It's easy to tell which city your favorite baseball player represents: It's likely your city, and it's emblazoned across his chest 162 times every season. But what about the cities where players learned to turn on a fastball, where they played youth baseball, where they raised families? Where did history's
It's easy to tell which city your favorite baseball player represents: It's likely your city, and it's emblazoned across his chest 162 times every season. But what about the cities where players learned to turn on a fastball, where they played youth baseball, where they raised families? Where did history's best players come from, and which hailed from your neck of the woods?
Across MLB.com, we profiled all 27 Major League cities through the lens of the talent they've spawned. Players don't need to be born in the city to represent it. Inclusion criteria simply demands the player spent his formative years there, preferably high school, and that he did so within the city limits or in its immediately surrounding areas.
Using career WAR as a guide* -- but also considering other factors, such as the era they played, postseason accomplishments, if they played professionally in that city, and Hall of Fame status -- we'll rank the best five players all-time from each city, list some excellent names that couldn't crack the top five, and sprinkle in some current players too. The mission was to create as complete a historical picture of your city's baseball tradition -- and to as accurately honor its legends -- as possible.
*(Baseball Reference version)
• Who are the Top 5 players from other Major League cities?
Born: January 31, 1947
Accolades: All-time strikeout leader, threw record seven no-hitters, 8-time All-Star, 11-time league strikeout leader, 1969 World Series champion, inducted into Hall of Fame in 1999, member of MLB All-Century team, 324-292 with 3.19 ERA and 5,714 strikeouts over 27 seasons, 84 WAR
High school: Alvin (Alvin)
One of the most intimidating pitchers of all-time was born in Refugio, Texas, a tiny town south of San Antonio, but grew up in Alvin, on Houston's southern outskirts. He became an area legend at Alvin High, where he once struck out 21 batters in a seven-inning game and where rumors ran that his pitches broke bones in his catcher's hands.
Ryan might epitomize his home state more than any player in Major League history. He set the mold for which other hard-throwing righties from Texas would be compared to, pitched professionally in the Lone Star State for 14 seasons, and spent the past nine there as an executive.
Of all the numbers that illustrate Ryan's greatness -- and there are many -- consider these two nuggets.
1. We all know about the seven no-hitters, but Ryan also threw 12 one-hitters and 18 two-hitters.
2. Ryan held opponents to a .204/.307/.298 line over a Major League-record 27 seasons. He's the only Hall of Famer to hold hitters to a lower slugging than on-base percentage, and he did so for almost three decades.
Born: August 4, 1962
Accolades: 7-time Cy Young winner, 11-time All-Star, 1986 AL MVP, 4-time wins leader, 7-time ERA leader, 5-time strikeout leader, 2-time World Series champion, 354-184 with 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts over 24 seasons, member of MLB All-Century team, 139 WAR
High school: Spring Woods
Clemens was compared to Ryan as a prospect, as a player, and now as a Hall of Fame candidate, in no small part because of his Texas lineage. But Clemens was actually born in Dayton, Ohio, and lived there until high school.
His family moved to the south Houston suburbs, where Clemens played for legendary coach Charlie Maiorana. He wasn't a star in high school; Clemens attended three Texas colleges before Boston drafted him in the first round in 1983. By 1986 he was the best pitcher in baseball, and by the time he signed with his hometown Astros in 2004, already one of the most dominant pitchers of all-time.
Born: June 15, 1972
Accolades: 3-time All-Star, 5-time World Series champion, 2001 ALCS MVP, 1996 AL wins leader, 256-153 with 3.85 ERA over 18 seasons, 70 WAR
High school: Deer Park
One of the best postseason pitchers of all-time was born in Baton Rouge, La., but starred as a high schooler in the Houston suburbs. He attended San Jacinto College in Houston before embarking on a career that featured a lot of winning.
Born: July 7, 1968
Accolades: 4-time All-Star, 1991 AL Rookie of the Year, 2-time Silver Slugger, 1997 Gold Glove winner, 4-time World Series champion, career .289/.378/.406 hitter with 98 home runs over 12 seasons, 45 WAR
High school: Bellaire (Bellaire)
Clemens' and Pettitte's teammate in New York, the scrappiest second baseman of the 1990s went to high school 20 minutes from Clemens' alma mater, in the Houston suburb of Bellaire. Knoblauch was the latest -- and most successful -- member of a prominent Texas baseball family. His father and uncle had both been Minor League managers.
The Phillies drafted Knoblauch in the 18th round out of high school, but he opted to attend Texas A&M, where he became one of the best players for one of the best teams in the country. As a Major Leaguer, Knoblauch hit .281 with one home run and 25 stolen bases to win AL Rookie of the Year in 1991 while with the Twins, and led baseball with 45 doubles in 1994 and retired with 1,839 hits.
Born: August 5, 1981
Accolades: 4-time All-Star, 2010 Gold Glove winner, 2010 Silver Slugger, 4-time stolen-base leader, 3-time triples leader, career .290/.330/.435 hitter with 480 stolen bases over 15 seasons, 39 WAR
High school: Jefferson Davis
The active leader in triples is a native of Houston's Fifth Ward neighborhood, one of the first products of MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner cities initiative. He was Little League teammates with outfielder Michael Bourn.
Crawford is one of the best athletes, period, to come out of Houston. At high school graduation, he had offers to play point guard for UCLA, quarterback for Nebraska, and outfield for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who drafted him in the second round. Crawford opted for baseball and became a star for the Rays, leading Tampa Bay to its first World Series appearance in 2008.
Honorable mention: Eric Anthony, Josh Beckett, Adam Dunn, Steve Henderson, Michael Jackson, Gary Majewski, Jeff Neimann, Roger Povlik, Craig Reynolds, Chris Snyder, Mike Stanton
Active players: Bourn, Crawford, Paul Goldschmidt, Paul Janish, Scott Kazmir, Joseph Nathan, Tyler Naquin, Anthony Rendon, Jameson Taillon, Chris Young
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com.