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All-Time Top 50 Rationale
by Editor, Rick Cabral

BaseballSacramento.com is pleased to announce the All-Time Top 50 Professional Baseball Players from the greater Sacramento area over the past 100 years.

At the bottom of this page you will find links to Players 11-50, replete with bio, stats and anecdotal information compiled by Mark McDermott.

Beginning January 20 we will unveil the Top 10 Players list, one player each day, starting with the #10 player. It will culminate on Saturday, January 29 with the announcement of the #1 Player from the All-Time Top 50 list.

The Committee

These selections represent the collective opinions of eight baseball experts from the area (several of whom have been featured in these pages; simply click on their names), plus this site's own two writers. The 10-member Selection Committee included:

Guy Anderson, Cordova High, 2nd winningest high school baseball coach in Calif. history

Tony Asaro, Community Relations Manager, Sacramento River Cats

Cuno Barragan, former Major League player (Cubs) and Sacramento Solon

Rick Cabral, Editor, BaseballSacramento.com

Harry Dunlop, former minor league ballplayer and Major League coach

Ron King, former Sacramento Solon and scouting supervisor (Pirates, Dodgers & Phillies)

Don Lyle, former minor league ballplayer and currently a professional scout (Indians)

Mark McDermott, former staff writer, Sacramento Bee Sports and contributor to BaseballSacramento.com.

Alan O'Connor, Sacramento baseball historian and author

Steve Sax, former Major League player (Dodgers)

On Saturday, December 4, 2010 the committee assembled at Raley Field to discuss, cajole and rank the Top 50 professional players from Sacramento area from a list of eligible candidates. Those members who were unable to make the session later submitted ballots by mail and their input was weighted proportionally and incorporated with the committee's choices to arrive at the rankings for the Top 50 Players. Our thanks go out to our committee members for their contributions.

Eligibility
Similar rankings of Sacramento's professional ballplayers have been produced over the years, namely by the Sacramento Bee (See "Capital Connections" July 6, 1997). Many of the same players that appeared on the Bee's list made our All-Time Top 50 (It should not be surprising to learn that Mr. McDermott developed that list as well as spearheading this one).

To be eligible for the BaseballSacramento.com All-Time Top 50 list a player must have:

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-          Played for a local area high school or college team in the greater Sacramento area (See Area Map: Yuba City/Marysville to the north, Grass Valley to the east, Sac-Joaquin border to the south and Yolo County to the West)

-          Played for one of the major league baseball clubs over the past 100 years with minimum playing experience:

o   Pitchers 250 innings pitched

o   Position Players 350 at-bats

The first requisite was included for a couple of reasons. We wished to celebrate the achievements of those players who learned to play the game on Sacramento's sandlots and high school and college fields. We recognize this criterion led to the exclusion of several ball players who have long been associated with Sacramento baseball. 

The most obvious example is Tony Freitas, the winningest left-hander in Pacific Coast League (PCL) history, who pitched off and on for nearly two decades for Sacramento. Freitas, who hailed from Mill Valley, called Sacramento home from the early 1930s until his death in 1994.

Also, we wanted to distinguish our list from The Bee's All-Star team in 1997 that tabbed several players primarily because of a short stint with the Solons following their major league careers and eventual retirement in Sacramento.

In addition, historian and author Alan O'Connor (a frequent contributor to this site) notes that the artificial cutoff for our 100 year timeframe removes from consideration players such as Jay Hughes, who pitched and performed admirably in the National League from 1898 through 1902. He also points to Clarence "Cack" Henley as being representative of many who played in the PCL, which was then considered the "third major league" and the equivalent of the National or American League. To read more about those two players, see O'Connor's story.

Online Reader Survey

From mid-December 2010 through today we invited readers to cast ballots for their Top Three Players of All Time from Sacramento. The results of the reader's online voting are generally in agreement with the committee's rankings, though not in the same order. Also, over the MLK weekend we had a major push by the Leron Lee fan club, pushing his vote total to second place, just behind Dusty Baker. By contrast, the committee placed Leron Lee farther down on the list. This week the Forsch's generated several votes, pushing Bob and Ken up the ladder. NOTE: The online survey will remain open until the end of January.

Family Connections

With the annoucement of Larry Bowa as the Number Three player of All-Time, we see the second multi-family affiliation in our list. Bowa's great uncle Frank Demaree is the #9 player on the list. His father Paul Bowa played for the Solons, while nephew Nick Johnson is continuing his major league career with the Yankees. The Number Four player Derrek Lee also hails from a baseball family. His uncle Leron Lee divided time in the major leagues and the Japanese League, while his father Leon spent 10 years in Japanese baseball. 

Reflection

We feel confident that the All-Time Top 50 list represents the finest professional ball players ever to come out of Sacramento, certainly over the past 100 years. We hope that you enjoy reading about these players and perhaps form your own conclusions as to who deserves to be called the best players of All-Time.

Only time will tell.

As the committee noted during our selection session, a player like Dustin Pedroia, who has accomplished so much over his first five seasons in the majors, may eventually stake claim to the #1 spot should a future poll be taken and his career continue on the upswing.

Meanwhile, somewhere among the towns and cities in the Sacramento Valley a young prospect is tossing a tennis ball against a brick wall, dreaming of pitching a victory in the World Series, just like Bob Forsch {'87} and Walter "Duster" Mails {'20}, or taking swings in the garage while imagining hitting a home run like Joe Marty {'38} and Greg Vaughn {'98} on the game's biggest stage. We won't know until the future arrives and reveals that players' greatness over a career in the major leagues. But we may have the opportunity to watch him (or her) perform in a local youth league or on a high school diamond on their way to the majors (as I had the privilege of watching Pedroia in the Sac-Joaquin high school playoffs).

Until such time, we hope this group of players will be remembered as the All-Time Top 50 from Sacramento.


 

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#11-20

#21-30


#31-40

#41-50

 


Uploaded 01/29/2011

All contents © Rick Cabral 2011
 
 

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