Baseball - 1960s Topps Decade of HOF: Secretariat Image Gallery

Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford (October 21, 1928-) was a master at keep hitters off balance for the better half of two decades with the New York Yankees (1950, 1953-1967) earning him the nickname “Chairman of the Board”. Right out of the box, Ford made a significant impact on the Yankee rotation, going 9-1 in his first ten starts after being called up mid-season by the big club. Ford lost two years to the service but came back with a vengeance. During his amazing career, Whitey led the American League three times in wins and twice led in ERA and innings pitched. Ford threw 45 shutouts in 16 seasons including eight 1-0 victories. As a left-hander, Ford possessed an exceptional pickoff move to first, so effective that he went 243 straight innings without allowing a stolen base. Whitey Ford was a ten-time All-Star, six-time World Series champion and the 1961 World Series Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner. Whitey Ford retired with a 236-106 record with 1,956 strikeouts and a 2.74 earned run average. Ford remains the Yankees record holder for most career wins. Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford was elected o the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

Some would argue that even though Berra’s 1952 Topps is not his rookie or his most difficult card, it might be the most popular one on which the 10-time World Series champion appeared during his playing days. It has its advantages, including a slightly larger format, nice color, and the card is part of the most important post-WWII set in the hobby. That said, the nod would still have to go to Berra’s mainstream debut (#6) in the 1948 Bowman set. The issue may not receive any awards for outstanding design, but its simplicity is part of the appeal. The black-and-white format showcases a young Berra who helped continue a tradition of great Yankees catchers after Bill Dickey left the game. Berra’s Bowman rookie remains one of the keys to this 48-card set that contains several other Hall of Famer rookies like Musial and Warren Spahn.

Eddie Mathews, the only man to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, burst into stardom in 1953, the team’s first season in Milwaukee, when he belted 47 home runs at the age of 21. He hit 370 homers before his 30th birthday, and many believed that if anyone could top Babe Ruth as baseball’s all-time home-run king, Mathews was the most likely to do it. Injuries slowed his production as he aged, but when Mathews retired as a player after the 1968 season, he stood in sixth place on baseball’s career home-run list with 512 and held the record for games played by a third baseman. Ten years later, he became the second member of the 1957 championship team (after Warren Spahn) to gain election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

BANKS-AARON-MATHEWS-Boyer

Don Richard “Richie” Ashburn (March 19, 1927 - September 9, 1997) played 15 seasons at centerfield for the Philadelphia Phillies (1948-1959), the Chicago Cubs (1960-1961) and the New York Mets (1962) and quickly moved to the broadcast booth after retirement. Ashburn was a member of the Phillies 1950 National League Champion “Whiz Kids” whose average age was 26 years old. What Ashburn lacked in power, hitting a career 29 home runs, he made up in consistency spraying 2,574 singles to all fields. Richie led the National League in hits three times in his career (1951, 1953 and 1958) and twice won the National League’s batting title (1955 and 1958). Richie Ashburn had more hits (1875) than any other player in the 1950s. After Ashburn retired in 1962, he joined the Philadelphia Phillies broadcast crew in 1963 where he remained for over 30 years. The Veterans Committee elected Don Richard “Richie” Ashburn to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Willie Howard Mays (May 6, 1931-) is arguably the greatest centerfielder that major League Baseball has ever seen. Mays was a 24-time All-Star selection, a 12-time Gold Glove winner, the 1951 National League Rookie of the Year, a two-time NL Most Valuable Player (1954, 1965) and a member of the 1954 World Series champion New York Giants. Playing the majority of his 22-year career in a Giants uniform (1951-1952, 1954-1972), Mays’ numbers are among the best ever including his 660 career home runs, third behind Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth at the time of his retirement. Mays is often best remembered for his the iconic photograph of “The Catch”, an over-the-shoulder grab of a long drive by Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. Mays is one of five players to have eight straight seasons topping the 100-RBI mark. Power hitting Willie Mays waited in the on-deck circle when Bobby Thomson hit the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, perhaps influencing the pitching choices of Ralph Branca during that legendary playoff game. Willie Mays retired with 3,283 hits, 2,062 runs scored, 1,903 RBI, 338 stolen bases, 660 home runs and career .302 batting average. Willie Howard Mays was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

