The 25 most important people in baseball history

Full voting results for this project can be found here. A list of the 262 voters for this project can be found here.

More than 17,000 people have played Major League Baseball. Countless others have contributed to the game from working in front offices to writing about baseball and more. It’s hard to say who matters most, players or everyone else and it’s an age-old debate. Personally, I believe both groups are important. Few people can play at the highest level. And without a range of support, they wouldn’t do so professionally, at least not in a league that generates close to $10 billion annually.

That said, I decided recently to take this debate public. I spent several weeks asking anyone interested to select the 25 most important people in baseball history. I distributed a 190-person reference ballot with write-in candidates welcome and anyone eligible. There wasn’t a set criteria for importance. I prefer that voters for my projects work independently and make their own determinations.

In all, 262 people voted in this project. Here’s how the top 25 came out:

Babe Ruth, 1921 | Library of Congress
Babe Ruth, 1921 | Library of Congress

1. Babe Ruth, 259 votes out of 262

It’s difficult to overstate Babe Ruth’s importance to baseball.

The Boston Red Sox sold Ruth to the New York Yankees months after the 1919 World Series. While that Fall Classic is the most infamous example of players rigging games, gambling had long polluted baseball. The 1905, 1914 and 1917 World Series all had rumors of gambler presence.

Baseball needed saviors in 1920. It got Kenesaw Mountain Landis as commissioner and he immediately began banning crooked players. And baseball got its greatest star, perhaps the greatest star of any sport ever.

With Landis acting with autocratic precision and Ruth out-homering entire teams– 14 of 16 in 1920, for instance– baseball quickly transformed, becoming more popular than ever. If that sounds like hyperbole, consider that while no team attracted 1,000,000 fans in a season before 1920, three broke the mark in the ’20s with a number of other teams seeing spikes in attendance.

One can only wonder what might have been without Landis or Ruth– especially Ruth, who was always larger than life, ideally suited to be baseball’s king.

Jackie Robinson | Library of Congress
A 1951 comic book | Library of Congress

2. Jackie Robinson, 257 votes out of 262

The impetus for this project came after Ken Burns referred to Jackie Robinson as “the most important person in the history of baseball.”

I think voters for this project got it right, though that’s not to take anything away from Robinson. His breaking of baseball’s 63-year color barrier in 1947 is one of the greatest stories of any sport. Robinson then forged a legit Hall of Fame career, with his contributions above stats actually making him a little underrated.

Like Ruth, Robinson transformed baseball for the better. And like Ruth, baseball’s fate hung in the balance with Robinson. Branch Rickey knew when he signed Robinson that the wrong player could set back integration in the majors by 20 years. Robinson’s stoicism as he endured systemic verbal abuse his first two years with the Dodgers paved the way for numerous star black players.

3. Branch Rickey, 224 votes out of 262

Many people spoke of signing black players between 1884 and 1947. John McGraw had a list of players he wished he could sign. Bill Veeck tried to buy the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942 and stock the team with black stars, but commissioner Landis scuttled his plans.

Perhaps Landis’s death in 1944 and the looming civil rights movement made integration in baseball inevitable. That said, Branch Rickey helped accelerate the process by signing Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in October 1945. Where others spoke, dreamed or quietly accepted the injustice of baseball’s color line, Rickey acted. It didn’t just benefit Robinson. Every black player in the majors before 1970 owes at least part of his career to Rickey.

If helping integrate baseball had been Rickey’s sole contribution, he might make this list. He rates so highly for everything else he did, including: creating baseball’s farm system while general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals; hiring the game’s first sabermetrician, Allan Roth in 1947; and helping spur baseball’s expansion by getting involved in 1959 with a proposed third league, the Continental League.

4. [tie] Hank Aaron, 195 votes out of 262

Much as some people despise Barry Bonds, he encountered nothing of the same vitriol Hank Aaron did in breaking the career home run record. Aaron spent 1973 receiving hate mail as he chased Ruth’s 714 homers. It got so bad that in spring training in 1974, with Aaron still one homer shy of Ruth, the Braves hired Atlanta Police Department detective sergeant Calvin Wardlaw as Aaron’s bodyguard. Aaron, typically low-key, played it down saying, “Ah, he’s a friend of mine and he’s on vacation down here anyway.”

Aaron got his record, cherished enough that some still consider him home run champion. Late in 1974, Aaron also gave an interview where he decried the lack of black managers, telling reporters:

I don’t think baseball has moved as far as it should have since Jackie Robinson’s time. Facts are facts. We have Monte Irvin in the Commissioner’s office and we have Bill Lucas in the front office [of the Atlanta Braves] and that’s all.

There’ve been four managerial changes so far this year and a black man wasn’t considered for any of them. To be absolutely honest about it, I wouldn’t like to manage. But I know other blacks in baseball who would, and could.

Nine days later, the Cleveland Indians named Frank Robinson player-manager.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis [Library of Congress]
Judge Landis, 1924 | Library of Congress
4. [tie] Kenesaw Mountain Landis, 195 votes out of 262

Kenesaw Mountain Landis is the highest-ranked person here whose impact on baseball was both significantly positive and negative.

On one hand, Landis’ role in excising gambling from the majors after the 1919 World Series cannot be denied. The job of commissioner was created for him, to replace the three-man National Commission. Seventy years after the former federal judge’s death, he remains the standard for commissioners. As longtime baseball writer Fred Lieb noted in his 1977 memoir Baseball As I Have Known It, “None of the men who succeeded him has had anything like the Judge’s czarlike authority and domination.”

That said, Landis may have done more than any man in his lifetime to keep baseball segregated. While it’s no surprise someone named for a Civil War battlefield held bigoted views common to his time, a more progressive commissioner may have allowed Negro League legends like Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston and Cool Papa Bell into the majors. The quality of play in the majors suffered for Landis’s racism.

