Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Born as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, the franchise moved to St. Louis as the Browns in 1902 and has been in Baltimore since 1954. The only real success has come during the time in Baltimore, where the club has enjoyed 12 postseason appearances with half of them coming from 1966-74. Over 52 seasons in St. Louis, there were only 12 winning seasons and eight painful 100-loss years. I suspect there will be little debate over these selections.
It could be argued that Ripken may even be on the MLB Mt. Rushmore. Not so much for his performance — although his numbers are clearly Hall of Fame worthy — but for what he meant to the game at a time baseball needed something spectacular. After the labor dispute debacle that wiped out the 1994 postseason, Ripken captivated fans with his tendency to show up and play every day.
I can’t imagine a third baseman winning 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards. While that may not be an acceptable way to measure defensive greatness, it does mean some measure of respect among peers. Robinson could also hit. Brooks finished in the top 3 in MVP voting four times, winning the award in 1964.
Many women may remember Palmer for his famous Jockey underwear ads, but he was the definition of ace. He won 20 games for the Orioles in eight of nine seasons, missing only an injury-marred 1974 season. He tossed a shutout in the World Series as a 20-year-old facing Sandy Koufax in 1966, and went on to win World Series games in the next two decades.
He was quiet and steady. For five consecutive seasons from 1981-85, Murray finished in the top 5 for the MVP award, but never won it. Only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Murray can claim 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 1,900 RBIs.
There really is little argument here. Frank Robinson is a name that will come up most often. He won an MVP, triple crown and was part of four pennants and two World Series champions in Baltimore. But his time and production in Baltimore just don’t measure up to the others.
Earl Weaver deserves mention, for sure. He led the O’s to six division titles, four pennants, two World Series championships and won 100 games on five occasions.
The best the St. Louis era can offer is George Sisler. Gorgeous George hit .344 and racked up 2,295 hits in 1,647 games that spanned 12 seasons with the Browns.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: