Mel Ott and Every MLB Franchise's Longest Tenured Player
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It's a true testament of both a player and a team when an athlete can remain with one organization for their entire career, especially in this day-and-age, with the innovation of free agency. That's just one of the aspects that makes men like Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Ryne Sandberg so special.
I recently wrote about some players who spent their careers playing with a myriad of teams. So what better time to contrast and write about players who have been true and loyal to just one team, for their entire career.
The following is a list of all 30 teams' longest tenured player(s). These men have spent their entire careers with one organization, a commendable feat to be sure.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Robby Hammock
Robby Hammock played five Major League seasons - all with Arizona.
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The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the newest teams in the league. So it figures that their longest tenured player would be someone who wasn't in the game all that long. But who would have guess Robby Hammock would be that man?
The winner would have been Brandon Webb, had he not gone to Texas during the off season. But that point is moot now.
Hammock played with the D-Backs from 2003-2008, after being drafted by the team in the 23rd round in 1998. In those five seasons, he played in just 180 games, often as the team's second (or third) string catcher. He was also used as a utility man, playing games at first and third base, as well as right and left field.
He collected 12 home runs, and missed the entire 2005 season, and most of 2006 due to injuries.
Atlanta Braves/Boston Braves/Milwaukee Braves: Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones is bound to be enshrined in Cooperstown before all is said and done.
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Against many odds, Chipper Jones is still going strong for the Atlanta Braves. He has embarked on his 18th big league season in 2011 — all with the Braves.
Entering this season, Chipper has logged over 2,200 games with Atlanta, and was just 64 homers shy of 500. The Florida-native was named National League MVP in 1999 and won a World Series with the Braves in '95.
His legacy has been made by his All-Star caliber play at third base. But he's also spent time at shortstop and in the outfield.
There were some thoughts that a knee injury that caused him to miss half of the 2010 season was going to end his career. But Chipper is healthy now, and has appeared in 40 games so far in 2011. Chipper still has another year on his contract (the Braves hold a $7M club option for 2013). Does the future Hall-of-Famer have enough in him for another one or two years in the game?
Baltimore Orioles/St.Louis Browns: Brooks Robinson
Brooks Robinson, voted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.
What can you say about Brooks Robinson? The man is one of several legends to appear on this list.
He spent his entire 23-year career with the Baltimore Orioles. He was the AL MVP in 1964. He was an All-Star 15 years in a row, and won a Gold Glove in 16 consecutive seasons. And of course, he was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1983.
He played in 2,896 games, recording 2,848 hits and 268 home runs during his illustrious career.
Boston Red Sox: Carl Yastrzemski
"Yaz" was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
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Carl Yastrzemski is a Boston Red Sox icon. He spent his entire 23-year career with the Sox, tied with Brooks Robinson for most years of any player on this list.
The 1989 Hall of Fame inductee was the AL MVP in 1967 and was an 18-time All-Star. He recorded over 3,000 hits and won seven Gold Gloves.
Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks
"Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks.
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Has there been a more beloved player to his team and fans than Ernie Banks, "Mr. Cub"? He spent all 19 years of his Major League career with the Chicago Cubs and was a two-time NL MVP.
Banks finished his illustrated career with 512 home runs and more than 2,500 hits. He was an All Star 11 times. He averaged 33 home runs per season over his career.
Chicago White Sox: Ted Lyons
Ted Lyons was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955 (Photo courteous of BaseballReference.com)
Right-hander Ted Lyons spent 21 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, from 1923-1946 (he did not play in 1945). During that time, Lyons won 260 games and was an All Star in 1939.
Lyons appeared in almost 600 games over his career and held a 3.67 ERA in over 4,100 innings. Lyons was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, and died three decades later.
Cincinnati Reds: Barry Larkin/Dave Concepion
Barry Larkin was drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 1985 draft.
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How fitting is it that Barry Larkin and Dave Concepion share the most amount of seasons played for the Cincinnati Reds, with 19 each?
