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Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY

RIGHT FIELDERS


When the greatest right fielders of all time are considered, the following names seem to be universally agreed upon by most historians, and appear on virtually every list. As with my prior list, player names will be listed alphabetically, their years in the Major Leagues will appear in parenthesis, and African-American players will appear in red. Also as before, if you know the game, opinions and arguments are welcomed!


Henry Aaron (1954-1976)
Bobby Bonds (1968-1981)
Roberto Clemente (1955-1972)
Sam Crawford (1899-1917)
Andre Dawson (1976-1996)
Martin Dihigo (Negro Leauges) (Cuban Descent)
Vladimir Guerrero (1996-Present)
Tony Gwynn (1982-2001)
Harry Heilmann (1914-1932)
Reggie Jackson (1968-1987)
Al Kaline (1953-1974)
Chuck Klein (1928-1944)
Mel Ott (1926-1947)
Dave Parker (1973-1991)
Frank Robinson (1956-1976)
Babe Ruth (1914-1935)
Gary Sheffield (1988-2009)
Ichiro Suzuki (2001-Present)
Paul Waner (1926-1945)
Dave Winfield (1973-1995)





THE GREATEST RIGHT FIELDERS OF ALL-TIME







#10. ANDRE DAWSON



A gifted all-around player with few weaknesses, Andre Dawson was exceptional from his first days in the big leagues. A rare combination of speed and power, Dawson was also an outstanding defensive right fielder. An 8-time Gold Glove winner, Dawson also had a cannon for an arm that few runners ever challenged. Dawson had the misfortune of playing a substantial portion of his prime years with the Montreal Expos. Though an excellent team for much of his time there, Montreal was far removed from the media centers of the U.S., robbing Dawson of the national notoriety he deserved during many of his most productive years. More importantly, the Expos played their home games at Montreal's dreary Olympic Stadium, a ballpark that featured one of the worst artificial turf surfaces in baseball, a primary factor in the onset of Dawson's chronically bad knees, which hampered him from reaching even greater heights as a player. Yet, these circumstances didn't stop Dawson from being one of the most dominant players of his generation. The 8-time All-Star became one of the few players in the history of professional sports to be named Most Valuable Player of his league while playing for a last place team when he accomplished the feat as a member of the Chicago Cubs in 1987. Dawson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.










#9. VLADIMIR GUERRERO


With an ultra-quiet nature, and a reluctance to communicate with the press due to his broken English, future Hall-of-Famer Vladimir Guerrero will go down as a truly "legendary" player - that is, one who few people ever really knew, in spite of his undeniable greatness. A player who could do everything on a baseball field at the highest level, Guerrero, like his predecessor Andre Dawson, spent the early years of his career with the Montreal Expos, and like Dawson, had his knees ravaged playing on the turf-covered asphalt of Olympic Stadium. A vicious power hitter with excellent speed before the deterioration of his knees, Guerrero also excelled in the field, and had one of the most powerful arms in baseball history. Now nearing the end of his brilliant career, Guerrero is currently the Designated Hitter of the Baltimore Orioles.









#8. MEL OTT


One of baseball's biggest stars of the 1930's, Mel Ott was the centerpiece of the New York Giants, and one of the greatest home run hitters in baseball history. An early member of the 500 home run club, Ott combined power at the plate with excellent outfield skills. Adept at handling the difficult right field of the Polo Grounds, Ott also had an outstanding arm, and was a league leader in outfield assists. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951.









#7. TONY GWYNN


One of the National League's all-time greatest hitters, Tony Gwynn was an exceptional all-around player who excelled in the field as well as at the plate. An excellent defensive right fielder who displayed an athleticism early in his career that belied his stocky build, the former college point guard (San Diego State) had speed, quick reactions, and a solid arm. An 8-time National League batting champion and a 15-time All-Star, Gwynn was also a 5-time Gold Glove winner. Elected in his first year of eligibility with one of the highest vote percentages ever (97.6), Gwynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.









#6. FRANK ROBINSON


One of the toughest and fiercest competitors in the history of professional sports, Frank Robinson was an intimidating presence on the field, and one of the greatest team leaders in the history of the game. Known more for his offensive prowess, Robinson was also an excellent defender who was consistently outstanding with the glove, and the heart and soul of every team he played on. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.










#5. ICHIRO SUZUKI


An electrifying performer who can be spellbinding at the plate or in the field, Ichiro Suzuki is one of the few players who can win a game all on his own, without being a power hitter. Blessed with unusual baseball instincts and blazing speed, Suzuki covers more ground than any player who's ever played the position, and though small in size, has one of the most explosive outfield throwing arms in baseball history. Already a member of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, Suzuki won the American League Most Valuable Player award in his first year in the Major Leagues, and has won three American League batting championships.









#4. AL KALINE


The centerpiece of the Detroit Tigers throughout the 1950's and 1960's, Al Kaline was one of the youngest players to come into the Major Leagues when he broke into the Tigers lineup at the age of 18 immediately after graduating from high school in his hometown of Baltimore. A great hitter who was the youngest player in Major League history to win a league batting title (20 years old), Kaline was one of the greatest defensive right fielders in baseball history. Blessed with great quickness and one of the strongest arms in the game, Kaline was the winner of 10 Gold Glove awards. An 18-time All-Star, Kaline was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1980.









#3. BABE RUTH


Though he's automatically considered the greatest right fielder of all-time on virtually every all-time list in existence, Babe Ruth ranks only number 3 on my list. As stated earlier, my personal criteria for judging the greats of the game has a much heavier weighting on all-around play and not just staggering offensive statistics. In other words, when judging the merits of a player, my primary question is, "in how many different ways can this guy beat the opposition?" Much like Ted Williams on the left fielders list, most of the damage that Babe Ruth brought to bear came at the plate. He had no speed. By all accounts, he was only an average outfielder, though he had a powerful throwing arm. Even though I rate him as the single greatest player in the history of the game, (which I will explain in detail in a later list), he only ranks 3rd among my right fielders.









#2. HENRY AARON


Known to most as the home run king of baseball, outside of baseball purists, few know that Henry Aaron was one of the most complete players of all time. As great as he was, Aaron's main problem in getting the credit he's due historically was coming into the game at nearly the same time as the more flamboyant and flashy Willie Mays. Aaron was to baseball what Oscar Robertson was to basketball, a complete master of all phases of the game, who displayed his skills in a straight-forward, no-frills fashion, while Mays, on the other hand, was Magic Johnson, doing everything with flash, style, and pizazz. Aaron also had the handicap of playing in the relative media outposts of Milwaukee and Atlanta, while Mays spent his entire career in either New York City or San Francisco. Yet, Aaron was an outstanding defensive right fielder with flawless fundamentals. Combined with his legendary skills at the plate, Aaron's complete game puts him ahead of Babe Ruth on my all-time list.









#1. ROBERTO CLEMENTE


As a right fielder, Roberto Clemente simply had no equal. With explosive speed, cat-like quickness, the most powerful and accurate outfield throwing arm of all time, and a regal presence on the field, Roberto Clemente turned right field play into an art form. Baseball's first Spanish-speaking superstar, Clemente overcame the culture shock of arriving in mid-1950's Pittsburgh from his native Puerto Rico, and was able to harness the frustrations from the dual-edged prejudices he faced daily into spectacular, at times almost violent play on the field. A tremendous hitter, Clemente - a lifetime .317 hitter and four-time National League batting champion - was best known for his artistry in right field. A 12-time Gold Glove winner, he was often breathtaking in the field, and several times, threw out opposing runners from the warning track. A 15-time All-Star and the 1966 National League Most Valuable Player, Clemente was enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 1973, one year after his untimely death in a plane crash.

 

Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY

CENTER FIELDERS

Center Field. It's one of the most important positions in baseball on a day-to-day, game-to-game basis, and it's one of the most important positions in the history of the sport. To play it well requires speed, quick reactions, a strong arm, excellent decision-making skills, and years and years of practice. From the T-Ball level clear up to the majors, the best athletes are usually found in center field. The best of all-time were defensive anchors for their teams. They could save games with great catches, and could make their pitchers more effective by taking away available outfield space for hitters to drive in important runs, advance runners, and win ballgames offensively. Because of the importance of this position to any team, my list of the greatest center fielders of all time places an even greater premium on defensive skills than the other two outfield positions. As usual, my list will differ from the average "Best of All Time" list because of my insistence on defensive play and mastery of all phases of the game, and not simply on huge offensive numbers. And as usual, my list differs from the average list due to my inclusion of stars from the Negro leagues. Here are the names that will typically appear on virtually any "Best of All Time list for center fielders. As usual, years in the major leagues appear in parenthesis, and African-American players appear in red.


ALL-TIME GREAT CENTER FIELDERS

Richie Ashburn (1948-1962)
Earl Averill (1929-1941)
Wally Berger (1930-1940)
Cesar Cedeno (1970-1986)
Earl Combs (1924-1935)
Johnny Damon (1995- Present)
Larry Doby (1947-1959)
Jim Edmonds (1993-2010)
Curt Flood (1956-1971)
Billy Hamilton (1888-1901)
Torii Hunter (1997-Present)
Fred Lynn (1974-1990)
Garry Maddox (1972-1986)
Dale Murphy (1976-1993)
Al Oliver (1968-1985)
Amos Otis (1967-1984)
Jimmy Piersall (1950-1967)
Vada Pinson (1958-1975)
Kirby Puckett (1984-1995)
Jimmy Wynn (1963-1977)











THE GREATEST CENTER FIELDERS OF ALL TIME









#10. ANDREW JONES
(1996-Present)


From 2000 to 2005, Andrew Jones was one of the most dominant players in Major League Baseball. One of the game's most dangerous power hitters, Jones could consistently hit for average, and produce in clutch situations for an Atlanta Braves team that was always a championship level team. Yet, he makes this list on the strength of what he brought to the table defensively. When healthy, Andrew Jones was one of the most brilliant defenders in the history of Major League Baseball. A spectacular outfielder with exceptional range, Jones could make the routine catch or the impossible play with an equal amount of ease. A five-time All-Star, and the runner-up to Albert Pujols for the 2005 National League Most Valuable Player Award, Jones was the winner of 10 consecutive Gold Gloves for defensive excellence. In 2007, Jones began to lose his hitting stroke, and has been a poor offensive producer ever since, thus robbing him of a certain spot in the Hall of Fame. Even with the great offensive fall off, Jones accomplished enough in his prime to receive heavy Hall of Fame consideration.









#9. DUKE SNIDER
(1947-1964)


One of the pillars of the legendary lineup of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950's, Duke Snider was dominant both offensively and defensively, and one of three New York-based center fielders from the 1950's to make this list. Though he didn't have the outstanding speed of his New York contemporaries Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, Snider was by no means slow, and could often be spectacular in the field. A smart baserunner, and Major League Baseball's premier home run hitter of the 1950's, Snider could beat you in a variety of ways. Born and raised in Compton, CA, Snider was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980, and passed away on February 27 of this year.











#8. TY COBB
(1905-1928)


Probably no athlete in the history of American professional sports was driven more by his own personal demons than Ty Cobb. Yet, no one ever achieved more. And no greater racist ever reached national notoriety during the 20th Century than did Cobb. As a black man, it pains me to include him, but as someone who loves the game, he can't, in all honesty, be left off any respectable list. Though the peak of his career came during the 1910's and early 1920's, it took over half a century for Cobb's career records to fall. Until Pete Rose passed him in 1985, he was the all-time Major League leader in hits. Until Lou Brock passed him in 1977, he was the all-time Major League leader in stolen bases. His .367 lifetime batting average was, by far, the best of all time and will NEVER be approached. His speed made him a great center fielder in an era when home runs were a rare occurrence in baseball. Hated by opponents and teammates alike, Cobb was a relentless competitor who would do anything to get an edge, but his talent was undeniable. Cobb also amassed a huge fortune, partly from baseball, but mostly because of his skill as an investor. Though he invested mostly in real estate, Cobb was an early and major investor in two well-known start-up companies, General Motors in his professional home of Detroit, and Coca-Cola in his home state of Georgia. Considered by a number of historians to be the greatest player in baseball history, Cobb was a member of the inaugural 1936 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb - the personification of evil as a person, but an all-time great as a player.









#7. TRIS SPEAKER
(1907-1928)


Tris Speaker was one of Major League Baseball’s greatest players during the first half of the 20th Century. A lifetime .344 hitter, Speaker was best known for his amazing defensive play in center field. One of the all-time leaders in outfield assists, Speaker’s quickness and throwing arm separated him from his competitors. Though he is considered one of the game’s greatest players, his career was consistently overshadowed by Ty Cobb, whose numbers were always superior. Speaker was a member of the second class elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.










#6. JAMES "COOL PAPA" BELL
(1922-1946)


The fastest player in the history of the Negro Leagues, and possibly the fastest in the history of baseball, Cool Papa Bell was the player most responsible for the development of the speed-based aspects of the game that became the hallmark of Negro League baseball, and continues to be used in Major League Baseball today. A master at the stolen base, Bell's speed made him a terror once he reached base. With Bell, a walk or a single could routinely be considered a triple, with his ability to take extra bases. His speed was also a factor in making him a dominant defensive center fielder, particularly in ballparks with spacious center fields. One of the first Negro Leaguers to gain entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bell was inducted in 1974.






#5. JOE DIMAGGIO
(1936-1951)


No player in the history of Major League Baseball accomplished more in as little a time as Joe DiMaggio. In a career that lasted a brief 13 years (including three full seasons lost due to service in World War II) DiMaggio was generally considered to be Major League Baseball's best player from the late 1930's through the 1940's. Best known for his 56-game hitting streak, DiMaggio was also a great power hitter, who most likely would have been a member of the elite 500 home run club had he not played his home games at Yankee Stadium. While each edition of Yankee Stadium (including the recently opened new Yankee Stadium) has heavily favored left-hand hitters, the original configuration of Yankee Stadium (before its renovation in the early 1970's) was a particularly horrific place for a right-handed power hitter. With dimensions of 457 feet to the left center field power alleys, and 461 feet to dead center field, it was nearly impossible for right-handed hitters to reach the fences unless they were dead pull hitters, (or unless they were Mickey Mantle) which DiMaggio was not. Yet, he managed to hit 361 career home runs, has the 10th highest slugging percentage in baseball history, and was one of the greatest power hitters of his generation. DiMaggio, however, was at his best when he was patrolling the huge center field of old Yankee Stadium. With outstanding quickness and a great first step, DiMaggio was a master of angles, and getting to balls that most other center fielders would fail to reach. Also blessed with an outstanding throwing arm and impeccable fundamentals, he rarely made mistakes defensively. DiMaggio was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.











#4. MICKEY MANTLE
(1951-1968)



At his peak, no player in history brought as devastating a package of total skills to the game as did Mickey Mantle. A pure athlete, the young Mickey Mantle did virtually everything on a baseball field at a higher level than anyone had before. The greatest switch hitter in baseball history, Mantle was one of the greatest pure power hitters the game has ever known, capable of hitting monumental 500 ft. home runs from either side of the plate, and before injuries slowed him down, was one of the fastest players in baseball history. A natural right-handed hitter, Mantle hit some of the longest home runs in baseball history. Among his 10 longest home runs, six were hit left-handed, and four were hit right-handed, and traveled distances from 530 ft. at the low end to over 650 ft. at the highest. During his career, Mantle hit home runs completely out of Comiskey Park (Chicago), Tiger Stadium (Detroit), Griffith Stadium (Washington, DC), Shibe Park (Philadelphia), and Busch Stadium (St. Louis), and in 1963, he came within a foot of being the only player in history to ever hit a ball completely out of Yankee Stadium. A man who came from a lineage of several generations of men who died before the age of 40, Mantle never expected to have a long life span, and consequently, lived his life, at times, in a wild and reckless fashion. Known to have struggled with alcoholism for much of his adult life, his own lack of discipline kept him from becoming the greatest player in the game’s history. Yet, with all of his personal demons, and despite a career wracked by injuries, Mantle still accomplished enough to earn a seat at the table with the greatest players to ever play the game. Faced with replacing the legendary Joe DiMaggio as the Yankee center fielder, Mantle, an outstanding defensive center fielder, caught fire midway through his rookie year after a horrendous start, and quickly became the American League’s most dominant player. As the centerpiece of the legendary New York Yankees of the 1950's, a team that went to the World Series 12 of his first 14 seasons, Mantle was THE American sports icon of the 1950s. What Babe Ruth was to the 1920's and what Michael Jordan was to the 1990's, Mantle was to the 1950's, and with the NBA and NFL not being anywhere near what they are today, his level of celebrity during that time rivaled only that of the biggest Hollywood film icons of the time. A three-time American League MVP, and a 16-time All-Star, Mantle retired with 536 career home runs and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.











