With the start of this blog will come a whole bunch of random ideas that pop into our heads. This was my first. Every week, I’m going to be doing a “Pick-Six”, where I do a Top 6 (not Top 5, not Top 10, a nice random number) of whatever pops into my mind. I’m usually pretty logical, but the column won’t be limited to football, so you’ll see the first ever Pick-Six in baseball, basketball, hockey, anything.
This week, the MLB had some power moves in free agency and dominated the sports world for days on end. The biggest signing of the week came out of Boston, with the Red Sox signing David Price for the largest contract for a pitcher in the sport’s long history. Price’s money couldn’t buy his usual number 14 jersey, as it’s retired at Fenway in honor of Sox legend Jim Rice, and he’ll now don the number 24 on his back. In celebration of the switch, I figured I’d take a look back and countdown the best players in baseball history to wear #24.
#6. Tony Perez
This Hall of Famer worked his way onto the list in the sixth spot, and has a special place in my heart for his brief playing time with my hometown Red Sox. His number 24 jersey was retired by his main team, the Cincinnati Reds, which forced another member of this list to make a tough switch to another number. Perez won three World Series throughout his career, and was a seven time All Star, earning him a well-deserved spot on the countdown.
#5. Dwight Evans
One of the multiple Red Sox legends on this list, Evans was an all-around stud in his time at Fenway. Evans won eight Gold Glove Awards and got it done at the plate as well, hitting 385 home runs. He was unfortunately dropped from the Hall of Fame Ballot because he didn’t get the minimum votes needed to stay on, but it’s tough to do that on a 1999 ballot that had future Hall of Fame players Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount, and Carlton Fisk.
#4. Manny Ramirez
Nothing’s better for Sox fans than Manny being Manny. Seeing Ramirez run out to left field in Boston was a great sight for their first World Series run in 86 years in 2004, and his 555 home runs put him at a solid 15th in career home runs, which not many think about when it comes to Ramirez because of Big Papi. Ramirez came up clutch for the Sox on many occasions, and seeing him launch walk-offs over the Green Monster brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t originally want to put him as high as four on the list, but I feel it’s well-deserved.
#3. Barry Bonds
This one will surprise many for multiple reasons. You’re either thinking Bonds, who wore #24 in his tenure in Pittsburgh, should be on top of this list given his top ranking in career home runs, or you think he shouldn’t be on at all because of his steroid scandals. Either way, you can’t knock the results the guy produced throughout his career, hitting 762 home runs and driving in 1996 runs, enough for fifth in that stat. However, I’m a bigger fan of those who did it legit throughout their career, which brought Bonds down to number three on the list.
#2. Ken Griffey Jr.
I hated the fact that I had to put my favorite baseball player of all time second in this list, but when you see who takes the top spot, you’ll understand. Growing up, Griffey was the one player I saw who was clobbering home runs and doing big things all while being clean and having no negative publicity towards him. He retired sixth in career home runs with 630, and I’m going to feel like a proud father when he gets called to the Hall of Fame in the next year or two. The 1997 MVP didn’t wear 24 all throughout his career, but it’s safe to say he was at his best with that jersey in Seattle. It’s a shame The Kid never got himself a World Series ring, but the memories he brought to Seattle and the inspiration he gave to Macklemore’s music is enough for me.
#1. Willie Mays
It’s tough to beat the one and only Willie Mays in any countdown, so it’s a no-brainer to put him in the top spot on baseball’s number 24’s. The Giants (and Mets) legend was third in career home-runs when he retired with 660, and is now fifth, with all of his success coming before steroids and performance-enhancing drugs dominated the league. I’m a huge fan of players who do things the right way, evident by the top two greats on this list, and this Hall of Famer takes the cake when it comes to those who have worn the legendary number 24 jersey.