Alternate dream teams

It’s been a long time coming, but after nearly a month, the end of voting for the BPP All-Time Dream Project is less than two days out. The polls close Tuesday at 9 p.m. PST, and for anyone who hasn’t done so already, it’s not too late to pick a nine-player lineup. As I write these words mid-day Monday, votes are still coming in thanks to an SF Chronicle blog post today from one of my mentors, Peter Hartlaub.

I’ve also been emailing in recent weeks with longtime Sports Illustrated writer and editor Robert Creamer, who gave a memorable interview here in January. I’d hoped to get some words from Creamer for the final results post of my dream project on April 15, and while he declined for personal reasons, he got me thinking about something else: alternate lineups. In our emails back and forth, I gave Creamer a peak at the vote leaders, and without giving too much away, he noted some lack of racial diversity among the picks. Creamer had an idea for me yesterday, writing:

how about adding an all white vs an all black team?  or something    could be stimulating.    go a litle nutty — how about an all righthanded white team against an all lefthanded black team.  kind of nutty but baseball is supposed to be fun.

I agree, wholeheartedly. One of the overarching things I try to do here is strive to keep things fun and celebrate the best of baseball. I see it as a good use for a blog, and while I don’t hesitate to write about less-positive subject matter when necessary, I prefer to keep the focus here positive when I can.

In this spirit, here are a few alternate dream lineups. Please feel free to add more in the comments section.

The all-California native or raised team

  • P – Randy Johnson
  • C – Gary Carter
  • 1B – Eddie Murray
  • 2B – Joe Morgan
  • 3B – Evan Longoria
  • SS – Troy Tulowitzki
  • RF – Frank Robinson
  • CF – Joe DiMaggio
  • LF – Ted Williams

The all-5’9″ or below team

  • P – Bobby Shantz
  • C – Roy Campanella
  • 1B – Matty Alou
  • 2B – David Eckstein
  • 3B – Mel Ott
  • SS – Phil Rizzuto
  • RF – Yogi Berra
  • CF – Bob Caruthers
  • LF – Tim Raines
  • PH – Eddie Gaedel

The all Negro League players who never appeared in the majors team

  • P – John Donaldson
  • C – Josh Gibson
  • 1B – Buck Leonard
  • 2B – Frank Grant
  • 3B – Judy Johnson
  • SS – Willie Wells
  • RF – John Beckwith
  • CF – Oscar Charleston
  • LF – Turkey Stearnes

The all-other-sports team

  • P – Bob Gibson or Fergie Jenkins, who played for the Harlem Globetrotters or Tom Glavine, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL in 1984
  • C – Joe Mauer, named a USA Today high school football player of the year in 2000
  • 1B – Todd Helton, who quarterbacked at Tennessee before Peyton Manning
  • 2B – Jackie Robinson, a track and football standout at UCLA
  • 3B – Drew Henson, who seemingly had the talent to be a star NFL quarterback or a cornerstone for the Yankees but fell short in both capacities
  • SS – Dick Groat, who played in the NBA before helping the Pirates win the 1960 World Series
  • RF – Dave Winfield, drafted in four sports
  • CF – Willie Mays, an accomplished punter and quarterback in high school football; he also averaged 17 points a game in high school basketball
  • LF – Bo Jackson

9 Replies to “Alternate dream teams”

  1. For the All other sports team you forgot Deion Sanders. He might have to replace Mays or you can put him at DH. Danny Ainge might deserve to be on the list too. He had a cup of coffee in the pros.

  2. For pitchers, I think you ought to give the nod to Dave Debusschere, who had a more successful career in the NBA than as a pitcher for the White Sox.

  3. I would substitute Johnny Kling of the Chicago Orphans/Cubs at catcher, for while Joe Mauer was a high school gridiron star, “Noisy” Kling won the world’s billiards championship from one Charles “Cowboy” Weston. The Cubs backstop had spent the 1909 season away from baseball after a salary dispute, spending the summer at home in Kansas City, practicing at the Dixon Hotel (which Johnny had built and outfitted with a splendid billiards parlor that included 39 tables built to his specifications), and that October he won the title. He would return to baseball and play for several more seasons, retiring in 1913 after stints with Boston (where he served as player-manager) and Cincinnati. In off-seasons and after his retirement, he mentored his nephew, Bennie Allen, who was the world’s 14/1 ball champion from 1913 until 1915.

    Some might argue that billiards is a game rather than a sport, but given that ABC elected to televise championship matches on their Wide World of Sports program, i submit that pocket billiards qualifies as a sport and that Johnny Kling qualifies as my starter at catcher….

    And while both Bob Gibson (251-174, 2.91) and Ferguson Jenkins (286-226, 3.24) were vastly superior moundsmen compared to Donald Eugene Conley (91-96, 3.82), it should be noted that Gene holds the distinction of having pitched for a World Series champion (9-9, 3.16) for Milwaukee in 1957 and backing up starting center Bill Russell on three Boston Celtics NBA champions from 1959-1961–while continuing to pitch in the big leagues! Depending on whether the criteria here is for the best baseball players who played other sports or the best all-round athletes who were professional baseball players, Conley might be my starter over Gibby and Fergie.

    And then, of course, there’s solid evidence that World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson (1908-1915) played first base professionally for the Philadelphia Giants, a pre-Negro Leagues black baseball team that starred Negro Leagues founder and Hall of Famer Andrew “Rube” Foster….

