MLB Power Rankings: The Most Colorful Personality in Each Team's History
Each sport has those types of players and personalities whose quirks and oddities just add to their overall lure.
But perhaps no sport embraces it more than baseball, which in it of itself is a game of quirks and oddities. It should only be fitting then that some of the players and people around the game were and are the same way.
So with that in mind and the season now underway for all 30 teams, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of the more colorful personalities ever to be associated with each major league team. Some of them were players, some were managers, some were even owners. But they all brought their own quirks that left a mark on the game.
Without further ado, here's the most colorful personality for each MLB team.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Curt Schilling
The list for the Diamondbacks wasn't that long to choose from, but for me, it really came down to Schilling and Eric Byrnes for Arizona.
Byrnes was one of those wacky guys who would run through a wall to make a play, but Schilling was also brash and confident. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind, and he wasn't afraid to do what it took to win. Between him and Randy Johnson, the Diamondbacks had an identity and the backbone of a team that would end the Yankee dynasty.
Atlanta Braves: Ted Turner
He might've been unconventional and had a thing for Jane Fonda, and most people wouldn't remember that he actually managed the Braves for a game back in the 1970s.
But like Schilling with the Diamondbacks, he gave the Braves a national identity. And perhaps more importantly, by putting the games on TBS, he created a nation of fans as the Braves rose out of the 1980s and became the National League's dominant force in the 1990s.
Baltimore Orioles: Earl Weaver
He was fiery, he was oppositional. He was out of the mold of Billy Martin, and the best way to describe him for those who didn't watch him manage is that he was Lou Piniella before Lou Piniella was Lou Piniella. And there's plenty of clips of some of his legendary arguments with umpires.
But he was also extremely successful, and during his tenure in Baltimore, the Orioles became one of the sport's dominant powers.
Boston Red Sox: Kevin Millar
To be honest, you could go a lot of different directions with the Red Sox. Those 2003-2004 teams alone had a whole cast of characters, including David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez.
But Millar was more than just a colorful character; he was also one of the team's emotional leaders. He was the guy who came up with the "Cowboy Up" and "Idiots" slogans, and he was the one who kept the team loose when they needed it the most.
Not bad for a guy who's still not allowed in the MLBPA.
Chicago Cubs: Sammy Sosa
His links to the steroid era have tainted his career, but in his prime there were few characters who were more colorful and more lovable than Sammy Sosa.
He became the darling of the Cubbie Nation and the baseball world during that home run chase in 1998, and his trademark home run hop and celebration in the dugout was imitated by kids the world over. Of course, it eventually came crashing down on him after that whole corked bat incident, but for a four-year span, he was one of the most beloved baseball figures of all time.
Chicago White Sox: Bill Veeck
This was another tough choice between he and manager Ozzie Guillen, but Veeck was more than just a colorful personality.
His promotions were crazy, but they worked. He was the guy who as owner of the White Sox forced Harry Carey to sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" live to the entire stadium. He also was one of the owners who help usher in free agency.
But all you really need to know about Veeck can be summed up in three words: Disco Demolition Night.
Cincinnati Reds: Brandon Phillips
The Reds have done some crazy things in their long history; not surprising, considering the team was owned by Marge Schott for a number of years.
But on a young team that's making the city of Cincinnati care about baseball again, Phillips has been the emotional catalyst. He proved last year that he wasn't afraid to speak his mind, calling out the Cardinals and perhaps making history as one of the few players ever to get booed in St. Louis. Honestly, that should be more than enough to make this list.
Cleveland Indians: Jimmy Piersall
Piersall definitely bounced around the majors during his career, and his long and painful battles with manic depression have been well documented.
But during his career, Piersall was also one of those characters you'd find all over baseball's history. An ESPN Classic biography of Piersall was littered with stories about his career, everything from taking bows after making a catch to fighting his own teammate.
"He's great, but you have to play him in a cage," former manager Casey Stengel said, according to the piece.
Colorado Rockies: Larry Walker
One of the best and most beloved players in the Rockies' short history, Walker was a five-tool player in every sense of the word.
He was also one who put himself in baseball blooper reels forever for mistakenly handing a ball to a fan when he thought he had caught the last out of an inning. Of course, if you've watched the tape, you saw Walker's face and then the panicked sprint back towards the Dodger Stadium stands as the Dodgers rounded the bases.
That was as an Expo, but Walker was still the face of the Rockies for many years.
Detroit Tigers: Mark Fidrych
When it comes to colorful characters, it doesn't get more colorful then "The Bird".
His career never took off after his phenomenal rookie season, when he won 19 games, won the AL Rookie of the Year and second in the Cy Young voting in 1976. He dealt with injuries the rest of his career, and he eventually was out of baseball by 1981. But his antics on the mound, including talking to the baseball, made him famous and still live on to this day.
Florida Marlins: Dontrelle Willis
Like some of the other expansion teams on this list, the Marlins didn't have a long list to choose from.
But from the second he debuted in 2003, Willis gave a spark of life to the eventual World Series Champions. His unique pitching motion, and his just outright love for the game was infectious among the entire Marlins roster. Eventually, the Marlins traded away Willis in the Miguel Cabrera deal, but right away, he was one of the most electric personalities the Marlins have ever had.
Houston Astros: Billy Wagner
Wagner has always been one to speak his mind during his career as one of the game's better closers, a career that came to an end after last season.
But after the Astros missed the postseason in 2003, Wagner called out the Astros organization for not building a contending team. It wasn't long after that Wagner was traded to Philadelphia and the Astros responded by signing Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.
Kansas City Royals: George Brett
Brett could very easily be referred to as one of the best players ever to wear a Kansas City Royals jersey, and his career numbers would very well back that up.
But when you think of George Brett, how can you not think of him running out of the visiting dugout at Yankee Stadium in full sprint, his eyes almost bulging out of his head as he had a home run called back? Of course, we're talking about the infamous pine tar game where Brett's home run was called an out because he had too much pine tar on his bat.
Los Angeles Angels: Reggie Jackson
Wherever he went during his Hall of Fame career, Reggie Jackson was always the brightest star in the room. He was never one to shy away from controversy, nor was he ever one not to speak his mind.
He had calmed down by the time he signed with the Angels, but his reputation as the "the straw that stirs the drink" was already well-known by then. Plus, it was as an Angel that Jackson gave that memorable performance in that cinematic classic, The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Tommy Lasorda
He was a winner, he could go on a rant, and according to a very awkward booth interview last summer, he still hasn't forgiven Reggie Jackson.
Yes, there are few managers who are more linked to one franchise than Lasorda is with the Dodgers. Like many of the great old-time managers, he was great with those philosophical baseball one-liners. And the video of him getting toppled over by a bat at the 2001 All-Star Game is still making the rounds around the Internet.
Milwaukee Brewers: Prince Fielder
Fielder hasn't been around a long time, but he's made quite an impression with the Brewers and their faithful.
He's one of the fan favorites in Milwaukee for obvious reasons (he's become one of the best power hitters in the game), but he's also garnered a lot of attention for his famous bowling-ball celebration after a walk-off win against the Giants. San Francisco didn't care for it, but it doesn't seem that bad compared to the celebrations that caused a couple of injuries last season.
Minnesota Twins: Bert Blyleven
Blyleven finally made the Hall of Fame this past winter, but the guy has been synonymous with Twins baseball for years. He spent most of his career with Minnesota, but he's been known for some crazy antics, including his proclivity to a certain bodily function.
Either way, the guy's become a Twins institution, first for his playing career and now as a longtime Twins television broadcaster.
New York Mets: Keith Hernandez
He didn't sneak back into the dugout after he'd been ejected in a game with a fake mustache (a la Bobby Valentine), but Hernandez has gone from an All-Star caliber player during his career to a TV pitchman and a Mets announcer in his retirement.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Hernandez had a cameo in one of the more popular sitcoms of the 20th Century. If you're a Seinfeld fan, how can you not hear and see Hernandez and at least have the line "I'm Keith Hernandez" playing in your head?
New York Yankees: George Steinbrenner
Just like with the Red Sox, there are a number of choices that could've fit here. Yogi, Babe, Billy Martin, I could go on.
But Steinbrenner was one of the most visible owners in all of sports at the height of his reign. There were the classic battles with Martin, the firings, the suspensions, the calling out of his own players. But there were also a number of championships, the pushing of free agency and one of the more recognizable TV characters in recent memory.
