A player probably known as much for his friendly demeanor as his impressive diamond skills, Sean Casey spent a dozen big league seasons showcasing both to fans of the National Pastime.
Whether it was while playing with the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers or Boston Red Sox, the popular first baseman proved to be a run-producing left-handed bat in the middle lineup as well as a consistent fielder. And with the spotlight its brightest, he produced one of the best World Series batting performance the game has ever seen.
On the baseball diamond, there was nothing Barry Bonds could not do.
The totals: 2,935 hits, a record 2,558 walks and a .444 on-base percentage. Five-hundred fourteen stolen bases, and the lone member of the 500 steal/500 home run club. Eight Gold Glove Awards in left field.
He recorded seven National League Most Valuable Player Awards – including four straight from 2001-04 – and 14 All-Star Game selections.
Jeff Kent spent the majority of his big league career at second. But on the all-time home run list among keystone sackers, Kent is alone in first.
Craig Biggio’s path to big league stardom took him from high school football standout to a position change many in baseball thought was all but impossible.
Along the way, Biggio amassed seven All-Star Game selections, 3,060 hits and the admiration of fans and teammates.
Today, he stands on the edge of the game’s greatest achievement: The Hall of Fame.
Armando Benitez lived the life of a closer, with the pressure of the ninth inning never far away.
Benitez handled the pressure more often than not, recording 289 career saves. Today, Benitez’s ability to close games has landed him on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot.
Benitez, whose save total ranks 26th all-time, debuts on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot this fall, one of 36 players on the 2014 BBWAA ballot for the Class of 2014.
The story is so famous, it has become the first cautionary tale for every new big league general manager.
The Boston Red Sox, desperate for bullpen help during the 1990 stretch drive, target the Astros’ Larry Andersen – a 37-year-old veteran of four teams who has posted earned-run averages below 2.00 for each of the two previous seasons.
As a member of one of the most well-known families in baseball history, Moises Alou knew from the start that his future was in baseball.
Watching his father – Felipe Alou – play ball inspired Moises. “He didn't force me into the game, but everybody wants to be like their dad,” Moises remarked. “I wanted to be a ballplayer, because my dad was a ballplayer.”
He was a nine-time All-Star and the 1971 National League Most Valuable Player who totaled 2,342 hits in 18 big league seasons.
And Joe Torre was just getting warmed up. Because in 29 seasons as a manager, Torre became one of only five skippers to win at least four World Series titles.
A recognizable and renowned fixture on the baseball landscape for four decades, George Steinbrenner took over the New York Yankees, a legendary franchise that was in the midst of a downward trend, and made them not only relevant again but a model of success both on and off the field.
Time and the gaudy stats of contemporary catchers have each conspired to help obscure Ted Simmons’ big league career.
But in the cold analysis of the black-and-white page, Simmons’ remains one of the best hitting catchers in the history of baseball.