Famous Baseball Players and Their Teams
The Heroes, the Stars and the Stats
Baseball has a long tradition of excellence. The game of baseball was begun by Abner Doubleday in 1939, when he outlined a diamond-shaped field in the dirt and designated bases, a pitcher and a catcher. Doubleday went on to become a general in the Civil War. Baseball went on to become the great American pastime. We spend summer at the baseball stadium, cheering on their favorite teams. Or we watch on television. Baseball stars became our childhood heroes. As we grew up, they were our role models.
The game itself is simple, calling for nine players, three strikes and three outs. The bases are ninety feet apart, the baseballs made of leather and twine, and the bats constructed of wood. Although the rules of the game never seem to change, the game has a life of its own.
The Famous History of Baseball
The history of baseball is an interesting story in itself. Early teams all wore the same color uniforms and distinguished themselves by their stocking color.
In the late 1880s, catchers wore a wire face guard modeled after a fencer's mask. They used handmade leather balls called "lemon peel" balls because of the stitching pattern. Nowadays the baseball equipment is far improved from what it once was.
The first World Series was played in 1903.
The theme song of baseball "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth, who wrote it while riding a subway train. His words were set to music by Albert Von Tilzer. Neither of them had actually seen a baseball game. The song is often played at baseball games during the Seventh Inning Stretch.
In 1914 and 1915, the eight-team Federal League tried to establish an independent professional league in competition with the American and National Leagues. After the 1915 season, half of the Federal teams were bought out by American and National League owners.
The first All-Star Game was held in Chicago's Comiskey Park in 1933 in conjunction with the Century of Progress Exposition. Then, as now, it was an exhibition match, the best players of the National League against the best of the American League. Today, fans cast ballots for the starting lineup.
The introduction of lights to baseball stadiums transformed the sport. The first major league night game took place in 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt turned on the switch from the White House to light Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, was dedicated on June 12, 1939 by Lee Ferrick Andrews, grandson of Edward Clark, who was a founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Andrews hoped it would revive the local economy.
Over time, the game and the strategies have changed. Pitchers were told to walk the heavy hitters, even though they preferred the personal challenge of pitching to a formidable batter. Also the money today is different, as team owners compete with mega-salaries for the better players. But, when all is said and done, we love the call of "Batter up. Let's play ball."
Famous Baseball Players and Their Teams
We remember hearing about the famous old-time pitchers, like Walter "Big Train" Johnson, Leroy "Satchel" Paige, and Dizzy Dean, who left their mark on the game. Other players made baseball history in their time. Cy Young's perfect game in 1904. Lou Brock's 938 lifetime stolen bases. One of the greatest catchers ever, Mickey Cochrane. Honus Wagner, possibly the greatest shortstop in baseball history. They set the benchmarks for success in baseball.
More famous baseball players come to mind, baseball heroes like Yogi Berra, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ivan Rodriguez, Derek Jetter, Joe DiMaggio, David Ortiz and Pablo Sanchez.
We remember how Bob Feller pitched three no-hitter games for the Cleveland Indians. We marvel at Ted Williams' .344 lifetime average. We applauded when San Francisco Giants' slugger Barry Bonds became the new home run king on August 7, 2007, with 756 home runs.
The Famous Baseball Player Cy Young
Denton Young's major league career stretched from 1890 to 1911, primarily with Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. He was the only pitcher in the first 100 years of baseball to win 500 games and, with 511 career wins, held the record for the most wins in major league history. Among his victories were 3 no-hit shutouts. On May 5, 1904 he pitched a perfect game, his golden moment in baseball. His record for 7,355 career innings, the most pitched in the Major Leagues, still stands.
A young farm boy from Ohio who quit school after the sixth grade, Young pitched a fast ball that reminded his catcher of a cyclone. The nickname "Cyclone" was shortened to Cy and stayed with him. Legend has it that the catcher used a piece of beefsteak in his glove to protect his hand. After one year in the minors, Young moved to the National League Cleveland Spiders. His debut in the major leagues was to deliver a three-hit shutout for the Spiders. When Young's career began, he did not wear a glove. Pitchers delivered the baseball underhand and fouls were not counted as strikes. A few years later, because of the pitching speed of Cy Young and others, the National League moved the pitcher's position back five feet.
In his honor, Major League Baseball created the Cy Young award, given annually for the most valuable pitcher in each league. Cy Young was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.
The Famous Baseball Players of the Negro Baseball League
The Negro League gave African American players a change to play baseball when the major leagues were segregated. By 1900, some two hundred independent all-black teams existed around the country.
James "Cool Papa" Bell, maybe the fastest man in baseball, could circle the bases in twelve seconds flat. During his career, he stole approximately 170 bases and had numerous .400 seasons. Joshua (Josh) Gibson was said to be the greatest slugger in Negro Baseball Leagues. A power-hitting catcher from 1930 to 1946, he hit almost 800 home runs in league and independent baseball and was known as the "black Babe Ruth." Four times he was the Negro National League Batting Champion, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
The Famous Baseball Player George Herman (Babe) Ruth
Babe Ruth played Major League baseball from 1914 to 1935, mostly in the American League for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. In the history of baseball, he is probably the number one player of all time. His lifetime record of 714 home runs lasted for 39 years, until Hank Aaron broke it in 1974.