Joseph Lowell Gordon (February 18, 1915 - April 14, 1978) played 11 seasons in the big leagues with the New York Yankees (1938-1943, 1946) and the Cleveland Indians (1947-1950). Legendary Hall of Fame manager, Joe McCarthy, considered Joe Gordon “the greatest all-around ballplayers I ever saw…” Flash Gordon, named after the comic-book character, was a slick-fielding, hard-hitting second baseman who catapulted himself through the minor league ranks with acrobatic snares and solid defense, as well as exceptional power not often seen from a second bagger. During his 11-year career, Gordon averaged 26 home runs per season and drove in 101 runs each season on average. The nine time All-Star selection won the 1942 American League Most Valuable Player Award after hitting .322 and blasting 18 home runs and driving in 103 runs. Joe Gordon finished his career with 1,531 hits, 914 runs scored, 976 RBI and 253 home runs while batting .268 for the Yankees and Indians. Gordon was a member of five World Series champions – four in New York (1938, 1939, 1941, 1943) and one in Cleveland (1948). The Veterans Committee elected Joseph Lowell Gordon to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Roberto Clemente Walker (August 18, 1934 - December 31, 1972) is widely considered the greatest Latin player to ever put on a Major League Baseball uniform with a .317 career batting average, a .973 fielding percentage and a record 254 career assists for a right fielder. In his native Puerto Rico, Clemente played for the Santurce Cangrejeros ("Crabbers") before signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954. While coming off the bench for the Montreal Royals, Brooklyn’s minor league affiliate, the Pittsburgh Pirates took Roberto in the 1954 Rule 5 Draft offering him the opportunity to play everyday and win the right field position at the 1955 spring training. Clemente never played a minor league game again as he easily won the right field job and batted .255 with 121 hits and 47 RBI as a rookie. Though he hit .311 in 1956, Roberto’s break out year came in 1960 when he earned his first of 15 All-Star Game selections after batting .314 with 16 home runs and 94 RBI. He helped lead the Pirates to their first World Series title that year as they captured MLB’s top prize in dramatic fashion with Bill Mazeroski’s Game 7 walk-off series clinching home run. Clemente hit .310 with three RBI in the 1960 World Series. In 1961, Roberto hit 23 home run and hit .351 to lead the National League for the first of four times during the 1960s. He was a perennial vote-getter for National League MVP and in 1966, after leading the league in batting average the previous two seasons, won the award with a .317 average, 31 home runs and 119 RBI while also posting 17 outfield assists. The 12-time Rawlings Gold Glove recipient played his entire career with Pittsburgh (1955-1972) and helped lead them to a second World Series title in 1971. Roberto Clemente collected 3,000 hits, hit 240 home runs, had 1.305 RBI and batted .317 over 18-year seasons with the Buccos. Above and beyond his numbers at the plate, Bob possessed a powerful and precise arm that helped him achieve a .973 fielding percentage with 4,696 putouts. Clemente was heavily involved in humanitarian efforts in the third world Latin American countries and was killed on December 31, 1972 assisting in delivering aid to Nicaragua after an earthquake devastated the small country. Major League Baseball presents The Roberto Clemente Award to the player that best exemplifies Clemente’s humanitarian efforts. Roberto Clemente Walker was posthumously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.

Juan Antonio Marichal Sanchez (October 20, 1937-) was renowned for his ultra-high leg kick during his windup and delivery on the mound. Marichal spent 14 seasons with the San Francisco Giants (1960-1973) and a total of 16 years in the big leagues, finishing his career doing one-year stints with the Red Sox and Dodgers, respectively. During the 1960s, the Dominican Republic native won more games than any other during that decade, including throwing a no-hitter against the Houston Colt .45s. Juan was a member of ten All-Star games and was the 1965 MLB All-Star Game MVP. Marichal led the National League in wins, complete games shutouts and innings pitched twice and led in ERA in 1969 with a 2.10 average. Juan Marichal retired with a 243-142 record posting 2,303 strikeouts and a career 2.89 ERA. Despite his amazing record during the 1960s, fellow NL pitchers Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax often overshadowed Marichal for MLB honors. Juan Antonio Marichal Sanchez was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.