Ty Cobb, 1913 | Library of Congress
Ty Cobb, 1913 | Library of Congress

6. Ty Cobb, 179 votes out of 262

Some people may forget that in the first Hall of Fame election, Ty Cobb finished first with 98.2 percent of the vote. Just four voters failed to select Cobb on their ballots. Early Hall of Fame elections were chaotic, with all players eligible and 30-40 future HOFers generally receiving votes. Still, one must wonder what those Cobb-less ballots looked like.

Cobb’s overwhelming Hall of Fame support was a credit to his much-celebrated 4,191 hits, .367 lifetime batting average [though there is some dispute over these stats] and more. Some fun facts with Cobb include that he won 12 batting titles in a 13-season span, hit .387 for the 1910s and once smacked five home runs in two days after saying he could hit homers if he tried. One newspaper writer noted after Cobb’s home run binge:

All the old fellows in the American League and some of the young ones, too, are crowing raucously and joyously because of the stunts Ty Cobb is doing with the bat. It is the reaction of ball players who have had Babe Ruth’s feats waved before their eyes until they have covertly expressed their annoyance.

7. Marvin Miller, 175 votes out of 262

The Veterans Committee has famously turned down Marvin Miller several times. I’m curious how much longer it takes for Cooperstown to honor the late Miller, who served as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 until 1982. I doubt any person in the past 50 years has done as much to change baseball as Miller, who led the charge to topple the game’s reserve clause in the 1970s. Baseball’s more equitable for his efforts.

8. Bill James, 159 votes out of 262

I’ll admit it. It may look absurd that a former amateur statistician and one-time pork and beans factory night watchman got more votes for this project than many of the men listed below him and plenty more who didn’t make this list. That seems oddly appropriate for paying tribute to Bill James, who’s made a career of spurning conventional baseball wisdom and encouraging people to think differently.

While James’ methods and findings have sometimes been unorthodox, they’ve been used to great effect by teams like the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. James has also inspired countless baseball researchers and writers. Sean Forman, founder of [who, by the way, finished 47th in voting here] told me via email:

Bill James is the central figure of sabermetrics and always will be just as Shakespeare is the central figure in English Literature.  All of the work that preceded him fed into his work and all that follows flows from what he did.

9. Ted Williams, 155.5 votes out of 262

Between being baseball’s most recent .400 hitter, winning two Triple Crowns and writing “The Science of Hitting,” Ted Williams might be the most famous hitter ever. He batted .344 lifetime and was remarkably consistent, offering roughly equal adjusted rates of offensive production for both halves of his career, a 193 OPS+ for his first nine seasons and a 187 OPS+ for his final ten.

Without service in two wars costing him roughly five seasons, Williams also may have broken Ruth’s home run record. I have Williams at 668 homers without military service and I assume Williams would have played longer than 1960 if he’d had a reasonable chance to catch Ruth. After all, the Splendid Splinter had an offer to pinch hit for the Yankees in 1961.

There’s more to Williams’ legacy than hitting, though. In his Hall of Fame induction speech in 1966, Williams said, “I hope that some day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro League players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.” Negro League inductions began five years later.

10. [tie] Willie Mays, 141 votes out of 262

The Say Hey Kid’s low rank strikes me, as he’s dominated two of my previous projects. In 2012, Mays got the most votes for a proposed Hall of Fame inner circle. Mays was also selected in 2012 as center fielder for an all-time dream team, besting Ty Cobb by a 4-1 margin in votes. I’m not sure what led to the switch this time, though I didn’t have Mays in a personal top ten list I that posted in September. Perhaps that influenced votes.

So we’re clear, I think Mays or Ruth is the greatest player in baseball history. I go back and forth on this, but it’s clearly a two-man race to me. Robert Creamer said in an interview here in January 2012 that Mays was the best player he covered, noting, “He could rise to a pitch of intensity that was almost unbelievable, creating an excitement that I have never forgotten.” Like Williams, Mays also may have broken Ruth’s home run record without missing time for military service.

But this project is about more than simply being a magnificent player. While I set no parameters, encouraging voters to determine their own criteria for importance, there seems to be a trend of honoring people who made contributions beyond the playing field. It’s hard to find anything Mays did to transcend baseball beyond playing it better than anyone of his era, if not ever.

10. [tie] Curt Flood, 141 votes out of 262

Reading votes for this project, I was reminded how many people were at least peripherally related to the fight to end baseball’s reserve clause. To name a few, there are Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally, at the center of the 1975 arbitration case that led to free agency. There’s Catfish Hunter, who became a free agent because of a contract glitch in 1974, though it’s worth adding his case set no precedent. Then there are lesser-known figures such as New York Giants outfielder Danny Gardella who sued baseball challenging the reserve clause after being barred for jumping to the Mexican League in 1946.

For all the important figures of baseball’s labor movement, though, Curt Flood gets a lion’s share of the attention even if he was unsuccessful in his efforts. Flood’s refusal to report to the Philadelphia Phillies after a trade in December 1969 and his subsequent lawsuit against baseball to challenge its reserve clause effectively ended his career. It’s a common misconception that Flood’s case ended the clause. Flood lost 5-3 in the Supreme Court on June 6, 1972 and the reserve clause and baseball’s exemption to anti-trust laws remained. That said, Flood helped affect change.

While it can be argued that arbitrator Peter Seitz acted independently of Flood’s case when he abrogated the reserve clause in 1975, creating free agency, Flood’s case cast attention. It also had an unexpected benefit for players, as noted in this New York Times piece: It gave owners false confidence heading into the McNally-Messersmith case.

12. Lou Gehrig, 120 votes out of 262

Lou Gehrig slides into home | Library of Congress
Lou Gehrig slides into home | Library of Congress

Most consecutive games played until Cal Ripken Jr. Gave best speech in baseball history. Arguably the greatest first baseman of all-time.

Rather than say more, I encourage people to read what Frank Graham Jr. wrote for my all-time dream team project about his boyhood friendship with Gehrig.

