Baseball’s All-Time Single-Franchise Team
The baseball winter meetings have come and gone with one of the biggest free agent signings in baseball history. When the Angels snuck in at the last-minute and landed Albert Pujols, arguably, the best player of his generation, many Cardinals fans and self-proclaimed baseball purists lamented. With Pujols moving west, baseball fans have been forced to realize once again that it's extremely rare for players to stick with a single team for an entire career.
With the breed of the one-team mega-star on the endangered species list, let's look at the best team one could field with players spent their entire major league careers with just one team.
The 1989 Hall of Fame inductee is widely considered to be the best catcher ever. Spending his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds, Bench helped the team win two World Series Championships. During his 17-year career, Bench earned the MVP Award twice, made 14 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves, and was the Rookie of the Year in 1968.
Key Card: 1968 Topps Johnny Bench
The Iron Horse of the New York Yankees played 17 seasons in pinstripes. Gehrig won two MVP awards while helping the Yankees bring home six World Series Championships. Gehrig is best known for playing 2,130 consecutive games, a record that was later broken by Cal Ripken Jr.
Key Card: 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig
While Gehringer doesn't get a lot of attention among collectors, in 19 seasons with the Detroit Tigers he helped his team to a World Series Championship in 1935, won the batting title and MVP in 1937, and made the All-Star team six times. Along with his offensive contributions, Gehringer was also known for his defensive abilities.
Key Card: 1933 Goudey Charlie Gehringer
In 18 season with the Philadelphia Phillies, Schmidt helped his team win the 1980 World Series, winning the World Series MVP award in the process. Widely considered as the best the third baseman to play the game, Schmidt also won three MVP awards, was a 12-time All-Star, and led the National League in home runs eight times.
Key Card: 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt
Wagner began his career in1897 with Louisville Colonels, which became the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1900. In his 21 seasons with the franchise, he helped the Pirates to a World Series victory in 1909. Wagner was also a nine-time NL batting champion and a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 1936.
Key Card: 1909 T206 Honus Wagner
Perhaps the greatest switch hitter to play the game, Mickey Mantle played 18 seasons with the New York Yankees. He helped the franchise win seven World Series Championships. Mantle also won three MVP awards and the Triple Crown in 1956. It's important for collectors to note that Mantle's most sought after card is not his 1951 Bowman rookie card, but his 1952 Topps card.
Key Card: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle
Stan "the Man" played 22 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, also serving a brief stint with the U.S. Navy during that time. Musial helped the Cardinals win three World Series Championships. He also won three MVP awards and seven batting titles. Cardinals fans may have looked to Albert Pujols to be the face of the franchise but now that he's moved on, Musial remains the franchise's all-time great.
Key Card: 1948 Bowman Stan Musial
Ted Williams played 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox and was the last player to bat over .400 for a season. The "Splendid Splinter" earned the Triple Crown in 1942 and was a two-time MVP award winner. Williams was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 1966.
Key Card: 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams
Walter Johnson played 21 seasons for the Washington Senators. In that time, he earned two MVP awards and three pitching Triple Crowns. A sidearm hurler with an overpowering fastball, Johnson was believed to reach over 90 mph. While that doesn't stand out like the 100 mph-plus fastballs Aroldis Chapman is known to throw, Johnson's pitch was exceptional for his era. Johnson's career total of 3,509 strikeouts was a record that held for over 50 years until Nolan Ryan broke it.
Key Card: 1909 T206 Walter Johnson
On the Bench: Craig Biggio, Roberto Clemente, Mel Ott, Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson
In the Bullpen: Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Carl Hubbell, Sandy Koufax