The question posed recently whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Baltimore Orioles Mt. Rushmore
Born as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, the franchise moved to St. Louis as the Browns in 1902 and has been in Baltimore since 1954. The successful portion has been in Baltimore. Over 52 seasons in St. Louis, there were only 12 winning seasons and eight painful 100-loss years.
I suspect there may be as little debate over these selections as any team.
It could be argued that Ripken may even be on the MLB Mt. Rushmore. Not so much for his performance — although his numbers are Hall of Fame worthy — but for what he meant to the game at a time baseball needed something spectacular. After the debacle of wiping out the 1994 postseason, Ripken captivated fans all over with his tendency to show up and play every day.
I can’t imagine a third baseman winning 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards. While that may not be an acceptable way to measure defensive greatness, it does mean some measure of respect among peers. He could also hit. Brooks finished in the top 3 in MVP voting four times, winning the award in 1964.
Many women may remember Palmer for his famous Jockey underwear ads, but he was the definition of ace. He won 20 games for the Orioles in eight of nine seasons, missing only an injury-marred 1974 season. He tossed a shutout in the World Series as a 20-year-old facing Sandy Koufax in 1966, and went on to win World Series games in the next two decades.
He was quiet and steady. For five consecutive seasons from 1981-85, Murray finished in the top 5 for the MVP award, but never winning it. Only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Murray can claim 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 1,900 RBIs.
There really is little argument here. Frank Robinson is a name that will come up immediately. He won an MVP, triple crown and was part of four pennants and two World Series champions. But his time and production in Baltimore just don’t measure up to the others.
Earl Weaver deserves mention, for sure. He led the O’s to six division titles, four pennants, two World Series championships and won 100 games on five occasions.
The best the St. Louis era could offer was George Sisler. Gorgeous George hit .344 and racked up 2,295 hits in 1,647 games that spanned 12 seasons with the Browns.
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