All 30 MLB Team's Most Popular Player in Franchise History
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Throughout the history of Major League Baseball, many players have amazed fans with their incredible skills on the diamond—setting records, winning awards, leading their teams to championships and dazzling with their abilities.
There are also the players who achieved great success off the field because of their attitude, personality and demeanor.
All too often, we read about athletes who are "pampered" and feel a sense of entitlement because of their skills. But the greatest baseball players built their legacy by being a class act on the diamond and in the clubhouse.
Here is a look at the most beloved and popular player for each MLB team.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez
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Former Arizona Diamondbacks' outfielder Luis Gonzalez is remembered for delivering the game-winning hit that delivered the D-Backs their first World Series championship. He is also remembered for easily being the most popular player in franchise history.
Always one of the first to arrive and the last to leave, Gonzalez set an example for others to follow through his actions. In his eight years in Arizona, Gonzalez didn't just put up terrific numbers, he was the man who players and fans looked up to.
Gonzo had his jersey number (20) retired in August 2010—the only D-Backs' player to receive this honor.
Atlanta Braves: Dale Murphy
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For 15 seasons, center fielder Dale Murphy delighted Atlanta Braves' fans by winning back-to-back MVP awards, five Gold Glove Awards and seven All-Star appearances.
Murphy's accomplishments were not enough to get him elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. But he was adored by Braves' fans who watched him selflessly play the game with an unabashed enthusiasm everyday.
Baltimore Orioles: Brooks Robinson
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For anyone who ever had the opportunity to watch third baseman Brooks Robinson during his fabulous 23-year career, they clearly saw why he earned the nickname "The Human Vacuum Cleaner." He won 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards between 1960-1975.
Robinson also earned the nickname "Mr. Oriole" for his immense popularity and the way he played baseball—known in Baltimore as the "Oriole Way."
Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz
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When designated hitter David Ortiz arrived in Boston in 2003, few fans knew much about the man known as Big Papi. However, nine seasons later, Ortiz's name, reputation and legacy have become cemented in stone.
Ortiz has become a household name in Boston through his actions on and off the field. Together with Manny Ramirez, the two became one of the most formidable 3-4 hitter combinations in baseball history. And through his many charitable endeavors off the field, Ortiz has become one of the most popular players in Boston sports' history.
Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks
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In a career that spanned 19 seasons, Ernie Banks was unable to win a World Series championship with the Chicago Cubs, but that didn't stop fans in Chicago from falling in love with the man called "Mr. Cub."
Banks won back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959, clubbed 512 home runs and was selected to the National All-Star team 11 times.
However, what endeared Banks to his fans was his approach to the game and the genuine love that he shared for the game itself.
The man who embodied the phrase, "let's play two," shared a passion that was contagious for both players and fans.
Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko
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Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko has drawn kudos for his abilities as a hitter during his 13 years in Chicago—earning five All-Star selections and clubbing 389 home runs. In 2005, he led the White Sox to their first World Series championship in 88 seasons.
Konerko is so beloved on the South Side that the White Sox actually considered him as a player/manager before handing the job over to Robin Ventura.
Cincinnati Reds: Sean Casey
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In his eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, first baseman Sean Casey didn't win multiple awards and championships, but what he did do was become one of the most likable players in franchise history.
Casey earned the nickname, "The Mayor," for his personality and clubhouse leadership. Any player who ever reached first base was immediately engaged in an animated conversation with Casey.
In 2007, Casey earned the distinction of being the friendliest player in baseball in a Sports Illustrated poll and through his very public charity work one of the most giving players in baseball as well.
Cleveland Indians: Jim Thome
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First baseman/designated hitter Jim Thome has hit 604 home runs during his stellar 21-season career and may hit a few more by the time it's all said and done.
However, what has defined Thome's career is his reputation as a fine human being.
Thome is revered for his attitude and personality, and while he was a main cog in the great Indians' teams of the 1990s, he won fans and teammates over with his example of decency and gentlemanly behavior.
Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton
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During his 15-year career, all spent with the Colorado Rockies, first baseman Todd Helton has endeared himself to fans in the Mile High City with his high caliber of play and his example of leadership.
While his numbers on the field may have diminished in recent years, Helton embodies the way the game should be played—and will likely end his career in Colorado as the most popular player in franchise history.
Detroit Tigers: Al Kaline
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Detroit Tigers' right fielder Al Kaline was a model of consistency during his 22-year career in Detroit because of strong leadership qualities and a professional style of play.
