Top 300 Moments that Shaped Major League Baseball Preview: NL Central
Starting on March 1, Baseball Hot Corner will rank the Top 300 moments that shaped baseball history. All moments from 1900 forward are eligible and the list includes moments from on and off the field. There are regular season, post season and All-Star Game moments, triumphs and tragedies incredible accomplishments and unbreakable records. In the week leading up to the start of the countdown, we’ll preview each division in the majors. In installment number two, we’ll move to the National League Central.
The NL Central is full of heavy hitters when it comes to franchises who have made an impact in baseball history. The Reds, Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates all have histories that date back to the early 20th century and the Brewers have had their impact as well. Some of the greatest players in the game’s history have played for these franchises, like Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente and Johnny Bench to name just a few. Some of the game’s early superstars like Honus Wagner, Hack Wilson, Dizzy Dean, Sam Crawford and Rogers Hornsby also played on these teams. Needless to say, there was no shortage of incredible accomplishments from the teams in this division, with many likely to place high.
Hornsby, Wagner and Musial are flat out three of the best hitters than ever played the sport and had so many incredible accomplishments on the field. However, moments that have nothing to do with their play are likely to surface on the countdown as well. It seems to be lost in the shuffle of the past 120 years that Wagner was part of one of the biggest trades in baseball history when he was shipped from the Louisville Colonels as part of a massive fire sale the Colonels used to help payoff their debts. The trade involved 15 players, including other Hall of Famers Jack Chesbro and Fred Clarke, and the Colonels got $25,000 in cash.
Hornsby was also involved in a hugely influential trade as well, but this had nothing to do with finances. A swap of Hornsby and Frankie Frisch, two of the biggest stars at the time and two of the game’s biggest headaches, was necessitated when Frisch defected from the Giants and a contract squabble between Hornsby and the Cardinals.
Musial could not be more different than Hornsby off the field. One of the great ambassadors in the history of the game, Musial not only was one of the most talented players to ever swing a bat, but like many players of his era, he was a war hero as well. After finishing first and fourth in the NL MVP voting during his age 22 and 23 seasons, Musial joined the Navy. His involvement in the military, along with so many other of the game’s heroes, absolutely have their place when considering the moments that shaped the game’s history.
In an unfortunate twist, some of the game’s great tragedies also occurred involving teams in this division. The most notable, and likely the highest placed tragedy on the list of top moments in baseball history, would be the plane crash that killed the legendary Roberto Clemente. The impact of shocking New Year’s Eve crash is still felt today.
While the NL Central has so many great moments from the game’s early years, there is no shortage of influential events from the modern era. No list of baseball’s top moments would be complete without the inclusion of the “Bartman Game,” Ozzie Smith‘s improbable home run in the 1985 NLCS, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa‘s tainted pursuit of Roger Maris and, of course, Pete Rose breaking Ty Cobb‘s “unbreakable” hits record.
From Johnny Bench to Hippo Vaughn, Paul Molitor to Harvey Haddix, Bill Mazeroski to Dock Ellis and Gabby Hartnett to Rennie Stennett, the National League Central will have representation from legends to more obscure players up and down this list.
And keep an eye out for those “words that are heavy with nothing but trouble, Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
At Baseball Hot Corner, we’ll do our best to help keep you occupied as you wait for Opening Day with a countdown of the Top 300 Moments that Shaped Major League Baseball History. The series will begin March 1 with an introduction, followed by a quick look at the top pre-1900 moments before getting into the countdown. The countdown itself will be released in sets of 10 with the top 10 announced on April 2 — Opening Day Eve.
While fans are enjoying Opening Day, they’ll be able to participate in a fan poll ranking all of the events and of course, the comments section will be open on every article to haggle over the rankings.
Between now and March 1, you will also be able to nominate your favorite moments to be considered for the countdown. You can tweet your ideas to the author @mlb100years.