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We started this a few months ago with the All-February Team; last month we met the June Cleavers. Now it's time for the All-July team, a squad made up entirely of players born in the month named for good ol' "Lend Me Your Ears" Julius Caeser.

Incidentally,the best "Cesar" to play in the major leagues who was also a product of his namesake's month ...

... was super-utilityman Cesar Tovar, who in 1968 was the last player to man all nine positions in a single game until Scott Sheldon and Shane Halter each did the same thing in the 2000 season.

The best player in major league history named for the month of July? Can't go wrong with Julio Franco, which translates from Spanish to English as "July Franks," which come to think of it should've landed the ageless Brave on the Ballpark "Franks" Hall of Names team a while back.

Now, for the rest of the team, tentatively named (of course) the July Franks, we'll start by using a precedent established with the February team and look at the Hall of Famers born in July.

The July All-Hall Team
With a little creative license, this turns out to be the first month we've looked at in which we can build an entire team of Hall of Famers -- taking liberties by including a couple of players who entered the Hall as managers and if we just admit that, eventually, a certain current manager will get into the Hall -- for contributions as a player and as a manager.

Overseeing everything is former commissioner Happy Chandler, who must be quite pleased with a starting rotation of Don Drysdale and Stan Coveleski fronting 19th century stalwarts John Clarkson and Mickey Welch and Negro League star Bullet Joe Rogan. There's Jesse Haines available in long relief -- like that'll ever be necessary! -- with a fair bullpen duo of Satchel Paige and Hoyt Wilhelm.

The July Franks All-Hall Lineup starts with Joe Torre (the "eventual" Hall guy referred to above) behind the plate; Roger Connor is at first base, with Billy Herman -- who really earned his keep more in the middle of the diamond -- across the way at the hot corner. Lou Boudreau is a nice fit on any team, and Pee Wee Reese could play short for just about anyone, but they both need to take a seat for the harmony of Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers, both July babies, turning the keystone. Tinker and Evers may not be the best July middle infielders in the Hall, but why Chance it?

The outfield is ably manned by Heinie Manush, Tommy McCarthy and Casey Stengel -- it's not Bonds, Griffey and Sosa, but they are all Hall of Famers. And who's going to manage this motley crew? Why, that's Leo Durocher over there, resurrecting the old Cubbie College of Coaches as he oversees a braintrust including Stengel, Torre and Boudreau.

For an All-Hall team, this squad sure has a lot of casual fan "Who's that again?" entries, but with Leo the Lip, Ol' Case and others around, it's a sure bet this team won't make too many mental errors.

The July All-Active Team
But mental edge aside, Happy's boys would have no chance against a team of July GM John Hart's "Boys of Summer, Well July Anyway," made up solely of July-born players who are currently active. Start with the best player in the game -- wait, is that Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez? Doesn't matter -- both are on this team. There's a little bit of a reach at second base, but the supporting cast should make up for it without breaking a sweat.

Imagine this starting lineup, which would've shown quite well in Houston last night at the All-Star Game. Torre, again, is managing (providing a nice Torre-Torii combo, but that's for another "All-Name" discussion) a team with at least three future Hall of Famers, a starting rotation Billy Beane would kill for, and a bullpen that -- well, see for yourself:

CF Torii Hunter
SS Nomar Garciaparra
LF Barry Bonds
3B Alex Rodriguez
DH Mike Sweeney
1B Sean Casey
RF Moises Alou
2B Jose Hernandez
C Charles Johnson

RHP Javier Vazquez
LHP C.C. Sabathia
RHP Ben Sheets
RHP Tim Hudson
RHP Jason Jennings

RHP Billy Wagner (CL)
RHP Jose Jimenez
RHP Matt Mantei
RHP Tim Worrell
LHP Buddy Groom

July is for Closers
Speaking of bullpens, July is apparently the ultimate breeding ground for closers. Seriously, with apologies to former Jay closer Joey McLaughlin, who has no shot at making this team, consider that we've already introduced Paige, Wilhelm and Wagner, along with former 40-save guys Jiminez, Mantei and Worrell, as well as LOOGY Groom ... and we're just getting started.

All-time single-season save leader Bobby Thigpen is a July product. So is former Cy Young Award winner Sparky Lyle, who's also another rare lefty arm out of the 'pen. Bill Caudill (another former Jay) and Jack Aker each racked up more than 100 saves in relatively short bursts, while Jeff Shaw reached 200 in a longer timeframe.

The first great Yankee closer -- sorry, Sparky -- was Johnny "Fireman" Murphy, and for a while Moe Drabowsky was an imposing presence coming out to clean up the very occasional messes of Earl Weaver's awesome Baltimore rotations. Teaming with Moe-Drab was the erstwhile Eddie Fisher, insert favorite chess pun here. Oh, and lest we forget -- arguably the most dominant closer in the history of the game, one Rich "Goose" Gossage is a July Frank as well.

Baseball fans, throw in the relief work of the aforementioned Coveleski and McLaughlin, and that's 2,017 saves (so far) warming up on the sidelines for the July Franks.

Crash, Boots, I'll Have a Martini
Before we name the All-July final team, here's a quick look at some of the oddities and other fond memories of the July overall roster: Crash Davis was a July product, but not the one you're thinking of. Crash had nothing to do with traing Nuke Laloosh; he was a utility infielder for the Philadelphia A's of the early 1940's ... A couple of notable Original Jays were July products, including First Ever Overall Expansion Draft Pick Bob Bailor and First Ever Big Trade Acquisition Alan Ashby ... Contoroversial second basemen Mike Andrews, who was fired during the 1974 World Series, and Chuck "Hey, That Was Keith Olbermann's Mother!" Knoblauch came along in July ... Which July player had the best name? It'd be hard to beat the guy with the longest name in major league history, William Van Landingham, but there to try are my personal favorite candidate, Scipio Spinks, and a couple of former righty relievers in Wedo Martini and Boots Poffenberger ...

And now, back to our regularly scheduled team.

Who Else is Available?
Around the rest of the diamond, there are plenty of other July Frank options, though nothing quite as lovely as that bullpen.

In the rotation, in addition to those mentioned above, candidates include solid former front-of-the-staff guys like Doug Drabek, Freddie Fitzimmons, Larry Jansen, Steve Stone (for one year, anyway) and Mario Soto. If we're looking for some lefty balance on this staff, there's the youngest man to ever make the majors in Joe Nuxhall -- but maybe he should stick to the radio booth and give way to 1970's fireballing lefties Vida Blue and Frank Tanana.

Torre and Johnson don't get a lot of competition behind the plate -- former All-Star Gus Triandos and Molina Brother Bengie are the best of a weak lot.

First base is home to four former All-Stars in Lean "Bull" Durham, Whitey Lockman, Ron Fairly and Jason Thompson -- even with Casey, Sweeney and Connor around, this may be the weakest position on the team. Connor, with a robust OPS+ of 154 in the dead-ball era and a career 1B range factor better than 10, likely deserves the nod.

Additional middle infield challenges to the Tinker/Evers duo might well come from second sackers Larry Doyle and Willie Randolph, or from slick-fielding, light-hitting shortstops Don Kessinger (another former player/manager) and Roy McMillan.

We're pretty set at third base -- that A-Rod guy -- but former MVP Terry Pendleton, former All-Time White Sox home run leader Bill Melton, Grampa Ray Boone, Robin "Nolan Ryan's Punching Bag" Ventura, Mike "Post-Williams, Post-Rice" Greenwell and Coors-dependent Vinny Castilla can all stake legitimate claims to roster spots.

The outfield, as with most month teams, is quite deep; in addition to those already mentioned, we'll have to consider Gary Matthews (the senior, not the junior), Tony Armas (the senior, not the junior), Mickey Stanley (the outfielder, not the World Series shortstop), former Rookie of the Year Marty Cordova, Murderer's Row participant Bob Meusel, speedy Willie Wilson, another former MVP in Andre Dawson, Wally Post, Lance Johnson, Greg Vaughn, Preston Wilson, Richard Hidalgo, Doc Cramer -- did you know he had more than 2,700 career hits? -- and sweet-swinging Tony Oliva. The latter's injury problems might limit him to DH duties, though.

