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.