1 memorable cult hero from every team

February 25th, 2020

MLB.com beat reporters recently rolled out a series highlighting one "cult hero" for each franchise.

Below is a full roundup of the players who best fit that description for all 30 teams, as well as a link to the full feature for each club.


Blue Jays: Ricky Romero
A first-round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2005 MLB Draft, Romero won 27 games over his first two seasons with Toronto in 2009 and '10. He then fully broke out in 2011, going 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA while earning his first (and only) All-Star selection. Unfortunately, injuries derailed Romero's career, limiting him to just 34 more starts after that '11 campaign. More »

Orioles: Dave Johnson
A Baltimore native, Johnson realized a lifelong dream when he made his Major League debut on May 29, 1987. Though his initial big league stint lasted only five appearances, Johnson returned to his hometown team in ‘89 and began his path to etching his name into Orioles history with a journey highlighted by consecutive complete games, American League Player of the Week honors and one fateful start in Toronto. More »

Rays: Rolando Arrojo
After defecting from Cuba, Arrojo signed a deal with the expansion Devil Rays at the age of 31. The right-hander earned the first win in franchise history on his way to also earning the club’s first All-Star selection. Arrojo went 14-12 with a 3.56 ERA and finished second in the 1998 American League Rookie of the Year Award voting. Though he couldn’t maintain that success the following year, Arrojo -- later traded to the Rockies in the deal that brought Vinny Castilla to Tampa Bay -- is forever a part of Rays history. More »

Red Sox: Sam Horn
Horn, a big lefty slugger, may have played only 103 games over three years in a Red Sox uniform, but that was plenty of time for the towering left-handed hitter to slug his way into the hearts of Red Sox fans. Known for his tape-measure home runs and a big smile, Horn resonated with the Boston fanbase even if he never quite lived up to the expectations of being a first-round pick. More »

Yankees: Kevin Maas
Stuck in the midst of a down year, the cellar-dwelling Yankees were 15 games behind the division-leading Red Sox when Maas made his big league debut on June 29, 1990. Maas went on to set a then-Major League record with 10 homers in his first 77 at-bats on his way to finishing the '90 campaign with 21 homers in 79 games. More »


Indians: Ryan Merritt
Merritt had made only one career start when the Indians unexpectedly called his number with a spot in the 2016 World Series on the line. After Trevor Bauer's infamous run-in with a drone altered Cleveland's rotation plans during the '16 ALCS, Merritt ultimately ended up taking the hill for Game 5 against the Blue Jays. The righty tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings to help the Indians secure the AL pennant. More »

Royals: Bob Hamelin
Affectionately known as "The Hammer," Hamelin burst onto the scene with the Royals in 1994. The slugger crushed 24 homers over 101 games en route to winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award. He would hit only 16 more home runs for the Royals over the next two years before departing in free agency and later retiring abruptly while playing for Triple-A Toledo during the '99 season. More »

Tigers: Chris Shelton
Shelton had one of the most impressive starts to a season in Major League history. The Tigers first baseman hit a pair of homers on Opening Day 2006 and added another multihomer effort just two days later. Despite hitting five homers in his first four games, however, Shelton's most impressive feat may have come in the fifth game. By no means a threat on the basepaths -- Shelton finished his career with seven triples and two stolen bases -- he had a two-triple game to improve to 14-for-20 with nine extra-base hits through five games. More »

Twins: Boof Bonser
Bonser burst onto the scene during the 2006 season, going 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA over six September starts to earn AL Rookie of the Month honors. He rode that hot streak into a postseason start in which he allowed just two runs over six innings in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Athletics. More »

White Sox: Shingo Takatsu
Takatsu’s time in the Major Leagues was brief, but memorable. After 13 years of pitching in Japan, Takatsu signed with the White Sox prior to the 2004 season at the age of 35. Using a sub-87 mph fastball and a 68 mph changeup, Takatsu -- whose home appearances were preceded by a gong ringing out at U.S. Cellular Field (now called Guaranteed Rate Field) -- posted a 2.31 ERA and 19 saves in 59 appearances on his way to finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. More »


Angels: Brendan Donnelly
Donnelly spent 10 seasons in the Minors before finally making his big league debut on April 9, 2002, at the age of 30. The right-hander made the most of his long-awaited opportunity, posting a 2.17 ERA over 46 regular-season appearances for the Angels -- but he was even more dominant in the World Series. Donnelly allowed just one hit over 7 2/3 scoreless innings while appearing in five of the seven games to help the Halos win their first World Series title. More »

Astros: Jose Lima
Lima was 24 years old when he was part of a massive nine-player trade that sent him from the Tigers to the Astros on Dec. 10, 1996. In his first stint with Detroit, he had posted a 6.24 ERA in 57 career games (20 starts) with the Tigers and put up similar numbers out of the bullpen in his debut season in Houston. Lima, however, followed with a pair of improbable seasons as a member of the Astros' starting rotation, leaving fans to forever reminisce about Lima Time. More »

