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As Spring Training draws to a close and the brilliant specter of another Opening Day looms, it's time to present the 10th of what will be 12 "all-month" teams for your discussion and mocker ... er, analysis.

As we suggested back when we introduced the less than spectacularly-named December Holidays, the obvious name for this month's team is the March Hares. If you think that means the roster will be made up of speedsters and run like Whitey's old Cardinals, well, we'll see.

But at least we have a couple of obvious captains for the team; although former Herzog All-Star 2B Tommy Herr just missed qualifying for this team (his birthday is on April 4), his namesake Ed Herr, who played 66 games at several positions for the 1887-90 Indians and Cardinals, is on board. And more to the point is former DET, NYM and TEX OF Shawn Hare, who hit .174 in 64 games from 1991-95.

Now, as for the rest of the team, as with all the other months (see links below; April and May coming soon), this is a squad made up entirely of players born in the month of March.

All-January || All-February || All-March || All-April || All-May || All-June ||
All-July || All-August || All-September || All-October || All-November || All-December || What's Next?

We'll start by using a precedent established with the February team and look at the Hall of Famers born in March. Unfortunately, unlike past months, we won't be able to build a separate All-Hall team for March, because right off the bat (literally) we can see that no Hall of Fame Catcher has ever been born near the Ides. And unless Benny Santiago has a Ruben Sierra-esque career renaissance and catches into Fisk territory, no active player seems in danger of changing that circumstance.

That's not to say March isn't well-represented in Cooperstown; 17 March men are there, including manager Miller Huggins, umpire Bill McGowan and 15 players. And some mighty fine players; for instance, remember back when we introduced the All-Johnson Hall of Names team and suggested it might have the greatest RHSP and the greatest LHSP in baseball history? Well, the March Hares might have a little something to say about that; among those Hall of Famers bearing a March birthstone are a righty so good they named an award after him -- perhaps you've heard of Cy Young? And from the other side of the rubber, a lefty so good, they just called him "Lefty" -- Mr. Grove, of course.

Of course, once you've got 811 career wins from your first two starters, it makes the rest of the rotation, with 607 wins among the three of them, all right-handers, seem like pikers. Dazzy Vance won "only" 197 career games, but captured the 1924 MVP and had the worst career run support of any pitcher in the Hall of Fame; Joe McGinnity had eight straight 20-plus win seasons and was 35-8 for the 1904 NYG; and John Montgomery Ward wrapped up just over half of his career wins in a two-season run for the 1879-80 Providence Grays, for whom he was 86-43. Ward seems likely to make the team ahead of his other rotation mates, thanks in part to his .275 career batting average and more than 2100 career hits in more than 1500 games primarily playing 2B, SS and the OF.

Ward is also the only March Hare who played much 2B in his career, but the rest of the infield is covered well enough with an old-time trio of George Sisler at 1B, Arky Vaughan at SS and Frank "Home Run" Baker at the hot corner. If you're thoroughly disgusted by Sisler's failure to hang on to the all-time single-season hits record snagged by Ichiro! last season, there's always Pops Stargell, who actually played far more games in the OF than at 1B.

Oh, but the March Hall of Fame outfield is stacked; there's no Willie Mays to be found in the bunch, but it's a deep and talented group. Sam Thompson hit .331 over 15 years in the big leagues; Richie Ashburn was at .308 with 2574 hits, while Lloyd Waner accumulated 2459 hits on is way to a .316 career average. If you want power from the OF, you're not limited to Kirby Puckett's 207 career homers (that were part of 2304 hits and a .318 average), as Mel Ott slammed 511 homers, back when that number was quite a lot. When he retired early in the 1947 season, Ott held National League marks for career home runs, runs scored, RBI, and walks.

Past months seem to have provided far richer family tree info, so perhaps we're missing some for March. Will you settle for Jared "nephew of Ryne" Sandberg, Jim "brother of Graig" Nettles and Tom "father of Ben" Grieve?

Well, there were a few more -- that mid-1970's Texas Ranger outfield sure was productive, for instance, as not only did a 20-homer guy (Grieve) sire a Rookie of the Year, but the '74 AL MVP (Jeff Burroughs) produced a son, Sean, who was the Little League World Series MVP, anyway. Speaking of MVP dads, another March birthday belonged to Bobby Bonds, whose son wrapped up seven of those MVP things before the headlines recently veered another direction.

And as we have said previously, given the number of options, most months you're bound to run into a Bell, a Boone or an Alou -- in March, we hit two out of three, with Jesus (brother of Felipe and Matty, uncle to Moises) Alou and Aaron (brother to Bret, son of Bob, grandson of Ray) Boone.

Now, on to the non-Hall-of-Fame March team options.

As noted, no Hall of Famers here, but we do have five solid All-Stars, including one All-Star Game MVP in Terry Steinbach. You also have the solid but unspectacular Butch Wynegar, and the even more solid but equally unspectacular Del Crandall, who won four Gold Gloves. The aforementioned Santiago won three Gold Gloves -- and four Silver Slugger awards; funny, I would've guessed he'd have more of the former and fewer of the latter. The ultimate free-swinger was also a March baby, and was also once traded for a manager, the ex-Pirate Manny Sanguillen, who hit .296 over 13 seasons in the big leagues.

With Sisler and Stargell on board, first base is already in good hands, but a few other Aquamarine arrivals bear mentioning. George Scott may be the best of those, as "Boomer" hit 271 career homers and won eight Gold Gloves; a contemporary of Scott's was former Red, Astro and Oriole Lee May who once had 11 consecutive 20-plus homer seasons, but is best known (infamously) as the centerpiece in the trade to Houston that sent Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham and Cesar Geronimo to the Reds.

More contemporary March first sackers include Will "Thrill" Clark, who retired with 2175 hits and a .303 career batting average, and current White Sox slugger Paul Konerko, who finally reached his long-awaited 40-homer potential in 2004. Back in the day, Lu Blue hit .287 in 13 seasons for the Dodgers, but is included here mostly because his name is fun to say.

As mentioned, only the pitcher-utilityman JM Ward was a March-born Hall of Famer who played 2B; that could change in seven or eight years, as Jeff Kent comes eligible for Cooperstown; Mike Green has suggested that Kent probably should but might not get in. But other than Kent, we're more or less left with Jonnie Ray, an All-Star with the Pirates and Angels in the '80s and Cookie Rojas, who had 1660 hits over 16 big league seasons. Another solid guy who played in the pre-All-Star era was Cleveland's Bill Wambsganss, but when you're remembered 85 years later essentially for one play rather than your career, what does that say?

With Baker coming over from the Hall of Fame list, it's not going to hurt too much that March has not been kind to the hot corner.

Do you go with Marty McManus, who hit .289 with more than 1900 career hits for SLB, DET and BOS from 1920-34? Or the more recent Travis Fryman, also mostly with DET, who posted a career line of .284/223/1022? Actually, realistically, the best March-born 3B in MLB history, with apologies to Baker, was the irascible Richie "Dick" Allen, who actually played more games at 1B than 3B in his career. The 1972 AL MVP ended his career at .292 with 351 homers.

It'll be tough to beat out Vaughan for the shortstop assignment on this team, but there are some worthy candidates. Johnny Logan was a four-time All-Star with MLN; Woody English was the first-ever NL All-Star SS, representing the CHC in 1933.

For the more modern names you'll know, there's Bert Campaneris, who led AL in SB six times; Garry Templeton, the .271-batting switch-hitter who ended his career with 2096 knocks and the memorable "if I ain't startin', I ain't departin'" analysis of his All-Star status; and even Cris Guzman, who moves from MIN to WSH this season, with a chance to lead the NL in triples for the first time -- something he did in the AL in three of his six seasons.

As we've already seen, quite a nice outfield -- say, Puckett-Ashburn-Ott from left to right -- can be formed with March Hall of Famers, with leftovers for an entire backup outfield (say, Keeler-Thompson-Waner) still remaining.