13. Al Spalding, 116 votes out of 262

With Abner Doubleday long since debunked as baseball’s founder and Alexander Cartwright’s status as the game’s true founder dismissed in recent years, there’s a question of who could rank as baseball’s most important 19th century figure and pioneer. The honor could go to Spalding, a Hall of Fame executive, one of baseball’s first star players and a sporting goods magnate.

As John Thorn wrote in Baseball in the Garden of Eden, Spalding also backed the Abraham G. Mills Commission which anointed Doubleday as baseball’s founder in 1908. Thorn wrote:

It has turned out that Spalding and Chadwick– like the calculated exponents of Doubleday and Cartwright– were not mere liars and blowhards. They were conscious architects of legend… They were trying to create a national mythology from baseball, which they identified as America’s secular religion because it seemed to support faith for the faithless and unify them, perhaps in a way that might suit other ends. If in the process of crafting this useful past, certain individuals, events, ball clubs– even competing versions of the game, like those played in New England or Pennsylvania– had to be left along the road in the name of progress, so be it.

As a footnote, Thorn wrote of four people with a better claim to inventing baseball than anyone mentioned thus far: Doc Adams, William H. Tucker, Louis Wadsworth and William R. Wheaton.

14. Dr. Frank Jobe, 110.5 votes out of 262

Not counting Al Spalding or Babe Ruth– or Ted Williams or Ty Cobb, who each pitched briefly in the majors– Jobe got more votes here than any pitcher. In a sense, the doctor who developed Tommy John Surgery in 1974 and, later, reconstructive shoulder surgery is responsible for more wins than anyone. David Schoenfield noted for upon Jobe’s death in March that more than 500 pitchers have had Tommy John Surgery. Jobe isn’t in Cooperstown, though some like Schoenfield think he belongs.

15. [tie] Ban Johnson, 108 votes out of 262

Since its founding in 1876, the National League has faced many competing leagues. Most have quickly disappeared, such as the Union Association of 1884 which had teams that didn’t make it through the season. Ban Johnson established the only competitor that’s lasted, transforming the minor Western League into the American League in 1901. Johnson steered his circuit well enough for it to survive an ensuing war with the National League over the next two years. When peace was settled, he helped institute the World Series.

Cy Young [Library of Congress]
Cy Young, 1909 | Library of Congress
15. [tie] Cy Young, 108 votes out of 262

With few exceptions, Deadball Era pitchers were done in their mid-30s. Christy Mathewson, Kid Nichols and Ed Walsh all last pitched at 36. Chief Bender and Rube Waddell left the majors at 33.

Cy Young, however, pitched until age 44. As such, he holds records for wins, losses, games, innings pitched and a staggering 29,565 batters faced. No active pitcher has faced half as many. There’s a reason the top award for pitchers is named for Cy Young.

15. [tie] Henry Chadwick, 108 votes out of 262

The Bill James of 19th century baseball statisticians, Chadwick modernized the box score and invented a number of basic stats, such earned run average, batting average and the RBI. Chadwick has been in the Hall of Fame since 1939, one reason I think James will eventually be enshrined.

15. [tie] Roberto Clemente, 108 votes out of 262

The Pittsburgh Pirates plucked Roberto Clemente from the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm system in the rule 5 draft in 1954 after Clemente hit .257 for Montreal. Clemente needed several more years to become a star, hitting .282 with an 89 OPS+ through 1959 for Pittsburgh. A weird thing happened, however, as Clemente aged– he got better as conditions for hitters grew significantly more challenging. After the size of the strike zone was increased in January 1963, causing run totals to plummet, Clemente hit .331 with a 149 OPS+ over his final 10 seasons, winning three of his four batting titles.

Clemente built a reputation beyond hitting, too. A cannon-armed right fielder, he won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves and, according to the Play Index tool, Clemente’s 205 defensive runs saved are fifth-best in baseball history. Clemente was also a veteran leader for Pittsburgh until his death in a 1972 plane crash. He had been en route to help victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. Appropriately, baseball’s annual humanitarian award is named in Clemente’s honor.

19. [tie] Barry Bonds, 107 votes out of 262

19. [tie] Pete Rose, 107 votes out of 262

It seems fitting that two of the more controversial players in baseball history would wind up tied here. Barry Bonds and Pete Rose are both regulars in another project I do having people vote on the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame. For what it’s worth, I predicted recently that Bonds and Rose will both be in Cooperstown within 20 years.

I see a special steroid era committee enshrining all-time home run leader Bonds and a number of other players like Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire who, for better or worse, defined and dominated their era. In addition, Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he likely began using performance enhancing drugs. Bonds’ use of steroids obscures that younger version of him. In a sense, Bonds is underrated.

As for all-time hits leader Rose, someone who admitted to betting on games his teams played in is less attractive as a Hall of Fame candidate than a steroid user. But there’s no proof Rose bet on his teams to lose. Rose’s actions, while egregious, aren’t on the same level of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who took $5,000 to help throw the 1919 World Series. Time diminishes outrage, too. I see Rose being inducted by the Veterans Committee shortly after his death.

21. Bud Selig, 105 votes out of 262

Say what you will about Bud Selig who will retire in January after 23 years as baseball commissioner. He’s extremely polarizing and he’s presided over some of baseball’s darkest moments in the past quarter century, notably the 1994 strike and the steroid era.

Some like Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated have laid blame for steroid use in baseball on players, noting that baseball banned steroids in 1991 and that the players union wouldn’t agree to testing until 2004. Selig deserves some share of the blame in my book. Major League Baseball had to have some idea what its players were up to. It was on Selig to blow the whistle, ask for federal help, perhaps from the Drug Enforcement Agency to address baseball’s steroid problem.

