By In Baseball

The Hall of Five

Feeding off my post earlier today, I did another survey (yes, results are still coming in from the LAST survey, I know).

It’s a simple question: You get to start your own Baseball Hall of Fame. Remember, you are starting the Hall of Fame from scratch so every player, executive, announcer, contributor and pioneer in baseball history is available to you. Only catch is — you can only include five people.

So, who would be your five?

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145 Responses to The Hall of Five

  1. Alan says:

    Ruth, Williams, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Pedro Martinez

    All players (to start). First four were easy. Fifth was the best player I’ve ever seen play.

  2. Bryan Mack says:

    Jackie Robinson
    Babe Ruth
    Pete Rose
    Micky Mantle
    Ted Williams

  3. dlf9 says:

    I picked the players I’ve most enjoyed watching in the 40 years I’ve been following the game: Rod Carew, Greg Maddux, Luis Tiant, George Brett, and Eric Davis. I want to reward them for all the rewards they’ve provided me.

  4. Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, and Vin Scully (sorry Tallahassee Red)

  5. Eli Augustine says:

    Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Williams, Walter Johnson.

    Biggest name, best all time stats, best overall, best hitter, best pitcher.

  6. Marc fischer says:

    Ruth,Wagner,Johnson, Mays, Cobb

  7. Doug Schellenberg says:

    Ty Cobb
    Walter Johnson
    Babe Ruth
    Branch Rickey
    Willie Mays

  8. I want to change my survey responses just based on the best names:

    Pete LaCock
    Rusty Kuntz
    Dick Pole
    Cannonball Titcomb
    Milton Bradley

  9. largebill says:

    I took the survey, but if it were real I would refuse. Five is a crazy low number. Now, if idea is we put in top five then vote again & put in another five over an over that could work. Went with Ruth, W Johnson, Williams, Mays & Aaron. Feels wrong having four OF & one pitcher.

    • chris schimmels says:

      Don’t fret you’ve got 1 1/2 pitchers.

    • pseudokiwi says:

      I think the original ballot was limited to 5 players right? I think this gets to the point that the “noone was a unanimous first ballot hall of famer” argument is bunk.

      • Largebill says:

        Good point and possibly the angle Joe is going to make. I laugh at people who get all worked up about whether player X is unanimous. The fact that a player is a clear choice to the person writing doesn’t mean 100% of any electorate will agree.

  10. 18thstreet says:

    I’ll bet I’m going to be the other person who named Henry Chadwick. I can’t decide if I was being difficult or if I really believe it. Does baseball exist as it does today without Chadwick? I think the answer is no. And I’m not sure I can say that about any of my other choices (Ruth, Mays, Jackie Robinson/Branch Rickey today (a cop-out, but I stand by it), Walter Johnson).

    • Since Chadwick died in 1908 when baseball was in very limited markets and nothing close to what it is today, putting him in your top five would be nothing more than an attempt for a unique selection. But it does point to the stupidity and pointlessness of this poll. You either play it straight …. I.e. Ruth, Cobb, Aaron, Williams, Mays…. Or go to the absurd….I.e. Chadwick, Dick Pole, Jimmy Piersall or some of the other inane choices in this comment section. It doesn’t make for interesting reading at all. On one hand you get boring predictable choices, and on the other side, patently ridiculous choices that render the entire poll invalid.

  11. Nick says:

    Babe Ruth
    Jackie Robinson
    Willie Mays
    Walter Johnson
    Lou Gehrig

    • Jamoe says:

      Swap out Gehrog for Bonds and that was my vote. Don’t disagree about Gehrig, but wanted a little more balance between eras. Who better for his era than Bonds?

  12. Derek Henry says:

    How about a brief history:
    Alexander Cartwright, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood, Barry Bonds

    • drg137 says:

      I used a similar approach trying to pick five players who defined five different eras of baseball history. It seemed like the best way for a museum. Cy young, Ruth, Mays, Ricky Henderson, and Barry bonds.

    • Brian Block says:

      That’s a similar spirit to the one in which I voted Harry Wright, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Babe Ruth, Branch Rickey, Marvin Miller.

  13. Mark Daniel says:

    I picked the ones I would most like to see if I went to this museum – Ruth, Mays, Williams, Mantle and Cobb.

  14. Cathead says:

    Satchell Paige
    Dizzy Dean
    Casey Stengel
    Yogi Berra
    Jimmy Piersall
    Team executive / owner: Bill Veeck

  15. Cuban X Senators says:

    Branch Rickey
    Henry Chadwick
    Red Barber
    Cornelius McGillicuddy

  16. This is way too hard….but….I’ll go with:

    The Babe
    Cy Young
    Walter Johnson
    Willie Mays
    Stan Musial

  17. Adam says:

    Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Mariano Rivera

  18. cass says:

    Babe Ruth
    Willie Mays
    Barry Bonds
    Walter Johnson
    Roger Clemens

    With only five choices, I think they have to be players. I went with five of the best – three hitters and two pitchers. There are other reasonable choices, but I feel pretty confident in these. Each could easily be defended as the best hitter or pitcher of their era.

    • cass says:

      (I should say “best overall position player” rather than “best hitter”, though the distinction might only matter for Willie Mays.)

      • cass says:

        I also am having second thoughts about my choices of Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson as they played before integration. Given the dilution of talent before integration, I’m not sure any of the players deserve enshrinement.

        It is a fools game to choose between Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson or Walter Johnson and Satchel Paige. So perhaps better to focus on only those who played against the best players period rather than the best players who shared their skin color.

        I’m not certain who I’d replace them with, though. Who was the best position player between Mays and Bonds and the best pitcher of the integration era before Clemens? Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson are tempting, but they overlap with Clemens.

