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Indians Indians Archive View from the Porch: The Buckeye State's Baseball Greats Part One
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

The state of Ohio has a very rich history. American history is dotted with native Ohioans, ranging from seven of our 44 Presidents to military generals to famous inventors to famous musicians. Ohio has produced over 1,000 baseball players in the history of the game, 1,004 to be exact. Beginning with Frank Barrows, Charlie Gould, and Scott Hastings in 1871 and going up through the present, Ohio has been well-represented by a lot of really good players, including 13 Hall of Famers.

With the Indians in a holding pattern this week, and likely for most of the rest of the offseason, it’s a perfect opportunity to do a couple of articles I have wanted to do for a while. In the 210-year history of the state of Ohio, professional athletes have made impacts in the major sports. Obviously, Canton holds a special place in the sports world as the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Both of Ohio’s Major League teams, the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, have extensive histories and a long line of outstanding players and accolades.

For the next two weeks in my View from the Porch, there will be a lot of Ohio pride on display, as I look at the all-Ohio 25-man roster, beginning with the starting lineup and bench players this week. Barring any Indians news, next week’s View from the Porch will look at the 12-man pitching staff. With over 1,000 players spread over three different centuries, getting down to 13 position players and 12 pitchers will be no easy task.

Without further adieu, here is my starting lineup and bench players for the all-Ohio team.



Catcher: Thurman Munson – We’ll never know if Thurman Munson would have made an appearance in Cooperstown because his life was cut short at age 32. Munson broke into the Major Leagues at 22 years old with the New York Yankees. The Akron native, who attended Kent State, was the 1970 Rookie of the Year, the 1976 Most Valuable Player, and a seven-time All-Star. In the storied history of the Yankees, Munson is the only player to have won both the Rookie of the Year and MVP award as a member of the Yankees.

Munson tragically died in a plane crash during the 1979 All-Star break. Over 11 seasons, Munson posted a .292/.346/.410/.756 slash line and threw out 44 percent of attempted base stealers.


0georgesislerFirst Base: George Sisler – In 1920, George Sisler, a Manchester native, set a record that took 84 years to break. Sisler batted .407 and had 257 hits. In 154 games for the St. Louis Browns, Sisler posted a 1.082 OPS that season. Even with that incredible performance, it took two years for Sisler to win the Most Valuable Player award, batting .420 in 1922. In his 15-year career, Sisler racked up 3,871 total bases and posted a .340/.379/.468/.897 slash line.

Sisler played from 1915-1930 with the St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators, and Boston Braves. The Baseball Writers Association of America voted Sisler into the Hall of Fame in 1939 with 85.8 percent of the vote.


0eddelahantySecond Base: Ed Delahanty – This one might be a bit of a cop out, as Delahanty only played 131 of his 1,859 games at second base, but outfield is a little more crowded and it’s impossible to leave Delahanty off of this team. On three separate occasions, Delahanty batted over .400. In 1895, Delahanty posted a .500 on-base percentage.

Over Delahanty’s 16 seasons, he played for the Philadelphia Quakers, Cleveland Infants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Senators. His career, which spanned from 1888-1903, saw him lead the league in batting average once, on-base percentage twice, slugging percentage five times, and on-base plus slugging five times. Delahanty’s career .346 batting average ranks fifth all-time.

Delahanty’s career came to an abrupt end in 1903. At age 35, Delahanty was in Niagara Falls when he was kicked off a train for being drunk and disorderly. Upon leaving the train, he fell off of the International Bridge connecting Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario and was eventually swept over Niagara Falls. Whether Delahanty fell accidentally or committed suicide remains a mystery.

Delahanty was selected to the Hall of Fame by the Old Timers Committee in 1945.


0barrylarkinShortshop: Barry Larkin – It’s hard to go with anybody but Barry Larkin to be the shortstop. The Cincinnati native got to play with his hometown team for the duration of his illustrious 19-year career. Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, a nine-time Silver Slugger award winner, and a three-time Gold Glove award winner. He also won the Most Valuable Player award in 1995.

In the Reds’ 1990 World Series sweep of the Oakland Athletics, Larkin batted .353 with a .950 OPS. For his career, Larkin posted a .295/.371/.444/.815 slash line and .975 fielding percentage ranks 39th all-time among shortstops. Larkin played in 2,180 games from 1986-2004 and still hit .289 in his final season at age 40. Over 9,057 plate appearances, Larkin walked 120 times more than he struck out. He also ranks 16th in career stolen base percentage at 83.11 percent.

Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012, with 86.4 percent of the vote.


0mikeschmidtThird Base: Mike Schmidt – Another no brainer here with Dayton native Mike Schmidt. Like Larkin, Schmidt played on 12 All-Star teams over his 18-year career. Schmidt won the Most Valuable Player award in 1980, 1981, and 1986 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, the team he played with for his entire career.

Schmidt was a prolific hitter, blasting 548 home runs in his career, leading the league in slugging percentage five times. Schmidt was also the World Series MVP in 1980, posting a 1.176 OPS in the six-game series. Not only was Schmidt a great hitter, but he was also a 10-time Gold Glove award winner.

Schmidt was a first ballot Hall of Famer in 1995, recording 96.5 percent of the vote. Somehow, 16 people left Schmidt off of their ballot.