Concepion debuted with the Reds in 1970 as a 22-year-old from Venezuela. As a part of the Big Red Machine in the 1970s, Concepion was a nine-time All-Star and recorded over 2,300 hits over his career. He also stole 321 bases.
Concepion retired in 1988, just in time for Larkin to take his place at shortstop. Larkin played all but six of his 2,180 games as a shortstop. He came up with the Reds in 1986, and was a 12-time All-Star. He won the NL MVP in 1995.
Larkin ended his career with 198 home runs and a .295 batting average. He helped lead the Reds to their last World Series championship in 1990. The former first-round draft pick was eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2010, and finished third in the balloting this past voting period. He certainly earned his place in Cooperstown.
Cleveland Indians: Mel Harder
Mel Harder debuted with the Indians in 1928 (Photo courteous of BaseballReference.com)
Mel Harder is one of the oldest players on this list. He first appeared with the Cleveland Indians way back in 1928 at 18 years of age. The right-hander wound up pitching for 20 seasons with the Tribe, racking up 223 career victories.
He was a five-time All-Star and finished with a 3.80 career ERA. He retired after the 1947 season, and died in 2002.
Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton
Todd Helton is the Rockies' all-time leader in hits, home runs and doubles.
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Sometimes it seems hard to believe that Todd Helton was drafted 16 years ago. But the 37-year-old indeed was drafted in the first round in 2005, and has become the Rockies' franchise player.
Helton is the Rockies' all-time leader in hits, home runs, doubles, runs scored, and RBI, among other offensive categories. And of course, he has spent more seasons with the Rockies than anyone. And he's still going.
Though the five-time All-Star has seen a decline in production over the last few seasons, he still remains one of the premier hitters of his generation, and could very well become the first member of the Hall of Fame wearing a Rockies hat.
Detroit Tigers: Al Kaline
Al Kaline finished his illustrious career one homer shy of 400.
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Hall-of-Famer Al Kaline made his Major League debut with the Detroit Tigers in 1953 as a crisp 18-year-old. He went on to become one of the most legendary hitters in Detroit history.
In his 22 years in Detroit, Kaline had a career .297 batting average and 399 home runs, to go along with more than 3,000 hits. He was an All Star 15 times, and helped lead the Tigers to their 1968 World Series Championship.
He retired after the 1974 season, after playing more than 2,800 games with Detroit. And six years later was enshrined in Cooperstown.
Florida Marlins: Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson had 45 wins with the Florida Marlins, coming into the 2011 season.
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In 2002, the Florida Marlins drafted a young 18-year-old pitcher by the name of Josh Johnson in the fourth round. Johnson has turned out to be one of the most dominating young pitchers in the game today.
His career got off to a blazing start. He won 12 games in his rookie campaign season in 2006, when he finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting. His ERA that year was a crisp 3.10.
But 2007 took a downward turn, when he underwent Tommy John Surgery in August. But Johnson rehabbed in strong fashion, and was back on the mound for the Fish less than a year after his surgery—a surgery that usually requires 10-12 months just for rehabbing.
Whatever Dr. James Andrews did to Johnson's arm, it worked. Johnson has been an All Star each of the last two seasons. His 2.30 ERA was tops in the league last year, and has shown no signs of slowing down in 2011.
Houston Astros/Colt .45s: Craig Biggio
Craig Biggio finished his 20-year career with 3,060 hits.
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Craig Biggio made a career out of being hard-nosed and hard-playing.
Biggio was drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft by the Houston Astros. He made his Major League debut the very next year at the age of 22. And before long, he became one of the most beloved Astro players of all time.
Biggio spent all of his 20 seasons in Houston, and collected his 3,000th career hit in his final season (2007). He also recorded 291 home runs, while playing primarily as a second baseman (a position not really known for its power, especially in Biggio's playing days).
The seven-time All-Star led the league in hit-by-pitches five times during his career, finishing two shy of tying Hughie Jennings' all-time record of 287 overall. A plaque in Cooperstown could be in Biggio's future.
Kansas City Royals: George Brett
George Brett was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1999.
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George Brett did it all. In 21 seasons as a Kansas City Royal, Brett recorded more than 3,100 hits, 300 home runs, and even stole 201 bases.
He was the American League MVP in 1980, and helped the Royals win their most recent World Series championship in 1985.
The 13-time All-Star was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim/California Angels/Anaheim Angels: Tim Salmon
Tim Salmon was a key part of the Angels' 2002 World Series championship team.
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Tim Salmon was drafted in the third round in 1989 by the Angels. He would go on to become one of the all-time greats for the Halos.
After debuting for the Angels in 1992, he was named American League Rookie of the Year in 1993. That year, he hit .283 to go along with 31 home runs and 95 RBI.
Salmon played 14 seasons with the Angels, missing the entire 2005 season. All-in-all, he recorded 299 home runs and a collective .282 batting average. He was one of the team's major cogs in their 2002 World Series victory.
He was never an All Star, Gold Glove winner, or an MVP, and never led the league in any major category. But he consistently produced solid numbers, averaging 29 home runs and 98 RBI per season over his career.
Los Angeles Dodgers/Brooklyn Dodgers: Bill Russell
Bill Russell was the managed 322 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Bill Russell has spent a lot time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was originally selected in the ninth round of the 1966 draft. He made his Major League debut in 1969.
The three-time All-Star logged over 2,100 games as a shortstop, second baseman, third baseman and outfielder for the Dodgers. He was a member of the 1981 team that claimed the World Series.
Overall, in the 18 seasons he played for the Boys in Blue, Russell had a .263 batting average and had just under 2,000 hits.
He called it a career as a player in 1986, but then went on to manage the team for parts of three seasons (1996-1998). Over that time, he picked up 173 managerial wins, and took the Dodgers into the playoffs in '96.
Milwaukee Brewers/Seattle Pilots: Robin Yount
Robin Yount was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
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Robin Yount was the third pick overall by the Brewers in the 1973 draft. He debuted the very next year, and would become one of the all-time greats to play the game.
Yount spent all 20 seasons of his Major League career in Milwaukee, and was a two-time NL MVP. He was an All-Star just three times in his career, but that didn't stop him from being inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.
Yount had a career .285 batting average to go along with 3,142 hits and 271 stolen bases.
Minnesota Twins/Washington Senators: Walter Johnson
The "Big Train" has the second most career victories all-time (photo courteous of baseballreference.com)
Before moving to Minnesota in 1960, the Twins were the infamous Washington Senators. And one of, if not the best pitcher to play the game was a member of those Senators—Walter Johnson.
"The Big Train" made his debut with the Senators way back in 1907 and spent 21 seasons with the club. His 417 career wins are the second most all-time, and he is the all-time leader in shutouts, with a whopping 110.
He was the American League MVP twice in his brilliant career, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame as one of the original five in 1936.
His accolades and records seemingly go on and on. He led the league in wins six times over his career, ERA five times, and strikeouts 12 times! Suffice to say, Johnson is and always will be a legend and an icon in baseball lore.
New York Mets: Ed Kranepool
Ed Kranepool spent 18 seasons with the New York Mets
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Ed Kranepool was a hero for the Miracle Mets during their magical 1969 season. His numbers for that year were not very attractive. But he got the hits when it mattered.
For instance, he helped the Mets win a pivotal game in July against the rival Chicago Cubs. In that July 8 game, he blasted a solo home run in the fifth inning of Fergie Jenkins. Then, to top it off, he singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, as the Mets came back to beat the Cubbies and inch closer to first place in the division.
Kranepool was somewhat of a playoff hero too. He only appeared in one game during the '69 Fall Classic, but he made it a memorable one, by blasting a home run in the eighth inning of Game 3, as the Mets went on to beat the Orioles 5-0.
Overall, Kranepool played with the Mets for 18 seasons, amassing 118 home runs and 614 RBI.
New York Yankees: Mickey Mantle
Yankee, and baseball, legend Mickey Mantle (photo courteous of baseballreference.com)
Was there a better player to take the field in the history of the game than Mickey Mantle? That's obviously a debatable topic. But with all he accomplished, Mantle is certainly one of the all-time greats to ever play this sport.
