MLB Hall of Fame: Who Are the All-Time Best Players from the Top 10 States?
There's never an end to the debates of a team's best players. Or, the best players in the history of the game.
There'll never be any shortage of fans that think Babe Ruth is the best power hitter of all time, even though he's now third on the all-time list for home runs.
Likewise, someone will always say that Mickey Mantle was the best center fielder of all time, while a different person will become enraged at the assertion, because how could any fool not say that Willie Mays was the greatest?
And yet another will be angry enough to kill, because "The Mick" wasn't even the best center fielder on the Yankees!
In other words, if ever there was a sport where its fans "agree to disagree," baseball is it.
As a lifelong baseball fan, I'm always looking for new baseball information—and there certainly is no dearth of it. Likewise, I'm constantly seeking more ammunition for debate's best battlefield.
So, who's the best baseball player from the best baseball states? It's a question so subjective that it can never be answered without contentious conversations.
I've chosen "baseball's best states" based on the numbers of major league ball players produced by each state. The "best players" of these 10 states are members of the Hall of Fame, and the top three that I feel are the most deserving.
Without further ado, I give you the top 10 states for major league ball players, and the best from those states.
Let the deliberation begin.
Author's note: With exception of two slides, I've narrowed down my personal picks to three per state. This was easy for those states with five or fewer HOF members (Florida and Michigan) and quite difficult for those with many more (New York and California). I excluded those that made the Hall as executives, managers, broadcasters or those who played pre-1900.
Also, from 1959-1962 there were two All-Star Games per season (to help raise money for the player's pension funds); in these years, I only counted one All-Star appearance per player.
State No. 10: Florida (411); HOF Members: Five
"The Hawk" soared into Cooperstown in 2010.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Florida, a utopian paradise for the octogenarian set, has brought the world many wonderful things. From Charles Willeford's "Hoke Moseley" tetralogy to Jeb Bush. And, of course, the world's finest oranges.
Florida has produced just as many HOFers as it has World Series Championships.
Yep, you guessed it—two.
The state was darn close to a third championship, had it not been for those pesky Philadelphia Phillies and their silly solitary ace (at that time), Cole Hammels (2008).
All kidding aside, having five HOFers born in "The Flowery State" is nothing to sniff at, especially considering the significance of the three best.
Carlton was born in Miami, and had a career that can be closely compared to a left-handed version of Nolan Ryan.
Carlton played his first 20 years for two teams—the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies. To most he'll always be thought of as a Phillie, as he was instrumental in their World Series Championship run of 1983.
Over his final two big league seasons, Carlton played for four different teams, as although he was through, his legacy had been such that multiple teams were willing to give him another chance.
"Lefty" won 20 games six times, won the Cy Young Award four times and ended his career with 4,136 strikeouts—second only to Randy Johnson's 4,875 for a left-handed pitcher.
Carlton was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
Like Steve Carlton, Dawson was born in Miami. The "Hawk" played from 1976 to '96, and won the ROY Award in 1977.
Dawson's first 11 seasons were in Montreal with the Expos. He then spent the next six seasons in Chicago, playing for the Cubs. In his final two seasons, he played with the Red Sox and finally, the Florida Marlins.
For the first half of his career, Dawson was a dangerous five-tool player, just narrowly missing the 30/30 club in '79 and '83. During the latter half of his career, his speed may have decreased, but his power at the plate remained.
In 1987 he hit 49 home runs on his way to the MVP Award.
Dawson won eight Gold Glove Awards and was an All-Star on eight occasions as well.
Dawson finished his career with 438 home runs, 2,774 hits and 314 stolen bases. He was inducted into the HOF in 2010.
Lloyd was born in Palatka. He was a Negro League star during the Dead Ball Era, known for his smooth fielding at shortstop and his powerful, line-drive swing.
Lloyd was often compared to fellow Hall of Fame member, Honus Wagner. The comparison to his Negro League contemporary was something that Wagner was quite pleased with. The website for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, produced this quote from Wagner himself: "I am honored to have John Lloyd called the black Wagner. It is a privilege to have been compared to him."
Lloyd was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, by the Negro Leagues Committee.
State No. 9: Michigan (415); HOF Members: 5
The "Great Lakes State," Michigan barely beat out Florida for the bottom of the top 10 list. However, at this point in the season struggling teams call up rookie prospects to get their feet wet, and teams poised for playoff contention call up some as well, so Florida might leap-frog over Michigan—who knows?