#3. OSCAR CHARLESTON
(1915-1935)



Oscar Charleston was the greatest outfielder in Negro League baseball history. A fast, power-hitting center fielder capable of covering more ground than any other outfielder of his time, Charleston was most often compared to Ty Cobb as a player. Charleston, however, surpassed Cobb in speed, defensive skills, and the ability to hit for power. Charleston, however, very much resembled Cobb in temperament, displaying a temper that was often uncontrollable. Yet, the records that he set cannot be denied and readily attest to his greatness. The best estimates of his lifetime batting average place him around the .350 mark, and based on the reports from major league stars who played against him in exhibitions, he was better than any center fielder the Major Leagues had to offer. Charleston, who died in 1954, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.











#2. KEN GRIFFEY, JR.
(1989-2010)


Ken Griffey, Jr. rivaled Barry Bonds as the greatest player of his generation, and with the bad choices made by Bonds late in his career, will likely go down in history as the superior player. As a child who grew up around Major League Baseball at the foot of his dad, Cincinnati Red outfielder Ken Griffey, Junior was groomed for major league stardom almost from the time he could walk. Breaking into the big leagues at 19 as a teammate of his father with the Seattle Mariners, Griffey, Jr., was dominant almost from the very beginning. A 13-time All-Star, Griffey was the most spectacular center fielder in the American League, and was a 10-time Gold Glove winner. His aggressiveness in the outfield, however, contributed to a constant rash of injuries that hindered him from reaching the full potential of his talent. Yet, he finished his career as the fifth leading home run hitter of all time, and left a legacy of excellence that will lead him to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.














#1. WILLIE MAYS
(1951-1973)




Willie Mays was, quite simply, the greatest all-around player to ever set foot on a Major League Baseball field. After a prolonged slow start at the beginning of his career, the 20-year old Mays found his way early in his rookie season, and never faltered again until age slowed his instincts at the very end of his career in the early 1970's. Mays was the quintessential five-tool player who could (1) hit for average; (2) hit with consistent power; (3) run; (4) field; and (5) throw. Yet, this only partially tells the story of Mays' greatness, for it wasn’t just what he did that made him distinctive, but how he did it. The first player in history to wear a custom tailored uniform, Mays looked better on the field than anyone else. Blessed with tremendous speed, Mays was the only player to wear a cap slightly larger than needed, so it would fly off his head as he sped around the bases, making him look even faster than he was. While other outfielders caught the ball in the fundamentally sound two-hand fashion, Mays instead perfected the “basket catch” where he caught fly balls at his waist with palms facing upwards. He was the most spectacular defensive center fielder of all time, capable of making seemingly impossible catches seem routine, He also possessed a rocket arm that players around the National League learned early in his career never to test. A lifetime .302 hitter, Mays was also, in my opinion, the premiere home run hitter of his generation. When their careers had come to an end, Henry Aaron held all Major League home run records, and finished with 755 home runs to Mays' 660. Yet, Aaron was blessed to play every home game of his career in two of the best hitters parks ever, County Stadium in Milwaukee, and Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, parks made-to-order for right-handed home run hitters. In Atlanta particularly, Aaron played in a ballpark where the short distance of the fences, combined with the typical heat of Atlanta helped balls jump off the bats of power hitters. Mays, on the other hand, played the bulk of his home games in the worst hitters park, and in fact, the worst baseball stadium in history, San Francisco's Candlestick Park. Having to fight the fog, the cold temperatures, and the howling, swirling winds coming off Candlestick Point every night during the peak of his career, Mays lost untold numbers of home runs to the elements. Had he played in virtually any other ballpark in the Major Leagues, he most likely would have broken Babe Ruth's home run record and not Aaron. Yet, Mays was clearly head and shoulders above virtually every other player in baseball history, and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.




 
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Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY



CATCHERS
Playing the catcher position at the Major League level is one of the most physically and mentally demanding jobs in all of competitive sports. From the protective equipment that must be worn in the middle of summer, to the constant squatting that wears down the legs, catching puts a constant level of stress on the body that few other sports can. Yet, effective catching requires as much mental dexterity as physical endurance. Catchers are the "field generals" of baseball. They are charged with making pitch selections for pitchers, positioning infield defenses, communicating effectively with umpires, stopping the running games of opponents, and getting optimum performances out of their pitchers. They are at times counselors, disciplinarians, and cheerleaders, all while they are expected to contribute offensively. Because they have to monitor the activities of the entire field during every pitch of every game they play, catchers more than any other players make the best managers once they leave the game. The following catchers are generally considered to be among the best of all time.


ALL-TIME GREAT MAJOR LEAGUE CATCHERS
Bob Boone (1972-1990)
Roger Bresnahan (1897-1915)
Gary Carter (1974-1992)
Del Crandell (1949-1966)
Buck Ewing (1880-1897)
Rick Ferrell (1929-1947)
Bill Freehan (1961-1976)
Gabby Hartnett (1922-1941)
Elston Howard (1955-1968)
Ernie Lombardi (1931-1947)
Al Lopez (1928-1947)
Tim McCarver (1959-1980)
Thurman Munson (1969-1979)
Lance Parrish (1977-1995)
Darrell Porter (1971-1987)
John Roseboro (1957-1970)
Benito Santiago (1986-2005)
Ray Schalk (1912-1929)
Wally Schang (1913-1931)
Biz Mackey (1923-1936)










THE GREATEST CATCHERS IN BASEBALL HISTORY









#10. JOE TORRE
(1960-1977)



Most baseball fans know him as the manager who guided the most recent New York Yankee dynasty to glory. Not nearly as many fans remember how great he was as a player. Joe Torre is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated great players of all time. A versatile player who could play third or first base, Torre was an excellent catcher, and a GREAT hitter. A 9-time All-Star, a National League batting champion and the 1971 National League Most Valuable Player, Torre was a lifetime .297 hitter who could hit for average and power, and was an excellent handler of pitchers. While he probably was deserving of the Hall of Fame as a player, his historic managerial run with the Yankees will guarantee him a much deserved spot in Cooperstown.









#9. BILL DICKEY
(1928-1946)



The Yankee catcher throughout their championship years of the 1930's and early 1940's, Bill Dickey guided Yankee pitching staffs to nine World Series appearances and eight world championships. A great contact hitter, Dickey was a lifetime .313 hitter and a great team leader who later managed the Yankees after his retirement as a player. Dickey was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954.












#8. MIKE PIAZZA
(1992-2007)



A high school and college baseball player with little expectations of a pro career, Mike Piazza became one of the two greatest offensive catchers in baseball history. Piazza was drafted in the 62nd round of the 1986 Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, not as a legitimate prospect, but as a favor to his father Vince from his childhood friend and Mike’s godfather, Dodger manager Tom Lasorda. Piazza, a first baseman at the high school and college levels, switched to catcher as a professional, and quickly developed the fundamentals of catching while displaying offensive skills that caught the Dodger organization completely by surprise. Selected as the 1993 National League Rookie of the Year, Piazza was a 12-time All-Star, and set the Major League career record for home runs with 427.











#7. MICKEY COCHRANE
(1925-1937)



Mickey Cochrane was the catcher for the Philadelphia Athletics dynasty of the late 1920's and early 1930's. One of the greatest defensive catchers of all time, Cochrane was also an exceptional hitter, who finished his career with a .320 lifetime batting average. He is generally considered to be the Major League’s greatest catcher of the first half of the 20th Century. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947.












#6. CARLTON FISK
(1969-1993)



One of the greatest handlers of pitchers and team leaders of all time, Carlton Fisk caught more games than any catcher in American League history. An 11-time All-Star, Fisk was the leader of every team he played on. A strong defensive catcher, Fisk’s greatest strength was handling a pitching staff and consistently getting the most out of his pitchers. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.












#5. YOGI BERRA
(1948-1965)





Along with Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra was the premier catcher in Major League Baseball throughout the middle portion of the 20th Century. Berra became a baseball institution as the catcher for the New York Yankees during their greatest sustained era of dominance. During his 19-year career, he appeared in 14 World Series and won 10 world championship rings. The American League’s most dominant catcher during most of his career, Berra was a lifetime .285 hitter, and was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player. As manager of the Yankees (1964) and the New York Mets (1973), he became one of the few managers in baseball history to lead teams from each league to the World Series. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility in 1972.













#4. ROY CAMPANELLA
(1948-1957)



After losing some of his best years to baseball’s color barrier, Roy Campanella still became the National League’s dominant catcher of the 1950's, and one of the greatest in the game’s history. An outstanding power hitter, Campanella was also an outstanding defensive catcher who excelled in his handling of the Brooklyn Dodger pitching staff. A native of Philadelphia, some of Campanella’s best seasons came in the Negro Leagues, where he starred for the Baltimore Elite Giants. His years in the Negro Leagues gave him the experience, however, to hit the ground running once he reached the Major Leagues. While his career numbers weren’t quite as high as his contemporary Yogi Berra, his years of dominance in the Negro Leagues place him one spot above Berra on my all-time list. In 10 Major League seasons, Campanella was an 8-time All-Star, and was selected as the National League’s Most Valuable Player three times. In 1958, his career was cut short after an automobile accident permanently paralyzed him. Campanella was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.




What's My Line - September 12, 1953












#3. IVAN RODRIGUEZ
(1991-Present)



One of the greatest defensive catchers of all-time, Ivan Rodriguez was one of the greatest combinations of defensive skill behind the plate and offensive firepower with the bat in the history of Major League catching. During much of his career, he (along with Benito Santiago) was the quickest and most athletic catcher in baseball history. A lifetime .297 hitter, he could beat you at the plate, and he could shut down the running game of opponents with his amazing arm. A 14-time All-Star and the 1999 American League Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez not only had no peer in managing a pitching staff, but he was also an inspirational team leader who could will his team to important wins as he did in 2003 when he almost single-handedly led the Florida Marlins to a National League championship. A 13-time Gold Glove winner, Rodriguez was far and away the best defensive catcher of his generation. He is currently active with the Washington Nationals.














#2. JOSH GIBSON
(1927-1946)



Along with Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, Josh Gibson was one of the three greatest offensive forces in the history of baseball. Possibly, the greatest power hitter of all time, Gibson, along with Mickey Mantle, is credited with some of the longest home runs in the history of baseball, including hitting a ball completely out of Pittsburgh’s enormous Forbes Field that traveled in excess of 550 ft. While Gibson may have been the best hitter in baseball history, his defensive skills, while good, were not outstanding, and according to fellow players, Biz Mackie was the Negro League's best defensive catcher of all time. Because of his defensive limitations, I place him at number two on my list. Gibson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
















#1. JOHNNY BENCH
(1967-1983)



Johnny Bench was, quite simply, the best all-around catcher in the modern era of Major League Baseball. A dominant player from the time he broke into the big leagues as a 20-year old rookie in 1968, Bench brought defensive skills that had never been seen before at the Major League level. The first catcher in Major League history to perfect the one-hand catching style that is standard for all catchers today, and blessed with the greatest throwing arm of any catcher in baseball history, Bench, at his peak, was virtually impossible to run on. The 1968 National League Rookie of the Year, and a 2-time National League Most Valuable Player, Bench was an awesome combination of defensive excellence and offensive dominance. Even though he is considered by most historians to be the greatest catcher of all time, he played much of his career at 80% strength. A 14-time All-Star and the winner of 10 Gold Gloves, Bench’s career took a downturn when late in the 1972 season, he was diagnosed with a tumor on his lung. Averaging over 40 home runs and 120 RBI’s per year at the time of his diagnosis, Bench would have invasive lung surgery after the season’s end to remove the tumor, which was found to be benign. However, he never again regained the form that allowed him to dominate the game so completely before the surgery. Even after the effects of the surgery had taken its toll, Bench continued to be the best catcher of his generation by a wide margin. Had he played his entire career at peak efficiency, he most likely would have accumulated numbers that would have put him in Ruth / Aaron / Mays territory. Nevertheless, he stands alone among all catchers to play at the Major League level, and is considered one of the 20 greatest players of all time. Bench was inducted into the Baseball Hal of Fame in 1989..

 
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Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
this is a great thread, but it's taking a long time to load
and I'm on a pretty fast computer.

I'm not sure what's behind the slow loading RS. I hope it's not caused by something I'm doing on my end. If it is, I hope someone will let me know.
 

Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY WILLIE!!!

WILLIE HOWARD MAYS
Born: May 6, 1931



















While we celebrate the 80th birthday of one of the greatest performers in the history of American sports, there are many things to be grateful for. We can be grateful for his strength to psychologically survive the slings and arrows of the racist, Jim Crow Alabama of his youth. We can be appreciative of the style and the creativity that he used to take his sport to a level it had never seen. And of course, we can treasure the amazing athletic talents that he displayed for so many years on the world’s stage. But let’s also be grateful for the inner strength and mental toughness that it took to perform at the highest level, while surviving some of the most incredible setbacks anyone can imagine.

This, after all, is the Willie Mays who as a 19-year old kid away from his home and family for the first time, was forced to live separately from all of his teammates because of the color of his skin. This is the Willie Mays who upon arriving on the West Coast when the Giants left New York, found a stiff cold shoulder from San Franciscans who considered him “New York’s Giant” and who sought a star they could call their own. This was the Willie Mays who was cheered at the ballpark everyday, but who found bricks thrown through the windows of his home at night by hateful neighbors who resented his presence. It was the Willie Mays who tried in vain for months to find a San Francisco neighborhood that would allow him and his family to live a life free of violence and racial taunts. It was also a 24-year old Willie Mays who survived a toxic and painful marriage to an older, promiscuous, more sophisticated wife whose spending nearly sent him into permanent financial ruin, prompting him to say to an interviewer, “"I'm lonely. I want to have a family of my own. I have a son and I love him, but Michael lives with his mother in New York, and I get to see him only once or twice a year. I want a wife who will love me for myself, because I am Willie Mays, a person, not Willie Mays, a good ballplayer."

Yet, despite the hardships and the hatred that has followed him for much of his life, he performed without complaint, and he succeeded without fail. And in the end, he's lived a long, full and successful life, and he is now getting the respect he so richly deserves as being one of this country's greatest icons. Happy Birthday, and many more big brother!!!


 

Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY



THIRD BASEMEN


Third Base. The Hot Corner. Players at this position must possess excellent quickness, a strong, accurate arm, good lateral movement, and a strong consistent bat. Third base is the most difficult infield position to play at the professional level, and there are fewer third basemen in the Baseball Hall of Fame than players at any other position. This list, as always, will place a premium on players who were not just dominant offensively, but were great defenders as well. Years of Major League experience appears in parentheses and African-American players in red.​




ALL-TIME GREAT MAJOR LEAGUE THIRD BASEMEN


Frank Baker (1908-1922)
Sal Bando (1966-1981)
Buddy Bell (1972-1989)
Bobby Bonilla (1986-2001)
Clete Boyer (1955-1971)
Ken Boyer (1955-1969)
Hubie Brooks (1980-1994)
Ron Cey (1971-1987)
Eric Chavez (1998-Present)
Billy Cox (1941-1955)
Darrell Evans (1969-1989)
Stan Hack (1932-1947)
George Kell (1943-1957)
Bill Madlock (1973-1987)
Graig Nettles (1967-1988)
Terry Pendleton (1984-1998)
Scott Rolen (1996-Present)
Al Rosen (1947-1956)
Robin Ventura (1989-2004)
Matt Williams (1987-2003)











THE GREATEST THIRD BASEMEN IN BASEBALL HISTORY









#10. EDDIE MATHEWS
(1952-1968)




The only Braves player to play in each of the franchise's cities (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta), Eddie Mathews was one of the greatest power hitters of all time. Hitting behind Henry Aaron throughout much of the 1950's, the two formed one of the greatest offensive combinations in the game's history. Mathews hit more than 30 home runs in nine consecutive years, and finished his career with 512 home runs, tying him with Ernie Banks for 21st place on the all-time home run list. Mathews was a good defensive player, but not outstanding. He had little in the way of range, but he didn't miss much that came his way. Though he ranks near the top of most all-time third base lists, his defensive limitations keep him low on my list. Mathews makes this list as one of the greatest offensive players in baseball history. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978.











#9. CHIPPER JONES
(1993-Present)





A consistent hitter throughout his career, Chipper Jones' offensive numbers will most likely gain him election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. An outstanding all-around hitter who produced in big game situations, Jones makes my list as one of the game's all-time greatest offensive producers at third base. His defense is another story. Originally a shortstop who was switched to third because of his defensive shortcomings, Jones could have been better as a defender. He wasn't a butcher by any means. Chipper could grab anything hit his way, and at times could make the spectacular play. His range, however, was limited, and his overall defense was inconsistent, which places him on the low end of my list along with his Braves predecessor Mathews. The memory of the many championship opportunities lost by the Braves may weigh on the minds of Hall of Fame voters in the short term, but I believe in time, Chipper Jones, like many of his teammates, will rise in stature historically in years to come.










#8. WADE BOGGS
(1982-1999)





Much like Tony Gwynn in the National League, Wade Boggs was a yearly candidate to win the American League batting title, and was one of the American League's top all-around offensive players during the 1980's and 1990's. Boggs was a wicked line drive hitter who could hit the ball hard to all fields. He also had a knack for getting on base, with one of the highest percentages of walks for any non-power hitter of his generation. A lifetime .328 hitter and a 12-time All-Star, Boggs was also a solid defender and the winner of two Gold Glove awards at third base. Boggs won five American League batting championships, and had more than 3,000 hits in his career. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.












#7. RON SANTO
(1960-1974)





Ron Santo is probably the best player not to be elected into the Hall of Fame, and why he hasn’t been is a mystery to me. The National League’s premiere third baseman of the 1960's and early 1970's, Santo did it all. With the exception of possessing speed on the bases, Santo did everything you could ask of a player. He was an outstanding defensive player, and the winner of five Gold Gloves. He hit for average and he regularly hit for power. He rarely missed games, and he was the team leader and captain of a Cubs team that fielded three Hall of Fame players, A 9-time All-Star, Santo played his entire career suffering from diabetes, and wound up losing both legs to the disease after his career had ended. Santo passed away on December 3 of last year.
















#6. JUDY JOHNSON
(1918-1937)





Judy Johnson was the premiere third baseman of the early years of the Negro Leagues, and one of two Negro League third basemen to gain election into the Hall of Fame. Johnson was a critical piece to two championship winning Negro League franchises, the Hilldale Giants and the Homestead Grays. Because of his amazing defensive abilities, Johnson was most often compared to the Major League player he closely matched in size and style - the Pittsburgh Pirates' Pie Traynor. While he was the equal of Traynor in the field, his offensive numbers don’t quite compare to Traynor’s. A great line drive hitter who had a lifetime batting average in excess of .300, Johnson was best known for his defensive play. He later became known for his ability to scrutinize talent. It was Johnson who brought Josh Gibson into the Negro Leagues, and later as one of the first African-American talent scouts in Major League Baseball, he discovered and signed Dick Allen to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.











#5. PIE TRAYNOR
(1920-1937)





One of the greatest defensive third basemen of all time, Pie Traynor was Major League Baseball’s greatest third baseman during the first half of the 20th Century. An all-time leader in putouts for third baseman, Traynor had all the third base tools - great movement, quickness, an outstanding arm, and excellent range. Though he was better known for his brilliant defensive skills, Traynor was also a great hitter. One of the National League’s greatest contact hitters, Traynor was a lifetime .320 hitter. Traynor was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.











#4. BROOKS ROBINSON
(1955-1977)




Some things in sports have to be seen to be fully appreciated. A Barry Sanders breakaway run. The beauty of Kareem's sky hook. A cross-court, no-look pass from Magic. And Brooks Robinson snatching away line drives at third base. Brooks Robinson was the greatest defensive third baseman of all time, and one of the principal players on one of the greatest teams of all time, the Baltimore Orioles of the 1960's and 1970's. Robinson was an American League Most Valuable Player, the 1970 World Series Most Valuable Player, and an 18-time All-Star. A good hitter, Robinson was a solid contributor to his team offensively. But Brooks Robinson went to the Hall of Fame on the strength of his glove work, and as a defensive third baseman, words simply cannot describe how good he was. When he was healthy, NOTHING got past him. EVER. A winner of 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards, he played in four World Series and on two world championship teams. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.














#3. RAY DANDRIDGE
(1933-1949)




Ray Dandridge was the greatest third baseman in Negro League Baseball history. Much like the player who came before him, Judy Johnson, Dandridge was a superlative fielder, and a line drive hitter who consistently hit for high averages. While Dandridge and Judy Johnson were both dominant players defensively, Dandridge had the much better throwing arm. Additionally, Dandridge played many games against the best pitchers from the Major Leagues, both in exhibition games (which were exhibition games in name only) and in the Mexican League. Whenever given an opportunity to compete against the biggest names from the big leagues, Dandridge destroyed them, usually hitting near the .400 mark. His offensive production against slightly better competition and the superiority of his arm places him above Judy Johnson on my all-time list. Dandridge was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.













#2. GEORGE BRETT
(1973-1993)



George Brett was one of the greatest pure hitters in the history of Major League Baseball. A lifetime .305 hitter, Brett was a hugely competitive player who had the offensive and defensive skills to carry a team on his back for weeks at a time. The centerpiece of the great Kansas City Royals teams of the late 1970's and 1980's, Brett was the American League’s premiere third baseman throughout much of his career. A 13-time All-Star and the 1980 American League Most Valuable Player, Brett won three American league batting titles and on two occasions approached the .400 mark for a season. Brett throughout his career was a solid defender. Though never spectacular, he was always steady and consistent defensively. A 1985 Gold Glove winner, Brett was also a great post-season player who didn't have enough talent around him to get past the Yankees in the late 1970's and early 1980's. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 with the fifth highest vote percentage (98.19%) of all time.

.














#1. MIKE SCHMIDT
(1972-1989)




Mike Schmidt had no weaknesses on a baseball field, and there was nothing he couldn’t do at the highest level. The best all around player in Major League Baseball from the late 1970's through the early 1980's, Schmidt was one of baseball’s most spectacular defensive players, and the premiere power hitter of his generation. Defensively, Schmidt could make every play look simple, and could often be breathtaking at third base. Nearly the equal of Brooks Robinson as a defender, Schmidt was the winner of 10 Gold Gloves. Selected as the National League Most Valuable Player three times, he finished his career with 548 home runs, good for 15th on the all-time home run list. As great a player as he was, Mike Schmidt's only problem during much of his career was ........... Mike Schmidt. A tightly-wound perfectionist who admittedly struggled to enjoy the game, Schmidt often tied himself into emotional knots, partly because of his own self-critiques and partly because of the love-hate relationship he had with the ultra-demanding fans of Philadelphia. Even with all of his personal quirks, Schmidt was the best player in baseball for a long stretch, and he stands alone as the greatest third baseman in the history of Major League Baseball. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 with the eighth highest vote percentage (96.52%) of all time.
 

Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
CURT FLOOD: A HERO FOR THE AGES


CURT FLOOD (1938-1997)

Dear Mr. Kuhn,

After 12 years in the Major Leagues, I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen, and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States. It is my desire to play baseball in 1970, and I am capable of playing. I received a contract from the Philadelphia club but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decisions. I therefore request that you make known to all Major League clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season.

Sincerely,



Curt Flood





As the National Football League struggles to find common ground between its ownership and players in an attempt to avert a needless halt to the 2011 season, it brings to mind the work of a largely forgotten athlete whose personal sacrifices and commitment to justice made him one of the most influential athletes of the 20th Century. It brings to mind the life and legacy of Curt Flood. Through his suit against Major League Baseball, Curt Flood was the driving force behind the dismantling of one of the most heinous labor regulations in American history - Major League Baseball’s Reserve Clause. To have a greater understanding of the monumental sacrifice undertaken by Flood, it’s necessary to have a greater understanding of the man behind the landmark case.




Born in 1938, Curt Flood was raised in one of America’s all-time great incubators for Major League talent - Oakland, CA. He graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1956, and was immediately signed to a professional contract by the Cincinnati Reds. While not a large man in stature, the 5' 9" 180 pound outfielder made up for a lack of great size with brilliant athleticism. Graceful and acrobatic in the field, Flood had tremendous speed, and was a leadoff hitter for most of his career. Though his time in the minor leagues was short, so was his time in Cincinnati once he got to the big leagues. Major League teams of the 1950's abided by an unwritten “Black Quota”, through which most teams limited their black players to no more than three or four at a time. At the time of his call-up to the big leagues, the Reds already had two Black players in their outfield - Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson. Not wanting to field an all-black outfield, the Reds quickly traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals, thus robbing Flood of an opportunity to join his hometown friends Pinson and Robinson in an all-Oakland outfield, and robbing Cincinnati fans of what surely would have been the most dominant outfield unit in the National League. Once he joined the Cardinals, he quickly became a mainstay in their lineup. An outstanding hitter and one of the fastest players in the National League, Flood compiled a lifetime batting average of .293. A three-time All-Star, he was one of the National League’s top lead-off hitters, and was an integral part of a team that would win three National League titles and two world championships.




While Flood was an excellent offensive player, he was most valuable in center field. Next to Willie Mays, Flood was the National League’s premiere center fielder during the 1960's, and was the best defensive outfielder in all of baseball. With his speed and quickness, he covered more ground than any center fielder in the game, including Mays, and he was nothing short of spectacular with the glove. Though he played during many of Willie Mays’ peak years, Flood still won 7 consecutive National League Gold Glove Awards for center field play, a testament to his defensive dominance.




In addition to being a gifted athlete, Flood was a man of great intellectual brilliance and depth. While many ballplayers had interests that went no farther than their team’s clubhouse, Flood was an introspective man who possessed many talents outside of athletics. Nicknamed “Rembrandt” by his teammates, Flood was a talented writer and an enormously gifted artistic painter whose amazing oil paintings mesmerized anyone who saw his finished work. It was most likely his high level of intelligence and his tendency to dig beyond the surface layers of important issues that caused him to act passionately in confronting the circumstances that negatively affected his life. It was his greater depth of thinking that led him to eventually engage in an historic battle against the baseball establishment.



BASEBALL'S RESERVE CLAUSE


As professional baseball came of age in the 1870's, players were free to negotiate with competing teams for their services at the end of each season. This practice came to an end, however, with the formation of the National League in 1876. Team owners, looking to maximize their profits and stabilize their rosters, set up a system which would limit player-initiated movement from team to team and restore power completely into their hands. To accomplish this, the owners established a rule that allowed every team to set aside five of its best players as "untouchables" - players who other franchises were forbidden to negotiate with or sign. Those five players could only play for the team that held their contracts. Team owners could then trade, sell, or release these players on a whim, with no threat of opposition from the player. Additionally, at the end of each season, these players were required to sign a one year renewal contract that would “reserve” their services for the following year. Once bound by this regulation, these players were completely at the mercy of ownership, and were legally bound to their contracted teams for the rest of their lives. Initially practiced under the table, the ruling was written into league bylaws in 1880. In short order, the “Reserve Clause” was eventually expanded, and written into the contracts of every player in Major League baseball. With the enactment of the Reserve Clause, players became nothing more than pawns to serve the interests of the owners who had successfully wrested complete control of the game from them. From that point on, any player who complained about his contractual restrictions was summarily and permanently banished from the game for life. The Reserve Clause went unchallenged for nearly an entire century - until the emergence of Curt Flood.


The Curt Flood case had its genesis in 1969 when the St. Louis Cardinals traded Flood, Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner to the Philadelphia Phillies for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas and Jerry Johnson. Philadelphia, a city with a notorious reputation for extreme hostility against black players, had made life miserable for Allen, and Flood, who had significang business interests in St. Louis, had no interest in playing there. Making matters worse was the fact that Flood was never informed of the trade by the organization, instead learning of it on a radio newscast. Once officially notified of the trade, Flood proposed the option of free agency with his letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. His request was quickly rejected, based on the presence of the Reserve Clause in Flood’s contract. Rather than report to a team he had no desire to play for, or to move to a city in which he had no desire to live, Flood chose to do the unthinkable - he chose to challenge Baseball’s Reserve Clause.




Flood took his decision to engage in a legal fight to the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, veteran labor attorney and negotiator Marvin Miller. With a brilliant legal mind, hard-nosed negotiating skills, and vast experience in the rough-and-tumble world of labor negotiations, Miller had successfully represented the United Steelworkers Union, the International Association of Machinists, and the United Automobile Workers Union. Miller was highly doubtful that a case against the owners would be successful, and he was reluctant for Flood to pursue the case knowing that it would mean certain career suicide. Yet, Flood was adamant in his decision, and the two set out on a quest to challenge some of the most powerful men in corporate America.


THE ULTIMATE IMPORTANCE OF CURT FLOOD


Baseball’s Reserve Clause went unchallenged for nearly 100 years. Why did it take so long for it to be challenged, and why was Curt Flood the one to do it? The answer can largely be found when studying the demographics of baseball. Before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line, most Major League players came from rural areas, primarily from the Southeast and Southwest portions of the United States. In other words, the average pre-integration Major Leaguer, with few exceptions, was a farm boy - a very young farm boy. These were young men who came to the Major Leagues from very small, non-industrial, non-unionized towns, where organized labor was not valued or welcomed. In addition, many of these young men were under-educated, and unsophisticated when it came to big business and dealing with the often complex issues surrounding labor relations. These players were constantly fed the mantra (by the owners, of course) that playing Major League baseball was a tremendous privilege and that they were being granted a great favor to play the game of baseball. Unfortunately, it was a mantra that they bought into, sometimes grudgingly, but they bought in just the same. They failed to perceive that they possessed a unique and highly valued skill that set them apart from 99% of the nation's population, and that they held their positions because they had earned them. Consequently, it took a player of Flood’s sophistication and intellectual depth to look at the issue in a different light. It also took someone possessed of great courage and exceptionally high principles to stand up, virtually alone, against some of the most powerful businessmen in the world. When asked about the importance of Curt Flood, Marvin Miller had this to say:

To me Curt Flood epitomized the modern player who began to think in terms of union, to ask questions like "Why is baseball an exception to how labor is treated in other industries? Why should we be treated like property? Why should we agree to have a Reserve Clause?" Basic questions that had gone unasked.


Miller felt that the presence of African-American and Latin players of influence, like Flood and Roberto Clemente, were critical to baseball's establishment being challenged. Miller would go on to say:


Black and Latin players like Clemente were at the forefront. This was not just the color of their skin. Flood for example, did not grow up in the south. He grew up in Oakland, California. He was an outstanding high school athlete, he was drafted to play in the Majors and was promptly sent to the south. He wasn't old, but he wasn't a child. What I am about to say is not a fact, but I have always felt that when a player of his temperament and pride was sent to the south, not being able to stay in the same hotels and motels, playing in Georgia and Mississippi, I think it made a very big difference in his outlook on the world.




When asked by members of the board of the MLBPA on his motivations for puruing the suit, and whether his fight was a “black power” move, Flood’s answer was succinct and profound, “We are dealing with an issue that affects every player. Color has nothing to do with it. We are all pieces of property.” Flood’s landmark case would eventually go to the U. S. Supreme Court, (Curt Flood vs. Bowie Kuhn, et.al., 1972) where the Reserve Clause was eventually upheld by a 5-3 decision. Though the Court upheld the Reserve Clause, significant change came about because of the Flood decision. Baseball had historically been granted an exemption from the federal Anti-Trust regulations that governed every other corporation in America. With the Flood decision, however, the Court stated that baseball was indeed engaged in interstate commerce, and that the Anti-Trust protection it had enjoyed for so many decades was an “anomoly” - a deviation from the way other American corporations were held in check by the statute. This portion of the decision immediately opened the door for the Seitz Ruling (named for labor artibrator Peter Seitz) that followed soon after. The Seitz Ruling held that Major League players were allowed to become free agents after playing for their teams for one year without a contract. The ruling was tested successfully in 1976 by Dodgers pitcher Andy Messersmith and Orioles pitcher Dave McNally, thus bringing an end to nearly 100 years of baseball’s Reserve Clause, and opening the doors to true free agency, unheard of player freedom, and the enormous salaries and benefits enjoyed by players in baseball, and in the other three major sports as well.

With the Seitz Ruling and all that came out of it, Curt Flood had been vindicated, his arguments had been upheld, and he'd successfully opened the door to a level of prosperity that professional athletes could only dream about before his stand. Yet, he saw none of the financial largesse that his sacrifice had produced. Instead, he lost his career, became a pariah within the sport he loved, and has been largely forgotten by both fans of the game, and by the scores of current players who reap the benefits of his sacrifice. From Lebron James with his nonsensical “Decision” to the NFL first round draftee who signs a guaranteed multi-million dollar contract as an unproven and untested player, every pro athlete stands on the shoulders of Curt Flood. Every pro athlete who can now freely enjoy the lucrative fruits of his athletic talents with the complete freedom to shop his services to competitors, owes an ENORMOUS debt of gratitude to the late, great Curt Flood. He was a professional sports martyr who courageously put his career on the line for himself and for his athletic brethren. Sadly, it’s questionable whether many athletes playing professionally today even knew that he ever existed.



CURT FLOOD IN HIS OWN WORDS




MRS. CURT FLOOD





Baseball's Black Heritage
http://www.baseballsblackheritage.com
 
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Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY


SECOND BASEMEN

The second baseman must be quick, agile, and athletic. He should not only be able to defend his position, but have the speed and range to back up the first baseman in making putouts on difficult fly balls to short right field. He should have the speed and the fundamental know-how to quickly position himself to receive cutoff throws on extra base hits to right field and right center field. He must also work well with his shortstop on both general infield positioning, and in executing the double-play. An effective second baseman should possess a strong arm, have the range to provide defensive support on teams with weak fielding first basemen, and have the athletic ability to maneuver around aggressive base runners looking to disrupt the double play. Like my other lists, I place a high premium on the ability to contribute both offensively and defensively, with higher rankings going to players who have come closest to displaying the five key tools of the complete player: hitting for average, hitting with power, base-running, fielding, and throwing. And as always, vigorous debate is welcomed.



