Tony Gwynn and the faces of their franchises

Amid the tributes for San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn, who died Monday at 54, I decided to do a quick exercise. With respect to Dave Winfield or a young Ozzie Smith, Gwynn has always been the face of the Padres for me, the first player who comes to mind when I think of the team. Listing the other 29 current teams, I wrote out a quick list of franchise faces.

These players are as follows:

San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays
Los Angeles Dodgers: Sandy Koufax (Jackie Robinson for life of franchise)
San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn
Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton
Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson

St. Louis Cardinals: Stan Musial
Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks
Milwaukee Brewers: Robin Yount
Cincinnati Reds: Joe Morgan
Pittsburgh Pirates: Honus Wagner

Atlanta Braves: Hank Aaron
New York Mets: Tom Seaver
Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg (Tim Raines for life of franchise)
Philadelphia Phillies: Mike Schmidt
Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton

Oakland Athletics: Rickey Henderson
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout
Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr.
Houston Astros: Jeff Bagwell
Texas Rangers: Ivan Rodriguez

Kansas City Royals: George Brett
Minnesota Twins: Kirby Puckett (Walter Johnson for life of franchise)
Cleveland Indians: Bob Feller
Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb
Chicago White Sox: Frank Thomas

New York Yankees: Babe Ruth
Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams
Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria
Baltimore Orioles: Cal Ripken Jr.
Toronto Blue Jays: Dave Stieb

Among other things, it’s striking to me that most teams have a living franchise face; then again, I suppose that’s to be expected in a league that’s nearly doubled since 1961.

6 Replies to “Tony Gwynn and the faces of their franchises”

  1. Very good list! I’d only quibble that while Raines may be the best Expos/Nats player, and was the favourite of my youth, Gary Carter and Rusty Staub (!) were probably more popular *in* Montreal … also, do people in Arizona see Johnson as their ‘face’? I hadn’t realized his peak years allowed for 118 wins in the desert … I would have guessed Luis Gonzalez.

    Great list to brighten the mood at the sad news of Gwynn (and Bob Welch) passing away.

  2. I agree with all your choices Graham except Joe Morgan for the Reds. I would pick Johnny Bench.

  3. For the longest time, the obvious face of the Phillies’ franchise was Richie Ashburn, who was connected with the team as player or announcer for 48 years. I would still argue he was the most popular player in team history, though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with listing Schmidt as you did above.

  4. Graham,

    Well done, as always. The face of the Tigers has been(for a while now) and will always be Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline.

  5. Very good list and blog Graham. Nice to read more regular blogs of yours lately.
    The face of the teams from my perspective are no doubt limited by a generational perspective.
    Might have chosen Harmon Killebrew for the Twins. But can see the rationale for all of your picks and always enjoy your pov.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *