Denny Lyons is the owner of an often overlooked American Association hitting streak of 52 games.
Way back when, Joe DiMaggio was approaching 40 games on his way to a 56 game hitting streak. When he hit safely in game #43 he passed Bill Dahlen for 2nd all-time. Next up was ‘Wee’ Willie Keeler’s streak of 44. As we all know, Joe D blew past that mark and ended up with a hit streak of 56 games.
But poor Denny Lyons’ 52 game hitting streak was (and in most instances) still is off the books.
Denny Lyons was a star player back in the 1880’s and early 1890’s. He began his career at the age of 19 in the American Association, one of the numerous major leagues of the day, in 1885.
A third basemen with a strong batting eye, Lyons was an on-base machine. His .407 career mark places him 41st all-time. During his career he placed in the top 10 in OBA six times, slugging five times, WAR six times, etc etc. His career OPS+ mark of 139 is 80th all-time.
During the infamous 1887 season, when walks were counted as hits, Lyons ‘hit’ safely in 52 games. During this streak he actually record a hit in all but two games (in which he walked). This is the same season as Tip O’Neil’s famous .492 batting average.
MLB rule changes in 1968 changed some of the rulings regarding counting walks as hits, which has removed Denny Lyons name from most hit streak lists.
2006 NY Times Hit Streak List
56: Joe DiMaggio, Yankees 1941
44: Willie Keeler, Orioles 1897
44: Pete Rose, Reds 1978
42: Bill Dahlen, Cubs 1894
41: George Sisler, Browns 1922
Denny played under the rules of his day. If this is taken at face value, Denny Lyons is the owner of a 52 game hitting streak.