Instead, Selig placed profitability first and that, ultimately, relates to what he will be remembered for. As CEO, in effect, of a multi-billion dollar enterprise, Selig has been very successful. Total MLB revenues were around $1.2 billion annually– about $2 billion in 2014 dollars– when Selig became acting commissioner in 1992. Today, MLB revenues are around $9 billion annually. From a pure business standpoint, Bud Selig is the best commissioner in baseball history and it isn’t close. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame soon, this year, maybe next.

22. Satchel Paige, 99 votes out of 262

A retired scout once asked me to name the most durable pitcher in baseball history. I thought for a moment and suggested Walter Johnson. “Nolan Ryan!” the scout chortled and our conversation was effectively over. I thought more about it later and it occurred to me that the answer had to be Satchel Paige. The legendary hurler debuted in 1926 and was pitching in exhibitions as late as 1969, estimating he won 2,000 games. Counting exhibition play, he might be the only pitcher to strike out Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.

23. [tie] Bill Veeck, 95 votes out of 262

He wasn’t the most successful owner, not by a long shot. He might not have been the most creative one either, with Charlie Finley and Chris von der Ahe each giving him a run for this honor. But Bill Veeck was a masterful enough promoter and showman to still be talked about more than 50 years since he did anything of note, aside of course from his role in the infamous Disco Demolition Night of 1979.

Finer moments for Veeck include helping break the American League color barrier in July 1947 by signing Larry Doby, giving Satchel Paige a long overdue shot in the majors, having midget Eddie Gaedel hit, creating the exploding scoreboard and building pennant winners with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.

Connie Mack [Library of Congress]
Connie Mack | Library of Congress
23. [tie] John McGraw, 95 votes out of 262

25. Connie Mack, 94 votes out of 262

It’s hard to choose the best manager in baseball history. Joe McCarthy, who never had a losing season, has the top winning percentage at .615. Readers here selected Casey Stengel as manager for the all-time dream project. Tony LaRussa, meanwhile, got the most votes of any write-in candidate in this project with 19. I’ve found a person will get three to four times as many votes, sometimes more, if they’re on the ballot for my projects, so it’s conceivable LaRussa would be the top-ranked manager here if I’d included him.

I don’t know if I see LaRussa getting more votes, though, than McGraw or Mack who’ve had more than a century to build their lore. Mack has nearly 1,000 more credited wins than any manager in baseball history, sitting on the Philadelphia Athletics bench until months before his 88th birthday in 1950. He built [and for economic reasons dismantled] two dynasties, winning nine pennants and five championships. While Mack had few winning teams and was mostly a figurehead after 1932, McGraw stayed competitive throughout his 33 years managing the New York Giants and Baltimore Orioles. He had just four losing years, winning 10 pennants and three championships.


Approximately 332 people received at least one vote in this project. Full voting results can be found here.

Thanks again to everyone who voted. Names of the 262 voters are listed here

To see people explain their votes, make sure to check out these posts.

Voting results

Below are full voting results for my project on the 25 most important people in baseball history.

The following chart contains 350 names, in alphabetical order of first name: 172 who appeared on a ballot I provided and received at least vote; 18 who appeared on the ballot and didn’t receive any votes; and another 160 people who received write-in votes.

A total of 262 people voted in this project. Their names can be found here. I’ll also provide a link to the original ballot and my personal top ten, from September.