Oh, but the options don't stop there, as we have a virtual March of All-Stars (sorry) ready to audition for the Hares' outfield. For instance, if you want your kid to win an MVP some day, make sure he's born in March and plays the outfield. Dale Murphy (NL, 1982-83), Jim Rice (AL 1978), Jeff Burroughs (AL 1974), Jackie Jensen (AL 1958) and Hank Sauer (NL 1952) all had aquamarine birthstones.

Here are some other names you'll know, virtually all of whom received significant MVP votes in their careers, though none ever won the award: Darryl Strawberry, Joe Carter, Bobby Bonds, Bobby Abreu (and he may win one yet), Raul Mondesi, Steve Finley, Jimmy Wynn, 1953 NL batting champ Carl Furillo and Ron Gant; toss Jim Lemon, who had back-to-back 30/100 seasons for 1959-60 WSH and Tommy Holmes, who held NL consecutive game hit streak record until Rose broke it in 1978, into the mix.

Nice options. Somebody may have to DH. Which brings us to ...

Now, normally when we put together these "Hall of Names" teams, we don't have a separate slot for designated hitters or utility players, but some special exceptions make the March Hares the first team to do so.

For instance, Harold Baines was born in March. Baines appeared in 2830 games in his MLB career, and only played the field in 1060 of them. With the possible exception of Edgar Martinez, nobody in the history of the game has quite defined "designated hitter" as a full-time position as much as Baines. The man amassed 2866 hits in 22 years, retiring with a batting average of .289 and 384 home runs -- and as Texas Ranger fans no doubt recall with a pang of regret, was once traded for Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez.

And for that pesky "UTIL" position, there are two fine candidates in the ageless Shawon Dunston and post-WWII Red Sox/White Sox handyman Billy Goodman, a career .300 hitter for 16 seasons; both Dunston and Goodman played every position on the diamond except catcher.

We've already identified Miller Huggins as the Hall of Fame manager of this crew, but a couple of other guys might make nice bench coaches, in Billy Southworth and Clarence "Cito" Gaston. Both carved out decent-but-not-great major league playing careers as outfielders, and both went on to manage two World Champions -- Gaston back-to-back in Toronto and Southworth one apiece for St. Louis and the Boston Braves.

Oh, and in case we're looking for a General Manager, a hotshot young Mets outfielder who never really panned out as a major league player came along in March -- fella by the name of Beane.

Look, we already nailed down a pretty nice five-man rotation just with the Hall of Famers, but if we want to grab another lefty and give fair shots to the rest of the baseball world, we should take a look at some of the many other starting pitchers who first graced the world in the month of March. Besides, some may end up awfully good candidates for the bullpen.

From the right side, we do have at least one potential future Hall of Famer in Kevin Brown (207-137 through 2004), while Denny McLain was 55-15 in winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 1968-69 (but only 76-76 for the rest of his career). Other notables include Mort Cooper (128-75, three straight 20-win seasons for STL during WWII); Vic Raschi (132-66); Lon Warneke (192-121); Vern Law (182-147); the dominant-when-healthy James Rodney Richard (107-71) and the dominant-when-high Dock Ellis (138-119). Oh, and three-fourths of Billy Martin's overworked 1980 Oakland "the complete game boys" pitching staff, were March righties -- Mike Norris, Rick Langford and Steve McCatty.

From the left side, March brought us the defending 2004 Cy Young Award winner in Johan Santana (sporting a remarkable 42-18 career record to date), as well as some March LHSP company for Grove in the Hall of Fame, long about 2012, in the person of Tom Glavine. Others in the hunt for a roster spot are Mark Buehrle (69-45 so far), John Smiley (126-103) and Bruce Hurst (145-113) with a longshot in swingman Terry Mulholland (124-140 but still going).

There's really shockingly little to work with here, compared to some of the other months which have seen dozens of All-Star relievers with literally thousands of combined career saves. The best of a limited lot for the March Hares include righties Jim Konstanty (one of the first great relievers, made his name with the '50 Whiz Kids), the beanpole Kent Tekulve (184 sves in 1050 games) and Ted Abernathy (148 career saves); then there are some pan-flashers like Mike McDougal, Jorge Julio and Jim Kern, with Danny Kolb still a possibility for that list of short-timers.

