These HOFers each played for only one franchise

Helton, Mauer are latest to join exclusive Cooperstown club

January 28th, 2024

The Hall of Fame admits only a very select group of the greatest players in baseball history. Even within that limited club, there is a much smaller circle that is extra special: The One-Teamers.

That crew grew by two on Tuesday, when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) announced its Hall of Fame voting results. Two of the three new electees for the Class of 2024, along with Adrián Beltré, were the Rockies’ Todd Helton and the Twins’ Joe Mauer, both of whom spent the entirety of their Major League careers with those franchises.

That pair brings the total of Hall of Famers who played for only one American or National League team to 59 -- or less than one-quarter of all Hall members who were elected as players.

(Note: That number includes Cap Anson, who spent time with two clubs in the short-lived National Association before his time with the Cubs. It also includes Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, who both appeared in the Negro Leagues prior to making the jump to the Dodgers. However, it does not include Willard Brown, who played only one AL season for the St. Louis Browns -- now the Orioles -- but spent the rest of his career in the Negro Leagues.)

Those 59 players represent 21 different franchises. Here is a breakdown, along with a look at whether the nine other franchises could join the list anytime soon.

Astros: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio
It’s remarkable that the Astros not only have two players on this list, but that they spent 15 seasons together as teammates (1991-2005, or the entirety of Bagwell’s time in the big leagues). It took an infamous trade to bring the leaders of the Killer B’s together. Bagwell, a New England native, was drafted by the Red Sox in 1989 but sent to the Astros in August 1990 for veteran pitcher Larry Andersen.

Braves: Chipper Jones
Some other franchise legends lost the one-team label at the tail end of their careers, including Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, John Smoltz and Warren Spahn. But Chipper was a Brave from the time Atlanta made him the top overall pick in the 1990 Draft to when the 40-year retired after earning his eighth All-Star selection in 2012.

Brewers: Robin Yount
The two-time AL MVP Award winner debuted with the Brewers as an 18-year-old on Opening Day in 1974 and remained with Milwaukee for the next 20 seasons despite a couple of forays into free agency.

Cardinals: Bob Gibson, Stan Musial
This list could grow once Yadier Molina joins the 2028 ballot, but for now, it’s hard to think of a much more productive (or highly respected) one-two punch of a pitcher and position player than this. Stan the Man piled up 3,630 hits and won three NL MVP Awards, while Gibson struck out 3,117 batters and reeled in two NL Cy Young Awards. They combined for 39 seasons with St. Louis, including five (1959-63) when an aging Musial and young Gibson overlapped.

Cubs: Cap Anson, Ernie Banks
It’s hard to miss this list by a smaller margin than Ryne Sandberg, who began his career with six plate appearances for the 1981 Phillies before being traded to Chicago, where he spent the rest of his career. There was no such issue for Banks, who earned the name Mr. Cub as he became a beloved figure across 19 MLB seasons in which he bashed 512 home runs.

Dodgers: Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson
What a quintet, although all five at least started their careers in Brooklyn, and only Drysdale and Koufax spent a significant amount of time in Los Angeles. (Will Clayton Kershaw become the first L.A.-only Dodgers Hall of Famer? It may depend on what happens with his current free agency.) It should also be noted that Robinson could have dropped off this list when a potential trade to the rival Giants emerged during the 1956-57 offseason, but he retired instead.

Giants: Carl Hubbell, Travis Jackson, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Ross Youngs
The Giants departed New York for San Francisco before the 1958 season, and by that point, each of these five Hall of Famers had been retired for at least 10 years. (The last one standing was Ott, who mashed 511 homers between 1926-47.) Of course, it was easier to have a great player spend his entire career with a certain team back before free agency entered the sport in the 1970s. That being said, Buster Posey should bring some fresh blood to this Giants contingent when he joins the 2027 ballot.

Guardians: Bob Feller, Addie Joss, Bob Lemon
José Ramírez might have this group in his sights, but for now, it consists of three right-handed pitchers. Two of them (Feller and Lemon) teamed up atop the Cleveland rotation for several years in the 1940s and 50s, starting four of six games during the franchise’s most recent World Series triumph in 1948. Joss’ one-team status is sadly tied into his tragic story: After nine seasons with Cleveland, he died two days after his 31st birthday in 1911, following a brief illness. Sixty-seven years later, the Veterans Committee elected Joss to the Hall while waiving the rule requiring 10 Major League seasons.

Mariners: Edgar Martinez
A number of legendary players have suited up for Seattle over the years, but only the beloved Edgar and his .312 career average did so for his entire career before making it to the Hall. It remains to be seen if Félix Hernández will someday garner enough support to join him there.

Orioles: Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson
The longer you play, the more difficult it is to remain with a single team. Well, that wasn’t an issue for this incredible trio. Palmer, Ripken and Robinson logged a combined 63 Major League seasons, each of them with Baltimore. At least one of those three was an Oriole every year from 1955-2001.

Padres: Tony Gwynn
Banks was Mr. Cub, and Gwynn was Mr. Padre. A two-sport star at San Diego State, Gwynn stayed local when the Padres drafted him in 1981. Twenty years after that, he wrapped up a career that saw him nab 15 All-Star selections, eight batting titles and 3,141 hits.

Phillies: Mike Schmidt
The man with a strong argument as the greatest third baseman of all time won 10 Gold Glove Awards at the hot corner, while leading the NL in home runs eight times. And he did it all in the City of Brotherly Love.

Pirates: Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor
It’s not just that four one-team position players made it from Pittsburgh to Cooperstown. It’s that three of them were contemporaries. Clemente (1955) and Mazeroski (‘56) debuted in back-to-back years, and Stargell joined them at the end of the ‘62 season. Over the course of their overlapping careers, the Pirates won three World Series titles.

Reds: Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Bid McPhee
McPhee was done playing before the turn of the 20th century. But Bench and Larkin combined to give the Cincinnati faithful two long-tenured, home-grown future Hall of Famers throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s -- a period that also netted a trio of championship rings. Joey Votto's free agency makes it uncertain whether he will qualify for this list in the coming years.

Red Sox: Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski
Setting aside 1945 (affected by World War II), these four players gave the Red Sox at least one single-team Hall of Famer -- and often more than one -- in each season from 1937-89. Williams and Yaz are two of the top 25 position players in MLB history by WAR.

Rockies: Todd Helton
Colorado will officially become the 21st franchise to have a Hall of Fame plaque all to itself when Helton’s is unveiled in Cooperstown in July 2024.

Royals: George Brett
As far into a Draft as 29th or 30th overall, a team would hardly dare dream of snagging a future Hall of Famer. So it’s quite amazing that Brett and Schmidt went with consecutive picks, in those two spots, in 1971. And neither ever left the team that selected them.

Tigers: Charlie Gehringer, Al Kaline, Alan Trammell
Generations of Tigers fans were able to root for a one-team Hall of Famer thanks to these three, whose careers combined to touch each decade from the 1920s through the 80s. Many would argue that there should be a fourth name on this list, but Lou Whitaker (Trammell’s longtime double-play partner) is regarded as one of the Hall’s most glaring omissions.

Twins: Walter Johnson, Joe Mauer, Tony Oliva, Kirby Puckett
Johnson pitched for the Washington Senators, wrapping up his career more than 30 years before the franchise departed from D.C. for Minnesota. Oliva arrived soon after. It would take him many years to eventually make the Hall via the Golden Days Era Committee in 2022, but a year later, Mauer joined Puckett (and Johnson) as first-ballot BBWAA selections.

White Sox: Luke Appling, Red Faber, Ted Lyons
All three of these players starred in Chicago in the first half of the 20th century, with Faber and Lyons both starting nearly 500 games on the mound for the Sox. Appling won two batting titles as a shortstop but hit only 45 career homers -- plus one more at age 75.

Yankees: Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, Mariano Rivera, Phil Rizzuto
With four more players on this list than any other franchise, the Yankees have nearly enough to field a legitimate lineup: Dickey behind the plate, Gehrig, Jeter and Rizzuto around the infield, Combs, DiMaggio and Mantle around the outfield, Ford starting on the mound and Rivera looming in the bullpen.

Franchises without a single-team Hall of Famer

Angels: Will Mike Trout finish his career in Anaheim? If so, then it’s only a matter of time before the Halos exit this section.

Athletics: For all of the greats who have worn an A’s uniform, few have worn only an A’s uniform. It’s far too early to say whether anyone on the team’s current roster could fit the bill.

Blue Jays: Much could depend on whether Toronto can sign Bo Bichette and/or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to a long-term deal.

D-backs: It’s still extremely early, but Corbin Carroll signing a long-term extension and then fully living up to the hype in his rookie season was certainly encouraging.

Rangers: Many of their current stars came from elsewhere, but perhaps one day we’ll talk about Evan Carter or Wyatt Langford in this light.

Rays: There haven’t been any truly long-tenured, Rays-only players in the franchise’s relatively short history.

Marlins: Ditto for the Marlins. And remember: 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara pitched briefly for St. Louis before being traded to Miami.

Mets: Will David Wright pick up any Hall momentum after narrowly surviving his first ballot? Will Pete Alonso remain a Met for the long haul?

Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg stayed in Washington, but injuries curtailed their careers before they could build serious cases for Cooperstown.