Rank Person Votes Notes
220-tie Aaron Chapman 1 Write-in
149-tie Abner Doubleday 3 Write-in
220-tie Abraham G. Mills 1
170-tie Al Reach 2 Write-in
13 Al Spalding 116
170-tie Albert Pujols 2
217-tie Albert Von Tilzer 1.5 Write-in
101-tie Alex Rodriguez 9
35 Alexander Cartwright 65
220-tie Alexander Chadwick 1 Write-in
220-tie Alexander Cleland 1 Write-in
170-tie Alfred H. Spink 2 Write-in
220-tie Alfred Reach 1 Write-in
75-tie Allan Roth 15
220-tie Amos Rusie 1 Write-in
115-tie Andy Messersmith 6 Write-in
220-tie Archie Ward 1 Write-in
115-tie Arnold Rothstein 6 Write-in
220-tie Augie Bush 1 Write-in
1 Babe Ruth 259
15-tie Ban Johnson 108
170-tie Barney Dreyfuss 2 Write-in
19-tie Barry Bonds 107
71-tie Bart Giamatti 17
220-tie Bernie Williams 1 Write-in
170-tie Bill Buckner 2 Write-in
220-tie Bill Doak 1 Write-in
8 Bill James 159
115-tie Bill Klem 6
149-tie Bill Mazeroski 3
220-tie Bill Miller 1 Write-in
23-tie Bill Veeck 95
220-tie Bill White 1 Write-in
170-tie Billy Bean 2 Write-in
81-tie Billy Beane 14 Write-in
170-tie Billy Martin 2 Write-in
136-tie Bo Jackson 4
220-tie Bob Bowman 1 Write-in
71-tie Bob Feller 17
64-tie Bob Gibson 20
220-tie Bob Howsam 1 Write-in
220-tie Bob Uecker 1 Write-in
220-tie Bob Watson 1 Write-in
220-tie Bobby Cox 1 Write-in
220-tie Bobby Murcer 1 Write-in
170-tie Bobby Thomson 2
57-tie Bowie Kuhn 27
3 Branch Rickey 224
170-tie Brooks Robinson 2
170-tie Bruce Sutter 2 Write-in
220-tie Bryce Harper 1 Write-in
170-tie Buck Leonard 2
41 Buck O’Neil 49
220-tie Bud Fowler 1 Write-in
21 Bud Selig 105
33 Cal Ripken Jr. 75
75-tie Candy Cummings 15
37 Cap Anson 55
169 Carl Mays 2.5 Write-in
220-tie Carl Stotz 1 Write-in
149-tie Carl Yastrzemski 3 Write-in
220-tie Carlton Fisk 1
40 Casey Stengel 50
56 Charles Comiskey 28
92-tie Charlie Finley 11 Write-in
136-tie Charlie Lau 4
136-tie Chris von der Ahe 4 Write-in
39 Christy Mathewson 52
149-tie Clark Griffith 3 Write-in
25 Connie Mack 94
170-tie Cool Papa Bell 2
220-tie Craig Calcaterra 1 Write-in
220-tie Cristobal Torriente 1 Write-in
170-tie Cumberland Posey 2
10-tie Curt Flood 141
220-tie Curt Gowdy 1 Write-in
15-tie Cy Young 108
220-tie Damon Runyon 1 Write-in
170-tie Daniel Okrent 2 Write-in
220-tie Danny Litwhiler 1 Write-in
220-tie Dave Cameron 1 Write-in
149-tie Dave McNally 3 Write-in
220-tie Dave Raymond 1 Write-in
109-tie Dave Smith 7
220-tie David Halberstam 1
170-tie David Ortiz 2 Write-in
220-tie Dennis Eckersley 1 Write-in
170-tie Denny McLain 2 Write-in
60 Derek Jeter 25
220-tie DeWolf Hopper 1
149-tie Dick Young 3
220-tie Dickie Pearce 1 Write-in
115-tie Dizzy Dean 6
125-tie Doc Adams 5 Write-in
220-tie Dock Ellis 1 Write-in
220-tie Don Larsen 1
220-tie Don Sutton 1 Write-in
220-tie Don Zimmer 1 Write-in
170-tie Donald Fehr 2 Write-in
NR Doris Kearns Goodwin 0
220-tie Dorothy Seymour Mills 1
125-tie Dummy Hoy 5
220-tie Dwight Gooden 1 Write-in
75-tie Earl Weaver 15
NR Earnshaw Cook 0
64-tie Ed Barrow 20
220-tie Edgar Martinez 1 Write-in
105-tie Effa Manley 8
NR Eleanor Engle 0
220-tie Emmanuel Cellar 1 Write-in
170-tie Emmett Ashford 2
149-tie Ernest Lanigan 3 Write-in
136-tie Ernest Lawrence Thayer 4
109-tie Ernie Banks 7
149-tie Ernie Harwell 3 Write-in
220-tie Fay Vincent 1 Write-in
170-tie Fernando Valenzuela 2 Write-in
220-tie Fidel Castro 1 Write-in
220-tie Firpo Marberry 1 Write-in
55 Ford Frick 29
14 Dr. Frank Jobe 110.5
43-tie Frank Robinson 46
220-tie Frank Thomas 1 Write-in
149-tie Frankie Frisch 3
220-tie Franklin D. Roosevelt 1 Write-in
136-tie Fred Lieb 4
220-tie Fred Merkle 1 Write-in
220-tie Gary Gillette 1
149-tie George Brett 3
220-tie George F. Cahill 1 Write-in
96-tie George Mitchell 10
28 George Steinbrenner 88
220-tie George Stoneman 1 Write-in
149-tie George Weiss 3 Write-in
170-tie George Wright 2 Write-in
170-tie Grantland Rice 2 Write-in
96-tie Greg Maddux 10
170-tie Grover Cleveland Alexander 2
220-tie Guglielmo Marconi 1 Write-in
170-tie Gus Greenlee 2
115-tie Hal Chase 6
4-tie Hank Aaron 195
48-tie Hank Greenberg 36
71-tie Happy Chandler 17
109-tie Dr. Harold Seymour 7
89-tie Harry Caray 12
136-tie Harry Frazee 4
36 Harry Wright 61
15-tie Henry Chadwick 108
105-tie Hideo Nomo 8 Write-in
NR Hilda Chester 0
220-tie HOK architects 1 Write-in
34 Honus Wagner 74
149-tie Horace Stoneham 3 Write-in
220-tie Horace Wilson 1 Write-in
220-tie Hoyt Wilhelm 1 Write-in
136-tie Hugh Fullerton 4
38 Ichiro Suzuki 54.5
220-tie Ila Borders 1
220-tie Ira Rothstein 1 Write-in
53-tie J.G. Taylor Spink 32
220-tie Jack Brickhouse 1 Write-in
170-tie Jack Buck 2 Write-in
220-tie Jack Chesbro 1 Write-in
NR Jack Morris 0
217-tie Jack Norworth 1.5 Write-in
NR Jackie Mitchell 0
2 Jackie Robinson 257
64-tie Colonel Jacob Ruppert 20
136-tie Dr. James Andrews 4 Write-in
NR Jean Faut 0
