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Do I have a time-waster, for a day with no baseball? Is the bear Catholic? Does a Pope (that's enough of that...)


The other day, Leaside Cowboy made a passing reference to Ted Williams that noted that he was born in San Diego. And because I'm funny that way (and many others ways as well) I immediately thought "I'll bet Ted was the best player ever born in San Diego." And then I wondered - who was the best player born in the other 26 major league cities? How would we know?

This, I submit, is exactly the stupid kind of exercise WAR was made for!

We're going to be purists about this. We're going with Place of Birth. I don't care where they grew up. It's not what's listed on their bb-ref pages. And for Los Angeles, only Los Angeles is acceptable. No Hollywood, no Glendale, no Pasadena. Likewise with New York - only New York will do. No Brooklyn, no Bronx (even if that's where the Yankees actually play) and no Queens.

For Colorado, we use Denver. For Arizona, we use Phoenix. For Minnesota, we have Minneapolis and St. Paul; for Texas, it's Dallas and Fort Worth. We shall rank the cities in order of their representative.

Baltimore - Babe Ruth (183.07)
San Diego - Ted Williams (122.01)
New York - Alex Rodriguez (117.55)
Chicago - Rickey Henderson (111.12)
Miami - Steve Carlton (90.18)

Boston - Jeff Bagwell (79.92)
Cincinnati - Pete Rose (79.61) If Rose is permanantly ineligible, Barry Larkin (70.49) takes his place and Cincinnati slides down a little.
Pittsburgh - Bobby Wallace (76.31)
Minnesota - Paul Moltor (75.63)
Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth) - Clayton Kershaw (74.42)

San Francisco - Harry Heilmann (72.5)
Seattle - Ron Santo (70.49)
Cleveland - Ed Delahanty (69.63)
Los Angeles - Tony Gwynn (69.15)
St.Louis - Max Scherzer (69.04)

Detroit - John Smoltz (68.96)
Milwaukee - Al Simmons (68.16)
Toronto - Joey Votto (64.41)
Colorado (Denver) - Roy Halladay (64.24)
Kansas City - David Cone (62.28)

Oakland - Dennis Eckersley (62.07)
Tampa Bay - Gary Sheffield (60.53)
Atlanta - Bill Terry (56.46)
Philadelphia - Bucky Walters (53.48)
Washington - Doc White (48.63)

Houston - Chuck Knoblauch (44.81)
Arizona (Phoenix) - Solly Hemus (25.86)

The Yankees play in the Bronx, who give us Frank Frisch, which beats hell out of what Queens (home of the Mets) has to offer, the not-so-immortal Chris Stynes. Brooklyn's Lou Whitaker was better than both of them. I certainly would have expected Phoenix to give a better account of itself. They've probably produced better hockey players.

You may have noticed that just 4 of the 31 players who have accumulated at least 100 WAR have been caught up in this weird exercise. Where did the other guys come from? Of course, I had to find out.


Cy Young (163.6) - He came from Gilmore OH, which is an unincorporated township about 170 km south of Cleveland. It's mostly an intersection these days, with what looks like few farm houses on the satellite map. There must be a population of a couple dozen souls, I would think.

Walter Johnson (164.9) - From  Humboldt KS, a little town about 180 km south of Kansas City, population of 1847. Saw lots of activity during the Civil War.

Barry Bonds (162.8) - He and his father are from Riverside CA, which is about 80 km southeast of Los Angeles. It's a good-sized city, population about 315,000, part of the Inland Empire area of California (essentially San Bernardino and Riverside)

Willie Mays (156.1) - A little town on the southwest outskirts of Birmingham, population 2,000.

Ty Cobb (151.5) - From Narrows GA, which is more like a bend in the road near the Alabama border than a town. Current population of about 500, it's about 140 km northwest of Atlanta.

Henry Aaron (143.0) - The Hammer came from a big city, Mobile AL right on the Gulf Coast, some 230 km east of New Orleans. Population these days is about 430,000

Roger Clemens (139.2) - He came from Dayton OH, about 85 km north of Cincinnati. It's another substantial place. The city population is 137,000, but the entire Dayton urban area has some 815,000 people.

Tris Speaker (134.7) - The Grey Eagle was from a tiny place called Hubbard TX, about 115 km south of Dallas. Population 1,558

Honus Wagner (130.8) - Yet another small town kid, in this case from Chartiers Township, PA which is only about 45 km southwest of Pittsburgh. Population 8,000

Stan Musial (128.6) - The Man, and the Griffeys (father and son) are from Donora, PA which is even closer to Pittsburgh than Wagner's Chartiers Township. Current population 4,580

Rogers Hornsby (127.3) - Another small town kid. Winters TX is about 320 km northwest of Austin and the population is 2,560.

