The best baseball players born on Dec. 14

December 14th, 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 Dec. 14.

1) Craig Biggio (1965)
The only Hall of Famer on this list, Biggio became a legend in Houston, where he spent his entire 20-year career while racking up accolades: seven-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover, five-time Silver Slugger and 3,000-hit club. Though he never won an MVP Award or a World Series title, Biggio was a beloved member of the Astros teams that made six postseason appearances in nine seasons from 1997-2005, culminating in a Fall Classic sweep at the hands of the White Sox. Known also as a magnet for the baseball, Biggio is second on the all-time list for hit-by-pitches (285), just two behind the leader Hughie Jennings. Despite all that, Biggio never once charged the mound.

2) Sam Jones (1925)
The man nicknamed “Toothpick” because you never saw him without one in his mouth is most famous for becoming the first Black player to throw a no-hitter in the Major Leagues. That no-no for the Cubs on May 12, 1955, remains the stuff of legend. Entering the ninth at 109 pitches, Jones walked three straight hitters to load the bases. Two of the next three batters in the lineup were future MVPs, and one of them would be enshrined in the Hall of Fame: Dick Groat, Roberto Clemente and Frank Thomas. Jones struck out all three. His reward for the incredible no-hitter? A gold toothpick from Cubs announcer Harry Creighton.

3) Bill Buckner (1949)
Much like peanut butter and jelly or Hamilton and Burr, Bill Buckner will forever be associated with one thing: That pesky little roller up the line. Fair or not, the trajectory of Buckner’s career was altered by an error on a grounder off the bat of Mookie Wilson that gave the Mets a walk-off victory in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. What rarely, if ever, gets talked about is Buckner’s batting title in 1980, or his All-Star appearance in 1981, or his two times in the top 10 of MVP voting. Or even the fact that so many other things had to happen for Buckner to be put in that position in the bottom of the 10th, including the Red Sox blowing a two-run lead earlier in that frame. For his part, Buckner seemed to ultimately embrace his unfortunate place in baseball history. He even leaned into it on an all-time episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” with an Emmy-worthy performance if there ever was one.

4) Adam Frazier (1991)
A sixth-round pick of the Pirates in 2013, Frazier broke out in 2021, making a bid for a batting title through the first half of the season in Pittsburgh and earning his first All-Star selection. Frazier’s a high-contact hitter who can spray to all fields and play multiple defensive positions. After spending time with the Padres and Mariners in 2021 and '22, Frazier joined the Orioles on a one-year deal and helped Baltimore to 101 wins and the AL East title in '23.

5) Dave Nilsson (1969)
A career spent bouncing between the Majors and international competition culminated in a stellar final season for Nilsson, who hit .309 with 21 homers in 1999 for the Brewers, becoming the first Australian-born player to play in the All-Star Game. He was also the first Brewer to homer twice in one inning, achieving the rare feat against the Twins on May 17, 1996. Known as a great ambassador for the game in Australia, Nilsson has managed the national team and the Brisbane Bandits, a pro team in the Australian Baseball League.

Others of note:

Ryan McMahon (1994)
McMahon had the unenviable task of taking over at third base for Nolan Arenado after the latter was traded to the Cardinals ahead of the 2021 season, but he came into his own playing full-time. The left-hander slugged three home runs in a game against the D-backs on April 6, 2021, tying the club’s single-game record with 14 total bases. McMahon hit 20 homers in 2022, then followed it up with 23 homers in '23.

Scott Hatteberg (1969)
Hatteberg made a name for himself as a member of the Moneyball A’s of the early 2000s, signing as a free agent with Oakland in 2002. He’s probably most known for being featured in Michael Lewis’ book, which dedicated a chapter to Hatteberg’s transition from catcher to first base because of an arm injury. He was later portrayed by Chris Pratt in the movie adaptation.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for Dec. 14? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.