Not to be crass and dark, but the left side of the bullpen seems pretty much limited to a drug addict and a cancer patient in Steve Howe, the 1980 NL Rookie of the Year, and Scott Radinsky, who put up 42 wins and 52 saves from 1990-2001.

March brought us both OF Lee King and RHRP Mel Queen (the elder), neither of whom ever played for the Royals ... If you think Brian Jordan, mentioned above, is the only two-sport athlete born in March, check out these names: James Lofton, Jim Brown and Roberto Duran ... and speaking of two-sport athletes, the best player born on St. Patrick's Day -- okay, the best two-sport player whose best sport wasn't baseball born on St. Patrick's Day -- was Toronto Celtic Green Jay Danny Ainge ...

There's quite a paucity of attention-grabbing names on the March roll call, but Skeeter Barnes and Win Remmerswaal probably deserve to be mentioned in passing, which they just were ... and then there's Pete Gray. Nothing but blandness in his name, but until Jim Abbott came along, Gray was baseball's only one-armed player and he remains its only one-armed position player, batting .218 for the 1945 St. Louis Browns.

Since this team takes its name from the animal kingdown, let's also pay homage to the following March-born ballplayers: Pete Fox, Chick Davies, Vince Horsman, Shooty Babitt, Art Herring, Frank Bird, Doug Bird Jake Flowers, Lyman Lamb, Chick Fraser, Joe Bean, Don Rose, Mellie Wolfgang, William Coon George Crowe and Jim Panther. And of course, Shawn Hare.

The presence of Ward on the bench gives us the versatility to cut the pitching staff back to a post-expansion unthinkable total of just nine. Your 25-man roster, then ...

**Hall of Famer
* All-Star

MGR Miller Huggins
Bench Coaches: Billy Southworth. Cito Gaston
C Benito Santiago*
1B George Sisler**
2B Jeff Kent*
SS Arky Vaughan**
3B Dick Allen*
LF Kirby Puckett**
CF Richie Ashburn**
RF Mel Ott**
DH Harold Baines*

C Del Crandall*
IF Bert Campaneris* (played all nine positions in one game)
OF Dale Murphy*
OF Lloyd Waner**
SS/3B Travis Fryman*
PH Willie Stargell**
P/UTIL: John Montgomery Ward**

Rotation: (RLRLX)
RHSP Cy Young**
LHSP Lefty Grove**
RHSP Joe McGinnity**
LHSP Tom Glavine*
RHSP Dazzy Vance**

CL Jim Konstanty* (R)
SET-R Kent Tekulve*
LOOGY Steve Howe*
LONG Johan Santana*

Meet The March Hares | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Nolan - Sunday, March 27 2005 @ 02:09 PM EST (#107647) #
Great job! I love reading these.

My one problem with the team is the inclusion of Travis Fryman and exclusion of Home Run Baker. Fryman, while a solid player, was not in the same league as Baker who racked up a great OPS+ of 135 (compared to 103 for Fryman).

The team does not really need Fryman's ability to play both thrid and SS because the team already has Bert Campaneris and John Montgomery Ward to take over at short if need be.
Mick Doherty - Sunday, March 27 2005 @ 05:17 PM EST (#107673) #
Good points. Fryman was actually the last guy I added to the team, and I do tend to give bench points for versatility, but you're right, it's not really necessary in this case.

Originally I had Allen on the bench as a backup at both corners, with Baker starting, but I think Richie Sunshine was the better choice at 3B to start. I still don't know what to do about the bench, because I don't think Baker brings much to the team off the bench either. We could always bump that spot and carry the exta pitcher, bring Radinsky or Smiley on board as another lefty option.
Mike Green - Sunday, March 27 2005 @ 06:22 PM EST (#107677) #
Willie Stargell marches into the starting lineup as DH, and Harold Baines will be your fifth OF/PH. Please.
Meet The March Hares | 3 comments | Create New Account
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