        • jroth95 says:

          Ruth played against exactly as many African-Americans in his WS career as the Red Sox did this year’s Series. There’s no point in comparing talent pools, because they’ve never been remotely comparable between eras (Which Japanese players did Mays face? How many Latinos did Koufax strike out? Does 1928’s Tom Brady play football or baseball?).

    • Wally says:

      Hey, I was close to you: I had Aaron instead of Clemens

    • Mike says:

      I’m very close. Swap in Wagner for Mays, and I’m with you.

    • Anon21 says:

      I swapped in Randy Johnson for Walter because the latter pitched over half his career in the deadball era. I do think the first three are basically no-brainers if you hew to the “players only” view of the Hall of Five. Even though Ruth played before integration, he towered over baseball in his day like a colossus. He should be recognized for his extreme and unique dominance against the (segregated, granted) league of his time.

  19. DC says:

    Ruth, DiMaggio, Mays, Koufax, Williams

  20. Cy Young – because somebody has to represent baseball’s early years, and there is no Honus Wagner or Ty Cobb award

    The Sultan of Swat – best ball player ever (pitching breaks all ties), three great nicknames (you didn’t think Babe was his real name, did you?)

    Satchel Paige – Rookie season ERA+ of 165… at age 41. How good must he have been!

    Jackie Robinson

    Sandy Koufax – If you ever attended a game he pitched, or listened to Scully call his perfect game, you might disagree, but you wouldn’t argue

  21. DB says:

    Ruth, Johnson, Mays, Bonds and Cobb (really fought with myself with Cobb over Williams). Hated only having one pitcher.

  22. djwbaseball says:

    Ruth, Bonds, 42, Ted Williams, and Vin Scully. The 5th was the hardest. Not including a pitcher like Randy or Walter Johnson, Maddux, or Pedro was also tough. But these five are the most important baseball people of my life, even if I wasn’t alive for Ruth and Williams’ contributions.

  23. Andrew says:

    Ruth, Bonds, Mays, Cobb, W. Johnson

  24. Babe Ruth (greatest power hitter), Willy Mays (best all around), Pete Rose (hit king), Nolan Ryan (starting pitcher), Mariano Rivera (relief pitcher)

  25. Jeff says:

    Ruth (greatest hitter/pushed the sport emphatically into the modern offensive era), Mays (best overall), Marvin Miller (created modern baseball through his work as labor union chief), Jackie Robinson (nuf sed), Branch Rickey (chronologically – farm systems, integration, bonus babies)

  26. Matt DiBari says:

    Ruth, Mays, Williams, Aaron, Walter Johnson

  27. Matt Vandermast says:

    Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, Branch Rickey.

  28. PhilM says:

    Ruth, Robinson, Williams, Rivera, Walter Johnson (interesting that we can’t just say “Johnson,” ever since the Big Unit became great).

  29. Perry says:

    Ruth, Rickey, Jackie, Mays, Walter Johnson

  30. Perry says:

    Just to clarify, that’s Branch Rickey, not Rickey Henderson

    • Robert says:

      Although when you think about it, why not the other Rickey? Power, speed, patience….. and always entertaining, whether it was on the field or behind a microphone. Seriously, is it me or does it seem he’s been forgotten really, really quickly?

  31. Babe Ruth
    Jackie Robinson
    Ted Williams
    Branch Rickey
    Marvin Miller

  32. nscadu9 says:

    How about everyone that has awards named for them
    Babe Ruth
    Hank Aaron
    Cy Young
    Jackie Robinson
    Roberto Clemente

    Actually I would go
    Babe Ruth, who is almost unanimous (if only his name was funnier)
    Wille Mays
    Walter Johnson
    Jackie Robinson
    Roberto Clemente

  33. Damon Rutherford says:

    I think the real Hall of Fame had it perfect with their first group — Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Johnson, and Mathewson. I see no reason to change that, so those are my five.

    • nscadu9 says:

      Don’t want to argue too much, that is a nice group and some of it holds up, but MLB changed and perhaps most importantly it integrated. I would say that is a very important reason to change that.

  34. buddaley says:

    I determined to stick to players. And each one had to be great whether your criteria were progressive stats, traditional stats or if you stressed the fame part of the Hall more than the stats.

    Babe Ruth: By any standard, the greatest player ever. And the most famous baseball player ever. Chances are if you have heard about baseball and know only one name it is Babe Ruth.

    Barry Bonds: At his peak, only Ruth dominated the game more completely. Like Ruth, he pretty much lapped the field, playing at a super-human level.

    Ty Cobb: In 1950, in a vote (I don’t remember the constituency, but it had respect), he was voted the greatest player in history. In his time, only Honus Wagner was considered in his class, but Cobb was still the standard. Defined greatness in the dead ball era, and was a great power hitter even using modern standards.

    Willie Mays: Defines the concept of a 5 tool player. Generally considered the greatest complete player in history. Brought a special excitement and style to the game. The stats support the view that he was among the very best ever.

    Roger Clemens: This one gave me trouble. I wanted a pitcher, so had to drop Honus. I considered Walter Johnson, but it was pre-integration. At his peak, Pedro was the greatest pitcher I have ever seen or could even imagine. But the career was relatively short. I am wowed by Randy Johnson and love Greg Maddux. In fact, in the end, it was Maddux or Clemens, and I took the intimidator who was also a pitcher over the pure pitcher.