Early life was hard for George Herman Ruth. His mother was ill. Only two of her seven children survived past infancy. When he was seven years old, Ruth was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory and orphanage, where he lived and learned to play baseball. At the age of 19, he left St. Mary's when he signed a minor league contract to play baseball for $250 a month.
Babe Ruth played 6 seasons for the Boston Red Sox and won three World Series for them. But the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth, their finest player, to the New York Yankees for $125,000 in cash and a $300,000 loan. His 15-year career with the Yankees was legendary. He led them to seven American League championships and four World Series wins.
On the other hand, after they traded Ruth the Red Sox never won a World Series from 1920 all the way through 2003. Red Sox fans call this 86-year drought "the Curse of the Babe."
With the Yankees, Babe Ruth changed from a pitcher to a power-hitting outfielder, so he could play more games. Babe Ruth set nearly every Major League hitting record in the book. He was called the Sultan of Swat and the Bambino. Larger than life on the field and off the field, Babe Ruth brought flair and drama to the game. His batting prowess changed baseball to a high-scoring power game. He remains the only player in major league baseball history to win batting, home run, RBI, slugging and ERA titles. The bat he used to hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium in 1923 sold for $1.26 million at auction in 2004.
As soon as I got out there I felt a strange relationship with the pitcher's mound. It was as if I'd been born out there. Pitching just felt like the most natural thing in the world. Striking out batters was easy. ~ Babe Ruth
Remembering More Famous Baseball Players and Their Teams
We remember many players who made legends.
- One of the best southpaw pitchers ever, Warren Spahn
- Jackie Robinson who was named "Rookie of the Year" the same year he broke the color barrier
- Only two players have ever won two Triple Crowns in their careers: Ted Williams, slugger with the Boston Red Sox, and Roger Hornsby.
- Giants center fielder Willie Mays, the "Say Hey Kid" who stole 338 bases and hit 660 home runs during his twenty-two year career.
- Roberto Clemente in right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates was a Gold Glove for twelve straight years. Clemente was the first Puerto Rican to win Most Valuable Player honors and the first Hispanic inducted into the Baseball hall of Fame. When he died in an airplane crash while delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims of Nicaragua in 1972, his teammates wore a commemorative "21" patch in his honor.
- Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals team once hit five home runs in a single day. He led the league in batting seven times.
- Joe DiMaggio was called the "Yankee Clipper."
- Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski, a big hitter for the Boston Red Sox team and Triple Crown Winner.
Quote "The most fun I ever had in my life was hittin' a baseball. And the best sound I ever heard in my life was a ball hit with a bat. Powww!" Ted Williams
Famous Baseball Cards
In the mid-1880s, tobacco companies began producing baseball cards featuring baseball players in packs of cigarettes, like the Old Judge and Gypsy Queen brands. The cards boosted sales. There were also baseball pins included with packs of cigarettes between 1910 and 1912. By 1914, candy companies began offering the cards as premiums. In 1914 Cracker Jack issued a series of cards featuring 144 star players of the American, National and Federal Leagues. Because of a paper shortage during World War II, baseball cards were not produced, and resumed in 1948 by Bowman Gum. The bowman trading card brand was bought by Topps in 1956. Baseball cards and pins are highly collectible.
One of the rarest baseball cards in existence is that of Honus Wagner, who helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win pennants in 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1909. Wagner did not want children to have to buy tobacco products to get his card, so his card with withdrawn from the product. At auction in 2007, a Wagner card sold for $2.35 million.
“Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.” ~ Babe Ruth
Famous Baseball Player Hank Aaron
Henry Louis (Hank) Aaron is one of the best players ever to play baseball. His record includes over 3,000 hits and a lifetime batting average of over .300. Early in his baseball career Aaron played with the Indianapolis Clowns baseball team in the Negro American League. Starting in 1954, he played 21 seasons in the National League with the Milwaukee Braves and the Atlanta Braves, and finally two years with the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League. Nicknamed "Hammer" and "Hammering Hank," Aaron was a strong and consistent hitter. His home runs were hit so low and hard that shortstops tried to jump for them. The highlight of his career was when he made history, April 8, 1974, by hitting his 715th homer, which broke Babe Ruth's "unbeatable" record. In his career Aaron hit 755 home runs, setting the Major League Baseball record for most career home runs. His record held for 33 years until Barry Bonds came along August 7, 2007. Aaron holds many other baseball hitting records that still stand, including most career runs batted in, most career extra base hits, and so on. He played in every All Star game from 1955 through 1975. Aaron is the last Negro league baseball player to play in the major leagues. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 as soon as he became eligible. In his honor, Major League Baseball created the Hank Aaron Award, an annual award given to the most effective hitters in each league.
"Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historical achievement. My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams." ~ Hank Aaron
Famous Baseball Player Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig, "The Iron Horse" first baseman for the Yankees baseball team, played a record 2,130 consecutive games. When he retired in 1939 he had a lifetime batting average of .340. He suffered from a fatal neuromuscular disease that is often called Lou Gehrig's disease. Today he is remembered for his goodbye speech, "Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans."
“It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”
“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” - Babe Ruth
I hope life brings you much success.
I wish you a very happy day.
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