All-Star Teams by Birth Years

This article was written by E. Kendall Hermes

This article was published in the 1981 Baseball Research Journal


The Society for American Baseball Research has been selecting each year the baseball personality born 100 years ago who has contributed the most to the national game. Last year, for example, the honor went to Christy Mathewson, born in 1880. This is a nice practice, which should be continued. In fact, I have gone considerably beyond that type of research and have reviewed the birth years of all the great stars. The objective is to find the year that has produced the best player representation by team position – an all-star lineup.

It is difficult to find a year with a real all-star performer at each position. There usually are duplications at one position and a real scarcity at another, and it isn’t fair to use one of the good duplicates at another position unless he has played the equivalent of at least one season at that post. It was virtually impossible, for example, to put together a good team of players born in the centennial year of 1876. That was a pitchers year with almost all of the prominent players being marvels of the mound. There were Mordecai Brown, Rube Waddell, Vic Willis, Bill Donovan, and Bill Dinneen. But the team was pretty ho hum in other areas, with Elmer Flick being about the only other significant player born in 1876.

Moving to the more recent era, we find an excellent outfield among players born in 1934. How about Henry Aaron, Al Kaline, and Roberto Clemente, with Roger Mans as backup? The 1934 team also had Luis Aparicio at shortstop, and Norm Cash or Bill White at first, but was pretty skimpy in the pitching department with Camilo Pascual and Earl Wilson and in catching with Johnny Romano.

What about 1886, the year Ty Cobb was born? He had a little support from Frank “Home Run” Baker and Larry Doyle, but that was about it. Babe Ruth practically had the year 1895 to himself, with George Kelly the only other notable player. Bob Feller and Ted Williams were both born in 1918, and Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese could give double coverage at shortstop, but that still does not make a team.

Actually, there were four years that produced reasonably well-rounded teams – 1887, 1900, 1903, and 1931. Let’s lay them out right here and then review them briefly. My personal favorite is the1903 team, but you may have different feelings on the matter.

 

 

Born in 1887

  Born in 1900

1B

Doc Johnston

 

1B

Jim Bottomley

2B

Eddie Coffins

 

2B

Geo. Grantham,
Hugh Critz

3B

H. Zimmerman,
Bill Bradley

 

3B

Wfflie Kamm,
Marty McManus

SS

Donie Bush

 

SS

Judy Johnson,
Ossie Bluege

OF

Harry Hooper

 

OF

Goose Goslin

OF

Joe Jackson

 

OF

Hack Wilson

OF

Cy Williams,
Clyde Milan

 

OF

Bill Barrett

C

Bill Killifer

 

C

Gabby Hartnett,
Jimmy Wilson

P

Walter Johnson

 

P

Lefty Grove

P

Grover Alexander

 

P

Ted Lyons

 

 

Born in 1903

  Born in 1931

1B

Lou Gehrig

 

1B

Vic Power

2B

Charlie Gehringer,
Tony Lazzeri

 

2B

Frank Bolling

3B

Joe Stripp

 

3B

Eddie Mathews
Ken Boyer

SS

Travis Jackson

 

SS

Ernie Banks

OF

Paul Waner

 

OF

Mickey Mantle

OF

Chick Hafey

 

OF

Willie Mays

OF

Babe Herman

 

OF

Bill Virdon,
Bob Skinner

C

Mickey Cochrane

 

C

Ed Bailey

P

Carl Hubbell

 

P

Jim Bunning

P

Curt Davis

 

P

Larry Jackson

 

The 1887 team is a little weak at first base and catcher, but the pitching, with Johnson and Alexander, is at the highest level. There is also good depth with Rube Benton, Fred Toney, Jim Bagby, Sr., and Doc Crandall in relief.

The 1900 aggregation had trouble filling the third outfield spot; the best that could be found were Bill Barrett and Danny Taylor, neither of whom played 1000 games. There also was a real scarcity at shortstop, but Judy Johnson, the Negro League Hall of Famer, whose regular spot was third base, played enough at short to qualify. This also applied to Ossie Bluege. George Earnshaw and Pete Donohue are good support pitchers.

The 1903 team has Joe Stripp, hardly a household name, at third, but he did bat .294 over his 11-year career. The outfield, weakened a little when it was found that Al Simmons was born in 1902 instead of 1903, is still a solid trio. The pitching drops off after Hubbell and Curt Davis, but Bill Walker was the NL ERA leader in 1929 and 1931, and Clint Brown was a good relief hurler in the years before World War II.

The 1931 team has tremendous batting power with the M-squad of Mantle, Mathews and Mays, plus Ernie Banks. The latter has the flexibility to fill the shortstop berth while the fancy fielding Vic Power covers first base. Bailey, who batted .300 and hit 28 homers in 1956, is adequate behind the plate. The pitching is only fair with Ed Roebuck and Roger Craig backing up Bunning and Jackson.

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