Category Archives: Baseball Digest

World Series Connections: Keys In The Bullpen

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The 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals enters Game 6 with both teams looking to prove they belong at the top of the mountain as the best team in Major League Baseball. The Texas Rangers have already proven that 2010 was not a fluke, and they’re looking to put the finishing touches on the first franchise title which they were denied just a year ago. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals busted many of the pre-season experts playoff charts when they knocked off the heavily favored Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers to reach the Fall Classic.

With two teams stacked with pitching and offense, the World Series has offered one of the most compelling match ups in recent years. Aside from the lopsided 16-7 score of Game 3, the two teams remaining have combined for a total of 18 runs in the other 4 games of the series. Much of this can be attributed to the great pitching that has kept both of these teams in the series. There are a pair of players, one of each team, that emphasis the importance and evolution of pitching, and they’ve played for both teams during their careers.

Darren Oliver has held the middle innings together for the Texas Rangers all season long. Oliver’s dominance in the middle innings was not an overnight discovery, and his career is a terrific example of how the Rangers have evolved over the years. When Darren Oliver’s career began in Texas during the early 1990’s, he was inserted into the rotation and had moderate success. Like many of the Texas Rangers rotations during the 1990’s, Oliver filled the role as an adequate innings eater supporting an offensive juggernaut that had lineups that included Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Dean Palmer. In his(and the franchise’s) first postseason appearance, he threw 8 innings of 3 run ball in an ALDS loss to the New York Yankees in 1996.

In a July 2004 article in Baseball Digest, Troy Renck of the Denver Post wrote about pitchers like Darren Oliver reviving their careers by adding to their pitching repertoire. Click here to check it out!

Within two years of the postseason appearance, Oliver’s ERA rose to 6.73 during the 1998 season and he was shipped off to the St. Louis Cardinals, which started an seven team(eight, if you include his second tour in Texas) odyssey that lasted a decade and included missing the entire 2005 season. Upon his return to the big leagues in 2006, Oliver became a full time reliever and immediately became a huge component to bullpens in New York and Anaheim. After three seasons in the Angels bullpen, Oliver joined the Rangers for his third tour. His season ERA has remained below 3.00 during his first two years in Texas, and for the last four years straight.

Darren Oliver’s transformation from mid-rotation starter to bullpen ace has played a role in shedding the long held theory that pitchers can’t succeed in the Texas heat. Despite giving up a home run during Game 3, Oliver remains a key factor in the series. For a half-season Cliff Lee continued to dispel the theory of pitching in Texas as well, helping the Rangers in 2010 to their first World Series berth. Despite Lee’s departure for Philadelphia, C.J. Wilson anchors a new era of pitchers who are defying the Texas heat and pushing the Rangers to the brink of their first title. Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando rounded out the rotation with regular season ERAs that sank below 4.00.

The St. Louis Cardinals know all to well about the importance of the relief pitcher, especially with Tony LaRussa at the helm. Aside from his Game 5 bullpen issue involving reliever Jason Motte, LaRussa has mixed and matched his bullpen like he has for his entire career, arguably being the first manager to make a bullpen a focal point of his roster. One such key component of LaRussa’s bullpen is a player who has been around nearly as long as LaRussa, 42 year old Arthur Rhodes.

Rhodes was a long time member of the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners before becoming a journeyman reliever, logging time with 7 different teams over the last 8 years which included missing the entire 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery. Though he has spent 2 decades in the big leagues and reached the postseason four times before joining the St. Louis Cardinals, the 2011 World Series is a career first for the well traveled lefty.

In a June 2001 issue of Baseball Digest, Bob Finnigan of the Seattle Times wrote about pitchers like Arthur Rhodes dealing with injuries and playing through pain. Click here to check it out!

His 2011 season may prove to be the most fascinating of his career. He began the season as a member of the Texas Rangers, and struggled mightily in July. He was put on waivers and passed through in mid-August. Just days later, the St. Louis Cardinals scooped up the veteran, who rebounded with a strong finish in August and September. He has seen action just twice, but has rose to the occasion for both batters he faced. Tony LaRussa has used Rhodes primarily as a left handed specialist since he was acquired, and the choice has paid off nearly perfectly.

With Game 6 pushed back a day, there is little doubt that both Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver could see action as the Texas Rangers try to seal their first franchise championship against the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that looks to even the series and prove the pre-season critics wrong in the best way possible, by extending the season by one more game.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: George Kell

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A ‘country-gentleman” familiar voice of the Detroit Tigers, and a career .306 hitter to boot, George Kell was the epitome of a baseball man. Between his career as a player and as a broadcaster, he spent the better part of 65 years around the game.

George Kell had an impressive major league career than spanned fifteen seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and Baltimore Orioles. In addition to being named an All-Star ten times, Kell batted over .300 nine times, including beating out fellow Hall of Famer Ted Williams for the AL batting title in 1949 while striking out just 13 times that season.

In a July 2006 Baseball Digest article, Bill Dow wrote about fan favorite George Kell. Click here to check out the article!

Kell’s 13 strikeouts in 1949 were par for the course during his playing days. In over 7,500 plate appearances, he struck out just 287 times. By contrast, he walked 621 times during his career. He twice led the league in hits and had 385 career doubles to go along with 50 triples.

After retirement, George Kell began a forty year broadcasting career for the Detroit Tigers that spanned 1957-1996. In 1983, the Veteran’s Committee inducted Kell into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The beloved announcer passed away in his sleep on March 24th, 2009.

Also Born Today:

Hall of Famer George Davis(1870-1940) was a sensational ballplayer at the turn of the century, leading the league in outfield assists before shifting to the infield and leading the league again at the shortstop position. He was the first player in history to hit a triple and a home run in the same game.

Julio Franco(b. 1958) appeared in 23 MLB seasons between 1982 and 2007, despite spending the 1995 season in Japan and playing in Japan, Mexico and South Korea between 1998 – 2000. He played one game as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999.

Mark Bellhorn(b. 1974) played ten seasons in the big leagues, but may be best remembered as a member of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. Bellhorn homered in Game 6 and Game 7 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees, and became the first second baseman to homer in three straight postseason games when he slugged a two run homer against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Roberto Clemente

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For a game that celebrates important milestones, it is appropriate that Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente sits among the greatest ballplayers of all time with exactly 3,000 career hits. At the time of his sudden death at the age of 38 on the New Years Eve of 1973, Clemente was coming off his fifth straight season with a batting average above .300, and thirteenth time overall for his career. There’s no mistaking that Roberto Clemente would have surpassed 3,000 hits and built upon an already impressive resume had his life not been cut short.

That being said, Roberto Clemente’s impact on Major League Baseball and the importance being involved in humanitarian activities has grown tremendously since December 31st, 1972, when Clemente died while escorting supplies to Nicaragua, which had been devastated by an earthquake. Roberto Clemente, in more ways than one, has established himself as a benchmark for excellence on and off the field for future ballplayers.

Born on August 18th, 1934 in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Clemente reached the major leagues as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the age of 20. For a franchise coming off its third straight eighth place finish Clemente offered a glimpse of potential, even if the team finished in eighth once again during his rookie season.

Bart Ripp of the Daily Iowan wrote about the ‘gifted player and extraordinary man’ that Roberto Clemente was in a March 1973 issue. Click here to check it out!

Over the first five seasons of his career, he solidified himself as the every day right fielder. During the off seasons, Clemente played in the Puerto Rican Baseball League. However, a major change in his off season regiment had an impact on the rest of his career. During the off season before the 1959 season, Clemente served with the United States Marine Corps Reserves, which added ten pounds to his frame and contributed to his .296 average during the 1959 season. The off season change proved beneficial, and he continued as a member of the corps through 1964. Beginning in 1960, Clemente hit above .300 eight times and won four NL batting titles along the way.

As Clemente was arriving on the national stage, he was carrying the Pirates with him. For the first time since 1927 the Pirates were facing off against the American League in the Fall Classic, and for the first time in 45 years the Pirates became kings of baseball when they defeated the New York Yankees for their third franchise title. Clemente earned his first of fifteen All-Star nods during the 1960 season, and the first of twelve consecutive Gold Glove Awards.