If you are in the state of Michigan, you're never more than six miles from a natural water source or 85 miles from a Great Lakes shoreline. "The Wolverine State" has produced far fewer Hall of Famers than bottled water sources.
Michigan has produced five Hall of Fame members—here are the three best:
Cuyler, who played from 1921-1938 and was born in Harrisville
If you've ever wondered why a man would go by the name of "Kiki," well, that's what you do when your full name is "Hazen Shirley Cuyler."
Cuyler was inducted into the HOF in 1968, had a career batting average of .321 with 2,229 hits and 328 stolen bases.
Flowerville's finest, Charlie Gehringer—aka "The Mechanical Man"—got to play every season of his 19-year career for the Detroit Tigers.
During his time in the big leagues, Gehringer's Tigers made it to the World Series three times—in 1934, '35 and '40—winning the championship in 1935.
During the Tigers' championship year of '35, Gehringer led the league in doubles with 60, while batting a sizzling .330. The right-handed second baseman won an MVP Award in 1937 and was a six-time All-Star.
Gehringer was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1949.
Newhouser, born in Detroit, actually played with Gehringer in Detroit from 1939—his rookie year at the age of 19—until '42, Gehringer's last season.
"Prince Hal," a lanky left-hander, really hit his stride in 1944, when he won 29 games on the way to winning 20-plus games three years in a row.
Over that three-year period (1944-'46), Newhouser went an astounding 80-15, with 78 complete games and 674 strikeouts in 918.1 innings pitched.
It's no surprise that he was named MVP in back-to-back years (1944 and 1945). Keep in mind, too, that during this era, the MVP wasn't given to the AL and NL; it was only given to one or the other.
Newhouser was the Tigers ace when they won the World Series in seven games over the favored Chicago Cubs in 1945.
Newhouser was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 by the Veterans Committee.
State No. 8: Missouri (575); HOF Members: 10
Yogi Berra, perhaps the most under-appreciated living HOFer. He has 10 WS rings, for crying out loud!
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
In Missouri, archaeological excavations along the rivers have shown continuous habitation for over 7,000 years.
You don't have to look further back than 136 years, though, to discover a Missouri-born HOFer playing in the big leagues.
Pud Galvin, a dead-ball era hitter, born in St. Louis, played in the bigs from 1875-1892.
For simplicity's sake, however, we're going to leave the rankings of "best players" from all states to "modern era" ball players. The "modern era" is generally considered from 1900 to present.
Of the 10 Missourians enshrined in Cooperstown, that leaves us with five, two of which made the HOF based on their excellence in managing—Dick Williams (St. Louis), and Casey Stengel (Kansas City).
So now that we've whittled it down to three players, here are the best from the "Gateway to the West":
Born in Hamilton, Wheat played 18 of his 19 seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers before playing his final season in 1927 for Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics.
Wheat was primarily a left fielder and finished his excellent career with a .317 batting average and 2,884 hits. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959, by the Veterans Committee.
Hubbel was born in Carthage, and played his entire 16-year career for the NY Giants.
Aside from his rookie year in 1928, Hubbell only won fewer than 11 games once, and that was in his final year, at the age of 40—which was bound to feel a little "older" in 1943 than it does today.
In the exact middle of his career—'33-'37—Hubbell won no fewer than 21 games. Had the first of his two nicknames, "King Carl," not been affixed to him by this point, it certainly stuck like glue following the 1933 season, when Hubbell's Giants won the World Series with Hubbell collecting wins in the first and fourth games.
Along with Mel Ott, "Meal Ticket" Hubbell formed one of the most feared pitching and batting duos of the post-WWI and pre-WWII era.
Hubbell finished his career with a 253-154 record and completed an astonishing 260 of his 433 games started (60 percent).
Hubbell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947.
Berra was born in St. Louis, and played his entire career for the New York Yankees except for his last in 1965, when he played for the Mets.
It would be very easy to write a dissertation on Berra's accomplishments. It might be even easier to write a one-hour stand-up routing using only his most famous "Yogisms."
