The best baseball players born on July 1

July 1st, 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 July 1:

1) Roger Connor (1857)
Connor is remembered as baseball's first home run king (until a slugger named Babe Ruth came along), hitting 138 homers in an 18-year career during the dead-ball era. According to his plaque in Cooperstown, the switch-hitting first baseman hit .300 or better 12 times, had a three-homer game in 1886 and went 6-for-6 in a game in 1895. Connor is also credited with helping the New York Gothams become the "Giants" in 1885 due to his size -- listed at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. The full extent of his power-hitting prowess wasn't uncovered until long after his death (due to inconsistent record-keeping in the 19th century), and in 1976, he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

Roger Connor tobacco card. (Library of Congress)

2) Nelson Cruz (1980)
Through his first 18 seasons, the "Boomstick" has demolished 459 home runs and 2,018 hits while slashing .274/.344/.515. And he's showed little sign of slowing. In 2021 at age 41, Cruz became the oldest player to record a 30-HR season, finishing with 32 homers and an .832 OPS for the Twins and Rays. His trophy case includes four Silver Slugger Awards and the ALCS MVP from 2011, when he swatted six homers in six games with a 1.713 OPS to send Texas to its second straight World Series. And he's been an All-Star seven times with four clubs (Rangers, Orioles, Mariners and Twins).

3) Ben Taylor (1888)
Taylor began his professional career as a left-handed pitcher before earning the nickname "Old Reliable" for his clutch hitting and stellar defense at first base in the Negro Leagues, according to his Hall of Fame plaque. The youngest of four baseball-playing brothers, Taylor regularly batted over .300 and was known for his high baseball IQ. He also had success in managerial roles, starting as player-manager for the Indianapolis ABCs in 1922.

4) John Clarkson (1861)
A pioneering pitcher from baseball's infancy, Clarkson posted some eye-popping statistics when compared to the modern game. Over 12 seasons in the 1880s and '90s, he totaled 328 wins, completing 485 of his 518 career starts. In 1885 alone, Clarkson went 53-16 with 1.85 ERA over 623 innings for the Chicago White Stockings. He was elected to Cooperstown in 1963.

John Clarkson tobacco card. (Library of Congress)

5) Charlie Blackmon (1986)
Sporting a bushy beard and majestic mullet, "Chuck Nazty" has backed up his wild appearance by swinging a steady club. A former pitcher who didn't learn to play outfield until his senior year in college, Blackmon posted a .297/.354/.488 line in his first 12 seasons with the Rockies, earning four All-Star selections and two Silver Sluggers. He won the NL batting title in 2017, when he slashed .331/.399/.601 with 37 homers, 104 RBIs and finished fifth in NL MVP voting.

Others of note:
Jack Quinn (1883): The oldest pitcher to start a World Series game (1929, at age 46), this spitballer was a back-to-back champ with the Philadelphia A's, accumulating 58.6 WAR over 23 seasons.

Chris Perez (1985): A two-time All-Star, the bearded right-hander racked up 123 saves from 2010-13 during a strong run as Cleveland's closer.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for July 1? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.