Eddie Collins (124.4) - He was from Millerton NY, a tiny little place (population 899) about 100 km south of Albany. That's almost dead centre between Albany and New York City. Collins went to college in the big city, at Columbia.

Pete Alexander (119.3) - Old Pete came from one of the smallest places possible. Elba NE, which is about about 250 km west of Omaha, has a population of 268. It's a half dozen streets off State Highway 11.

Kid Nichols (116.3) - The best player produced by the state of Wisconsin, he was from Madison WI, some 130 km west of Milwaukee, population around 260,000.

Lou Gehrig (113.9) - He was from New York City, of course, and just like A-Rod, he was also born in Manhattan.

Mel Ott (110.8) - Ott was from Gretna LA, which barely exists as its own city anymnore - it's right across the river from New Orleans and has basically been swallowed up by it. Population listed as 18,000

Mickey Mantle (110.2) - Spavinaw OK is another tiny little place, basically half a dozen streets at the west end of Spavinaw Lake, about 112 km east of Tulsa. Population is declining, most recently listed as 426.

Tom Seaver (109.9) - Fresno CA is in the San Joaquin Valley, about 300 km southeast of San Francisco). Population 540,000

Frank Robinson (107.2) - He came from Beaumont TX, about 140 km east of Houston. Population 117,000

Nap Lajoie (106.9) - I think it's pretty cool that little Rhode Island gave birth to an all-time great. Woonsocket is 82 km southwest of Boston, and the home of some 41,000 people.

Lefty Grove (106.8) - Lonaconing, MD is up near the Pennsylvania border, and Grove's little town (1200 people) is closer to Pittsburgh(about 170 km southeast) than it is to Baltimore or Washington.

Mike Schmidt (106.8) - Schmidt, like Roger Clemens, is from Dayton OH. Only two cities have produced a pair of 100 WAR players: New York and Dayton. Go figure.

Greg Maddux (106.6) - Like Hornsby's Winters TX, San Angelo TX is about 330 km northwest of Austin. It's about 70 km from Winters, and is a much more substantial place with a population of 100,000.

Christy Mathewson (106.6) - The Christian Gentleman was from the tiny town (population 1377) of Factoryville PA, about 225 km due north of Philadelphia.

Randy Johnson (101.1) - The Big Unit is from Walnut Creek CA, which is 25 km east of Oakland. So much of California is just one endless city, and who can tell where one ends and another begins. The population of this one is 69,000

Joe Morgan (100.4) - Little Joe was from a little place called Bonham TX, some 115 km northeast of Dallas. Population of 10,295.

Warren Spahn (100.1) - Oh, I think we're all familiar with Buffalo NY.

There are, as yet, no foreign born players. If Albert Pujols had retired after 2016 he'd have made the cut. Since then, he has had "negative value," which is not even a concept I can believe in, but his career WAR has slipped to 99.1.
 
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Mike Green - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 02:58 PM EDT (#417720) #
I did not know (or possibly have forgotten) that Bagwell was born in Boston, Smoltz in Detroit and Eckersley in Oakland. I did remember that Cone was born in KC. What's the significance of these four- leaving or returning home.

When the Red Sox traded Bagwell for Larry Andersen, it was not only a hopelessly one-sided deal but also a trade of a hometown guy. Smoltz in the Doyle Alexander deal was a little better- at least Doyle helped the Tigers win a division title that they had no business winning. Never mind.

When Eckersley came to Oakland and established himself as a legendary closer- doing it in his hometown probably made it sweeter.

And as for Cone leaving KC after his first season, the Royals received Mauro Gozzo, Ed Hearn and Rick Anderson. Nuff said.

Don't trade away hometown heroes!

Magpie - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 03:20 PM EDT (#417721) #
Smoltz I remembered (and Gehrig). Bagwell and Eckersley, I don't think I even knew.

What really strikes me are the tiny, tiny towns some of these guys came from. How do you go from somewhere like Elba Nebraska to the majors?