But does this team need a designated hitter? Meaning, someone who actually was a DH, not just the best remaining hitter on the roster? Okay, sure. In addition to Oliva, how about Hal McRae, who was the best DH of the 1970's, with a dash of Jose Canseco, who will not be allowed to play the outfield, thrown in? Alas, Jose's twin brother Ozzie -- natch, another July arrival -- didn't quite measure up to the standards of the Franks roster.

Finally, the All-July Team
So here's the final July roster, with a nod to versatility on the bench:

CF Heinie Manush
SS Nomar Garciaparra
LF Barry Bonds
3B Alex Rodriguez
RF Andre Dawson
DH Jose Canseco
C Joe Torre
1B Roger Connor
2B Billy Herman

C Charles Johnson
Cor. IF Ray Boone
Mid. IF Pee Wee Reese
OF Mickey Stanley
Utility Cesar Tovar

SP Don Drysdale (R)
SP Vida Blue (L)
SP Tim Hudson (R)
SP Joe Rogan (R)
SP Frank Tanana (L)

CL Rich Gossage (R)
RP Sparky Lyle (L)
RP Hoyt Wilhelm (R)
RP Billy Wagner (L)
RP Buddy Groom (LOOGY)
RP Satchel Paige (Anyone, Any time)

For what it's worth, only four players have been born on Canada Day and played in the majors since the birth of the Blue Jays (Jamie Walker, Tony Walker, Kerry Dineen and Jim Otten), though none have ever played for Toronto. Five more have made it to the majors dating back to the birth of Les Expos (Billy Rohr, Craig Anderson, Ron Nischwitz, Dick Drott and Frank Baumann), but none of the nine have ever played for Montreal, either.

Okay, Boxers ... fire away.
Lingua Franco: The All-July Team | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_IainS - Wednesday, July 14 2004 @ 04:16 PM EDT (#32296) #
I'm kinda interested to see what the all April team looks like... The ones born 9 months after the allstar break.
Mike Green - Wednesday, July 14 2004 @ 04:20 PM EDT (#32297) #
My choices:

Lou Boudreau plays short and leads off. Billy Herman bats second. Dawson plays center. Oliva plays right and hits between Rodriguez and Dawson. Nomar to the bench, and Manush doesn't make the club. Cesar Tovar was great, but I'd rather have Nomar on the bench.

Satch is my #1 starter. Soto or Drabek also make the rotation. I don't know enough about Rogan to make any comments about him. Tanana and Drysdale don't make the club.
Mike Green - Wednesday, July 14 2004 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#32298) #
Actually, it's a really, really interesting call at second base. Evers, Doyle, Herman and Randolph are all players of the same general quality. Herman actually got on base (bearing in mind the context of the 30s) the least of all these guys, and the lineup has plenty of sock and not enough runners on. You can make a nice case for Willie Randolph instead of Herman and bat him second. We've got to get runners on for Barry.
_Evair Montenegr - Wednesday, July 14 2004 @ 09:40 PM EDT (#32299) #
I think Billy Wagner is left handed no right handed.
_Mick - Thursday, July 15 2004 @ 09:43 AM EDT (#32300) #
Evair, of course you are right. The "(R)" next to Wagner's name was a cut-and-paste error on my part. The bullpen is R-L-R-L with the LOOGY and Satch at the back end.

Mike, I agree that second base was the hardest call and Randolph probably would be the better choice (I go out of my way to not be accused of pro-Yankee sentiment around here and I'd already made allowances for Torre on the "Hall of Fame" team). As for Tovar, true, he's sort of the "one of these things is not like the others" player on the roster, but for bench purposes, he, Stanley and Boone were the most versatile legitimate big leaguers of the July guys.

All that said, it's not really meant to be an explanation or defense ... the whole point of these teams is the fun of the argument, much as with Neyer's "Big Book of Baseball Lineups" deal.
Mike Green - Thursday, July 15 2004 @ 11:16 AM EDT (#32301) #
It's funny, Mick. Willie Randolph was an underappreciated Yankee, at least among the non-Yankee fan. As was Rickey Henderson for that matter (he received more acclaim for his basestealing flash with the A's of the early 80s, than his greatness with the Yankees of the mid 80s). I guess if you're a Yankee, having a WS ring is what it's all about.

Anyways, I'd love it if JP could steal Willie away to manage the Fighting Jays at the end of this season. Hope springs eternal.
Lingua Franco: The All-July Team | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.