The Mick spent his entire 18-year career with the Bombers, where he collected his 536 home runs. The three-time MVP was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974, and passed away in 1995, at the young age of 63.
Oakland Athletics/Philadelphia Athletics: Eddie Rommel/Pete Suder
Eddie Rommel won 171 games over 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics (photo courteous of baseballreference.com)
They aren't the most household names in baseball history, but Eddie Rommel and Pete Suder co-own the distinction of spending the most time with the Athletics franchise, without playing for another team.
Rommel was a right-handed pitcher with the Philadelphia Athletics. He made his debut way back in 1920 as a 22-year-old. Over his 13 years with the A's, Rommel collected 171 wins, including a league-best 27 in 1922. He started half of the games he appeared in—249 starts of 500 total games played. He was a member of the 1929 World Series championship A's.
Suder played his games a little more recently, as he debuted with the Philly A's in 1941. He played with the A's for 13 seasons (he missed the entire 1944 and 1945 seasons). Over that time, he had over 5,000 at-bats with only 49 career home runs.
Philadelphia Phillies: Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt is the Phillies all-time leader in home runs.
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Mike Schmidt was drafted in the second round in 1971 by the Philadelphia Phillies. At that point, a legend was born.
Schmidt made his debut the very next September, and would go on to play 18 incredible seasons with the Phils. He led the league in home runs eight times during his career, while averaging 37 long balls per season.
He was a three-time MVP and a 12-time All-Star. He was a member of the 1980 World Champion Phillies. His 548 career home runs are the most in Phillies' history. And to top it all off, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995
Pittsburgh Pirates: Willie Stargell
Willie Stargell, "Pops", played 21 seasons with the Pirates (photo courteous of sportsillustrated.com)
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been around a long, long time. And because of that, they've had a lot of legends come through their clubhouse. But only Willie Stargell has the distinction of being the longest tenured Pirate.
Stargell began his 21-year career with the Pirates in 1962. By 1964 he was an All-Star, his first of seven nominations. He was the league's MVP in 1979, and went on two win two World Series rings with the Pirates ('71 & '79).
"Pops", as he was commonly referred, finished his career with 475 home runs, averaging 33 per season. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988, and passed away in 2001.
San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn
Tony Gwynn is one of the best and brightest to ever play the game.
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There may not be a single player on this list that meant more to his club than Tony Gwynn did to the San Diego Padres. The 2007 Hall of Fame inductee is one of the absolute all-time greats to ever play the game.
Gwynn was never an MVP, and he never won a World Series. But he was a 15-time All-Star, and led the league in hitting eight times during his career, finishing with a career .338 mark. His 319 career steals is almost as impressive considering his larger stature.
He is the Padres' all-time leader in several offensive categories, such as hits, RBI, runs scored and batting average. He is, and always will be Mr. Padre.
San Francisco Giants/New York Giants: Mel Ott
Mel Ott owns a career .304 batting average (photo courteous of baseballreference.com)
Mel Ott's New York Giants career got started in 1926, and lasted for 22 seasons. He was an All-Star 11 consecutive seasons, and finished his legendary career with 511 home runs.
He owned a career .304 batting average, and his 1,860 RBI are good for 11th all-time. He's also eighth all-time in walks with 1,708. Ott was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951, and passed away seven years later.
Seattle Mariners: Edgar Martinez
Edgar Martinez slammed 309 home runs in 18 seasons with the Mariners.
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For better or worse, Edgar Martinez defined the designated hitter position, which came into the American League in 1973. He debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 1987 and spent 18 seasons with the M's.
Though some people may be adverse to the DH, there's no denying the numbers Martinez put up during his career. Martinez played more than 70-percent of his career as the Mariners' DH and collected 309 big league home runs
The seven-time All-Star owns a career .312 batting average and is among the best in several offensive categories in Mariners history.