And just how many great players come from these little wee dots on the map. You get that in hockey, too - Bobby Orr from Parry Sound, Gordie Howe from Floral - that's not even a town anymore, it's just a grain elevator.
Magpie - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 03:43 PM EDT (#417725) #
The Royals actually traded Cone twice, which is taking the whole prophet without honour in his home town a little too far. Of course, the second time they did get the greatest player ever to come out of Queens.
92-93 - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 03:47 PM EDT (#417726) #
If you applied the New York criteria to Toronto, who would be York's best baseball player? John Hiller? Goody Rosen?
Mike Green - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 03:50 PM EDT (#417727) #
Which actually raises a question for me.  Has there ever been a trade of a hometown hero away that has produced a good return for the club?   I can't think of any, but there may be one or two.    OK, let's do some research.  I'll start with Atlanta- they have had quite a few hometown heroes.  They traded Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church. Nah.  (Aside: Brian McCann was born in Athens, Georgia.  That's an upset.)  (Second Aside: Josh Reddick of Careless Whisper walk-up fame was born in Savannah.  That's a better fit).  Strikeout.  Any suggestions, Bauxites?
Mike Green - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 03:59 PM EDT (#417728) #
Wasn't Hiller from Scarborough?  No.  You're right, born in Toronto and grew up in Scarborough.  He was definitely better than Goody Rosen.   By career WAR, Hiller ranks 4th among all relievers behind Rivera, Wilhelm and Gossage and ahead of Lee Smith, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner.  By single season WAR, he had the 2nd best reliever season ever with 7.9 WAR in 1973 (trailing Gossage's 8.2 in 1975 and just ahead of Eichhorn's 1986). 
Mike Green - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#417731) #
Howe was actually born just outside of Floral, which itself is 17 km. from Saskatoon, but his family moved to Saskatoon when he was 9 days old. 


Magpie - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 04:22 PM EDT (#417732) #
The Cardinals traded Joe Garagiola! They traded Jerry Reuss, too, and were punished for it.

The Mets traded Ken Singleton, in the Rusty Staub deal.

Bill Singer was part of the big package that went to the Angels in the Messersmith trade.
GabrielSyme - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 04:28 PM EDT (#417733) #
Not that it matters, but Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens are all part of New York City - the other boroughs being Manhattan and Staten Island.

I was surprised that Queens hasn't produced anyone of note. The only good player whose borough of birth I couldn't pin down was Edgar Martinez, who was born in New York to immigrant Puerto Rican parents, but who moved back to Puerto Rico when only two to live with his grandparents after his parents split up. Not likely that he was born in Queens, though - the core of the Puerto Rican community is in the Bronx.

It would be interesting to do this by state as well.
Mike Green - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 04:37 PM EDT (#417734) #
The Singleton+ trade for Staub was, of course, awful for the Mets.  Hey, the Cardinals did get one decent season of Scipio Spinks for Reuss!  Still bad. 

I didn't remember the particulars of the Messersmith deal- the Dodgers sent Frank Robinson (who still had 2 good season left), Billy Grabarkewitz (who didn't have any good seasons left), Bill Singer (who had 1 good season) left  and Bobby Valentine (who had a couple of years as a somewhat useful utility player) for Messersmith (who gave the Dodgers 4 very good years) and Ken McMullen (about equivalent to Valentine).  If Singer qualifies as a hometown hero, there's a trade which worked out well for the team trading its hometown hero.  Well done, Magpie!
Magpie - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 05:07 PM EDT (#417735) #
It would be interesting to do this by state as well.

Well, okay. But let's forget about players like Cap Anson and Tim Keefe, who spent most of their careers when the pitcher was throwing from 50 feet. Just post 1893 guys for me! The modern world!

Alaska - Curt Schilling 79.49
Alabama - Willie Mays 156.12
Arkansas - Brooks Robinson 78.47
Arizona - Ian Kinsler 54.09
California - Barry Bonds - 162.79

Colorado - Roy Halladay 64.24
Connecticut - Dick McAuliffe 37.59
Delaware - Paul Goldschmidt 55.46
Florida - Steve Carlton 90.18
Georgia - Ty Cobb 151.46

Hawaii - Charlie Hough 38.42
Iowa - Red Faber 64.01
Idaho - Harmon Killebrew 60.28
Illinois - Rickey Henderson 111.12
Indiana - Scott Rolen 70.11

Kansas - Walter Johnson 164.90
Kentucky - Pee Wee Reese 68.43
Louisiana - Mel Ott 110.84
Massachusetts - Tom Glavine 80.70
Maryland - Babe Ruth 183.07

Maine - Freddy Parent 35.93
Michigan - Charlie Gehringer 84.76
Minnesota - Paul Molitor 75.63
Missouri - Max Scherzer 69.04
Mississippi - Chet Lemon 55.64

Montana - Dave McNally 25.54
North Carolina - Gaylord Perry 90.04
North Dakota - Darin Erstad 32.32
Nebraska - Pete Alexander 119.26
Nevada - Bryce Harper 42.87

New Hampshire - Chris Carpenter 34.16
New Jersey - Mike Trout 79.86
New Mexico - Ralph Kiner 48.06
New York - Eddie Collins 124.35
Ohio - Cy Young 163.62

