Yesterday’s post about Kentucky Hall of Famers made me think about who would make an All-Star team composed of only Kentucky natives. With the help of the wonderful database at Baseball-Reference.com I set out to make such a team. Each player’s playing time is listed next to his name along with the team or teams he spent most of his career with. The second bullet under each name lists the players batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage, and his rankings among relevant categories are listed in bolded parentheses next to that category.
C — John Grimm (1888-1899) — Louisville Colonels/Brooklyn Grooms
- The running for greatest catcher in Kentucky history wasn’t a hotly contested one. Grimm leads Kentucky players who spent the majority of their career behind the plate in hits and games played, but ranks only in 28th and 30th place among all Kentucky natives in those categories. Grimm was born in Lebanon, Ky. His best season came in 1894 for the Louisville Colonels when he hit .298 with 7 home runs and 70 RBI.
- .267/.302/.359 — 705 hits (28), 706 games (30), .943 Fielding %
With Sunday’s induction of outfielders Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice into the Baseball Hall of Fame and Monday’s announcement from hall of famer Jim Bunning that he wouldn’t seek re-election to the U. S. Senate I thought we’d profile Kentucky’s four hall of famers. Clicking on each player’s name will take you to his official Hall of Fame entry.
Jim Bunning, RHP, Detroit Tigers
- Bunning is perhaps more famous for his political career as a U. S. representative (1987-1999) and U. S. senator (1999-present) today, but before he was a nationally prominent politician he was a hall of fame pitcher. Bunning pitched from 1955-1971 for Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. Over his career Bunning was 224-184 with a 3.27 ERA and 2855 strikeouts. Bunning was the first pitcher to record both 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in the American and National League and pitched a no-hitter in each league. He was a seven-time All-Star and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996 by the Veteran’s Committee.
Pee Wee Reese, SS, Brooklyn Dodgers
- “Pee Wee” was born Harold Henry Reese in Ekron, Ky., in 1918. The defensive whiz spent his entire career with the Dodgers organization and played along side Jackie Robinson for most of his career. Reese was the captain of the Dodgers during their dominant run through the National League in the 1950s and 1960s. Pee Wee is most famous for his embrace of Robinson during pre-game warmups in Cincinnati during Robinson’s first season in baseball. As Reese, a white man, embraced his black teammate on the field the crowd that was heckling Robinson quited. The moment was immortalized in a statue in Brooklyn in 2005.
- Reese led the National league in putouts four times, double plays twice and fielding percentage and assists once each. Reese helped lead Brooklyn to seven pennants and never missed a inning of the seven World Series he participated in. Reese only batted over .300 once in his career and finished his playing days with a .269 average, 2170 hits and 1338 runs scored. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984 by the veterans committee.