MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports­­

Who is your favorite player from each team in Major League Baseball that you have seen play? Doesn’t have to be the best player, just your favorite player. It can be the best, of course, but in this case, just your favorite from each team for whatever reason. Let’s start with mine, beginning with the players I have seen play from the teams in our 2 Hours from Everywhere Conference (1965 to present).

Baltimore Orioles: Brooks Robinson. The greatest third baseman who ever lived. Nicest guy who ever lived, along with Steve Bazarnic.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Roberto Clemente. The Great One. In every way. Next in line: Willie Stargell, though both caused me great misery in 1971 and 1979.

Washington Senators: Frank Howard — Hondo; The Washington Monument. Hit the ball a mile. Wonderful man.

Washington Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman – put the latest D.C. baseball team (there have been three) on the map. Mr. National.

The rest

Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson. Absolutely frightening and so good once he became a pitcher, rather than a guy who just threw gas. Next in line: Luis Gonzalez. Guy could rake.

Atlanta Braves: Henry Aaron. That’s all.

Boston Red Sox: Carl Yastrzemski. The ’67 Impossible Dream was electrifying and so was Yaz, even for those of us who have never been Sawx fans.

California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels: Alex Johnson. Won 1970 AL batting title by .0004 over Yastrzemski. Guy could hit. Had a lot on his mind. He should have.

“Hell yes, I’m bitter,” he said. “I’ve been bitter ever since I learned I was black. The society into which I was born and in which I grew up and in which I play ball today is anti-black. My attitude is nothing more than a reaction of their attitude.”

Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks. “It’s a beautiful day for baseball. Let’s play two!”

Chicago White Sox: Luis Aparicio. Hall of Fame shortstop and base stealer for Go-Go Sox, Orioles, Chisox again and Sawx.

Cincinnati Reds: Joe Morgan. One of the greatest second basemen in history. Pushed the Big Red Machine over the top and into history. Next in line: Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez.

Cleveland Indians/Guardians: Albert Belle – angry man; helluva baseball player. Once interviewed him when he was an Oriole.

Me: “Excuse me, Albert. May I ask you a couple of questions?”

Albert: “No.”

Me: “Okay.”

Colorado Rockies: You’ve got Hall of Famer Larry Walker and Todd Helton, who maybe should be in the Hall of Fame as well. Great choices. I’ll take Charlie Blackmon.

Detroit Tigers: Al Kaline – Hall of Famer. Baltimore kid. Southern High graduate. Never played a day in the minors. Got his 3,000th hit at Memorial Stadium in his hometown of Baltimore. Hit it off McNally. Sweet man.

Houston Astros: Jimmy Wynn – The Toy Cannon.

Kansas City Royals: Amos Otis. He put the expansion Royals on their way. One of the best center fielders of his time.

Tied with the one and only George Brett.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Dusty Baker. I think that sums it up perfectly, thank you.

Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton followed closely by Miguel Cabrera. And Luis Castillo. And Hanley Ramirez.

Milwaukee Brewers: Robin Yount. Not one day in the minors. Played in the bigs at 18. MVP as a shortstop one year and a centerfielder another year; third player in history (Hank Greenberg and Stan Musial) to do so at different positions. Scratch golfer; could have done PGA Tour. The Larry Bird of baseball.

Minnesota Twins: Tony Oliva. Just a fantastic baseball player. Guy had all five tools, but knees went bad on him. Hit vicious line drives.

New York Mets: Tom Seaver. This just in — There is only one Tom Terrific and it ain’t you, Brady.

New York Yankees: Roy White – the most underrated ballplayer in modern Yankees history. Switch-hitting left-fielder who helped Yanks through the abysmal ‘60s and was rewarded as a key player and quiet leader for ’77-78 champs. Next in line: Mel Stottlemyre. One of the best pitchers in baseball (on bad teams) during the 1960s and early ‘70s.

Oakland Athletics: Reggie Jackson. He was Mr. October well before he started calling himself Mr. October during the Yankees days. Next in line: Jim “Catfish” Hunter — money pitcher for three-time world champs.

“The sun don’t shine on the same dog’s ass all the time.”

Next – Rickey Henderson.

Philadelphia Phillies: John Kruk. First time I met then-very soft-spoken John, his JUCO coach Steve Bazarnic said, “John’s going to hit .300 in the big leagues.”

Me: “Okay.”

The last hit in John’s career came in Baltimore. He retired on the spot with a career batting average of .300.

Next in line: Dick Allen.

St. Louis Cardinals: Bob Gibson. The most electrifying pitcher I’ve ever seen. A man’s man. One pitcher to pitch a game to save your life? Bob Gibson.

Next – Curt Flood, Lou Brock.

San Diego Padres: Come on, man … Mr. Tony Gwynn. I love Tony Gwynn and I want you to love him, too.

San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays. Arguably the greatest ballplayer who ever lived. Say Hey!

Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr. Duh.

Seattle Pilots: Jim Bouton. World Series hero for Yanks. Wrote “Ball Four,” the most important book about baseball in history. Next in line – Dooley Womack?

Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria – Mr. Devil Ray/Ray. Made the Rays legit. His home run against the Yankees on the final day of 2011, along with the Orioles’ wonderful walk-off win (can you say Robert Andino?) torpedoed the Sawx and was the perfect ending to a day of baseball poetry.

Texas Rangers: Adrian Beltre. One of the great third basemen in history. Clutch hitter and competitor. If you didn’t like Adrian Beltre, there is something wrong with you.

Toronto Blue Jays: Roberto Alomar. He was the best player on every team he played for. Next: Joe Carter.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT