Joe posnanski wanted to surprise people with baseball stories – even people who are not baseball fans.
That may be one of the reasons why he ranked Willie Mays as the number one baseball player in American history. Posnanski is a former sports columnist for the Kansas City Star whose new book, “Baseball 100, “Coming out on Tuesday.
Mays, who started his career in the Negro Leagues and was a midfielder for the New York / San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, was extremely versatile, according to Posnanski. His personality and skill set him above Babe Ruth, who many others would name the best baseball player of all time.
“For me, Willie Mays did everything a player can do,” Posnanski told Up To Date. – He represented the game. One of the things I was looking for when I made this list is the players who knew everything, who were very well rounded, but who also had this extra with them, charisma or joy or whatever. ”
Posnanski put Mays on the Negro Leagues Baseball Musuem a few years back. Then the aging star had health problems.
“He was obviously in pain, but he also told stories about some of the players on the pitch,” Posnanski said. “And it was really very bitter, but beautiful in its own way … It’s a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
For his ranking, Posnanski started with a list based on a formula he developed with statistical analyst and blogger known as Tom Tango. Posnanski then re-ordered parts of the list.
“There are no Negro Leaguers on that list, so I included many of them as well,” Posnanski said. – There were players I felt were ranked a little too high, a little too low. I moved it too. “
His ranking also meant another criterion.
“I tried to bring some art and fun into the rankings, so that certain players are ranked by connecting to a cool number that meant something in their career,” Posnanski said.
In addition to giving the Negro League players the recognition they deserve, Posnanski made sure to get a few Kansas City players on the lineup. Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige, whose main team was the Kansas City Monarchs, ranks number ten.
Kansas City Monarchs’ Bullet Rogan, which is not known, is listed as number 92.
“He was a pitcher and a hitter at the same time and a truly dominant player for the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1920s,” Posnanski said.
He said it was important for him to give readers an insight into where the best baseball players come from and who they are, including stories not well known as Rogans.
Of the 100 players, only one is known to have played for the Kansas City Royals. Hall of Famer George Brett slips into the rankings at number 35. Posnanski said he made a point of writing about Brett’s relationship with his father and how it was a driving force in his career.
“Jack (Brett) was very hard on George throughout his life through his childhood, but also throughout his playing career. And the two would fight enormously together,” said Posnanski.
“It’s a very familiar thing people in Kansas City will remember or have heard of,” Posnanski continued. “In 1980, George hit almost 400. He dropped five hits to 400. And he said that day he said to your father – you know, the guy hit 390 and had one of the greatest years in baseball history – and he talked to his father and father said, “What? You could not have had five more hits.” And that was their relationship. “
This leads to a new surprise in Posnanski’s book.
“A theme that just came up again and again in this book was fathers and sons, and that might not be a surprise to people, but it was,” he said. “It’s really remarkable how many fathers just played massive, massive roles in their son’s success.”
Joe Posnanski talks about “The Baseball 100” with baseball writer Bill James, 7pm on Wednesday, September 30 at Unity Temple on The Plaza at 707 West 47th Street. Admission is $ 40 plus tax and includes a hard copy of the book as well as tickets for two guests. For information on how to buy, click here.