Today, on the all-important Jackie Robinson Day, Graham Womack of Baseball: Past and Present published his All-Time Dream Project, a project a couple of months in the making in which a group of over 600 baseball lovers came to their consensus on what a nine-player lineup of the greatest ballplayers of all time might look like, a team assembled if you just had to win a ballgame.
I am flattered to have been asked to be a part of the project, and I want to especially thank Graham for letting me write about my father’s hero: Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid.
From the year of his first Most Valuable Player award in 1954 to ‘65 (when he won his second and last MVP), he accumulated between 113 and 119 WAR according to Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs, an average of nearly 10 wins when eight is considered MVP quality. A typical season during that 12-year span for Mays included 40 home runs, 22 thefts, 118 runs, 109 runs batted in and a slash line of .318/.392/.605, all while he dazzled with some of the most brilliant outfield play the world has ever seen.
Read the rest of this Mays’ entry here, and of course make sure to read the write-ups on the other eight spectacular players — and one manager — by nine more spectacular writers (Dan Szymborski, Graham Womack, Diane Firstman, Craig Calcaterra, Frank Graham Jr., William Juliano, Stacey Gotsulias, Marty Appel and Josh Wilker).
My votes, in order of how I might hit ‘em:
1. Joe Morgan, 2B
2. Barry Bonds, LF
3. Willie Mays, CF
4. Lou Gehrig, 1B
5. Mike Schmidt, 3B
6. Babe Ruth, RF
7. Honus Wagner, SS
8. Johnny Bench, C
9. Pedro Martinez, P
The fantastic illustrations were done by the talented Sarah Wiener, so follow her (@for_the_sarah). And make sure to make your donation here to 826 Valencia, a non-profit that teaches journalism to kids, which is also what this ambitious project was about: giving back, which makes it all the more fitting to hit the internet on “42 Day.”
Feel free to debate out my lineup, the consensus lineup, or any players you’d like to see on the list that are not.