baltimoresun.com

« Have you adopted a non-Baltimore sports team? Why? | Main | What roster move do you make when Izturis is activated? »

Who most exudes love for the game of baseball?

We are heading back to what we serve best at this dive: Baseball.

I did a story this week on High-A Frederick catcher Caleb Joseph, who is leading the Carolina League in hitting.

What’s most intriguing about Joseph is his attitude. The kid absolutely loves baseball. He even occasionally sleeps in the Keys’ clubhouse because he doesn’t want to leave the stadium. He also admits to crying at baseball movies. Seriously.

Joseph really has a refreshing attitude. But it’s not as if his “love of the game” is unique; it’s just we don’t see it as much as we’d like.

That got me thinking. Which baseball player most exuded love of the game? Who do you remember watching and thinking, “Man, he just loves being in the big leagues and playing baseball.”

My first response is Rick Dempsey. The guy just had fun at the ballpark, whether it was playing the games or diving on the tarp or leading an Orioles’ cheer.

There definitely are others, with the Orioles (Elrod Hendricks, of course) and throughout baseball. Kirby Puckett always struck me as a guy who loved everything about the sport.

As for someone I covered, I think pitcher Bruce Chen (who finally is back in the majors with the Kansas City Royals) is in the enthusiastic discussion. So might be reliever Danys Baez. And, yes, of course, Cal Ripken Jr.

Daily Think Special: Which baseball player most exuded love for the game?

Comments

How about Mr. Cub? I don't know how often he actually said what is attributed to him - "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!" But Ernie Banks certainly should be in the discussion.

More recently, Kid Griffey always seemed to have the joy of playing the game back when he was younger. And you have to have a love for the game, as well as a commitment to the task at hand, to play in 2632 consecutive games. Because if you don't love the game, then that's a lot more than is required to justify a large paycheck, no matter how dedicated you are to your job. And I assume in this joint I don't need to specify who it is I am talking about in this case.

Is this limited to O's? "Cause if not then I'll take Roberto Clemente. I don't know about "love for the game", but has anyone ever played it with more unadulturated passion then Frank Robinson?

The sarcastic answer: Crash Davis....."you don't respect the game meat".

Seriously, the guy I think of was George Brett. Great all-around game, great attitude. His was a passionate love for the game whereas Ken Griffey, Jr., the young Seattle version, had that I'm having fun look.

Great question barkeep! Some of the obvious have already been said- Cal, Clemente, Puckett, Dempsey, and Brett- they're all good ones. A few that I'm surprised haven't been mentioned yet- our own Cal SR, Brooksie, and Earl. I would also add to the mix Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, and former Oriole BJ Surhoff.

Just from watching the guy from the years he played here, it always seemed like Miguel Tejada had fun playing the game. Keep in mind playing not talking out scenery changes or roids, just playing ball. He always had a smile on his face or could anyone forget he and BROB's postgame handshake?

Pete Rose - he loved it, just didn't respect it.

gotta be the best player the O's EVER had...Frank Robinson. Watching him get up from brushbacks and beanballs from Drysdale and Gibson, and just dig back in...or throw himself, sharp cleats first, at some middle infielder...or take all the crap he took from everyone for being the first black manager...and then seeing his message of playing hard and respect for the game go down as "too old school", to the prima donnas that were then and now occupying baseball...granted--this is from a local perspective--I never saw Rose, Clemente, or Jackie Robinson....but bar none, Frank was the best Oriole in all respects...sorry Brooks---sorry Eddie.

Of the O's I've seen: Ken Singleton, Rich Dauer, Rick Dempsey, Al Bumbry, Mike Flanagan, Scott McGregor, Rick Sutcliffe, Eric Davis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis,Billy Ripken, and Cal all seemed to love the game the most.

Of non-O's: Rose, Brett, Jeter, Ichiro, Ryne Sandberg, Bert Blyleven, Puckett, and Tony Gwynn Sr. all stand out.

These guys always seemd to play hard and with a smile on their faces.

Ever see the look on Nolan Reimold's face when he's at bat? He's ecstatic.

Larry Bowa

"It's a beautiful day for a ballgame.....Let's play two!"

You gotta love the look of Luke Scott
each time he steps up!

That Dontrelle Willis kid seems to love the game even when he struggles. Demper was up there. Daniel Cabrera seemed to be the anti Demper, always scowling. How about Lowenstein?

no question it's the late great Elrod Hendricks #44. he was so great to everyone including me, my wife and kids every time we went to spring training. he had the knowledge, the pedigree and the warmth and enthusiasm of any player I have ever seen or been around. he typlified the orioles and major league baseball RIP Ellie.

Good question, Barkeep!

All of the obvious choises have alrady been mentioned: Banks, Rose, Brett, etc. It's hard for me to mentally separate sheer competitiveness, like Frank Robby, from love of the game, like Cal Jr. Another great Oriole competitor was Brady Anderson.

Perhaps one measure of the love of the game, although not always a positive attribute, is the inability of some guys to hang it up even after their skills have eroded. I won't mention any names, but we all know lots of those. Baseball economics were different in the early 20th century, but you have to figure men like Honus Wagner, who went barnstorming for years after their major league days were over, had to love the game (or just didn't have any other way to earn a living).

Someone mentioned Crash Davis, and that got to me thinking that maybe the true lovers of the game aren't the high profile superstars -- who wouldn't love a game that brought you fame and fortune? Maybe the real lovers of the game are the guys with limited talent but who stick it out year after year, riding the bench, moving from team to team, waiting fior the big break that may never come. I'm talking about a guy like Tom Shopay. I think it was Rex Hudler (who the Os drafted ahead of Cal Jr. -- the draft is not an exact science) who, the last time he was dropped from a major league team, cut his hand and rubbeed some dirt from the infield in the wound, so that he would "always have baseball in blood." That's love -- a little sick maybe -- but love.

Of the current Orioles, I would say Felix Pie. It is easy to enjoy playing when you are a top player, but despite struggling, not playing much, and being on a losing team, Pie seems to enjoy being at the game every day.

From a O's fan in Boston, I have to say Dustin Pedroia. I have a lot of respect for a player who was constantly told they didn't have the size or talent to play in the bigs and went on to win the MVP in what his second year? In terms of O's who can't point firmly to Cal? Come on you have to have a serious desire to play to not miss a single game in that long!

for determination roberto clemente,
he ran the bases like his legs
were falling off... his outfield throws
were all out with the ball traveling
like a bullet to the base right on
target.


for love the late mark the bird
fydrich, his eceentric and big bird
hair made him a national hero...
unfortunately his career and life
ended too soon like clemente's..

I have been watching the O's since they beat the White Sox 3-1 in 1954 on Opening Day. Two things concern me. 1) the photo of Jones blowing a bubble as the ball sails over his head and 2) the wasting of the number of months of many a good pitcher's arm while wowing the fans at Norfolk and Bowie!

I'd say without a doubt, of the current O's - it's gotta be Luke Scott

Scott plays for and demonstrates in every game, every day just pure love and dedication to the game

and guys past? gotta be Robinson and Rose

A player who isn't a crybaby whether he gets the extra million in arbitration with a 5 million contract - this would exclude the majority of today's players.

A player who isn't selfish demanding a hefty contract (aka Albert (Joey) Bell and Traitor Tex) at the expense of the team payroll and team unity.

One who will gladly autograph for fans (THANK YOU Brooks and Elrod) no matter what the fans do with their signatures later.

A player who hustles to first base even though he is a sure out or might get an unintended infield hit.

A player who puts his family first ahead of team when a family situation arises (like a first baby, sickness, death,etc).

My list

Pete Rose
Leroy "Satchel" Paige
Ted Williams
Stan Musual
Walter "Buck" Leonard
Rod Carew
Rick Dempsey
Mark Belanger
Cal Ripken Sr and Jr
Ozzie Smith
Brooks Robinson
Frank Robinsson
Eric Davis
Johnny Bench
Warren Spaun
Ty Cobb
Nolan Ryan
Lou Gehrig
Yogi Berra
Elrod
Mikey Mantle

Hudler was not drafted by the Orioles, it was the Yankees. Have to disagree with Pie, who was recently caught almost napping when the Orioles needed a pinch runner.

Hey Dan,

I had one I could not think of his name the other day, Manny Mota. That would be a good story greatest pinch hitters of all time. The Orioles had several..

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

ADVERTISEMENT

Most Recent Comments
The Burning Question
ADVERTISEMENT

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Baltimore Sun blog updates

 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected