The History of the ‘Greatest Living Ballplayer’

From Larry Granillo at Baseball Prospectus on March 17:

In any given year since, say, the dawn of the American League, who was the greatest living ballplayer? If you asked that question in 1925, what would people of the time say? 1947? 1969?

Before giving my list covering the last 110 years, we have to decide some ground rules. I chose to restrict myself to retired players (so that I’m really asking “who is the greatest living retired player?”). I do think including active players makes the list a bit more interesting, but it becomes way too subjective. When, for example, did Ty Cobb cross over into the “greatest living player”? 1915? 1912? Or Ruth? 1924? 1927?

Other than that, the rules are pretty straight forward. Beginning in 1901, here is the chain of players who would be my answer to the question “Who is the greatest living (retired) player?”

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Originally published: March 18, 2011. Last Updated: March 18, 2011.