball. In 1992, Filipek drove in 65 runs in 29 games for a fantastic 2.2 per game average. Filipek's record setting year also included a .500 batting average with 48 hits, 13 doubles, 5 homers and his 65 RBI. For his outstanding accomplishments he was honored with All South Jersey and All State first team appointments.
If we were going to select a South Jersey all-star team of RBI producers, here is how they would line up. Remember, all these players are from the aluminum bat era and are the all time runs batted in leaders by position played only.
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