The regular season is over and we have a bit of a lull before the off-season really gets going, so I thought I would spend this Friday afternoon tapping into our inner child and asking - who was your favorite baseball player growing up?
Many of us may have played ball with our friends and announced that we were a certain hitter or pitcher that we idolized.
But maybe you just admired the way a certain player played the game as a kid, or maybe you just thought he had a funny name, or seemed like a goofy guy.
I really became a baseball fan in the late 80s, when the Royals were still pretty good. But George Brett was past his prime at this point, so even though scores of kids had grown up with him as their favorite player, I wanted someone on the rise.
For me, that player was Bo Jackson. I know I wasn’t the only one, but to me, Bo provided excitement every time he stepped on the field. He could launch 450-foot home runs, beat out infield singles, and throw guys from the warning track. He could also miss line drives right at him and strike out on three pitches well out of the strike zone leading to him breaking his bat over his knee in frustration. Either way, you were getting your money’s worth.
There were other non-Royals I really liked. My dad was from Detroit, and still rooted for the Tigers a bit, so they became my secondary team, and Alan Trammell was their best player. He played my favorite position - shortstop - and was one of the best in the league, one of the few offense-first shortstops in baseball at the time.
Nolan Ryan was the power pitcher every kid aimed to be. When my dad first took me to the batting cages, we started out in the slow pitch cage, but he pointed to the fastest cage and dubbed it “Nolan Ryan”, saying we would eventually work our way up to it. When I started pitching, I wanted to pitch like Nolan Ryan. But eventually, I began mimicking the delivery of a younger power pitcher I idolized on the Royals - a kid named Kevin Appier.
Ken Griffey, Jr., Ellis Burks, Barry Larkin, Lou Whitaker, Will Clark, Craig Biggio, and Hideo Nomo were some of the other players I really liked as a kid (I bought so many Ellis Burks rookie cards thinking he would be a Hall of Famer).
Who was your favorite player growing up? And if you didn’t become a baseball fan til later, who was your favorite player when you first became a fan?