    • nscadu9 says:

      I like seeing everyone’s perspective and justifying it and I wouldn’t argue with your choices except maybe Clemens and I won’t argue too hard, he would be in my top 5 pitchers behind Johnson and I would take Pedro’s peak over Clemens longevity. I chose chose Ruth and Cobb, but why do they get a pass on integration, but not Walter Johnson? Ruth’s fame perhaps trumps everything, but Cobb and Johnson are the same era.
      Bonds was arguably my number 5, but went with Clemente who was not only great, but also held the character people speak of in regards to the hall. Don’t think that character is a necessity for induction, but Clemente’s character was special.

      • buddaley says:

        I realized there appeared to be a contradiction to omit Johnson while including Ruth and Cobb. In the end, some choices have to be arbitrary. After all, does anyone really think a HOF should include only 5 players?

        To the extent I can justify my choice, it is this. One, I think Ruth is #1 no matter what the criteria. His accomplishments were so unique, his stature so large, his impact on the style of play so immense, that I think one has to pick nits to exclude him.

        As for Cobb, I thought the deadball era had to be represented, and in his own time and for many years after, Cobb represented that style of play at its most pure. I have little doubt that his stats would have been different had baseball been fully integrated while he played, and if someone’s perspective leads him/her to select Oscar Charleston I would not demur. But in his own way, Cobb was as unique as Ruth, both in his performance and in the public perception of his greatness.

        I am being arbitrary in viewing Walter Johnson differently. Were we selecting 10 players, I would definitely include him along with Honus Wagner and Greg Maddux. But if I may pick nits, there is a story that Johnson had no pitch other than his fastball. One can come to contradictory conclusions based on that fact (myth?). It might make him even more remarkable, or it might suggest that his competition was simply inferior to contemporary players. What starter today could get by with one pitch?

        In the end, I picked Clemens whose combination of intimidating power pitching and pitching smarts I saw and who ranks among the greatest pitchers ever no matter how one parses the stats or career.

        Incidentally, this is entirely fortuitous. After writing this, I checked the BB-Ref career WAR list. The first 4 players under hitting are Ruth, Bonds, Mays and Cobb. The gaps between them are .7, 6.4, 5. The gap to #5, Aaron, is 8.7. When you do overall, including pitchers, the list is Ruth, Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Bonds, Mays with Cobb at #6. Clemens is #8 after Aaron. Cy Young has an 18 WAR advantage over Johnson who has a 12.9 WAR advantage over Clemens. Next on the pitcher’s list is Alexander, 22.4 behind Clemens.

        • nscadu9 says:

          If only we’d get justification like that out of the writers. I’m not a huge fan of career WAR, but it is helpful. I prefer peak over longevity as long as that peak or career isn’t too short. I think Walter Johnson peaks higher than any of the pitchers on the list, but will agree with taking Clemens over Maddux and there is room for some type of intangibles. Clemens intimidation and ability to rear back and bring heat for a crucial K puts him a notch above, though I think Maddux had a different type of intimidation. I also felt the hall needs to acknowledge important history like Jackie Robinson. Reading through others lists it seems those #5-10 guys are the toughest to differentiate. So many players just on the cusp of the top handful.

        • BobDD says:

          I think there is one other player who’s uniqueness almost matches the Babe. Satchel Paige was a tremendous showman who pitched for 36 years, half that time appearing in over 100 games per year and closer to 200 at his peak.

          If you were to put only one pitcher (the best one) in this group of only five, I would include him among my finalists to choose from. I think the pool most would select from is: Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Satchel Paige, Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.

          I went to see Satchel in about 1960 to pitch for the Portland Beavers AAA team, because the Portland Oregonian newspaper heralded his first start by writing a long front page article calling him the “Babe Ruth of Pitchers” – I’ve thought of him with that phrase ever since.

          But then Poz essentially has made the “most unique” case for Jackie 42.

  35. Kevin says:

    I’m with Derek Henry on this. Greatest impact on the game of baseball, on or off the field.

    Alexander Cartwright
    Babe Ruth
    Jackie Robinson
    Marvin Miller
    Bill James

  36. CarolinaTiger says:

    Ruth, Walter Johnson, Mays, Honus Wagner, Jackie Robinson.

    Greatest hitter, greatest pitcher, best all-around infielder/outfielder, biggest impact.

  37. Tom Geraghty says:

    Walter Johnson
    Babe Ruth
    Cy Young
    Barry Bonds
    Willie Mays

  38. Phil says:

    I went Ruth, Mays, Jackie Robinson, Williams, and Koufax. The latter isn’t rationally defensible, but I think he’s maybe the guy I’d most want to see—night game, Dodger Stadium, 1965, Koufax vs. Marichal.

  39. Ian R. says:

    Ruth, Aaron, Mays, W. Johnson, Lefty Grove.

    I agree with some previous comments – with only 5 spots, we should honor the players first. Because of Ruth’s pitching, this group is as evenly split between the two aspects of the game as possible, and it includes the greatest position players and the greatest pitchers.

    My next five: Wagner, Maddux, Seaver, Williams, Musial.

  40. invitro says:

    I would like to choose the answers to the question: Who did the most to enhance the enjoyment of major league baseball? Well, I have only read a bit of baseball history, so I don’t know the best answer to that question, but here are some ideas:

    1. Jackie Robinson.

    2. Ban Johnson – founded the American League; cleaned up baseball so that more people could enjoy it. A quote from wikipedia: “He was the most brilliant man the game has ever known. He was more responsible for making baseball the national game than anyone in the history of the sport”. Now that’s a positive recommendation!

    3. Lee Allen – Hall of Fame historian from 1959-1969, voluminous researcher and writer on baseball history, and probably the man most responsible (more than David Neft?) for the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia, which opened up historical baseball statistics to the fans.