From 1960 to his final season in 1972, Clemente hit .329 over that span. Over the course of his career, he averaged 200 hits, twice leading the league in that category. Frankly, the right fielder ranked among the top 10 every year in most offensive and defensive categories throughout his career. He secured his only MVP Award in 1966, in the midst of a four year span where he hit a robust .335.

In a September 1971 issue of Baseball Digest, Roberto Clemente tells George Voss about the ‘Game He’ll Never Forget’. Click here to read all about it!

With the new decade, the Pirates returned to the postseason in three straight seasons, culminating with a World Series victory over the 101 win Baltimore Orioles in 1971. Clemente did his part with a .342 season average and a .414 average in the World Series. Though he played in just 102 games during the 1972 season, Clemente showed as a 38 year old that he was far from being finished as a ballplayer at the major league level. His final at bat came on September 30th, 1972; and he stroked a double to left field. He came around to score the first run in a 2-0 victory over the New York Mets.

On December 23rd, 1972, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Managua, Nicaragua, killing 5,000 people, injuring 20,000 more and leaving a quarter million homeless. Clemente organized efforts to send supplies to the victims, and encountered a government that was stockpiling foreign aid instead of ensuring the supplies reached victims. After three failed flights with supplies Roberto Clemente boarded a plane overloaded, bound for Nicaragua, on December 31st, in hopes of ensuring supplies reached their intended destination. Shortly after takeoff, the plane crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico.

Roberto Clemente’s body was never recovered, despite efforts by even his long time friend and teammate Manny Sanguillen, who dove off the coast of Puerto Rico on the day of his funeral services. Less than four months after his death, the Baseball Writers Association of America held a special election to waive the five year waiting period to induct him into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Since 1973, Roberto Clemente has been posthumously honored in several ways. Perhaps the biggest honor Clemente has received(next to the three Presidential Awards) is the renaming of the Commissioner’s Award presented by Major League Baseball each year to a player in his honor that “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”. Clemente’s legacy also lives on with his his, Roberto Clemente Jr., who established the Roberto Clemente Foundation in 1993.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Carl Crawford

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On December 11, 2010 Carl Crawford signed a 7 year deal worth $142 million dollars with the Boston Red Sox. Over the previous nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Crawford averaged 45 stolen bases to go along with a .293 batting average and an OPS of .781. As Crawford,who turns 30 years old today, is two thirds of the way into his first season in Boston, he has just 12 stolen bases to go along with a .245 batting average and an OPS of .660.

While this may cause concern for some Boston Red Sox fans, they only need to look at a slew of ballplayers born on the same day as Carl Crawford to understand that the new left fielder may just need a full season to get himself going in Boston. He may not even need a full season. There are a number of players born today who made an impact in Boston in just a few key games.

One such player is Eric Hinske, who helped the Red Sox to the 2007 World Series. His first home run as a member of the Red Sox broke a 2-2 tie game against the Detroit Tigers. Hinske, born on August 5th, 1977, hit 7 home runs during his brief tenure with the team between 2006-2007. Hinske went on to join Carl Crawford and the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 and helped them reach the World Series for the first time by slugging 20 homers during the season. He had a World Series trifecta when he reached the 2009 World Series with the New York Yankees.

Bernie Carbo is a player to consider when trying to determine whether or not Carl Crawford could possibly turn his season and his career around. Born on August 5th in 1947, Carbo found himself coming off the 1973 season with a .286 batting average and an OPS of .819 with the St. Louis Cardinals. After that season, he was traded to Boston, and his first season proved to be a bit underwhelming. For the 1974 season, his average dropped to .249 and his OPS slipped to .778. It wasn’t until the 1975 season that Carbo proved his worth. He slugged 15 homers to go along with a .257 average/.892 OPS, and made his biggest contribution in the World Series against his former team. He cranked a 3 run home run in Game 6 of the World Series, tying the game a 6-6 and set the state for Carlton Fisk’s famous walk-off homer in extra innings.

Jeff Berlinicke wrote an article about Carl Crawford as the cornerstone of the Tampa Bay franchise in a May 2005 issue. Click here to check it out!