What you need to know about Berra is this:
Over his 18-year career (1946-1963, and 1965) Berra won 10 World Series Championships. Think about that for a minute. Put another way, more than half of the seasons Berra played, he won a World Series Championship (55.5 percent). Wow.
Berra, along with his three MVP Awards, 15 All-Star selections, 2,150 hits and 358 home runs, was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
State No. 7: Massachusetts (645); HOF Members: 13
Certainly one of the top 5 catchers of all time, Mickey Cochrane.
In a top 10 list for another time, Massachusetts most likely cracks the top three in terms of spelling difficulty.
Regardless, the land of "chowduh" and no audible "r" sounds, is quite prolific at producing future HOFers.
The proud home of the black-capped Chicakdee has produced 13 HOFers. Of that baker's dozen, three were enshrined due to contributions as managers—Leo Durocher, Connie Mack and Wilbert Robinson.
And of the 10 remaining, only three played their baseball during the modern era (1900-present).
Traynor played all 17 of his big league seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates, from 1920-1935, and his final year in 1937.
Traynor, born in Farmingham, was a speedy third baseman that racked up 164 career triples on his way to a lifetime .320 batting average. Traynor played in two World Series with the Pirates, in 1925 and 1927, winning it in seven games in 1925 over Walter Johnson's Washington Senators.
Traynor was inducted into the HOF in 1948.
Maranville was born in Springfield and played for five teams over his 23-season (1912-1935) major league career.
The diminutive shortstop (listed at 5'5") and second baseman amassed 2,605 hits while playing for the Braves, Pirates, Cardinals, Robins and Cubs.
He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1954, the year he passed away.
Cochrane played for two teams over his 13-year career. The native of Bridgewater, Cochrane started off his career playing for fellow Massachusetts-born Hall of Famer Connie Mack.
His final four seasons were spent in Detroit as the backstop for the Tigers. With Detroit, he played with future HOFers Hank Greenberg and Charlie Gehringer.
Cochrane won a World Series in 1935 as his Tigers ousted the Cubs in six games, four to two.
Under the tutelage of the legendary Connie Mack (Mack was involved in the major leagues for an unbelievable 53 years), Cochrane won two World Series—the first in 1929 (over the Cubs, 4-1) and the next the following year over the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2 (1930).
During his Athletics days, Cochrane played with future HOFers Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove.
It is of special note to mention that Cochrane attended Boston University. It was rare indeed to have any post-secondary education during his era.
Cochrane had a career .320 batting average and was elected into the HOF in 1947.
State No. 6: Texas (807); HOF Members: 15
You just have to love Nolan Ryan. If not, you clearly aren't aware of his destructive powers.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Good 'ole Texas. The Lone Star State. From fried butter on a stick to "Texas-tea" and the country-western two-step, we've got it all here.
Heck, Texas is so cool that it was even its own country for a while. And according to some maniacal matriarchs, it still is.
Here in Texas, we're proud of the gigantic buckle we use to fasten our "Bible Belts"—yep, made of pure rattlesnake skin, partner.
But if the tired, old cliche about everything being bigger in Texas holds any weight at all, then you'd better recognize the sheer awe-inducing magnitude of HOFers born in the Lone Star State.
All 15 HOFers from Texas are certainly worth mentioning. However, to keep this slide from rattling on longer than a drunken Texas oil tycoon when asked what he thinks about the Obama administration, I've cut it down to the top three (just like the previous slides).
Feel free to leave a comment at the end of my article naming the players you would have chosen. As for me, here are the best of the best, from the "Gateway to the West."
The "Raja" from Fort Worth has numbers that are absolutely mind-boggling. Hornsby, with his oddly plural-sounding first name, managed to hit .358—lifetime.
Think about that.
You could bat an incredible .350, and your batting average would actually drop.
His lifetime BA is second only to some guy named Ty Cobb, whom, I presume, was a pretty okay ball player in his own right.
Hornsby hit over .400 three times, hit an astonishing 42 homers in 1922—seven more than Ruth—and won the MVP Award twice. After 22 seasons (1915-37), Hornsby hung 'em up. He was inducted into the HOF in 1942.
"The Judge" is the pride of Beaumont. 1956's ROY, Robinson spent 21 seasons in the league and played for five different teams—with the largest chunk of his career spent with Baltimore and Cincinnati.
Robinson has also been a major league manager for 16 seasons.
