The Greatest MLB Players I Have Ever Seen
I'm old, but not that old. 64 this past April, and I believe I have seen some of the greatest players to ever play in the MLB. I seriously started listening to games in 1951 when I was playing wiffleball in my driveway and I heard about 10 times "The Giants win the pennant,
The Giants win the pennant and my Dad coming out of the house yelling and screaming and hugging everybody in sight. From date forth until the tragedy of 1957 I become the most devoted Brooklyn Dodger fan in Brooklyn New York.
This list is decidedly New York oriented but there are exceptions. These players I saw in person while attending games at home in New York or on my many baseball road trips along the years.
I hope you enjoy it.
Catcher- Mike Piazza
This was a very tough decision. I had the opportunity to see some of the greatest catchers of all time. Roy Campenella, Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk etc.
However, when Mike hit the post 9/11 HR at Shea it is a memory I will never get out of my head.
First Base- Willie McCovey
What a swing. Maybe the fastest hands along with Hank Aaron I ever saw. Every time he came to the plate I thought he would hit one out.
Honorable Mention- Willie Stargel, Keith Hernandez, Ted Kluzeweski, Gil Hodges, Moose Skowron, Steve Garvey, Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Carlos Delgado and many more.
Second Base- Jackie Robinson
I place Jackie at second base because that's where I saw him play. I was still pretty young and didn't understand his significance until much later. He was very graceful for a big man and he was quick rather than fast.
Honorable Mention - Ryan Sandburg, Joe Morgan, Willie Randolph, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia, Dave Cash and Billy Martin.
Shortstop - Derek Jeter
Those who know me well enough know the Yankees are far from my favorite team, but Derek is the best I've seen for the totality of his work. He would have been my first selection to start a team with from 1996-2005. I love Cal Ripken and this was a tough call but Derek just has it all.
Honorable Mention - Cal Ripken, Pee Wee Reese, Maury Wills, Tony Kubek, Ozzie Smith, Rico Petrocelli, Ernie Banks.
Third Base - Michael Jack Schmidt
I spent 20 years in South Jersey between 1974-1994 and I had the privilege to watch him on a regular basis. He was flat out a great power hitter who did so much more than hit HR's. He was the consummate team player and Philly fans never gave him the respect he deserved.
Honorable Mention - Cipper Jones, Brooks Robinson, George Brett, Wade Boggs, David Wright, Eddie Matthews.
Left Field - Carl Yaztrzemski
I stole the picture from DJ who is the inspiration of this article. His article says it all.
Yaz made an art of playing the green Monster as well as any Red Sox in their storied history.
Honorable Mention - Jim Rice, Stan Musial, Rickey Henderson, sorry Barry and Manny, no steroids allowed.
Center Field - Willie Mays
This was my most difficult choice. I grew up with Willie, Mickey and the Duke. They literally dominated all of baseball from 1952-1963. My favorite was Duke Snider but Willie was the most all around player.
Mantle was the greatest switch hitter of all time and if a drain in center field hadn't been where it was the Mick would have been the greatest of all time.
Honorable mention - Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, Willie Davis, Tommy Agee, Carlos Beltran, Garry Maddux, Ken Griffey Jr, Lenny Dykstra.
Right Field - Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente/Hank Aaron. I saw them both but I give it to Roberto because he had a flair about him that when he walked on the field you can sense his will to win.
I can't tell you how many times i saw him throw out runners at third and home on a fly with a perfect strike. Just Amazing.
Honorable Mention - Hank Aaron, Carl Furillo, Al Kaline, Tony Guinn, Vlad Guerrero.
Starting Pitcher - Sandy Koufax
I have seen all the greats for the past 58 years and I never saw any pitcher intimidate an entire team of hitters the way he did. His curveball would break so much hitters stopped to admire it. The closest to him, Bob Gibson.
Honorable Mention- Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Whitey Ford, Sal Maglie, Don Drysdale, Doc Gooden, orel Hersheiser, Ron Guidrey, Johan Santana and Fernando Valenzuela..
Relief Pitcher- Mariano Rivera
This guy is insane. I went to a game at the Stadium a few years ago and he struck out the side on 9 pitches and broke 4 bats. I would venture to say that Mariano has broken the most bats in major league history.
Honorable Mention - Lee Smith, Francisco Rodriguez, Jesse Orosco, Roger McDowell, John Smoltz, Bruce Sutter, Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge Randy Myers, Rob Dibble, John Franco.