149-tie Jean Yawkey 3
220-tie Jeff Kent 1 Write-in
96-tie Jerome Holtzman 10
125-tie Jim Abbott 5
53-tie Jim Bouton 32
220-tie Jim Brosnan 1 Write-in
149-tie Jim Creighton 3
170-tie Jimmie Foxx 2
NR Joanne Weaver 0
NR Joe Carter 0
170-tie Joe Cronin 2 Write-in
26 Joe DiMaggio 93
220-tie Joe Garagiola 1 Write-in
136-tie Joe McCarthy 4 Write-in
170-tie Joe Morgan 2
220-tie Joe Spear 1 Write-in
101-tie Joe Torre 9
220-tie John “Bud” Hillerich 1 Write-in
125-tie John Dewan 5
220-tie John Holway 1 Write-in
220-tie John M. Dowd 1
23-tie John McGraw 95
48-tie John Montgomery Ward 36
220-tie John Paulson 1 Write-in
220-tie John T. Brush 1 Write-in
96-tie John Thorn 10
109-tie Johnny Bench 7
220-tie Johnny Podres 1
NR Johnny Sain 0
220-tie Jon Miller 1 Write-in
51 Jose Canseco 34
52 Josh Gibson 33
170-tie Juan Marichal 2 Write-in
NR Judy Johnson 0
NR Jules Tygiel 0
75-tie Ken Burns 15
89-tie Ken Griffey Jr. 12
220-tie Ken Holtzman 1 Write-in
4-tie Kenesaw Mountain Landis 195
220-tie Kevin Costner 1 Write-in
92-tie King Kelly 11
220-tie Kirby Puckett 1 Write-in
NR Kirk Gibson 0
75-tie L. Robert Davids 15
64-tie Larry Doby 20
220-tie Larry Luchino 1 Write-in
81-tie Larry MacPhail 14
115-tie Lawrence Ritter 6
220-tie Lee Allen 1 Write-in
149-tie Lefty Grove 3 Write-in
75-tie Lefty O’Doul 15
85-tie Leo Durocher 13
136-tie Lip Pike 4
NR Lizzie Arlington 0
220-tie Lizzie Murphy 1 Write-in
220-tie Lou Boudreau 1 Write-in
170-tie Lou Brock 2
12 Lou Gehrig 120
170-tie Lou Perini 2 Write-in
220-tie Luis Arroyo 1 Write-in
NR Margaret Donahue 0
101-tie Mariano Rivera 9 Write-in
220-tie Mark Fidrych 1 Write-in
63 Mark McGwire 22
7 Marvin Miller 175
170-tie Matsutaro Shoriki 2 Write-in
136-tie Maury Wills 4
105-tie Mel Allen 8
170-tie Mel Ott 2 Write-in
220-tie Michael Lewis 1
170-tie Michael Weiner 2 Write-in
27 Mickey Mantle 92
220-tie Miguel Cabrera 1 Write-in
109-tie Mike Schmidt 7
220-tie Mike Trout 1 Write-in
220-tie Miller Huggins 1 Write-in
170-tie Minnie Minoso 2 Write-in
220-tie Mitchel Lichtman 1 Write-in
170-tie Monte Irvin 2
220-tie Moonlight Graham 1 Write-in
170-tie Moses Fleetwood Walker 2 Write-in
125-tie Nap Lajoie 5
220-tie NBC 1 Write-in
170-tie Ned Hanlon 2 Write-in
46 Nolan Ryan 40
149-tie Old Hoss Radbourn 3 Write-in
57-tie Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. 27
115-tie Oscar Charleston 6
109-tie Ozzie Smith 7
NR Pam Postema 0
220-tie Patrick Hulbert 1 Write-in
136-tie Paul Krichell 4
220-tie Paul Molitor 1 Write-in
85-tie Pedro Martinez 13
170-tie Pee Wee Reese 2 Write-in
170-tie Pete Palmer 2
19-tie Pete Rose 107
220-tie Peter Gammons 1 Write-in
85-tie Peter Seitz 13
220-tie Peter Ueberroth 1 Write-in
170-tie Phil Rizzuto 2 Write-in
149-tie Phil Wrigley 3 Write-in
220-tie Rafael Palmeiro 1 Write-in
217-tie Ray Chapman 1.5 Write-in
81-tie Red Barber 14
220-tie Red Grange 1 Write-in
68-tie Red Smith 19
92-tie Reggie Jackson 11
220-tie Rick Monday 1 Write-in
57-tie Rickey Henderson 27
68-tie Ring Lardner 19
220-tie Rob Neyer 1 Write-in
NR Robert Creamer 0
220-tie Robert Moses 1 Write-in
15-tie Roberto Clemente 108
220-tie Rocky Colavito 1 Write-in
220-tie Rod Carew 1 Write-in
89-tie Roger Angell 12
101-tie Roger Bresnahan 9
92-tie Roger Clemens 11
149-tie Roger Kahn 3
71-tie Roger Maris 17
85-tie Rogers Hornsby 13
220-tie Rollie Fingers 1 Write-in
220-tie Ron Santo 1 Write-in
220-tie Ross Barnes 1 Write-in
125-tie Roy Campanella 5
NR Roz Wyman 0
31-tie Rube Foster 79
170-tie Russ Hodges 2
220-tie Ryne Sandberg 1 Write-in
61 Sadaharu Oh 23.5
220-tie Sam Lacy 1
115-tie Sammy Sosa 6
220-tie Sandy Alderson 1 Write-in
42 Sandy Koufax 46.5
22 Satchel Paige 99
115-tie Scott Boras 6 Write-in
47 Sean Forman 39
125-tie Sean Lahman 5
125-tie Sean Smith 5
43-tie Shoeless Joe Jackson 46
170-tie Sol White 2 Write-in
220-tie Sophie Kurys 1
170-tie Sparky Anderson 2 Write-in
220-tie Specs Toporer 1 Write-in
45 Stan Musial 45
81-tie Stephen Carlton Clark 14
220-tie Steve Bartman 1 Write-in
220-tie Steve Carlton 1 Write-in
170-tie Susan Fornoff 2
220-tie Susan Slusser 1
170-tie Sy Berger 2 Write-in
125-tie Ted Turner 5 Write-in
9 Ted Williams 155.5
220-tie Tim Lincecum 1 Write-in
125-tie Tom Seaver 5
220-tie Tom Tango 1 Write-in
149-tie Tom Yawkey 3 Write-in
100 Tommy John 9.5 Write-in
170-tie Tommy Lasorda 2 Write-in
220-tie Tommy McCarthy 1
125-tie Tony Gwynn 5
68-tie Tony LaRussa 19 Write-in
136-tie Tris Speaker 4
6 Ty Cobb 179
29 Vin Scully 86
220-tie Vladimir Guerrero 1 Write-in
220-tie Voros McCracken 1 Write-in
170-tie W.P. Kinsella 2 Write-in
220-tie Walter Alston 1 Write-in
31-tie Walter Johnson 79
30 Walter O’Malley 85
115-tie Warren Spahn 6
105-tie Wendell Smith 8
149-tie Whitey Ford 3 Write-in
62 William Hulbert 23
10-tie Willie Mays 141
48-tie Yogi Berra 36

