Baseball Players Who Became Legends
- Babe Ruth
- Jackie Robinson
- Roberto Clemente
- Lou Gehrig
- Stan Musial
America’s pastime has seen quite a few legendary players in baseball history. There are a number of factors that contribute to a player’s fame, including their athletic ability, their character, their historical significance and their recognition among the general public. Below are five of the greats.
1. Babe Ruth
It’s hard to argue against Babe Ruth being named the most legendary baseball player of all time. His name is well-known even today and it comes up most frequently when the question of the greatest baseball player to ever live is asked. Aside from boasting the still-record .690 career slugging percentage, he was the first American sports superstar, regularly grabbing headlines and bringing baseball into its current place in the American consciousness.
2. Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson will always be seen as a symbol of racial tolerance and acceptance. He is famous for being the first African-American baseball player to play in Major League Baseball. His uniform number, 42, is still the only number retired from use by all Major League Baseball teams. Aside from being a first, his talent as a player was unquestionable. From 1949 through 1954 he was an All-Star and he earned the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal after his death.
3. Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente holds the distinction of being the first Latin American player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. An exceedingly talented player, he was an All-Star for twelve seasons and earned numerous awards, including both a National League and World Series MVP award. Sadly, he is largely remembered for what could have been. Clemente was killed in a plane crash at age 38 while attempting to deliver aid to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua on December 31, 1972. There is a movement to have his uniform number, 21, be the second retired from use on all Major League Baseball teams.
4. Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig is another excellent player who showed great courage and integrity in the face of a tragic end. He fell ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), forcing him to retire early at the age of 36 in 1939. The disease would take his life just two years later. The condition itself has even come to be commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. That enshrined him in the public consciousness as a legend, but his athletic ability was stellar as well: his career batting average was .340 and he hit a total of 493 home runs. He was the first player to ever have his uniform number (4) retired by his team.
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5. Stan Musial
Stan Musial was not only a great baseball player but also a great person. He is regularly held up as one of the supreme examples of good sportsmanship in American baseball. His baseball record is stellar as well – he led the St. Louis Cardinals to World Series wins in 1942, 1944 and 1946 and earned the MVP award in 1943, 1946 and 1948. Regarded as a solid and consistent hitter, his career batting average stands at .331 with 475 home runs under his belt. He remains a beloved figure in Cardinals’ history and in the city of St. Louis.
The sport of baseball has produced many legends over the course of its long and storied history. These five legendary players in baseball history continue to awe and inspire even today.