Steinbrenner was larger than life.
Oakland Athletics: Rickey Henderson
Anytime a player refers to himself in the third person and announces to the world that "I am the greatest of all-time", that has to fit on the list somewhere.
And while some may argue about that statement from Henderson, there's few who will argue that he is one of the better leadoff hitters and base-stealers the game has ever seen. A dynamic player, he definitely earned that right.
Philadelphia Phillies: Lenny Dykstra
Dysktra earned the nickname "Nails" for a reason during his long career: Because he was one of those guys who would run through a wall to make a play.
He also had a wild streak during his career, although he had calmed down by the time he came to the Phillies. Still, he eventually became a fan favorite in Philadelphia and was a key part of the 1993 National League Championship team.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Dock Ellis
Willie Stargell could've been a possible choice for the Pirates here. But let's be honest, when a pitcher claims he threw a no hitter under the influence of LSD, that has to earn the top spot.
It still hasn't been proved that Ellis was under the influence of LSD when he threw the no hitter, but that wasn't the only antic of his career. There was the time he tried to plunk the entire Reds' roster.
St. Louis Cardinals: Ozzie Smith
The hair, the backflips; it was all a part of the package with Ozzie Smith.
Of course, the defense was part of it too, all of which eventually landed him in the Hall of Fame as one of the better shortstops ever to put on a uniform. His series-winning home run in the 1985 NLCS produced one of the most memorable calls in baseball history from the great Jack Buck.
San Diego Padres: Graig Nettles
Nettles only spent some of the last few years of his career with his hometown Padres. He spent most of his career with the Yankees, where he was a mainstay of the lineup and Bill Lee's personal agitator.
It doesn't mean that Nettles wasn't also a personality in his own right. He was older by the time he returned home, but he had made a reputation for himself as someone who could speak his mind with the best of them.
San Francisco Giants: Brian Wilson
Where should I begin with Wilson?
The mohawk, the beard, the personas, they all just seem to fit into the package that is Brian Wilson. Whether he's going onto late-night talk shows dressed as a nautical man or just talking about how epic his beard is, Wilson has embraced his personality.
And so has the rest of baseball.
Seattle Mariners: Lou Pinella
Pinella's a disciple of the Billy Martin school of managing, and you saw that right away when you watched him. He's famous for his arguments with umpires, and one could probably say he made hat-tossing, dirt-kicking, and when all else fails, base-stealing/tossing, popular among managers.
But just like Billy Martin, he's a winner. Pinella won in Cincinnati and he won in Seattle, presiding over the most successful era in Mariners history.
Tampa Bay Rays: Manny Ramirez
Manny has been a Ray for all of a week, but he's also the most magnetic personality the team has ever had.
He hasn't shown any glimpses of "Manny being Manny" with the young Rays, but he's made a career of having fun on the baseball field. Whether it's high-fiving a fan while making a catch, disappearing into the Green Monster during an inning or cutting off a cut-off throw in the outfield, Manny just does things that make sense to Manny.
But no one's laughing when he comes up to the plate.
Texas Rangers: Nolan Ryan
He was fiery, he was aggressive, he was dominant when that electric fastball was on.
The all-time strikeout king was at the end of his career when he joined the Rangers, but he showed he still had a no-hitter in him as a Ranger. He also showed he doesn't back down from a fight, when he infamously put Robin Ventura in a headlock and subsequently became the first professional athlete ever to give another pro athlete a noogie.
Toronto Blue Jays: Joe Carter
Joe Carter will hold an unique place in Blue Jays history after hitting the biggest home run in franchise history, but he also became an integral part of those early 1990s Blue Jays teams.
He also showed he can take part in the practical joke here and there when he helped give away teammate Derek Bell's truck during a game, as he drove the truck out onto the field.
Washington Nationals: Bill Lee
The Nationals' character goes back to the old Montreal Expos days, and you'd be hard-pressed to find more colorful characters than the "Spaceman."
Lee ended up in Montreal after his career in Boston was derailed by injuries (notably a broken collarbone suffered when Graig Nettles tackled him) and clashing with Don Zimmer, but he's also known for speaking his own mind.
He might've been odd, but he was never boring.