Kaline hit .297 with 399 home runs and 3,007 hits during his illustrious career, with 15 All-Star selections to his credit. Kaline also added 10 Gold Glove Awards to his mantel, making him the most well-rounded Tiger who ever played—and the most beloved.
Houston Astros: Glenn Davis
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First baseman Glenn Davis only played seven years for the Houston Astros, but as soon as he arrived, he quickly established himself as a fan favorite.
Davis bashed 166 home runs during his time in Houston and made two All-Star teams. He was also beloved in the clubhouse and in the stands.
Kansas City Royals: George Brett
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There was not much that Kansas City Royals' third baseman George Brett couldn't do—13 All-Star selections, 3,154 hits, three American League batting titles and an MVP Award.
Brett was the heart and soul of the Royals, lifting them to two AL pennants and a World Series championship.
Brett isn't just the most beloved Royals' player in history; he is the most popular player in Kansas City sports history.
Los Angeles Angels: Garrett Anderson
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While roaming left field during his 15 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Garrett Anderson set many team records—most games, hits, doubles and runs batted in.
Anderson was the driving force behind the Angels when they captured their first World Series title in 2002 and will forever be remembered for his selfless style of play.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Duke Snider
When Duke Snider passed away last year, the entire Dodgers' and baseball fanbase mourned the passing of a man who was beloved for his skill on the diamond and for his attitude and demeanor off the field.
Throughout his life, Snider was a Dodger through and through. Starting in Brooklyn and ending in Los Angeles, Snider was there for the franchise's first World Series championship in 1955. He led them there with 42 HR and 136 RBI. Snider was also there for the first championship in the city of LA.
Snider would finish his career with the San Francisco Giants, but there was no mistaking the fact that Snider bled Dodger Blue.
Miami Marlins: Jeff Conine
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When Jeff Conine joined the Florida Marlins in 1993, he was in on the ground floor of an expansion team that struggled in its early years.
However, Conine quickly became a fan favorite, placing third in the Rookie of the Year Award balloting that season and going on to make two All-Star teams.
Conine was the only player who was there for both Marlins' World Series championship seasons. In 2003, he returned to Florida in a late season trade and was a spark throughout the postseason.
Milwaukee Brewers: Robin Yount
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When Robin Yount first set foot on the diamond for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1974 as a young, gangly 18-year-old shortstop, no one really knew just how special he would become.
However, over his remarkable 20-year career, Yount showed fans in Milwaukee just how special he was, winning two MVP Awards and collecting 3,142 hits.
He was the face of the Brew Crew during their heyday in the early 1980s.
Minnesota Twins: Harmon Killebrew
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For 21 seasons with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins, Harmon Killebrew earned the nickname "Killer" for his ability to smash the ball out of the stadium, but his nickname was in stark contrast to the man himself.
Killebrew hit 573 home runs during his remarkable career, however, he was also considered one of the gentlemen in the sport's history—never uttering a cuss word or even a nasty word of any kind toward anyone.
He was a salt-of-the-earth type man throughout his illustrious career.
New York Mets: Gary Carter
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Catcher Gary Carter only played five years for the New York Mets, but his stay in the Big Apple was memorable indeed.
Already an accomplished star during his time with the Montreal Expos, Carter's presence in New York energized the Mets, who went on to win the World Series in 1986 in Carter's second year with the team.
Carter led by example on and off the field, and while the Mets certainly had their share of personalities on that '86 team, Carter was the glue that held them together.
New York Yankees: Joe DiMaggio
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In a city that has certainly seen its share of great players, there is one who shines above all—New York Yankees' center fielder Joe DiMaggio.
Joltin' Joe was a quiet man, but his example on and off the field was exemplary.
Even though he only played 13 seasons, he led the Yankees to ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships, winning the MVP award three times and making the All-Star team in every year he played.
DiMaggio was the epitome of the word gentleman, and the Yankee Clipper is still revered in a city well known for producing stars and championships.
Oakland Athletics: Dennis Eckersley
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By the time Dennis Eckersley arrived in Oakland in 1987, he was 32-years-old and had been working to transition from the starting rotation to the bullpen.
After nine seasons with the Athletics, Eckersley became famous for becoming one of the greatest closers in the game's history, helping lead the Athletics to three straight American League pennants and a World Series championship in 1989.
Eckersley was a fan favorite for his flair, his gregarious nature, his infectious smile and his remarkable turnaround from starter to closer.
Philadelphia Phillies: Richie Ashburn
For 50 years, Philadelphia Phillies' outfielder Richie Ashburn embodied the spirit of baseball in the City of Brotherly Love, first as a player and later in his career as a broadcaster.
