I realize I am opening myself up for criticism, chastisement, name-calling, and various and sundry forms of debauchery, but here goes.
This article delves into the second half of the 20th century. I am selecting my All-Star team for the National League from 1951-2000.
Being fully aware this is highly speculative and probably will reflect bias of some sort, I give to you my National League Second Half of the Twentieth Century All-Star Team.
I am old. Keep that in mind. When I was a kid, TV was run by Gas, and rainbows were still in black and white. Therefore, if it is a tossup between the first 25 years and the last 25, you know who I'm picking.
Catcher - Johnny Bench - Cincinnati Reds
Johnny Bench ruled his position in the National League from 1968-1980 being selected to the All-Star team each year.
He hit 389 home runs, knocked in 1376, and had a career average of .267.
These are not Hall-of-Fame numbers, I agree. However, I guess the writers have different standards for different positions. How else could Bill Mazeroski be in there?
Johnny also added 10 consecutive Gold Gloves to his trophy case. He was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1989.
First Baseman - Stan Musial - St. Louis Cardinals
Stan Musial played outfield and first base. Since there were many more great outfielders of this era than first basemen, I thought I'd put "The Man" at first to leave the outfield open for others.
Stan was my father's favorite player, period.
He had a lifetime batting average of .331. His 3630 hits are 4th on the all-time list. His 6134 total bases are 2nd only behind Hank Aaron.
He was the National League MVP three times.
Musial should be on anyone's all-anything all-star team. He also played on 24 All-Star teams, an all- time high.
Musial was elected into the Hall-of-Fame in 1969.
Second Baseman - Pete Rose - Cincinnati Reds
If you have read anything I've ever written, you knew Pete Rose would be on this team somewhere. The beauty of Pete's career is that he played almost everywhere.
I decided to put him in his initial spot at second.
I know the name itself starts arguments, creates fistfights, and makes friends, enemies. But say what you will about the man, you cannot knock him as a ballplayer.
Everyone knows he is the all-time hits leader with 4256. His lifetime average was .303, which plummeted because he didn't have the sense to quit when he should have.
He batted .300 or higher 15 times. He had over 200 hits 10 times and scored 100 runs 10 times.
Charley Hustle was one of the best ever. Show the love people.
Third Baseman - Mike Schmidt - Philadelphia Phillies
Boy, it was tough putting Schmidt over Eddie Mathews and Ron Santo. It was gut-wrenching I tell you.
Schmidt hit 548 home runs, had 1507 RBI, and scored 1506 runs. He was the National League MVP in 1980, '81, and '86. He was voted to 12 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Gloves.
If they ever make a movie of Mike's life, Chuck Norris has to play him.
Mike was elected into the Hall-of-Fame in 1995.
Shortstop - Ernie Banks - Chicago Cubs
Ernie Banks is probably the most clear cut position player on the team. I mean, who else you goin' to, Dick Groat?
Ernie is as much noted for his saying 'Let's play two' as he is for his batting prowess.
Banks hit 512 home runs, knocked in 1636, and had a lifetime average of .274.
Ernie played from 1953 to 1971 and was on 14 All-Star teams (some of them were seasons when they played two All-Star games). He was the National League MVP twice and led the league in home runs twice.
Ernie was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
Left Fielder - Frank Robinson - Cincinnati Reds
Frank Robinson was one of the best players who ever played the game and is perhaps the most underrated. You hear about Mays, you hear about Aaron, you hear about Clemente and Musial. Where is the love for Robby?
He was the National League Rookie-of-the-Year in 1956. The man won the MVP award in the American and National Leagues and is the only player to do so.
He is also one of eight players to win the triple crown award, which he accomplished in 1966 with the Orioles.
His career totals are 586 homers, 1812 RBI, scored 1829 times, had 2943 hits, and a career average of .294
He played the "terrace" in Crosley Field better than any outfielder I ever saw.
Frank was voted into the Hall-of-Fame in 1982.
Center Fielder - Willie Mays - San Francisco Giants
Willie Mays is the best center fielder who ever played. Don't argue with me. Ty Cobb was great, but Mays was one in a lifetime.
He hit 660 home runs, had 1903 RBI, batted .302, and had 3283 hits.
Willie played from 1951-1973. He won the Rookie-of-the-Year in 1951 and also won two National League MVP awards.
He appeared in 24 All-Star games, won 12 Golden Gloves, and batted over .300 on 10 occasions.
Mays was voted into the Hall-of-Fame in 1979.
Right Fielder - Hank Aaron - Milwaukee Braves
Hank Aaron played from 1954 till 1976.
He is the true All-Time Home Run leader, whether he wants to admit it or not.
Hank blasted 755 home runs, 2297 RBI, 3771 hits, a career average of .305, and appeared in 24 All-Star games.
He won the National League MVP award in 1957, and was voted to the Hall-of-Fame in 1982.
Outfielder Emeritus - Roberto Clemente - Pittsburgh Pirates
Roberto Clemente could not be left off a team like this, so I had to invent a position (Honorary Fielder).
He played from 1955-1972. He hit 240 homers, knocked in 1305, and had 3000 hits.
Roberto was voted to 15 All-Star teams, won 12 Gold Gloves, and was the National League MVP in 1966.
Clemente was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1973, one year after his tragic death.
RHP - Bob Gibson - St. Louis Cardinals
It was a tough decision coming up with the best right-handed pitcher of the last half of the 20th century. Many to choose from: Marichal, Drysdale, Feller, Early Wynn, Ferguson Jenkins, Seaver,.....the list goes on and on. I thought about Greg Maddux who would have won had I gone with wins exclusively.
There was more to look at however. Greg only won 20 one time. Gibson did it 5 times. Hell, for that matter Ferguson Jenkins won 20 seven times.
Gibson had one of the best seasons ever in 1968 when he won 22 games and posted a scary 1.12 ERA. His WHIP that year was an amazing 0.85
Bob played from 1959—1975 and won 251 games. He finished with a career ERA of 2.91.
He was voted to nine All-Star teams. He was 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in World Series games, with 92 strikeouts in 81 innings.
Bob was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1981.
LHP - Warren Spahn - Milwaukee Braves
I know, I know. Koufax could pitch rings around him, blah, blah, blah. Listen, Koufax only won 165 games in his career. He only won 20 games three times.
When you look at their whole body of work (I hate when people say that) you can see that Spahn was spectacular. He was a 20-game winner 13 times. Did you read that right? 13 times. How incredible is that?
Spahn is 5th on the all-time wins list with 363. He finished with a career ERA of 3.09. He is 6th on the all-time list in shutouts with 63.
Warren pitched from 1942-1965. He was voted to 17 All-Star teams. He won the Cy Young Award in 1957 while they were awarding only one pitcher in the Major Leagues.
Spahn still holds the National League record for career home runs hit by a pitcher at 35.
He was voted into the Hall-of-Fame in 1973.
© 2009 Clifton Eastham. All Rights Reserved.