Another view of the lineup of the century

Baseball: The `All-Century Team' from some serious fans.

October 25, 1999|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,SUN STAFF

This "roar of the crowd" stuff is vastly overrated.

This weekend, Major League Baseball named a 30-member All-Century team as voted on by fans and a panel of experts. After studying the results, all we can say is: Aah, what do they know?

You see, The Sun asked its own distinguished group of voters -- columnist George F. Will, broadcaster Bob Costas, Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell, sportswriters Dave Kindred and Christine Brennan and Sun publisher and long-time fan Michael E. Waller -- for their selections.

(We also asked baseball documentarian Ken Burns for his thoughts. We received a reply from his secretary saying, essentially, that Burns would have no time to consider such a request "for the coming two years." Two years! The man's day planner must be a sight!)

The fans made few surprising choices. Yankees legend Lou Gehrig narrowly edged the most famous athlete of all time, Babe Ruth, in total votes. And Pete Rose, banned from baseball for gambling, got the ninth spot in the All-Century outfield.

By contrast, the selections of The Sun's panelists were often controversial.

Will, for instance, listed Stan Musial, one of the great outfielders of all time, as his backup first baseman. Will also voted Kansas City great George Brett ahead of Baltimore's sainted Brooks Robinson at third base, and chose Tony Gwynn of the Padres and ex-Phillies center fielder Richie Ashburn for the outfield.

Costas left Cy Young, whose name is on baseball's top pitching award, off his list. Kindred of the Sporting News left Joe DiMaggio out of his outfield, saying Stan Musial was more deserving. And Waller opined that Nolan Ryan, voted first among pitchers by the fans, doesn't rank among the top 15 hurlers of the century.

Bob Costas, World Series sportscaster

Catcher: Johnny Bench, Josh Gibson

First base: Lou Gehrig, Mark McGwire

Second base: Rogers Hornsby, Jackie Robinson

Shortstop: Cal Ripken Jr., Honus Wagner

Third base: Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson

Outfield: Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams

Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Lefty Grove, Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Satchel Paige, Warren Spahn

Comments: "If I could add five more players they would be: George Brett, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton. ... And that still leaves out: Greg Maddux, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, Tony Gwynn, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, etc., etc. It's just impossible!"

Dave Kindred, sportswriter, author

Catcher: Bench, J. Gibson

First base: Gehrig, McGwire

Second base: J. Robinson, Morgan

Shortstop: Wagner, Ernie Banks

Third base: Schmidt, George Brett

Outfield: Aaron, Cobb, Griffey, Mantle, Mays, Musial, Ruth, Williams, Oscar Charleston

Pitcher: B. Gibson, Johnson, Koufax, Paige, Mathewson, Cy Young

Comments: "Why no Joe DiMaggio?: If they'd traded uniforms, DiMaggio in St. Louis and Stan Musial in New York, Musial today would be regarded as the second-best player of all time, raised to Babe Ruth's side by the Yankee mythology machine. ... My lineup in "One Game to Save All Civilization": Morgan, Wagner, Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, Schmidt, Musial, Bench, Koufax."

George Will, pundit, author, baseball nut

Catcher: Bench, Roy Campanella

First base: Gehrig, Musial

Second base: Morgan, Hornsby

Shortstop: Wagner, Ripken

Third base: Schmidt, Brett

Outfield: Aaron, Cobb, Griffey, Mays, Ruth, Richie Ashburn, Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Frank Robinson

Pitcher: B. Gibson, Grove, Johnson, Koufax, Spahn, Dennis Eckersley

Comments: "Roy Campanella, three times MVP, and a major-league career that started late because of racism and ended early because of an automobile accident. ... Richie Ashburn led the 1950s in hits and holds a slew of center-field records -- you can look it up. ... Rickey Henderson, best all-around player of the last quarter of this century; greatest leadoff hitter ever; greatest base runner ever." ... About Musial at first base: "OK, I am bending the rules, but I need nine other spots for my outfielders, and he played the game at first."

Christine Brennan, USA Today sportswriter, author

Catcher: Bench, Yogi Berra

First base: Gehrig, Harmon Killebrew

Second base: Hornsby, J. Robinson

Shortstop: Wagner, Banks

Third base: Schmidt, B. Robinson

Outfield: Aaron, Cobb, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays, Ruth, Williams, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline

Pitcher: B. Gibson, Johnson, Koufax, Young, Rollie Fingers, Warren Spahn

Comments: "Why Kaline?: I grew up a Tigers fan in Toledo, Ohio. ... Gotta love Jackie Robinson for historical reasons ... loved Ernie Banks with the Cubs ... Yogi Berra IS baseball ... Roberto Clemente was a great man ... Rollie Fingers changed the game."

Ernie Harwell, veteran baseball announcer

Catcher: Bench, Berra

First base: Gehrig, McGwire

Second base: Hornsby, Robinson

Shortstop: Ripken, Wagner

Third base: Schmidt, Robinson

Outfield: Aaron, Clemente, Cobb, DiMaggio, Griffey, Mantle, Mays, Ruth, Williams

Pitcher: Johnson, Spahn, Young, Grover C. Alexander, Bob Feller, Greg Maddux

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