Great players I watched when growing up

Don Wassall

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Robin Roberts won 20+ games six straight seasons from 1950 thru '55, and almost did it again in '56 with a 19-18 record. He was 28-7 in 1952, the largest number of wins between Dizzy Dean's 30-7 mark in 1934 (who followed it up by going 28-12 in '35) until Denny McLain's historic 31 win season in 1968, which looks better and more formidable in retrospect every year. At the time, McLain winning 30 games and matching Dean was comparable to a hitter batting .400, which still hasn't been done since Ted Williams achieved it in 1941.

Speaking of marks and records unlikely to be equaled or eclipsed -- and baseball has so many great records, a big part of its appeal to dedicated fans -- does anyone expect to see a 30 game winner again? I don't think anyone reading this, even the youngest person, will in their lifetime. . . (and yes, believe it or not Jack Chesbro went an amazing 41-12 in 1904, starting 55 games and completing 48 of them, pitching 454 innings with a 1.82 ERA). . .
 
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shamrock

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Koufax's last four seasons, '63-'66, were as dominant as any pitcher ever was, at least in my lifetime. And he was almost as good in '61 and '62. But a pitcher whose sustained greatness isn't recognized enough is Randy Johnson. Johnson's excellent career win-loss percentage is .646, comparable to Koufax's .655, but Johnson did it for 22 seasons. Koufax had 2,396 career strikeouts in 2,326 innings, while Johnson had 4,875 in 4,135 innings and was still averaging close to a strikeout per inning in his mid-40s!

Nolan Ryan is the most remarkable power pitcher in baseball history, but not the best because of his W-L record (324-292).

The 1960s and '70s was a Golden Age of pitchers, one we won't see again because of five-man starting rotations and the specialization of relief pitchers. Give me 300 inning, 20 game winners with 20+ complete games any day of the week. And of course even they pale by comparison to the workhorse pitchers of the early 20th century.

In total agreement with you about Randy Johnson, Don. He was the most overpowering and purely dominating pitcher I ever saw, as well as scarier than any pitcher this side of Ryne Duren and Steve Dalkowski (though, of course, they weren't in Johnson's league for greatness). The one reservation I have about Randy is the same reservation I have about Kershaw, Pedro, Clemens, and Verlander: they all pitched in a steroid-soaked era. Did Randy take steroids? We'll never know, but they were so prevalent during his time that it cannot possibly be ruled out, and there are many baseball insiders who believe he did. And I do not trust MLB when they say PEDs are no longer in the game today.

I have no problem with anyone who chooses to rank Randy or Clemens above Walter Johnson, Koufax, or any of the other great earlier pitchers. I absolutely understand that position. I even understand those who rate Barry Bonds above everyone but Ruth or Cobb (but I hope no one goes THERE - not above the Peach or the Bambino). True, we know Bonds and Clemens used, but the silence around other greats of that era doesn't preclude their using, either. The only pitcher of that era I feel completely confident about was Greg Maddux, but Maddux was a genius of another kind, perhaps the greatest pure pitching artist ever.

Since historians generally agree that the mainstream advent of the steroid era in baseball was about 1990, give or take a couple of years, I tend to classify everyone whose peak years occurred during that time or afterward as players of The Steroid Era. If I had my way, there'd be two separate record books: one book for those whose peak years occurred prior to 1990, and another for those whose peak years came after. And I'd have two separate wings in the Hall of Fame, as well. I know that this is not a popular position, but there's no danger of that happening anyway. But in my own mind, Rose will always be the all-time hit leader; Aaron the home run leader; Hornsby, the single-season BA leader, etc.

If I must consider the two eras together, as one whole, rather than separately as is my preference then, yes, I'd say Randy Johnson is the greatest pitcher of all time, better than Pedro because he had more staying power. And I'd hold my nose and have to rank Barry Bonds as the 4th greatest player of all time, behind only Cobb, Ruth, and Williams. And I know that a great many people are perfectly content to ignore steroid use and will happily put Bonds above everyone but Ruth, and some even do that.

