I am a huge baseball fan, which would have been starting this week. Though, that is an argument for another time, as a purist, the first Monday in April, not when ESPN deems it so. With a lack of sports due to this dang virus, here is my humble list compiled through research of various sites of the greatest Southern born baseball player from each state and honorable mentions. Today we will look at the hitters, later this week the pitchers.
Here’s hoping that we will be hearing the crack of the bats and the sweet smell of infield grass soon.
- “Hammerin” Hank Aaron- This is our MVP from the State of Alabama. Career: 755 HR (2nd), .305 BA, 2297 RBI (1st), RF/1B, HOF in 1982, 1957 NL MVP, 25xAllStar.
- Honorable Mentions: Willie Mays, Willie McCovey.
- Lou Brock: Our Arkansas MVP made base stealing an art. Career: 149 HR, .293 BA, 938 SB (2nd), LF, HOF in 1985, 6xAllStar, Cardinals/
Cubs 1961-1979, 8x SB Leader.
- Honorable Mentions: Willie Davis, Torri Hunter
- Andre Dawson: HOF’er “The Hawk” is only the second player in baseball history to reach 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases. That after 12 knee surgeries.
- Honorable Mentions: Al Lopez, Steve Garvey, Chipper Jones, Tim Raines
- TIE: This was a tough one for MVP , so I decided to call it a tie: Jackie Robinson and Ty Cobb. 2 completely different individuals with awesome baseball skills. Ty Cobb’s Career included 117 HR, .366 BA (1st), HOF in 1936, 1911 AL MVP, Tigers/Athletics 1905-1928, 11x BA Leader…. Jackie broke color barriers and changed the game. His career included during his 10-year MLB career, Robinson won the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers’ 1955 World Series championship.
- Honorable Mention: Johnny Mize, Frank Thomas, Ron Fairly, Marquis Grissom
- Pee Wee Reese: A ten-time All Star, Reese contributed to seven National League championships for the Dodgers and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. In a 16-year major league career, Reese played in 2,166 games, accumulating 2,170 hits in 8,058 at bats for a .269 career batting average along with 126 home runs, 885 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .366. He retired with a .962 fielding percentage. He won the 1955 World Series with the Dodgers and one of his best friends , Jackie Robinson.
- Honorable Mentions: Jim Bunning, Jay Buhner
- TIE: I battled with this one, but 2 players from different eras share the MVP spot: Rusty Staub and Mel Ott. “Master Melvin” Ott had 511 HR (25th), .304 BA, 1860 RBI (13th), RF/3B, HOF in 1951, 12xAllStar with the New York Giants 1926-1947. He batted left and threw right handed. … Rusty Staub played in Major League Baseball for 23 seasons as a right fielder, designated hitter, and first baseman. A six-time All-Star known for his hitting prowess, Staub produced 2,716 hits over his playing career, just 284 hits shy of the 3,000 hit plateau. Staub is in the Mets, Canadian, and Texas HOF. Staub is not in the Baseball HOF.
- Honorable Mentions: Bill Dickey, Will Smith, Reggie Smith
- Dave Parker: The former star of “We Are Family” Pirates World Series team. “The Cobra” had 39 HR, .290 BA, 1493 RBI (58th), RF, 1978 NL MVP, 7xAllStar, 3xGG, 2x BA Leader and won 2 World Series. Parker also won the first ever Home Run Derby.
- Honorable Mention: Frank White, George Scott, Ellis Burks
- Yogi Berra: While remembered more for his coaching career and personality more than hs playing career which was pretty stellar. A member of the HOF, Berra had a career batting average of .285, while hitting 358 home runs and 1,430 runs batted in. He is one of only six players to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award three times.
- Honorable Mention: Ken Boyer, Zach Wheat, Jake Beckley
- TIE: Maryland’s baseball history is rich. Going to have to call a tie here, could have very easily called a 5 way tie, but, going with 2 cornerstones of baseball history: Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken Jr. “The Babe” known for his home runs, was also a pretty darn good pitcher. Ruth established many MLB batting (and some pitching) records, including career home runs (714), runs batted in (RBIs) (2,213), bases on balls (2,062), slugging percentage (.690), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164); the last two still stand as of 2019…. Ripken Jr. is a Maryland legend. Born in Havre de Grace, “The Iron Man” Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played, 2,632, surpassing Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 that had stood for 56 years and that many deemed unbreakable. All with the Baltimore Orioles.
- Honorable Mention: Al Kaline, Harold Baines, Jimmie Foxx
- Enos Slaughter: “Country” is noted primarily for his playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and is best known for scoring the winning run in Game Seven of the 1946 World Series. He is a ten time All-Star, he has been elected to both the National Baseball Hall of Fame and St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame
- Honorable Mentions: Lucas Appling, Mark Grace, Ray Durham
- Jim Rice: I almost called it a tie between Jim and Willie, but, after tearing down the stats, decided the Hall of Famer deserved the title of MVP of SC on his own. 16 years with the Red Sox, “Jim Ed” Rice was an eight-time American League (AL) All-Star and was named the AL’s Most Valuable Player in 1978 after becoming the first major league player in 19 years to hit for 400 total bases. His lifetime BA of .298 and .502 slugging percentage marks his place not just in Red Sox, but in baseball’s history.
- Honorable Mentions: Willie Randolph, Reggie Sanders, Dan Driessen.
- This is another state rich on baseball talent, and an argument could be made for a tie. But, I give the MVP to Mickey Mantle. “The Mick” played for the Yankees his whole career and is considered the greatest switch hitter to play the game. A 7-time World Series Champ, Mantle had a career .298 batting average and was a Triple Crown and Gold Glove winner.
- Honorable Mention: Paul Waner, Joe Carter, Johnny Bench, Willie Stargell
- Frank Robinson:A career .294 hitter, Robinson was a 14 time All-Star, 2 x World Series Champ. Was an AL and NL MVP. He also won the Triple Crown and had his jersey retired by 3 different teams. He was the first black manager and was AL Manager of the Year with the Orioles.
- Honorable Mention: Tris Speaker, Ernie Banks, Joe Morgan, Eddie Matthews, Don Baylor, Roger Hornsby.
- Willie Horton: “Willie The Wonder” was a member of the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers. He is a 4 time All-Star whose number is retired by the Detroit Tigers.
- Honorable Mention : Justin Upton, David Wright .
- George Brett- 21 years and it could be argued one of the best third basemen to play the game. He is one of only 4 players to accumulate over 3,000 hits, 300 HRS, and a .300 Batting Average. He is a HOFer and the only batter to win the batting title in 3 different decades.
- Honorable Mention: Bill Mazeroski, Toby Harrah
- Steve Finley: One of only 2 players to play for all 5 NL West teams. He was a two-time All-Star (1997, 2000), World Series champion (2001), and five-time Gold Glove Award winner (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, and 2004). He is one of only two players, along with Matt Herges, to play for all five National League West teams.
- Honorable Mention: Vada Pinson, Todd Helton