It's his outstanding play on the field that earned him enshrinement into the HOF in 1982, however.
Robinson finished his distinguished career just shy of 600 homers (586) and 3,000 hits (2,943). He was a 12-time All-Star, two-time MVP and won two World Series titles ('66 and '70).
Ryan was born in Refugio. Although about 99.9 percent of Americans couldn't name his place of birth, I'm willing to bet that every single one of the 2,941 (according to the 2000 Census) Refugio residents can easily point to this fact.
Ryan's 5,714 strikeouts are almost enough to strike out the residents of his birthplace twice. Unbelievable.
He played an incredible 27 seasons of big league ball, first appearing at the age of 19 in 1966 and making his last start in 1993 at the age of 46.
Ryan, also know as the "Ryan Express," is the all-time leader in strikeouts and no-hitters (seven). Not surprisingly, he's also the all-time leader in fewest hits allowed per nine innings (H/9) with 6.6.
He finished his career with 324 wins, 61 shutouts and 222 complete games. Ryan was enshrined into the HOF in 1999.
He is currently the owner, CEO and president of the Texas Rangers.
State No. 5: Ohio (994); HOF Members: 15
Ohio, “The Mother of Presidents," has many names. It is also known as “The Birthplace of Aviation” and “The Heart of it All”—however you slice it, they should never run out of license plate slogan ideas.
Like the state’s many monikers, there is no shortage of HOFers from “The Buckeye State”—15 to be exact. And in my research, I discovered that “Buckeye” is in reference to the buckeye tree, indigenous to Ohio.
Silly me, all these years I thought it was Iroquois for “pay player with tattoos.”
Schmidt was born in Dayton, and even 100 years from now, I’m willing to bet that he’ll still be considered one of the finest third basemen of all time.
Pete Rose (a man that was also willing to bet) once said of Schmidt: “To have his body, I’d trade him mine and my wife’s, and I’d throw in some cash.” (Jordan, David M. Pete Rose: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 91)
Schmidt used that big, athletic body to propel himself into the Hall of Fame with 548 homers and 1,595 RBI.
He was also a 12-time All-Star, and 10-time Gold Glove winner. In 1980, when the Phillies won the World Series, Schmidt was the World Series MVP. He was inducted into the HOF in 1995.
"Gorgeous George" Sisler was born in Manchester, Ohio.
Sisler played in the big leagues for 15 seasons, but had his finest years from 1915-1922 as a first baseman for the St. Louis Browns.
The left-handed-hitting Sisler had what many considered to be the finest season in the history of the game in 1922.
In '22, Sisler set the record for hits in a season, 246, which stood until 2004 when Ichiro Suzuki surpassed it. Sisler batted an amazing .420 with 18 triples and 51 stolen bases. He was a runaway MVP winner.
In 1923, a case of sinusitis caused Sisler to suffer from bouts of double vision, which cost him the entire season.
After his year away from the game, Sisler had seven more highly productive—yet not quite as fine as his first seven—seasons with two different teams, before retiring in 1930. He finished his career with a .340 batting average and 2,812 hits.
Sisler was inducted into the HOF in 1939.
Young was born in Gilmore and played for five teams over his career. His career technically started prior to the "modern era" (1897) but he was just too good to be excluded, so I broke my own rule and put him in Ohio's top three.
Young's career was so long ago that of the five teams he played for, only one of them (Cardinals) still has the same team name (Spiders, Naps, Americans and Perfectos were the others).
Obviously, the annual award for each league's best pitcher is in his name sake, and rightfully so. Young won 511 games in his 22 seasons, leading the league in that category on five occasions.
There were four seasons when Young averaged fewer than one walk per nine innings pitched (1901, and 1904-06). Amazing on its own, but especially considering that Young averaged 291 innings pitched per season.
Along with career wins (511), Young holds the all-time records for innings pitched (7,355) and complete games (749). Young also holds the record for games started (815), so of special note, he completed a ridiculous 91.9 percent of his games.
Cy Young was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.
State No. 4: Illinois (1,012); HOF Members: 21
Illinois, the "Land of Lincoln" and birth state of former president of the United States Ronald Reagan, has a rich tradition of baseball and is no slouch in terms of producing Hall of Famers, with 21.
It was no easy task diminishing that to the top three. I think I nailed it though, but I do have more than a little bias when it comes to evaluating my own work.
