Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Who are top 5 all-time players from Boston?

February 1, 2017

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, 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.
Who are the Top 5 players from other Major League cities?
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
Tom Glavine
Born: March 25, 1966
Accolades: Two-time Cy Young winner, 10-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, five National League win titles, five 20-win seasons, 305-203 with 3.54 ERA over 22 seasons, led NL in starts six times, complete games and shutouts once, 1995 World Series championship, 74 WAR, inducted into Hall of Fame in 2014
High school: Billerica
Born in Concord, Glavine starred as a two-sport high school athlete in Billerica, 25 miles from Boston's city center. He played with future MLB All-Star Gary DiSarcina and against future big leaguer Pete Smith, who became Glavine's teammate in Atlanta. Many scouts missed on Glavine because he didn't light up the radar gun, but that didn't stop him from one of the most productive careers in Major League history.
Glavine's numbers speak for themselves. He's one of the best pitchers of all time and certainly the best modern player to come from the Boston area. It's a good thing he didn't choose professional hockey.
Mickey Cochrane
April 6, 1903 (died June 28, 1962)
Accolades: Two-time MVP, two-time All-Star, career .320/.419/.478 line with 119 home runs over 13 seasons, three-time World Series champion, 52 WAR, inducted into Hall of Fame in 1947
High school: Bridgewater
The first catcher elected by writers into the Hall of Fame grew up the fifth son of Scottish immigrants and attended Boston University. Cochrane was known much better as a football and basketball player in his youth, and when he played baseball, he played middle infield more than he caught. He transitioned behind the plate to join a semi-pro team in 1923, in hopes of getting noticed by Major League scouts. By the end of the decade Cochrane was a vital cog in Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's dynasty.
Cochrane ranks among baseball's all-time bests in batting average and on-base percentage, and was one of the best contact hitters of all time. He struck out just 217 times in 1,482 games.
Tim Keefe
Jan. 1, 1857 (died April 23, 1933)
Accolades: Led 19th-century pitchers in strikeouts, and was second in wins and complete games. Three ERA crowns, two win titles, two strikeout titles, threw 619 innings in 1883, won pitching triple crown in 1888, 87 WAR, inducted into Hall of Fame in 1964
High school: Unknown
It feels silly comparing modern players with the likes of Keefe -- who debuted in 1880 and once made 68 starts in a season -- especially using modern metrics. Keefe's WAR places him ahead of players like Ken Griffey Jr., Nolan Ryan, and even Glavine, but he's third on this list because of how different the game was in the late 1800s.
Keefe was born in Cambridge and had family in Somerville. He famously played on Fuller Field in Clinton, near Worcester, which the Guinness Book of Records recognizes as the oldest baseball diamond in continuous use. Keefe went 342-225 with a 2.63 ERA for the Troy Trojans, New York Metropolitans, New York Giants and Philadelphia Athletics, and is credited with throwing the first "change of pace" pitch.
Wilbur Wood
Oct. 22, 1941
Accolades: Three-time All-Star, two-time American League wins leader, three-time leader in appearances, four-time leader in starts made, pitched at least 300 innings in four seasons, set then-record in 1968 with 88 appearances, 164-156 record with 3.24 ERA over 17 seasons, 52 WAR
High school: Belmont
Wood was not only one of the game's most accomplished knuckleballers, but one of the most durable pitchers in Major League history playing mostly with the White Sox. He was born in Cambridge and threw his first knuckleball in junior high.
Pie Traynor
Nov. 11, 1898 (died March 16, 1972)
Accolades: Received MVP votes eight times, two-time All-Star, led NL in triples in 1923, seven 100-RBI seasons, career .320/.362/.435 line over 17 seasons, 1925 World Series champion, 36 WAR, inducted into Hall of Fame in 1948
High school: Somerville
The legendary Pirates third baseman was born Harold Joseph Traynor in Framingham and grew up in Somerville, the son of Canadian immigrants. He was nicknamed "Pie" at a young age after his favorite postgame dessert. As a teenager, Traynor tried out for his hometown Boston Braves but didn't make it. He eventually caught on with Pittsburgh, where he spent 4 1/2 decades as a player, manager and radio voice. Many considered Traynor the best third baseman in baseball history prior to World War II.
Honorable mention: John Clarkson, Tony Conigliaro, Ron Darling, Gary DiSarcina, Turk Farrell, Mark Fidrych, Rich Gedman, Bump Hadley, Gabby Hartnett, Richie Hebner, Jim Hegan, Joe Kelley, Bryan LaHair, Danny MacFayden, Stuffy McInnis, Hugh Mulcahy, Carlos Pena, Pete Smith
Active players:Chris Colabello, Tim Collins, Nate Freiman, Ryan Hanigan, Rich Hill
Indicates a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Joe Trezza is a reporter for