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The Readers' list: Least likable ballplayers
From the Page2 mailbag

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On Monday, Page 2 ran its list of the least likable baseball players in history. We asked for your take, and you filled our mailbag with plenty of despicable choices.

Here's how the Page 2 staff ranked the least likable baseball players in history:

1. Ty Cobb
2. John Rocker
3. Albert Belle
4. Cap Anson
5. Carl Mays
6. Roger Clemens
7. Hal Chase
8. Dick Allen
9. Pete Rose
10. Reggie Jackson

Dishonorable mentions: Barry Bonds, Roberto Alomar, Steve Garvey, Carl Everett, Eddie Murray, Jim Bouton, Rickey Henderson

After going through more than 900 letters, we've listed a rundown of your Top 10 vote-getters, along with some of the best letters about each player. Be sure to cast your vote in the poll at left to choose the baseball player who is easiest to dislike.

1. Roger Clemens
(117 letters)

Roger Clemens is the least likable!
Roger to the 1,000,000th power!
Can I be more emphatic?

Reread Bill Simmons' (the Boston Sports Guy) treatise on this topic. Simply put: he (insert scatoligcal slang word here) on the hearts of the most loyal fans in the world. A good for nothing mercenary, a money-grubbing scumbag who saddled his children with obnoxious, fake names that represent his achievemnets. ... I can't even rationally express my hate, except for saying I hope that when he's sitting on his ranch 10 years from now, watching the ovation Pedro gets as he walks off the mound in his final game as the greatest pitcher the Red Sox history, he realizes what he missed out on.

Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens certainly hasn't endeared himself to many folks in Boston.
But, because he's the self-contained, selfish entity known as the Rocket, completely oblivious to anything besides the numbers on his stat sheet and on his contract, he won't. I hope it was worth it, you louse!
Jeremy Cutler
Providence, R.I.

Roger Clemens ... The modern day Judas.
Mark Coogan
Ann Arbor, Mich.

The ultimate non-gamer ... absolutely no work ethic. Clemens all but packed up during his career in Boston, then he gets shipped to Toronto, and subsequently to New York. THE YANKEES?!!! People have been deported for less than going from the Sox to the Yankees. Once there, he miraculously realizes that there is more to the offseason than sitting on his butt, so he gets in shape, and, of course, starts to pitch well again.

All this, not to mention that when I was 10 years old, the scumbag wanted $20 for an autograph. Given the choice between a Clemens autographed baseball, and a pair of Pump sneakers for my birthday, I wisely chose the Pumps.
Kevin M

He will wear pinstripes into the Hall ... and pinstripes into Hell.
Josh Kammerer

2. John Rocker (86 letters)
Many of the older players on Page 2's list held views that where not extreme for their time, but Rocker's ancient prejudices have surely been eradicated from society and more specifically, the game of baseball long ago. But, even in the 21st century, millions of dollars are still being paid to the favorite passenger of the No. 7 train. He belongs in an asylum ... not the bullpen, folks.
Adam Laker
Plano, Texas

John Rocker
John Rocker doesn't have many fans in New York ... or anywhere else.
He makes Ty Cobb look like Mother Teresa.
Jeff Hall
State College, Penn.

I'm a Red Sox fan and, as such, like to disparage all things New York. But even I was offended by his racial diatribe against that city. The interview in question is one of the more disturbing artifacts in recent baseball history, both for the lack of class or anything remotely resembling intelligence on Rocker's part, and for the questions it raises about a society that can produce such a vile mind.

It's only a matter of time before he directs his wrath toward another minority group and further disgraces the game of baseball. It's time to boot this guy from the great American Pastime.
Jon Brodkin
Leominster, Mass.

3. Ty Cobb (78 letters)
He left his spike marks in every second baseman he ever played against, he was an ardent racist, and generally just a mean guy. By all accounts, if good citizenship were a prerequisite for the Hall, he would have had no chance.
Phil Pennington

Ty Cobb
Ty Cobb's lifetime average of .366 probably will never be matched.
  • Sharpens spikes to injure fielders when sliding (check)
  • Phsychotic known for alcohol-enduced tantrums (check)
  • Handgun friendly (check)
  • Ignorant racist (check)
  • Downplays his lack of power at the plate by saying "any idiot can hit home runs" (check)

    Apparently, this must have been the committee's checklist when they allowed Ty Cobb, "The Rotten Peach," to be enshrined into its most coveted halls. And to top it off, not only was he elected into the Hall of Fame, but he was the first to enter. This fine example of judgement by Major League Baseball is the greatest mistake in sport's history. It makes you wonder why the ban on "Shoeless" Joe and Pete Rose is still in effect when the likes of Tyrus "The Horrible" has already tainted the hall's walls.
    George Bradney
    Pemberton, N.J.

    4. Rickey Henderson (69 letters)
    Rickey Henderson is the poster child for selfishness. I truly believe he has no idea what is going on during plays that do not involve him directly ... and even then he might not care unless he can use it to set a record. It is hard to believe there could be a more self-centered player in baseball than Rickey Henderson. If he does not top this list, he will probably give it just enough effort next time for the win.
    Steve Gillette
    Fort Pierce, Fla.

    Rickey Henderson
    A lot of folks view Rickey Henderson as a selfish player.
    Ty Cobb and Albert Belle were miserable people to be sure, but there isn't a more unlikable jerk in all of professional sports than Rickey Henderson. The ultimate "me-first" guy. Rickey has always been about nothing but Rickey and always will be. The word "team" is not in his vocabulary.