0peteroseLeft Field: Pete Rose – I’m going to list Charlie Hustle as a left fielder for the purposes of this exercise. The Cincinnati native is the all-time record holder in Major League Baseball with 4,256 hits. Rose is also the career leader in games played, plate appearances, and at bats, with a career that spanned 24 seasons, from 1963-1986.

Rose participated in 17 All-Star games as a member of the Cincinnati Reds or Philadelphia Phillies. Rose was the 1963 Rookie of the Year and the 1973 Most Valuable Player. Rose also holds the record for most postseason hits with 83, playing in the World Series six times, with three World Series rings. In 1975, Rose was the World Series Most Valuable Player, batting .370 over seven games.

Rose has been on the Hall of Fame ballot three times, never getting more than 9.5 percent of the vote due, in large part, to the fact that he bet on games as a player and as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Regardless of the fact that he is ineligible to be in the Hall of Fame, there’s no way Rose can be left off of the all-Ohio team.


0aloliverCenter Field: Al Oliver – Al Oliver is probably one of the lesser known current era players in this article, but he had an excellent career. A Portsmouth native, Oliver made seven All-Star appearances during his 18-year career. Oliver certainly bounced around a lot, especially compared to the players on this roster, suiting up for seven different teams. The bulk of Oliver’s career came with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1968-1977.

Oliver won the National League batting title in 1982 with the Montreal Expos. Oliver finished his career with 2,743 hits and a career .303 batting average.


0elmerflickRight Field: Elmer Flick – Elmer Flick epitomized the phrase, “Big things come in small packages”. Flick, a 5’9” 168 pounds soaking wet outfielder, stole 330 bases over his 13-year career. He posted a slash line of .313/.389/.445/.834 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Bronchos, and Cleveland Naps. Flick’s 164 career triples rank 30th all-time.

The Bedford native was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1963. Flick lived to the age of 94, dying in Bedford in 1974. Interestingly, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame website, the Cleveland Naps nearly traded Flick to the Detroit Tigers in 1907. The Naps’ management decided against the deal. The reported return? Ty Cobb.


0frankhowardDesignated Hitter: Frank Howard – This was my hardest decision thus far. The other two candidates for designated hitter will be on the bench, but determining who would start was very difficult. Howard, a Columbus native, hit 382 home runs over his 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Senators, Texas Rangers, and Detroit Tigers. The 382 home runs put Howard second among all Ohioans, trailing just Mike Schmidt, and ranks 62nd all-time.

Howard, who posted an .851 career OPS, was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1960. He was a four-time All-Star and twice led the American League in total bases.


0pauloneillBench: Paul O’Neill – Columbus native Paul O’Neill put together a very solid career, with most of it coming under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium. O’Neill was a decent player for eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, but he really took off when he put on the pinstripes. O’Neill made four American League All-Star teams and led the league in batting in the strike-shortened 1994 season with a .359 average. With the Yankees, O’Neill posted a .303/.377/.472/.869 slash line in nine seasons.

In 85 playoff games, O’Neill batted .284 with an .828 OPS. O’Neill finished his career with 2,105 hits and 281 home runs.


0davidjusticeBench: David Justice – Justice, a Cincinnati native, quietly put together a very solid 14-year career. Justice played in three All-Star games, was the 1990 National League Rookie of the Year, and was the 2000 American League Championship Series MVP for the New York Yankees. Justice walked 909 times in his career and struck out only 999 times. 

Justice played for the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and Oakland Athletics during his career and his .500 career slugging percentage ranks 100th all-time.

Perhaps the best career achievement for Justice was managing to be married to Halle Berry for a little over a year.


0dummyhoyBench: William “Dummy” Hoy – If you want to see a downright incredible set of statistics, check out the Baseball-Reference page for Dummy Hoy.  Hoy, a native of Houcktown, a very small community about 20 minutes southeast of Findlay, played from 1888-1902 for the Washington Nationals, Buffalo Bisons, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators, Cincinnati Reds, and Louisville Cardinals. In 1,797 games, Hoy walked 1,006 times, had 2,048 hits, and struck out just 345 times. In 1891, Hoy walked 117 times and struck out just 25 times. He also stole 596 bases, including 82 in 1888.

Outside of Hoy’s statistic achievements, here’s the most impressive thing: William Hoy was deaf. After contracting meningitis as a kid, Hoy lost his hearing. Hoy died at the age of 99 in 1961.


0buckewingBench: Buck Ewing – The Hoagland (now Hillsboro) native was born in a small town about 50 miles east of Cincinnati. Ewing played 1,345 games over 18 seasons, with 636 of those games behind the plate. In his career, he also played first base, second base, third base, and outfield.

From 1880-1897, Ewing posted a .303/.351/.456/.807 slash line and stole 354 bases. Ewing was a two-time World Series champion in 1888 and 1889 with the New York Giants. He also played for the Troy Trojans, New York Gothams, Cleveland Spiders, and was a player-manager for the Cincinnati Reds at the end of his career.

Ewing was voted in to Cooperstown by the Old Timers Committee in 1939, 33 years after his death at the age of 47.


Obviously, the players I have selected for this list could be up for major debate and I may have even left somebody off who should have been there. What I like about this collection of players is that it spans the history of baseball, with players from all across the state and various backgrounds.

Next week, I’ll look at the 12 pitchers that make up the all-Ohio roster, and there are some very impressive names on that list.

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