MLB All-Eccentric Team: 20 Biggest Personalities in Baseball History

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2011

MLB All-Eccentric Team: 20 Biggest Personalities in Baseball History

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 24:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants in action against the Atlanta Braves at AT&T Park on April 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Baseball players are known for being more superstitious than any other athletes and for being a bit out there, and the recent success of the San Francisco Giants has thrust that craziness into the spotlight in the form of their closer Brian Wilson.

    Eccentrics make for good TV, and as long as there is baseball, there will be players who seem to go above and beyond to be just plain weird.

    So here are the 20 biggest eccentrics in the history of baseball, 20 guys who truly stood out from the rest.

Tim Lincecum, Giants

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 18:  Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Lincecum recorded 10 strike outs as he earned the win as the Giants defeated
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Lincecum has proven to be one of the best pitchers in the National League and is in the discussion as the best pitcher in baseball. He helped lead the Giants to a World Series last season, and he, despite his unorthodox delivery and small stature, can chuck it with the best of them.

    He is also recognized as the league's biggest pothead and has been charged with misdemeanor possession when he was caught speeding prior to the 2010 season.

    However, after enduring the steroid era, it becomes much easier to look past someone smoking weed in the offseason. Still, it is a talking point and something he has now been forever linked to.

Al Hrabosky, Retired Reliever

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    Holding true to the mantra that closer's are the most out there players on any baseball roster, Hrabosky had an entire routine that not only intimidated hitters, but it made him look downright crazy in the process.

    Known as the "Mad Hungarian," he would take a few steps toward second base, meditate for a minute, then slam the ball into his glove and stomp back to the mound in what he later admitted was a show to intimidate opposing hitters and to help him focus.

    Still, it was a lot of fun to watch, for the sake of its craziness.

Reggie Jackson, Retired Outfielder

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    Jackson is one of the best sluggers to ever play the game, and his postseason heroics earned him the moniker "Mr. October" when he was a member of the Yankees.

    However, there may have never been an ego as big as Jackson's as he will forever be linked to the "straw that stirs the drink" quote, and even though he denies ever speaking poorly of his teammates, it was clear that Reggie came first, and everyone else was just enjoying the show when it came to Jackson's career.

Ryan Dempster, Cubs

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 01:  Ryan Dempster #36 of the Chicago Cubs throws a first inning pitch while playing the Pittsburgh Pirates during opening day at Wrigley Field on April 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Pittsburgh won the game 6-3. (Photo by Gregory Shamu
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Dempster has seen it all in his big league career.

    Making an All-Star team as a starter in Florida, then as a closer in Chicago and then once again joining the rotation and being named the Cubs Opening Day starter this season to come full circle.

    He is also one of the biggest pranksters in the league and is well known for his spot on Harry Caray impression or at least a great version of Will Ferrel's Harry Caray.

    So while he is once again a starter, he has kept the quirky edge that made him a great closer as well.

Dock Ellis, Retired Starting Pitcher

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    Ellis was among the top pitchers of the 1970s, winning 138 games over his 12-year MLB career, mostly as a member of the Pirates.

    However, he will forever be remembered for his no-hitter against the Padres in 1970, when he was admittedly under the influence of LSD, as he did not realize he would be pitching that day.

    He walked eight hitters and admitted to having trouble seeing the hitter and catcher during the game, but he still achieved one of the toughest feats in all of sports.

Nick Swisher, Yankees

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 02:  Nick Swisher #33 of the New York Yankees hits a RBI sacrifice fly to score the run of Alex Rodriguez #13 against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on April 2, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/G
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The son of a major leaguer in Steve Swisher, Nick has been an influence in the clubhouse since his days with the Athletics, and after a brief stop with the White Sox, he has become a fan favorite with the Yankees.

    Married to a beautiful actress in Joanna Garcia, Swisher has all the personality in the world, and after losing his job at first base and then in right field in his first season with the Yankees, Swisher has become one of the team's most important players, both for his antics in the clubhouse and his production on the field.

Bill Lee, Retired Pitcher

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    Lee, nicknamed Spaceman for his out-there personality, was Brian Wilson before there was a Brian Wilson, and then some. Mainly pitching for the Red Sox during the 1970s, Lee racked up 119 career wins and won 17 games in three straight seasons from 1973-1975.

    However, it was his personality that has made him a legend, as he was known on the field for his version of the eephus pitch, which he dubbed the Leephus.

    Off the field, his leftist view made him a constant source of quotability, and he once claimed that sprinkling some marijuana on his morning breakfast made him immune to the bus fumes as he made his way to the ballpark each day. Truly a character, even by baseball player standards.

Kevin Rhomberg, Retired Infielder

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    Rhomberg had a brief major league career, playing in just 41 games over three seasons with the Indians. However, he made his mark as what may have been the most OCD player in baseball history.

    Regardless of the situation, whenever someone touched Rhomberg, he had to touch them back. Be it a fielder tagging him out, an umpire patting him on the back or a teammate playing a joke on him, he went out of his way, sometimes well out of his way, to touch anyone who touched him.

Phenomenal Smith: Retired Pitcher

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    Smith had an unspectacular career, going 54-74 over eight seasons during the late 1800s. However, he got his nickname during the 1885 season when he claimed to his Brooklyn teammates that he was so phenomenal on the mound, he did not need them.

    Not taking kindly to this, his teammates made 14 "errors" behind him in his one start with the team, losing 18-5 and showing "Phenomenal" that he did in fact need the other eight guys to get a win.