    4. Sy Berger – the “father of the modern baseball card”. Co-designed the 1952 Topps set. I’m not clear on if Berger is the guy most responsible for baseball cards (or Woody Gelman, maybe?), but I can’t imagine being a young baseball fan without them.

    5. Bill James – has encouraged teams to play baseball in a logical way, so that intelligent people are a tad less likely to be put off by the stupid things that baseball men do. Also a brilliant baseball historian and general world-class thinker.

    Honorable mention: Babe Ruth, the greatest player, and who certainly enhanced the enjoyment of baseball for millions. But his emergence marked the end of the 1901-1919 era, which is probably my second favorite era for actual baseball play (after 1969-1986), and so is not a 100% positive influence by my confluted reckoning.

  41. Josh T. says:

    Branch Rickey, Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige, Vin Scully, Marvin Miller

  42. Ed says:

    Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Walter Johnson, Pedro Martinez

  43. CarolinaTiger says:

    I just have to disagree with all the Bill James love. I don’t think he’s yet influenced the actual conduct of the game in such a way as to merit inclusion in a five-player Hall, even one that focuses on external influences.

  44. Dave Murray says:

    Babe Ruth because, c’mon
    Willie Mays, ditto
    Henry Aaron
    Lou Gehrig
    Buck O’Neill, because he got screwed out of the “real” HOF. After reading the Soul of Baseball (think that’s the title) I think he might’ve been the finest man to ever play the game.

    I guess Ruth has to pitch.

    Keep writing, Joe, and don’t sweat the typos.

  45. Dave Gilland says:

    Ruth, Cobb, Mays, Aaron, Cy Young

  46. I am the one who drinks! says:

    Jackie Robinson
    Hank Aaron
    Babe Ruth
    Willie Mays
    Ted Williams

  47. Pat C says:

    I tried to pick those that were the most famous since it is a Hall of Fame and not a “Hall of Greatness” or a “Hall of Accomplishment”. If you asked a hundred people on the street to name any baseball player they know, I think this five might be on the board:

    Babe Ruth
    Jackie Robinson
    Mickey Mantle
    Joe DiMaggio
    Ichiro Suzuki

  48. jess says:

    Joe Jackson

  49. Karyn Ellis says:

    Babe Ruth
    Willie Mays
    Barry Bonds
    Ted Williams
    Cy Young

    I could be talked out of Williams and into Cobb or W. Johnson.

  50. J Hench says:

    Jackie Robinson
    Babe Ruth
    Henry Chadwick
    Willie Mays
    Greg Maddux

    First four were easy. The fifth was hard. I was tempted to go with Bill James, but Chadwick did more to popularize the game than any non-player; he gets that spot. Branch Rickey probably would be a better choice, but half of that is for Jackie, and Jackie gets that spot. Tempted to go with Musial or Williams or DiMaggio. But I couldn’t imagine a HOF with no pitchers and no one representing baseball over the last 40 years. Considered Bonds and Clemens, but with only five spots, I’m not rewarding PED enhanced players, no matter how great they were. So…Maddux. Keeping it to five is tough.

  51. DB says:

    I wish Joe had done this as a ranking system (can still only list 5) as well.

  52. JDN says:

    Ruth, Robinson, Pedro, Branch Rickey, and Sadaharu Oh.

  53. Ricky Cobb says:

    Ruth, Cobb, Mays, T. Williams, Aaron

  54. Joe Lanek says:

    In no particular order:

    Babe Ruth
    Willie Mays
    Cy Young
    Rickey Henderson
    Joey Cora

  55. Mike says:


  56. Alexander Cartwright – Simple, founder of modern baseball
    Cy Young – I was 51:49 Cy Young over Walter Johnson
    Babe Ruth – Icon
    Branch Rickey – Broke the colour barrier, set up the farm system, first Spring training facility, encouraged use of helmets
    Josh Gibson – It was a toss-up between Aaron, Gibson and Oh

    • invitro says:

      Lots of votes for Branch Rickey, mentioning the farm system as something he did. I am assuming you believe the farm system is a positive thing, and thus think it is better for minor league teams to be slaves of their major league teams, than for them to be independent. Because that’s what Rickey did, right… he didn’t invent minor league baseball, only the slavery aspect. So why do you think that?

      (Sorry for being difficult, but I believe so many people vote for someone who did big things, without considering whether those things are positive or negative. By that standard, I could choose Cap Anson for helping keep the majors free of blacks. Also, I have lived far, far away from any major league team my entire life, but had a minor league team in my town. I never cared about it, as it couldn’t try to win games. The enslavement of minor league teams is a seriously big deal, and anyone who encouraged it should be regarded as a villain in baseball history.)

      (Also, please read about what Rickey did to Ralph Kiner, and tell me if you still think that’s Hall of Famer behavior.)

  57. Tonus says:

    I went with Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson. I did so under the impression that this would indicate what type of HOF I would build if I was granted that responsibility. Cobb would have been a sixth choice and I expect that I would have worked my way forward from there.

  58. Randy says:

    Just one:
    Buck O’Neil

    Then Joe won’t need to write about how Buck isn’t in the HoF, thereby shortening each post by about a 1000 words.

  59. Mark says:

    First 5 I’d go with Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb, W.Johnson, Paige

    2nd 5(I know just answer the question) Delahanty, Young, Rose, Aaron, Gibson

  60. Babe Ruth says:

    I decided to go with players only, but selected what I felt were “the best” at some elemental skill sets:

    Willie Mays – best player
    Hank Aaron – best all-around hitter and run producer
    Walter Johnson – best pitcher
    Lefty Grove – best left-handed pitcher
    Brooks Robinson – best defensive player

  61. Randy Stearns. says:

    W. Johnson

    I like the symmetry.

  62. Polish Wonder says:

    Barry Bonds

  63. Bill Caffrey says:

    Babe Ruth
    Jackie Robinson
    Sandy Koufax
    Marvin Miller
    Bill James

  64. Joseph says:

    Branch Rickey

    Batter – Pitcher – Fielder – Announcer – Man in Charge

  65. SBMcManus says:

    Here are my five. My rationale here when limited to 5 people was to pick who (off the top of my head) significantly changed the landscape of baseball, or at least represent landmark changes to the game.

    1. Babe Ruth – The iconic baseball superstar. He essentially defined the superstar team sport athlete in American culture.
    2. Jackie Robinson – He is the face of integration in baseball, a major event in baseball and American history.
    3. Marvin Miller – Love him or hate him, the labor economics of baseball were changed in a permanent way following his work.
    4. Vin Scully – Defined the star announcer and he will be the enduring soundtrack of the game forever.
    5. Billy Beane – Old school thinking vs. modern statistical analysis will be an argument that will persist for years I’m sure, but the statistical/economics perspective that is represented by Beane has changed the way the game is watched and the way franchises are managed. I suppose you could substitute Bill James here, but Beane actually implemented these ideas on the field so he gets my vote.

  66. pseudokiwi says:

    I also went with 5 people that could serve as launching points for the history of baseball.
    1) Babe Ruth. You can discuss how he changed the game and culture. You can talk about pitching and hitting with him
    2) Jackie Robinson. You can talk about integration, the great negro league players, how he led to the diversification of the game.
    3) Marvin Miller. Baseball is a business and the labor relations were/are an important part of the way the game is played. I thought about Bowie Khun too, but you can discuss free agency and players rights in the context of Miller, too.
    4) Bud Selig: You can talk about what Khun oversaw during the Miller discussion so the only other commissioner really to fundamentally alter the game in so many ways was Selig.
    5) Bill James. You can talk about the evolution of the fan and the viewer as well as the clash between traditional scouting and data driven analysis.

    I think with those five in the Hall, you can pretty much get to any point you want to make or story you want to tell starting with one of them.

    • SBMcManus says:

      Your list makes me feel good because we took the same approach and got a lot of overlap. I am sure we missed somebody though.

  67. Joltin'Joe says:

    In no real order…

    1. Babe Ruth
    2. Lou Gehrig
    3. Walter Johnson
    4. Hank Aaron
    5. Tom Seaver

    Gehrig over Mays only because as a kid growing up I was enthralled with the Lou Gehrig story, and it’s hard to break that kind of mental bond. Having seen Mays play, however, I realize he probably deserves the spot (although Gehrig’s numbers are mind boggling). Heart wins over head this time..

  68. Weebey says:

    Babe Ruth
    Barry Bonds
    Willie Mays
    Ted Williams
    Walter Johnson

    Basically the top 5 players, with the proviso that one pitcher is included. Johnson vs Clemens is not an easy call. The only “soft” candidate I could imagine including is Robinson, and he does have a strong case.

  69. BGA says:

    Babe Ruth: Obviously.
    Willie Mays: Most complete player.
    Honus Wagner: Best infielder.
    Ted Williams: Best hitter, would have eye-popping career stats if not for serving in 2 wars.
    Walter Johnson: Best combined peak/longevity for pitchers.

    Hardest call: Johnson over Cy Young.

    I’m surprised Wagner isn’t getting more votes based on the comments.

    • pseudokiwi says:

      I figured the Hall of Fame would include a list of Cy Young award winners, which was my backdoor way of getting him in the hall. 🙂

      That said, I also would have picked The Big Train in over Cy, as my #6 but it was the hardest call for me too – I ultimately punted on pitching in my votes because I can get there through Babe.

  70. Brent says:

    Branch Rickey, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Greg Maddux. I decided to add Maddux instead of a couple of clearly better pitchers becuase baseball didn’t end in 1973 and wanted some modern representation of the game. Clemens or Pedro probably would do as well.

    In reply to the person above’s discussion about the minor league, whether it is a good thing or not, it is the way baseball has been for as long as almost anyone alive can remember, thus it was a lasting part of baseball and Rickey was the one who started it. Plus, the two teams that did their minor league systems first and best were the Cardinals and the Yankees. And it certainly isn’t a coincidence that those teams dominated baseball from the mid twenties to the mid forties (and beyond for the Bombers). Nor is it a coincidence that the teams that relied on the old method of getting players (which was scouting by the team manager/general manager) and did not join in the new methods as readily (like the A’s) went from being the best team in its league to one of the worst. So, whether philosophically you don’t like the “slavery” system of the minor leagues as Branch Rickey set it up, it is, in fact, probably the most influential change on baseball ever (except maybe the breaking of the color line, which, of course, Rickey had something to do with too)

    • Justin says:



      In another 75 years, Mad Dog will be viewed a freak.

    • invitro says:

      It sounds like you think whether a change is for the good or for the bad doesn’t matter, only that it was influential. What about those responsible for instituting the color line in the first place (which probably includes Anson but I’m not sure)? They were ultra-influential; should they be first-rounders for the HoF?

      I know Rickey’s farm system greatly advantaged the teams that first deeply employed it — that’s obvious. It was a huge change and had a so-far permanent effect on the game. But doesn’t whether that was a good or bad change matter at all when deciding on its maker for the Hall of Fame?

      p.s. I believe Rickey had many positive impacts on baseball. I just think he had one or two large negative impacts that make me think twice about putting him in the Top Five.

      p.p.s. I think there is an argument that can be made for the farm system as a positive change: it seems clear that it produced better baseball players, and so a better quality of play in general.

      p.p.p.s. My choice for 2nd-most influential change in baseball history is the Messersmith/McNally decision that abolished the reserve clause.