Ernest "Ernie" Banks (January 31, 1931 - January 23, 2015) remains, without a doubt, the most beloved Chicago Cubs player in franchise history and was voted the "Greatest Cub Ever" in a 1969 Chicago Tribune fan poll. Not only was he one of the best Cub the team had ever seen, but he is considered one of the greatest Major League Baseball players in history. As a boy, Ernie had little interest in baseball but rather affection for football, basketball and track instead. With his father moonlighting as a semi-pro baseball player, he often bribed the young Banks with nickels and dimes to play catch to nudge him toward his sport of choice. Ernie’s Booker T, Washington High School lacked a baseball team so he played football and basketball while also playing fast pitch softball outside of high school and then the Amarillo Colts, a semiprofessional baseball team. He began playing with the Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs before being drafted into the United States Army serving two years, but playing part time with the Harlem Globetrotters during his service. Upon his discharge in 1953, Ernie returned to the Kansas City Monarchs for a brief stint before the Chicago Cubs came calling. He is one of only a handful of Negro League player to enter the big leagues without starting out in the minors and he, in fact, never played a single minor league game in his career. In 1954, he put together an exceptional season with 19 home runs, 79 RBI and a .275 batting average but was edged out of the National League Rookie of the Year voting by St. Louis Cardinals Wally Moon.

Brooks Calbert Robinson (May 18, 1937-) is generally considered to be the greatest defensive third baseman in the history of baseball. He was selected to 18 straight All-Star appearances from 1960-1974, won the 1964 American League Most Valuable Player award, and was the second recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award as “best exemplifying the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Brooks played his entire 23-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, helping them to four American League pennants and two World Series championships (1966, 1970). He was voted the 1970 World Series Most Valuable Player after batting .583 during the ALCS against the Minnesota Twins and a continuing his hot hitting during the Fall Classic, batting .429 against the Cincinnati Reds. Robinson’s acrobatic and athletic plays at the hot corner led to his records of most career game at third (2,870), career putouts (2,670), career assists (6,205) career chances (8,902) and double plays (618) at the time of his retirement. Brooks Calbert Robinson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.

1962 TOPPS 213 RICHIE ASHBURN

Don Richard “Richie” Ashburn (March 19, 1927 - September 9, 1997) played 15 seasons at centerfield for the Philadelphia Phillies (1948-1959), the Chicago Cubs (1960-1961) and the New York Mets (1962) and quickly moved to the broadcast booth after retirement. Ashburn was a member of the Phillies 1950 National League Champion “Whiz Kids” whose average age was 26 years old. What Ashburn lacked in power, hitting a career 29 home runs, he made up in consistency spraying 2,574 singles to all fields. Richie led the National League in hits three times in his career (1951, 1953 and 1958) and twice won the National League’s batting title (1955 and 1958). Richie Ashburn had more hits (1875) than any other player in the 1950s. After Ashburn retired in 1962, he joined the Philadelphia Phillies broadcast crew in 1963 where he remained for over 30 years. The Veterans Committee elected Don Richard “Richie” Ashburn to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Yogi played one season in the minors for the Yankees before enlisting in the United States Navy, seeing time as a machine gunner during the Normandy Invasion. Upon his return, Berra backed up Aaron Robinson behind the plate for the first two seasons, helping New York reach and win the World Series in only his second big league season (1947). What would become a trend for Berra. He slowly and surely became one of the league’s top catchers, but his style at the plate caught the most attention as he developed into one of the great clutch hitters in history despite being considered a “bad ball” hitter. Yogi’s ability to cover the entire plate, and often golf low pitches deep for home runs made him one of the most feared hitters in the American League. In 1948, he earned his first of 18 selections to the MLB All-Star Game and a year later helped the Yankees march to the first of five straight World Series titles (1949-1953). After batting .294 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 1951, Yogi Berra was named the American League Most Valuable Player for the first of three times (1951, 1954, 1955). Berra was a key link to the changing of the guards in the Bronx as he began his career playing alongside Joe DiMaggio and finished his career playing alongside Mickey Mantle, among other Yankee greats during his 18-year tenure in pinstripes (1946-1963). While donning the Yankees uniform, he won 14 American League pennants and a record ten World Series titles. He holds the World Series records for games (75), at-bats (259) and doubles (10) and hits (71). Yogi caught two no-hitters in his career including Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Yogi Berra finished his Yankees playing days having amassed 2,150 hits including 321 doubles and 358 home runs, 1,175 runs scored and a .285 batting average while only striking out 414 times in more than 7,500 at-bats. In 1950, Berra struck out only 12 times in 597 at-bats but blasted 28 homers.

