The Best You Ever Saw - MLB Edition

Reframmellator

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Sox_Fan and I were trading thoughts in the Bobby Bonilla Day thread, and it inspired this thread.

Who was the best MLB player you ever saw - in person? I added the "in person" qualifier, because otherwise this becomes another GOAT thread. But obviously, the entire body of work should be considered, not just the games you saw. Why did you name the player you named?

As I mentioned in the other thread, Roberto Clemente was the best I ever saw. He had another gear that I never saw in any other player. In 1971 or 1972, our family went to Three Rivers Stadium to see the Pirates and the Dodgers. We had seats along the third base line in the lowest tier of the upper deck, so a very good view of the field. This was before they moved the fences in 10 feet, so the right center gap was 385 feet from home. That was where Clemente caught a screamer, flat-footed, the 21 on his back plastered against the 385 sign. Bill Russell of the Dodgers was on second base and tagged up. Clemente threw him out by eight feet.

Roberto was also a proud, fierce competitor. When the Pirates visited New York, the TV series The Odd Couple was filming a show in which an opposing player hit into a triple play against the Mets. They approached Clemente, who was receptive until they explained the plot. He declined to participate, saying, "Roberto Clemente does not hit into a triple play - ever!" Bill Mazeroski agreed to film the scene.

His actions on and off the field changed the hearts and minds of a lot of Pirates fans. I think he would have received a lot more recognition during his career had he played in a major market.
 

echico

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When I was a kid I met Nolan Ryan at a Astros Buddies clinic in the Astrodome. I don't remember anything from the clinic but I do remember sitting close to the bullpen for his warm up. Holy cow I never knew the baseball could sound like that going through the air. Then the explosion in the catcher's mitt as it got closer to game time.

My parents took us to a lot of games in the Astrodome but mostly for Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, or when Fernando Valenzuela came to town. Great times. I was also in attendance for Sammy Sosa's 66th HR. Jeff Bagwell is still my all time favorite Astro but watching Nolan Ryan unleash fireballs was the most amazing thing I ever saw.
 

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I saw Randy Johnson pitch at old Yankee Stadium and that was a treat. As a lefty ball player growing up, I idolized him and Ken Griffey Jr. The Big Unit was past his prime when I saw him pitch, but he struck out the side in the first and it was an awesome thing to witness.

I got to see Jeter and A-Rod in those same games up at Yankee Stadium, but I’m a Phillies fan so for me it was watching Ryan Howard hit towering homers into unheard of areas at Citizens Bank Park, often plating Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley.
 

Bernoulli

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I'm going to answer with the greatest performance I witnessed in person. I was present in Yankee Stadium in June 1978 when Ron Guidry struck out 18 versus the California Angels.
 

Bernoulli

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@Reframmellator Your thread got me back on memory lane. I attended my first ML game in August of 1969 Giants v. Mets in Shea Stadium. Tom Seaver pitched for the Mets but my favorite player Willie Mays did not play that day for the Giants. However, his replacement in CF that day, some guy named Bonds - Bobby not Barry - hit two HRs. The Giants won 7-6 in extra innings.
 

Reframmellator

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@Reframmellator Your thread got me back on memory lane. I attended my first ML game in August of 1969 Giants v. Mets in Shea Stadium. Tom Seaver pitched for the Mets but my favorite player Willie Mays did not play that day for the Giants. However, his replacement in CF that day, some guy named Bonds - Bobby not Barry - hit two HRs. The Giants won 7-6 in extra innings.
Isn't it funny how baseball brings back those kinds of memories? I still remember my first MLB games -they were a doubleheader against the Cubs in Cubs in June, 1970 - the last games played in Forbes Field.
 

tequila4kapp

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I've seen so many games and so many great players, I can't pick one. I'm going to go by position.

C: Johnny Bench
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Ryne Sandberg
3B: Mike Schmidt
SS: Alex Rodriguez
LF: Ricky Henderson
CF: Ken Griffey, JR
RF: Henry Aaron
DH: Edgar Martinez
RHP: Nolan Ryan
LHP: Randy Johnson
Reliever: Mariano Rivera
 

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The best player I ever saw in person was Nolan Ryan, in one of his later years with the Astros against the Mets at Shea.
Slightly off topic, but the best play I ever saw in person was Fred McGriff hitting a home run into the upper deck in RF at the old Yankee Stadium. It was absolutely shocking how hard the ball was hit.
 

OGputtnfool

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Sox_Fan and I were trading thoughts in the Bobby Bonilla Day thread, and it inspired this thread.

Who was the best MLB player you ever saw - in person? I added the "in person" qualifier, because otherwise this becomes another GOAT thread. But obviously, the entire body of work should be considered, not just the games you saw. Why did you name the player you named?