      • There’s also the argument that the minor leagues were becoming irrelevant at the time as Major League games were starting to be broadcast live on TV, allowing fans to watch better quality for free. The farm system made them relevant again. So obviously, I see it as a positive change and think slavery is far too harsh a term in this case.

        But even if this is viewed as a negative change, I think the positives of breaking the colour barrier and bringing a key element of safety into the game which saved lives outweigh it.

  71. BobDD says:

    there are numerous ways to get five names here
    I happened to choose 5 from the early era, knowing there would be time to get the more modern players later. I thought it appropriate to start with the pioneers, at least of the modern era.

    Babe Ruth
    Walter Johnson
    Ty Cobb
    Satchel Paige
    Honus Wagner

    But the other methods work pretty well too I realize as I read through these posts. Almost any five of the inner 25 could be appropriate. I would have a different five if I tried to rate in order the top 50 (or whatever number) in history, but I figured if you meant that kind of top five you’d have asked for that. So I ended up choosing early-ish five (all started before 1920) rather than five most influential. But trimming the last three was agonizing.

  72. tombando says:

    Cap Anson
    Ivy Wingo
    Biz Mackey
    A J Hinch
    Don Gullett

  73. Ruth – He was the original Sports Superstar. His popularity was Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Pele all in one athlete.
    Cobb – .366 BA over 24 seasons. 4189 Hits. 897 SB. Even though he was despised as a human (and rightfully so) he was the first guy chosen for the Hall, even over Ruth.
    Williams – The greatest hitter of all time.
    Walter Johnson – Hard to fathom numbers. Huge number of innings and tiny ERAs. And 1913, WOW!!
    Bonds – Like him and what he did or not the numbers he put up are stunning. I would call them video game numbers but I don’t know that I could hit that well on my xBox.

  74. mark says:

    Babe Ruth
    Jackie Robinson
    Greg Maddux
    Rickey Henderson
    Ted Williams

    Glad I’m not the only Rickey Henderson voter (I saw one other so far). I included him because more than new stats, more than all the discussions of SABR and OBP and WHIP, watching him taught me the value of not making outs, getting on base and scoring runs. I also think he’s still the most underrated player of my lifetime. Everyone else I picked is self-evident.

  75. BlahBlahBlah says:

    Cobb, Ruth,Mays,Bonds,Johnson (Walter)

  76. Pak says:

    I see a lot of people went with 4 of the first five, but not Matheson. I didn’t want to do this, so I thought who else I’d lie to have their own, special display: Aaron, Williams, Mays, Gehrig, Pujols. I know Albert isn’t eligible yet, but I think he is in the ‘second five”.

    • Pak says:

      Sorry Christy, that’s Mathewson.

      • Dave Murray says:

        Cool story. In junior high school, (1970) we had a substitute teacher, older lady, who gave us a study hall instead of a lesson. I was reading The Glory of Their Times or similar book.

        She saw what i was reading and said to me “my father is part of the answer to one of the trickiest baseball trivia questions. ‘What brother combination won the most games in the Major Leagues?'”

        Rabid baseball history fan that I was, I knew the answer (at the time; this is before the Perrys and then the Niekros broke it). Christy (373) and Henry (none) Mathewson.

        “Your Dad was Henry Mathewson?” I asked, which shocked the hell out of her. I was secretly far more impressed that she was Christy’s NIECE, of course, and for the rest of the class we talked baseball. Nice memory and a somewhat “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon”-ish link to one of the early giants of the game. (No pun intended)

  77. BeninDSM says:

    After going immediately to the 3 best players ever. Ruth Aaron and Mays. I hit the most important story Robinson then spent way too long trying to decide on the best pitcher of all time so the most important position could be represented considered Cy Young Nolan Ryan Walter Johnson Warren Spahn Roger Clemens Satchel Paige and Bob Gibson eventually begrudgingly settled on Johnson but I’m not happy about it.

  78. Clayton says:

    1. Babe Ruth – not only was he baseball’s best player ever, he was also dedicated to being fan-friendly and to reaching out to kids and especially orphans.
    2. Jackie Robinson – He helped change baseball, yes, but he really helped change America, too.
    3. Roberto Clemente – It’s difficult for a player’s charitable work to overshadow his career…let alone a HOF career. Absolutely the most important Latin player to ever play the game and a hero to countless people of all nationalities across the globe.
    4. Dale Murphy. A two-time MVP on the field and an even better person off the field.
    5. Darryl Strawberry. I admit, I have a soft spot for Straw. Yes, he was a terrible role model for a long time. But look at his charity work in the past almost 10 years. Google “Strawberry Ministries” to get an idea of all the time and resources he has dedicated to helping kids. Straw is a terrific guy with a big heart and is doing amazing things in the lives of children. He’s the ultimate “redemption story” on this list. Plus, he was one heck of a ballplayer, too. One of the most egregious BWAA slights of all time is giving the MVP in 1988 to Kirk Gibson instead of Straw, who was by far the better player.

