What have you done 1,000 times? Changed out a roll of toilet paper, parallel parked, made a breakfast sandwich? You have done other, more meaningful things: you have offered someone comfort 1,000 times. You have fed someone 1,000 times. You have prayed 1,000 times, or wished the best for someone 1,000 times. You have done negative things, too; you have been jealous 1,000 times, or hurt someone’s feelings, whether you meant to or not, 1,000 times. This is being human, this accumulation of moments portioned into various containers over the years. If you are a professional baseball player, a certain number of your moments will be captured, cataloged, pinned to the pages of history. The numbers belong to you, but also not.
On a Sunday afternon in Toronto in 2001, Edgar Martínez crossed home plate in a Seattle Mariners uniform for the 1,000th time. In the first inning of the game, he hit an RBI single off starter Esteban Loaiza and would later come around to score on a Bret Boone single. The 20,000 people watching in the SkyDome didn’t know that they were witnessing a career milestone. They were mostly focused on counting and cataloguing other things.
The Mariners would go on to win the game, their fifth straight en route to an eight-game winning streak in a record-breaking season that probably ranks second only to the Seahawks’ Super Bowl year in the Seattle sports pantheon. (I am willing to hear arguments on the 1979 Sonics. I just wasn’t around for it.) In a year full of offensive fireworks and dramatic performances, Edgar’s achievement was somewhat muted. Scoring 1,000 runs isn’t as exciting as driving in 1,000 runs, something Griffey did three years before; scoring runs is more a tribute to Edgar’s ability to get on base. But getting a hit in the majors is hard, and getting on base is hard, and making it all the way around the bases to score is also hard, especially in one’s age 38 season, the twilight of the kneecaps (one of Cormac McCarthy’s lesser-known works); to do that 1,000 times is nothing short of amazing. It’s Edgar’s number, but he shares it with us.