With MLB training camps set to open in Florida and Arizona, no doubt there are a few WAGs missing their sweethearts today. In honor of the Day of Love, we present the all-time Valentine’s Day lineup including Flowers, a Rose, Candy, a Cookie, a Jewel and an appearance by Cupid himself.
The former 33rd-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves posted career highs across the board while catching 124 games for the White Sox in 2014. Flowers hit 15 home runs and doubled his RBI total (from 24 in 2013 to 50), but could use a little more discernment (159 SO , 25 BB) at the plate.
Every lady loves a little gold for Valentine’s Day, and the Diamondbacks certainly struck the mother lode with their first baseman, a future National League MVP.
The pudgy second baseman was one of the best players of his era, but has received only modest support for the Hall of Fame over the years. He amassed 1,721 hits over a 13-year career. All but 189 of those hits came in the 1800s while playing for the Quakers, Stars, Spiders, Perfectos and Orphans. He was a part of multiple trades, once for Gid Garner, another time for Cub Striker. Also known as Fats and Fatty, according to Baseball-Reference.com, the Grand Rapids Democrat called him “the most curiously built man in the baseball business ... he is as wide as he is long, yet there are few men who can get over the ground faster than the ‘dumpling.’”
Cookie was an all-star for Brooklyn from 1938-41, and then spent the next four years serving his country. Thank you for your service, sir.
Once a budding prospect in the Dodgers’ system, this Valentine was on his way to stardom in the city of Angels when a gruesome collision with an outfield wall derailed his career. With nearly 1,200 wins and one National League pennant in his 16 seasons as manager of the Rangers, Mets and Red Sox, Valentine also fits the bill as the ideal skipper for this unique team.
Jim Ray Hart
The sweet-swinging Hart averaged .290-29-92 with an OPS+ of 136 over his first four seasons in the bigs. Unfortunately, he was overshadowed by guys named Mays, McCovey and Cepeda in the same lineup.
No player ever got to first base more than the all-time hits leader. He wasn’t bad at scoring either.
No prudent base runner dared to sneak an extra base when this Valentine was throwing darts from right field.
Cain pitched in an offensive era in the 1930s for the Philadelphia A’s, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox, so he didn’t win many games. Evidently, he wasn’t afraid to issue free passes. He led the league in walks once, logged more than 100 in three successive seasons and ended his career with 5.6 BB/9IP.
Abraham Lincoln “Sweetbread” Bailey
The righthander fashioned a non-descript career with only six starts and 46 relief appearances, but this name must be on any list compiled in February.
Signed as an amateur free agent by the Braves in 2007, this lefthander was a bona fide Diamond in the rough, going 18-22 from 2012-13 as a member of the Twins’ rotation. He showed considerable more polish in 2012 (12-9, 3.54 ERA, 31 BB in 173 IP) than '13 (6-13, 5.43 ERA, 36 BB in 131 IP).
At 6-7 and 195 pounds, we’re guessing his frame is the origin of the name. He won 13 games for the Yankees in 1918 and gave up only eight home runs in his career, but some who victimized him are memorable names: Swede Risberg and Hap Felsh of Black Sox fame, Smoky Joe Wood, George Burns and, of course, the Babe.
The journeyman won 193 games in the minors for eight different organizations, but pitched a scant 27 innings for the Phillies and Cardinals in the 1950s. Evidently, Lynn wasn’t exactly the loving sort. He was reportedly kicked out of the dugout by his own manager, Cot Deal, in the minors for complaining about a lack of defensive support.
Jewel Winklemeyer Ens
The first baseman didn’t see much action in the majors, but he played with Hall of Famers Max Carey, Pie Traynor and Kiki Cuyler with the Pirates. Yet there was only one authentic jewel on that team.
Diamond Jim Gentile
With a nickname like Diamond Jim and a surname pronounced “jen-TEEL” the slugging first baseman must be in the Valentine’s Day lineup. He was third in AL MVP voting in 1961, the year Roger Maris hit 61 home runs, Mickey Mantle slugged 54 and Norm Cash batted .361.
Averaging 29 home runs for the Brewers from 2010-12, Hart was broken during the 2013 season in what ended up being his final go-round with Milwaukee. He wound up in Seattle, but was no Hartbreaker for Mariners fans, hitting just .203 with six home runs in 68 games.
Rudolph Valentino Regalado
Yep, that’s his name. Whether or not the backup infielder made women in Cleveland swoon or not is unknown. But in 91 games for the Indians he had no effect on pitchers whatsoever.
A personal favorite of mine ever since his pennant-clinching pinch-hit for my Strat-O-Matic team in 1989.