The best baseball players born on July 4

July 4th, 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 4.

1) Mickey Welch (1859)
The lone Hall of Famer born on the Fourth of July, Welch won the first game in Giants franchise history en route to eventually becoming the third member of the 300-win club. Welch set the standard for consecutive strikeouts, fanning the first nine batters in a game in 1884, a record he held until Tom Seaver broke the mark in 1970. While his right arm was his posthumous ticket to Cooperstown (he was enshrined in 1973, 80 years after his last game), Welch is also credited with being the first pinch-hitter in professional baseball history, subbing for an injured teammate at the plate in 1889. After his playing career, the Brooklyn-born hurler stayed in the game as a night watchman at the Polo Grounds and a gatekeeper and press-box attendant at Yankee Stadium.

2) Vinny Castilla (1967)
An original Blake Street Bomber, Castilla was a two-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger, bashing 320 homers over 16 seasons highlighted by nine years in Colorado. Perhaps the greatest hitter to hail from south of the border, Castilla retired as the all-time leader among Mexican-born players in career homers, RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. In 2009, Castilla managed Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

3) George Mullin (1880)
Mullin was the workhorse ace of the 1907-09 AL champion Tigers, and he later celebrated his 32nd birthday by no-hitting the Browns, on July 4, 1912. A five-time 20-game winner, Mullin still holds the Tigers career mark for innings pitched (3,394) and complete games (336) while ranking second in victories (209).

4) José Oquendo (1963)
A defensive whiz, Oquendo played all over the diamond for the Cardinals -- including a few appearances at pitcher and catcher -- earning the nickname "The Secret Weapon" from skipper Whitey Herzog. Playing alongside Ozzie Smith, Oquendo ultimately settled in for the Redbirds at second base, where his career .9919 fielding percentage at the position ranks second all-time. After his playing career, Oquendo stayed in the organization and was a longtime third-base coach for the club.

5) Jim Beattie (1954)
Beattie hit the ground running as a rookie right-hander on the 1978 World Series champion Yankees, coming up big with victories during September's "Boston Massacre," the ALCS and World Series. He spent most of his career in Seattle, where he pitched from 1980 until he retired after the 1986 season with a lifetime 52-87 mark that belied a 14.8 bWAR over parts of nine seasons. Beattie later found success in the front office, serving as the Mariners director of player development and GM of the Expos and Orioles.

Others of note
Coco Laboy (1940)
Laboy collected a team-leading 83 RBIs with 18 homers for the 1969 expansion Expos, earning the 29-year-old third baseman a second-place finish in NL Rookie of the Year voting. But after a severe drop off in production in his sophomore year, Laboy lost his starting job and would be out of Major League baseball by 1974.

Frank Millard (1865)
Perhaps no other player on this list experienced the brief circle of life like this St. Louis Browns (American Association) second baseman. In 1890 Millard enjoyed just two career plate appearances -- resulting in a walk and an out. Two years later on July 4, 1892 -- his 27th birthday -- he died of malarial fever.

Bill Tuttle (1929)
A terrific defender in the outfield over 11 seasons in the AL, Tuttle's greatest impact came off the field, where he was a vocal advocate against chewing tobacco.

The managers
A pair of longtime managers were born on the Fourth of July, giving the Independence Day squad veteran experience at the helm.

Chuck Tanner (1928)
A beloved skipper who managed more than 2,700 games over 19 seasons, Tanner's crowning moment came in 1979, when he led his hometown "We Are Family" Pirates to the World Series title. Tanner also managed the White Sox, A's and Braves, and is credited for converting Goose Gossage from a starter to a Hall of Famer reliever. Tanner's playing career was brief, but he got off with a bang, homering in his first at-bat.

Hal Lanier (1942)
After a non-descript 10-year playing career, Lanier led the Astros from 1986-88, winning 96 games and the NL West crown in his first year managing the club to earning NL Manager of the Year honors. After being dismissed following the 1988 season, Lanier lead a Major League club again, but he did manage several independent teams in the subsequent decades.

The fireworks show
Neither of these two July 4 babies played a single game, but they will forever be part of the game's fabric.

George Steinbrenner (1930)
One of the most identifiable, iconic and divisive figures in professional sports during his lifetime, the outspoken Steinbrenner bought the Yankees in 1973, and during his hands-on ownership the club won seven World Series crowns and 11 AL pennants. Steinbrenner never hired or fired Tanner or Lanier, but this fictional Independence Day team is his chance.

Morganna the Kissing Bandit (1947)
Look, it was a different time. By her own count, Morganna Roberts Cottrell was arrested 19 times between 1969 and 1999 for running on field and planting kisses on the cheek of unexpecting ballplayers. "It's more sanitary than the lips, and that way their wives don't get upset," she said. "Besides, who wants tobacco stains all over your teeth?"

Want to see more baseball birthdays for July 4? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.