For the second time in recent posting, I’m going to shamelessly borrow an idea from SportsPhd. He posted a comment on the absurdity of equating greatness as a player with winning a championship in a team sport. I agree entirely with him. I sat down following his post and began seeing if I could put together a team of players who never won and yet made it to Cooperstown. It was actually pretty easy, so I went a step farther.
Consider this team:
Infield from first to third: George Sisler, Rod Carew, Ernie Banks, and George Kell.
Outfield: Billy Williams, Harry Heilman, Ralph Kiner
Catcher: Rick Ferrell
Pitchers: Fergie Jenkins and Ted Lyons
Know what they have in common besides being Hall of Famers and not having won a World Series? They also never even got into a World Series. Yep, that’s right, team. This is a list of Hall of Fame quality players who failed to find a team good enough to earn a trip to the World Series. I’ll admit to having some problems with a couple of them getting into the Hall, but they are there and we have to deal with it.
This list points out two things to me. First, that you can be genuinely good and not win. Second, the truly great names, the ones we really expect to see in Cooperstown, do make it to a championship, at least occasionally. Here’s a look at a team that got to a World Series, but didn’t win. Notice that most of us would consider it a better team (at most positions).
Infield: Willie McCovey, Nellie Fox, Robin Yount, Fred Lindstrom
Outfield: Ted Williams, Jim Rice, Tony Gwynn
Catcher: Carlton Fisk
Pitchers: Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry
So if winning it all is the best measure of greatness, all these guys fall short (and Scott Brosius is a great, great, great–he won three–player).
There are other players that can be added. Feel free to put together your own and post it here.
Tags: Billy Williams, Carlton Fisk, Don Sutton, Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Fred Lindstrom, Gaylord Perry, George Kell, George Sisler, Harry Heilman, Jim Rice, Nellie Fox, Ralph Kiner, Rick Ferrell, Robin Yount, Rod Carew, Ted Lyon, Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn, Willie McCovey