As I mentioned in the other thread, Roberto Clemente was the best I ever saw. He had another gear that I never saw in any other player. In 1971 or 1972, our family went to Three Rivers Stadium to see the Pirates and the Dodgers. We had seats along the third base line in the lowest tier of the upper deck, so a very good view of the field. This was before they moved the fences in 10 feet, so the right center gap was 385 feet from home. That was where Clemente caught a screamer, flat-footed, the 21 on his back plastered against the 385 sign. Bill Russell of the Dodgers was on second base and tagged up. Clemente threw him out by eight feet.

Roberto was also a proud, fierce competitor. When the Pirates visited New York, the TV series The Odd Couple was filming a show in which an opposing player hit into a triple play against the Mets. They approached Clemente, who was receptive until they explained the plot. He declined to participate, saying, "Roberto Clemente does not hit into a triple play - ever!" Bill Mazeroski agreed to film the scene.

His actions on and off the field changed the hearts and minds of a lot of Pirates fans. I think he would have received a lot more recognition during his career had he played in a major market.
In action? I couldn't even guess. In person anytime? I got an autograph from Pete Rose back in the day.
 

RealPretendPsychic

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The best player I ever saw in person was Nolan Ryan, in one of his later years with the Astros against the Mets at Shea.
Slightly off topic, but the best play I ever saw in person was Fred McGriff hitting a home run into the upper deck in RF at the old Yankee Stadium. It was absolutely shocking how hard the ball was hit.
I miss that sound! I really hope everything runs smoothly and we get some baseball in 2020.
 

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Willie Mays - He could do it all and at levels seldom seen. (and yes, I'm old).

Ricky Henderson - Honorable mention. He was the stolen base king.

Denny McClain - One year wonder. That 30 win season in 1968 for the Tigers was something we'll likely never see again.

Barry Bonds - House of shame. At his peak, he hit a home run every 5 at bats, but it was all an illusion. He was juiced.
 

OGputtnfool

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Illusion? You mean, he didn't hit all those homeruns?
 

Reframmellator

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Illusion? You mean, he didn't hit all those homeruns?
No, he hit them all right, but as DuPont used to say, it was Better Living Through Chemistry.
 

Danimal

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Albert Pujols. Got to see him his whole Cardinal career. He was great.
 

scott.french3

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Nolan Ryan
Michael Young
Ernie Banks
Ferguson Jenkins
Pudge Rodriguez
Adrian Beltre
 
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greg19

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I honestly don't think I could pick just one player since I attended the All Star in 1999 at Fenway Park but Pedro Martinez striking out 5 All Stars in the 2 innings he pitched was incredible.
 

tequila4kapp

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I honestly don't think I could pick just one player since I attended the All Star in 1999 at Fenway Park but Pedro Martinez striking out 5 All Stars in the 2 innings he pitched was incredible.
I’m still so thrilled with the trade that sent Pedro packing. Delino DeShields was SOOOOOO worth it.
 

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Not a huge baseball fan. However, living in the St. Louis area has had its benefits regarding the opportunities to see great players:
Bob Gibson
Lou Brock (who I've met, and is a wonderful person)
Ozzy Smith
Mark McGwire
Albert Pujols

Never got to see him play, but I shared an elevator ride with Stan Musial at a Cards game once. Also a fantastic human being.
 

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I've seen some pretty good players but the one I was most impressed with was Francisco Liriano. He didn't have a very long period of domination because of arm issues but that guy could sling the ball. The action he had on his breaking ball was unreal. I think one of the games we went to he had 12 strike outs. You could tell his career wasn't going to last long with that arm action though.
 
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In person would have to be Trout (I haven't seen too many games in person), at his current pace he will be in the discussion for best ever when his career is finally over.
 

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As a young guy my dad took me to a Minnesota Twins game. They were playing the Yankees and I got to see all the 1961 Yankees. Micky Mantle (my hero back then) and Roger Maris, Yogi and the rest of the greats on that team. The Twins featured Killebrew and the crew. I live in Minnesota but grew up a Yankee fan and was cheering for them at that game. It was only the second year for the Twins in Minnesota and I figured that I wasn't a fan of theirs when they were in Washington DC so couldn't cheer for them just because they moved to Minnesota, especially against the Yankees. I didn't become a Twins fan for several years. I really adopted them in the mid 1980's and then was rewarded in 1987 when they won the World Series.
 

OGputtnfool

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Denny McClain - One year wonder. That 30 win season in 1968 for the Tigers was something we'll likely never see again.
Looked up the stats from that year. That record is great on the surface, but I sure hope he gave his teammates much (most?) of the credit for it. Their offense looks stupid in the box scores. In 31 wins, they gave him <4 runs to work with only 5 times. They had 13 games with 6+ including 12, 13, and 14 run games! It must be easy pitching when you've got that kind of support!
 

OGputtnfool

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No, he hit them all right, but as DuPont used to say, it was Better Living Through Chemistry.
He still had to swing the bat. As we've seen with the current scientist on Tour, hit ball far only helps so much. You've still gotta be good.
 

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