Baseball’s greatest players square off today at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati. The American and National League squads are loaded with talent, but one could argue that neither team would be able to handle an all-time all-star team of Pacific Northwest natives.
Five Hall of Famers grew up in the Northwest, including Spokane’s Ryne Sandberg. Northwest natives have led leagues in various hitting, pitching and field categories. They’ve also won league awards for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young (pitching), Gold Glove (defense) and Silver Slugger (hitting).
Position by position, we’ve put together an all-star team consisting of Washington, Oregon and Idaho natives. Our roster includes ex-Washington State Cougars like Ron Cey (a former Spokane Indians star) and John Olerud as well as Gonzaga University/Gonzaga Prep product Mike Redmond. Baseball-Reference.com was the primary source for some players’ high schools; debate exists over the alma maters of a few old-timers. Cities are listed if a player’s high school and city are different.
Mickey Lolich (Lincoln, Portland): The portly southpaw led the American League with 25 victories in 1971, but that may have been the least impressive of his league-leading numbers. Lolich also ranked first with 376 innings pitched, 308 strikeouts, 45 starts and 29 complete games. By comparison, last year’s major league leaders recorded 21 wins, 248 1-3 innings, 271 strikeouts, 34 starts and six complete games. Lolich compiled a 217-191 record in 16 seasons. That doesn’t count his 3-0 record in the 1968 World Series, when he was named Series MVP after leading Detroit past St. Louis. BACKUP:
Mel Stottlemyre (Mabton). Stottlemyre had the misfortune of playing for the New York Yankees during a down period, but few active pitchers will approach his 40 shutouts or 152 complete games. The right-hander from tiny Mabton in south-central Washington compiled a 164-139 record (with three 20-win seasons) and 2.97 earned run average from 1964-74 before an arm injury ended his career. Stottlemyre, a former Seattle Mariners pitching coach, played junior college ball at Yakima (Wash.) Valley under Bobo Brayton before the latter began his legendary coaching career at Washington State.
John Olerud (Interlake, Bellevue). The former Mariners and WSU star won three Gold Gloves and played in two All-Star Games. In 17 seasons, Olerud hit .295 with 255 home runs and 500 doubles. Olerud keyed world champion Toronto in 1993 by leading the AL in batting (.363). BACKUP:
Jack Fournier (Aberdeen). Hit .313 with 136 homers in 15 seasons. A notoriously poor fielder, Fournier led the National League with 27 homers for the 1934 Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers.
Ryne Sandberg (North Central, Spokane). The Hall of Famer, who recently quit his post as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, hit .285 with 282 home runs and 344 stolen bases in 16 seasons. Sandberg won nine consecutive Gold Gloves and played in 10 straight All-Star Games for the Chicago Cubs. The 1984 National League MVP won seven Silver Slugger awards, and led the league at least once in home runs, triples, runs, fielding percentage, assists and double plays. BACKUP:
Joe Gordon (Jefferson, Portland). Another Hall of Famer, Gordon hit .268 with 253 home runs in 11 seasons with the Yankees and Cleveland. He claimed American League MVP honors in 1942. Gordon was selected to play in nine consecutive All-Star Games, excluding three years of military duty during World War II.