The Last Man Standing, Year-by-Year

Saturday, July 14 2007 @ 10:47 PM EDT

Contributed by: Mick Doherty

Every once in a while,wandering -- okay, "surfing," if you must -- the Web allows you to discover something, quite accidentally that is, as the old Vulcan Spock used to intone, "simply fascinating.'

One place good for such surfing is the wonderful baseball site, second perhaps only to the genius of on the entirety of the Web for MLB historical nuggets. Just this week, I was, um, researching something very important at work (yeah, that's it) when I stumbled upon the Last Player Standing/Born in Each Year page at the Almanac, which is essentially a monument to long-lasting players, listing ...

... as they put it, "the last player standing on the field from their respective year of birth." The list goes back to Jake Knowdell, born in 1840 and still playing in 1878 as a .214-hitting utilityman. Well, to be fair, the word "still" there is a little misleading, since that was in fact the ONLY time Knowdell spent in the majors, with the 1878 Milwaukee Cream Citys.

The names, even of the distant players born in the mid-19th-century, start to ring recognition bells for well-read baseball fans ... Lip Pike, Deacon White, Jim O'Rourke, Cap Anson.

The list includes active players, too, including names you'll know like Clemens and Moyer (1962), Johnson and Wells (1963) and Bonds (1964). The list stops at 1965 (Biggio, Finley, Hernandez, Sierra) for now, because as of the 2007 season, the born-in-1966ers still had at least 10 candidates to be the last man standing.

The youngest players on the "Last Man Standing List" were both 33; they were never actually teammates, though nearly so -- Jack Chapman (born 1843) with the 1876 Louisville Grays and Bill Craver (born 1844) with the '77 Grays. The oldest, of course, are on the list as a bit of a stunt -- Minnie Minoso (born 1922) had a brief cameo (0-for-2 in three games as a DH) with the 1980 White Sox at the age of 57 while Satchel Paige pitched his last extraterrestrial innings for the KC Athletics at the age of 58 ... Nick Altrock also made a cameo at 57, while Jim O'Rourke did so at 54 ...

Building a respectable Hall of (Age) Names team from this list of players really shouldn't be all that hard -- generally speaking, it's the best of best who hang around the longest; for instance, Musial, Spahn, Eckersley, Molitor, Winfield and (Ted) Williams are all on the list

To expand our options just a bit, we will relax the rules on positional eligibility. That is, any position one of the Last Men Standing played regularly at any point in his career is fair game for this roster -- Pete Rose (born 1941/played through 1986) is not locked into his late career slap-hitting 1B role, but could play 2B, 3B, LF or RF, all of which are positions he played regularly in his retrospectively controversial time in the game.

To concurrently limit ourselves just a tad, we will actually build two teams, of the 59 Last Men standing born before 1900 and the 66 Last Men Standing born since that time. Players born in years for which there are still more than one player active (see above) are not yet eligible as we don't know who will be last just yet.

Let's see which squad would be better ...

Born 1900 and Later
# indicates also managed at MLB level
** indicates Hall of Famer

C Yogi Berra#** (1925/1965)
1B Stan Musial** (1920/1963)
2B Paul Molitor** (1956/1998)
SS Maury Wills#** (1932/1972)
3B Brooks Robinson** (1937/1977)
LF Ted Williams** (1918/1960)
CF Willie Mays** (1931/1973)
RF Hank Aaron** (1934/1976)
DH Frank Robinson#** (1935/1976)

C Al Lopez#** (1908/1947)
IF Red Schoendienst#**
IF Julio Franco (1959/2007)
OF Reggie Jackson** (1946/1987)
OF Tim Raines (1959/2002)
UTIL Pete Rose# (1941/1986)

RHSP Gaylord Perry** (1938/1983)
LHSP Warren Spahn** (1921/1965)
RHSP Nolan Ryan** (1947/1993)
LHSP Tommy John (1943/1989)
RHSP Phil Niekro** *1939/1987)

CL-RH Dennis Eckersley** (1954/1998)
LHRP Jesse Orosco (1957/2003)
RHRP Charlie Hough (1948/1994)
LHRP John Franco (1960/2005)
RHRP Satchel Paige** (1906/1965)

Among those not making the cut: Gil Hodges, Dennis Martinez, Fred Lynn, Brian Downing, Don Sutton, Graig Nettles, Larry Andersen. Smokey Burgess, Lew Burdette, Sal Maglie, Enos Slaughter, Dizzy Trout, Birdie Tebbets, Elston Howard, Rick Ferrell, Ted Lyons, Red Ruffing, Guy Bush

The Post-1900 roster is a true Hall of Names rarity -- every single member of the starting lineup is in the Hall of Fame, as are six of the 10 members of the pitching staff, while the six-man bench has three more, plus one who should be (Raines) and one who isn't eligible (Rose) ... The team also has five alumni who went on to manage in the big leagues ...

Born Before 1900
# indicates also managed at MLB level
** indicates Hall of Famer

C Jim "Deacon" McGuire# (1863/1912)
1B Dan Brouthers** (1858/1904)
2B Bid McPhee** (1859/1899)
SS Bill Dahlen# (1870/1911)
3B Jimmy Dykes# (1896/1939)
LF Tommy Leach 91877/1918)
CF Ty Cobb#** (1886/1928)
RF Fred Clarke#** (1872/1915)
DH Cap Anson#** (1852/1897)

OF/UTIL Jim O'Rourke#** (1850/1904)
SS/IF Ivy Olson (1885/1924)
2B/RHP Kid Gleason# (1866/1912)
SS/3B/RHP Bobby Wallace#** (1873/1918)
3B/C/OF Deacon White (1847/1890)
1B/OF/RHP Dave Foutz (1856/1896)
1B Roger Connor#** (1857/1897)
SS/1B Hughie Jennings#** (1869/1918)
OF Patsy Donovan# (1865/1907)

RHSP Cy Young#** (1867/1911)
LHSP Eddie Plank** (1875/1917)
RHSP Grover Cleveland Alexander** (1887/1930)
RHSP Jesse Haines** (1893/1937)
RHSP Stan Coveleski** (1889/1928)

RHP Jack Quinn (1883/1932)
LHP Nick Altrock (1875/1933)
For the rest, see Bench

Among those not making the cut: Sam Jones, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hod Lisenbee, Joe Start, Dazzy Vance, Dolf Luque, Charlie Root, Burt Shotton, Jimmy Austin, Dave Shean, Lip Pike, Fielder Jones, Dummy Hoy, Mike Dorgan

The Pre-1900 roster is structured a bit differently since so many of our bench players also had significant pitching experience -- this meant we could cut the number of relievers kept to just two, one righty and one lefty, and expand the bench to hold no less than nine-- not to worry about any overtaxing of the "bullpen" though -- that five-man rotation (all five are in the Hall of Fame) combined to complete two thousand and twenty-eight (that's right -- 2,028) starts! ...

Amazingly, more than half of this team's roster, 13 players, went on to manage in the big leagues ... Of course, in several cases, the very reason they were the "Last Man Standing" for their birth year is that they activated themselves for a few games at some point in their 40s ...

So, which of these teams (modern bias aside, please) is better? And who among active players will be eligible to join The Last Man Standing squad eventually?