As a whole, baseball players are an eccentric group. They walk in circles around the pitching mound talking to themselves. They take bathroom breaks in left field walls. They shove cameras and snuff reporters.
Yet over the course of baseball history, there have been several individuals who have made themselves stand out from the crowd. Some of them have had illustrious careers, yet ruined their reputations by stupidity, plain and simple. Others were journeymen who made a name for themselves by one or several acts of idiocy.
This is not a ranking of the dumbest players. This is simply a list of the players and their respective transgressions. Prepare to feel better about yourself—it's not hard to be smarter than these guys.
This relatively unknown player committed perhaps the greatest in-game blunder in the history of the sport. Merkle's Boner (get your mind out of the gutter, people) is the name given to this historic gaffe.
In a September 23rd, 1908 game against the Cubs, Merkle got the start for the New York Giants. With the score 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Merkle was on first base with baserunner Moose McCormick on third. Al Bridwell singled and McCormick crossed the plate. Giants win, right? Wrong.
During the play, Merkle saw the fans storming the field and turned back to his dugout instead of touching second base. According to rule, a force-out play was still possible at second base. The Cubs' Johnny Evers retrieved the ball and touched second, and Merkle was called out.
Long story short, the game was called a tie, the Cubs won the replayed game and won the pennant by one game, after which they won the World Series for the second straight year. Who knows how baseball history would have been changed had Merkle simply gone to second.
Oh, Lenny. He is a rebel of the highest order, one of baseball's last true bad boys. Dykstra had a productive major league career, but his legacy rests in his misdeeds off the field. Whether during his playing days or afterwards, Dykstra has had several misfortunes by his own doing.
During the 1991 season, Dykstra crashed his car into a tree while driving drunk. He missed a good portion of the season because of injuries sustained in the accident. Off the field, Dykstra's incidents could fill up an entire page. Between being named in the Mitchell Report to being indicted on the charge of bankruptcy fraud, Dykstra has created a plethora of problems that still plague him to this day.
He could have had a truly exceptional career, but because of his stupidity, it was only a good one.
Between 1991 and 2000, there were few players in baseball as feared and consistent at the plate more than Albert Belle. The big slugger dominated with the Indians, White Sox and Orioles. But that's not what Belle will be remembered for.
He will probably be remembered for throwing a baseball into the stands after being heckled. Or maybe he'll be remembered for his profanity-laced outburst directed at reporters during the 1995 World Series. Or bashing Kenny Lofton's boom box with a baseball bat. Yeah, Albert was not the most pleasant man.
Unfortunately, his stupid antics probably cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame. After hitting .295 with almost 400 home runs in his career, Belle will ultimately be remembered as the big, slugging jerk.
The hard-throwing lefty never had a moment in the majors without doing something stupid. Despite his upper-echelon fastball, John Rocker ruined any chance he had at a sustainable career with his mouth. In a 2000 Sports Illustrated article, Rocker made a series of racist, sexist and homophobic remarks regarding whether he would ever play for a New York team. He then went on to make disparaging remarks about New York Mets fans.
The comments made him the most hated man in New York and caused his suspension for the first month of the 2000 season. His career never really got off the runway after that point. Continuing to damage himself with more controversial remarks, Rocker was out of baseball by 2003.
What? Yogi? Come on, Eli. You are the dumb one here.
I'm sorry to do this to one of the true legends of baseball, but some of the things that came out of Yogi Berra's mouth were, quite simply, idiotic. Some of his gems:
"Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours."
"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
"I never said most of the things I said."
Listen, Yogi is one of the most lovable and entertaining characters in baseball history. But if he honestly meant to say everything he was quoted as saying, he was not the brightest star in the sky. Not by a long shot.
You know how Milton Bradley is the name of a popular board game company? Take your mental association of that name and turn it on its head, and you have the baseball player. Milton Bradley's career has involved controversy at every turn.
After tearing his ACL while being restrained in an argument by Padres manager Bud Black in 2007, Bradley celebrated 2008 by trying to confront Royals TV announcer Ryan Lefebvre after a game. In 2009, with his third team in three years, he was suspended by the Cubs after saying, "you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here." In 2010 with the Mariners, he took a leave of absence to deal with "personal issues." Most recently, Bradley was arrested for making threats to a woman.
Get the picture?
Castillo, a speedy infielder who has spent time with the Marlins, Twins, Mets and Phillies, has earned his infamy mainly through two incidents. The first, an off-the-field issue, was when Castillo refused to visit a hospital with wounded soldiers because he did not want to be horrified by the sight of amputated limbs.
The second will probably never be forgotten by Mets or Yankees fans. In the ninth inning of the June 12th, 2009 Subway Series game, Castillo had a lapse of concentration and dropped what would have been the game-winning pop fly. Not being able to concentrate in a crucial moment of a rivalry game definitely falls under the category of "supreme moron."
Brian Anderson had a relatively insignificant career as a pitcher. He was a journeyman and the strongest point of his game was his pickoff move. But he had two injuries—freak injuries by a long shot—that will ink his place in baseball infamy.
In a span of two months in 1998, Anderson had two of the most ridiculous injuries any baseball player has ever had. First, he attempted to test the heat of a hotel iron by pressing it against his jaw (yes, this is real life). Several weeks later, he missed a start due to elbow stiffness. Why? Anderson claims it was from laying his arm along the back seat of a taxi while shopping in Beverly Hills.
The two dumbest injuries in baseball history, all caused by one man.
Joel Zumaya's fastball is legendary. It has been recorded at over 104 miles per hour and, for a while, was the talk of baseball. But recently, Zumaya has been plagued by a string of injuries. This unfortunate turn of events started in 2006. Not only was it a ridiculous injury, but the timing could not have been worse.
Zumaya missed the 2006 ALCS due to a sore wrist. How did this happen? According to Tigers club president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, Zumaya injured the wrist while playing Guitar Hero 2. Now, I can understand playing the game to have a good time. But in the most crucial time of year, a pitcher with one of the most live arms in baseball history played one or two too many songs and cost himself a chance to pitch in the ALCS.
Good thing the Tigers won that series. Otherwise, Zumaya would be the Guitar Antihero.
For a man who hit over 500 career home runs and, despite his problems, is one of the top 10 or 15 pure hitters of all time, it is a shame that Manny Ramirez has to be included in this list. But in truth, "Manny being Manny" was simply Manny being a moron.
The list of Manny's mental lapses goes on and on. From an ill-advised diving cutoff of a Johnny Damon throw to taking a leak in the Green Monster to getting multiple PED suspensions, Ramirez has entertained us as much as he has made us wince over the years.
He was a fun guy to watch but hardly a high-IQ player. Now that Manny has retired, baseball's collective intelligence has inched up. For wasting a certainly Hall of Fame-worthy career with a series of dumb acts, Ramirez may cement himself as the dumbest player in history.