Mike “Pinky” Higgins was a model of consistency during his 14-year American League career with Philadelphia, Boston, and Detroit. He batted .292 lifetime and was a steady fielder, though at each stop the low-key Texan typically was overshadowed by teammates such as Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, and Ted Williams. During a doubleheader between the Red Sox and Tigers on June 21, 1938, however, the Boston third baseman accomplished something that eluded more famous and formidable hitters: he set a still-standing big-league record for consecutive base hits.
On this Tuesday afternoon in Detroit, Higgins banged out three singles and a double in four official at-bats (he also walked) as Boston roughed up the Tigers’ Roxie Lawson, 8-3, in the opener. In the second game, Higgins singled his first time up, prompting umpire Cal Hubbard to remark, “That makes you 5-for-5 for the day.”
Higgins corrected him. He was now 9-for-9. His hit parade had started two days earlier in Chicago, where he had collected four hits in four official at-bats.
Another single his next time up pushed Higgins to 10 consecutive hits, putting him within one of rTis Speaker’s 1920 mark of 11 straight.
Higgins was starting to feel the tension. It could’t have pleased him when broadcaster Ty Tyson got on the public address system and told the 26,400 fans at Briggs Stadium what was happening. Nonetheless, in his third plate appearance of the nightcap, Higgins shook off his jitters and lined another single to join Speaker in the record book.
In the eighth inning, the right-handed Higgins came to the plate against Tommy Bridges, who possessed one of the best curveballs in baseball. This time Higgins ripped the ball to right, the record breaker barely clearing the glove of leaping second baseman Charlie Gehringer. Higgins’ heroics could’t prevent the Red Sox from losing, 5-4. And the following day his streak came to an end when he struck out against the Tigers’ Vern Kennedy.
Pinky’s even dozen remained in the Tigers’ thoughts as they acquired him the following season. He became Detroit’s regular third sacker through the World War II years, returning for one final season in Boston in 1946.
Curiously, another deal with Boston brought to Detroit the only player ever to match Higgins’ feat. In 1952, slugging first baseman Walt Dropostrung together a dozen straight hits during three games in New York and Washington before a foul fly to the catcher ended his bid to overcome Higgins.