  79. Paul Davis says:

    I voted for Ruth, Aaron, Williams, Vin Scully, Marvin Miller…but would like a mulligan!
    1) Ruth – he IS baseball. Clearly he made the game America’s pasttime.
    2) Branch Rickey – innovator, originator of the farm system, a structure still in place; and of course, the “great emancipator” of baseball
    3) Jackie Robinson – the man who integrated the game, enough said
    4) Vin Scully – a link to generations, brought baseball to the West Coast, the voice of the Dodgers for 7 decades
    5) Marvin Miller – his contributions are vastly underrated, without him the economics of baseball would not be what they are today

  80. mylife4iron says:

    Joe Montana
    Fart Simpson
    Joe Montana
    Mr. Rogers

    But seriously, my hall of five would be mine and mine alone, so I’d pick a favorite here, an underappreciated underdog here, and some dirty underwear there. And because I love pitching, they’d all be pitchers. On that note:

    – Nolan Ryan for his amazing moments well into his 40’s and punching out Robin Ventura
    – Mariano Rivera for being THE closer and laughing when Chan Ho Park had diarrhea
    – Curt Schilling for his bloody sock, great RPG (prior to bankruptcy) and loud mouth
    – Phil Niekro for his knuckleballs and involvement with the Colorado Silver Bullets
    – Kent Tekulve for his delivery, sunglasses and booming bass voice.

  81. Dan W. says:

    My HoF would honor the most iconic characters of the game and have exhibits highlighting the most memorable moments of each decade. This dual purpose would reward the greatest, 3 – 5 players for any decade and it would give recognition to all players who contribute to the game’s most memorable moments and seasons.

    So while Bucky Dent and Ron Guidry are not HoF players they are key participants in the one of the most memorable baseball games and seasons of the last 40 years. I would add that Jim Rice and Goose Gossage don’t meet my personal HoF criteria but I do want them recognized for their contributions to the game.

    Of course the great irony of these discussions is baseball fans are far more interested in debating who merits entry into the HoF rather than discussing the contributions to the game of the players who are already enshrined. In fact it seems to me that once a player gets into the HoF the fan interest in that player rapidly declines. There was far more discussions about Gossage’s contribution to the game before his election. Once elected he became a name on a plaque. In my opinion there are far many faceless names on plaques in Cooperstown.

    All this to say that I think the HoF’s main purpose should be to tell the story of baseball. This story is not told by a name on a plaque but by the narrative of what that player did, the teams he played on and the games he won. A name without context makes for a boring museum.

    • Trent Phloog says:

      Are there really a lot of faceless names in Cooperstown? I think the plaques *have* faces on them…

      Seriously tho — I take your point, but it has more to do with the fact that Gossage is kind of a poor choice for the HOF. Nobody lost interest in Hank Aaron’s contributions to the game after his election, because duh. People don’t talk much about Goose because, other than a great nickname, there’s not that much to talk about. The truly great players create their own context.

  82. A question for those voting for Robinson (not an implied criticism, honestly):

    Who broke the colour barrier? Rickey or Robinson?

    It needed a guy like Robinson to do it and the class and courage in which he did it is what made it succeed. But without Rickey taking that risk, it wouldn’t have happened (at least when it did). On my vote I struggled to pick which one because I don’t think it would have succeeded so “well” with any other two people at the time. But I went for Rickey as he was the one that broke the convention.

    • Clayton says:

      @ Matthew Morris. You have an excellent point about Rickey/Robinson. I pondered the same question for awhile, too. But here’s the thing: without Rickey, Robinson might not have ever had the chance to break the color barrier. Rickey gave Robinson the opportunity – which was a huge huge deal. Now obviously Larry Doby and others soon followed Jackie, but it still took that initial opportunity from Branch Rickey to get the ball going.

      So I totally understand why people would put Rickey in before or with Jackie. Totally valid points all around.

      However, I still did vote for Jackie Robinson in my “Hall of Five” simply because Jackie Robinson was an extraordinary ballplayer to go along with being a HOF person.

  83. Jon W says:

    Harry Wright
    Henry Chadwick
    Babe Ruth
    Willie Mays
    Roger Clemens

  84. ksbeck76 says:

    I can’t really come up with any method to rank the five best players ever, so for my personal Hall, I followed the lead of an earlier poster and named the five players whose exhibits I would want to visit:

    Nolan Ryan
    Babe Ruth
    Ted Williams
    Willie Mays
    Jackie Robinson

    • ksbeck76 says:

      The more I think about this, the more my list is collapsing in to childhood nostalgia:

      Nolan Ryan
      Jose Cruz
      Craig Biggio
      Ken Caminiti
      Mike Scott

      • ksbeck76 says:

        If I’m being completely honest, I should also acknowledge that one of the great pleasures of being a sports fan is hating other players (I don’t mean sort of hate some people have for Barry Bonds or A-Rod but the kind of respect-hate we have for great players who play for other teams). With that in mind, my Bizzarro Hall of Fame list:

        Will Clark
        Jack Clark
        Brett Butler
        Keith Hernandez (really, any member of the ’86 Mets would do here)
        Roger Craig (Tommy Lasorda is a strong contender as manager as well)

  85. VTmike says:

    “Duane Kuiper, Buddy Bell, Greg Maddux, Raul Ibanez and Buck O’Neil. Those five are, well, you know, my favorites.”

    While an actual HOF of 5 should include Ruth, Mays, etc, I like Joe’s “these are my favorites” take on it better. The guys who I have most enjoyed watching:
    –Albert Pujols
    –Randy Johnson
    –Vladimir Guerrero
    –Fernando Valenzuela
    –Bo Jackson

    “Randy Johnson Hits a Bird” would have its own display in my HOF 🙂

    • Clayton says:

      I totally agree about having the Randy Johnson hits a bird display in the HOF 😀 The HOF should have “awesome moments” such as that one and when Bo Jackson breaks a bat over his knee (or runs thru the outfield wall) and when Nolan beat the snot out of Ventura and so on. It’d be great to have the Big Unit vs. the The Plumber (All-Star game edition) and Big Unit vs. Larry Walker displays, too.