Everyone who voted

Below is a list of the 262 people who voted in my project on the 25 most important people in baseball history.

A lot of voters provided details about themselves. Voters represent a broad cross-section of the baseball world: fans, researchers, journalists, bloggers, even a former MLB player.

Thanks again to everyone who voted!

Voter Credentials
Aaron Whitehead SABR member
Adam Darowski SABR member, chair of SABR’s Nineteenth Century Overlooked Base Ball Legends committee, and creator of the Hall of Stats
Adam Hardy
Adam Jacobi Baseball fan
Adam Penale
Adam Schiavone
Alex Molochko SABR member, reader
Alex Putterman Sports editor of the Daily Northwestern at Northwestern University
Alvy Singer Longtime baseball fan, avid fan of this website
Andrew Martin Author of Has published article for numerous websites, newspapers and magazine
Andrew Milner SABR member since 1984, IBWAA member, contributor to “American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols and Ideals” and “Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game”
Andy Moursund Longtime SABR member, reader, former book dealer with perhaps the largest collection of baseball books and guides in the US
Anonymous 1
Antonio Rodriguez
Ari Houser
Austin Gisriel SABR member, regular contributor to, author of several baseball books
Bart Silberman Creator and designer of vintage MLB apparel line Moonlight Graham
Ben Carroll Writes
Ben Henry
Bernard Ozarowski
Bill Bell Founding member of a Strat-o-Matic league that will celebrate its 40th season in 2015; spent three months as ballboy for the 1969 Phoenix Giants
Bill Bumgarner “Just a fan who enjoys statistical analysis”
Bill Judge
Billy Waller Hall of Fame enthusiast; high school basketball coach and program director at a Boys and Girls Club
Bob D’Angelo Copy editor, Tampa Tribune
Bob Rittner Baseball fan with an interest in baseball history and sabermetrics
Bob Sawyer Became a SABR member in 2005; author of “Gene Bennett: A Scouts Life” chapter of CAN HE PLAY (c) 2012 McFarland
Bob Sohm
Bob Timmermann
Bob Tufts Former pitcher SF Giants and KC Royals 1981-83
Bobby Aguilera Writes; by day, a sales and marketing director
Brad Wood
Brendan Bingham SABR member, authored chapter for “Bridging Two Dynasties: The 1947 New York Yankees”
Brennan Cully
Brian Cubbison Curator, Syracuse Post Standard
Brian Engelhardt
Brian Russell
Bryan O’Connor Blogger at Replacement Level Baseball Blog and High Heat Stats
Bryn Swartz Bleacher Report Featured Columnist / Former MLB & Phillies blogger
Cecilia Tan SABR member and editor; author of several books
Charles Beatley Wrote
Chris Esser
Chris Murray, fantasy sports guru, sports memorabilia collector
Christian Ruzich
Christopher Kamka SABR member; Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s walking research department; Contributed an essay in- Old Comiskey Park: Essays and Memories of the Historic Home of the Chicago White Sox, 1910-1991
Christopher M. Short UK-born convert to baseball from cricket. Brooklyn Dodger fan from 1955
Chuck McGivney
Cliff Blau
Clyde Sikorski
Cody Cooper
Cody Swartz Current Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, baseball history buff
Craig Swartz
D Charabin
Dalton Mack SABR member, HighHeatStats and
Dan Hirsch Founder of baseball database,
Dan McCloskey SABR member; writes for USA Today, High Heat Stats and
Dan O’Connor “Just a stat fan.” Used to compile TV, film and music stats for a music licensing firm
Daniel Shoptaw Founder of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance; Cardinals blogger
Darin Tuck
Dave Vonderhaar reader, SABR member
David Cohen Former sports editor, Philadelphia Inquirer
David Gold
David Kelly
David Lawrence Reed SABR member, has contributed to the Baseball Research Journal
David Lick Occasional blogger at
David Peng
David Pinto Has written since 2002; former lead researcher for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight
David Uhl
David Williams Baseball card collector and St. Louis Cardinal fan
Dean Godfrey
Dean Sullivan Author of four books of baseball history through University of Nebraska Press
Derrick Fenwick Lifelong fan and baseball history lover. Has been to 37 MLB parks
DeWayne Mann
Domenic Lanza Writer for of ESPN’s Sweetspot network
Douglas E. Heeren
Dr. Meredith Wills SABR member; astrophysicist with expertise in automated tracking and machine learning, fielding junkie looking forward to working with Statcast data, recognized by the Baseball HOF for winning Stitch N’ Pitch’s 2007 national design contest
Duane Harris Writes
Ed Stankowski
Ed White Freelance writer and editor; past journalist, college athletic recruiter and, for 25 years, a practicing attorney
Eric Casey
Eric Chalek Lapsed SABR member, writes and participant in the Hall of Merit
F.J. Nachman
Francisco Hilario
Frank Oglesby
Fred Antczak
G Chan
Gabriel Schechter
Gary Bateman
Gary Passamonte SABR member, Ross Barnes HOF advocate
George Kurtz RotoExperts Fantasy Sports Show, SiriusXM 210/87, 7a-10a EST Sat
Graham Hudson
Greg Layton SABR member, tweets about the Royals
Howard Fisher
Howard Miller Writes the Hall of Miller and Eric
j sharkey
Jacob Rashbaum
James Gross
James Holland
James Nicolls
Jason Kim
Jeff Bozovsky  SABR member; writes for
Jeff Snider
Jena Yamada “Baseball fan, mom to dog, science nerd”
Jerry Woolstrum SABR member and stat head
Jesse Collings
Jim Black Lifelong baseball fan; has seen everyone from Willie Mays to Ken Griffey Jr.