ALL-TIME GREAT MAJOR LEAGUE SECOND BASEMEN
(HOF = Hall of Fame Inductee)

Newt Allen (1922-1937) Negro Leagues
Eddie Collins (1906-1930) HOF
Nellie Fox (1947-1965) HOF
Frankie Frisch (1919-1937) HOF
Jim Gilliam (1953-1966)
Joe Gordon (1938-1950) HOF
Bobby Grich (1970-1986)
Billy Herman (1931-1947) HOF
Davey Johnson (1965-1978)
Napoleon Lajoie (1896-1916) HOF
Tony Lazzeri (1926-1939) HOF
Davey Lopes (1972-1987)
Bill Mazeroski (1956-1972) HOF
Willie Randolph (1975-1992)
Harold Reynolds (1983-1994)
Juan Samuel (1983-1998)
Manny Trillo (1973-1989)
Frank White (1973-1990)
Eric Young (1992-2006)












THE GREATEST SECOND BASEMEN IN
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY











# 10. JEFF KENT
(1992-2008)



As a purely offensive second baseman, Jeff Kent was the second greatest second baseman in Major League Baseball history. The all-time career home run leader among second basemen, Kent was one of the most productive power hitters of his generation. A 4-time All-Star and the 2000 National League Most Valuable Player, Kent was defensively adequate, but not outstanding. The landmark offensive numbers he amassed, combined with the fact that he was not a butcher in the field is good enough to land him on my all-time list.













#9. ROGERS HORNSBY
(1915-1937)



The greatest hitting second baseman of all time, Rogers Hornsby was one of the ten greatest hitters in the history of Major League Baseball. An offensive machine, Hornsby’s life revolved around hitting a baseball, and as an offensive force, he was beyond belief. As one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball, Hornsby is usually rated as the #1 second baseman of all time by most baseball historians. However, I need more defensive production, particularly for a second baseman, for anyone ranking high on my list. As a second baseman, he was slightly above average, and even led the league once in fielding percentage. Hornsby, however, had no speed, no range, and could basically only get to balls hit to him. However, like Jeff Kent, the fact that he was not a defensive liability, combined with the historically prodigious offensive numbers he put up, earns him a spot on my all-time list, just lower than usual. Hornsby was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1942.















#8. ROD CAREW
(1967-1985)




Arguably the greatest line drive hitter in the history of baseball, Rod Carew was nothing short of a magician with a bat in his hands. Blessed with lightning quick hands, tremendous bat speed, and bat control that might have been the best of all time, Carew was amazing to watch at the plate, and one of the few non-power hitters in the history of baseball that you couldn’t remove your eyes from when he was in the batter's box. Able to hit to all fields at will, he had few weaknesses that opposing pitchers could exploit, and in the unlikely event that his hitting slowed a bit, he was also the greatest master of the bunt in baseball history. Carew was a better than average defensive second baseman, mostly because of his range. With his tremendous speed, Carew was able to help himself offensively and defensively to a greater degree than any second basemen who had come before him. An 18-time All-Star and the 1977 American League Most Valuable Player, Carew was also the winner of seven American League batting championships. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1991.


















#7. JACKIE ROBINSON
(1947-1956)



Jackie Robinson was an outstanding all-around player whose speed and quickness aided him both at the plate and in the field. Though he played second base more than any other position, Robinson played extensively at every infield position except shortstop, and was an all-star as a second baseman and a third baseman. He had the best range as a defensive second baseman of his era, and he made few mistakes. A six-time All-Star and the 1949 National League Most Valuable Player, Robinson was a .311 lifetime hitter, and though he was not a pure power hitter, his consistent offensive production saw him routinely placed in the cleanup spot of a lineup that was one of the best in baseball history. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1962.


*** Ruby Dee was gorgeous!!!
















#6. LOU WHITAKER
(1977-1995)



Lou Whitaker was one of the best defensive second baseman of his generation, and an outstanding all-around player. A quick and athletic defender with excellent range, Whitaker was also blessed to play with the same shortstop for nearly 18 years, as he and Alan Trammell formed one of the American League’s all-time best middle infield combinations. Whitaker was the 1978 American League Rookie of the year, a five-time All-Star and the winner of three Gold Gloves.


















# 5. CRAIG BIGGIO
(1988-2007)





Originally a catcher, Craig Biggio was asked by his team to switch to second base three years into his major league career, and would transform himself into one of the National League’s best. An extremely hard worker, Biggio would eventually go on to be a 4-time Gold Glove winner, and one of the better defensive second basemen in the National League. A quick player with good range, Biggio made all the typical plays, and could also occasionally pull off the spectacular play in the field. A 7-time All-Star, Biggio also retired with the 20th highest hit total of all time (3,060). His first year of Hall of Fame eligibility will be 2013, and he will most likely gain election on the first ballot.
















#4. CHARLIE GEHRINGER

(1924-1942)




Charlie Gehringer was the American League’s premiere second baseman during the first half of the 20th Century, A tremendous hitter, Gehringer was a lifetime .320 hitter who frequently led the American League in every offensive category except home runs and RBIs. However, he was best known as an amazing defensive second baseman who led the American league in fielding percentage seven times. A Detroit area native who played his entire career for the Detroit Tigers, Gehringer was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.
















#3. JOE MORGAN
(1963-1984)



When he matured as a player in the late 1960's, Joe Morgan provided the National League’s best combination of defensive skill and offensive firepower since Rogers Hornsby. Though small in stature at 5' 7" and usually weighing between 160 and 170 pounds throughout his career, Joe Morgan, nevertheless, could hit for both average and power, and was a team leader wherever he played. Morgan was an outstanding defensive second baseman and the winner of five Gold Gloves during his career. Unlike other second basemen before him, Morgan, like Rod Carew, benefitted from having tremendous speed which both added to his range in the field and added points to his batting average at the plate. Yet another in the long line of Major League players who grew up in Oakland, CA, Morgan could do it all as a player. A two-time National League MVP and a 10-time All-Star, Morgan was a leading player on one of the greatest teams in baseball history, the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine of the 1970's. Morgan was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1990.


















#2. RYNE SANDBERG
(1981-1997)




If you wanted to show a Little Leaguer how to properly play second base, one of the best things you could do would be to show him films of Ryne Sandberg. An outstanding athlete who displayed all five tools at the peak of his career, Sandberg was awesome both offensively and defensively. As a hitter, you could pencil Sandberg in for at least a .285 batting average, 20-30 home runs, and 80-100 RBIs. Occasionally, he would go on power binges and had several seasons of 30 home runs and one 40 home run 100+ RBI year. An outstanding base runner with surprisingly great speed, Sandberg was also a threat to steal 25-40 bases per year, and even had a 54 stolen base season. As great an offensive player as he was, however, Sandberg shined mostly in the field. An excellent athlete, Sandberg had great quickness and tremendous range, and there was no play he couldn't make. With the exception of only the #1 second baseman on this list, no second baseman in baseball history was ever more spectacular with the glove. Though Sandberg could be breathtaking in the field, he was one of the most fundamentally sound defensive players in history. A 9-time Gold Glove winner, Sandberg RARELY made any form of defensive mistakes, and an error from him was almost worthy of a headline in the next day’s paper. A 10-time All-Star and the 1984 National League Most Valuable Player, Sandberg was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.


















#1. ROBERTO ALOMAR

(1988-2004)






Take the offensive firepower of Joe Morgan, combine it with the defensive dominance of Charlie Gehringer, and place it in the body of one of the quickest, most acrobatic athletes to ever step on a baseball field, and you’d have the greatest second baseman of all time, and the greatest second baseman I’ve ever seen - Roberto Alomar. Like his contemporary Ken Griffey, Jr., Roberto Alomar was destined for Major League stardom from the time he could walk. The son of veteran infielder Sandy Alomar, Sr., Roberto (and his older brother Sandy, Jr.) was raised around Major League ballparks, and developed the skills of stardom in his early childhood. Blessed with blazing speed, incredible body control, and an ability to hit for average and power, Roberto Alomar had no weaknesses on the baseball field. An astounding defensive player, Alomar’s amazing quickness, pure speed, and great defensive instincts made it virtually impossible to get anything by him, and when teamed with the equally acrobatic Omar Vizquel, they together became the greatest double play combination in Major League Baseball history. What separates Alomar from history’s other great second basemen is that for a two to three year stretch in the early 1990's, he was not only the best second baseman in baseball, but he could easily be considered the best all-around player in the Major Leagues. The centerpiece player on a Toronto Blue Jays team that won two consecutive world championships, he would later help lead the Cleveland Indians to within an inning of the 1997 world championship. A 12-time All-Star and the winner of 10 Gold Glove awards, Alomar’s spitting meltdown with umpire John Hirshbeck in 1996 cost him his rightful first ballot election to the Hall of Fame. After making their statement on the error of his judgement, the Baseball Writers of America did the right thing and elected Alomar to the Hall of Fame earlier this year in his second year of eligibility.



 
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Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE MULTI-TASKERS --
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL'S GREATEST ALL-AROUND ATHLETES


Some of the most accomplished Major League players got to the big leagues on the strength of their all-around athletic ability, skills that were not limited to baseball alone. Here are some Major Leaguers who have been accomplished performers in other athletic endeavors.







JACKIE ROBINSON



Known to all as the Hall-of-Fame second baseman who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier, Jackie Robinson may have been the greatest all-around athlete of the 20th Century. A world-class athlete in four sports and the only athlete in UCLA history to earn letters in four major sports, Robinson went to the Baseball Hall of Fame playing his least favorite sport.


The nation's premiere long jumper as a UCLA junior, the outbreak of World War II cost him a certain gold medal at the 1940 Olympics.


As a sophomore and junior, he was one of the nation's leading rushers as an All-Pac 8 (now Pac-10) tailback.



For more than 20 years, Jackie Robinson's scoring records set as an All-Pac 8 point guard stood untouched, and set him apart as UCLA's premiere Pre-Wooden basketball star.










DEION SANDERS


One of the first of the high-profile two-sport stars of the 1990's Deion Sanders was one of the NFL's all-time great cornerbacks.






Yet, for several years, he added outfielder/basestealer to his athletic resume while playing for the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds.
















DAVE WINFIELD


A Hall-of-Fame outfielder whose speed and power made him an all-time great on the baseball diamond, Dave Winfield first came to national attention as ............................................










one of the Big Ten's top forwards as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball teams of the early 1970's. Winfield was drafted by teams in the NBA and NFL in addition to Major League Baseball.


















KENNY WILLIAMS


Currently the General Manager of the Chicago White Sox, Kenny Williams was an all-around athlete throughout his high school and college years. A native of Berkeley, CA, Williams spent seven years in the Major Leagues with the White Sox, Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers.






Prior to his Major League career, Williams was also a wide receiver and kick returner for the Stanford Cardinals from 1982 to 1985.


















BO JACKSON



An electrifying center fielder with an amazing mix of speed and power, Bo Jackson was on his way to being one of baseball's most dominant players. A powerful force in the middle of the Kansas City Royals lineup of the late 1980's, Jackson was the MVP of the 1989 MLB All-Star Game.









Jackson's career-ending injury sustained with the Raiders cost him a chance to set records for excellence in both sports that may have never been broken.

















BRIAN JORDAN


While he didn't have the high profile of his contemporaries Bo Jackson and his Braves teammate Deion Sanders, Brian Jordan performed at a level every bit as high. Jordan was a mainstay in the Atlanta Braves lineup of the 1990's, and was selected to the 1999 National League All-Star team.












An aggressive, ball-hawking safety, Jordan also represented the NFC in the 1992 Pro Bowl, and was a key member of Jerry Glanville's Atlanta Falcons defenses of the early 1990's.

















KENNY LOFTON


One of the top center fielders / leadoff men of the last 20 years in Major League Baseball, Kenny Lofton got his athletic start not on the baseball field......










but on the basketball court as one of the nation's top point guards. While at the University of Arizona in the late 1980's, Lofton (pictured alongside Sean Elliott), along with shooting guard Steve Kerr, formed one of the nation's most dominant backcourt tandems.
















TONY GWYNN


Best known as one of the greatest hitters in Major League Baseball history, Tony Gwynn developed his quickness at the plate and outfield speed as............










one of the top-rated collegiate point guards on the West Coast in the early 1980's while at San Diego State University.












FRANK THOMAS


One of the greatest right-handed hitters in Major League Baseball history, Frank Thomas's quick bat and awesome strength made him one of the most feared power hitters of his generation. Yet, before he gained fame as the greatest player in Chicago White Sox history...............











"The Big Hurt" was a teammate of Bo Jackson and Lionel James as a tight end on the Auburn Tigers football team of the mid-1980's.












REGGIE JACKSON


One of the greatest power hitters and clutch performers in the history of Major League Baseball, Reggie Jackson was the centerpiece of two championship franchises during his Hall-of-Fame career. Yet, baseball was never Mr. October's primary sport...............












An All-American tailback at Cheltenham High School (in suburban Philadelphia), Reggie Jackson's baseball career started by accident and completely on a whim. A running back under legendary coach Frank Kush, Reggie Jackson went to Arizona State University on a football scholarship, and played behind Hall-of-Fame Washington Redskins receiver Charley Taylor who was a running back while at Arizona State.

















DICK GROAT


Dick Groat was one of the National League's top shortstops during the 1950's and 1960's. A 5-time All-Star and the 1960 National League Most Valuable Player, Groat played the bulk of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before he achieved stardom in the Major Leagues, however,......................













Groat was one of the ACC's all-time greatest basketball players. A point guard at Duke in the early 1950's, Groat was a two-time first-team All-American and the 1952 NCAA College Player of the Year.















TODD HELTON



For more than a decade, Todd Helton has been one of the premiere hitters in Major League Baseball, and the centerpiece of the Colorado Rockies offense. A 5-time All-Star and a lifetime .324 hitter, Helton spent his years before reaching Major League stardom as ...............................












the University of Tennessee's starting quarterback in 1994 before a knee injury opened the door for his backup, Peyton Manning. (Helton is #2 in picture).














DICK RICKETTS


In the late 1950's Dick Ricketts was one of the first African-Americans to pitch in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. His last year with the team was 1959, when after being sent to the minor leagues he was replaced on the Cardinals roster by a rookie named Bob Gibson. Before embarking on his Major League pitching career, Ricketts was.......................













a two-time first-team All-American forward at Duquesne University who later played for the Cincinnati Royals in the NBA.














BOB GIBSON


The legendary Bob Gibson struck fear into National League hitters for 17 brilliant seasons before being elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame as one of the game's greatest pitchers. Before his career with the Cardinals began, however, Gibson..............................












was a star forward at Craighton University. Before embarking on his baseball career, Gibson also spent time as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.














JACKIE JENSEN


One of the American League's premiere power hitters of the 1950's, Jackie Jensen co-anchored the Boston Red Sox lineup of the mid-to-late 1950's with the great Ted Williams. A 3-time All-Star and the 1958 American League MVP, Jensen spent his time before baseball as..................................











one of the Pac-8's (Pac-10) all-time greatest football players. While at the University of California in the late 1940's, he was an All-American halfback and a Heisman Trophy finalist who led Cal into three straight Rose Bowl appearances.












DANNY AINGE


Currently the General Manager of the Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge is best known as an All-American guard at Brigham Young University and as a longtime NBA shooting guard with the Celtics and the Portland Trailblazers. Before going to the NBA, however, Ainge was .......................................










a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. A versatile player who could play second base, third base and center field, Ainge was a good defender but an inconsistent hitter who compiled a lifetime .220 batting average in three seasons.












DAVE DEBUSSCHERE


Selected in 1997 as one of the NBA's 50 greatest players, Dave Debusschere was best known as an All-Star forward for the legendary New York Knicks teams of the early 1970's. A starter on the 1972-73 Knicks team - the only team in NBA history whose head coach, starting five, and sixth man were all elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame - Debusschere wasn't always an All-Star forward in the NBA..............................















He was a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. In two seasons with the White Sox, Debusschere, an effective fastball and changeup specialist, appeared in 36 games, compiling a 3-4 won-loss record with a respectable 2.90 earned run average. Coming to the White Sox at a time when they had one of the strongest pitching staffs in the American League undoubtedly hastened his decision to devote full-time attention to basketball.
 

Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS
IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY



SHORTSTOPS

The position of shortstop, particularly at the Major League level, requires a high degree of quickness,exceptional hand-eye coordination, and an all-around high level of athleticism because of the defensive demands that it requires. Like center fielders, shortstops are critical to a team’s defensive effectiveness, in particular its defense of the all-important middle portion of the field. Also like center fielders, shortstops are typically the best athletes and the most able defenders on a team. The best shortstops of all time have possessed considerable arm strength to make difficult throws, the speed to support the third baseman in getting to difficult fly balls in short left field, and the quickness and agility to work with the second baseman to completing double plays effectively. Here are the greatest shortstops in Major League Baseball history.





ALL-TIME GREAT MAJOR LEAGUE SHORTSTOPS


Luis Aparicio (1956-1973)
Luke Appling (1830-1950)
Lou Boudreau (1938-1952)
Larry Bowa (1970-1985)
Mark Belanger (1965-19820
Bert Campaneris (1964-1983)
Leo Cardenas (1960-1975)
Chico Carresquel (1950-1959)
Royce Clayton (1991-2007)
Joe Cronin (1926-1945)
Shawon Dunston (1985-2002)
Tony Fernandez (1983-2001)
Nomar Garciaparra (1996-2009)
Ozzie Guillen (1998-2000)
Barry Larkin (1986-2004)
Marty Marion (1940-1953)
Pee Wee Reese (1940-1958)
Edgar Renteria (1996-Present)
Phil Rizzuto (1941-1956)
Vern Stephens (1941-1955)
Miguel Tejada (1997-Present)
Garry Templeton (1976-1991)
Joe Tinker (1902-1916)
Alan Trammell (1977-1996)
Arky Vaughn (1932-1948)
Maury Wills (1959-1972)










THE GREATEST SHORTSTOPS IN
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY













#10. ERNIE BANKS
(1953-1972)




Nearly 40 years ahead of his time, Ernie Banks broke the mold for Major League shortstops. A reed-thin athlete with cat-like quickness and a pair of the strongest wrists ever seen, Banks was baseball’s first power-hitting shortstop. Blessed with great defensive range because of his quickness, speed, and athleticism, Banks, nevertheless, was an unpredictable fielder early in his career. Through hard work and a strong will to be a complete player, however, Banks turned himself into a Gold Glove winner who would twice lead National League shortstops in fielding percentage. Severe leg injuries would affect Banks' range at shortstop, and would eventually necessitate a permanent move to first base after the 1962 season. Ernie Banks, however, went to the Hall of Fame on the strength of his bat. Far from the prototypical power hitter because of his slender build, Banks' incredible bat speed and extraordinary wrist strength caused the ball to fly off his bat with the same results as the bruisers who were 30-40 lbs. heavier. A two-time National League home run champion, Banks was also a 2-time National League Most Valuable Player and an 11-time All-Star. He is tied with Eddie Mathews for 21st place on the All-Time career home run list with 512. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Banks was elected in 1977.











#9. CAL RIPKEN, JR.
(1981-2001)




When he broke in to the Major Leagues in 1981, the game hadn’t seen anything quite like Cal Ripken Jr. A 6'4" 210 lb. shortstop with unusual size, quickness, athleticism, and an advanced understanding of the nuances of the game, Ripken was dominant almost from the beginning. The oldest son of longtime Orioles minor league manager Cal Ripken, Sr. Cal Jr. (and his younger brother Billy) learned the game at the feet of Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Mark Belanger, Eddie Murray, Elrod Hendricks, and other Oriole veterans. An outstanding defender and a 2-time Gold Glove winner, Ripken had extraordinary understanding of the game, and possessed such an in-depth knowledge of opponents hitting tendencies that he rarely had to make "impossible" plays defensively. He also retired with the fifth highest fielding percentage of any shortstop in baseball history. Offensively, Ripken could consistently hit for both average and power, and is third among shortstops on the All-Time career home run list behind Alex Rodriguez and Ernie Banks with 431. A 19-time All-Star and a 2-time American League Most Valuable Player, Ripken could do it all as a player, and was a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in 2007.











#8. DEREK JETER
(1995-PRESENT)





Another in the modern pantheon of large, athletic shortstops with outstanding offensive skills, Derek Jeter at 6'3" 195 lbs., was nearly as large physically as Cal Ripken, Jr., yet, with more speed and defensive range. A smart, fundamentally-sound defender with a knack for being in the right place at the right time, Jeter, at his peak, was an excellent defensive shortstop, and the winner of 5 Gold Gloves. With a lifetime .313 batting average, Jeter was an outstanding line drive hitter who could hit to all fields with consistency. An excellent pressure player, Jeter was at his best when money was on the table. A lifetime .309 hitter in postseason play, he consistently performed at a high level when championships were on the line. Much like his Yankee predecessors of the 1950's and 1960's, Jeter's historical reputation will undoubtedly benefit from his constant presence on the national stage during postseason play, and his attainment of his 3000th hit later this summer should solidify his Hall-of-Fame credentials.













#7. WILLIE WELLS
(1925-1945)




The premiere shortstop of the latter half of the Negro League's existence, Willie Wells was a defensive wizard with a Hall-of-Fame bat. Averaging a .340 batting average over most of his career in both the Negro Leagues and the Mexican League, Willie Wells had no real equal at the shortstop position in either the Negro Leagues or the Major Leagues. A tremendous defender, Wells' speed and quickness gave him a defensive range that no other shortstop of his generation could match. And much like Derek Jeter in later years, Wells was a clutch player and the centerpiece of at least five Negro League championship teams. Wells was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.











#6. OMAR VIZQUEL
(1989-PRESENT)





One of the most athletic and spectacular defensive shortstops in baseball history, future Hall-of-Famer Omar Vizquel was (and still is) as good defensively as any infielder in Major League Baseball history. Blessed with incredible quickness, outstanding speed, and excellent lateral movement both to his right or left, Vizquel could make both the routine and the impossible play with regularity, and he could make them both seem effortless. The latest in a 60-year line of outstanding Venezualan shortstops which includes Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio, and Ozzie Guillen,Vizquel has been the premiere defensive shortstop of his generation. A 3-time All-Star and an 11-time Gold Glove winner, Vizquel formed one half of the greatest and most spectacular double play combination in baseball history when he joined forces with Hall-of-Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar in the Cleveland Indians infield of the late 1990's. Overshadowed by his amazing defensive prowess has been his offensive production which has been surprisingly good. A lifetime .273 hitter, Vizquel will retire with a minimum of 2850 career hits, and given the fact that his offensive and defensive skills are still sharp and he continues to be a contributing player at the age of 44, he could creep even closer to the coveted 3,000 hit mark.











#5. DAVE CONCEPCION
(1970-1988)




With the exception of Ozzie Smith, Dave Concepcion was the premiere shortstop in Major League Baseball during most of his career. A supremely talented defender, Concepcion had an outstanding mix of speed, quickness, and glove mastery that helped him earn five Gold Gloves, and with second baseman Joe Morgan and center fielder Cesar Geronimo, formed the outstanding up-the-middle defense for one of history’s greatest teams, the Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine” of the 1970's. A 9-time All-Star, Concepcion was a defensive specialist early in his career, but he became a solid offensive performer as he matured, and regularly produced meaningful, run-producing hits when his team needed him most. In fact in a 10-year stretch from 1973 to 1982, he had only one season where he failed to hit at least .270, and had at least two .300+ seasons during that period. By far, the most difficult Top 10 selection for me to make at shortstop was choosing between Concepcion and the man who would replace him in the Reds lineup, Barry Larkin. While I feel Larkin was one of the greatest shortstops of all time, and should soon be elected into the Hall of Fame, I chose Concepcion for three primary reasons. The first factor was durability. Concepcion was consistently in the lineup, and could always be counted on by his team. Larkin, on the other hand, was a frequent resident of the disabled list, and his career numbers suffer due to his many games lost due to injury. My second factor was value to the team. Concepcion was an integral component of one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball, and was part of four National League pennant winners and two World Championship teams. Larkin, while an important member of the 1990 World Championship Reds, couldn’t approach the postseason record of Concepcion, and did not play or produce in nearly as many games with money on the table. Finally, I chose Concepcion because of ballpark factors. While they both shared the same Riverfront Stadium home field, and its artificial surface, for almost the duration of both their careers, Larkin had the advantage of playing on more defense-friendly natural grass surfaces such as those found at AT&T Park (San Francisco), Coors Field (Denver), and Minute Maid Park (Houston), each of which opened after Concepcion’s retirement.












#4. HONUS WAGNER
(1897-1917)




Along with Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner was Major League Baseball's premiere player of the first two decades of the 20th Century. Wagner dominated the National League in every offensive category, and was its best all-around defensive player. A lifetime .328 hitter, Wagner had no weaknesses at the plate. During his career, Wagner won eight National League batting championships (tied with Tony Gwynn for the All-time lead) and had nine seasons of 100+ RBIs. Defensively, he was every bit as dominant, and is considered to have had the best throwing arm of any infielder in baseball. He played virtually his entire career for the Pittsburgh Pirates and led them to two World Series appearances, including the very first World Series in 1903. He was one of five players inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame's inaugural class of 1936.













#3. POP LLOYD
(1906-1932)




The greatest player in the early years of the Negro Leagues, John Henry "Pop" Lloyd was considered the premiere shortstop of the dead ball era. Most often compared to his Major League contemporary Honus Wagner, Lloyd was considered by most who saw him (including Babe Ruth, and Wagner himself) as the superior player, and the best player in all of baseball during the early 1900's. A player who was dominant both offensively and defensively, Lloyd was also dominant in exhibition play against Major League talent and once hit .500 in an exhibition series against the Detroit Tigers and Ty Cobb. Lloyd was best known for his immense knowledge of the game as a player, and carried his expertise into the managerial ranks starting as a player manager in 1918. Lloyd was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.













#2. ALEX RODRIGUEZ
(1994-PRESENT)




The most talented player to ever play the position, A-Rod's ridiculous choice to play the game dishonestly cost him his rightful place at the top of the shortstops list. The quintessential five-tool player, Rodriguez brought everything to the table with the exception of above-average speed. Yet, the poise, plate discipline, and overall knowledge of the game that he displayed from the time of his debut set him apart as something very special. Defensively, there was no play or difficult throw he couldn't make. His overall quickness, combined with his very high baseball IQ allowed him to be at the right place at the right time and helped make him an outstanding defender and a two-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop. Offensively, the lifetime .300 hitter was spectacular from the very beginning, though he was fortunate as a high-profile rookie to have broken into a lineup filled with some of the American League's best hitters, including Ken Griffey, Jr., Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez. The fly in the A-Rod ointment, however, makes its appearance when examining his postseason performance, which has been notoriously under-productive. While his 2009 postseason helped to remove some of the lackluster memories of the past, his overall career production in championship competition has left much to be desired. While he was arguably Major League Baseball's most talented overall player during much of his career, it will be interesting and entertaining to see how history will view him once his career comes to an end. Though he's been the most talented shortstop I've ever seen, I can't place an avowed cheater over another player who chose not to do so, which leads me to the player I consider to be Major League Baseball's greatest shortstop of all-time...................













#1. OZZIE SMITH
(1978-1996)





Much like his fellow Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson, Ozzie Smith's defensive skills had to be seen to be believed, and even if you saw a lot of what he did, it was still hard to believe it, even if you saw it time and time again. An athlete with incredible speed, quickness and hand-eye coordination, Smith honed his baseball skills in the Little League and American Legion baseball programs of South Central Los Angeles, where in later years at Locke High School, he would become a teammate of another future Hall-of-Famer, Eddie Murray. After high school, Smith would become an All-American at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo where he was a four-year starter. Originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers after his junior year, Smith preferred to complete his collegiate career and would eventually be signed by the San Diego Padres who drafted him after his senior year. Though mostly a defensive specialist with the Padres, Smith's amazing play at shortstop still earned him two Gold Glove Awards during his Padre years, even though he played in the shadows of more well-known shortstops of the time such as Philadelphia's Larry Bowa and the Dodgers' Bill Russell. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals after the conclusion of the 1981 season, and would help lead the Cardinals to the 1982 World Championship in his first year with the team. Smith had speed, quickness, leaping ability, and a strong and accurate arm that gave him the range to make plays that only he could make, particularly on the fast artificial surface of old Busch Stadium. As an added bonus to his dominant defensive play, by the mid-1980's, Smith's offensive numbers began to catch up to his defensive play, and he would finish his career as a .262 hitter. A 15-time All-Star and the winner of 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards, Smith was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on a first-ballot vote in 2002.[/CENTER]
 
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Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY




Most players who reach the Major League level have been really good for a really, really long time. Not surprisingly, when Major League Baseball and Little League Baseball put together a list of the greatest players in Little League World Series history, many of the players on the list made it all the way to the Big Leagues. Here are a few of the greatest Little Leaguers of all time:












LARVELL BLANKS (1962)
Val Verde County Little League - Del Rio, Texas





In the 1962 Little League World Series, Larvell Blanks led his Del Rio, Texas team to the quarter final round where they were beaten by Pitman, NJ. Seven years later, Blanks was drafted out of Del Rio’s San Felipe High School in the third round of the 1969 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. He would go on to a 9-year Major League career with the Braves, the Cleveland Indians, and the Texas Rangers.










LLOYD McCLENDON (1971)
Anderson Little League - Gary, Indiana


Lloyd McClendon Pitching in the 1971 Championship Game


One of the greatest power hitters in the history of the Little League World Series, Lloyd McClendon led his Gary, IN team to the championship game of the 1971 Little League World Series where they were beaten by Chinese Taipai. In his last five at-bats in the final rounds of play, McClendon was intentionally walked 5 times, because in his first five at-bats, he hit five consecutive first pitch home runs. The Gary team was the first African-American team to ever reach the final rounds of the Little League World Series. McClendon would play collegiate baseball at Valparaiso University, and was drafted in the 8th Round of the 1980 Major League Draft by the New York Mets. He would go on to a 10 year Major League career with the Reds, Cubs, and Pirates. In 2001, he became the first former Little League World Series player to manage at the Major League level when he was signed to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates.














CHARLIE HAYES (1977)
Hub City Little League - Hattiesburg, MS


Charlie Hayes Makes the Final Putout of the 1996 World Series.


Considered the greatest third baseman in Little League World Series history, Charlie Hayes led his Hattiesburg, MS team into the 1977 World Series where they were beaten in the quarter final round by El Cajon, CA. Six years later, Hayes would be drafted out of Hattiesburg High School in the 4th Round of the 1983 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. He would go on to have a 14-year Major League career with 8 teams, and would win a world championship with the 1996 New York Yankees.[/CENTER]











DWIGHT GOODEN (1979)
Belmont Heights Little League - Tampa, FL






Dwight Gooden led his Tampa, FL team into the 1979 Little League World Series, where they were knocked out in the preliminary rounds. Gooden’s Tampa team would return with a more powerful unit, and with new team leaders in the next year's Little League World Series. After graduating from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Gooden was selected in the 1st Round (5th pick) of the 1982 Major League Draft by the New York Mets, and would have a 16-year career, primarily with the Mets, Yankees, and Cleveland Indians.










GARY SHEFFIELD (1980)
Belmont Heights Little League - Tampa, FL






Gary Sheffield led Tampa, FL to a second consecutive appearance in the Little League World Series, where they were beaten 4-3 in the Championship Game by Taiping, Taiwan. Sheffield, like his uncle Dwight Gooden, would attend Tampa's Hillsborough High School, and was later drafted in the first round (6th pick) by the Milwaukee Brewers. Sheffield recently ended his 22-year Major League career in 2009 as a career .292 hitter with 509 home runs.





















DEREK BELL (1980 & 1981)
Belmont Heights Little League - Tampa, FL



A teammate of Gary Sheffield on the 1980 Tampa team that lost in the Championship Game, Derek Bell led them back to a third consecutive World Series appearance, and their second straight advance to the Championship Game. In a rematch of the previous year’s title game, Tampa was once again defeated by Taiping, Taiwan, this time by a 4-2 score. Bell would later graduate from King High School in Tampa, and was then drafted in the 2nd Round of the 1987 Major League Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He would have an 11-year Major League career, primarily with the Houston Astros.












LASTINGS MILLEDGE (1997)
Manatee G. T. Bray East Little League - Bradenton, FL



Lastings Milledge Sliding In to Score.


Lastings Milledge led his Bradenton, FL team into the 1997 Little League World Series where they were knocked out in the semi-final round by Mission Viejo, CA. Milledge would later graduate from Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, and was drafted in the 1st round (12th pick) of the 2003 Major League Draft by the New York Mets. He is currently playing with the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.






 

Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS
IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY



FIRST BASEMEN
The first baseman. At virtually every level of baseball, this is the guy who may not be the greatest athlete, the quickest defender, or the player who can wow you with his overall athleticism. More often than not, the man occupying the first base position is there more for what he can provide his team offensively than for what he can do with his glove. Yet, the best first basemen are outstanding athletes and great defenders. They have quickness, flexibility, and the range to take away hitting lanes for the opposition's best hitters. Great first basemen have the ability to make plays around the bag that can make average infielders appear good, and good infielders appear great, and can extend the effectiveness of pitchers with their defensive skills. Here are some of the best first basemen in Major League history.