      I like the idea of “Most fun players to watch” being the criteria. The 5 guys I LOVED to watch:
      1. Darryl Strawberry – a personal favorite
      2. Bo Jackson
      3. Greg Maddux during his peak.
      4. Ken Griffey Jr. – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone make this game look as fun and easy as Jr. did
      5. Andres Galarraga – He’s another guy that was always smiling, having fun, just loving the game and appreciating the moment. There might not be another player as revered in Denver (other than John Elway) than the Big Cat.

      Just missing:
      John Kruk
      Kirby Puckett
      Eric Young (it’s a Colorado thing, I guess)
      Dante Bichette
      Joe Carter

  86. sourcreamus says:

    I don’t get why more people don’t have Cy Young on the ballot. He has the second all time WAR for career. 26 more WAR than Hank Aaron, 28 more than Clemens, 45 more than Williams, 62 more than Maddux. He had more WAR than Griffey and Martinez combined.

  87. What if Greg Maddux becomes the first unanimous HOF choice? Then would he be on every Top 5 list? I know it’s a long shot, since there will always be a couple of idiot writers with some particular axe to grind. But, what if? Maddux certainly warrants a unanimous vote…. He has the numbers, the awards, a great personal reputation and zero PED taint…. In fact, he was a modestly sized pitcher, with a modest fastball who shutdown an entire generation of PED users during the height of their use.

  88. Mike says:

    This was pretty freakin’ difficult, but I had Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson. Probably about 5 or so more that I really, really want to include.

  89. hammers01 says:

    Babe Ruth
    Walter Johnson
    Hank Aaron
    Stan Musial
    Ted Williams

  90. jroth95 says:

    I wanted to go with the guys you tell your grandkids about – how they played, how they lived, or both:


    The Gehrig and Koufax spots were the hardest to fill; could’ve been Mays or Pedro or Satch in there, among others.

  91. Jeff Abbott says:

    Babe Ruth
    Jackie Robinson
    Curt Flood
    Nolan Ryan
    Barry Bonds

  92. Dan W. says:

    It did occur to me the plaques have an image but then it occurred to me that the images remind me of Han Solo when he was carbonited.

    Goose Gossage was my favorite Yankee. He was an excellent pitcher who brought positive energy to the game when he played and who has done nothing since retirement to detract from it. That said the most famous pitches Goose ever threw resulted in (1) A pop-out by Yaz in the ’78 playoff game (2) A 3-run homer by Brett in the ’80 ALCS, (3) A 2-run homer by Brett in the pine-tar game and (4) A 3-run homer by Gibson in the ’84 WS.

    I don’t think it is fair to say Gossage failed but his participation on the losing end of these matchups begs the question of his ranking among the greats of the game. Couple that with the relative decline of his numbers compared to later generations of relief pitchers and the HoF argument for Gossage becomes murky.

    The argument that justifies his inclusion is the one that matters most to the future of baseball as it is the retelling of the stories of the past that give meaning to the present. This is that Gossage was one of the best players of his era and he was in the spotlight in many of the most important games and moments of that era. This is why I feel that to really matter the HoF needs to give more credit to the people who made the game worth talking about, and not just the players who accumulated numbers. At the same time I do think there are certain statistical accomplishments that justify enshrinement, irrespective of the impact on the game – but this statistical threshold should be very, very high.

    For example, Phil Rizzutto deserves honor in the HoF but as a character in the game, and not necessarily as a shortstop. Likewise for Billy Martin & George Steinbrenner & Marvin Miller. These people had a huge influence on the game for multiple decades that is not and cannot be captured in numbers.

  93. Lawhamel says:

    My five:


    That was the easy part

    Jackie Robinson, Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson or Satchel Paige

    Since it is a Hall of Fame, I’ll go with Jackie Robinson

    And a pitcher: Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Mordecai Brown, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson. Very tough choice. The performances of Pedro, Maddux and the Unit during the steroid era makes them even more impressive. Pedro loses out on longevity – he and Koufax are mirror images, except for Koufax going out on top. I’ll take this down to three finalists – Johnson/Young or The Unit.

    Since it is a Hall of Fame, I’ll go with Cy Young.

  94. Douglas Lutz says:

    Babe Ruth- most dominant, most iconic, best hitter
    Jackie Robinson- most historically significant.
    Willie Mays- best all around player.
    Tom Seaver – As a long suffering Mets fan, I get to choose my favorite.
    Johnny Bench- As Casey Stengel said, without a catcher you have a lot of passed balls

  95. Clayt says:

    I’m surprised by the lack of love for Henry Aaron…

  96. JMAC8 says:

    Five who both excelled and changed how the game is played:
    John McGraw
    Babe Ruth
    Jackie Robinson
    Curt Flood
    Mariano Rivera

  97. iorg34 says:

    I’m surprised this is a unique entry so far:
    Ty Cobb
    Babe Ruth
    Honus Wagner
    Willie Mays
    Barry Bonds

  98. Dave McDermott says:

    Ruth (obvious…saved baseball after Black sox scandal among 50 other things)
    Jackie Robinson (changed baseball & America)
    Willie Mays ( best all around player ever)
    Henry Aaron ( broke Ruth’s HR record with aplomb)
    Ted Williams (best hitter ever)
    No pitchers, they are absent from 75% to 80% of the games cannot be on this list

  99. Josh L says:

    Babe Ruth
    Hank Aaron
    Ted Williams
    Willie Mays
    Jackie Robinson

  100. Josh L says:

    Which makes mine identical to Dave’s right in front of me. Nice.

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