James Hoyt Wilhelm (July 26, 1922 - August 23, 2002) is considered one of the great knuckleball pitchers in the history of baseball and holds the record for most wins (124) by a relief pitcher. Primarily used in relief, Wilhelm helped redefine and expand the role of the reliever as managers looked to utilize the bullpen more when starters struggled in late innings. Wilhelm began his career with the New York Giants in 1952, debuting at the age of 28, and played for eight other teams for the next two decades, retiring in 1972. The knuckleball is credited for his longevity in the mound minimizing arm strain and allowing Wilhelm to be one of the oldest pitchers to ever pitch in the Major League, 16 days shy of his 50th birthday. Wilhelm led the league twice in ERA and games, and finished a league-high 39 times in 1953. In an unlikely scenario and rare start, Hoyt Wilhelm no-hit the would-be world champion New York Yankees in 1958. Hoyt Wilhelm retired with a record of 143-122 including 1,610 strikeouts and 31 saves in 1,070 games. Hoyt Wilhelm was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

Robin Evan Roberts (September 30, 1926 - May 6, 2010) was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” during the 1950s helping them to the 1950 World Series Championship. Playing most of his 19-year career with the Phils (1948-1961) and the Orioles (1962-1965), Robin Roberts was a brilliant ace, excellent fielder and above-average hitter for a pitcher. His durability was evident early on and during the span of 1950-1956, Roberts led the league in games started six times, complete games and innings pitched 5 times and wins four times. His blazing fastball and accuracy were the keys to Roberts’ success compiling a record of 286-245 with 2,357 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA in 4,689 innings. Robin Roberts was the first number retired by the Phillies organization. Interestingly, Robin Roberts was the only pitcher in history to defeat the Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. Robin Evan Roberts was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

Billy Leo Williams (June 15, 1938-) held the National League record of consecutive games played (1,117) before if was topped by Steve Garvey (1,207), and included leading the NL in games played five times, missing only 28 games from 1962-1973. Billy possessed a sweet-smooth swing that helped him win the 1961 National League Rookie of the Year Award and garnered him six All-Star game selections. Sweet-swinging Billy Williams played 18 seasons for the Chicago Cubs (1959-1974) and the Oakland A’s (1975-1976). He learned his signature sweet swing from Hall of Fame legend Rogers Hornsby. Billy was among fellow Cubs Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins and Ernie Banks and fan favorite Ron Santo who never played in the World Series. His only postseason experience came with the 1975 A’s who lost the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox. His finest season came in 1972 when he won the NL batting title with a .333 average adding 191 hits including 37 home runs and 122 RBI. Billy Williams retired with 2,711 hits, 1,410 runs scored, 426 home runs, 1,475 RBI and a .290 career batting average. Billy Leo Williams was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.

Harmon Clayton Killebrew (June 29, 1936 - May 17, 2011) blasted a 530 ft. home run into the upper deck of Metropolitan Stadium, reportedly shattering two chairs, which were eventually repainted and never sold again. Signed as a boy wonder, the Washington Senators-turned-Minnesota Twins slugger caused fans, media and player alike to wonder if he might be the player to surpass the almighty Babe Ruth’s records. Killer led the American League six times in home runs, topping the 40-mark eight times. He drove in 100 or more runs nine times during his career and was a fixture among Most Valuable Player voting for eleven years, winning the prestigious award in 1969. Harmon played 22 seasons for the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (1954-1960, 1960-1974) and the Kansas City Royals (1975). Killebrew’s gentle nature both on and off the field helped him be a versatile asset to keep in the line-up, playing wherever asked without complaint in order to keep him mighty bat in the game. Harmon Killebrew retired with 573 home runs, 2,086 hits, 1,584 RBI, a .509 career slugging percentage, and a .256 career batting average. Harmon Clayton Killebrew was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.

Sanford "Sandy" Koufax (December 30, 1935-) was one of the most dominant pitcher of the 1960s, breaking a 58-year old strikeout record set by Christy Mathewson in 1903, becoming not only the first pitcher to throw four no-hitters (including one perfect game), but also the first to win multiple Cy Young Awards. Sandy, nee Sanford Braun, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York where he excelled in basketball, but also enjoyed baseball. After captaining his Lafayette High School basketball team, he accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Cincinnati, but he eventually chose to play baseball and signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers after only one year at Cincy. Because the Dodgers signed the hard-throwing left handed to a $14,000 bonus, MLB rules required that he remain on the Major League roster for two years, thereby foregoing his much needed minor league guidance. Sandy would learn the ropes of professional baseball at its highest level.

Harmon Clayton Killebrew (June 29, 1936 - May 17, 2011) blasted a 530 ft. home run into the upper deck of Metropolitan Stadium, reportedly shattering two chairs, which were eventually repainted and never sold again. Signed as a boy wonder, the Washington Senators-turned-Minnesota Twins slugger caused fans, media and player alike to wonder if he might be the player to surpass the almighty Babe Ruth’s records. Killer led the American League six times in home runs, topping the 40-mark eight times. He drove in 100 or more runs nine times during his career and was a fixture among Most Valuable Player voting for eleven years, winning the prestigious award in 1969. Harmon played 22 seasons for the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (1954-1960, 1960-1974) and the Kansas City Royals (1975). Killebrew’s gentle nature both on and off the field helped him be a versatile asset to keep in the line-up, playing wherever asked without complaint in order to keep him mighty bat in the game. Harmon Killebrew retired with 573 home runs, 2,086 hits, 1,584 RBI, a .509 career slugging percentage, and a .256 career batting average. Harmon Clayton Killebrew was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.

Kenton Lloyd Boyer (May 20, 1931 - September 7, 1982) is the only St. Louis Cardinal to have his number retired but has not been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Boyer began his career as a pitcher, with little success, but was moved to third base due to his hitting ability. Ken played for the Cardinals (1955-1965), the Mets (1966-1967) the White Sox (1967-1968) and Dodgers (1968-1969). During his 15-year career, Boyer was selected to 11 All-Star games and won five Gold Glove Awards. In 1964, Boyer had a career year with 185 hits, 100 runs, 119 RBI, 24 home runs and a .295 batting average as he guided the Cardinals to the World Series victory over the New York Yankees and the National League Most Valuable Player honors. During the 1964 World Series, Kenny hit a grand slam in Game 4 to give the Cards the 4-3 win and added another home run as he went 3-for-4 in Game 7. Ken and his brother Clete (of the New York Yankees), who also homered in Game 7, became the first brothers to hit home runs in the same game of the World Series. The Boyer brothers rank fourth in home runs by a brother duo (444) behind Hank and Tommie Aaron (652) and Joe and Vince (486) or Dom (448) DiMaggio. Boyer was the soft-spoken leader of a Cardinal team that included Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Bob Gibson. Ken Boyer retired with a .287 career batting average, 2,143 hits, 1,104 runs, 1,141 RBI, 282 home runs and 318 doubles. Kenny Boyer would go on to manage for seven years in the minors before taking over the helm of the Cardinals from 1978-1980.

