George Brett’s 1980 batting average of .390 is second only to Tony Gwynn’s 1994 average of .394 for the highest single-season batting average since 1941. Brett also recorded 118 runs batted in, while appearing in just 117 games; it is the first instance of a player averaging one RBI per game (in more than 100 games) since Walt Dropo thirty seasons prior. He led the American League in both slugging and on-base percentage. This piece commemorates George’s incredible MVP season of 1980 as he led the Kansas City Royals to the 1980 World Series.
To say Johnny Lee Bench caught for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983 is like saying Evel Knievel used to ride a motorcycle in a jumpsuit. Simply put, he took the catcher position to a whole new place. A member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a 14-time All-Star selection and a two-time National League Most Valuable Player, Johnny was the on-field leader of “The Big Red Machine”. His 389 home runs and 1,376 RBIs were enough to enshrine him in Cooperstown but his work behind the plate is what made him him the greatest catcher in baseball history. Johnny had a monopoly on the National League Gold Glove award from 1968 through 1977. This piece commemorates that accomplishment.
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Mickey Charles Mantle played his entire Major League Baseball career with the New York Yankees as a center fielder and first baseman, from 1951 through 1968. Mantle was one of the best players and sluggers, and is regarded by many as the greatest switch hitter in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.
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Roberto Enrique Clemente was a Puerto Rican professional baseball player. Clemente spent 18 Major League Baseball seasons playing in the National League (NL) as a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined. His untimely death established the precedent that, as an alternative to the five-year retirement period, a player who has been deceased for at least six months is eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame.
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Roland Glen Fingers is an American retired professional baseball pitcher. Fingers pitched in Major League Baseball for the Oakland Athletics (1968–76), San Diego Padres (1977–80) and Milwaukee Brewers (1981–85). Fingers is a three-time World Series champion, a seven-time MLB All-Star, a four-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, and three-time MLB saves champion. Fingers won the American League Most Valuable Player Award and Cy Young Award in 1981.
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Bob Gibson played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1959–75 and tallied 251 wins, 3,117 strikeouts, and a 2.91 earned run average during his career. A nine-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, he won two Cy Young Awards and the 1968 National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. In 1981, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. The Cardinals retired his uniform number 45 in September 1975 and inducted him into the team Hall of Fame in 2014.
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Lawrence Eugene Doby was the second black player to break baseball’s color barrier. A native of Camden, South Carolina and three-sport all-state athlete while in high school in Paterson, New Jersey, Doby accepted a basketball scholarship from Long Island University. At 17 years of age, he began his professional baseball career with the Newark Eagles as the team’s second baseman. Doby joined the United States Navy during World War II. His military service complete, Doby returned to baseball in 1946, and along with teammate Monte Irvin, helped the Eagles win the Negro League World Series.
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Wilver Dornell “Willie” Stargell (March 6, 1940 – April 9, 2001), nicknamed “Pops” in the later years of his career, was an American professional baseball player. He played his entire Major League Baseball career (1962–1982) as the left fielder and first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League (NL). Over his 21-year career with the Pirates, he batted .282, with 2,232 hits, 423 doubles, 475 home runs, and 1,540 runs batted in, helping his team capture six NL East division titles, two National League pennants, and two World Series (1971, 1979). Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.
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Nicknamed “Stan the Man”, Musial spent 22 seasons playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, from 1941 to 1944 and 1946 to 1963. Widely considered to be one of the greatest and most consistent hitters in baseball history, Musial was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969, and was also selected to the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 2014.
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Joe Leonard Morgan (born September 19, 1943) is a former Major League Baseball second baseman who played for the Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Oakland Athletics from 1963 to 1984. He won two World Series championships with the Reds in 1975 and 1976 and was also named the National League Most Valuable Player in those years. Considered one of the greatest second basemen of all-time, Morgan was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. He became a baseball broadcaster for ESPN after his retirement, and now hosts a weekly nationally syndicated radio show for Sports USA. He is currently a special adviser to the Reds.
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Michael Jack Schmidt (born September 27, 1949) is an American former professional baseball third baseman who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies. Schmidt was a twelve-time All-Star and a three-time winner of the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player award (MVP), and he was known for his combination of power hitting and strong defense: as a hitter, he compiled 548 home runs and 1,595 runs batted in (RBIs), and led the NL in home runs eight times and in RBIs four times. As a fielder, Schmidt won the National League Gold Glove Award for third basemen ten times. Schmidt was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 and is often considered the greatest third baseman in baseball history.
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Ryne Sandberg established himself as a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove candidate, making 10 consecutive All-Star appearances and winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves from 1983 to 1991. His career .989 fielding percentage was a major-league record at second base when he retired in 1997. Sandberg was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in January 2005;
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