Next up in my thread regarding the 1976 "All-Time All-Stars" sub-set are shortstops.
This may be the first position where some of you may not agree with who I picked, so let's see…
First off, as far as THE all-time best, who can argue with who the Sporting News picked, Honus Wagner?
Really no argument there for sure.
But what about the American League's all-time best shortstop as of 1976? Who do you think THAT should have been?
I thought long and hard about it, and my final pick, and who I thought the Sporting News would have picked, is Luke Appling, long-time star shortstop for the Chicago White Sox.
First off let's take a look at my card design for Appling in the sub-set, as well as the original card for Honus Wagner that Topps put out there in 1976:
|About as easy a "lock" pick as there is...|
Wagner was a lock as the all-time best, as he put together one of the greatest careers of any ballplayer in the early part of the 20th century, amassing 3420 hits, 1739 runs, 252 triples and 643 doubles, and…oh yeah, EIGHT batting titles and 723 stolen bases as he guided the Pirates eighteen years after three years in Louisville between 1897-1899.
Wagner was a monster. Not only did he lead the league in batting those eight times, but he also lead the N.L. in doubles seven times, triples three times, runs batted in five times, stolen bases five times, on-base pct three times, slugging six times, and total bases six times!
He did it all, and was duly selected to be one of the charter members of the Hall of Fame in 1936 alongside Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.
As for Luke Appling, how can you not pick "Old Aches and Pains" as the all-time best shortstop in the A.L. as of 1976 based on his excellent 20 year career?
Between 1930 and 1950 (he lost a year to military service in 1944 at the age of 37), Appling totaled 2749 hits, 1319 runs scored, 440 doubles and 102 triples to go along with 1116 runs batted in and a .310 lifetime batting average.
He was also a two-time batting champ in the A.L., hitting a blazing .388 in 1936 and .328 in 1943. As a matter of fact, Appling hit over .300 in 15 seasons as a big-leaguer, and was a seven-time all-star, as well as finishing second in M.V.P. voting twice (his two batting championship seasons).
I did consider other guys like Joe Cronin, Joe Sewell or even Lou Boudreau.
But after looking at all the info I could, Appling was my final pick, and who I thought the Sporting News would have went with for their "All-Time All-Stars" team representing the American League on the 100th anniversary of Major League baseball.
What do YOU think?
Next up, we take a look at the all-time third basemen: Pie Traynor for the National League, and a pretty easy pick (at the time) for the A.L. representative.
Keep an eye out for it…