Ty Cobb signing an autograph while on a baseball tour in England, 1929
Ty Cobb – December 18, 1886 – July 17, 1961
Love him, hate him. Hero or Villain. The name Ty Cobb brings with it some very powerful feelings. Cobb’s legacy often gets overshadowed by his aggressive playing style. Cobb described himself as, “I am a sadistic, slashing, swashbuckling despot who waged war in the guise of sport.”Most people will only remember his legacy of notoriously sliding into bases feet first, with his spikes flying at face level.
George Herman Ruth, Jr., best known as “Babe” Ruth, and nicknamed “the Bambino”,1921 (59 home runs; .378 batting average)
Babe Ruth (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948)
The babe. What baseball player is a bigger legend than him? Ruth played the game he so loved for 22 seasons(1914-1935). As left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Babe made a name for himself, but it wasn’t until he became an outfielder for the New York Yankees that he stepped into legend. Ruth established many MLB batting (and some pitching) records, including career home runs (714),RBIs (2,213),B.O.B. (2,062), slugging(.690) Ruth is regarded as the greatest baseball player of all time. On August 16, 1948, at 8:01 pm, Ruth died in his sleep at the age of 53.
Cy Young may not have looked like an athlete but he’s still the benchmark of the greatest pitcher who ever played the game.
Denton True “Cy” Young (March 29, 1867 – November 4, 1955)
How could someone from so long ago still be so relevant? Young pitched for 22 seasons in his baseball career (1890–1911) for five different teams. Young racked up 511 wins, which is most in Major League history. He recorded 30 victories on five occasions and won more than 20 games… 15 times. To this day, the award for the seasons best pitcher is still awarded a trophy named after Cy Young. He never did see a trophy though. They didn’t create the honor until the year after Young died.
Hank Aaron eclipses Babe Ruth’s hallowed mark of 714 home runs-1974
Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron (born February 5, 1934)
Aaron helped break-down the stereotypes for african-american baseball players which is something stats won’t show, he created the modern day baseball player image .From 1954 through 1976, Aaron played 21 seasons for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves in the National League and 2 seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League. Aaron held the MLB record for career home runs for 33 years(755) and hit 24 (or more) home runs each year from 1955-73. Aaron is one of only two players to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least fifteen times.
Tony Gwynn was known for making contact and getting on base. He brought San Diego to their only two world series appearances in 1984-1998.
Anthony Keith “Tony” Gwynn, Sr. (May 9, 1960 – June 16, 2014)
One of baseball’s good guys, “Mr. Padre” played 20 seasons (1982–2001)for his beloved San Diego Padres. His Stats are impressive: Eight batting titles in his career the most in National League history- .338 career batting average, never hitting below .309 in any full season. He flirted with .400 in 1994 but a strike cut short his efforts. That was the last time any player hit .395. A 15-time All-Star, Gwynn is recognized for his skills both on offense and defense with seven Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility. Gwynn sadly died of cancer in 2014 after years of chewing tobacco.
Mantles swing was very distinct. Here he is hitting a homerun against against the Detroit tigers 1956
Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 – August 13, 1995)
Mantle played for the New York Yankees as first baseman from 1951 through 1968. Mantle is by all accounts, the greatest switch hitter in baseball history. But every rainbow comes with clouds. Mantle loved to party, so much so, he had to check into the Betty Ford Clinic on January 7, 1994. The news was grim. Doctors told him that his liver was so badly damaged from almost 40 years of drinking that it “looked like a doorstop. Mantle died on August 13, 1995, at Baylor University Medical Center.
Jackie Robinson-The first black professional baseball player to play in the MLB-1947
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972)
Jackie broke down the door of race and professional sports by becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues in the modern era. His smooth style, great swing and attitude in the face of diversity made him a fan favorite. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. The Dodgers played Robinson under heavy protest by opposing teams and eventually ended racial segregation that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s.
The best baseball player ever slides into home with his signature dive, now referred to as a “Pete Rose”- Rose has been banned from baseball since 1989.
Peter Edward “Pete” Rose, Sr. (born April 14, 1941)
How does the greatest player in baseball history get ignored by the MLB for 30 years? Gambling. The switch hitting Rose is the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328). He wears three World Series rings, has three batting titles and one Most Valuable Player Award. Not enough? How about two Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year Award, and 17 All-Star appearances at five different positions. Yep, he really was that good but as we see in many baseball players, skill and character are two different things. In 1989 Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds, including claims that he bet on his own team. He is still banned from baseball to this very day.
Ted Williams was the last player to hit over 400. In 1941 he finished the season .406
Theodore Samuel “Ted” Williams (August 30, 1918 – July 5, 2002)
First off, let’s get this out of the way; Williams is the benchmark for hitting. There was none better. EVER. Williams was a seventeen-time All-Star and a two-time recipient of the American League MVP Award. He also was a six-time batting champion, and a two-time Triple Crown winner. He finished his playing career with a .344 average, 521 home runs, and a .482 on-base percentage, the highest of all time.in 1941, he finished the season with a .406 batting average after going 6-8. He was the last player to ever hit over.400.
Sandy Koufax #32 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch during a game circa 1958-1966.
Sanford “Sandy” Koufax December 30, 1935
Even though arthritis in his left elbow ended his career prematurely at age 30, Koufax managed to become a legend in Major League Baseball. Koufax was an All-Star for six seasons and was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1963. He won three Cy Young Awards in 1963, 1965, and 1966, by unanimous votes, making him the first three-time Cy Young winner in baseball history. Despite his short career, Koufax’s 2,396 career strikeouts ranked 7th all-time as of his retirement, trailing only Warren Spahn (2,583) among left-handers.
Willie Mays could do it all. He was the only player to 50 home runs in a season twice-ten years apart in 1955-1965
“Say Hey” Willie Howard Mays, Jr. (born May 6, 1931)
In 1999, Mays placed second on The Sporting News’s “List of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players”, making him the highest-ranking living player. Mays ended his career with 660 home runs, third at the time of his retirement, and currently fifth all-time. He also won a record-tying 12 Gold Glove awards beginning in 1957.He spent 22 seasons playing for the New York and San Francisco Giants, before finishing his amazing career with the New York Mets. Mays hit over 50 home runs in 1955 and 1965, representing the longest time span between 50-plus home run seasons for any player in Major League Baseball history.
“I intend to hold on as long as possible and then if the inevitable comes, I will accept it philosophically and hope for the best. That’s all we can do. – Lou Gehrig”
Gehrig was an All-Star seven consecutive times, a Triple Crown winner and an AL Most Valuable Player twice. He was also a member of six World Series champion teams. With a .340 batting average, .632 slugging average, and a .447 on base average, other teams feared his at-bats. He hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 runs batted in (RBI). In 1939, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first MLB player to have his uniform number retired. All stats aside, Gehrig will always be remembered for his “Luckiest man alive speech” – Gehrig was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1939, a disorder now commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was forced to retire at age 36 died two years later.
Marilyn and Joe were the glamour couple in 1954.
Joseph Paul “Joe” DiMaggio November 25, 1914 – March 8, 1999
First off, let’s just say that he married the hottest woman in the world at the time: Marilyn Monroe.That alone should have gotten him into the hall of fame but he was more than a ladies man… He was one of the greatest baseball players ever. DiMaggio played his entire 13-year career for the New York Yankees and is best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15 – July 16, 1941), a record that still stands today. DiMaggio was a three-time MVP winner and an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons. During his time with the New York Yankees, the club won ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships.
He ranked fifth in career home runs (361) and sixth in career slugging percentage (.579). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955 and died in early 1999.