Alright. There was a bagillion nominations, so we’re going to have to break this down a bit.
Newcomers to this endeavor should know: We are looking for the next great Hollywood baseball movie. Not a documentary, per se, as several of these players already have such. No, we want a Moneyball quality film made about one of these amazing men.
Below the jump will be a breakdown of the nominees, followed by the poll.
Moe Berg — A terrible-hitting catcher (49 wRC+) who, by the way, was a spy in World War II, a genius, a game show contestant and spent the final years of his life mooching off his siblings. (Wikipedia)
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 with an appearance in 1965 as a 58-year-old. (Wikipedia)
Dwight Gooden — Doc Gooden was one of the more dominant pitchers in the 1980s, and he managed to pitch into his age-35 season. After his retirement, Gooden struggled continually with alcohol and drug abuse, even spending time in prison. He is currently under five years probation for child endangerment from a DWI incident. (Wikipedia)
Mordecai Brown — Three Finger Brown mangled his throwing hand in a farming accident, but went from a miner town third baseman to a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cubs. He played in the team’s final world championship, winning their final, series-deciding game, and all despite threats from the mob. (Wikipedia)
Arlie Latham — A solid third baseman from the late 1800s who stole a plethora of bases and then became the world’s first dedicated base coach. He also went on to teach baseball to the Brits and organize games with the soldiers during World War II. (Wikipedia)
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. (Wikipedia)
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.). (Wikipedia)
Eddie Gaedel — He was the only little person to ever play in the MLB. Gaedel’s career ended with a 339 wRC+ after taking a four-pitch walk in Bill Veeck’s publicity stunt. The MLB voided Gaedel’s contract the following day, but he was able to parlay his one day of fame into a number of television appearances and some additional earnings. He was beaten to death at the age of 36 in his hometown of Chicago. His autographs sells for more than Babe Ruth‘s. (Wikipedia)
Dirk Hayhurst — Dirk penned a bestselling novel while still in the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched only 39.1 innings in the majors, but nearly 700 innings in the minors. He has now written two best selling novels. From his website:
I was just a poor moisture farmer in the Dagobah system living underneath my foster parent’s staircase until an owl delivered to me a letter telling me I was invited to play baseball at a school infested with Force wielding vampires in Forks, Washington. It was a wild ride.
Sandy Koufax — Koufax has long been considered the standard with by which left-handed pitchers are measured. Elbow arthritis forced him to retire at the peak of his career, coming off a 67 FIP-minus season. Disgusting. (Wikipedia)
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. (Wikipedia)
Ty Cobb’s Detroit Tigers — They played with an jerk racist. (Maybe someone in the comments can further flesh out the movie idea here?)
Dummy Hoy — A solid outfielder in the late 1800s, Dummy — William Ellsworth — Hoy was the MLB’s best deaf player. A valedictorian and a 5-foot-4 walk machine, Hoy — who preferred to be called “Dummy” (which had a less-mean interpretation in those days) — retired with a 116 wRC+. He lived until the age 99 and landed in the Reds Hall of Fame. (Wikipedia)
Ron Santo — A Hall of Fame third baseman, Ron Santo played his entire career in Chicago (∞ seasons with the Cubs, one season with the White Sox) and finished with a 125 wRC+. He was also a terrible color commentator, but still probably my favorite. He secretly played with type 1 diabetes and had to keep candy bars in his locker. He was given a life expectancy of just 25 years at age 18, and despite massive improvements in medical science after his playing career, he lost both his legs and eventually died from bladder cancer and diabetes complications. (Wikipedia)
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