The best baseball players born on Oct. 3

October 3rd, 2023

Who are the best players born on each day of the year? We have a list for every day on the calendar.

Here’s a subjective ranking of the top five for Oct. 3:

1) Dennis Eckersley (1954)
Eckersley took a long and winding road to Cooperstown, spending the first dozen years of his career as a starter before becoming one of the most dominant closers in baseball history. The right-hander broke into the Majors with Cleveland in 1975 and went 13-7 with a 2.60 ERA. Eckersley tossed exactly 100 career complete games, including a no-hitter for Cleveland on May 30, 1977. He won 20 games for the Red Sox in 1978 and started the 1982 All-Star Game, his second of six All-Star selections.

Eck made the move to the bullpen in 1987 with the A's and led the Majors with 45 saves the next year. During that time, he coined the term "walk-off" and served up one of the most famous walk-off homers of all time when Kirk Gibson took him deep in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Eckersley was just getting started, though. In 1990, he posted an incredible 0.61 ERA and had more saves (48) than baserunners allowed (45). But his best individual season might have been 1992, when he went 7-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 51 saves and took home both the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards. He finished his career with 197 wins and 390 saves.

2) Dave Winfield (1951)
Before Winfield could embark on a Hall of Fame career, he needed to decide which sport to dominate. Drafted by the Padres in MLB, the Vikings in the NFL, the Hawks in the NBA and the Utah Stars in the ABA, Winfield picked baseball. It was a good call as Winfield was a 12-time All-Star who won seven Gold Gloves and six Silver Slugger trophies, accumulating 465 homers and 1,833 RBIs over 22 seasons. The imposing 6-foot-6 slugger debuted for San Diego in 1973 and became a perennial All-Star leading up to a 10-year, $23 million contract with the Yankees that was the longest and most expensive deal in baseball history at the time.

Winfield's time in New York was productive but often tumultuous as owner George Steinbrenner dubbed him "Mr. May" after a poor October performance in the 1981 World Series. Yet he made the All-Star team in all eight of his full seasons with the Yankees before stops with the Angels, Blue Jays, Twins and Cleveland. Winfield also got a chance to shrug off his unfortunate nickname with some key hits for Toronto in their 1992 World Series win over the Braves. Although Winfield is second on this list, he does have some bragging rights over Eckersley. His 3,000th career hit came against the fellow Hall of Famer.

3) Fred Clarke (1872)
Clarke went 5-for-5 in his Major League debut for the Louisville Cardinals in 1894 and never stopped hitting, batting .312 over 21 Major League seasons. His career quickly took an unusual turn in 1897, when he was named player-manager at age 24 in the middle of a season in which he batted .390 and scored 122 runs. When the National League downsized in 1900 and Louisville folded, Clarke and several of the team's top players moved on to the Pirates. Clarke continued his role as player-manager and led Pittsburgh to three consecutive pennants from 1901-03, losing the inaugural World Series to the Boston Americans in '03. Often overshadowed by teammate Honus Wagner, Clarke never won a batting title but finished second twice. He did lead the NL in slugging percentage once in 1903, slugging .532 while batting 351. Clarke led the Pirates to a World Series title in 1909 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.

4) Bob Skinner (1931)
Skinner was a key contributor for the Pirates for several years, including their World Series-winning club in 1960. Playing primarily left field and first base, he was selected to two All-Star teams and batted .302 with a career-high 20 home runs in 1962. Skinner also spent a brief time as a big league skipper, managing the Phillies for parts of the 1968 and '69 seasons and serving as interim manager for the Padres for one game in 1977. When his son, Joel, managed the Indians in 2002, they became the second father-son combo in AL/NL history to both manage in the Majors.

5) Darrin Fletcher (1966)
Fletcher developed into a solid-hitting catcher who lasted 14 years in the Major Leagues, making one All-Star team for the Expos in 1994. He reached the Majors with the Dodgers in 1989 and was dealt to the Phillies the next season. He spent most of his early years bouncing back and forth between the Majors and Minors, but was known for his game-calling and caught Tommy Greene's no-hitter for the Phillies on May 23, 1991. He was traded to the Expos after the season and also spent time with the Blue Jays, hitting a career-high 20 home runs in 2000.

Others of note:
Dom Dallessandro

Dallesandro had a mostly unremarkable eight-year Major League career, but he was traded for one of the greatest players of all time. In 1937, the Red Sox sent him, a player to be named and cash to the Pacific Coast League's Padres for none other than Ted Williams. Dallessandro also had a rather unfortunate nickname, "Dim Dom," but it was not a reference to his mental acuity but to his diminutive stature as he measured in at 5-foot-6.

Junior Félix (1967)
Félix showed flashes of brilliance during his brief six-year career, most notably during his rookie season. He homered on the first pitch he saw as a big leaguer for the Blue Jays on May 4, 1989, becoming the 13th player in AL/NL history to do so. Not even a month later, he hit an inside-the-park grand slam in the ninth inning of a 7-2 Toronto win at Fenway Park. He also caught the final out of the first no-hitter in Blue Jays history, by Dave Stieb on Sept. 2, 1990.

Phil Gosselin (1988)
The journeyman infielder played for seven different teams in his first nine big league seasons, but has shown a flair for the dramatic. His fourth career home run was an inside-the-park shot for the D-backs in 2015, and his sixth was a pinch-hit shot the following year. He hit only three home runs in 2020 for the Phillies, but two came in the same game on July 25 against the Marlins.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for Oct. 3? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.