MLB: 25 Most Talented "Little Guys" in Baseball History
"It's not the size of the man in the fight, its the size of the fight in the man." These words ring true for this particular installment for Bleacher Report. There are so many quotes and analogies when it comes to "short people" but these short people in baseball history take a backseat to nobody.
The criteria for this article is the player had to be under 6'0" tall and could be a player from anytime in baseball history. Surprisingly while I wrote this article, it seems that the popular height for Hall of Famers is 5'11." Even so, there are many players who played "way above their heads" during their professional career. Enjoy the show!
Willie Mays (5'11")
The “Say Hey Kid” is arguably the best baseball player of all time. A hall of fame inductee in 1979, he was a 24-time All-Star which led fellow All-Star Ted Williams to say “they invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays”.
Pete Rose (5'11")
This one surprised me as I always thought Rose was a lot shorter the 5'11." “Charlie Hustle” is the all-time hits leader and because of his ties to gambling as a manager is not in the Hall of Fame. Still, he is considered one of the top hitters in baseball history and still has some support from writers and players alike to one day be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Yogi Berra (5'7")
A 15 time All-Star is the most decorated catcher in baseball history. Playing in 10 world series and topping the 100 RBI mark four times, Berra set the standard for catchers. Today, he is more well known for his “Yogi-isms” such as “you’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you are going because you just might get there.”
Harmon Killebrew (5'11")
“The Killer” passed away earlier this year but was seen as one of the best power-hitting outfielders of his time. What he accomplished on the field was nothing compared to what he did off the field. Often times attending the Minnesota Twins fantasy camp and helping out at spring training, he will leave a big hole in the Twins family.
Carl Yastrzemski (5’11")
“Yaz” is the last person to win baseball’s triple crown. He pulled off this accomplishment in 1967 and played 23 seasons in Boston. He was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1989.
Roberto Clemente (5'11")
Clemente’s career was cut much too short after an airplane crash took his life on December 31, 1972 while flying relief supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. His career ended with exactly 3,000 hits and he was elected into the Hall in 1973.
Ivan Rodriguez (5'9")
“Pudge” is still at it, although not at the rate he once played. He just completed his 20th season of professional baseball. He is just a shade under 3,000 hits (2844 as of the end of the year) and a 13-time Gold Glove winner. He will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Rickey Henderson (5'10")
“Rickey” is baseball’s all-time leader in stolen bases and runs. His 130 stolen bases in 1982 may never be broken and his egotistical personality made Rickey a polarizing figure during his reign as the stolen base king.
Joe Morgan (5'10")
Morgan unfortunately is probably more well known for his stint on ESPN instead of where he should be remembered, as part of the Big Red Machine in the early 1970’s. Morgan was elected into the Hall in 1990 and was one of the best all around second baseman in baseball history.
Craig Biggio (5'10")
Another potential Hall of Fame second baseman is Houston’s Craig Biggio. He was one part of the “Killer B’s” along with Jeff Bagwell. Biggio ended his career with 3,060 hits and undoubtedly will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Ozzie Smith (5'10")
The “wizard” was one of the most acrobatic players to ever play the game. His speed along with Willie McGee and Vince Coleman with the Cardinals in the 1980’s was unprecedented. He also won 13 Gold Gloves and is baseball’s all-time leader in assists, double plays and total chances.
Mel Ott (5'9")
Ott, who played the outfield and third base during his time in the majors, hit a then National League best 511 home runs over the course of his career. Ott was a career .304 hitter in his 22 seasons in New York.
Phil Rizzuto (5'6")
A seven-time World Series champion, Rizzuto was a five-time All Star and was elected to the Hall by the veterans committee in 1994. He passed away in 2007 after being a Yankee broadcaster for 40 years.
Lou Brock (5'11")
Before Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock was the gold standard for base stealers. Brock stole 938 bases in his career and had over 3,000 hits. He also was a two-time World Series champion.
Roy Campanella (5'8")
Campanella was the backstop for the successful run the Brooklyn Dodgers had in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. “Campy” was a slugging catcher with a cannon for an arm. Unfortunately, his career was also cut short by a car accident just before the start of the 1958 season.
Pee Wee Reese (5'9")
Pee Wee Reese played in seven World Series and was the shortstop of the double play combination with Jackie Robinson. Reese was the clubhouse leader of the teams and ended up being a rock for Robinson during his integration into the major leagues.
Whitey Ford (5'10")
The “Chairman of the Board” was a 10-time All-Star selection as well as a six-time World Series champion. His best year was 1961 when he won the Cy Young award and the World Series MVP. He, along with Sandy Koufax, were the most two dominant left-handers of the day.
Tony Gwynn (5'11")
Gwynn spent his entire 20-year career with the San Diego Padres and is widely considered one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. Outside of George Brett’s .390 average in 1980, Gwynn seemingly would have had a chance to eclipse the .400 mark in 1994 if it wasn’t for the baseball strike when he was hitting .394.
Rogers Hornsby (5'11")
One of the best right-handed hitters in history, Hornsby hit over .400 three times and his .424 average in 1924 is a National League record to this day. He was also a two-time MVP as well as a two-time Triple Crown winner in his playing days.
Honus Wagner (5'11")
“The Flying Dutchman” was one of the Hall’s first five along with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. Wagner played for 21 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates where he had a career average of .329 and accumulated over 3,000 hits (3,430 to be exact) while swiping 722 bags
Wee Willie Keeler (5'4")
Our smallest player on this list, Keeler played from 1892-1910 and had 13 straight seasons of hitting over .300. He collected 200 hits for eight consecutive seasons, a record which was bested by Ichiro in 2009. “Hit them where they ain’t” paid off very well for this Hall of Fame player.
Bill Mazeroski (5’11")
“Maz's” greatest moment probably came when he hit a home run to end the 1960 World Series. Still, the 10 time All-Star had a career .983 fielding percentage. He played his entire career with the Pirates.
Kirby Puckett (5'8")
“Puck” was the face of the Twins franchise during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Puckett’s career was cut short by retina damage in his right eye. He was a 10-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion in 1987 and 1991.
Jackie Robinson (5'11")
Robinson is not only known as the man who broke the color barrier but he was also a Hall of Fame second baseman. A four-sport star at UCLA, Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Along with Pee Wee Reese, they helped the Dodgers win six pennants in 10 seasons.
Edgar Martinez (5'11")
Edgar could be classified as what a DH should be. Although he “only” had 2,247 hits, his career batting average was .312. He may have lost a step and “fell” into the DH role, but while there, he thrived and became one of the best hitters of his time.