St. Louis Cardinals/St. Louis Browns: Stan Musial
Stan "The Man" Musial, the Cardinals' all-time great (photo courteous of baseballreference.com)
Stan Musial is nothing short of an icon in the lore of baseball. At 90 years old, he looks like he could still hit a fastball.
Stan "the Man" started his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1941 at just 20 years of age. He wound up playing 22 seasons with the Redbirds while racking up some very lofty numbers.
In over 3,000 games played, Musial recorded 475 home runs and a career .331 batting average. His 3,630 hits currently ranks fourth all-time, and he his sixth all time with 1,951 RBI.
He was a three-time MVP and was an All-Star in all but his first two seasons in baseball. He won three World Series championships with the Cards.
Musial was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1969, six years after retiring from baseball.
Tampa Bay Rays: B.J. Upton/Travis Harper
B.J. Upton is one of the fine young talents in the game today.
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One is a pitcher who was never able to get his career going. The other is a young outfielder with loads of talent. Travis Harper and B.J. Upton currently share the mark of having spent the most amount of years with just the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.
Travis Harper was originally drafted by the New York Mets in 1994, but didn't sign. Then, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1997, but never played a single professional game for the Sox. In the middle of the '98 season, he latched on with the shiny new Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The left-hander debuted with the Devil Rays in 2000, but became much of anything with the club. Over seven seasons, he appeared in 240 games (14 starts). He won 22 games and finished with a .494 ERA.
B.J. Upton, mean while, is currently in his seventh big league season with the Rays. The second overall draft pick in 2002 has given Rays fans much to cheer, and a little to scowl about. He's put up some solid numbers (.300/24/82/22 in 2006).
But he's also had some attitude problems, and has even been mentioned in possible trade rumors during his career. For now though, he remains in Tampa Bay. And at 26 years old, he could be headed into the peak years of his career. When all is said and done, he could be among the all-time Rays greats for many years to come.
Texas Rangers/Washington Senators: Michael Young
Michael Young is in his 12th big league season with the Texas Rangers
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There were times this past off season when it seems liked Michael Young's days with the Texas Rangers were all but over. Once the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre and acquired Mike Napoli, Young's playing time instantly became diminished.
Yet, here towards the end of May, Young remains with the Rangers and is going about his business as usual. Young, 34, is in his 12th season in Texas, and is currently batting .339 in 168 at-bats (entering play on Thursday).
Overall, he's put up solid numbers as a member of the Rangers. Prior to the 2011 season, Young had compiled 158 home runs, 811 RBI and an even .300 batting average. He's been an All-Star every year since 2004, and has been an incredibly classy individual.
No matter where the Rangers ask him to play on the diamond, Young has kept his chin up, and has produced year after year. Even with this latest drama, Young has prevailed and continues to put up solid offensive and defensive stats.
Toronto Blue Jays: Garth Iorg
Garth Iorg played for the Blue Jays for nine seasons.
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The Toronto Blue Jays have had numerous amount of All-Stars and Cy Young Award winners over the years. Carlos Delgado, Roger Clemens, Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar—all of these men spent time with the Jays. But out of all of the greats to play in Toronto, Garth Iorg is the man to spend the most years with just the one club.
Iorg was 23 years old when he made his Major League debut with the Jays in 1978. He would spend the 1979 season back in the minors, before being recalled in 1980 to stay.
He was not an offensive-minded player. Iorg managed to collect 20 big-league home runs over his nine seasons. But he was a solid utility man who played just about every position on the diamond during his career.
Iorg retired in 1989, and is presently serving as the Milwaukee Brewers' First Base coach.
Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos: Steve Rogers
Steve Rogers pitched for the Montreal Expos from 1973-1985.
Somewhat quietly, Steve Rogers put together a nice, solid career pitching for the Montreal Expos. The right-hander was drafted fourth overall in 1971, and debuted two years later.
In his 13 seasons with the Expos, Rogers made 393 starts, finishing with 158 wins and a 3.17 ERA. He was a five-time All-Star and led the league with 14 complete games in 1980.
He was the runner up for the National League Rookie of the Year in '73, and finished among the top five in Cy Young award voting three times in his career.