I never saw Rogers Hornsby play baseball – he quit playing in 1937 – but I’m still pretty sure he was among the best right-handed hitters of all time. On my own personal greatest team Hornsby would play second base. His lifetime average was .358 – over 23 years! Three different times he hit over .400 for a season and a half dozen other times came close to that magic mark. The Rajah could hit. I think he was the best ever at second.
Selecting all-time greats in anything is highly subjective, but still great fun and since one of the enduring things about baseball is the history of the great game. comparing and contrasting players from different eras can fodder for endless discussion and speculation. So, bring on the debate. He’s the rest of Johnson’s Dream Team.
My catcher is Mickey Cochrane. I could make an argument for Bill Dickey, Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra, but I like Cochrane. Great defense player, twice American League MVP and a .320 lifetime batting average. Black Mike could play for me in any era.
The great Mike Schmidt is my third baseman. In 18 years in the Majors, Schmidt hit 30 or more home runs 13 times. He had 548 dingers in his career. He also won 10 Gold Gloves, nine in a row. There has never been a better all-around third baseman. I love Brooks Robinson, too, but Schmidt is my guy.
Shortstop is tough and I admit to being a late adopter of the fact that the Yankees’ Derek Jeter is a superb baseball player. He is a marvelous all-around player, a leader and he can lead off for my all-time team. Jeter will end his career with a lifetime .300 average, more than 500 doubles and way more than 250 homers. I hate the Yankees, but Jeter is a player for the ages.
Who could possible be the pick at first except the great Lou Gehrig? Seventeenth all-time in batting average with .340, fifth in RBI’s, twice American League MVP and just shy of 500 homers. The sorrow of Gehrig’s personal story notwithstanding, the Iron Horse was an all-time great. Few other first basemen even come close.
Now, talk about difficult, the outfield. Was Ruth better than Aaron? How does DiMaggio compare with Cobb? Was Bonds just a steroid-era freak? How about Clemente and Splendid Teddy Ballgame? And don’t forget Mays, Mantle and The Duke? I’ve always been partial to Al Simmons and Tony Gywnn. I could go on.
In a way there are no wrong choices. So, just to balance my line-up, I’ll put Williams in left, Mays in center – maybe the best all-around player ever – and the great Clemente in right. I want all those other guys, Ruth, Aaron, etc., on the bench. Might need to give someone a day off.
As for the mound. I’ll pick two guys I’d like in my rotation every year – Walter Johnson, a right hander, and the great Sandy Koufax, a southpaw. Those two guys just might be able to shutdown the rest of my dream team. Johnson won 417 games in his career. The Left Arm of God, as Koufax was called, won the Cy Young three times and remarkably twice lead the National League with 27 complete games.
What time is the first pitch?