Oklahoma - Mickey Mantle 110.18
Oregon - Mickey Lolich 48.01
Pennsylvaniq - Honus Wagner 130.78
Rhode Island - Nap Lajoie 108.92
South Carolina - Willie Randolph 65.94

South Dakota - Mark Ellis 33.51
Tennessee - Todd Helton 61.75
Texas - Tris Speaker 134.72
Utah - Bruce Hurst 34.12
Virginia - Justin Verlander 74.72

Vermont - Carlton Fisk 68.45
Washington - Ron Santo 70.49
Wisconsin - Kid Nichols 116.29
West Virginia - George Brett 88.60
Wyoming - Dick Ellsworth 20.07

D.C. - Doc White 48.63
Puerto Rico - Roberto Clemente 94.83
U. S. Virgin Islands - Horace Clarke 15.64

Let's go around the world as well!

Aruba - Xander Bogaerts 32.48
Canada - Ferguson Jenkins 84.13
Colombia - Edgar Renteria 32.42
Cuba - Rafael Palmeiro 71.88
Curacao - Andruw Jones 62.71

Dominican Republic - Albert Pujols 99.11
Germany - Glenn Hubbard 19.18
Jamaica - Chili Davis 38.26
Japan - Ichiro Suzuki 60.01
Mexico - Fernando Valenzuela 41.45

Netherlands - Bert Blyleven 94.52
Nicaragua - Dennis Martinez 48.69
Panama - Rod Carew 81.17
Slovakia - Jack Quinn 58.69
South Korea - Shin-Soo Choo 34.63

United Kingdom - Bobby Thomson 33.79
Venezuela - Miguel Cabrera 68.52
Magpie - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 05:14 PM EDT (#417736) #
I always thought Roger Maris was North Dakota's greatest player, but he didn't move there until he was 4 years old. So he's merely the second most famous native of Hibbing Minnesota, and the third greatest player born on September 10. Though Eephus is certainly my favourite.
Magpie - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#417737) #
Fourth greatest! Fourth!
Dewey - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 06:52 PM EDT (#417745) #
Wee Robbie Thomson was no a Sassenach, laddie! Och, aye!; hes a proud native of Scotland.
Mike Green - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 07:24 PM EDT (#417747) #
I thought that Devon Whyte did better than Chili Davis' 38 WAR. He did- 47 WAR- to be Jamaica's leader.
Magpie - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 07:44 PM EDT (#417748) #
Well spotted!
Magpie - Thursday, July 21 2022 @ 09:19 PM EDT (#417750) #
Technically, Dewey, I am correct. Thomson was born after the 1707 Act of Union. Therefore he, like the great Robbie Burns himself, was born in the UK. As utterly and completely wrong as it seems!

Jimmy Austin would be the greatest Englishman, and as far as I can tell no one born in Wales has played in the majors. And almost all of the Irish who played in the majors are from the 19th century.
Dewey - Friday, July 22 2022 @ 11:29 AM EDT (#417774) #
You take me more seriously than I did myself, Magpie. I was just indulging my faux-Scots accent, in print. (Good thing there were no Irish included.) But I applaud your researching the matter. As always, I enjoy your breezy-lore-ish posts.

Bill Voiselle wore the number 96 in honour of his home town, Ninety Six, South Carolina, back in the day. Yes, I think I actually saw him pitch for the old Boston Braves in the late 1940s. Not sure.
Leaside Cowboy - Saturday, July 23 2022 @ 09:40 PM EDT (#417913) #
I did not realize Tony Gwynn was born in Los Angeles. I gather that he grew up in San Diego and became the city's favourite son.

Ted Williams was the last .400 hitter. Since then, Tony Gwynn came the closest by hitting .394 when the 1994 season halted.

They were friends. Later in his career, Gwynn enjoyed a power surge when he followed William's advice to pull the ball and punish pitchers for throwing inside.
hypobole - Sunday, July 24 2022 @ 08:50 PM EDT (#417981) #
Magpie, saw this and thought of your post

A quiz:

Two players share the record for most home runs by a player born in Michigan. John Mayberry is one of them. Who is the other?
Leaside Cowboy - Tuesday, July 26 2022 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#418023) #
My first guess was Derek Jeter (260 homers) but he was raised in Michigan and born in New Jersey.

Tied with Big John Mayberry Sr. at 255...

Hint: also played in Michigan.
mathesond - Tuesday, July 26 2022 @ 10:59 AM EDT (#418027) #
It was who I thought it was.

He also played college football in Michigan.
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