Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Greatest Baseball Player from Each State

I did this one 3 years ago. This time, with a new round of Baseball Hall of Fame election results coming up, I'm adding foreign countries.

One more time: It's not necessarily where they were born that matters, it's where they grew up and were trained to play baseball.

Alabama: Willie Mays. (Sorry, Hank.)
Alaska: Chad Bentz. (Curt Schilling qualifies for Arizona.)
Arizona: Jim Palmer (Better pitcher than Schilling.)
Arkansas: Brooks Robinson.
California: Joe DiMaggio. (Sorry, Jackie AND Frank Robinson.)
Colorado: Goose Gossage.
Connecticut: Jeff Bagwell.
Delaware: Judy Johnson.
District of Columbia: Maury Wills.
Florida: Steve Carlton. (Not sorry, A-Rod: You cheated.)
Georgia: Ty Cobb.
Hawaii: Shane Victorino.
Idaho: Harmon Killebrew.
Illinois: Robin Roberts. (Sorry, Lou Boudreau.)
Indiana: Gil Hodges.
Iowa: Bob Feller.
Kansas: Walter Johnson. (Moved to California at 14, so qualifies here.)
Kentucky: Jim Bunning.
Louisiana: Lou Brock.
Maine: George Gore.
Maryland: Babe Ruth.
Massachusetts: Mickey Cochrane.
Michigan: Charlie Gehringer. (Sorry, Derek.)
Minnesota: Dave Winfield. (Sorry, Paul Molitor.)
Mississippi: Frank White.
Missouri: Yogi Berra.
Montana: Dave McNally.
Nebraska: Grover Cleveland Alexander. (Sorry, Bob Gibson.)
Nevada: Greg Maddux.
New Hampshire: Carlton Fisk.
New Jersey: Joe Medwick. (Sorry, Larry Doby and Monte Irvin.)
New Mexico: Duane Ward.
New York: Lou Gehrig.
North Carolina: Hoyt Wilhelm.
North Dakota: Roger Maris.
Ohio: Cy Young.
Oklahoma: Mickey Mantle. (Yes, Johnny Bench, better than you.)
Oregon: Johnny Pesky.
Pennsylvania: Honus Wagner. (Sorry, Reggie.)
Rhode Island: Nap Lajoie. (Sorry, Gabby Hartnett -- also from Woonsocket.)
South Carolina: Shoeless Joe Jackson.
South Dakota: Dave Collins.
Tennessee: Todd Helton.
Texas: Tris Speaker.
Utah: Chris Shelton.
Vermont: Ray Fisher. (Carlton Fisk qualifies for New Hampshire.)
Virginia: Jim Lemon.
Washington: Ryne Sandberg.
West Virginia: Jesse Burkett.
Wisconsin: Al Simmons.
Wyoming: Tom Browning.

Canada's Provinces:

Alberta: Mike Johnson.
British Columbia: Jason Bay. (May have to change this one.)
Manitoba: Russ Ford.
New Brunswick: Matt Stairs.
Nova Scotia: Charles "Pop" Smith. (Played 1880 to 1891.)
Nunavut Territory: No layers.
Ontario: Ferguson Jenkins. (Still the only Canadian in the Hall of Fame.)
Prince Edward Island: Vern Handrahan.
Quebec: Russell Martin.
Saskatchewan: Terry Puhl.

Russell Martin was born in Toronto, but is Franco-Ontarian on one side and African-Canadian on the other, and grew up in Montreal, so he qualifies for Quebec. He surpasses Claude Raymond, and would surpass Eric Gagne even if we didn't know Gagne was a cheater.

George "Dandy" Wood was an outfielder who led the National League in home runs in 1882, and played 12 seasons. He was born on Prince Edward Island, but grew up in Boston, so he doesn't qualify here. Henry Oxley was a catcher who played only 1 season in the majors, 1884, but he, too, moved as a child from PEI to Massachusetts. Thus Handrahan, a mediocre pitcher at best in the mid-1960s, is the only MLB player truly from PEI.

No players have come from Canada's newest Province, Newfoundland and Labrador. Nor have any come from any of Canada's Territories: Northwest, Nunavut, or Yukon.

And now, the greatest player from each country with at least 10 players. This is based only on what they did here, so Sadaharu Oh, as great as he was in his homeland of Japan, is not eligible.

While 44 men born in Germany have gone on to play in MLB, that number is misleading, since nearly all of them either moved with their parents to America as small boys, or were born to U.S. servicemen on post-World War II military bases; either way, they learned to play here.

And while the Republic of Ireland has produced as many MLB players as all of Great Britain combined (47 for each), no MLB player ever learned to play the game in either country.

Australia: Graeme Lloyd.
Colombia: Edgar Renteria.
Cuba: Tony Perez. (It might be Martin Dihigo, but we'll never know.)
Curacao: Andruw Jones.
Dominican Republic: Juan Marichal.
Germany: Max Kepler. (The only true Germany-trained player so far.)
Japan: Ichiro Suzuki.
Netherlands: Didi Gregorius. (Bert Blyleven grew up in California.)
Nicaragua: Dennis Martinez
Puerto Rico: Roberto Clemente.
U.S. Virgin Islands: Jose Morales.
Venezuela: Luis Aparicio.

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