With the passing of Gary Carter this week, it's starting to occur to me how many of my childhood baseball heroes have passed way too young. I thought it worth the exercise to assemble a team of my childhood favorites who are playing at the great stadium in the sky. I did have to use some internet resources to fill positions, but I came up with a full team, including a bullpen who I say would rival an All Star team today. The format goes that I will name the player, a brief memory, then a baseball card photo (or similar) that I remember having or seeing. There will be no reference to their passing, not appropriate. Without further ado, let's start with the most recently passed:
C: Gary Carter
Memory: His hosting of "This week in Baseball" in 1982 (or so) and the heartbreaking defeat of the Astros in 1986.
1B: Willie Stargell
Memory: 1979 World Series and swapping his Donruss baseball card (below).
2B: Mike Sharperson
Memory: Versatile player for the Dodgers in a time I had a strange like for the franchise.
SS: Jose Uribe
Memory: As an Astros fan growing up, seemed like every game I saw was against the Giants and he was the SS.
3B: Ken Caminiti
Memory: As an Astros fan, remember his defense first and breakout leadership.
OF: Alan Wiggins
Memory: Consummate leadoff hitter of the 1980's, quick, fast, always on base.
OF: Kirby Puckett
Memory: Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, and his personality.
OF: Ivan Calderon
Memory: Hot rookie card for a while, then the cock fighting charges
SP: Joe Niekro
Memory: Astros hero of 1980s, scuffing.
SP: Jose Lima
Memory: Lima time!
SP: Darryl Kile
Memory: Astros, no hitter my dad and brother were at but not me.
SP: Bob Forsch
Memory: Yes, also played for the Astros, theme here?
SP: Mike Flanagan
Memory: Fan of the Orioles in his time, listened to his TV work in the early 2000's.
RP: Dan Quisenberry
Memory: The best relief pitcher of the early 1980's. Period.
RP: Rod Beck
Memory: The Shooter: Great hair, and lived in a trailer in the minors.
RP: Steve Howe
Memory: Incredible talent and a big reason for the Dodgers early 80's success.
RP: Tug McGraw
Memory: 1980 NLCS, and a son who could sing.
RP: Dave Smith
Memory: Every Astros game of my youth, he closed.
Manager: Sparky Anderson
Memory: 1984 World Series, he was at his best
Umpire: John McSherry
Memory: Never heard a complaint about his calls.
Seems like a disproportionate number of Astros here, and I didn't include Vern Ruhle. Or Andujar Cedeno. Did I forget anyone? Just out were Darryl Porter, Eric Show, Aurelio Lopez, Donnie Moore, Nick Adenhart, and Tim Crews. A few others that were a step behind that.
In any event, they all died too young, but provided great memories.