The State(s) Of Baseball


Baseball is so ingrained in the fabric of America, it becomes more than just a sport or even a pastime. Every fan, young or old, takes something special from the memories of the baseball experience. With that in mind, this visit will not be about objective facts like statistics or baseball card values. Instead, it will be a subjective look into baseball and America. Because every square mile of our land has been touched by the game, we’ll pick one thought or anecdote for each of the 50 states. The best part of the exercise is that you might come up with 50 different ideas, so feel free to borrow the topic and write your own tribute.


> Alabama – The “Say Hey Kid” went to High School in Fairfield…Willie Mays


> Alaska – Ask any resident of Ketchikan and they’ll admit that their favorite ballplayer is Tim Salmon


> Arizona – Luis Gonzalez getting the winning hit off Mariano Rivera in the 2001 World Series, making us all forget 9/11 for a few moments


> Arkansas – The Phillies once had a Manager named Danny Ozark


> California – Sandy Koufax pitching a perfect game at Dodger Stadium…with Vin Scully making the call


> Colorado – The row of purple seats at Coors Field that is exactly one mile high.


> Connecticut – Lou Gehrig played minor league ball with the Hartford Senators before joining the Yankees


> Delaware – A graduate of Seaford High School, Delino DeShields was a good major league ballplayer…but he’ll always be remembered as the guy traded for Pedro Martinez


> Florida – Jim Morris making the majors at age 35…see “The Rookie” (2002)


> Georgia – Hank Aaron hitting #715


> Hawaii – Native son Shane Victorino swiped 231 bases in his big-league career earning the nickname “The Flyin’ Hawaiian”


> Idaho – Harmon Killebrew went straight from Payette High School to the majors and hit 573 HR’s


> Illinois – The Cubs ending the 100+ year drought in 2016’s thrilling 7-game series


> Indiana – In 1943, one of the original teams of the AAGBPL (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) played in South Bend…”There’s no crying in baseball”


> Iowa – “If you build it, they will come”…the Field of Dreams is in Dyersville


> Kansas – Ray Sadecki pitched for 18 seasons and won 135 games, but on two separate occasions, was traded for a future Hall of Famer…Orlando Cepeda in 1966 and Joe Torre in 1974


> Kentucky – The Louisville Slugger Museum


> Louisiana – Ron Guidry’s nickname was “Louisiana Lightning”


> Maine – This state is famous for its blueberries…baseball is famous for Darryl Strawberry, Gordon Goldsberrry, Damon Berryhill, Quentin Berry and the occasional “raspberry” on your leg


> Maryland – Camden Yards and the “Iron Man”, Cal Ripken Jr.


> Massachusetts – The “Green Monster” at Fenway Park and the man who played in front of it for parts of four decades…Ted Williams


> Michigan – The meanest man to ever play the game also had the highest batting average in history (.366)…Ty Cobb


> Minnesota – Kirby Puckett stealing a HR by climbing the centerfield wall at the Metrodome


> Mississippi – In the South, the term “oil can” is slang for beer can…Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd was born in Meridian and went to Jackson State University


> Missouri – Stan “The Man” Musial had 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road in a 22 year career


> Montana – Dave McNally was a four-time 20 game winner for the Orioles…he was born (1942) and buried (2002) in Billings


> Nebraska – The College World Series every June in Omaha


> Nevada – Bryce Harper & Kris Bryant played together on the Southern Nevada Bulldogs…Bryant was 14, Harper was 13


> New Hampshire – Native son Carlton Fisk wore #27 with the Red Sox and #72 with the White Sox on his way to the Hall of Fame


> New Jersey – Jackie Robinson played his first minor league game in Jersey City on 4/18/46…he went 4-for-5 with four runs, a HR, four RBI’s and two SB’s


> New Mexico – In 1969, the Albuquerque Dukes of the Texas League had Steve Garvey, Bill Buckner, Ron Cey & Steve Yeager in the line-up…the pitching staff included Doyle Alexander, Charlie Hough & Geoff Zahn. Also on that team was Roy Gleason, the only major league player to be wounded while serving in Viet Nam


> New York – We may never have seen him play, but Babe Ruth changed the game forever…in 1920, he hit 54 HR’s and no other AL team hit more than 50


> North Carolina – “You just got lesson number one: don’t think; it can only hurt the ballclub”…”Bull Durham” (1988)


> North Dakota – Roger Maris went to High School in Fargo…and hit 61 in ’61


> Ohio – Ricky Vaughn coming in from the bullpen to the song “Wild Thing” in the movie “Major League” (1989)


> Oklahoma – Mickey Mantle went to High School in Commerce…one of his nicknames was the “Commerce Comet”


> Oregon – Portland is the birthplace of two very under-appreciated major leaguers…Mickey Lolich & Dale Murphy


> Pennsylvania – The pride, passion and tragic loss of Roberto Clemente


> Rhode Island – The city of Woonsocket produced two Hall of Famers, Napoleon Lajoie & Gabby Hartnett


> South Carolina – Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League (3 months after Jackie Robinson’s debut) was born in Camden in 1923


> South Dakota – 15 year big league OF Tito Francona played for Aberdeen of the Northern League while coming up through the minors…and that’s where his Son Terry was born in 1959


> Tennessee – Todd Helton played Quarterback for the University of Tennessee and after a knee injury during his Senior year, was replaced as the starter by Peyton Manning…Helton had over 2,500 hits in his major league career with the Rockies


> Texas – Nolan Ryan went to Alvin High School and struck out 5,714 batters in 27 big league seasons


> Utah – Less than 40 players have been from this state and the best is probably Bruce Hurst, who won 145 big league games


> Vermont – If Montreal ever gets an expansion franchise, it’s only about a two-hour drive from the state capital of Montpelier


> Virginia – The Richmond Virginians played one season (1884) with a record of 12-30…their Manager was Felix Moses and the only thing he parted was his mustache


> Washington – Ken Griffey Jr. gliding toward a fly ball in CF at the Kingdome


> West Virginia – Hall of Fame 2B Bill Mazeroski is one of over a dozen big leaguer players to come from Wheeling


> Wisconsin – Robin Yount won the AL MVP as a SS in 1982 and as a CF in 1989


> Wyoming – Only 15 major leaguers have been born in this state…six have been from Cheyenne including the Mets Brandon Nimmo


> Oops, we almost forgot the District of Columbia – Born in Washington in 1932, Maury Wills had 104 SB’s in 1962 and captured the NL MVP


Hope you enjoyed Baseball Geography 101.




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