Some naysayers may believe that Carl Crawford’s best years are behind him. If Bobby Kielty(born August 5th, 1976) is any indication, even players seemingly at the end of the line can contribute significantly. A veteran outfielder with postseason experience with the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics, Kielty split his final season in 2007 between the A’s and the Red Sox. Though he hit just .218 dring the regular season, he played a huge role in the ALCS and World Series, including slugging a pinch hit home run in the series ending Game 4 against the Colorado Rockies.

One thing is for sure; it is highly unlikely Carl Crawford’s career in Boston will be remembered as fondly(or infamously) as John “Way Back” Wasdin’s Boston tenure. Born on August 5th, 1973, Wasdin acquired when he was traded for Jose Canseco by the Oakland Athletics. Wasdin allowed 54 home runs during his three plus seasons in a Red Sox uniform. He also allowed 7 runs in 3.1 innings of work between the 1998 and 1999 postseasons. Wasdin did show he was a capable pitcher, however, when he threw a perfect game for the Toronto Blue Jays Triple A affiliate in 2003.

Drafted by the (then) Devil Rays in the second round of the 1999 draft, Crawford need to adjust briefly during his meteoric rise through the minors. He also had an adjustment period during his first two seasons in the big leagues. If Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees is any indication, there can also be an adjustment to playing in a big market like New York and Boston. Having played in an ALCS against Boston and in the World Series against the Texas Rangers, there is great potential for Carl Crawford to build his own Red Sox history like the several players he shares a birthday with.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Crash Davis

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Thanks in part to the fifth best sports movie of all time(according to the American Film Institute), Lawrence “Crash” Davis lives on for baseball fans and moviegoers as a central character of “Bull Durham”. While the real life Crash Davis wasn’t quite the character that Kevin Costner portrays in the 1988 hit, his life and career are nonetheless worth celebrating, along with the great hope that minor league baseball offers to hundreds of players each summer.

Born in 1919 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Davis(unlike the movie version) actually went straight from college ball at Duke University to playing infield for the Philadelphia Athletics for three seasons beginning in 1940. He played 86 games with the 1942 Athletics before being drafted into the United States Navy during World War II. Upon his discharge in 1946, he returned to Duke for further schooling, and began his seven year career throughout the minor leagues. Aside from Costner’s Crash Davis being a catcher rather than an infielder, another difference between the movie and reality was that Crash Davis didn’t own the all time minor league home run record. In his minor league career, he slugged just 51 homers.

In an August 1981 issue of Baseball Digest, Art Rosenbaum wrote about the great nicknames in Major League Baseball, including “Crash” Davis. Click here to read the full article!

The real Crash Davis had a much more impressive major league career than the Crash Davis in the Bull Durham story, who had spent just 21 days in the big leagues. Crash Davis’ first big league hit came off Spud Chandler of the New York Yankees, went on to win AL MVP honors three years later, on August 11, 1940. Though Davis struggled to establish himself as an everyday player, he did manage to slug a few big leagues home runs near the end. In 1942, he cranked homers off Yank Terry of the Detroit Tigers and Dizzy Trout of the Boston Red Sox in games where the score was decided by one run.

Upon returning from military service, Davis caught on with the Lawrence Millionaires in Massachusetts for two years before moving on to join the Durham Bulls for the 1948 season. With the Bulls, Davis led the team with 50 doubles(a league record) and 171 hits overall. He played alongside Babe Birrer, a brief big leaguer who went on to compile 18 years and 139 wins in the minor leagues. Birrer played eight seasons in the minors after his last big league game; which evokes the character trait of Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis, who had spent years trying to get back to the big leagues.

Crash Davis played just the one season with the Durham Bulls and moved on to Raleigh Capitals and Reidsville Luckies over the final three seasons of his professional career. The phrase “Art mirrors life” has an especially strong meaning with the teams that Crash Davis played with, and the teammates who continued on years after their best(and often brief) big league days were behind them. The fictional Crash Davis could easily represent many of the minor leaguers of the day. Cecil “Turkey” Tyson, for example, played with Davis on the 1949 Raleigh Capitals and had just one at bat with the 1944 Philadelphia Phillies. His minor league career included 15 seasons, hitting .309 with nearly 2,000 hits. He last played in 1952, eight years after that single at bat in the major leagues. Mike “Iron Man” Kash is another teammate of Davis who logged 20 years in the minors without a whiff of the big leagues.