So here goes.
Henderson was born in Chicago. Henderson played in 25 big league seasons, spanning four different decades.
For a player to last 25 seasons is already amazing, but since Henderson's primary asset was speed, that makes it even more astounding (similar to Ryan's 27 seasons as a power pitcher).
Usually the first skill set for hitters to erode is speed; mine began to fade in the eighth grade.
Henderson won a World Series ring twice, the first time in 1989 and the second in 1993.
Interestingly, the team that he won a World Series with was not the same team he started off with in each year. In '89 he started off with the Yankees, and finished with the A's, and in '93, he started off with the A's and finished with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Henderson is also a HOFer in picking the right team to be dealt to.
Henderson stole 100 bases or more three times in his career, smacked 297 home runs and won an MVP Award in 1990.
Henderson was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009, and is the all-time leader in stolen bases with 1,406 and runs scored with 2,295.
Henderson is also the unofficial leader in interviews given entirely in the third person.
Roberts, born in Springfield, pitched 13 of his 19 big league seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Roberts won 20 or more games six times, and did it consecutively from 1950-1955. Roberts led the league in wins four times during that span, and during his career led the league in innings pitched and complete games five times.
Roberts was a seven-time All-Star, and his jersey No. 36 has been retired by the Phillies.
According to his biography, My Life in Baseball, Roberts was one of the first pitchers to adopt the "drive and drop" style of delivery, and he noticed similarities between his delivery and Tom Seaver's years later.
Roberts was inducted into the HOF in 1973, with 286 wins, 2,357 strikeouts and a 3.41 career ERA.
"Old Shufflefoot" was born in Harvey. Boudreau played 15 seasons, 13 with the Cleveland Indians. Boudreau, a shortstop, won an MVP with the Tribe in 1948, when famously quirky Bill Veeck was the team's owner.
1948 was good to Boudreau (and the Tribe) as they won the World Series 4-2 over the Boston Braves (the last time the franchise has won a World Series).
Boudreau was a seven-time All-Star and won an American League batting title in 1944, when he paced the league at a .327 clip. He was elected into the HOF in 1970.
State No. 3: New York (1,138); HOF Members: 27
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
You may think your state has better pitching than New York. You'd be wrong, unless, of course, you're from New York.
There are seven members of the HOF born in New York that were pitchers. That's more pitchers than total players in the Hall from three states in the top 10. Unfortunately, I have to trim my selection of pitchers down to two, mainly because it is sick and wrong to leave Lou Gehrig off of any list, much less the one that is about his home state.
Edward Charles "Whitey" Ford, also know as "Slick" (so dubbed by Casey Stengel, along with Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin. Stengel referred to the three hard drinkers as "Whiskey Slicks") or "The Chairman of the Board" was born in New York City.
Ford spent his entire career (18 seasons) with the New York Yankees. Ford won six World Series rings with the Yanks, and would have won two more had he not served in the Korean War with the Army ('51 and '52).
An eight-time All-Star, Ford won a Cy Young Award in 1961, the same year he was also the World Series MVP.
Ford was inducted into the HOF in 1972, and finished his career with a 236-106 won/loss record, a 2.75 ERA and just a shade under 2,000 strikeouts (1,956).
Koufax was born in Brooklyn, and may have the coolest nickname ever in "The Left Hand of God." Too bad for Koufax that he had the "arthritic left elbow of Everyman."
Koufax, a "bonus baby," had a career that caused a little bit of controversy in terms of his initial enshrinement into the HOF.
No one can argue about Koufax's dominance during his 1961-1966 seasons—it's a moot point. It's his first six seasons in the league that sparked debate about Koufax's Hall worthiness.
Koufax's career, cut short by severe arthritis, is a tale of two halves. In 1955, Koufax was a wide-eyed 19-year-old. By 1960 he had begun to show glimpses of greatness. Over those first six seasons, Koufax had 683 strikeouts (slightly fewer than 114 K's per nine IP), a 4.04 ERA and averaged almost exactly six wins and six losses per season.
Something changed—for the better—after that 1960 campaign, however.
From 1961 until his final season in 1966 (his last one at the very young age of 30), he was the greatest pitcher of all time. Koufax had a 2.24 ERA over that period, averaging 21 wins against just eight losses, and he averaged almost 286 strikeouts per season.
