Devers in Hall of Fame company with 1,000 career hits before age 28

July 6th, 2024

NEW YORK -- It wasn’t even seven years ago that cracked his first career hit, a home run to center in Seattle on July 26, 2017, against a Mariners righty named Andrew Moore, who would pitch in 12 career Major League games.

In Saturday’s 14-4 loss to the Yankees, Boston’s star slugger came up with milestone hit No. 1,000 -- a hard single to right -- against Gerrit Cole, one of the best pitchers in the game.

And fitting it was for Devers to get into four figures in the hit column off Cole, whom he has owned through the years.

While Devers became the 33rd player to reach 1,000 hits for the Red Sox, the 27-year-old became just the sixth to do it before turning 28.

It is an impressive list that Devers joins, including his mentor Xander Bogaerts (now with the Padres) and four Hall of Famers in Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, Tris Speaker and Carl Yastrzemski.

“I feel happy for that accomplishment,” Devers said. “Obviously a little bit bittersweet because we lost today, but I feel happy to be able to reach that milestone. Obviously, it's nice to accomplish these kinds of goals, but that was today. Now, I need to get ready for tomorrow. I know that I have talent, and if I stay healthy, those milestones are going to keep coming.”

Despite the lopsided final score, it looked for a bit like Devers was poised to carry his recently surging team to victory.

The 1,000th hit scored speedster David Hamilton from second to tie the game at 1-1 with two outs in the top of the third, sparking a three-run rally.

And two innings later, Devers had another present for Cole when he mashed a prodigious go-ahead homer that left his bat at an exit velocity of 110.2 mph while traveling a Statcast-projected distance of 441 feet.

It was the eighth time in 39 career at-bats Devers has homered against Cole. Devers hasn’t hit more than three homers against any other opponent.

“He can hit out any pitch,” said Cole.

Devers posed like Reggie Jackson circa 1977 as the ball took flight and emphatically flipped his bat down and raised his arms triumphantly as he rounded the bases for 26.2 seconds.

Was Devers having some fun at the expense of his former teammate Alex Verdugo, who had a demonstrative bat flip and took a whopping 32 seconds to round the bases with a game-tying two-run shot in the third?

“Yeah, obviously I'm not that kind of [player], but it was a big hit for us. It put my team on top at that moment,” Devers said. “At the same time, they did it to us before, so nobody can get mad for those reactions. It's just baseball.”

Forgive Cole if he doesn’t have much of a reaction anymore when Devers takes him deep. He is getting used to it. And he wasn’t about to complain about the bat flip or jaunt around the bases.

"If as a pitcher you don't want to watch a home run trot, then you probably shouldn't give up a home run,” said Cole.

Before his career ends, Devers will own many other talented pitchers. Manager Alex Cora has enjoyed the process of watching Devers evolve over his career.

“Special hitter. I remember watching his first game in Seattle in 2017,” said Cora, who was Houston’s bench coach at the time. “The way he controlled the strike zone, he hit a home run to straight center. Then when I saw him in the playoffs in ’17, the inside-the-park homer against [Ken] Giles, and just hitting the ball hard everywhere.”

Cora can still remember the Devers smirk from the other side of the field. He enjoys it much more now.

“It’s kind of like he’s killing you softly with that smile. He tricks you,” said Cora. “He's gonna get you, but it’s cool because he smiles.”

In 2018, when Cora took over as the manager of the Red Sox, Devers was far from a finished product.

“Just think about the evolution of the hitter throughout the years since I got here in ’18. He didn’t play against lefties. We pinch-hit for him against relievers,” said Cora. “Shoot, we pinch-hit for him in the World Series. And little by little, he became a complete hitter. He uses the whole field. He understands how to hit in different ballparks.”