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Not many members of the MLB fraternity play into their fourth decade; in fact, generally speaking, only the elite play as long as the Jack Benny Milestone age of 39.

Here on Da Box, we have previously constructed an All-Age-40 team and later an All-Age-41 team ... yes, there was a fair amount of overlap from one to the other, but less than you might think.

As we meet an All-Age-39 team, there are a lot of familiar names; in fact, we can assemble a pretty decent squad just using the "Top 10 Leader" lists for the Age 39 Players on ... okay, not "pretty fair," make that "geriatrically unstoppable" ...

Let's meet them; they're called ...

Jack Benny's 39ers
(P.S. if you don't get the Benny reference, ask a grandparent!)
(P.P.S. Count your blessings -- I could've dubbed this squad the "Benny Ha-Ha's")
** Indicates Hall of Famer
* Indicates All-Star (not necessarily in Age-39 season)
Key Age-39 statistics are shown parenthetically.

C Carlton Fisk** (.256, 23 homers, 1987)
1B Willie Stargell** (.281/32/82, 1979 NL Co-MVP)
2B Eddie Collins** (.344, 62 RBI, 13 SB, 1928)
SS Luke Appling** (.309 in 1946)
3B George Brett** (.285, 61 RBI in 1992; mostly DH/1B)
LF Barry Bonds* (.362, 45 homers in 2004)
CF Willie Mays** (28 homers, 1970)
RF Hank Aaron** (40 homers, 1973)
DH Ted Williams** (.328/26/85 in 1958)

UTIL Lave Cross (.266, 77 RBI in 1905)
IF Jeff Kent* (.302/20/79 in 2007)
IF/OF Craig Biggio* (.264, 26 homers, 11 SB, 2005)
SS Omar Vizquel* (.295, 24 SB, Gold Glove in 2006)
OF Tris Speaker** (.327, 43 doubles, 1927)
OF Jim O'Rourke** (.360, 115 RBI, 1890)

RHSP Gaylord Perry ** (1978: 21-6, 2.73)
LHSP Eddie Plank** (1915: 21-11, 2.08)
RHSP Early Wynn** (1959: 22-10, 3.17)
LHSP Warren Spahn** (1950: 21-10, 3.50)
RHSP Phil Niekro** (1978: 19-18, 2.88)

CL Trevor Hoffman* (42 saves in 2007)
RP Todd Jones* (38 saves in 2007)
RP Jose Mesa* (27 saves in 2005)
RP Roy Face* (17 saves in 1967)
RP Hoyt Wilhelm** (15 saves in 1962)

Nothing Could Be Finer than to be a 39er ...
It's no great surprise that this squad is stuffed with Hall of Famers; the entire starting rotation is enshrined, as is one member of the bullpen (Wilhelm), with another (Hoffman) virtually certain to join him ... As for the starting lineup, everyone eligible (eight of the nine) is in, with Bonds a statistical, if not voter, certainty ...

As for the bench, two of the six are in, with Biggio a mortal lock to follow and Vizquel likely to get a fair amount of support before falling off the ballot -- while Kent and Finley are less likely candidates, though the surly Indian/Met/Giant/Dodger 2B probably deserves a plaque, anyway ... Finding a backup catcher for this unit was a chore -- sure, Wally Schang, who hit .239 for the 1929 SLB, is a viable possibility -- but with Biggio (more than 400 games behind the plate), Cross (more than 300) and O'Rourke (more than 200) on the roster, we should be just fine ...

We used the phrase "everyone eligible" earlier in describing Hall of Fame inductees and that probably made you think of Pete Rose and Joe Jackson ... The reference was unintentional ... Sure, Rose had 185 hits while playing all 162 games for Philly in his (nice, not legendary) 1980 Age-39 season, but Jackson was out of organized ball after hitting .382 in his age-30 season, so neither made this team on merit ... Fret not, Charlie Hustle fans, Pete wasn't nearly the bsst player left off this roster; others included ...
  • Paul Molitor** (.341 in 1996)
  • Ty Cobb** (.339 in 1926)
  • Tony Gwynn** (.338 in 1999)
  • Babe Ruth** (.985 OPS in 1934)
  • Steve Finley* (36 homers in 2004)
  • Cap Anson** (120 RBI in 1891)
This list could go on ... We haven't even mentioned other Age-39 Leaderboard residents like Willie McCovey, Rickey Henderon, Joe Morgan and, yes, the 2007 Frank Thomas. (Hey, we already have three 2007 age-39ers on our 25-man roster; Thomas doesn't make the cut!)

Or we could build an entire starting rotation of righty-lefty 19-game winners Rick Reuschel and David Wells, righty-lefty 18-game winners Charlie Hough and Kenny Rogers and top it off with a fifth starter like 17-game winner Dazzy Vance. Nice!