No wonder during those half-dozen years he won three Cy Young Awards, one MVP (finishing second in MVP voting two other times) and struck out 382 batters in 1965, which is still a record for left-handers.
The four-time World Series champion (and six-time All-Star) was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1972.
Just think if he had pitched until he was 40? Or even 35?
Lou Gehrig, was born in New York City. According to baseball-reference.com, "The Iron Horse" also had an additional nickname—"Biscuit Pants."
I'm definitely going to stick with "Iron Horse." After all it pertains to what Gehrig is most known for to this date, his consecutive games streak of 2,130. His streak stood until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in 1995.
In my opinion, Gehrig's streak pales in comparison to some of the other amazing accomplishments he had during his 17 seasons, all spent with the New York Yankees from 1921-1939.
For example, Gehrig drove in 150 or more runners seven times. Wow. He led the league in that category on four occasions. Gehrig wasn't just driving in teammates, he plated himself a number of times as well, and led the league in runs scored four times.
The big man had plenty of pop too, as he hit 40 or more home runs five times, leading the league in that category thrice.
A seven time All-Star, Gehrig was also a two-time MVP. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1939 by a Special Committee that waived the traditional waiting period due Gehrig's struggle with ALS.
State No. 2: Pennsylvania (1,355); HOF Members: 22
Jeez, I still can't believe I used to put this card between my bicycle spokes as a kid! Man, that was really stupid.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Prior to the settlement of the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania was home to several American Indian nations—including the Iroquois, Shawnee and Susquehannock (try that one on Scrabble next time).
It is now home to 17 major league Hall of Famers. And for the sake of brevity, I've narrowed it down to who I feel are the finest five.
Wagner, arguably the greatest shortstop of all time, was born in Chartiers. The "Flying Dutchman" has stayed in our public conscience mainly due to the fact that his face adorns the world's most valuable baseball card.
His accomplishments over his 21 seasons, 18 of which were for the Pirates, are nothing short of mind-numbing.
Wagner recorded 643 doubles, 252 triples and had well over three times as many hits (3,420) as strikeouts (734). He batted .328 for his career.
Wagner was enshrined in the HOF in 1936 (the inaugural class) with fellow Pennsylvanian Christy Matthewson, and some other non-Pennsylvanians, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and some guy named Babe Ruth.
Matthewson was born in Factoryville. It seems unbelievably fitting that his rookie season, 1900, is also regarded as the beginning of baseball's "modern era."
Matthewson played 16 of his 17 seasons for the NY Giants. He won 30 games three times, and 20 games eight times. "Big Six" finished his career with a 373-188 record and 2,507 strikeouts.
He was enshrined with Honus Wagner in the HOF's first class in 1936.
Born in Donora, Musial is arguably one of the greatest outfielders of all time. "Stan the Man" spent all of his 22 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Musial, an 18-time All-Star and three-time MVP, won three of the four World Series he appeared in.
Between 1942 and 1946, Musial's Cardinals played in four of the five World Series. It's no coincidence that the lone year they didn't make it (1945) was due to Musial's absence (he was serving in the military for WWII).
Musial was enshrined in the HOF in 1969, and amassed 475 home runs (most likely would have finished with over 500 had he not missed a year in his prime), 3,630 hits and a career batting average of .331.
I had to include an honorable mention for Pennsylvania, because of the dominance of Campanella and the fact that he is largely under-appreciated today. His name really needs to be mentioned more often. The only reason he didn't crack my top three is simply due to the brevity of brevity of his career.
Campanella's brilliant 10-year career was cut short by an automobile accident that left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
But boy, did the Philadelphia prodigy make the most of those 10 years.
"Campy" won the MVP three times, was an MLB All-Star seven times and led the league in RBi with 142 in 1953. He played in five World Series, winning his only one in 1955 in seven games over the New York Yankees.
Over his 10 years in the league, Campanella averaged 24.2 home runs per year, and hit a whopping 41 in 1953, on his way to the second of three MVP Awards.
Campanella was inducted into the HOF in 1969.
State No. 1: California (2,000); HOF Members: 23
Ken Levine/Getty Images
There are 23 people enshrined in Cooperstown that were born in California. To state the obvious, that made whittling down the list to three more difficult than deciphering the plot points to Inception while under the influence.
Since the sheer amount of baseball greats from Cali is so great, I broke a rule again and made a list of the top four. With two key honorable mentions thrown in to boot.
So here goes.
The big, power-pitching right-hander from Van Nuys was the No. 2 starter (Sandy Koufax was the ace until he retired after the '66 season) on the famed Dodgers teams of the 1960s.
Drysdale, known as a pitcher not afraid of throwing at a batter, was famously quoted as saying: "I hate all hitters. I start a game mad and I stay that way until it's over."
This ferociousness served Drysdale well, as he finished his career with a 209-166 record and 2,486 strikeouts, leading the league three times in strikeouts over his career that spanned from 1956 until 1963.
Drysdale was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. He won three World Series Championships (was 3-3 with 2.95 ERA in the postseason), participated in eight All-Star games and in 1965 hit .300 with seven home runs and 19 RBI—unbelievable offensive numbers for a pitcher.
"The Silver Fox", born in Los Angeles, played out his 18-season career almost in anonymity—which is what happens when Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays are also center fielders during your career.
Snider's numbers were rock solid, and he was the key hitter that fueled the Brooklyn (later, Los Angeles) Dodgers' title runs throughout the late '50s and early '60s.
From 1953-57, Snider hit at least 40 home runs and led the league in '53 when he hit 43 long balls. Snider finished up his career with 407 home runs and a .295 career batting average.
Snider was elected into the HOF in 1980.
"Teddy Ballgame" was born in San Diego and played his entire 21-year career for the Boston Red Sox.
The 17-time All-Star batted .406 in 1941 (the last player to do so), and—like his contemporary, Joe DiMaggio—missed three seasons of his prime due to his service in WWII (1943-45).
Williams was a two-time MVP and won six batting titles. He finished his career with 521 home runs and a career batting average of .344. Williams led the league in on-base percentage 12 times, and won the Triple Crown twice.
"The Splendid Splinter" was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966. He is also a member of the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame.
"Joltin' Joe" born in Martinez, played every inning of his magical career in Yankees pinstripes. From 1936-1951, DiMaggio was an absolutely dominating force.
Perhaps most remembered for his major league record 56-game hitting streak, DiMaggio left his mark in many other facets of the game.
DiMaggio won back-to-back batting titles ('39 and '40) as he hit .381 and 352, respectively. A 10-time World Series champion, he hit eight homers in the postseason while batting .271.
DiMaggio hit 30 or more homers seven times, finished in the top 20 in MVP voting in every year aside from his final season and took home the award three times. In my opinion, one of the most astonishing accomplishments was his proclivity to not strike out.
In 1941, DiMaggio struck out just 13 times in 514 at-bats. Whoa. In his career, DiMaggio struck out only 369 times in 6,821 at bats! Mark Reynolds of the Orioles struck out 434 times during the 2009 and 2010 season. Adam Dunn of the White Sox might just strike out 369 times this year alone.
DiMaggio also missed three years of his prime (1943-1945) due to service in WWII.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955 and has a career .325 BA with 361 home runs over his 13-season career.
It's human nature to remember the most recent accomplishments and naturally place them above great achievements of the past. I intentionally left out the following two players from my top three due to this reasoning.
Tony Gwynn, "Mr. Padre" or "Captain Video" was born in Los Angeles and inducted into the HOF in 2007. Gwynn played his entire 20-year career for the San Diego Padres, won eight batting titles and retired with 3,141 hits. He's currently the head baseball coach for the San Diego State Aztecs (former college of Stephen Strasburg).
Eddie Murray or "Steady Eddie," like Gywnn, was born in Los Angeles, but preceded Gwynn into the Hall by four years, gaining enshrinement in 2003. Murray was 1977's ROY Award winner and won one World Series title with the Orioles in 1983, where he played alongside future HOFer Cal Ripken, Jr.
Murray, is also one of only four players in MLB history to have recorded 3,000 hits and 500 home runs—joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Rafael Palmeiro. Of the four, only Palmeiro is not a member of the HOF.
Citations and Links for Further Reading
Baseball-Reference.com (it's pretty much like crack for baseball writers)
Wikipedia.org (used to cross-reference nicknames and such)
National Baseball Hall of Fame (an amazing site, check it out, but make sure you have a few hours to blow off)