Loud, rollicking, fun music would be nice right here. Time to introduce my all-time, greatest, all-around baseball team. You might say that the selection of an All-Time National League Team, an All-Time American League Team, and and an All-Time Negro Leagues team over the last few days was my personal playoffs.
Now we know the pool of candidates where the best of the best came from. Now we know how difficult it was going to be to narrow down a group of all-time great Hall of Fame players into a smaller group of all-time Hall of Fame players without becoming known as the guy who cut so-and-so from his team. Michael Jordan still plays that angle up blaming a coach who cut him from a basketball team in high school. So if I hear that if Tris Speaker is looking for me, I’ll know why.
This comes under the heading of an embarrassment of riches. Clearly, regardless of position there is no shortage of talent. There is plenty of statistical evidence to support the candidacy of most of the players, though not necessarily the Negro Leagues’ best. There is also the personal opinion factor in terms of something in a player that endears him to me and that might even overrule common sense. Always in the making of such lists is the matter of talent being in the eye of the beholder.
I have picked three All-Star teams over the last few days. Choosing the fourth, the creme de la creme was a challenge. The leftover all-stars are the honorable mentions for this ultimate dream team. I also reveal here at Call To The Pen that I am negotiating a series of games with my team taking on all comers at the Field of Dreams in Iowa. In the meantime my guys will practice hidden in the corn field.
The All-Time Baseball Team
Honorable Mention: Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Phil Niekro, Dizzy Dean, Hoyt Wilhelm, Smokey Joe Williams, Bullet Joe Rogan, Bill Foster, Hilton Smith, Leon Day, Ray Brown, Ted “Double Duty” Ratcliffe, Andy Cooper, Jose Mendez, Tom Seaver, Trevor Hoffman, Lee Smith, Lefty Grove, Whitey Ford, Eddie Plank, Randy Johnson, Big Ed Walsh, Dennis Eckersley.
Utility Man: Pete Rose.
Well, there it is and I admit I had to get big-picture tricky in a couple of places, not tracking precisely the format I followed closely for all three of the other teams. Instead of four coaches I had five. I put in Martin Dihigo so he could be activated as a pitcher, an outfielder, designated hitter or pinch-hitter because he was great at everything. I cut down on pitchers, with one less starter. Jimmie Foxx was the utility man on my American League team and I moved him to third, one position during his career. Still, when it came down to it I was going to be cutting Joe DiMaggio and that didn’t seem right. So I kept an extra outfielder to make up for the fact that I never picked a designated hitter on the other teams.
As is I cut Roberto Clemente, Roy Campanella, Hank Greenberg, Buck Leonard, Mickey Mantle, Cool Papa Bell, Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson, things I never really expected to do and guys I really, really wanted on my all-time team.
Since the roughly 80 players I selected for my American League, National League and Negro Leagues teams were all all-star-caliber, the cuts for the final team were always going to be painful.