  4. That was a fun blog!
    Pete Rose who even in his playing days was quite a bit shorter than his baseball card height at 5′ 10″ would definitely qualify for consideration of the below 5’9″ team.
    And although he might not get the starting job in right field over the multi-talented Dave Winfiield, Roberto Clemente was a track star in high school running the 400 meter, the high jump and his strongest event the javelin throw. He was considered for the Puerto Rican Olympic team as a javelin thrower, but it would have meant that Roberto would have to give up baseball for a while.
    Speaking of Clemente– there could be some different versions of all-time latin teams like the All-Time Puerto Rican League Team, which could include not just latinos but whoever was the best their position.
    An All Latin Team. Or isolate the All-time Latin teams by the best from each of the latin countries. The All Latin Team that never appeared in the majors.
    And perhaps the same variations for how the all-time Asian Team?
    If I had the time, I’d want to try and find out what the all-time Brooklyn-born team was!

  5. As far as the 5’9″-or-less team goes, I would argue that Wee Willie Keeler has to start in your outfield for his monicker alone–not to mention his .341 batting average. Yogi could go back behind the plate to form a terrific platoon with Campy (Iván Rodríguez at exactly 5’9″ would be on hand in the event of injuries). Hall of Famer Jud Wilson would take over at first base if I were GM and at second David Eckstein would play once every three weeks or so to give Hall of Famer Joe Morgan (5’7″) a breather. You could pump up the offense at shortstop with either Joe Sewell (5’6½”) or the versatile George Davis (who could spell Master Melvin at third and the center fielder–who would be Hack Wilson [5’6″] if I were in charge.) I like Raines for left field but if you wanted the whole team to hail from Cooperstown, then Hugh Duffy (5’7″) would be your man. The Waner brothers Paul (5’8″) and Lloyd (5’9″) would give you plenty of outfield depth if not height.

    Relieved of his chores as the center gardener, Bob Caruthers would join a rotation including the aforementioned Mr. Shantz and Hall of Famer hurlers Smilin’ Mickey Welch (5’8″), Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn (5’9″), and Happy Jack Chesboro (5’9″). Roy Face (5’8″) would close.

    Finally: the team needs a skipper and who better than John J. McGraw (5’7″) with “Mighty Mite” Miller Huggins (5’6½”) as his bench coach?

  6. The All-Massachusetts Team

    Graham Womack’s Golden State squad can out-slug my Massachusetts entry seven days a week and twice during Sunday’s doubleheader, but the Bay State boys have a Hall of Fame-caliber rotation, airtight infield defense, and an unparalleled coaching and managerial staff running the operation.


    The Rotation (Three Hall-of-Fame right-handers, one future Hall-of-Fame lefty, and over 1400 major league victories)

    John Clarkson (Cambridge)
    Tim Keefe (Cambridge)
    Tom Glavine (Boston)
    Jack Chesbro (North Adams)
    Charlie Buffinton (Fall River)

    The Bullpen (with apologies to Frank Dwyer [Lee], Mark Fidrych [Worcester], Bump Hadley [Lynn],Vic Raschi [Springfield], Bill Monbouquette [Medford], and Mark Wohlers [Holyoke])

    Jeff Reardon (Dalton)
    Steve Bedrosian (Methuen)
    Stu Miller (Northampton)
    Jim Corsi (Newton)
    Wilbur Wood (Cambridge)

    The Lineup (Six players with Cooperstown plaques, one who will get one someday, a 19th century star, and a slugger from the All-Star-Crossed Team)

    2B–Frank Grant (Pittsfield)
    3B–Pie Traynor (Framingham)
    LF–Joe Kelley (Cambridge)
    1B–Jeff Bagwell (Boston)
    DH–Tony Conigliaro (Revere)
    C–Mickey Cochrane (Bridgewater)
    CF–Jimmy Ryan (Clinton)
    RF–Tommy McCarthy (Boston)
    SS–Rabbit Maranville (Springfield)

    The Bench (with apologies to Billy Conigliaro [Revere], Rich Gedman [Worcester], Shanty Hogan [Somerville], Stuffy McInnis [Gloucester], Jerry Remy [Fall River], Fred Tenney [Georgetown], and Whitey Witt [Orange])

    C–Jim Hegan (Lynn)
    1B/3B–Richie Hebner (Boston)
    SS–Mark Belanger (Pittsfield)
    IF–Greg Gagne (Fall River)
    CF–Jimmy Barrett (Athol)

    The Brain Trust–

    Owner/Manager: Connie Mack (East Brookfield)
    Bench Coach: Earle Mack (Spencer)
    First Base Coach: Walpole Joe Morgan (Walpole)
    Third Base Coach: Leo Durocher West Springfield)
    Pitching Coach: Wilbert Robinson (Bolton)
    Bullpen Coach: Cy Perkins (Gloucester)
    Hitting Coach: Walt Hriniak (Natick)

    The Broadcast Booth–

    Ken Coleman (Quincy)
    Sean McDonough (Boston)
    Dave O’Brien (Quincy)
    Don Orsillo (Melrose)
    Tom Grieve (Pittsfield)
    Jerry Remy (Fall River)

    The Knights of the Keyboard–

    Gordon Edes (Lunenburg)
    Peter Gammons (Groton)
    Tony Massarotti (Boston)
    Will McDonough (Boston)

    and, last but not least, The Men in Blue–

    Jocko Conlon (Woburn)
    Steve Palermo (Worcester)
    Jim Reynolds (Marlborough)
    Bill Stewart (Springfield)

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