ALL-TIME GREAT MAJOR LEAGUE FIRST BASEMEN
HOF = Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
African-American Players in Red Type

Joe Adcock (1950-1966)
Dick Allen (1963-1977)
Cap Anson (1871-1897) HOF
Jeff Bagwell (1991-2005)
Dan Brouthers (1879-1904) HOF
Dolph Camilli (1933-1945)
Norm Cash (1958-1974)
Orlando Cepeda (1958-1974) HOF
Chris Chambliss (1971-1988)
Frank Chance (1898-1914) HOF
Will Clark (1986-2000)
Cecil Cooper (1971-1987)
Carlos Delgado (1993-2009)
Leon Durham (1980-1989)
Cecil Fielder (1985-1998)
Prince Fielder (2005-Present)
Jimmie Foxx (1925-1945) HOF
Jason Giambi (1995-Present)
Mark Grace (1988-2003)
Hank Greenberg (1930-1947) HOF
Todd Helton (1997-Present)
Gil Hodges (1943-1963)
Ryan Howard (2004-Present)
Wally Joyner (1986-2001)
Harmon Killebrew (1954-1975) HOF
Ted Kluszewski (1947-1961)
Paul Konerko (1997-Present)
Derrek Lee (1997-Present)
Tino Martinez (1990-2005)
Lee May (1965-1982)
John Mayberry (1968-1982)
Willie McCovey (1959-1980) HOF
Fred McGriff (1986-2004)

Mark Mcgwire (1986-2001)
Johnny Mize (1936-1953) HOF
John Olerud (1989-2005)
Rafael Palmeiro (1986-2005)
Wes Parker (1964-1972)
Tony Perez (1964-1986) HOF
Boog Powell (1961-1977)
George Sisler (1915-1930) HOF
J. T. Snow (1992-2008)
George "Mule" Suttles (1918-1944) (Negro Leagues) HOF
Ben Taylor (1910-1940) (Negro Leagues) HOF

Mark Teixeira (2003-Present)
Frank Thomas (1990-2008)
Jim Thome (1991-Present)
Bob Watson (1966-1984)
Bill White (1956-1969)












THE GREATEST FIRST BASEMEN
IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY


I'll state it right off the bat - this won't be your average all-time first baseman's list. Admittedly some of the greatest hitters in the history of the game played first base, and they usually occupy the highest ranks of most all-time lists. Yet, a number of them couldn't catch a cold wearing Speedos in Antarctica. That won't fly on my list. While the person playing the first base position has historically been looked to as a primary run producer, the defensive aspect of the game is way too overlooked. A defensively skilled first baseman can make erratic infield arms look an awful lot better, thus eliminating base runners and preventing scoring threats. I simply must have excellent defenders at the first base position, and I won't settle for less - even though that stance will eliminate many of the greatest offensive producers in baseball history. It will even eliminate my all-time favorite player, the great Dick Allen. The players on this list provided substantial offensive firepower, but they each could absolutely pick it defensively. So, without further delay, here are the players I feel are the greatest first basemen in baseball history. As usual, dissenting views are welcomed.












#10. LOU GEHRIG
(1923-1939)



In regards to prowess at the plate, nothing else needs to be said about the great Lou Gehrig. One of the most feared hitters of all time, Gehrig's offensive numbers are legendary. As a defender, he made few mistakes, and as his career prematurely came to an end, he had earned a lifetime fielding percentage of .991 to add to his sterling offensive numbers. Yet, when compared to the other defenders on this list, Gehrig would fall short in terms of quickness, range, and overall defensive skills. Yet, his combination of superlative defensive fundamentals and his all-time great offensive production makes him one of the top 10 first basemen of all time. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in a special election in 1939, immediately following his retirement from the game that same year.











#9. BUCK LEONARD
(1933-1950)


The premiere first baseman in Negro League history, Buck Leonard was compared throughout his career to Lou Gehrig, the player with whom he shared many similarities. Like Gehrig, he was a fundamentally-sound defensive first baseman who didn't have a lot of range, but could make any play that came his way flawlessly. He was also like Gehrig in that he was a primary star of the Homestead Grays, a team that like Gehrig's New York Yankees of the late 1920's and early 1930's, was one of baseball's all-time great dynasties. While with the Grays, Leonard helped lead them to nine consecutive Negro National League championships, a record that was never equaled in Negro League play. Thirdly, like Gehrig, Leonard hit behind a man who many consider the greatest home run hitter who ever lived. With an average batting line during his peak years of over .430, with 35+ home runs and 100+ RBI's, the Buck Leonard-Josh Gibson combination regularly outproduced the Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig duo, making them one of the most lethal offensive combos in baseball history. Leonard was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.












#8. EDDIE MURRAY
(1977-1997)


With a quiet, methodical nature, and an uncanny ability to avoid the watchful eyes of the press, Eddie Murray seemed to perform his magic year after year with little national attention. Yet, throughout much of his career, there wasn't a more lethal, more consistently great player in all of baseball. A hitter with great power from both sides of the plate, Murray was nearly the equal of Mickey Mantle in overall production, and stood next to Mantle as one of the two greatest switch hitters in baseball history. As good as Murray was with the bat, he was just as effective with the glove. A smart and quick defender who could make most plays look easy, Murray had the quickness to make every play around the bag perfectly, and had the above-average range to shut down much of the right side of the infield. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Murray could beat you either offensively or defensively on any given night, and was one of only three players in Major League Baseball history (with Henry Aaron and Willie Mays) with both 500 home runs and 3,000 hits in a career. A first-ballot Hall of Fame selection, Murray was elected in 2003.











#7. STEVE GARVEY
(1969-1987)


One of the National League''s top performers of the 1970's, Steve Garvey was an outstanding two-way player who helped lead five teams to National League pennants. A solid hitter, Garvey had five seasons with 100+ RBI's and seven seasons of .300 or better. At his best in pressure situations, Garvey was a lifetime .356 hitter in playoff competition, and hit .319 in five World Series appearances. The 1974 National League Most Valuable Player and a 10-time All-Star, Garvey makes this list on the strength of his glove. An excellent defender and the winner of four Gold Glove Awards, Garvey had few defensive weaknesses. His only defensive shortcoming was a lack of range when compared to one of his contemporaries who is the number 1 player on this list. A rather unpopular player with the media and particularly with many of his teammates, Garvey will most likely never receive election into the Hall of Fame. However, his two-way credentials, particularly on the defensive side of the equation, is enough to place him on my All-Time list.












#6. MICKEY VERNON
(1939-1960)


One of the most popular players of his generation, Mickey Vernon played more games at first base than any player in Major League history. An outstanding defender, Vernon led the American League in fielding percentage four times, and the entire Major Leagues twice. One of the few players of his generation with above-average speed, Vernon had more defensive range than his contemporaries, and rarely made mistakes. The American League's premiere defensive first baseman during much of his career, Vernon was also effective at the plate. A seven-time All-Star, Vernon was a great line drive hitter who could hit the ball hard to all fields. Over the course of his 20-year Major League career, Vernon won two American League batting championships to go along with his longtime defensive dominance.












#5. ALBERT PUJOLS
(2001-PRESENT)


The premiere right-handed hitter of his generation, Albert Pujols' name in history has been carved with his bat. However, he is also one of the best defenders at his position. An outstanding athlete, Pujols has the quickness and range to get to balls that most other players can't, and has the ability to make virtually any play that comes his way. Though he has two Gold Glove Awards to his credit, Pujols' offensive production has largely overshadowed his excellence in the field. Though he's already accumulated numbers that would qualify him for first-ballot Hall of Fame status, I've never been able to truly embrace Pujols, who I've never believed to be chemically clean. However, his all-around play, his defensive mastery, and a lack of incriminating evidence thus far, allows me to lay my suspicions to rest long enough to include him on my list of the top 10 first basemen of All-Time..............................for now!!












#4. GEORGE SCOTT
(1966-1979)


With his quiet, easy-going manner, his wild sense of humor, and his penchant for long home runs, Big George Scott was always extremely popular wherever he played, with both fans and teammates alike. A pure power hitter, the Boomer immediately made an impact with 27 home runs during his rookie year in 1966, and had his best offensive season in 1975 when he struck for 36 home runs and 109 RBI's. As good a hitter as he was, George Scott was even better at first base. Though large in size at 6'2" and 200 lbs., Scott was quick, nimble, and extremely athletic defensively, and was an absolute master with the glove. An eight-time Gold Glove winner, Scott had no peer when it came to defensive play at first base. The three-time All-Star was easily the American League's premiere defensive first baseman of his generation.













#3. VIC POWER
(1954-1965)


Much like George Scott after him, Vic Power set the standard for defensive play among American League first basemen in the 1950's and 1960's. The second Puerto-Rican player to reach Major League stardom after Roberto Clemente, Power was an outstanding two-way player. A lifetime .284 hitter, Power was an effective line drive hitter with great speed and occasional flashes of power. A four-time All-Star, Power was one of the greatest defensive players, at any position, in Major League history. An artist with the glove, Power won only seven Gold Gloves because the award came into being after the fourth season of his career.












#2. DON MATTINGLY
(1982-1995)


One of the American League's most dominant players of the 1980's, Don Mattingly was the link between the "Bronx Zoo" championship Yankees of the late 1970's and the dynasty of the late 1990's. A consistently great all-around hitter, Mattingly had six consecutive years of .300 or better, including a .343 average and an American League batting championship in 1984. The 1985 American League Most Valuable Player, Mattingly was a 6-time All-Star and a calming presence on an always turbulent Yankee ship, particularly during a period where championships proved to be elusive. While Mattingly was an outstanding hitter, he was spectacular with the glove. A player with no defensive weaknesses, Mattingly won nine consecutive Gold Gloves, and ended his career with a fielding percentage of .992 to go along with a lifetime .307 batting average.

















#1. KEITH HERNANDEZ
(1974-1990)


Like Brooks Robinson for third basemen and Ozzie Smith for shortstops, Keith Hernandez was the Alpha and Omega where defensive play at the first base position was concerned. A key player on two world championship winning teams in the 1980's, Hernandez brought solid, consistent offense, great team leadership, and some of the greatest defensive skills in baseball history to the table to help make the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets among the most successful teams of the past 30 years. The National League's co-MVP in 1979 (with Willie Stargell), Hernandez shared the Cardinal infield with third baseman Ken Oberkfell, second baseman Tommy Herr, and shortstop Ozzie Smith for several years in the early 1980's in what may have been the greatest defensive infield in baseball history. A smart and agile defender with great quickness, Hernandez had amazing defensive instincts and unusual range, allowing him to make the routine play or the seemingly impossible play with an equal level of ease. Offensively, the lifetime .296 hitter had a knack for producing in pressure-filled, high stakes situations, and was the winner of the 1979 National League batting championship with a .344 average. A virtual manager on the field, Hernandez, a five-time All-Star and an 11-time Gold Glove winner, was the all-time gold standard for Major League first base play.
 
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Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY






JACKS-OF-ALL-TRADES
THE MOST VERSATILE PLAYERS IN BASEBALL HISTORY

From Ruth, to Aaron, to Clemente to Mantle, all baseball fans recognize the greatest names in the history of the game. Yet, some of the most valuable players in baseball history toiled for years with little to no fanfare at all. Every season, the most valuable players in baseball are those who can significantly produce for their teams at multiple positions. They can fill in for injured starters on short notice. During the course of a game, they can be interchanged at any time, and at a wide variety of positions depending on what game situations may warrant. Here now are some of the most versatile players in Major League Baseball history.




JOSE BAUTISTA - RF, LF, 3B, CF (2004-Present)

CRAIG BIGGIO - C, 2B, LF, CF. RF (1988-2007)

PIPER DAVIS - SS, 2B, 1B, LF (Negro Leagues) (1942-1950)

MARK DEROSA - 3B, 2B, LF, DH, SS, RF (1998-Present)

BUCK EWING - C, SS, 3B, 2B, LF, 1B (1880-1897) H.O.F.

CHONE FIGGINS - 3B, 2B, CF, LF SS (2002-Present)

BRANDON INGE - C, LF, 3B, DH, CF (2001-Present)

NAPOLEON LAJOIE - 2B, 1B, LF (1896-1916) H.O.F.

PLACIDO POLANCO - SS, 2B, 3B (1998-Present)

COOKIE ROJAS 2B, LF, SS, CF (1962-1977)

MICKEY STANLEY CF, 1B, SS, 3B, RF (1964-1978)









THE MOST VERSATILE PLAYERS
IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY












#10. BERT CAMPANERIS
(1964-1983)


Like many other Cuban players of his generation, Bert Campaneris was trained to play virtually every postion on the field, and early in his career, he played extensively at third base, second base, center field, left field, and his primary position of shortstop. Campaneris was one of the American League’s fastest players during most of his career, and was a six-time league stolen base leader. A six-time All-Star, he was a key player on the Oakland A’s dynasty of the early 1970's.














#9. TONY PHILLIPS
(1982-1999)



Over the course of his 18-year career, Tony Phillips played every position with the exception of pticher and catcher. Phillips was drafted by the Montreal Expos as the 10th overall pick in the 1978 Major League Amateur Draft. Primarily an infielder, Phillips also played an average of 25-50 games per year as an outfielder, with the capability of playing each outfield position with an equal level of efficiency. His best years came as a member of the Oakland A’s in the mid- to late- 80's, and the Detroit Tigers in the early to mid-90's.
















#8. TODD ZEILE
(1989-2004)


Adept at playing at least six positions at a high leivel, Todd Zeile’s playing ability was almost as varied as the number of teams he provided his services to. A 16-year Major League veteran, Zeile played for 12 teams duing his career. A highly-rated catcher at the start of his career,Zeile broke into the big leagues behind the plate, moved to first base, and spent significant time playing third base and every outfield position throughout his career.














#7. CESAR TOVAR
(1965-1976)


A mainstay of the excellent Minnesota Twins teams of the 1960's, Cesar Tovar was an outstanding defensive player who could readily play each outfield or infield position, and on the night of September 22, 1968, he became the second player in Major League Baseball history (Bert Campaneris was first) to play all nine positions in the same game. Though very small in size (5'9" 160 lbs), Tovar was an excellent hitter, compiling a quality .278 lifetime average in his 12-year Major League career.















#6. JOSE OQUENDO
(1983-1995)


Originally signed by the New York Mets out of Puerto Rico at the age of 15, Jose Oquendo was a relatively weak hitter when he broke into the Major Leagues in 1983. After being traded by the Mets in 1985, Oquendo came into his own as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals where he became the most versatile player of his generation. Skilled at playing every infield or outfield position, Oquendo developed into a reliable contact hitter who could hit from both sides of the plate. He served as an all-around utility player until the late 80's when he became a permanent starter, playing alongside Ozzie Smith in the Cardinal infield. He is now the third base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.















#5. PAUL MOLITOR
(1978-1998)



One of the Major League’s best players from the mid-1980's to mid-1990's, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor could beat the opposition in many different ways, and from many different positions. Initially a second-baseman when he debuted in 1978, Molitor played extensively at third base, center field, right field, and later as a designated hitter. A key offensive component to two American League pennant winners, he finished his 21-year career with a lifetime batting average of .306, and with 3,319 hits. The 7-time All-Star was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2004.
















#4. ROBIN YOUNT
(1974-1993)


A dominating player from the time he broke into the Major Leagues as a teenager, Robin Yount was one of the greatest players of his generation. Twice the American League’s Most Valuable Player, he spent his entire career as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, and played at an All-Star level at center field, left field, designated hitter, and was a Gold Glove winner as a shortstop. In the 1980's, he formed one-half of perhaps the greatest top-of-the-order offensive combination in baseball history with Paul Molitor. Yount, like Molitor, was a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection in 1999.














#3. JOE TORRE
(1960-1977)


Joe Torre played four positions extensively as a Major Leaguer, and was an All-Star at three. One of the National League's best hitters for a substantial portion of his career, Torre was an All-Star as a catcher, a third baseman, and a first baseman, while playing significant periods in left field as well. Torre’s best year came in 1971 when he hit .363 with 24 home runs and 137 RBI’s, good enough for a National League batting championship and a unanimous selection as the National League's Most Valuable Player. Nine times an All-Star, Torre was a great player, and along with Ron Santo, has been one of the most blatant omissions for Hall of Fame induction. His managerial tenure with the Yankees, combined with his great career as a player should get him into Cooperstown where he’s belonged for years.