Jim Pertierra SABR member; has run a play-by-mail baseball league since 1979, of which Bill James was an original manager
Jim Proulx
Joe Mello Royals’ fan for ~35 years with an interest in stats and baseball history
Joe Robinson 50-year baseball history enthusiast
Joe Tassinari Blogger and 40-year baseball fan. Recent baseball article:
Joe Ullman
Joe Williams SABR member; former chair of the 19th century committee
Joey Bartz SABR member and doctoral candidate
John Carter Has contributed over a dozen articles to; writes
John Fockler Author of “In Defense of Buck Weaver,” The Torch magazine, v82,#2,p28 (Winter, 2008)
John Kinsey
John Raimo
John Robertson SABR member since 1993; has written three baseball books
John Sharp Writes; huge fan of Bill Freehan
John Sutter
Jonathan Stilwell
JT Ellenberger
Julian Levine Former Giants blogger and writer for
Karl Ehrsam
Kazuto Yamazaki Writes for and [starting soon]
Kenneth Matinale Writes
Kevin Graham SABR member; writes
Kevin Porter Lifelong baseball fan, avid sabermetric reader and Strat-o-Matic fanatic
Kevin Tomlin
Kris Gardner Writes for
Larry Cookson
Larry Marsh
Laura K
Lawrence Azrin Regular at
Lee Domingue Baseball fan
Len Drasin
Mark Blanchard
Mark Robinson
Marty Klotz
Matt Adams
Matt Mitchell SABR member, Professional statistician (non-MLB employed),
Matt Stock
Matt Whitener Writes; creative baseball editor, The Sports Fan Journal
Michael Cook Baseball fan, former writer at Pinstripe Alley, active member of many baseball sites
Michael Henry Spring training reporter, St. Petersburg Evening Independent, 1981-85; Tampa Tribune, 1986-96; Bradenton Herald, 2000-08. Tampa Bay Rays reporter for last paper, 2003-08
Michael Hilywa Blogger,,
Michael Martin High school teacher; love reading about/researching early years of baseball
Michael Terilli Contributor to Baseball Essential
Michael Weddell Affiliated with
Mike Cameron Retired sports writer for Pioneer Press and Chicago Sun-Times; author of “Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball’s Fred Merkle”
Mike Denton Baseball fan; past member of the PCL Historical Society
Mike Huey
Mike Lackey SABR member, recipient of the Larry Ritter Book Award
Mike Norton SABR member, baseball fan since 1950
Mike Schneider
Mike Warwick
Mitch Lutzke
Nathan Aderhold Managing Editor, Halos Daily
Nathan Canby
Nathan Timm
Nick Diunte SABR member who has been published in two books and various newspapers. Writes for and Senior editor for MetroBaseball Magazine
Nick Pain
Nicole Cahill Writes
No email
No name
Pat Corless
Patrick Buzzard Fan post author at
Patrick Dubuque notgraphs expatriate
Patrick Mackin
Paul Dylan Writes and publishes print magazine devoted to tabletop-sports card & dice games like Strat-O-Matic, APBA, and Statis-Pro
Paul McCord
Paul Perilli
Paul Plaine SABR member professional baseball photographer
Paul Plater
Pete Sorice Baseball fan; writes
Peter Nash Writes; founding member of the Def Jam rap group 3rd Bass
Phil Bolda SABR member
Phil Dellio Author of three books and a grade school teacher
Phyllis LaVietes
Rand Tenor
Ray Anselmo SABR member and romance writer
Ray Regan
Rayan Vatti
Rich Dubroff Orioles Insider,
Rich Lipinski
Rich Moser SABR member for more than 10 years; currently writing a book on the Hall of Fame
Richard Solensky
Rick Cabral Founder and editor of; has written two baseball-related e-books
Rick Canale Hall of Fame member, Red Sox fan and collect presidential baseball memorabilia
Ricky Cobb
Rob Dakin Fan and follower of baseball lore since 1956
Rob Harris Writes for Freelance writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, Timeout Chicago and Zisk Magazine, among others
Rob Marshall Baseball fan; recently created hit viral “Waiting for Alexander” video
Robert Rittner
Ron Kaplan
Ron Rollins
Ross Carey SABR member, does
Rusty Logan
Ryan Jennings Loves to attend Minor League Baseball games
Ryan McCrystal Former ESPN Stats & Info researcher; writes for
Ryan Thibodaux
Sam Redden
Scott Brown
Scott Candage
Scott Cole
Scott Crawford Writes at Scott Crawford On Cards (
Scott Glasser #justbaseball. Twitter fan. Baseball fanatic
Scott Jackson Baseball fan for more than 25 years; has been to five consecutive Little League World Series
Scott Klein
Scott Simkus SABR member; author of “Outsider Baseball: The Weird World of Hardball on the Fringe,” which has been nominated for a 2015 CASEY Award and the Seymour Medal
Sean Lahman SABR member, founder of the Lahman Baseball Database
Sean McNeely
Sherri Samudio
Stefano Micolitti Wrote about MLB during 1980s for Italian magazine, “Tuttobaseball e softball”
Steve Kreischer Baseball fan
Steve Snyder Newspaper editor, blogger at
Steve Sullivan
Steven Smith
Ted Maire
Ted Mulvey
Tim Angell
Tim Deale SABR Member, Bio Project contributor, currently writing a manuscript for a baseball book
Tom Crittenden
Tom Gardner
Tom Hanrahan Frequent contributor to By The Numbers and occasionally writes Baseball Research Journal articles
Tom Strother Was a SABR member for more than 30 years; wrote masters thesis titled “Professional Baseball and the Anti-Trust Laws”
Tom Thrash SABR member, ballpark hound–
TR Sullivan Texas Rangers beat writer, MLB.Com
Travis Cherrier
Victor Dadras SABR member and baseball coach
Vinnie “Long time baseball fan whose only regret was his lack of talent”
wayne horiuchi Avid sports card collector who has one of the most extensive game-used/autograph Hall of Fame collections in America
William Tasker Writes for of ESPN SweetSpot Network