Robin Evan Roberts (September 30, 1926 - May 6, 2010) was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” during the 1950s helping them to the 1950 World Series Championship. Playing most of his 19-year career with the Phils (1948-1961) and the Orioles (1962-1965), Robin Roberts was a brilliant ace, excellent fielder and above-average hitter for a pitcher. His durability was evident early on and during the span of 1950-1956, Roberts led the league in games started six times, complete games and innings pitched 5 times and wins four times. His blazing fastball and accuracy were the keys to Roberts’ success compiling a record of 286-245 with 2,357 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA in 4,689 innings. Robin Roberts was the first number retired by the Phillies organization. Interestingly, Robin Roberts was the only pitcher in history to defeat the Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. Robin Evan Roberts was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 - August 13, 1995), like his predecessor in the New York Yankees centerfield, Joe DiMaggio, became one of the most popular figures in sports history both during and after his playing career. Raised in Oklahoma, Mickey was the son of Mutt Mantle, a lead miner and former minor league player in his own right, who reared him to be a big league player and taught The Mick how to bat from both sides of the plate in anticipation of manager options as relievers were becoming more prevalent. As a teenager, his baseball career, and potentially his life was nearly ended when he suffered a injury that turned into a severe infection on the football field in high school. When a Yankees scout came to see one of Mantle's teammate's Mickey hit three home runs in the game and wowed fans and the scout alike. The New York Yankees signed Mickey a year later after his high school graduation and assigned him to the minor leagues. Mantle's meteoric rise through the ranks of the New York farm system compounded by the press' coverage of the young phenom who the dubbed to become the "next" Yankees star. He was originally assigned the number "6" to follow Babe Ruth's #3, Lou Gehrig's #4 and teammate Joe DiMaggio's #5. And, to add to the extraordinary pressure, DiMaggio announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 1951 season, Mickey's rookie campaign.

Baseball is a game of numbers, so it is fitting to begin this story with the number Four Thousand Two Hundred Seventy-Two. No one had ever taken longer to get to the World Series – 4,272 major-league games as player and manager before his first Series game in 1996. As Joe Torre stated in Chasing the Dream, “It had taken getting traded twice and fired three times. Both my parents had died years before they could have seen me celebrate the victory. And in the end, it had taken the most emotional twelve months of my life: the birth of my daughter Amanda Rae; the shocking death of my brother Rocco; and a life-saving transplant for (brother) Frank on the eve of the clinching game of the World Series. I never expected that chasing the dream would bring me to so many magical moments, or that the road to get there would be so long and so often painful.”1 Seventeen years after that first World Series game, on December 9, 2013, Torre was notified that he was a unanimous selection of the Expansion Committee to be enshrined at Cooperstown.

Sanford "Sandy" Koufax (December 30, 1935-) was one of the most dominant pitcher of the 1960s, breaking a 58-year old strikeout record set by Christy Mathewson in 1903, becoming not only the first pitcher to throw four no-hitters (including one perfect game), but also the first to win multiple Cy Young Awards. Sandy, nee Sanford Braun, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York where he excelled in basketball, but also enjoyed baseball. After captaining his Lafayette High School basketball team, he accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Cincinnati, but he eventually chose to play baseball and signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers after only one year at Cincy. Because the Dodgers signed the hard-throwing left handed to a $14,000 bonus, MLB rules required that he remain on the Major League roster for two years, thereby foregoing his much needed minor league guidance. Sandy would learn the ropes of professional baseball at its highest level. Though he would begin his career at a critical point in the Brooklyn Dodgers history, as they finally achieved the ultimate goal beating the New York Yankees in the World Series for the franchise's first Major League title, Koufax struggled mightily to find his control and consistency. August 27, 1955 marked Sandy's first career win, beating the Cincinnati Reds as he struck out 14 batters, but he would finish the year at .500 going 2-2 with 30 Ks and a 3.02 ERA. However, he was still only 19-year old. His struggles would continue for the next five seasons with Koufax going 36-40 with 683 strikeouts and a 4.10 ERA in 174 appearances. Hardly considered much more than mediocre, let alone the making of a Hall of Fame caliber career. The Dodgers were able to return to the World Series 1959 where they dispatched the Chicago White Sox in six games.