#2. PETE ROSE
(1963-1986)



While he’s best known as baseball’s all-time hits leader and for the gambling scandal that cost him his career, Pete Rose should also be remembered for being the most versatile Major League player of all time. Before Joe Morgan’s acquisition in 1972, Rose was the Reds primary second baseman, and was a National League All-Star at that position. He would also be selected as an All-Star starter as a left fielder, third baseman, first baseman, and right fielder. A two-time Gold Glove winner as a left fielder, Rose was a 17-time All-Star who could play anywhere, any time, on any given day except at pitcher or catcher. While his life choices will most likely cost him his rightful place in the Hall of Fame, it should not be forgotten that he was one of the 20 greatest players in Major League Baseball history.
















#1. MARTIN DIHIGO
(1922-1950)


When historians wrestle with the topic of the greatest player in the history of baseball, the names Ruth, Mays, Cobb, Wagner, and Aaron are usually the focus of the discussions. Yet, one name that never seems to come up in those arguments, is the very player who gets my vote as the greatest baseball player of all time, and his name is Martin Dihigo (pronounced Mar-teen Dee-ee go). With size, speed, and athleticism that would only be found in players who would come along decades after he'd played his last game, Dihigo was at least two generations ahead of his time. Born and raised in a sugar mill town in his native Cuba, Dihigo was 6'3 210 lbs., and played professionally in the Negro Leagues and in leagues throughout Latin America. Though largely used as a second baseman, Dihigo regularly played every position on the field, and he possessed all five baseball tools of greatness (hitting for average, hitting for power, running, throwing, and catching) in tremendous abundance. Aided by his blazing speed, Dihigo was a great defender wherever he played, but was most valuable in center field, particularly in the enormous ballparks of Latin America. He twice led the Negro Leagues in home runs, and was a lifetime .300+ hitter in 12 Negro League seasons.



Though he was one of the greatest everyday players of all time, he was equally dominant on the mound as one of the all-time great pitchers of both the Negro Leagues and the professional leagues of Latin America. Blessed with an overpowering fastball and an equally devastating curveball, Dihigo was second only to Satchel Paige in overall pitching ability, and on a number of occasions, outpitched Paige in head-to-head competition. In several seasons during his legendary career, Dihigo was simultaneously the league leader in batting average and home runs, while also being his league's winningest pitcher. From a historical perspective, the only player who can be genuinely compared to Dihigo is Babe Ruth, who excelled as a record-breaking pitcher and hitter, Two factors, however, set Dihigo apart from Ruth. One was the fact that Ruth's dominance on the mound occurred separately from his years as the game's greatest hitter. Dihigo was simultaneously great as a pitcher and an everyday player for the bulk of his career. Secondly, Ruth was an undisciplined player who had little in the way of speed or overall athletic ability. Dihigo, on the other hand, was incomparable to any other player of his time athletically. No other player, in either the Negro Leagues or the Major Leagues, could approach Dihigo in size, strength, speed, and overall athletic ability. Known throughout Latin America as "El Immortal" and "El Maestro", Dihigo is the only player in history to be elected into the national baseball Halls of Fame in five countries (Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and the United States).
 

Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
FAMILIES THAT PLAY TOGETHER --
A MAJOR LEAGUE FAMILY ALBUM
(PART I)





Without question, the most important social unit in our world is the family. Through family, we receive support when our spirits need uplifting. Through the family, we find a peaceful oasis from the swirl and tumult of everyday life. And through our families, we learn those valuable life lessons that will carry us along our journeys down life's uncertain roads.

As Father's Day approaches, it brings to mind the fact that family units have been vital to the history of baseball. From father and son All-Star combinations like the Bonds and Griffeys to multi-generational baseball dynasties like the Hairstons, family units have always been a prominent presence on the baseball landscape. Like families everywhere, some of these units are tightly-bound and filled with love, while others are horribly fractured. Yet, when all else fails and when all others are gone, family still remains. Here's hoping that we'll all value and hold on to those eternal bonds that no persons or circumstances should dissolve. Here's to family, and Happy Father's Day to all Dads in the BGOL family.









THE AARON FAMILY
Henry and Tommie

(BROTHERS)




Henry and Tommie Aaron









THE ALLEN FAMILY
Harold, Richard, and Ron

(BROTHERS)


Harold "Hank" Allen


Ron Allen


Richard "Dick" Allen









THE ALOMAR FAMILY
Sandy, Sr., Sandy, Jr., and Roberto Alomar
(Father and Sons)


Sandy Alomar, Sr.


Sandy Alomar, Jr.


Roberto Alomar


Roberto and Sandy Alomar, Jr.


Roberto and Sandy Alomar, Sr.















THE ALOU FAMILY
Felipe, Jesus, Matty, and Moises
(Brothers/Uncles, Father, Son/Nephew)


The Alou Brothers: Jesus, Matty, and Felipe


Moises Alou


Father & Son: Felipe and Moises Alou​

















THE BANKHEAD FAMILY
Dan and Sam
(Brothers)


Dan Bankhead


Sammy Bankhead













THE BARFIELD FAMILY
Jesse and Josh
(Father and Son)


Jesse Barfield


Josh Barfield













THE BONDS FAMILY
Bobby, Barry, and Bobby, Jr.
(Father and Sons)


Bobby Bonds


Barry Bonds


Bobby Bonds, Jr.









THE BOSTOCK FAMILY
Lyman, Sr., and Lyman, Jr.
(Father and Son)


Lyman Bostock, Sr.


Lyman Bostock, Jr.











THE BROWN FAMILY
Ollie and Oscar
(Brothers)


Ollie Brown


Oscar Brown













THE BUFORD FAMILY
Don and Damon
(Father and Son)


Don Buford


Damon Buford









THE CANO FAMILY
Jose and Robinson
(Father and Son)


Jose Cano


Robinson Cano












THE DAVIS FAMILY
Mark and Mike
(Brothers)


Mark Davis


Mike Davis












THE FIELDER FAMILY
Cecil and Prince
(Father and Son)


Cecil Fielder


Prince Fielder












THE GRIFFEY FAMILY
Ken, Sr., Ken, Jr., and Craig
(Father and Sons)


Ken Griffey, Sr.


Craig Griffey


Ken Griffey, Jr.













THE GUERRERO FAMILY
Vladimir and Wilton
(Brothers)


Vladimir Guerrero


Wilton Guerrero


The Guerrero Brothers: Vladimir and Wilton














THE GWYNN FAMILY
Tony, Sr., Chris, and Tony, Jr.
(Brothers/Uncle, Father, Son/Nephew)


Tony Gwynn, Sr.


Chris Gwynn


Tony Gwynn, Jr.​











THE HAIRSTON FAMILY
Sam, Jerry, Sr., John, Jerry, Jr., and Scott
(Grandfather, Father, Brothers/Uncle, Sons, Grandsons)


Sam Hairston


Jerry Hairston, Sr.


John Hairston


Jerry Hairston, Jr.


Scott Hairston


Father and Sons: Jerry Hairston, Jr., Jerry Hairston, Sr., and Scott Hairston​














THE HERNANDEZ FAMILY
Livan and Orlando
(Brothers)


Livan Hernandez


Orlando Hernandez​
 

Rezn8

Rising Star
BGOL Investor
FAMILIES THAT PLAY TOGETHER --
A MAJOR LEAGUE FAMILY ALBUM
(PART II)


Tony Gwynn, Jr., and Tony Gwynn, Sr.





THE LARKIN FAMILY
Barry and Steve
(Brothers)


Barry Larkin


Steve Larkin​









THE LEE FAMILY
Leron and Derrek
(Uncle and Nephew)


Leron Lee


Derrek Lee









THE MARTINEZ FAMILY
Pedro and Ramon
(Brothers)


The Martinez Brothers: Pedro and Ramon​









THE MATTHEWS FAMILY
Gary, Sr., and Gary, Jr.
(Father and Son)


Gary Matthews, Sr.


Gary Matthews, Jr.









THE MAY FAMILY
Dave and Derrick
(Father and Son)


Dave May


Derrick May









THE MAY FAMILY
Lee and Carlos
(Brothers)


Lee May


Carlos May








THE MAYBERRY FAMILY
John, Sr., and John, Jr.
(Father and Son)


John Mayberry, Sr.


John Mayberry, Jr.









THE MCRAE FAMILY
Hal and Brian
(Father and Son)


Hal McRae


Brian McRae












THE MURRAY FAMILY
Eddie and Rich
(Brothers)


Eddie Murray


Rich Murray​









THE NIXON FAMILY
Otis and Donell
(Brothers)


Otis Nixon


Donell Nixon










THE PATTERSON FAMILY
Corey and Eric
(Brothers)


Corey Patterson


Eric Patterson









THE PEREZ FAMILY
Tony and Eduardo
(Father and Son)


Tony Perez


Eduardo Perez









THE RAINES FAMILY
Tim, Sr., and Tim, Jr.
(Father and Son)


Tim Raines, Sr.


Tim Raines, Jr.









THE REYNOLDS FAMILY
Don and Harold
(Brothers)


Don Reynolds


Harold Reynolds









THE TARTABULL FAMILY
Jose and Danny
(Father and Son)


Jose Tartabull


Danny Tartabull









THE UPTON FAMILY
B.J. and Justin
(Brothers)


B.J. Upton


Justin Upton










THE WALKER FAMILY
Moses and Welday
(Brothers)


The Walker Brothers: Welday and Moses Fleetwood Walker









THE WARD FAMILY
Gary and Daryle
(Father and Son)


Gary Ward


Daryle Ward










THE WEEKS FAMILY
Rickie and Jemile
(Brothers)


Rickie Weeks


Jemile Weeks









THE WILLS FAMILY
Maury and Bump
(Father and Son)


Maury Wills


Bump Wills









THE VENABLE FAMILY
Max and Will
(Father and Son)


Max Venable


Will Venable











THE YOUNG FAMILY
Eric, Sr. and Eric, Jr.
(Father and Son)


Eric Young, Sr.


Eric Young, Jr.










THE YOUNG FAMILY
Delmon and Dmitri
(Brothers)


Delmon Young


Dmitri Young










DWIGHT GOODEN and GARY SHEFFIELD
(Uncle and Nephew)


Dwight Gooden


Gary Sheffield










DONNIE MOORE and HUBIE BROOKS
(Cousins)


Donnie Moore


Hubie Brooks
 
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THEY DIDN'T QUITE MAKE THE CUT.

Some of the strangest characters want to get to the big leagues.​





















 

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THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY


RELIEF PITCHERS



In present-day Major League Baseball, no other player is more important to a team's success than the relief pitcher. In fact, an elite bullpen is no longer a luxury but an absolute necessity for any team hoping to fulfill championship aspirations. Today's game, to a great degree, has become a battle of bullpens, requiring teams to fill several specialty areas of relief pitching when compiling a pitching staff.

Prior to the 1970's, Major League bullpens were staffed mostly by non-productive starters who worked in relief to keep themselves on a big league roster. Starting pitchers worked without pitch counts, and were expected to complete every game they started. The increase in the importance of relief pitching can be traced back to the early 1970's in the American League. With the advent of the designated hitter in 1973 and an increased focus on offensive production, teams were forced to combat the extra long ball threat present in each lineup by adding pitching specialists who could be effective in late-inning situations. Consequently, the list of the greatest relief pitchers in baseball history consists of players who performed primarily after 1975.







ALL-TIME GREAT MAJOR LEAGUE RELIEF PITCHERS


Rod Beck (1991-2004)
John Franco (1984-2005)
Tom Gordon (1988-2009)
Tom Henke (1982-1995)
Roberto Hernandez (1991-2007)
Willie Hernandez (1977-1989)
John Hiller (1965-1980)
Al Holland (1977-1987)
Al Hrabowsky (1970-1982)
Mike Jackson (1986-2004)
Sparky Lyle (1967-1982)
Mike Marshall (1967-1981)
Jose Mesa (1987-2007)
Tug McGraw (1965-1984)
Donnie Moore (1975-1988)
Randy Myers (1985-1998)
Robb Nen (1993-2002)
Darren Oliver (1993-Present)
Troy Percival (1995-2009)
Dick Radatz (1962-1969)
Arthur Rhodes (1991-Present)
Francisco Rodriguez (2002-Present)
Kent Tekulve (1974-1989)
Billy Wagner (1995-2010)
John Wetteland (1989-2000)
Wilbur Wood (1961-1978)
Todd Worrell (1985-1997)











THE GREATEST RELIEF PITCHERS IN
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY










#10. JEFF REARDON
(1979-1994)


Known throughout his career as “The Terminator” Jeff Reardon compiled the sixth highest save total in Major League history. A closer for his entire career, Reardon’s primary weapon was a sinking fastball that he rushed to the plate at speeds of up to 94 miles per hour. Drafted out of the University of Massachusetts by the Mets in 1977, Reardon made his reputation with the Montreal Expos and later with the Minnesota Twins. From 1982 to 1986, he had 20 or more saves every year, and from 1986 to 1989 he had 30 or more saves in consecutive seasons. Reardon, a four-time All-Star, led the National League in saves in 1985 with 41, and finished his career with 367 lifetime saves.













#9. LEE SMITH
(1980-1997)


Lee Smith, like George Altman, Ernie Banks, and Billy Williams before him, was one of the long line of Black players scouted and signed to the Chicago Cubs by legendary Negro League manager and Cubs talent scout Buck O’Neil. Initially a starter, Smith was moved to relief where he found a niche as a closer. Armed with a devastating rising fastball that could arrive at the plate at speeds of up to 98 mph, Smith overpowered hitters with velocity. He did the bulk of his damage with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Red Sox in a career that spanned 18 seasons. A true modern-day specialist, Smith rarely entered a game unless his team had a ninth-inning lead, and he led the American League in saves in 1994. As a Cub and Cardinal, he led the National League in saves three times. A 7-time All-Star, Smith finished his career with 478 saves, which was the Major League standard until his record was surpassed by Trevor Hoffman.











#8. TREVOR HOFFMAN
(1993-2010)



Drafted out of the University of Arizona in the 1989 Major League Amateur Draft by the Cincinnati Reds, Trevor Hoffman's career took a turn that no one in the game, including himself, could have foreseen. Originally a starter with an overpowering fastball, Hoffman suffered a serious shoulder injury which caused a marked loss of velocity. By necessity, he became a master at changing speeds and got hitters out with one of the best changeups in baseball history, making him one of the few closers to make his living with an off-speed “out pitch.” The first reliever in Major League history to reach the 500- and the 600- save mark, Hoffman broke Lee Smith’s career saves record in 2006. A 7-time All-Star, Hoffman is currently Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader with 601.


HELL'S BELLS (AC/DC): The Trevor Hoffman Entrance Theme













#7. DAN QUISENBERRY
(1979-1990)


An unimpressive starting pitcher in the Kansas City Royals minor league system, Dan Quisenberry wasn’t expected to last for more than a token appearance at the big league level. A surprise request from Royals manager Jim Frey to switch from the standard three-quarters motion to a sidearm delivery proved to be the pivotal factor in changing the fortunes of Quisenberry who became one of the American League’s most dominant relievers of the 1980's. In a career that blossomed before closers became the single-inning specialists thry are now, Quisenberry, like his contemporaries from the 1970's and 1980's, worked without the benefit of a “set-up man" and typically pitched a minimum of 2-3 innings per appearance. In addition to his unorthodox delivery, Quisenberry's strong suit was the consistent movement he got from a rising fastball and a sharp breaking slider. A three-time All-Star, Quisenberry led the American League in saves five times during his career. He passed away in 1998 from brain cancer.











#6. ROLLIE FINGERS
(1968-1985)


Rollie Fingers was the premiere reliever of the 1970's, and the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to be used exclusively in the closer’s role. Signed by the Kansas City A’s out of Upland (CA) High School, Fingers was part of a group of young players signed by legendary A’s owner Charles Finley between 1964 and 1967 (third baseman Sal Bando, left fielder Joe Rudi, catcher Dave Duncan, and right fielder Reggie Jackson being the others) who would make up the core of one of the greatest teams in baseball history, the Oakland A’s of the early 1970's. At 6' 4", Fingers was a big man who had an above-average fastball. However, he was an all-time master of the slider, which was his “out pirtch” of choice. A 7-time All-Star, Fingers led the American League in saves twice, and led the National League in saves in 1977 with the San Diego Padres. He was also the first relief pitcher in history to win the Cy Young Award, and was named the American League MVP in 1981. He retired with 341 career saves, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility in 1992.












#5. HOYT WILHELM
(1952-1972)



Considered by many historians to be the greatest knuckleball pitcher in baseball history, Hoyt Wilhelm used that pitch to befuddle Major League hitters for more than 20 years. A World War II veteran whose military service delayed the start of his career, Wilhelm made his big league debut at the age of 30 when he went 15 and 3 for the New York Giants. The first pitcher to specialize in the relief role, Wilhelm was typically used in what would later come to be known as "long relief," often pitching more than four innings per appearance. Wilhelm could also be used effectively as a starter, and in his third appearance as a starter for the Baltimore Orioles in the 1958 season, he no-hit the New York Yankees at Memorial Stadium. A 5-time All-Star, Wilhelm was the first relief pitcher to be elected to the Hall of Fame.












