Top 300 Moments That Shaped Major League Baseball Preview: AL West
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. The final division preview is for the American League West.
Like any other division, the American League West has had it’s fair share of Hall of Famers and incredible moments in baseball history. Their teams’ lineages don’t date back to the turn of the 20th Century as much as the AL East or NL Central does though as only the Oakland A’s franchise finds it’s roots prior to 1960. They were one of the original American League franchises in 1901 when they were the Philadelphia A’s.
In terms of sheer volume, the A’s are at the top of the division when it comes to impactful player by far. Guys like Jimmie Foxx, Home Run Baker, Eddie Collins, Lefty Grove, and Al Simmons were among the game’s early stars. In the modern era, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson and Catfish Hunter all had huge impacts on the sport. An impressive list indeed and that doesn’t even count mercurial owner Charlie Finley. Needless to say, the A’s will be well represented among the top 300 moments that shaped baseball history.
Don’t sell the other franchises short, though.
Ken Griffey, Jr. is arguably the best clean player of the steroid era, Joe Morgan, generally accepted as one of the great second basemen of all time, got his start in Houston and Craig Biggio was a transformative Hall of Famer, succeeding at catcher, second base and centerfield. That doesn’t even mention that one of the game’s greatest pitchers, Nolan Ryan, played for three teams in the division –the Texas Rangers, California Angels and Astros. One of the game’s great strikeout pitchers, Ryan figures to make an impact on the countdown with his historic no-hitters, chase of Walter Johnson‘s elusive strikeout record and perhaps a famous beating he handed out on the mound one day.
Unfortunately, some teams in the AL West found themselves on the wrong end of baseball history as well. The Angels were victimized by a heartbreaking loss in the 1986 ALCS and that same year, the Astros were on the wrong end of a historic NLCS against the Mets. The Rangers fell victim to the Cardinals in gut-wrenching fashion in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, one of the great games played in recent World Series history. Perhaps the most heartbreaking though was Dennis Eckersley serving up Kirk Gibson‘s historic home run in the 1988 World Series.
Those missteps aside though, there are plenty of great moments and innovations to choose from as candidates for this list. Henderson topping Lou Brock‘s stolen base record, Hunter’s 1968 perfect game and even Jose Canseco‘s 40-40 season were monumental accomplishments when they happened. Eckersley and Tony LaRussa popularized the one-inning closer specialized role and Mark McGwire‘s rookie year in 1987 was one for the ages.
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