Baseball

MLB Legends: Last Stop before Cooperstown

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Over the course of a career, MLB legends will typically play the majority of the time with one or two teams. Lou Gehrig was exclusively a Yankee while Cal Ripken Jr. was only an Oriole. In some cases, a player will have played for two teams and strongly connects to two cities, like Seattle and Cincinnati for Ken Griffey Jr. and Boston and Chicago for Carlton Fisk. While most MLB legends follow this path, every once in a while a franchise is finished with their star before retirement. Last week, Albert Pujols signed with the Dodgers and joins this list of Hall of Famers who made usually a strange appearance for a new team.

MLB Legends: Pedro Martinez

From 1998 to 2004, Pedro was perhaps the most recognizable Boston Red Sock. He helped to end the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 while adding three Cy Young Awards to his Hall of Fame resume. After a very successful stint in New England, Pedro joined the New York Mets for what appeared to be the final four years of his career. Sure enough, his career appeared to be over following the 2008 season when the former Ace sputter to a 5.61 ERA in the final year of his contract. After not signing during the off-season, it looked like his next stop would be Cooperstown.

However, the defending World Series champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, went looking to add some rotation depth and signed Pedro well into the 2009 season. He would replace Jamie Moyer in the rotation in the middle of August and would go 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA down the stretch. The Phillies would again win the NL Pennant and Pedro faced his old nemesis, the New York Yankees, in the World Series. The future Hall of Famer pitched only 10 innings over two games while letting up 7 runs. Pedro took both losses and the Phillies would drop the Series.

Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson, like Pedro, would go down in history as one of the best pitchers of all time. Johnson mainly pitched for the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks, winning a World Series with the latter. However, like Pedro, he wasn’t willing to hang up the glove following the 2008 season despite his contract finishing in Arizona. Johnson, entering his age 45 seasons, would eventually settle for a one-year deal to join the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants had struggled the year before and were looking to get back to October baseball. However, with the Giants, Jonson struggled to a 4.88 ERA and the Giants would miss the Playoffs. However, Johnson did manage to pick up 8 wins on the season, giving him over 300 for his career.

Ty Cobb

When asked about Ty Cobb, baseball fans are quick to think of the former Tiger roaming center field and sliding with his spikes up into second base. However, Cobb’s career in Detroit would end following the 1925 season when he suddenly retired from baseball as both a player and a manager. Despite being 39 years of age, Cobb had enjoyed 1925 when he hit .339/.408/.511. His retirement shocked baseball but most fans were not aware of a scandal brewing behind closed doors.

During the 1925 offseason, Dutch Leonard, a former Tigers’ pitcher brought to the attention of MLB that Cobb and Cleveland player-manager Tris Speaker had conspired together to fix a game during the season, resulting in a win for Detroit. Then-commissioner Kenesaw Landis would eventually clear both Cobb and Speaker of any wrongdoing and allowed both to become free agents. As a result, Cobb spent his final two years in Philadelphia as a member of the Athletics.

Vladimir Guerrero

During his time as an Expo and an Angel, Vlad Guerrero became one of the most feared players in baseball. In Montreal, he was a consistent 40/40 threat and transitioned to an MVP power hitter in Anaheim. However, after his contract expired with the Angels, Guerrero made a brief stop with the Rangers before heading east to Baltimore.

The Orioles were in a bit of a transition. The team struggled mightily the year before winning only 66 games but went 34-23 after bringing in veteran manager Buck Showalter late in the year. The O’s were looking to take another step forward and hoped the veteran outfielder would bring a bit of excitement back to Camden Yards. While Guerrero hit .290 with 13 home runs over the year, the Orioles struggled to a 69-93 record.

Hank Aaron

During his tenure with the Braves, Hank Aaron was one of the best hitters in baseball and passed Babe Ruth for most home runs in the sport. After the 1974 season, Aaron requested to be traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. While most of the other players on the list left to find additional playing time, Aaron had previously played in Milwaukee and wanted to return to the city.

Aaron would last two seasons in Milwaukee but was no longer the player he once was. He struggled to a .232/.315/.369 while hitting the final 22 home runs of his career.

Albert Pujols

The move to the National League team in LA seemed a bit confusing on the surface for Pujols. The Dodgers seem set at first base but Corey Seager‘s injury could cause some shuffling in the Dodgers’ infield and might open first base. Time will tell if Pujols will be able to put a final stamp on his Hall of Fame resume or if this move, like most later in a career, leave a little ripple.

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