I’m missing sports big time. Spring is my favorite time of the year. I was so looking forward to the first Kennett High versus Fryeburg Academy track meet; watching the hometown baseball and softball teams take to the diamond. Watching the tennis teams compete against their opponents and the typical April winds that make the sport a challenge at times. The lacrosse teams were fired up and ready to go. Varsity girl’s lacrosse was ready to make its mark.
All of that is on hold for the foreseeable future.
Given the lack of sports, some friends have been creative on the internet asking people to come up with their favorite Major League Baseball players during our lifetime. It’s a fun task and brings back some good memories.
Arizona Diamondbacks — I don’t follow the Diamondbacks but my all-time favorite Arizona fan was the late Julia Ruth Stevens. She loved the Dbacks and her favorite player was Luis Gonzalez. My pick would be Randy Johnson. When he pitched, you had to watch.
Atlanta Braves — I remember when we first got cable TV, the Braves were on TBS every day it seemed. Larry Day, Ross Kidder, Jeff McLellan and I watched a ton of those games. The Braves should have won more than just one World Series. Chipper Jones is my pick.
Baltimore Orioles — Lynn and I went to Vero Beach to see the Dodgers and Orioles play. Lynn caught a foul ball from Brett Butler and gave it to a youngster. We met Cal Ripken, who signed autographs and talked to everyone. He’s an all-time favorite of ours and my pick.
Boston Red Sox — The hometown nine has given up plenty of good guys to root for. Pedro Martinez is my pick. When he pitched it was a must-see event. Xander Bogaerts is my current favorite.
Chicago Cubs — Ryne Sandberg.
Chicago White Sox — I’d like to see Shoeless Joe Jackson in the Hall of Fame. I’ve got to go with the Granite State’s own Carlton Fisk.
Cincinnati Reds — I wasn’t in the country when the Big Red Machine was doing its thing, but my guy was Eric “The Red” Davis. If I had a dime for every Eric Davis baseball card I collected, I’d have a lot of dimes. Injuries cut his career way too short.
Cleveland Indians — Jim Thome is hands down my favorite baseball player other than someone named Jeff Locke. When Thome was a rookie with the Indians, I was in my rookie years as a reporter. He was great with me at three spring training games. We talked a ton. Easily, one of the nicest guys on the planet.
Colorado Rockies — Larry Walker.
Detroit Tigers — I’ll never forget going to spring training with Larry, Ross and the late Tim Bean and we met the Tigers as they arrived to play the Astros in Kissimmee. The first one off the bus was manager Sparky Anderson. Tim was so excited, he immediately asked, “What’s up Spike.” Sparky was nice and said hello back. My pick Alan Trammell.
Houston Astros — Jeff Bagwell. Worst Sox trade ever: Bagwell for reliever Larry Anderson.
Kansas City Royals — Bo Jackson is the greatest athlete I've seen.
Los Angeles Angels — Mike Trout.
Los Angeles Dodgers — Clayton Kershaw.
Miami Marlins — Hanley Ramirez.
Milwaukee Brewers — Robin Yount.
Minnesota Twins — Joe Mauer.
New York Mets — Darryl Strawberry. No bigger Strawberry fan than Mike McLellan growing up.
New York Yankees — Peter Ames and I saw Derek Jeter play in a Single-A game in North Carolina. We knew instantly he was destined to be a Hall of Famer. Jeter was easy to root for.
Oakland A’s — The A’s of the early 70s were great fun with Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Gene Tenace, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson and Vida Blue to name a few. My pick is Ricky Henderson. He was so much fun to watch.
Philadelphia Phillies — Mike Schmidt.
Pittsburgh Pirates — The Pirates have always been my team. I thought Roberto Clemente walked on water. Willie Stargell was the man and Dave Parker had the coolest nickname, “The Cobra.” It’s a crime that Parker isn’t in the hall of fame. I was over the moon when Jeff Locke was traded to the Bucs. Jeff is my all-time favorite major leaguer.
San Diego Padres — Tony Gwynn is Mr. Padre, and someone I wish I had met.
San Francisco Giants — I remember seeing Barry Bonds hit two triples in Montreal in a game.
Seattle Mariners — Ken Griffey Jr. is the best baseball player I’ve ever seen. He was a clear choice for Lynn and me to name our first Bernese Mountain Dog after.
St. Louis Cardinals — In 1998, Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs and had only 61 singles. Todd Gallager and I were in Montreal when he had one of those singles. While exciting, we were rooting for him to hit a bomb.
Tampa Bay Rays — Evan Longoria.
Texas Rangers — Nolan Ryan.
Toronto Blue Jays — John Olerud is another of my all-time favorites. Larry and I talked hitting with him in Yankee Stadium on one of our visits to see Stump Merrill manage the Yankees in 1990.
Washington Nationals — Max Scherzer.
Montreal Expos — Bring back the Expos, please! Just 200 miles from the Scenic Vista in Intervale. Many a road trip to Olympic Stadium over the years. We saw a young Randy Johnson and Pedro, rooted for Tim Raines and Larry Walker. The Expos were fun, but Vladimir Guerrero was a human highlight film. No better bad ball hitter in my book.