Thursday, December 13, 2012
Five Sox in Nos. 1-25 in 'Hall Of 100'
ESPN.com's "Hall Of 100" -- a fresh look at the top 100 baseball players of all-time, steroid era and all -- revealed Nos. 25-1, a list that included five former prominent Red Sox players:
* Tris Speaker at No. 25: Best I can tell, there hasn't been a player like Tris Speaker since ... well, Tris Speaker. One of the greatest center fielders of all time. He gapped 50 doubles five times (most ever). And he ripped off nine straight seasons with OBPs of .400-plus. The only other men since 1900 to do that: Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Mel Ott, Barry Bonds. I'm not sure who those other guys are. But I'm sure Tris Speaker is one of the most underrated players in history.
* Cy Young at No. 17: No pitcher was more renowned for taking the ball than Denton True Young. The man called "Cy" logged a record 7,356 innings over 22 seasons with the Cleveland Spiders, Boston Americans and three other teams. Oh yeah, Young also won 511 games in the majors. A century after his final pitch, that number is equal parts unapproachable and unthinkable.
* Roger Clemens at No. 7: The images flash through your mind: the 20 strikeouts against Seattle, the TV shot of him nervously watching the end of Game 6 in the '86 World Series, the meltdown in the 1990 playoffs, another 20-strikeout game, the dominance in Toronto, finally getting a ring, Game 7 in 2001. Seven Cy Young Awards and ERA titles, 354 wins … and then the end. What will you remember?
* Ted Williams at No. 4: The Splendid Splinter carried a bat to class in high school and once proclaimed, "A man has to have goals ... and that was mine, to have people say, 'There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.'" He won six batting titles, led his league 12 times in on-base percentage and nine times in slugging percentage. He retired at 41 -- after hitting .316 and slugging .645. Yes, that goal just may have come true.
* Babe Ruth at No. 1: There is no doubt that the Babe was the greatest player who ever lived. That doesn't mean he was the greatest person. Years ago, I was sitting at a picnic table in the Yankees' clubhouse, waiting to talk to a player, when Pete Sheehy, the ancient clubhouse man, plopped down opposite me. We made small talk until I asked him, "Pete, you knew Ruth -- what was he like?" Pete thought for a moment, and said, "He never flushed the toilet."