Road Trip 2010: CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman calls out the best cross-section of players in baseball history.
The First Class
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.--In 1936, five of baseball's all-time greats (to that point) became the initial class of the Hall of Fame here. Who could know those five would hold up as among the best ever: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Walter Johnson.
On Road Trip 2010, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman--a lifelong baseball fan--made his first-ever trip to the Hall of Fame and finally got a chance to see for himself the full roster of the greatest of the greats of America's Pastime.
Here, Terdiman calls out his choices for the best of the best with a collection of photographs of plaques of some of those players.
In contrast to Ruth, Cobb is one of the most loathed players in the game's history. Yet he was also one of its best, and among his records was the most hits ever (until Pete Rose topped him) and highest career batting average.
Lou Gehrig, known as the Iron Horse, held "more than a score of Major and American League records," among which was the standard for the most consecutive games played. That record, 2,130 games straight, lasted until Cal Ripken broke it.
The last player ever to hit .400 in a season, Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters ever, yet as a lifelong member of the Boston Red Sox, he never won a World Series. Even his amazing 1941 season, when he hit .406, was upstaged by Yankee Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak that same year.
A longtime member of the Negro Leagues, Satchel Paige finally joined the Major Leagues in 1948 after baseball finally integrated in 1947. He played until his 50s, finally retiring in 1965, after beginning his playing days in 1926.
Known as the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio hailed from San Francisco, married Marilyn Monroe, and set the all-time record for consecutive games with a hit (56). He won nine World Series trophies as a Yankee and remains one of the best ever.
As the first African-American to play Major League Baseball--he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947--Jackie Robinson will always have a special place in the game's history. As such, his number, 42, was permanently retired from the game in 1997. But he was also a Hall of Fame caliber player, hitting .311 over ten seasons, and being named to six All-Star teams.
The catcher for what seemed like a countless number of Yankee World Series championship teams, Yogi Berra may be best known for his endless series of oddball sayings. But he was a fierce competitor and a terrific player.
Hank Aaron was the man who broke Babe Ruth's career home runs record, bashing his 715th homer in 1974, despite death threats for daring to challenge the Babe's cherished standard. Aaron's final total of 755 homers stood until 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds.
Known as the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays set the standard for the "five tool" player, those who could run with speed, field, throw, hit, and hit with power. Mays had 660 career home runs and will always be famous for his basket catch at the Polo Grounds in New York in the 1954 World Series as a member of the New York Giants against the Cleveland Indians.
Mickey Mantle was the Yankees center fielder immediately following Joe DiMaggio, and the Yankees didn't lose anything in the transition. A powerful home run hitter who also had tremendous speed, Mantle could have set the career home run record if not for a series of injuries.
Josh Gibson was "considered the greatest slugger in Negro baseball leagues," and hit nearly 800 homers in that league and independent baseball in his career. He never got a chance to join the Major Leagues.
Sandy Koufax was a career Dodger, playing mostly in Los Angeles. He pitched a perfect game, and was known for his frightening fastball. He had a then-record four no-hitters and had three seasons with 25 or more wins.
Known as Mr. October for his regular feats of excellence in the postseason, Oakland A and New York Yankee Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in one game in the 1978 World Series against the Dodgers. He hit more than 500 home runs in his career and was one of the most feared hitters in the game during his long career.
Second baseman Joe Morgan played a long career with a series of teams but gained his biggest fame as a member of the feared Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine. He won the National League MVP award in both 1975 and 1976.
Cal Ripken was a Hall of Famer anyway, but he will always be remembered for breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played record. He played in 2,632 consecutive games, from 1982 until 1998, breaking Gehrig's 2,130 game record. He also won two MVP awards and had 431 home runs.
Rickey Henderson holds the all-time records for stolen bases in a career and in a season, and most career lead-off home runs and runs scored. He also finished his career with 3,055 hits and 297 home runs.