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Who’s your favorite player? And why?

May 13, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

Alan Trammell

John Paschal of The Hardball Times interviewed several baseball writers — including me — about their favorite baseball players. Boyhood favorites and, if we have one, favorites as an adult.

It’s a good read less so for who the players are — mine were Alan Trammell as a kid, Greg Maddux from my late teens-on — but for how the concept of “favorite players” evolves. How the idea that ballplayers are heroes goes by the way side as we learn about human nature and human frailty. Or, in the case of some people, as they work around ballplayers each day, how favoritism turns more into an appreciation.

The idea of ballplayers as heroes seems anathema to me now, and if my kids started truly idolizing athletes I’d be worried. But I still have my own fanboy moments and still have that more mature-feeling appreciation thing going on with a lot of guys. It’s always changing, really.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on why your favorite player is your favorite player.

121 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. maddog11896 - May 13, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Hands down the Big Unit, Randy Johnson. In their heyday always wanted to see Randy vs Pedro on a hot Friday night and see who’d come out on top.

  2. churdus - May 13, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    As a 26 year old M’s fan, it’s always been Edgar. Even tried to imitate his batting stance as a kid for some reason.

    • tmc602014 - May 19, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      Good choice! It seemed at one time that the Angels were helpless against the master…

  3. mattzeni15222451 - May 13, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    As a kid in the early 2000s definitely Andy Pettitte ( always a gamer, always clutch in the playoffs) ,Mariano Rivera ( greatest closer ever) ,Jorge “Georgie” Posada and Alfonso Soriano . I also liked Chase Utley and Pat Burrell as well.

  4. shadowcell - May 13, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Tim Salmon of the Angels. I met him at one of those meet-the-players fan interaction things when I was ten and got one of his batting gloves.

  5. paperlions - May 13, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Growing up, who my favorite player was changed regularly, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell were up there for a while as I liked the Dodgers and played SS and 2B in little league. By the 80s, I became a Cardinal fan and a baseball card collector, and every since then, my favorite players have almost always been guys at the beginning of their MLB career. At first, it was because great performance buoyed the value of rookie cards….but now it is just fun to root for promise represented by talented young players, rooting for them to fulfill their promise and become players you have to tune in to watch.

    How good can this guy be? I don’t know, let’s tune in to find out….once a player is established (i.e. you know how good he is), they are less interesting to me from a rooting perspective and I’ve moved on.

  6. hieronymous27 - May 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Rocky Colavito. He was a Detroit Tiger when baseball became an addiction for me. I grew up in Detroit. Everyone else I knew was an Al Kaline, Norm Cash or Jim Bunning fan. I could not knock The Rock. Liked the way he would point his bat at the pitcher as if it was a loaded weapon when he stood in the batters box. He also had this unique way of pulling the bat back over his shoulders when he stepped out of the box. Great home run hitter, good glove and a very strong arm. Saw him throw out many a runner trying to take an extra base. (He pitched a game in relief against the Tigers in 1968 and got the win.)

  7. mikhelb - May 13, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    I thought you’d do a list of your favourite players, judging by their looks.

  8. b12071 - May 13, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Growing up in Northern California in the 60’s it was Willie Mays for me. I read everything I could find on him and also worshipped the other Giant stars like Wille Mcovey and Juan Marichel. But Mays was a level above. What would his HR numbers have been if he played in a better friendly park instead of Candlestick with its cold and swirling winds?
    As an adult I don’t think I will ever have the uncritical eye of my childhood but I still love the game. As a Nationals fan I am partial to our players. I love the competitiveness and baseball IQ of Jayson Werth. The demeanor of our entire franchise changed after he got here. Definitely werth-it as we say here in DC. I also enjoy some of our younger players like Desmond, Harper, Rendon, Moore, Ramos, Zimmermann, Strasburg, and Zimmerman. Very happy to have baseball back in DC after 33 long years without.

  9. mikhelb - May 13, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Mine: Donnie Mattingly when I was a kid in the 80s. Bernie when I was a teen in the early 90s, but always sharing a place with Tony Gwynn and later Andy Pettitte. Nowadays none, though Jeter and McCutchen could be considered my favourites.

  10. seanwasamarine - May 13, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Paul Goldschmidt, because he runs out of the damn box and doesn’t sit and watch how far his homers go.

  11. seanwasamarine - May 13, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Also, Henry Rowengartner

  12. Minoring In Baseball - May 13, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych for sure. He did more for baseball in one season than most players do in a career. Other players include Jim Abbott, Will Clark, Alan Trammell. Lou Whitaker, Ryne Sandburg, and Matt Nokes.

    • kalinedrive - May 14, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      I have a Matt Nokes autograph on a Tigers Spring Training schedule. Unfortunately, the Alan Trammell signature I got on a baseball in ballpoint pen has faded out and is now pretty much gone, but I do still have the ball. And a Kaline autograph I got after a game at Tiger Stadium when he was a broadcaster,.on a photograph the Tigers gave out after his HOF induction.

  13. djjeffhall - May 13, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    My favorite player was, and remains John Lowenstein. He was, and presumably is nuts in the best possible way. Far to smart for baseball, you never knew what he would say. Always funny, entertaining and a seminal part of those 1983 Orioles.

    Currently, Charlie Morton. A friend picked him for his fantasy team several years ago. As a joke, I got him weekly Charlie Morton updates. (Despite my friend ‘releasing’ him mere days after picking him.) Years later, I still give him Morton updates.

  14. cashmoney17 - May 13, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Hands down, “The Kid” Ken Griffey Jr. for a 10 year span he dominated baseball. Doesn’t get enough recognition for doing it right, and clean and being on of the GOAT!!

  15. indaburg - May 13, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    As a kid, my favorite player was Ron Darling. I was a huge Mets fan, and also a girl on the cusp of adolescence with functioning eyes. I also loved that he was an athlete and a scholar, an intelligent, well-spoken man who attended Yale University. I also liked that on a team full of rascals, he did a lot for the community. I had high standards for a kid.

    Now, I like Kershaw for different reasons. He’s a far superior pitcher than Darling ever was and watching him is nothing short of awesome. Plus, how do you not root for a guy that does this:

  16. yahmule - May 14, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    The first baseball game I ever attended was in Dodger Stadium. Joe Ferguson hit a homer and immediately became my favorite player, to the amusement of my father. I quickly realized the Joe Schlabotnickness of Joe Ferguson and traded up to Reggie Smith. I then decided my favorite player didn’t have to be a Dodger and I settled on Andre Dawson. Now, I like Trout and Kershaw.

  17. jeremynats - May 16, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Pedro Martinez, for his dominance and his indomitable attitude

  18. chedwerd - May 16, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Kent Hrbek

  19. tmc602014 - May 19, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    Koufax, then and forever. Although his career was over before I became a fan, he was the yardstick by which pitchers were measured on my playgrounds. Later moved my view down the 5 and found Bobby Grich of the Angels, who was a force of nature. Always admired Pujols and Hamilton, find it easier to root for them now on the Angels. Never really liked Reggie Jackson even after he came to the Angels – couldn’t forget the Dodger killer of the WS. There’s nothing wrong with advanced stats – but it denies Redford seeing Close haloed in the stands. Your fave is supposed to be your fave even after the luster has worn off. I think that’s why Koufax is held in such high esteem in So Cal, he escaped his own decline.

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