But seriously .... take a look at the Age-39 Leaderboards for Hitters and for Pitchers and speak your piece ... how can this team be better?
Meet the Cooperstown 39ers | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Tuesday, January 22 2008 @ 09:53 AM EST (#179239) #
Lefty Grove went 15-4 with a 2.54 ERA (185 ERA+) in 191 innings at age 39.  Dazzy Vance went 17-15 with a 2.61 ERA in the hitter's bacchanalia that was 1930 (for an ERA+ of 189) in 258 innings.  Vance was second in the league in strikeout rate to boot.  Those two would be near the top of my age 39 rotation.
Alex Obal - Tuesday, January 22 2008 @ 04:36 PM EST (#179241) #
The bullpen leans right. I'd try to sneak the legendary Dan Plesac in there somewhere. In his age-39 year he held lefties to .184/.268/.322 at the height of the juiced-ball era for the 2001... Toronto Blue Jays. That year he only faced 97 lefties, but he struck out 47 of them and walked 10. And he's a Proven Closer. You could do worse.
John Northey - Tuesday, January 22 2008 @ 04:38 PM EST (#179242) #
A fun read. Got me to thinking about the 2007'ers on the list though. Many thought guys would retire due to money by now (made too much, no need to keep playing) and others figure better training/etc. would allow guys to play longer.

Looking at those nice leaderboards (gotta love B-R) I see that 3 of the top 10 in batting average were '96 to today but 4 others were '26-'27 and 2 were pre-1900(!).

Slg% comes up more what I expected though, with 4 in the 2000's and 1 more in the 90's. 2 in the 70's and 2 in the 50's though so is it that odd?

Total bases though is a killer. 8 of 10 are 1990 to today. Wow. Sam Rice in '29 and Aaron in '73 are the exceptions.

Triples are fun. Lofton in '06 and Vizquel in '06 were the only age 39'ers on the list after 1945. Guess they just don't keep the legs in shape anymore. Weird for 2 to be in '06 though after a 60 year break.

Steroids? Check Home Runs. Guess they were really doing them in the 70's as 4 guys from that era are on the top 10 list vs 3 from the 'steroid era'.

I am surprised that only 5 age 39 guys ever drove in 100 runs though, with 2 of them being pre-1900 and the rest post 1995.
tr0mbone - Tuesday, January 22 2008 @ 04:53 PM EST (#179243) #
In the worse configuration, that lineup would score 7.13 runs per game. In the best, 7.7 and they have bonds batting 2nd in all of them. link
Mick Doherty - Tuesday, January 22 2008 @ 09:32 PM EST (#179247) #
OK, Plesac for Mesa -- good idea, Alex, Joe Table always made me nervous, even when he was Cy Young Candidate Jose Mesa.

And tr0mbone, interesting stat -- you think with five Hall of Famers in the rotation, 7+ runs can get us to Hoffman and Wilhelm for about 140 wins?

AWeb - Tuesday, January 22 2008 @ 10:30 PM EST (#179248) #
I think it's notable how much better the hitting on the 39ers was compared to the age 40 and age 41 teams. I'm choosing to take that to heart with respect ot the Jays' elder statesmen Frank Thomas and Matt Stairs, both of whom will be making the 39-40 transition in 2008, and Stairs especially is unlikely to repeat his 2007.  Everyone drops off and stops producing eventually, and for those two, it's very likely to be in the next two years (whether due to injury or just decline).

From the sounds of things, Thomas is making extra sure to be ready for the start of the year. This makes a lot of sense for him, because if he gets off to another slow start (.804 OPS at the end of July isn't exactly what they're paying for), the Jays should not feel the least bit reluctant to sit him against righties and try to avoid the PA threshold that kicks in another year (is it about 350 PA this year?). 
Mike Green - Tuesday, January 22 2008 @ 11:14 PM EST (#179249) #
If you wanted a third baseman who spent most of his time at the position at age 39, you could choose Lave Cross or Wade Boggs.  Cross was probably the better defender and hit well enough.
clark - Wednesday, January 23 2008 @ 06:35 AM EST (#179250) #
I like the team a lot.  My only concern is how Jeff Kent will adapt to a bench role.  Hopefully this situation will not become a distraction to the rest of the club.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, January 23 2008 @ 09:28 AM EST (#179251) #

Heh, good point.

Bigger question: How will Cap Anson react to being beaten out of a roster spot by Willie Stargell?

Jackie Robinson only played to age 38, Roberto Clemente only to 37 -- so they won't be any help ...

Eh, Anson probably wouldn't have wanted to suit up with an Aaron-Mays-Bonds outfield anyway!

Geoff - Thursday, January 24 2008 @ 12:25 PM EST (#179280) #
How could you even consider putting Kent on the same team as Bonds again?

Talk about a general manager who has no regard for team chemistry.

Mick Doherty - Thursday, January 24 2008 @ 01:24 PM EST (#179283) #

Geoff, good point. Who is this team's GM and manager, anyway? Any good 39-year-old candidates? Was Beane a GM by 39?

But I think the fact that Molitor played at least 50 games at every infield position, including nearly 800 at 3B, suggests we have the wrong IF on the roster in Kent anyway.

Though it is worth considering that he was a full-time DH at 39, with spot duty at 1B, while Kent played exclusively at 2B at 39 last season ...

laketrout - Saturday, January 26 2008 @ 10:40 PM EST (#179389) #
Jeff Kent is 39???   Man I feel old now.  I remember seeing him at the dome in March of '91 during the spring training St. Patty's Day game.  The players were all dressed in green uni's. The newly minted Jay, Roberto Alomar, was pulled early from the game and this unknown punk came in and belted out two home runs - the nerve!
Meet the Cooperstown 39ers | 12 comments | Create New Account
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