Regarding the era of 300+ innings and 20+ complete games, oh! how I miss the days. The high-stamina pitchers of those days were true warriors, often going 12, 13, and 14 innings deep. Spahn and Marichal went 16 innings, and this in the live-ball era! Those old pitchers had that warrior mentality that I do not see today. I greatly miss the warrior ethos that the great ones once lived by.
 

Charles Martel

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George Brett was one of the greatest hitters of the 1970s and 1980s, into the early 1990s. His first batting title was in 1976, and his last was in 1990.

He led the majors with a .390 batting average in 1980, the highest since Ted Williams in 1941.

He is one of four players in MLB history to accumulate over 3,000 hits, over 300 home runs, and a career batting average over .300.

220px-George_Brett_1990_CROP.jpg
 

white lightning

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He is one of four players in MLB history to accumulate over 3,000 hits, over 300 home runs, and a career batting average over .300.

What a legend George Brett was and still is. I remember Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs getting alot of praise but Brett was the best of the trio! :)
 

Flint

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The third base position did not have many great players before the 70’s/80’s. George Brett, Wade Boggs, and Mike Schmidt changed all that. I was lucky enough to see all 3 of them play.
 

Carolina Speed

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The third base position did not have many great players before the 70’s/80’s. George Brett, Wade Boggs, and Mike Schmidt changed all that. I was lucky enough to see all 3 of them play.
Brooks Robinson comes to mind. The HOF third baseman made one of the greatest defensive plays of all time in the 1970 World Series.
I grew up watching a lot of The Cincinatti Reds and Pete Rose was my favorite player, because he always played each game as if it were his last. Thus, he was given the nickname "Charlie Hustle."
 

Flint

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Brooks Robinson comes to mind. The HOF third baseman made one of the greatest defensive plays of all time in the 1970 World Series.
I grew up watching a lot of The Cincinatti Reds and Pete Rose was my favorite player, because he always played each game as if it were his last. Thus, he was given the nickname "Charlie Hustle."

Brooks was the GOAT defensively no doubt but was not an offensive force. Rose by the way, played a lot at 3rd, if he had stayed there he would be ranked as one the best third baseman ever.

I have heard the nickname “Charlie Hustle” was given to him by Mickey Mantle in a spring training game against the Yankees when Rose sprinted to first after a walk. Probably not a true story but fun thinking the haughty Yankees would make a comment like that about Rose who was the ultimate “high motor” guy.
 

white lightning

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The third base position did not have many great players before the 70’s/80’s. George Brett, Wade Boggs, and Mike Schmidt changed all that. I was lucky enough to see all 3 of them play.

Don't forget Craig Nettles of the NY Yankees of the mid to late 1970's. The guy was similar to Brooks Robinson. Made countless diving and jumping catches. He could stop almost
any line drives hit anywhere near him. Amazing to watch and he hit for power to. Usually second to only Reggie Jackson on his team in homeruns.
 

Carolina Speed

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The third base position did not have many great players before the 70’s/80’s. George Brett, Wade Boggs, and Mike Schmidt changed all that. I was lucky enough to see all 3 of them play.
HOF Paul Molitor also played some third base. A career .300 hitter with 3300 hits and 504 stolen bases.
 
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Brooks was the GOAT defensively no doubt but was not an offensive force. Rose by the way, played a lot at 3rd, if he had stayed there he would be ranked as one the best third baseman ever.

I have heard the nickname “Charlie Hustle” was given to him by Mickey Mantle in a spring training game against the Yankees when Rose sprinted to first after a walk. Probably not a true story but fun thinking the haughty Yankees would make a comment like that about Rose who was the ultimate “high motor” guy.

That was heard during the 1960s when Mantle was still playing. It was not actually meant as a compliment. The idea being Rose was a Hot Dog.
 

white is right

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Don't forget Craig Nettles of the NY Yankees of the mid to late 1970's. The guy was similar to Brooks Robinson. Made countless diving and jumping catches. He could stop almost
any line drives hit anywhere near him. Amazing to watch and he hit for power to. Usually second to only Reggie Jackson on his team in homeruns.
Yep, he should be in the hall if guys like Baines or even Kaat are hall of fame members. He was the best fielder in the AL at the hot corner when Robinson retired. He also had pop in his bat and his play in the 78' series was unbelievable as good as Reggie with the bat in 77'.
 

