Baseball, often referred to as “America’s Pastime,” has a history filled with iconic figures who left an indelible mark on the sport. Some players who rewrote the record books and transformed the game.
Here’s a look back on some of the athletes that will never be forgotten in the MLB.
1. Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth, often regarded as the greatest baseball player of all time, revolutionized the sport with power and charisma. He played for 22 seasons for the Red Sox, Yankees and one season with the Braves beginning in 1914. From 1915 to 1918, Ruth led the MLB with most wins from a left-handed pitcher. Later, he focused on his role as a hitter where he set records and then broke them himself.
Ruth was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of the first five members. As of 2023, there are 270 former MLB players in the hall of fame.
His name is synonymous with home runs, and his legacy continues to inspire generations of baseball enthusiasts.
2. Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson shattered the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He was the first African American to play in the MLB and played for ten seasons.
His courage and talent not only changed the game but also, played a crucial role in the civil rights movement. Robinson stole 200 bases throughout his career. He was named the NL MVP in 1949 after leading the league with a .342 batting average and stealing 37 bases in one season.
Robinson’s No. 42 is retired across all of baseball in his honor.
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3. Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron’s incredible consistency and power at the plate made him one of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball history. He was a right fielder and designated hitter who had a lengthy career in the MLB, retiring with 23 seasons.
Aaron is remembered for breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record. He was nicknamed “Hammer” or “Hammerin’ Hank” for his long ball and became an enduring symbol of perseverance.
He is remembered for saying, “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”
4. Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak and his poignant farewell speech, in which he called himself “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth,” have solidified his place in baseball lore. He played for 17 seasons with the Yankees, and is nicknamed “The Iron Horse” for his durability while playing first baseman.
5. Cy Young
The Cy Young Award, given annually to the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, is named in honor of the legendary Cy Young. Young’s 511 career wins have remained an unbreakable record as of 2023, and he set a standard for pitching excellence that endures to this day.
6. Yogi Berra
Yogi Berra, famous for his “Yogi-isms,” was not only a Hall of Fame catcher but also an ambassador of the game. His ten won World Series championships while playing with the New York Yankees and his talent ensure that his name will be forever linked with baseball.
Berra played in the MLB for 19 seasons, 18 with the New York Yankees, and briefly played with the New York Mets in his final season before retiring. He caught 3 no-hitters throughout his career.
7. Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter, the longtime New York Yankees shortstop, was known for his leadership, clutch performances and consistency. He played for 20 years in New York and is name is synonymous with the modern Yankees dynasty and his numerous memorable moments in the postseason.
He was inducted into to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020.
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8. Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax’s pitching prowess during the 1960s is remarked as legendary. His four no-hitters and multiple Cy Young Awards showcase his dominance on the mound, making him one of the most celebrated pitchers in history.
Koufax played for 12 seasons, ending with 2,396 strikeouts, 137 complete games and 40 shutouts, according to the MLB website.
9. Willie Mays
Willie Mays, played with a combination of power, speed and fielding prowess, is often regarded as one of the greatest all-around players in baseball history by enthusiasts. His nickname, “The Say Hey Kid,” and his unforgettable moments on the field ensure his name’s legacy.
Mays is a member of the 3,000 hit club and in his 22 season career, he cracked 660 home runs and won 12 Gold Glove Awards for the way he played the outfield.
10. Barry Bonds
Bonds, known for his skilled batting and record-breaking home runs, played in the major leagues from 1986 to 2007 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. He holds the record for the most home runs in a single season (73) and the all-time career home run record (762).