    I will always remember the day he broke the stolen-base record. You'd have thought that, for just a moment anyway, Rickey might have been humbled by the moment. Naw, not Rickey. He grabs the microphone at second base and proclaims himself the greatest of all-time. What a great guy ... and what an insult to Lou Brock and Maury Wills. And then there's that cocky sweep catch he's always making in the outfield.

    There is nothing to like about this guy! As far as I'm concerned, it's a battle for second place.
    John McHale

    5. Paul O'Neill (57 letters)
    For his uncanny ability to argue every strike call against him. He won't be happy 'til a pitcher throws him a pacifier.
    Eduard Maduro
    Lincoln, Neb.
    Paul O'Neill
    Will Paul O'Neill be upset if he doesn't start Game 1 against Curt Schilling?

    Gatorade jugs everywhere are not safe. Get this guy a Kleenex!!
    Richard Chase
    Rochester, N.H.

    The man whines more than a nursery full of newborns. The ultimate indignity ocurred earlier this year when he hit a fly ball to right, screamed an obscenity, threw his bat like a child, and then watched sheepishly as the ball floated over the right-field wall.
    Mike Lavoie
    Wilbraham, Mass.

    6. Barry Bonds (52 letters)
    Just a gigantic jerk. Once while in Pittsburgh, he refused to sign a ball to be auctioned off for Children's Hospital. They had to buy one from QVC and get all the other players to sign it! Un-freakin'-believable.
    Mark Kaminski
    New Kensington, Penn.

    What's the difference between God and Barry Bonds?
    Barry Bonds
    Some fans feel Barry Bonds is always looking out for No. 1.
    God doesn't think he's Barry Bonds.
    Tom Pellegrino
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    7. Albert Belle (36 letters)
    Let's see ... what makes Albert Belle so easy to hate? How about the time he was suspended for hitting a heckler in the chest with a ball? Or the time he chased trick-or-treaters off his property in an SUV? Or how about his profanity-laced tirade at Hannah Storm on live TV? If only he would cork his mouth like he did his bats.
    Josh Rusnak
    Fort Smith, Ark.

    In the second game of a double header at Fenway park in the mid-1990s, Albert Belle twice performed the most arrogant and childish acts I've ever seen on a baseball field. After retrieving a foul ball, Belle waved the ball at fans in the left-field grandstands who had been hassling "Joey" all day. He then proceeded to throw the ball over the Green Monster.

    I found it strange that a player would want to waste any energy in the second leg of a long Sunday doubleheader just to show up a few hecklers. As if that wasn't enough, the next foul ball to come down the line yielded the same exact result. Foul ball, jerk gets ball, jerk waves ball, jerk throws ball over big wall, jerk smiles to himself like an idiot.

    You could tell even his teammates were thinking "Man is this guy a jerk or what?" I hate him. I even hate him more than Roger Clemens! And that's saying a lot coming from a Sox fan!
    Jon Miles
    Medford, Mass.

    Albert Belle
    There weren't too many tears shed when Albert Belle retired.
    Back in 1995, when, for a time, it looked like Albert Belle might break Maris' home-run record, I read a fan's letter in some a magazine/newspaper mailbag that read, "If Belle does break Maris' record, and I pray to God that he doesn't, there should be an asterisk next to his name with a note that reads: 'But he was a jerk.' "
    The quote is worth remembering.
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    8. Pete Rose (35 letters)
    I can't believe that after all this time there is still a Pete Rose cult of personality. To begin with, he's the most overrated professional athlete of all time. Defensively, he was the Bobby Bonilla of his day. He could play almost any position -- poorly. As far as hitting goes, when he broke Ty Cobb's career hit record, Mickey Mantle reputedly observed, "Weren't most of them singles?"

    Since Rose was banned from baseball, not one of his former teammates has spoken out in his defense. Not one. Why? He was a selfish, arrogant jerk. Everybody loves to point to his All-Star Game collision with Ray Fosse as an indication of what a "hard-nosed" player he was, but look at it more closely, and you'll see it was an indication of how dirty he was. All he had to do was slide. But he took out Fosse, even though Fosse wasn't obstructing the bag. He ended the man's career for no reason.

    He stayed on as a player manager so he could insert himself in meaningless games to pad his hits total. When he was trying to break Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak, he would bunt late in games in situation where a bunt was flagrantly inappropriate. He wanted to get a hit -- who cared whether his team won?

    Pete Rose
    Pete Rose's aggressive style rubbed some the wrong way.
    Rose was voted to the All Century Team -- and Frank Robinson wasn't!! Give me a guy who is fourth on the all-time homers list and won the World Series and the league MVP in both leagues over a guy who's claim to fame was that he would run to first when he was walked.

    Robinson's teammates speak of the man with reverence, even awe. They'd take a bullet for the man. Rose's former teammates, on the other hand, would probably pull the trigger themselves ...
    Jeffrey Staggs
    Baltimore, Md.

    9. Roberto Alomar (24 letters)
    The spit heard 'round the world.
    Joe C.

    10. Dave Kingman (20 letters)
    I thought for sure he'd be on the list. Even though he played before I started watching, he just seemed to have this disdain for the game, and anyone/anything associated with it, playing with a perpetual sneer on his face just for the paycheck. Maybe this explains why he hit 400 home runs, but is still no where near the Hall.
    Bob Johnson
    Kowloon, Hong Kong

    Dishonorable mention: Reggie Jackson, Vince Coleman, Deion Sanders, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry.

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