Don Wassall

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Regarding Nettles, he once punched Reggie Jackson in the face at a victory party after the Yankees won the AL pennant in 1981. Definitely not someone to mess with and definitely a borderline Hall of Famer, but my preference is that only clear cut cases belong, otherwise membership is cheapened like it's been with the addition of Baines and others.
 
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Regarding Nettles, he once punched Reggie Jackson in the face at a victory party after the Yankees won the AL pennant in 1981. Definitely not someone to mess with and definitely a borderline Hall of Famer, but my preference is that only clear cut cases belong, otherwise membership is cheapened like it's been with the addition of Baines and others.

Both the baseball and pro football HOF are getting more cheapened every year. Around 40 years ago the PFHOF was the hardest to get into.
 

Charles Martel

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Brooks was the GOAT defensively no doubt but was not an offensive force. Rose by the way, played a lot at 3rd, if he had stayed there he would be ranked as one the best third baseman ever.
Brooks Robinson did have some good power-hitting years, especially 1964 when he was the AL MVP. Robinson hit for a .318 batting average with 28 home runs, and led the league with 118 RBI.

Also Robinson batted .429 in the 1970 World Series, in addition to making numerous great defensive plays. He was the outstanding defensive and offensive player, winning the World Series MVP award. During the Series, Reds manager Sparky Anderson said "I'm beginning to see Brooks in my sleep. If I dropped this paper plate, he'd pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first." Robinson also won the Hickok Belt for 1970, presented annually to the top professional athlete of the year in all sports.
 

Bucky

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The Netflix documentary on Nolan Ryan was excellent. Watched with my dad and it was a great hour and a half watch. There will never be another Nolan.
 
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"otherwise membership is cheapened like it's been with the addition of Baines and others."------sort of like how entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame means nothing these days, just that you're really good friends (maybe REALLY good, if you get the drift) with Jann Wenner.
 

icsept

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The Netflix documentary on Nolan Ryan was excellent. Watched with my dad and it was a great hour and a half watch. There will never be another Nolan.
Didn’t know about that one. I will definitely watch it.
 

Don Wassall

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Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson were total freaks in the best possible way when it came to their fastballs and endurance. I don't have Netflix but have always appreciated Ryan, who pitched in the bigs for 27 years! Think of that while watching how all of today's starters are babied (and still get injured a lot).
 

foreverfree

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View attachment 3794

Another great player who should not be forgotten is Eddie Mathews. He ranks second of all-time among MLB third basemen in home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage, and total bases.
*Braves* Hall of Fame?

You realize, Charles, that Eddie is in another HoF as well...

 

Flint

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I saw a little bit of the great Eddie Mathew’s in 1968 as he played out his last year as a Detroit Tiger and got himself a World Series win.

It was always a mystery to me how he was overlooked as a great 3b. As a kid they would list the All-time teams by position and would list at 3b guys like Pie Traynor, Freddie Lindstrom, George Kell. When this 500 hr. fielding wiz was never brought up. And then Mike Schmidt came along and moved ahead of him.
 

Don Wassall

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Matthews was indeed under-rated, as shown by it taking five years for him to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Mike Schmidt is a good comparison though clearly Schmidt was the better all-around player, the all-time best third baseman and one of the very best five tool players ever.
 

Don Wassall

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He doesn't qualify as a baseball "great," but Joe Pepitone was a very good first baseman for the Yankess of the 1960s, a player I remember well as a kid when the Yankees were my favorite team before being eclipsed by the Pirates. He had five 20 HR seasons and won three Gold Gloves and being from Brooklyn was a fan favorite. Just read today that he passed at the age of 82. RIP

Here's his 1965 Topps card:

1-Joe Pepitone baseball card.jpg
 
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