Ernest "Ernie" Banks (January 31, 1931 - January 23, 2015) remains, without a doubt, the most beloved Chicago Cubs player in franchise history and was voted the "Greatest Cub Ever" in a 1969 Chicago Tribune fan poll. Not only was he one of the best Cub the team had ever seen, but he is considered one of the greatest Major League Baseball players in history. As a boy, Ernie had little interest in baseball but rather affection for football, basketball and track instead. With his father moonlighting as a semi-pro baseball player, he often bribed the young Banks with nickels and dimes to play catch to nudge him toward his sport of choice. Ernie’s Booker T, Washington High School lacked a baseball team so he played football and basketball while also playing fast pitch softball outside of high school and then the Amarillo Colts, a semiprofessional baseball team. He began playing with the Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs before being drafted into the United States Army serving two years, but playing part time with the Harlem Globetrotters during his service. Upon his discharge in 1953, Ernie returned to the Kansas City Monarchs for a brief stint before the Chicago Cubs came calling. He is one of only a handful of Negro League player to enter the big leagues without starting out in the minors and he, in fact, never played a single minor league game in his career. In 1954, he put together an exceptional season with 19 home runs, 79 RBI and a .275 batting average but was edged out of the National League Rookie of the Year voting by St. Louis Cardinals Wally Moon.

Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst (February 2, 1923 - June 6, 2018) played 19 seasons at second base and left field with the St. Louis Cardinals (1945-1956, 1961-1963), the New York Giants (1956-1957) and the Milwaukee Braves (1957-1960). In his rookie season, he led the National League in stolen bases with 26, but resolved after the following season to focus on hitting and fielding. Red hit better than .300 in seven seasons and led the NL in fielding percentage six times. Schoendienst was a t10-time All-Star selection and was among the top ten in voting for the NL Most Valuable Player Award twelve times (never winning). Red Schoendienst retired with 2,449 hits, 1,223 runs, 773 RBI and a .289 career batting average. As a player, Schoendienst won two World Series titles with the 1946 Cardinals and 1957 Braves. He added another three championships with the Cardinal organization, as manager in 1967, and as a member of the coaching staff in 1964 and 1982. Red has donned a Major League uniform for seven decades The Veterans Committee elected Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Ernest "Ernie" Banks (January 31, 1931 - January 23, 2015) remains, without a doubt, the most beloved Chicago Cubs player in franchise history and was voted the "Greatest Cub Ever" in a 1969 Chicago Tribune fan poll. Not only was he one of the best Cub the team had ever seen, but he is considered one of the greatest Major League Baseball players in history. As a boy, Ernie had little interest in baseball but rather affection for football, basketball and track instead. With his father moonlighting as a semi-pro baseball player, he often bribed the young Banks with nickels and dimes to play catch to nudge him toward his sport of choice. Ernie’s Booker T, Washington High School lacked a baseball team so he played football and basketball while also playing fast pitch softball outside of high school and then the Amarillo Colts, a semiprofessional baseball team. He began playing with the Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs before being drafted into the United States Army serving two years, but playing part time with the Harlem Globetrotters during his service. Upon his discharge in 1953, Ernie returned to the Kansas City Monarchs for a brief stint before the Chicago Cubs came calling. He is one of only a handful of Negro League player to enter the big leagues without starting out in the minors and he, in fact, never played a single minor league game in his career. In 1954, he put together an exceptional season with 19 home runs, 79 RBI and a .275 batting average but was edged out of the National League Rookie of the Year voting by St. Louis Cardinals Wally Moon.

