Jackie Robinson has got a new movie — 42 — about him
coming out in 2013. Who else needs one?
After two exhausting rounds of voting — in which I had to write over 1000 words per post — we have finally reached the final vote, where we will determine the single more deserving baseball personality, the fella worth a quality Hollywood movie.
Here’s the poll. I encourage you not to vote for just the names you recognize, but the stories you think move-worth.
And follow the jump for the brief explanations of the players/personalities in case you missed them in the previous rounds.
Satchel Paige — Possibly one of the best pitchers in baseball history, but because he was black, he did not enter the MLB until he was 42 years old. Despite that, he finished with a career 81 FIP-minus — and still holds the distinction as the oldest player ever after an appearance in 1965 as a 58-year-old.
Lenny Dykstra — The All-Star Dykstra had a solid career with the Mets and Phillies, and then parlayed his career success into a fashionable story of fraud, tax evasion, NHL great’s house flipping, and ultimately house arrest and rehab. This story is still very much writing itself. Though the short version can probably be seen in any episode of Arrested Development — coocoo-kacha!
Roberto Clemente — Clemente was the first Latin superstar ( 129 wRC+). And while he was — at age 38 — still a solid, everyday outfielder, Clemente died in a plane crash while trying to deliver relief supplies to an earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. He was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame and given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Willie Mays — He could field, he could crush dongers, and he did it for 22 seasons — one fewer than he would have had he not served his nation in the Korean War. This guy lived a Life, I tell you.
Branch Rickey — Rickey was the revolutionary GM who broke the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, he drafted Roberto Clemente (the first Latin superstar), and was in all ways far, far, FAR ahead of his time (created the minor league system, introduced the batting helmet, used on-base percentage 70 years before Moneyball, etc.).
Moe Berg — A terrible-hitting catcher (49 wRC+) who, by the way, was a spy in World War II, a genius and a game show contestant, then spent the final years of his life mooching off his siblings.
Nolan Ryan — This guy pitched in the majors from age 19 to age 46. He then parlayed those earnings and that Hall of Fame career into owning his home-state team, the Texas Rangers, which are now a perennial powerhouse franchise.
Bill Veeck — Owner of the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns (now Baltimore Orioles) and Chicago White Sox (at different times, not concurrently). He planted the ivy at Wrigley, served in World War II, purportedly tried to break the color barrier in 1942, built the first legit scoreboard in the league, got Minnie Minoso to play as a 50 and 54-year-old and hired the only little person to play in the MLB, Eddie Gaedel.
Bob Gibson — A Hall of Fame pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Gibson — despite two awful late-career seasons — finished his MLB time with an 82 FIP- and nearly 3900 IP. He debuted at age 23 and retired at 39 — oh, and had rickets and some sort of asthma as a child.