The “What If” Dream Team

I’ve been kicking around the idea lately of creating a dream lineup for the players I feel were held back from immortality by one misfortune or another.  These are the players who generally suffered some kind of catastrophic injury, left the game in shame, or died young.  Barring these fates, many if not most of the following men would have been Hall of Fame members.

They are as follows:

P- J.R. Richard: From 1975 to 1979, he averaged roughly 17 wins and 240 strikeouts per season.  Had his career not been cut short in 1980 by a stroke at age 30, he would probably have accumulated 250-300 career wins and earned a Hall of Fame plaque.

C- Ray Fosse: A poster child for the dark side of the All Star game, Fosse was just 23 and a bright young catcher for the Cleveland Indians when Pete Rose barreled into him to score the winning run in the 1970 contest.  Fosse was never the same thereafter.

1B- Nick Esasky: He really only had one good season, hitting 30 home runs for the Boston Red Sox in 1989, which earned him a large free agent contract.  Esasky played just nine games thereafter, however, having to retire in 1990 because of vertigo.  Alfred Hitchcock later made a film about this.  I think.

2B- Ken Hubbs: He was Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove winner in 1962 at age 20, but died before the start of the 1964 season in a plane crash.

3B-Heinie Zimmerman: One of many players who was barred from baseball due to gambling in the early part of the twentieth century, Zimmerman is largely a forgotten name today.  However, had he not been thrown out of the game in 1919 at 32, the .295 lifetime hitter would have likely rounded out his career with something over 2,000 hits, perhaps enough for a Hall of Fame bid.

SS- Dickie Thon: He was never the same after missing most of the 1984 season after taking a beanball to the face.  The sponsor ad on his Baseball Reference page probably says it best: Just a Mike Torrez fastball away from the Hall of Fame, Dickie was a forgotten Astros great, and an inspiration to us all.

RF- Tony Conigliaro: Pretty much the same story as Thon, except it happened on the Red Sox in 1967.

CF- Lyman Bostock: A sweet hitting outfielder for the California Angels, Bostock got murdered in a drive-by shooting at the end of the 1978 season. Riding in a car with a woman he had met 20 minutes before, Bostock was shot by her jealous, estranged husband.

LF- Joe Jackson: He got banned for being apart of the Black Sox scandal that threw the 1919 World Series and aside from Pete Rose, is perhaps the best player not in the Hall of Fame. Funny how baseball works sometimes.  Babe Ruth was a preferred name at whorehouses across the country, Ty Cobb admitted late in life to killing a man in the street in 1912, and Barry Bonds will probably get into the Hall of Fame before federal prison, if he ever even gets convicted, but Jackson, a lifetime .356 hitter, has little to no shot at Cooperstown.

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