Another view of the lineup of the century; Baseball: The 'All-Century Team' from some serious fans.


This "roar of the crowd" stuff is vastly overrated.

This weekend, Major League Baseball named a 30-member All-Century team as voted on by fans and a panel of experts. After studying the results, all we can say is: Aah, what do they know?

You see, The Sun asked its own distinguished group of voters -- columnist George F. Will, broadcaster Bob Costas, Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell, sportswriters Dave Kindred and Christine Brennan and Sun publisher and long-time fan Michael E. Waller -- for their selections.

(We also asked baseball documentarian Ken Burns for his thoughts. We received a reply from his secretary saying, essentially, that Burns would have no time to consider such a request "for the coming two years." Two years! The man's day planner must be a sight!)

The fans made few surprising choices. Yankees legend Lou Gehrig narrowly edged the most famous athlete of all time, Babe Ruth, in total votes. And Pete Rose, banned from baseball for gambling, got the ninth spot in the All-Century outfield.

By contrast, the selections of The Sun's panelists were often controversial.

Will, for instance, listed Stan Musial, one of the great outfielders of all time, as his backup first baseman. Will also voted Kansas City great George Brett ahead of Baltimore's sainted Brooks Robinson at third base, and chose Tony Gwynn of the Padres and ex-Phillies center fielder Richie Ashburn for the outfield.

Costas left Cy Young, whose name is on baseball's top pitching award, off his list. Kindred of the Sporting News left Joe DiMaggio out of his outfield, saying Stan Musial was more deserving. And Waller opined that Nolan Ryan, voted first among pitchers by the fans, doesn't rank among the top 15 hurlers of the century.

Bob Costas, World Series sportscaster

Catcher: Johnny Bench, Josh Gibson

First base: Lou Gehrig, Mark McGwire

Second base: Rogers Hornsby, Jackie Robinson

Shortstop: Cal Ripken Jr., Honus Wagner

Third base: Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson

Outfield: Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams

Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Lefty Grove, Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Satchel Paige, Warren Spahn

Comments: "If I could add five more players they would be: George Brett, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton. ... And that still leaves out: Greg Maddux, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, Tony Gwynn, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, etc., etc. It's just impossible!"

Dave Kindred, sportswriter, author

Catcher: Bench, J. Gibson

First base: Gehrig, McGwire

Second base: J. Robinson, Morgan

Shortstop: Wagner, Ernie Banks

Third base: Schmidt, George Brett

Outfield: Aaron, Cobb, Griffey, Mantle, Mays, Musial, Ruth, Williams, Oscar Charleston

Pitcher: B. Gibson, Johnson, Koufax, Paige, Mathewson, Cy Young

Comments: "Why no Joe DiMaggio?: If they'd traded uniforms, DiMaggio in St. Louis and Stan Musial in New York, Musial today would be regarded as the second-best player of all time, raised to Babe Ruth's side by the Yankee mythology machine. ... My lineup in "One Game to Save All Civilization": Morgan, Wagner, Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, Schmidt, Musial, Bench, Koufax."

George Will, pundit, author, baseball nut

Catcher: Bench, Roy Campanella

First base: Gehrig, Musial

Second base: Morgan, Hornsby

Shortstop: Wagner, Ripken

Third base: Schmidt, Brett

Outfield: Aaron, Cobb, Griffey, Mays, Ruth, Richie Ashburn, Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Frank Robinson

Pitcher: B. Gibson, Grove, Johnson, Koufax, Spahn, Dennis Eckersley

Comments: "Roy Campanella, three times MVP, and a major-league career that started late because of racism and ended early because of an automobile accident. ... Richie Ashburn led the 1950s in hits and holds a slew of center-field records -- you can look it up. ... Rickey Henderson, best all-around player of the last quarter of this century; greatest leadoff hitter ever; greatest base runner ever." ... About Musial at first base: "OK, I am bending the rules, but I need nine other spots for my outfielders, and he played the game at first."

Christine Brennan, USA Today sportswriter, author

Catcher: Bench, Yogi Berra

First base: Gehrig, Harmon Killebrew

Second base: Hornsby, J. Robinson

Shortstop: Wagner, Banks

Third base: Schmidt, B. Robinson

Outfield: Aaron, Cobb, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays, Ruth, Williams, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline

Pitcher: B. Gibson, Johnson, Koufax, Young, Rollie Fingers, Warren Spahn

Comments: "Why Kaline?: I grew up a Tigers fan in Toledo, Ohio. ... Gotta love Jackie Robinson for historical reasons ... loved Ernie Banks with the Cubs ... Yogi Berra IS baseball ... Roberto Clemente was a great man ... Rollie Fingers changed the game."

Ernie Harwell, veteran baseball announcer

Catcher: Bench, Berra

First base: Gehrig, McGwire

Second base: Hornsby, Robinson

Shortstop: Ripken, Wagner

Third base: Schmidt, Robinson

Outfield: Aaron, Clemente, Cobb, DiMaggio, Griffey, Mantle, Mays, Ruth, Williams

Pitcher: Johnson, Spahn, Young, Grover C. Alexander, Bob Feller, Greg Maddux

Michael Waller, publisher of The Sun, baseball fanatic

(his selections are in order of preference):

Catcher: Gibson, Bench

First base: Gehrig, Foxx

Second base: Eddie Collins, Hornsby

Shortstop: Wagner, Ripken

Third base: Schmidt, Eddie Mathews

Outfield: Ruth, Cobb, Williams, Mays, Musial, DiMaggio, Aaron, Robinson, Mantle

Pitcher: Johnson, Mathewson, Grove, Young, Feller, Koufax

Comments: Why these guys? Josh Gibson: "The black Babe Ruth, with more than 900 home runs in 17 seasons, a lifetime batting average of .354 and a cannon for an arm, was the all-time greatest catcher." ... Eddie Collins: "Every season was a 'career' season. He hit over .340 in four decades and had an on-base percentage of over .400 for 13 seasons." Why not these guys? Brooks Robinson: "He was great -- third best at third base -- but in five fewer seasons Eddie Mathews was more productive. Defense counts, but producing runs is the name of the game."

Nolan Ryan: "A rare physical specimen with zillions of strikeouts. But he lost nearly 300 games and only the uninformed and weak of mind would include him among even their top 15 pitchers."

Ken Burns, filmmaker, creator of the PBS documentary series "Baseball"

(via an assistant): "He has asked me to let you know that he'd love to carve out even a moment of time to give this some thought. ... However, his production schedule is quite grueling and there is no end in sight for the coming two years."

The All-Century Team

From among a list of 100 of the greatest players in professional baseball history, fans voted for the following players as the best of the past 100 years (in order of preference at each position):

Catcher: Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra

First base: Lou Gehrig, Mark McGwire

Second base: Jackie Robinson, Rogers Hornsby

Shortstop: Cal Ripken Jr., Ernie Banks

Third base: Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson

Outfield: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Ken Griffey Jr., Pete Rose

Pitcher: Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Cy Young, Roger Clemens, Bob Gibson, Walter Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Satchel Paige

These five players were added to the team by a panel of experts: Shortstop Honus Wagner, outfielder Stan Musial and pitchers Lefty Grove, Christy Mathewson and Warren Spahn.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad