The best baseball players born on Feb. 29

February 29th, 2024

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 Feb. 29.

1) Al Rosen (1924)
There have been fewer than 20 players in MLB annals born on Leap Day and Rosen is clearly the most accomplished. In fact, he's the only one in baseball history who's been both MVP and Executive of the Year. And when you throw in that he also was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, well, now we're talking star power. The slugging third baseman nicknamed "The Hebrew Hammer" played 10 seasons, all with Cleveland, in the 1940s and '50s. A four-time All-Star, his best year was 1953, when he totaled 43 homers and 145 RBIs in unanimously capturing the AL MVP Award. He would've won the batting title and therefore the Triple Crown if not for his last at-bat of the season, when he beat out a grounder but missed the bag and was called out. Rosen's second baseball life came in the front office. He was team president and COO of the Yankees when they won the World Series in 1978. He later moved on to the Giants and was named 1987 MLB Executive of the Year.

2) Pepper Martin (1904)
A member of the famed Cardinals Gashouse Gang of the 1930s, the pesky outfielder/third baseman was the key cog in the stunning 1931 World Series upset of the two-time defending champion Philadelphia A's. Martin set a then-Series record with 12 hits and batted .500 with a 1.330 OPS, then banged out 11 more hits when the Cardinals won it all again in 1934. He led the NL in stolen bases three times, and his wild style of play fueled his nickname, “The Wild Horse of the Osage.” The four-time All-Star was posthumously inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame before a raucous crowd in 2017.

3) Dickey Pearce (1836)
You've got to go way, way back to find Pearce, a baseball pioneer who debuted with the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1856. Wikipedia said he was one of baseball's first stars and one of the first players to get paid for playing. Pearce is also credited with inventing the bunt, then known as a "tricky hit." The Boston Globe wrote that the shortstop “was the first man to play the position as it is played now.”

4) (1976)
One of the most famous plays in baseball history never would've happened without Long. You see, it was Long who hit the ball into the right-field corner in Oakland in the 2001 ALDS in which Derek Jeter was immortalized for "The Flip" in nailing Jeremy Giambi at the plate. Long later ended his career with the Yankees, after beginning it with the Mets. But he was best known as an Athletic and was runner-up to Kazuhiro Sasaki for 2000 AL Rookie of the Year. Or maybe he was best known for being portrayed in "Moneyball."

5) Sadie Houck (1856)
Houck played for seven teams in eight years in the 1800s and, proving that everything old is new again, they included the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals and New York Metropolitans. He was a slick fielding shortstop whose 8.7 WAR is third most for a Feb. 29 birthday. The thing is, Houck was known as a dirty player. Not a cheat or cheap-shot artist but, literally, a dirty player.

Others of note:

Bligh Madris (1996)
Not only is Madris the only Feb. 29 birthday currently active in the Majors -- he was a non-roster invite in 2024 spring camp with the Tigers -- he also became the first Palauan to play in the Majors when he debuted with the Pirates in 2022. What's a Palauan? It's someone from the Republic of Palau in the western Pacific. Madris, a first baseman/outfielder, hit one homer with the Pirates in 2022, then none with the Astros in 2023. But the day before his 28th birthday -- yes, we're talking Feb. 28 -- he turned on a 99 mph fastball from Pirates closer Aroldis Chapman and took the fireballer deep in a Grapefruit League game. Could that be his career highlight? Stay tuned.

Al Autry (1952)
Autry made his MLB debut for the Braves in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 14, 1976. He went five innings and gave up four hits and three runs, earning the victory in a 4-3 win over the Astros. And just like that, Autry's career was over. He never appeared in another Major League game.

Ed Appleton (1892)
A rookie pitcher for the Brooklyn Robins in 1915, Appleton was on the mound with a Cardinals runner on third when opposing manager Miller Huggins curiously asked to see the ball. Appleton threw it, Huggins let it go past him and the runner ran home. The umpire said the incredulous Robins had never called time, and the run counted.

Gerardo Concepción (1992)
Concepción defected from Cuba in 2011 and pitched in only three games in the Majors. But they were for the Cubs in 2016. Which means Concepción helped end a 108-year World Series drought and the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for Feb. 29? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.