Walter Johnson was the only pitcher in Major League Baseball with 3,000 strikeouts for more than 50 years.
In Major League Baseball (MLB), the 3,000 strikeout club is the group of pitchers who have struck out 3,000 or more batters in their careers. Walter Johnson was the first to reach 3,000, doing so in 1923, and was the only pitcher at this milestone for 50 years until Bob Gibson recorded his 3,000th strikeout in 1974. In total, 16 pitchers have reached 3,000 strikeouts with John Smoltz, the most recent club member, joining in 2008.Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson are the only left-handed pitchers in this group. Randy Johnson was also the pitcher quickest to 3,000 strikeouts, taking fewer games pitched or innings pitched than any other pitcher.César Gerónimo is the only player struck out by two different pitchers for their 3,000th strikeout, first by Gibson in 1974 and then Nolan Ryan in 1980. The Chicago Cubs are one of two franchises to see multiple pitchers record their 3,000th strikeout on their roster, first Ferguson Jenkins in 1982 and then Greg Maddux in 2005. The Minnesota Twins also had two pitchers reach the milestone with their team. Walter Johnson was the first, joining the club while the franchise was called the Washington Senators, then Bert Blyleven joined in 1986 with the team in Minnesota. Ten 3,000 strikeout pitchers are also members of the 300 win club.
Membership in the 3,000 strikeout club is often described as a guarantee of eventual entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of the thirteen eligible members of the 3,000 strikeout club, eleven have been elected to the Hall. The two who have appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot but have not yet been elected, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, both made their first appearances on the ballot for the 2013 elections. Each received only about half of the total votes needed for induction, with Schilling earning slightly more votes than Clemens. Clemens' future election is seen as uncertain because of his alleged links to use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Although Schilling was never linked to PED use, his future election is also seen as uncertain because of the PED issue. The current and near-future eligibility of many players linked to PED use, combined with voting restrictions in Hall of Fame balloting, has been cited as the source of a "backlog" in future Hall elections. Eligibility requires that a player has "been retired five seasons" or deceased for at least 6 months, disqualifying three living players who have been active within the past five seasons (all of whom will become eligible for induction in the Hall's class of 2015). Greg Maddux is the most recently elected member, voted in during 2014 balloting. Seven pitchers from this club were named amongst the one hundred greatest players in MLB history as part of the All-Century Team, four of whom were eventually voted as starters for the team by fan vote.