The very first recognized baseball game in the US was played by the New York Knickerbockers vs the New York Gotham Club, starting the behemoth that is modern baseball today. The game has become a national sport in the United States over the years, and it boasts a legendary heritage of renowned players, many of whom are still spoken of years after their careers drew to a close. Here are just some of the players that stand out as the greatest baseball players in the history of the game.
Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees
Joe DiMaggio, an unmistakable figure in the sport and acclaimed captain of the New York Yankees, took his team to the top with nine World Series championship wins over his career between 1936 and 1951, spanning 13 years. Nicknamed the Yankee Clipper, he won the award for Most Valuable Player in the American League three times and has the record for the longest batting streak in the history of baseball, a 56-game streak in 1941. On top of batting for power as well as average, DiMaggio seems to have been a true five-tool player who could also sprint, throw, and play the field effectively. He was said to be the greatest base runner Joe McCarthy, the New York Yankees’ manager, had ever seen.
Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants
It’s not just what Willie Mays accomplished, but also how he accomplished them. More than 2,000 runs were scored by him, nearly every one of them following the loss of his cap while running past third base. He was responsible for outfield putouts over 7,000 times, many of which were thrilling, brilliant, and even miraculous. Mays ended his career with an incredible 3,283 hits and scored more than a .300 10 times. He was awarded NL MVP twice in 1954 and 1965, and in 1963 and 1968 he was selected as the All-Star Game MVP. Mays was an All-Star 24 times, was awarded the Gold Glove Award for his play in center field 12 times and was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1979.
Babe Ruth, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox
George Herman Ruth, also known as Babe Ruth, became one of baseball’s top left-handed pitchers over his five seasons on the Boston Red Sox, while he also played in three World Series title rosters. His outstanding batting achievements throughout the following several seasons, after his 1919 trade to the New York Yankees, contributed to the beginning of a new age of long hits and high scores in baseball. While with the Yankees, Ruth immediately established himself as the best batter to ever play baseball. He broke his personal record in his debut season in 1920 by smashing 54 home runs, more than double his 25 home runs from the previous season. Ruth performed even better the next year, hitting another 59 home runs. He received a pay raise to $52,000 in 1922, which catapulted him to the most popular and highest-paid baseball player of his time.
No matter what your views of the game are, there is no denying that these legends have made a lasting impact on the game of baseball and have cemented themselves as some of the biggest and best figures the sport has ever seen.