In retirement, Crash Davis went on to coach high school and legion teams, and he became a minor celebrity in his own right when the movie featuring his namesake hit the big screen. He passed away in August of 2001, but his connection to the great Bull Durham story is retold throughout minor league ballparks where players young and old are trying to get one more shot at the big leagues.

Also Born Today:

Tim Hudson(b.1975), the three time All-Star and four time top 10 Cy Young Award finisher has eight wins on the 2011 season and 173 for his career with the Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves. Since having Tommy John Surgery in 2009, he has won 27 games and has had an ERA of 3.14. Despite a 1-3 postseason record, he has a career 3.46 ERA in 10 games over 54+ innings.

Robin Ventura(b.1967), a two time All-Star, six time Gold Glove winner, and owner of 294 career home runs may be best remembered for his 1993 rumble with Texas Rangers icon and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Ventura charged the mound after being plunked by Ryan, and was put pummeled by the Texan upon arrival. The incident is replayed regularly at Rangers home games.

Bob Purkey(b. 1929, d. 2008) was a five time All-Star who spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. The knuckleballer was a member of the 1961 Reds that lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series. He won 129 games over 13 seasons, and his best year arguably was in 1962 when he notched 23 wins and finished third in the MLB Cy Young Award voting.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Terry Puhl

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Of the 233 players in Major League Baseball history, only four have played longer than Houston Astros great Terry Puhl. The Melville, Saskachewan native logged 15 years in the big leagues, all but one with the Houston Astros. If you look at the Houston Astros franchise leaders(click here), Terry Puhl ranks among the top 10 in many categories. Though he does not list high on the impressive home run and runs batted in totals, his mark on the franchise is undeniable.

Drafted out of high school by the Astros in 1973, Puhl spent just four seasons in the minor leagues before joining the big league club. He hit .296 in the minors, and didn’t miss a beat when he hit .301 in 60 games with the Astros in 1977.

Michael Janofsky of the Miami Herald wrote about the potential for four players to break out in the 1980’s, including Terry Puhl, in a July 1981 issue of Baseball Digest. Click here to check it out!

Puhl’s immediate impact on the lineup was evident, as he earned his first and only All-Star nod in his first full season in 1978. By 1980, Puhl helped the Astros to their first franchise trip to the postseason, hitting .526 in a losing effort to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS. His .526 average was, at that time, a record for a single series batting average. The Astros reached the postseason in 1981, but fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers; Puhl hit just .190 in the five game series.

Puhl rebounded to provide a solid offense for the Astros over the course of the early to mid 1980’s. By 1985, Puhl was hampered by injuries and transitioned to a part time player over the next few seasons. The Astros returned to the NLCS in 1986 against the New York Mets, and the opportunity provided Puhl another chance to show flashes of his early years. In just three at bats, he had two singles and a stolen base.

In the late 1980’s, the outfielder has a resurgence, first as a pinch hitter(.303 batting average in 1988). When he earned more playing time in 1989 than he had in the previous five years, he responded with a .271 average on the season. It essentially became the swan song for Terry Puhl, as injuries shortened his 1990 season, at least in Houston.

Following the 1990 season, he was signed by and subsequently released by the New York Mets prior to the start of the 1991 season and the Kansas City Royals scooped him up. He played just 15 games with the Royals before being released in early June of that year. He retired with a .280 batting average, and an OPS of 112 over 15 seasons. He also ranks first all-time with a .994 fielding percentage for right fielders since 1954.

Since retirement, Puhl has been inducted into the Saskachewan Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. He has since become a manager, first with the Canadian National Olympic team, and most recently as the head coach of the University of Houston at Victoria. His collegiate managing record stands at 96-44 over three seasons.

Also Born Today:

Alan Ashby(b.1951), logged 17 seasons in the big leagues as a catcher and may be best remembered for catching three no hitters in his career. His career in Houston overlapped with Terry Puhl’s, and both were a member of the team during their several postseason appearances.