Athletics: Dallas Braden
A native of Stockton, Calif., Braden insists that the "proudest moment" of his baseball career came on April 30, 2005, when he first took the mound for his hometown Stockton Ports, Oakland's Class A Advanced affiliate. That said, Oakland fans likely remember Braden more for his performance on May 9, 2010, on Mother's Day, when he tossed the 19th perfect game in MLB history. More »

Mariners: Dae-Ho Lee
The Dae-Ho Lee era with the Mariners was brief. But the big man from Busan, South Korea, made his mark, denting a few baseballs, creating laughs and lifetime friends and leaving lasting memories with those he met in his lone season in Major League Baseball in 2016. More »

Rangers: Dave Hostetler
Hostetler burst onto the scene in 1982, crushing enough tape-measure homers to send the Rangers faithful into "Hoss-steria." The hysteria reached its peak when the Rangers started playing the theme song to "Bonanza" when Hostetler came to the plate, an ode to the character of “Hoss” on the popular TV western -- and there is reason to believe it was the first walkup song ever devoted to a single player. More »


Braves: Chuck James
James was one of the better lefties in the National League over a 40-start stretch that extended through July 2007. But if an encounter with a copperhead snake had gone just slightly different weeks before the ‘02 MLB Draft, James wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show what he could do. More »

Marlins: Hee-seop Choi
Choi crushed a three-run homer in his Opening Day debut for the Marlins in 2004. A week later, the Miami crowd was chanting his name before every at-bat. More »

Mets: Benny Agbayani
He arrived as a 27-year-old Hawaiian rookie with thunder in his bat in 1999. Four years later, he was out of the Majors. But in between, Agbayani became a postseason hero and a beloved figure in Flushing. More »

Nationals: Tyler Moore
The Nats’ brief history in Washington is filled with ultra-hyped prospects and rookies, from Bryce Harper to Stephen Strasburg to Juan Soto. Moore, a 16th-round selection in the 2008 MLB Draft, certainly wouldn’t qualify for that list, but he delivered one of the biggest hits in Nationals postseason history prior to Washington’s march to the title last year. More »

Phillies: Chris Coste
Philly loves its underdogs, and Coste -- a 33-year-old rookie who had spent 11 full seasons in the Minor Leagues before debuting with the Phillies in 2006 -- was an easy one to root for. Not only did Coste finally make the big leagues, but he has a World Series ring to prove it. More »


Brewers: Seth McClung
The 2008 season -- the year Milwaukee snapped a 26-year postseason drought -- was wild in more ways than one. Finding a journeyman right-hander in McClung to come through in the biggest games of the Crew’s season may have been one of the most memorable. More »

Cardinals: Bo Hart
Even today, many Cardinals fans can recall the summer of 2003, when it seemed like Hart, a rookie second baseman, was St. Louis’ next big star after he tied a 102-year-old Major League record. Though Hart’s last big league game came less than 10 months after his debut, his red-hot start still resonates in the Gateway City. More »

Cubs: Bryan LaHair
LaHair’s final swing as a big leaguer got him into the bottom of a dogpile. It was a fitting end for one of the most improbable one-time All-Stars in recent memory. More »

Pirates: Adam Hyzdu
Hyzdu’s name can still be found all over Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona, Pa. Though he hasn’t played for the Curve in more than two decades, Hyzdu might still be the most popular player in the history of Pittsburgh's Double-A affiliate. More »

Reds: Kal Daniels
Daniels loved to hit, especially against the best pitchers in the game, and he never lacked for confidence. Though his career was cut short by knee injuries, folks around the Reds still marvel at his prodigious talent. More »


D-backs: Ryan Roberts
Known as the Tatman for the ink that adorned his body, Roberts’ all-out style of play on the diamond matched his personality off it. Arizona fans responded, rooting for Roberts as hard as anyone on the D-backs’ 2011 NL West championship club. More »

Dodgers: Mickey Hatcher
Hatcher played baseball like his hair was on fire, and that’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the 1988 Dodgers. Though Kirk Gibson grabbed the headlines that year with his walk-off homer in Game 1 of the World Series, Hatcher’s out-of-nowhere performance filling in for Gibson the rest of the way helped L.A. finish off its big upset of Oakland. More »

Giants: Chris Heston
Even five years later, the gravity of Heston’s no-hitter against the Mets -- which came in his 13th career start -- still hasn’t quite sunk in for the right-hander. More »

Padres: Donnie Elliott
Elliott only appeared in 31 games with the Padres in 1994-95 before his big league career came to an unceremonious end. But a conversation that Elliott had with Trevor Hoffman (one that involved a certain famous pitch) would have profound implications on both Hoffman and the San Diego franchise. More »

Rockies: Chin-hui Tsao
Tsao was befuddling Major League hitters at 18 years old. He didn’t pitch for the 2007 Rockies, but might have indirectly boosted their “Rocktober” run to the World Series. There were allegations of connections to the mafia. Indeed, Tsao’s career was filled with odd twists and turns. More »