Who Are the Most Famous Baseball Players of the Last 50 Years?
Before getting into some baseball fame talk, a quick announcement about WHY WE LOVE FOOTBALL signed and inscribed preordering at Quail Ridge Books. Many of you have said that the original process was clunky and difficult to work through.
Well, they’ve changed it, so now you should be able to order more easily, you can order as many copies as you want, and there should be options for international shipping. Once you go to checkout, you can put the inscription at the bottom in the comments section. And, as mentioned, I’ll inscribe the book any way you like!
Hopefully this will be way easier. Let me know how it’s working. And for those of you who have already preordered, thank you! Your order should be good to go and you’ll get the book right around publication day on Sept. 17!
OK, so this will not surprise you: I went wading into this whole “Who are the most famous baseball players of the last half century?” thing without having put a great deal of thought into it. I put together a list that I liked quite a bit, and I was going to write about the 50 most famous players as I picked them, and we’d have some arguments and it would be fun and that would be that.
It will also not surprise you that I woke up on Wednesday morning and thought: “This is totally not good enough.”
And that’s when I started going through Sports Illustrated covers.
You will be happy to know that since 1970, there have been 239 different baseball people on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Well, there have actually been quite a few more than that—more than 300, I suspect—but for the purposes of fame, I didn’t count covers that (A) Had three or more players on them or (B) Were not about the player.
I should explain B a bit: Sports Illustrated had many covers through the years that were just there to say, “OK, the playoffs are beginning!” or “It’s World Series time!” or “Wow, look at this nutty trend happening in baseball!” The players chosen for those covers were not, in my view, chosen for their fame, but because they fit the theme. I do not mean to, in any way, take away their SI covers, which I would hope they have framed and displayed in their homes. It’s super-cool to be on the cover of SI. I’m just saying that when we’re trying to break down fame, those covers don’t add much.
I should also say: Wow, Sports Illustrated has had some bizarre baseball covers through the years. The 1987 cover of Cory Snyder and Joe Carter on it, with the words, “INDIAN UPRISING,” on it, has been justly mocked, but honestly, what about this one?