Thursday, April 26, 2012 Updated: April 28, 4:41 PM ET
Teams with best living Hall of Famers
By Tim Kurkjian ESPN The Magazine
On Saturday, the Orioles will begin unveiling statues for their Hall of Famers, going in order of their inductions into Cooperstown, meaning Frank Robinson will have his statue unveiled first. He will be followed -- one each month -- by Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr., all of whom are still alive. And it got me to thinking: Which major league team has the greatest collection of living Hall of Fame players?
Listed below are five teams with at least five living Hall of Famers. In each case, each of the five players was inducted into Cooperstown wearing the cap of that team, with one exception: For the purpose of this exercise, we are going to include Frank Robinson as a Hall of Famer for the Orioles and the Reds. On his Hall of Fame plaque, he is wearing an Orioles cap partly because he won a World Series, an MVP and a Triple Crown in Baltimore, but he also spent his first 10 years with the Reds, went to a World Series with them and won another MVP.
Frank Robinson is ninth all time with 586 home runs.
So, here are the five teams with five living Hall of Fame players.
Cal Ripken Jr.
When Weaver managed the Orioles, his bench was always so good, he used to say he had "deep depth." That's what the Orioles have here, deep depth, more than any other team with five living Hall of Fame players. This is all subjective, but if Brooks Robinson is your fifth-best living Hall of Famer, that's incredibly deep depth. Robinson is one of the top 10 third basemen of all time, he is the greatest defensive third baseman (16 Gold Gloves), and he won an MVP and collected 2,848 hits. Murray is arguably one of the five best first basemen of all time, one of four players in history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers. Ripken is, by my unofficial count, the third-best shortstop in baseball history. He also changed the position, turning it into an offensive position. Palmer won 268 games, won three Cy Young Awards and had a 2.86 career ERA -- greatly underrated for what he did for the Orioles. And when Frank Robinson came to Baltimore from Cincinnati, he won a World Series, an MVP and a Triple Crown in his first year (1966). "Frank taught us how to win," Brooks Robinson said.
Bench is the greatest catcher of all time, he won two MVPs before he turned 25 and he is the greatest throwing catcher ever. Morgan is probably the second-best second baseman ever (at worst, the fourth-best), he won consecutive MVPs, and he was a great defensive player and a stolen-base machine with a career success rate of just more than 80 percent. Robinson had 10 terrific years in Cincinnati, where he won rookie of the year and the MVP -- he remains the only player to win the MVP in both leagues. Larkin is a top-10 shortstop of all time, an MVP winner and an 11-time Silver Slugger. Perez was a leader on the Big Red Machine and had the 28th-most RBIs ever, more than Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell.
Musial is the most underrated superstar in baseball history. He won three MVPs, had the third-most MVP votes of all time (after Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols, with votes prorated to today's voting procedure), had 103 extra-base hits in 1948 and finished his career with exactly as many hits at home as he had on the road: 1,815. Gibson is one of the best pitchers of his time; his 1.12 ERA in 1968 remains a record. Brock stole the second-most bases in baseball history. Schoendienst was a terrific second baseman with a career .289 batting average.
Willie Mays is widely considered among the five best players ever.
Mays is the greatest center fielder of all time and one of the five best players ever. When he came to the big leagues in 1951, the game had never seen anyone quite like him, and here it is, 61 years later, and he remains the greatest combination of speed and power in baseball history. McCovey was one of the most fearsome sluggers of his time, hitting 521 home runs in an era highlighted by pitching. Marichal was one of the dominant pitchers of that era, but his greatness was obscured at times by Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson. Cepeda was the rookie of the year for the Giants in 1958 (the year before McCovey won the award for the Giants). Perry spent his first 10 years with the Giants, and he was a vastly underrated pitcher.
Yaz is the last player to win a Triple Crown, he had the sixth-most hits of all time and he was one of the premier defensive left fielders of any time. Fisk is unofficially the seventh-best catcher in history and was among the most durable, and few catchers hit with more power. Boggs is a top-five third baseman in history, a five-time batting champ. Doerr is a top-10 second baseman of all time; he brought power and production to the position. Rice was a tremendous offensive force. His 1978 season -- 406 total bases -- was one of the best of his era.
There you have it, five teams with five living Hall of Fame players. Pretty impressive, don't you agree?