The passing of Ernie Banks really hit me on this snowy winter day. I never saw him play but I respect his legacy for the Cubs, the city of Chicago and the game of baseball. 2 MVPs. 2,528 games played. 2,583 hits. 512 home runs. 1,636 RBI. Gaudy stats for the era, but he will be remembered for a grace and joy that don’t exists in the game–any game–today. “It’s a great day for a ball game; let’s play two!”

Banks was Mr. Cub. His passing made got me thinking about the players on every MLB team who represent the franchise with class and charisma. Who is Mr. Red? Mr. Pirate? Mr. Oriole?

These are the prototype players, the franchise faces. The ones the fans love and generations embrace. Maybe they are the all-time greats too, but what they do is wear the cap with pride.

Now, I’m a fan and a declared Red Sox fan at that. I don’t vote with the BBWAA and I have no credentials with MLB or any of its affiliates. (Heck, I’m doing this “without express written consent of Major League Baseball.”) I have next to no right to do this, right? I’m not concerned though, because that’s the point of a list like this: it’s subjective, it’s highly personal, and it’s intended to spark debate. It’s for the fanboys. It’s intended to fan the flames of the hot stove.

I only used two qualifying criteria. First, the player had to play the majority of his career with the team in question. In cases where there were substantial service to the organization–Nolan Ryan with the Rangers, for example–I tipped the scale. Second, I decided that the player had to make his MLB debut after in or after 1939. This means Ted Williams is in but other all-time greats like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Grove, Lou Gehrig are out. My list, my rules.

Here we go. Play ball! In fact, “Let’s play two.”

 


 

American League

A’s = Reggie Jackson

Angels = Rod Carew

Astros = Craig Biggio

Blue Jays = Joe Carter

Indians = Bob Feller

Mariners = Ken Griffey, Jr.

Orioles = Cal Ripken, Jr.

Rangers = Nolan Ryan

Rays = Evan Longoria

Red Sox = Ted Williams

Royals = George Brett

Twins = Kirby Puckett

Tigers = Al Kaline

White Sox = Frank Thomas

Yankees = Mickey Mantle

 


 

National League

Braves = Hank Aaron

Brewers = Paul Molitor

Cardinals = Stan Musial

Cubs = Ernie Banks

Diamondbacks = Randy Johnson

Dodgers = Jackie Robinson

Giants = Willie Mays

Marlins = Gary Sheffield

Mets = Tom Seaver

Nationals (Expos) = Andre Dawson

Padres = Tony Gwynn

Phillies = Mike Schmidt

Pirates = Roberto Clemente

Reds = Frank Robinson

Rockies = Todd Helton

 


 

Honorable Mention: Sandy Koufax & Roy Campanella (Dodgers), Ozzie Smith (Cardinals), Yogi Berra (Yankees), Carl Yastrzemski & Dennis Eckersley (Red Sox), Brooks Robinson (Orioles), Harmon Killebrew (Twins), Rickey Henderson (A’s).

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