A big part of the 1950 "Whiz Kids" team that captured the National League pennant, Ashburn wasn't the flashiest of players and played in an era where he was overshadowed by the likes of Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio and others.
However, Ashburn represented the Phillies with style and grace and became beloved by a new generation of Phillies fans after his playing career ended, working in the broadcast booth for many seasons and finally seeing his beloved Phillies capture their first World Series title in 1980.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Willie Stargell
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In 1971, Willie "Pops" Stargell captured a World Series title with the Pittsburgh Pirates, leading them to the championship with 48 HR and 125 RBI.
In 1979, Stargell once again led his team to the promised land in improbable fashion, leading the Pirates to another championship over the Baltimore Orioles and winning the NL MVP award at the age of 39.
The theme song for the Pirates that season was the Sister Sledge smash hit We Are Family, and Stargell was the unquestioned and adored leader of that family.
San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn
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At different points during the remarkable 20-year career of outfielder Tony Gwynn, he could have opted to leave the San Diego Padres and play for big money elsewhere.
However, each time the opportunity presented itself, Gwynn declined, preferring to play in the city he loved.
Few players in sports history are associated so closely with one team, and Gwynn was not only loved and revered in the city of San Diego but throughout the baseball world as well.
San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays
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There are many people who equate popularity with a player's abilities. While that may be true for certain players (Harmon Killebrew, Joe DiMaggio), center fielder Willie Mays was a shining example of a player who had great ability and who was loved for his unabashed love of the game itself.
Mays was special, and it was evident when he was first seen on the field in 1951 with the New York Giants. Mays' five-tool skills quickly became legendary, and his overall love of the game and the way he played quickly made him a fan favorite.
The accolades and awards aside, Mays was simply one of the finest all-around players who ever played and was without a doubt one of the most beloved and popular.
Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr.
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When Ken Griffey Jr. first joined the Seattle Mariners as a 19-year-old rookie in 1989, fans quickly became enamored with the man who was affectionately known as Kid.
Griffey amazed fans in Seattle year after year with a series of highlight-reel catches in center field, his prodigious power and his leadership by example.
While Griffey was slowed in later years with a spate of injuries due to his reckless style of play, he ended his career back in the city that fell in love with him, a fitting end to a great career.
St. Louis Cardinals: Stan Musial
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Playing for the St. Louis Cardinals for 22 seasons, Stan Musial represented the city of St. Louis with style, class and grace.
Musial would collect 3,630 hits during his career, the most ever spent with one team. Seven batting titles, three MVP awards and 24 All-Star team selections were more accolades that added to Musial's legacy, but it was his attitude, demeanor and personality that characterized the man simply known as "The Man."
Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria
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Even though he has only played four seasons, Tampa Bay Rays' third baseman Evan Longoria has already established himself as the heart and soul of the Rays' franchise, and he continues to set an example with his leadership on the field and in the dugout.
Longoria's line drive home run into the left field bleachers in the 12th inning of the final game of the regular season in 2011 lifted the Rays into the postseason, capping an epic comeback that saw them nine games out of the playoff race at the beginning of September.
It was fitting that Longoria was the man to deliver since he has become synonymous with big-time plays in Tampa Bay during his short career.
Texas Rangers: Nolan Ryan
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When the Ryan Express came rolling into Texas in 1989, Nolan Ryan was already 42-years-old.
However, five years later, Ryan was without a doubt the most beloved player in franchise history.
Ryan continued to amaze fans during his time in Texas despite his advanced age, throwing two more no-hitters during his time in Arlington.
Now the owner of the franchise, he is still working to bring the Rangers their first World Series title.
Toronto Blue Jays: Carlos Delgado
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For 12 seasons, Toronto Blue Jays' first baseman Carlos Delgado delighted fans north of the border with his infectious smile and his sweet swing.
Delgado swatted 336 home runs during his time in Toronto, and he continually delighted fans in the SkyDome with his engaging personality, his tremendous skills and his effervescent nature.
Washington Nationals: Gary Carter
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It seems fitting that Gary Carter should end this list.
He is the only player to make this list for two separate teams.
Carter started and ended his career with the Montreal Expos, quickly gaining fame as a great all-around catcher who was as adept at handling pitchers as he was at hitting a baseball.
Carter was one of the best at his craft during his time in Montreal, and he quickly ingratiated himself to fans north of the border with his bubbly personality and an always at-the-ready smile.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.