RICH GOSSAGE
(1972-1994)



An intimidating presence on the mound at 6'3" and 220 lbs., with his fu-manchu mustache, a sidearm delivery and a 95 m.p.h. fastball, Rich Gossage was one of the most dominant relievers of his generation. Originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 1970 Major League Amateur Draft, Gossage was effective from the start, going 7-1 with two saves as a 20-year old rookie in 1972. After 5 seasons and an All-Star appearance with the White Sox, Gossage was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he finished third in the National League in saves with 26. In 1978, Gossage was traded to the New York Yankees where he had his greatest years of effectiveness. A 9-time All-Star, Gossage led the American League in saves three times and finished his career with 310 lifetime saves. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008.












#3. BRUCE SUTTER
(1976-1988)


Drafted out of Old Dominion University by the Chicago Cubs in the 1971 MLB Draft, Bruce Sutter was an average, run-of-the-mill pitcher until he mastered a pitch that had never been seen before on the Major League level - the split-finger fastball. A pitch that appears to the hitter to be a regular fastball but has a violent downward dip as it approaches the plate, the splitter, when thrown by Sutter, proved to be unhittable for years, and was arguably the most effective "out pitch" ever employed in baseball history. Though the pitch has been widely used in the years since he introduced it in the late 1970's, no pitcher has thrown it with the same level of proficiency as Sutter. A 6-time All-Star, Sutter became the second relief pitcher in baseball history to win the Cy Young Award after leading the National League with 37 saves in 1979. Sutter would lead the National League in saves five times, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.












#2. DENNIS ECKERSLEY
(1975-1998)



Of all the pitchers who would become the greatest relievers in baseball history, only Dennis Eckersley had a career as a starter that rivaled his success as a reliever. Drafted by the Cleveland Indians out of Fremont, California's Washington High School, Eckersley was one of the American League's best starting pitchers during the late 1970's. Armed with an exceptional fastball and a wicked, sharply breaking slider, Eckersley could really be stopped by only one man .............. Dennis Eckersley. Known as a carouser and a wild man off the field, Eckersley, after having periods of dominance during his years in both Cleveland and Boston, eventually became a casualty of alcoholism. After three seasons in Chicago with the Cubs, Eckersley hit bottom, and sought help to recover his life and restore his career after the 1986 season. After dealing with his addictions through counseling, Eckersley also got a new start professionally with a trade to his hometown team, the Oakland A's in 1987. After a permanent switch to the bullpen by A's manager Tony Larussa, Eckersley recaptured command of his pitching arsenal and went on a 5-year run of dominance that had never before been seen in baseball history. From 1987 through 1993, Eckersley would be selected to four All-Star games, lead the American League in saves twice, win a Cy Young Award, and be selected as American League MVP in 1992, all while helping lead the A's to three consecutive American League pennants and the 1989 world championship. Eckersley became the third relief pitcher to be elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2004.














#1. MARIANO RIVERA
(1995-Present)



In the history of baseball, certain images have become indelible, particularly in the all-important postseason - the self-assured brilliance of Willie Mays in center field, the menace of Mickey Mantle at the plate, and the ferocity of Bob Gibson glaring in at hitters from the mound. Another image that will be permanently etched on the minds of baseball fans for decades to come will be that of Mariano Rivera's indomitable presence on the mound with high pressure games on the line. Rivera, like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and his teammate Derek Jeter, has become synonymous with Yankee dominance during the World Series. In 139 postseason innings, Rivera has allowed 11 earned runs, for an unbelievable 0.71 earned run average, the lowest of any pitcher in history. Also, his 39 saves in World Series competition may never be equaled. Rivera, in a sense, has been reminiscent of Bruce Sutter in that he's built his career on the mastery of a specialty pitch - the cut fastball. Like Sutter's split-finger fastball, the cutter looks like a standard fastball to hitters, but it's sharp late break makes it virtually unhittable. The Rivera cutter differs from the Sutter splitter, however, in that it's late break sinks to the outer corners of the plate instead of straight down. Unlike Sutter, Rivera has earned his reputation while excelling under the most demanding spotlight in all of American sports - in New York City, wearing Yankee pinstripes during one of the greatest championship runs in baseball history. An 11-time All-Star (so far), Rivera is the career saves leader among active pitchers, and should surpass Trevor Hoffman later this year to become the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball history.



"ENTER SANDMAN" (Metallica) The Mariano Rivera Entrance Theme.


 

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LET'S GO TO THE MOVIES!!


No sport has inspired more Hollywood feature films than baseball. Yet, because baseball might be the most difficult of all the major sports to play, both for athletes and especially for the actors who play them, most attempts at good baseball movies fall short. Here are the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Hollywood's attempts at baseball movies. As usual, opposing views and vigorous debate are welcomed.





















THE BAD
For various reasons, these films weren't quite good enough to make the grade.







ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (1994)


After the death of his mother, a young boy is placed in a foster home by his loser of a father. Desperate for his family to reunite, the son presses his father on when they will be together again. His father promises they will be together when the local team, the last place California Angels, win a pennant.The boy prays about his dilemma and receives angelic help for his cause. Angels in the Outfield might be a decent movie to watch with your kids if they are pre-adolescents, but nothing more than that.










THE BINGO LONG TRAVELING ALL-STARS & MOTOR KINGS (1976)


The adventures of a barnstorming Negro League team in the 1930's is the focus of this Motown-produced film. With an all-star cast including Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Stan Shaw, there was enough star power to draw your attention. Plus, any film from the 1970's featuring Richard Pryor in the cast has it’s share of magic moments, and this movie is no different. Yet, Richard Pryor notwithstanding, there’s not enough here to save this turkey.











FEAR STRIKES OUT (1957)


Given the subject matter and the main figure of the film, Fear Strikes Out could have and should have been a much better film. The movie tells the story of Boston Red Sox All-Star outfielder Jimmy Piersall, one of the greatest defensive centerfielders of the 1950's and 1960's, who played his entire career dealing with mental illness, specifically manic depression. The problem with Fear Strikes Out can be summed up in two words - Anthony Perkins. He might have been an effective Norman Bates in Psycho, but Perkins as a Major League ballplayer? Pathetic. Disappointing film.













MAJOR LEAGUE II (1994)


The Indians are no longer the nobodys who came out of nowhere to win a championship. In Major League II they are fat, content, overly confident, and not quite as interesting as they were in the first movie.
















SOUL OF THE GAME (1996)


An HBO movie focusing on Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, and Josh Gibon as they were all being scouted for the Major Leagues by Branch Rickey in 1945. Decent acting by Delroy Lindo (Paige) and Blair Underwood (Robinson), and Edward Herrmann as Branch Rickey. Mykelti Williamson as Josh Gibson? Not so hot. The only thing I really enjoyed in this movie was watching Sallie Richardson and Gina Ravera.

** The Entire Film is Now Up on Youtube.**












THE FAN (1996)


A down-on-his luck salesman becomes fixated on a San Francisco Giants superstar to the point of obsession and violence. Yeah, right. Nobody is a bigger Robert DeNiro fan than I am, but this movie just didn't get it done. Bobby D and Wesley, from a baseball standpoint, have gone 1-for-2: Bang the Drum Slowly and Major League = the 1998 Yankees; The Fan = the 1962 Mets.















THE UGLY
Some very, very, bad films can be found here.










DON'T LOOK BACK: THE STORY OF LEROY "SATCHEL" PAIGE (1981)


Lou Gossett as Fiddler, yeah. Lou Gossett as Drill Sergeant Foley, hell yeah!! Lou Gossett as a Hall of Fame pitcher, hell naw!! This movie was all kinds of bad.











IT'S GOOD TO BE ALIVE: THE ROY CAMPANELLA STORY (1974)


Paul Winfield as Martin Luther King, Jr., yeah. Paul Winfield in Gordon's War or Sounder, hell yeah!! Paul Winfield as a Hall of Fame catcher, hell naw!! The late, great Paul Winfield did much better work than this.









PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (1942)


Some people consider this a classic film. I thought it sucked to high heaven. Maybe people liked it because it starred Gary Cooper, a classic icon of old Hollywood. Maybe they liked his rendition of Gehrig's "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" speech. Whatever the reason, I've never figured out the appeal of this dog. Watch for it on AMC whenever it runs, and draw your own conclusions.












THE STRATTON STORY (1949)



Some great movie stars never should have put on a baseball uniform. Jimmy Stewart was one of them. This is the story of Monty Stratton, a White Sox pitcher during the 1930's who ended his career by pulling a Plaxico Burriss. While rabbit hunting in the off-season, he accidently shot himself with his own pistol. The bullet hit the femoral artery of his right leg, eventually requiring its amputation. The movie focuses on his attempt at a comeback, but, like so many other baseball movies, it just wasn't very good.













THE SHAMEFUL
Take a trip down the road of excruciatingly bad filmmaking. These are films that never should have been offered for public consumption.





JOE TORRE: CURVEBALLS ALONG THE WAY (1997)



Some things need no explanation. See for yourself.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5d6ex_cheapest-moments-from-joe-torre-cur_fun












MAJOR LEAGUE III: BACK TO THE MINORS (1998)


A classic case of not knowing when to quit.​












THE BABE (1992)



Some things are too awful to describe. See for yourself. Babe Ruth deserved better than this.













THE BABE RUTH STORY (1948)



Quite possibly the worst sports movie ever to be put on film. What did Babe Ruth do to deserve this film legacy?


 

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LET'S GO TO THE MOVIES!






THE GOOD











61* (2001)


Billy Crystal's film on "The M & M Boys", Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and their dual assault on Babe Ruth's single season home run record during the 1961 season was one of the best of all baseball films. Crystal's attention to detail in uniforms, ballparks, and player mannerisms were on the money. Plus, the resemblances of Barry Pepper (Maris) and Thomas Jane (Mantle) to the real ballplayers were striking.












BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY (1973)


The story of the deep friendship between two Major League players, Bruce Pearson (Robert DeNiro) and Henry Wiggen (Michael Moriarty), and their last year together as Pearson deals with a terminal illness. Great acting from DeNiro and Moriarty.













BLEACHER BOYS (2009)


Five men who had dreams of playing in the big leagues tell the stories of their love for baseball, and how their playing dreams were shattered by the onset of blindness.















BULL DURHAM (1988)


The Triple-A Durham Bulls hire a veteran catcher (Kevin Costner) to mentor a pitching phenom (Tim Robbins) to prepare him for life in the Major Leagues. Complicating matters is a veteran baseball groupie (Susan Sarandon) who winds up getting involved with both men.















COBB (1994)


Not so much a baseball movie, but more of a psychological study of the life of Ty Cobb. A brilliant player, but a pathetic human being, Cobb deals with the circumstances that made this asswipe the person that he was.














EIGHT MEN OUT (1988)


The story of the "Black Sox Scandal" when eight Chicago White Sox players conspired to fix the 1919 World Series.















FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)


An Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner) hears a message from a mysterious voice, prompting him to build a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield. In doing so, he conjures up the spirits of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and the 1919 "Black Sox", and spiritually reconnects with his late father and his childhood.














FOR LOVE OF THE GAME (1999)



19-year Major League veteran pitcher Billy Chapel has spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. A former star, he is suddenly faced with life without the game he loves when he pitches a season-ending game that could also be the last game of his career. The film features unusually good on-field baseball sequences.















HARDBALL (2001)


A degenerate gambler (Keanu Reaves), in need of an emergency loan from a friend, is forced to coach a group of kids from the Cabrini-Green projects as part of his loan requirements. Critics ripped this movie apart, and with Keanu Reaves starring, who could blame them. Yet, this movie turned out to be much better than I expected.















A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992)



The story of the American Girls Professional Baseball League that was in operation from 1942-1954.















MAJOR LEAGUE (1989)


My all-time favorite baseball film. A group of Major League has-beens and never-weres come together on a Cleveland Indians roster for one last chance at success in the big leagues. Brilliant casting of the late James Gammon (manager Lou Brown) and Dennis Haysbert (Pedro Cerrano).














MR. BASEBALL (1992)


A fading New York Yankees star (Tom Selleck) is unexpectedly cut from the team. With no other Major League prospects, his only option to continue his career is to play in Japan. More baseball for Dennis Haysbert in this film. Also a young Frank Thomas appears.











MR. 3000 (2004)


An ultra-selfish Major League star (Bernie Mac) gets his 3000th hit, and retires. Calling himself "Mr. 3000", he turns his accomplishment into a one-man industry. Just before his Hall of Fame induction, however, it is learned that he is actually 3 hits short of 3,000, so he makes a return to the game to reset his record. Not the best movie in the world, but it's Bernie damn Mac we're talking about here. Plus, there's a very sexy Angela Bassett to look at as well, so this movie makes my list.
















THE BAD NEWS BEARS (1976)


Little League baseball, rotten suburban kids, rotten suburban parents, and a drunk for a manager are all put together in one film, and somehow, it all works.















THE COURT-MARTIAL OF JACKIE ROBINSON (1990)


Not so much a baseball movie, this film tells the story of the incident that sparked the U.S. Army's court-martial proceedings against Jackie Robinson, which all started with his refusal to move to the back of a segregated bus. The Robinson trial pre-dated the Rosa Parks case by eleven years. Brilliantly acted by Andre Braugher.














THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY (1950)


Not the best movie ever made, but it stars Jackie Robinson playing a character he knows well, and he's not bad in the role. Plus, there's a gorgeous 26-year old Ruby Dee here as well, playing Jackie's wife Rachel. Jackie and Ruby's presence make this movie worth a look-see in my opinion.




** This film is currently available for viewing in its entirety on Youtube.**​













THE NATURAL (1984)


Baseball phenom Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford), armed with his homemade bat "Wonderboy" goes for Major League stardom at two different stages of his life. Both periods are critically affected by women in his life, one for better and one for worse. Good baseball sequences featuring Redford, a former college baseball player at the University of Colorado.
















THE ROOKIE (2002)



The true story of Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid), a gifted pitcher who signed with the Milwaukee Brewers at 24 but retired due to injuries. After scores of life-changing circumstances, Morris, a high school teacher and coach, signed a pro contract at the age of 35, and eventually made the Tampa Bay Devil Rays roster in 1999. Excellent on-field play by Quaid.





















THE PROMISING
These upcoming films look very good.









MONEYBALL (Fall 2011)


The story of Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland A's since 1998, who threw out the old style of running a baseball team in favor of a new style making use of 21st Century technology and statistical analysis.
















KEEPER OF THE PINSTRIPES (2012)



 

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THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: ROBERTO CLEMENTE



The life story of the greatest right fielder in Major League Baseball history is told in this PBS documentary. Overcoming language barriers, and racial and cultural discrimination in the 1950's as baseball's first Puerto Rican star, Clemente played above societal and physical obstacles to reach the top of his profession before his untimely death.














FERNANDO NATION



In the mid-1950's, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley looked to the West Coast as a new cash cow for his New-York-based franchise. While scouting for locations for a new stadium in Southern California, O'Malley found an ideal site, minutes from the heart of downtown Los Angeles, in an area called Chavez Ravine. To secure the land that would eventually become home to Dodger Stadium, however, the city of Los Angeles forcibly removed thousands of Mexican-Americans who had called the area home for generations, thus alienating them from the city and the team who wrested control of the land. A quarter of a century later, a young pitching phenom from rural Mexico would become the biggest drawing card in baseball, and bring them back to the area they once called home.


 

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MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM RETROSPECTIVES (Ongoing)



A roll call of the African-American players from every Major League franchise. Since Puerto Rico is an official part of the United States, and all but the 51st state of the Union, I include Puerto Rican players of African descent as part of the family.


THE ATLANTA BRAVES



[FLASH]http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xqrkz2"></iframe><br /><a[/FLASH]​









THE CHICAGO CUBS



[FLASH]http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xqza3p"></iframe><br /><a[/FLASH]​











THE NEW YORK YANKEES












THE NEW YORK METS













THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS
/i
 
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A Look Back at the African-American Players Who've Represented Each Major League Franchise.



THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES








THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

 
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A Look Back at the African-American Players Who've Represented Each Major League Franchise.


THE ATHLETICS



[FLASH]http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xr6che"></iframe><br /><a[/FLASH]​












THE GIANTS



 
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MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM RETROSPECTIVES (Ongoing)
A Look Back at the African-American Players Who've Represented Each Major League Franchise.







THE DETROIT TIGERS














THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
 
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A Look Back at the African-American Players Who've Represented Each Major League Franchise.







THE BOSTON RED SOX












[/CENTER]

THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES





http://www.baseballsblackheritage.com
 
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MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM RETROSPECTIVES

A Look Back at the African-American Players Who've Represented Each Major League Franchise.





















 

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MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM RETROSPECTIVES
A Look Back at the African-American Players Who Have Represented Each Major League Franchise



















 
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