Turk Wendell, Retired Relief Pitcher

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    15 Apr 1997:  Pitcher Turk Wendell of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during a game against the San Francisco Giants at 3Comm Park in San Francisco, California.  The Cubs won the game 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr.  /Allsport
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Wendell was among the most superstitious players in baseball history, and while he was a decent reliever during his time with the Cubs and the Mets, he is most remembered for his many memorable antics.

    First off, he would jam four pieces of licorice into his mouth before each inning he pitched, rather than the traditional tobacco or gum. Then he would brush his teeth between innings in the dugout.

    It didn't stop there, however, as he would spike the rosin bag like a football, wave to the center fielder before warming up and hurdle over the foul line like a kangaroo. Truly, he was one of the strangest players in baseball history.

Manny Ramirez, Retired Outfielder

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    From his ventures into the Fenway Park scoreboard, to his suspension for using a women's fertility drug, and everything in between, he was always just "Manny Being Manny."

    One of the best pure hitters to ever play the game, Manny was known as much for his fantastic hitting as he was for his over the top behavior, as every play in left field was an adventure for him, and he often left fans scratching their heads at his latest blunder.

Ozzie Guillen, White Sox

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 17:  Manager Ozzie Guillen #13 of the Chicago White Sox looks on against the Milwaukee Brewers during the spring training game at Maryvale Baseball Park on March 17, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Guillen was a solid player during his time in the league and has quickly become a terrific player's manager leading the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005 to boot.

    He is also among the most quotable people in all of sports and someone who is never afraid to speak his mind, no matter how profanity laced and offensive it may be, and that makes him the most interesting manager in the world, at least for now.

Mark Fidrych, Retired Starting Pitcher

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    Fidrych had a relatively short career, spanning just five seasons before he ran into arm problems. However, he was the talk of baseball his rookie season in 1976, when he went 19-9 and led the AL with a 2.34 ERA en route to winning Rookie of the Year.

    It was his antics on the mound that made him a fan favorite though, as he would talk to the ball, deliver the ball with one of baseball's most ridiculous deliveries and most memorably would manicure the mound on his hands and knees until it was exactly how he wanted it.

    "The Bird" is truly a baseball legend.

Bob Uecker, Baseball Announcer

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    As both a player and announcer, there may be no person with a bigger personality in all of baseball the Uecker, and it was on full display when he landed a role in the baseball movie Major League.

    Playing Harry Doyle, the less-than-interested announcer for the struggling Indians, Uecker made "just a bit outside" a legendary phrase, and when he was dubbed "Mr. Baseball" by Johnny Carson, it seemed appropriate as he is everything that is right with our national pastime.

Babe Ruth, Legend

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    While arguments can be made, Ruth is largely considered the greatest player in baseball history. However, he was far from an "athlete" by today's standards.

    The man loved a good hot dog, a cold beer and a loose women as much as he loved playing the game, and he was the first player who could pack the stands with people just looking for the opportunity to see him play.

    His numbers make him the best of all time, but his personality makes him a legendary figure not just in baseball but in American history.

Satchel Paige, Retired Pitcher

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    Paige was the best pitcher the Negro Leagues ever saw, and while he made his major league debut well past his prime, he was still a terrific pitcher, and one can only speculate how many wins he would have racked up had he spent his entire career in the big leagues.

    He was also a legendary showman, and from his axle grease arm rub-downs, to his famous quote to "not look back, something might be gaining on you," Paige was a character to say the least, and one of the biggest "What Ifs" in sports history.

Brian Wilson, Giants

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 24:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants in action against the Atlanta Braves at AT&T Park on April 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Wilson broke into the big leagues as a reliever in 2006, but it was not until 2008 that he became the Giants closer. Over the next two seasons, he posted 79 saves but also a less than stellar 3.61 ERA in the process.

    It was not until last season that he began to grow his now legendary beard, and the result was a career best 1.81 ERA as well as an NL best 48 saves, and as the Giants worked their way towards an  MLB title, Wilson became a cult hero as he and his beard were the talk of baseball.

    Now, complete with commercials centered around the impressiveness of his beard, Wilson has become the most eccentric player in all of baseball.

Harry Caray, Former Announcer

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    With his gigantic glasses, terrible singing and his love of a nice cold Budweiser, Caray became not only a "Cub fan and a Bud man," but a voice of the people from the announcers booth.

    He routinely mispronounced player's names, insisted on pronouncing the names he did know backwards for some reason and made for one hell of a SNL skit, but Caray was everything you want in an announcer, as he truly added something special to watching a Cubs game.

Rube Waddell, Retired Starting Pitcher

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    Waddell, a Hall of Fame pitcher who won 193 games as one of the top pitchers at the turn of the century, would not have been allowed anywhere near a baseball field in today's world.

    He would often leave the dugout and chase firetrucks on their way to fires, and he was easily distracted by fans who would wave shiny objects in the stands. But it goes on from there, as he wrestled alligators in the offseason and reportedly forgot how many times he was married.

    He was an admitted alcoholic, and still, he is one of the best pitchers to ever toe the rubber.

Yogi Berra, Retired Catcher

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    Berra is one of the best catchers to ever play the game, and a legend in Yankees history, and while he was a great baseball player to say the least, he may very well have been an even better interview.

    Here is a sampling of what have come to be known as "Yogi-isms."

    "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

    "You can observe a lot by watching."

    "The future ain't what it used to be."

    "We made too many wrong mistakes."

    And of course, "It ain't over til it's over."


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