Almost two weeks ago, I posted a challenge from baseball writer Joe Posnanski to his readers:
Small challenge: Try to beat my lineup and starting pitcher — with this caveat. Every player in the lineup and the pitcher must be active and born in a different country. So you have 10 players — 9 in the lineup (including DH) and starting pitcher.
Bonus point: Add a closer from a different country.
BIG Challenge: This one’s really a blast. Come up with a 25-man roster that beats mine where all 25 players are born in different countries. This one you don’t have to just use active players, you can go back as far back in history as you like.
Bonus point: Get a manager who is from a different country.
Hint: All territories count as separate countries … Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, etc.
Without too much trouble, I was able to come up with my response to the small challenge (plus some additional players). But this BIG challenge, well… that seemed too daunting of a task. Too much work for a graduate student to do when he is suppose to be grading exams and writing papers. And for the most part, I ignored this challenge….until today. The school I study at, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, has its spring break this week and I just returned to my parents house earlier today. And what was one of the first things I did upon entering their house? I started talking to my dad about baseball! This shouldn’t surprise anyone who reads this blog. Anyway we started talking about the small challenge I wrote about and then we casually started mentioning who would go on the 25 man roster BIG challenge. After throwing around a few names, I was too invested. I had some other work to do but this became too important to put down!
So eight hours later and after much thought and deliberation with my dad and other baseball enthusiasts in SABR (Society of American Baseball Research), here is my all-time all-world baseball roster. As someone from SABR told me earlier, “I wouldn’t want to be at this game for it would take six hours just to get through the National anthems.”
Warning: As tempting as it is, I did not put Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds on this team. I felt that the best team I could put together (the one with the least amount of holes) didn’t involve them.
25 Man Roster
- C – Ivan Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) Played 1991-2011
- C – Yan Gomes (Brazil) Plays 2012-present
- 1B – Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic) Plays 2001-present
- 2B – Rod Carew (Panama Canal Zone*) Played 1967-1985
- 3B – Mike Schmidt (USA) Played 1972-1989
- 3B – Reno Bertoia (Italy) Played 1953-1962
- SS – Luis Aparicio (Venezuela) Played 1956-1973
- SS – Edgar Renteria (Colombia) Played 1996-2011
- LF – Minnie Minoso (Cuba) Played 1949-1964**
- CF – Andruw Jones (Curacao) Played 1995-2012
- CF – Bobby Thomson (Scotland) Played 1946 – 1960
- RF – Larry Walker (Canada) Played 1993 – 2005
- RF – Elmer Valo (Czechoslovakia***) Played 1940-1961
- SP – Bert Blyleven (Netherlands) RHP Played 1970-1992
- SP – Dennis Martinez (Nicaragua) RHP Played 1976-1998
- SP – Fernando Valenzuela (Mexico) LHP Played 1980-1997
- SP – Jack Quinn (Austria-Hungary***) RHP Played 1909-1933
- SP – Tony Mullane (Ireland) UHP^ Played 1881-1893
- RP – Mariano Rivera (Panama) RHP Played 1995-2013
- RP – Grant Balfour (Australia) RHP Played 2001-2015
- RP – Seung-Hwan Oh (South Korea) RHP Played 2016-present
- RP – Moe Drabowsky (Poland) RHP Played 1956-1972
- RP – Otto Hess (Switzerland) LHP Played 1902-1915
- RP – Justin Masterson (Jamaica) RHP Played 2008-2015
- RP – Chien-Ming Wang (Taiwan) RHP Played 2005-2016
Starting Lineup (with DH)
- Carew 2B
- Minoso LF
- Pujols 1B
- Walker RF
- Schmidt 3B
- Jones CF
- Rodriguez C
- Thomson DH
- Aparicio SS
with Bert Blyleven as Ace Starting Pitcher
Bonus 1 : Manager – Bruce Bochy (France) with Ron Gardenhire (West Germany) as Bench coach and Elrod Hendricks (US Virgin Islands) as bullpen coach.
Bonus 2: I propose we have the following 26th man on the roster: right handed pitcher Charlie Ferguson. Why? Records show he was born in Charlottesville, Virginia …on April 17, 1863. Ferguson was born during the American Civil War in the Confederate States of America (while never recognized as a country, Britain and France did interact albeit informally). And Ferguson wasn’t a terrible pitcher. In his four seasons in the majors he collected 99 wins (including 30 wins in 1886) along with a career 2.67 ERA. His career was cut short by his passing in 1887 due to Typhoid fever, but he is regarded as one of the lesser known great pitchers of 19th century baseball.
Bonus 3: IF you want to be technical, we could also include Paul or Lloyd Waner on this list. They were born in Oklahoma in 1903 and 1906 respectively and at that time, Oklahoma was a territory (it didn’t become a state until 1907) and the rules state that “territories count as separate countries”.
* Panama Canal Zone is not the same thing as Panama. In order for the United States to construct the Panama Canal, the government of Panama gave the US this “canal zone” to build it in which was considered unincorporated territory of the US. The US held the region from 1904 to 1979 at which time Panama held dual control until December 31, 1999 when it was handed back to Panama fully. As the challenge allows us to name territories as its own “entities”, I am not considering Panama Canal Zone (PCZ) as the same thing as Panama. Some may call this cheating. I say “who doesn’t love a good loophole?” It’s rather lucky Carew was born in the PCZ for his mother gave birth to him while on a train which happened to be in the PCZ (December 1, 1945).
**As publicity stunts, he came back to do at-bats in 1976 and 1980
***I should get bonus points for naming countries that are not longer in existance
^ According to Baseball-Reference, its unknown with which hand he threw although “Mullane threw left-handed a handful of times”