Ivey Wingo(b.1890), played 17 seasons, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds. He was a member of the 1919 World Series Champion Reds, the winner of the infamous Black Sox Scandal. Wingo was not known for his defense, as he led the league in errors by a catcher on seven different occasions.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Wade Boggs

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Wade Boggs is the only player in Major League Baseball history to launch a home run for his 3,000th career hit. It’s not surprising that the Hall of Famer, born on this day in 1958, joined the elite ranks of the 3,000 Hit Club in such a dramatic fashion. Whether winning four consecutive batting titles(five overall), climbing on a horse for a World Series victory lap, or being the reason the National Baseball Hall of Fame limited control over a player’s cap choice, Boggs has always had a flare for the dramatic.

Drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in the 7th round of the 1976, Boggs tore up the minor leagues at every level he played. Over five seasons in the minors, Boggs hit .318 and collected 774 hits in 662 games. One of those games included the 33 Inning Pawtucket Red Sox – Rochester Red Wings game that became the longest baseball game in history. By 1982, it was clear the Red Sox could no longer keep Boggs in Pawtucket. In 104 games, Boggs hit .349 with a .407 OBP and finished third in the Rookie of The Year balloting.

During his 11 seasons in Boston, the third baseman led the American League in hitting five times, and had seven straight seasons with 200 hits or more. He hit .290 as a member of the 1986 Red Sox in the World Series against the New York Mets. He hit close .385 and .438 in his two other playoff appearances with Boston.

After hitting a career low .259 in 1992, Boston elected to let Boggs explore free agency. He signed a three year deal with the rival New York Yankees, and found his second wind, hitting .302 in his first season in pinstripes. He hit .313 over five seasons with New York, but may be best remembered as a member of the 1996 Yankees that ended an 18 year championship drought.

Terry Price of the Hartford Courant wrote about Wade Boggs’ hitting ability early way back in high school, in a November 1985 Baseball Digest issue. Click here to read the full article!

In 1998, when MLB expanded and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays came into existence, Boggs signed with his home town team. At the age of 40, he still managed to hit .280 in his first Tampa Bay season. In limited play, he hit .301 in his last season in 1999. On August 7th, 1999, Boggs slugged his 3,000th hit into the right field stands at Tropicana Field.

Before and after retirement, there were reports that Wade Boggs had planned on requesting a Tampa Bay Devil Rays hat for his Hall of Fame plaque. Due to these reports and others involving other players, the National Baseball Hall of Fame changed the practice in 2001 to give the hall more control over proper cap choice, and Boggs was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 with a Boston Red Sox cap on his plaque.

Regardless of which cap he wore, Wade Boggs will be remembered as one of the most impressive hitters. A twelve time All-Star, Boggs earned two Gold Glove Awards later in his career, a testament of his ability to evolve as a ballplayer. Boggs ranks among the best in many categories, but perhaps most impressive is his .328 career batting average, which is bested by only 34 other players in history. His career on-base percentage of .415 is better than all but 14 other major leaguers. Twelve years after his last game, Boggs remains one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Also Born On This Day:

Billy Williams(b.1938), a Hall of Fame left fielder who spent his entire career with the Chicago Cubs, was also the 1961 National League Rookie of The Year. He played in 1,117 consecutive games between 1962-1971, establishing an N.L. record that stood until Steve Garvey broke it in 1983. He played alongside Cubs greats Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, and had his number 26 retired by the club in 1987.

Dusty Baker(b.1949) has logged more than four decades in Major League Baseball. Much of his nineteen seasons playing were spent with the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he won a World Series Championship in 1981. He has won 840 games and counting over eighteen seasons as manager of the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and currently as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He has guided each of his teams to at least one playoff appearance, and won the N.L. Pennant with the 2002 Giants.

Andy Pettitte(b.1972) retired after the 2010 season as one of the best postseason pitchers in his era, and arguably in baseball history. His 19 postseason wins ranks him first, and he has played in seven World Series, playing on the winner’s side five times. His 149 wins during the 2001-2009 decade are the most of any pitcher during that time.

Tim Lincecum(b.1984), with just five seasons under his belt, he already ranks first in San Francisco Giants history with the most 10 strikeout games. To go along with his 2008 and 2009 N.L. Cy Young Awards and 2010 World Series Championship, Lincecum has led the N.L. in strikeouts for three straight seasons.