After stretching my brain to sort out an All-Time National League Team, it is my duty and obligation to provide that bunch with worthy opponents. So after careful thought and consideration and trying to shoehorn more deserving people onto a roster constituting a dream team than is possible I have reached a consensus between me and me, talking myself out of certain players and into certain others for an All-Time American League Team.
The goal was to come up with the same type of roster as I settled upon for the National League. That means there are 12 pitchers (the NL’s split was 10 starters and two relievers, the AL’s nine starters and three relievers, though one is a definite hybrid), two catchers, two first basemen, two secondbasemen, two shortstops, two thirdbasemen and five outfielders, plus a utility player. There is also one manager and four coaches to handle all of that talent in each league.
Here are my American League selections with one notable fact about each of them. Although the National League is older by 25 years, 1876 to 1901, in reviewing the players for my rosters that didn’t matter at all. The number of old, old-timers considered for each squad was small and the number of players who actually were in the big leagues before 1901 was tiny. For that matter, I have selected a pretty small number of players who participated in the deadball era, pre-1920, though most of them are pitchers.
In case nobody noticed with the National League team and consistently with the American League team I selected no player that has been suspected of, or proven to have used, performance-enhancing drugs. A few such players would definitely have been considered and you can guess who they are. Following these two all-time teams, the next one up will be a full roster of players who played only in the Negro Leagues or who played some years in the majors, but who clearly had their participation limited by the color barrier in their primes.
The American League All-Time Team
Manager: Casey Stengel. Coaches: Connie Mack, Joe McCarthy, Earl Weaver and Johnny Sain. Sain was a great pitcher and he was a great pitching coach. There is no place in the Hall of Fame for coaches, but if the opportunity was Sain would be enshrined.
Pitching Staff: Cy Young (511 wins, the most), Walter Johnson (417 wins), Lefty Grove (9 ERA titles), Bob Feller (rookie at 17), Nolan Ryan (5,714 strikeouts, No. 1), Whitey Ford (130 games over .500), Eddie Plank (first lefty to win 300 games), Randy Johnson (164-93 in AL), Big Ed Walsh (all-time ERA champ, 1.82). Relievers: Mariano Rivera (all-time saves leader, 608), Dennis Eckersley (197 wins, 390 saves), Hoyt Wilhelm (21 years, 2.52 ERA).
Second Base: Eddie Collins (.333 lifetime average), Napoleon Lajoie (hit .426 one year).
Outfielders: Babe Ruth (714 home runs), Ted Williams (all-time on-base percentage leader), Ty Cobb (12 batting titles), Joe DiMaggio (56-game hitting streak), Mickey Mantle (greatest switch-hitter in history).
Utility: Jimmie Foxx (three MVP awards, played first, third and catcher).