Carl Yastrzemski (August 22, 1939-) won the Triple Crown for hitting in 1967, batting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI. Carl played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox (1961-1983) potentially filling the shoes of retired Red Sox star Ted Williams. Yastrzemski both filled Williams place at the plate hitting 452 home runs in his career, but was an upgrade in the field as an excellent fielder sporting a .981 fielding percentage. Yaz was a fixture at the All-Star game, garnered 18 selections and was able to manage the torturous Green Monster with ease earning seven Gold Gloves in left for the Red Sox. Yaz was a three time batting champion winning the American League’s Most Valuable Player award during his 1967 Triple Crown season. For his 23-year career, Yastrzemski compiled a .285 career batting average with 3,419 hits, 1,816 runs, 1,844 RBI and 452 home runs. Carl Michael Yastrzemski was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

Willie Howard Mays (May 6, 1931-) is arguably the greatest centerfielder that major League Baseball has ever seen. Mays was a 24-time All-Star selection, a 12-time Gold Glove winner, the 1951 National League Rookie of the Year, a two-time NL Most Valuable Player (1954, 1965) and a member of the 1954 World Series champion New York Giants. Playing the majority of his 22-year career in a Giants uniform (1951-1952, 1954-1972), Mays’ numbers are among the best ever including his 660 career home runs, third behind Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth at the time of his retirement. Mays is often best remembered for his the iconic photograph of “The Catch”, an over-the-shoulder grab of a long drive by Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. Mays is one of five players to have eight straight seasons topping the 100-RBI mark. Power hitting Willie Mays waited in the on-deck circle when Bobby Thomson hit the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, perhaps influencing the pitching choices of Ralph Branca during that legendary playoff game. Willie Mays retired with 3,283 hits, 2,062 runs scored, 1,903 RBI, 338 stolen bases, 660 home runs and career .302 batting average. Willie Howard Mays was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

Pack Robert Gibson (November 9, 1935-) began his professional career playing baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters where he was “Bullet Bob Gibson.” Bob Gibson, “Gibby” played his entire 17-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals (1959-1975). Gibson established himself as one of the great power pitchers in his time, brushing batters back and “owning” the plate with two separate fastballs, sliders and sweeping curveballs. In 1968, Gibson posted a remarkable record 1.12 ERA for the season earning him his first of two National League Cy Young Awards, the league’s Most Valuable Player award and his third NL pennant. Gibson appeared in three World Series with the Redbirds, winning the titles in 1964 and 1967, and pitching to a 7-2 record with 92 strikeouts including 17 in Game 1of the 1968 Series. Gibson’s extraordinary performance in the 1968 campaign in often credited for the pitcher’s mound being lowered by five inches in 1969, taking partial advantage back from the pitcher and “leveling the playing field.” Bob Gibson retired with a record of 251-174 adding 3,117 strikeouts and posting a career 2.91 ERA. His 1968 record ERA of 1.12 remains the mark to which pitchers aim. Pack Robert Gibson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

Steven Norman Carlton (December 22, 1944-) was the first pitcher to ever win four Cy Young Awards and trails only Warren Spahn (363) in victories by a lefthander and Nolan Ryan (5,714) in strikeouts. Steve Carlton retired with a record of 329-244 with 4,136 strikeouts and a career 3.22 earned run average. Lefty used pinpoint accuracy, a hard fastball and a hard, breaking slider. Carlton’s intense demeanor and competitive nature on the mound garnered him ten All-Star selection and helped him win both the Cy Young Award and the National League TSN Pitcher of the Year Award four times (each in 1972, 1977, 1980, 1982). In 1971, Carlton requested a $10,000 salary increase up to $65,000 to which the Cardinals management refused and he was promptly traded. This remains one of the most lopsided deals in baseball history and the most notorious in Cardinals history. Carlton was a workhorse who led the NL four times in wins and games started and five times in strikeouts, averaging 279 during those five seasons. Though never pitching a perfect game of no-hitter, Carlton struck out 19 batters during one contest. In 1982, Steve Carlton became one of three pitchers, with Nolan Ryan and Gaylord Perry, to surpass the 3,508 strikeouts record of Hall of Famer Walter Johnson. Lefty pitched 24 seasons with the Cardinals (1965-1971), Phillies (1972-1986) White Sox (1986), Giants (1986), Indians (1987) and Twins (1987-1988). Steven Norman Carlton was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.