Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Final 12 Players By Decade

Active players from the 1990s have been dwindling year by year, and the only ones left in Spring Training 2018 are Bartolo Colon and Adrian Beltre, both of the Texas Rangers. Colon seems to be close to the end, but Beltre has become something of an ageless wonder, putting up productive seasons even into his late 30s.

In honor of a decade's players dropping off the scene, I thought it would be fun to look at previous decades and who their final representatives at the major league level were. Some of these are pretty interesting.


Stuffy McInnis 8/1/1927
Zack Wheat 9/21/1927
Walter Johnson 9/30/1927
Tris Speaker 8/30/1928
Ty Cobb 9/11/1928
Jimmy Austin 10/6/1929
Johnny Evers 10/6/1929
Eddie Collins 8/5/1930
Gabby Street 9/20/1931
Jack Quinn 7/7/1933
Nick Altrock 10/1/1933
Charley O'Leary 9/30/1934

We have four Hall of Famers at the ends of their careers, five coaches making publicity stunt appearances, one Hall of Famer who was basically just a coach at that point, and two guys who just played a long time. A nice snapshot of the era. An interesting note is that four of the five Hall of Famers played their final game with the Philadelphia Athletics.


Dazzy Vance 8/14/1935
Bob O'Farrell 9/23/1935
Sad Sam Jones 9/28/1935
Rabbit Maranville 9/29/1935
Tom Zachary 5/28/1936
George Uhle 9/22/1936
Charlie Grimm 9/23/1936
Rogers Hornsby 7/20/1937
Frankie Frisch 8/5/1937
Jesse Haines 9/10/1937
Waite Hoyt 5/15/1938
Jimmy Dykes 10/1/1939

The legendary Babe Ruth just missed the cut here. Here we see six Hall of Famers (about half of which probably shouldn't be in, and one of which only achieving that status thanks to one of the legitimate Hall of Famers on the list). The last man standing though, like Charley O'Leary the decade before, wasn't primarily a player, but a member of the dugout staff taking the field.


Bill Dickey 9/8/1946
Rollie Hemsley 4/17/1947
Art Herring 6/15/1947
Mel Ott 7/11/1947
Mel Harder 9/7/1947
Rick Ferrell 9/14/1947
Red Ruffing 9/15/1947
Al Lopez 9/16/1947
Si Johnson 9/25/1947
Doc Cramer 5/12/1948
Earl Caldwell 9/15/1948
Bobo Newsom 9/17/1953

Now here's an odder list. A lot of mediocre players on this one. There are three I'd consider legit Hall of Fame players, one I'd consider a legit Hall of Fame manager, and one who was a fine player but not a deserving Hall of Famer. And none of the Hall of Famers appear in the final four. And the last guy standing wasn't a coach or manager giving the fans a token appearance. How times change.


Phil Cavarretta 5/8/1955
Hank Majeski 7/26/1955
Eddie Joost 9/25/1955
Walt Masterson 9/24/1956
Bob Feller 9/30/1956
Dizzy Trout 9/11/1957
Bob Kennedy 9/29/1957
Murry Dickson 9/14/1959
Enos Slaughter 9/29/1959
Mickey Vernon 9/27/1960
Ted Williams 9/28/1960
Early Wynn 9/13/1963

Looks like old Early was late to leave the game, hanging on for a full three seasons as the only active player from the 1930s. On this list we have four Hall of Famers, two of which I'd definitely put in my personal Hall, while the others are borderline choices. I'll bet even the most hardcore fans couldn't have named Walt Masterson. I know I almost certainly wouldn't have thought of him.


Billy Pierce 10/3/1964
Duke Snider 10/3/1964
Yogi Berra 5/9/1965
Roy Sievers 5/9/1965
Nellie Fox 7/25/1965
Satchel Paige 9/25/1965
Warren Spahn 10/1/1965
Robin Roberts 9/3/1966
Del Crandall 9/25/1966
Joe Nuxhall 10/2/1966
Smoky Burgess 10/1/1967
Curt Simmons 10/1/1967
Minnie Minoso 10/5/1980

This is actually a final 13, since Pierce and Snider played their last game on the same day. Once again, we see six Hall of Famers, though none are in the last five. Minoso has his supporters, though. Paige's appearance was a publicity stunt too, of course.


Frank Robinson 9/18/1976
Tony Taylor 9/29/1976
Tommy Davis 10/2/1976
Billy Williams 10/2/1976
Hank Aaron 10/3/1976
Mike Cuellar 5/3/1977
Brooks Robinson 8/13/1977
Ron Fairly 9/23/1978
Willie McCovey 7/6/1980
Tim McCarver 10/5/1980
Minnie Minoso 10/5/1980
Jim Kaat 7/1/1983

Like Early Wynn before him, Jim Kaat was the sole player repping the fabulous '50s for three seasons. Five Hall of Famers on this list, and one who, as mentioned before, has his supporters. Minnie Minoso was brilliant for making that cameo in a non-contending season for the White Sox. I've noticed that if you look at the last "serious" players for each of these decades, the guy you come up with has always been a pitcher so far. Will that change?


Joe Niekro 4/29/1988
Gene Garber 7/1/1988
Don Sutton 8/9/1988
Graig Nettles 10/1/1988
Ted Simmons 10/2/1988
Tommy John 5/25/1989
Darrell Evans 10/1/1989
Bill Buckner 5/30/1990
Jerry Reuss 10/3/1990
Rick Dempsey 9/27/1992
Carlton Fisk 6/22/1993
Nolan Ryan 9/22/1993

Not yet. But interestingly, only three Hall of Famers on this list, two of which were the last two out the door. Nettles and Simmons have supporters, though.


Ozzie Smith 10/17/1996
Rick Honeycutt 5/2/1997
Eddie Murray 9/20/1997
Danny Darwin 9/22/1998
Dave Stieb 9/25/1998
Paul Molitor 9/27/1998
Dennis Eckersley 10/2/1998
Dennis Martinez 10/14/1998
Mike Morgan 9/2/2002
Tim Raines 9/29/2002
Rickey Henderson 9/19/2003
Jesse Orosco 9/27/2003

Another pitcher closing out the list. Good old lefty specialists like Jesse Orosco who play forever. Six Hall of Famers once again.


Kent Mercker 5/30/2008
Tom Glavine 8/14/2008
Kenny Rogers 9/14/2008
Rudy Seanez 9/28/2008
Greg Maddux 10/15/2008
Tom Gordon 5/3/2009
Gary Sheffield 9/30/2009
Randy Johnson 10/4/2009
John Smoltz 10/10/2009
Ken Griffey Jr. 5/31/2010
Jamie Moyer 5/27/2012
Omar Vizquel 10/3/2012

Finally! The last guy on the list isn't a pitcher! Five Hall of Famers make the cut here. Kent Mercker and Rudy Seanez seem like the most unlikely guys to pop up here.

Before we know it, we'll be counting down the last guys from the 2000s. Enjoy the players of this era while they're still with us. One day you wake up, see lists this, and find yourself feeling old.