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The All Time Hardcore Team


Moose Milligan

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... This opens up the position to the true titleholder for the position: Rogers Hornsby.

There's no question but what Rajah was a cantankerous fellow to deal with. His Wikipedia entry includes a few details I hadn't heard before.

... One writer characterized him as "a liturgy of hatred," and according to baseball writer Fred Lieb, Hornsby confessed to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan.... When Hornsby was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Giants after the 1926 season, the deal was held up because Hornsby, as part of his contract as the manager of the Cardinals (he was a player-manager at the time), owned several shares of stock in the Cardinals. Cardinals owner Sam Breadon offered Hornsby a sum for the stock considerably lower than what Hornsby demanded for it, and neither would budge. Eventually, the other owners of the National League made up the difference, and the trade went through.... Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis,... called Hornsby into his office to reproach him for playing the horses—which was Hornsby's only real recreation outside of baseball (even after he retired). Landis did not intimidate Rogers; Hornsby recriminated Landis by pointing out that the commissioner was playing the stock market with funds from his office and this would cause a scandal if Hornsby exposed it. Naturally, Landis relented about Hornsby's horseplaying.

One of the reasons the Cardinals traded Hornsby was that he was usually on the outs with his GM, Branch Rickey, and the owner, Sam Breadon. Back in those days, the Cardinals picked up extra money during the season by playing exhibitions with their farm teams. They were scheduled to play the Rochester Red Wings on one off date, but Hornsby sent his starting players on to New York and fielded a team of scrubs in Rochester, disappointing fans who wanted to see the star players.

It's also illuminating that, even though Hornsby hit .361 for the Giants in 1927 and led the league in runs scored, walks, and on base percentage, he was traded to the Braves after just the one season in New York. In 1928, he led the league in hitting with a .387 average and then got traded to the Cubs. Hornsby responded by driving in 156 runs for the Cubs, the most in the National League during the 20th century.

However, I would also nominate Eddie Stankey, at least as a backup to the Rajah. From his Wikipedia entry,...

Leo Durocher once summed up Stanky's talents: "He can't hit, can't run, can't field. He's no nice guy... all the little SOB can do is win." Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto still complained years later about a play during the 1951 World Series where Stanky kicked the ball loose from Rizzuto's glove. One season, whenever he was the runner on third base, Stanky developed the habit of standing several feet back of the bag, in left field. If a fly ball was hit, he would time its arc, then take off running so as to step on third base just as the catch was being made. In this way he would be running towards home at full speed from the beginning of the play, making it almost impossible to throw him out. This tactic was made illegal following the season. Stanky was also (in)famous for what came to be called "the Stanky maneuver", where he would take advantage of his position on second base to distract opposing batters by jumping up and down and waving his arms behind the pitcher.

There are probably a few other players who were just as nasty, but whose notoriety didn't come down to us as well.

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Also known as the All Time Hardass Team.

I'm watching Ken Burns' Baseball on the MLB network right now and they're talking about John McGraw and the old Orioles.

I'm sorry to say, but the old school guys did it right. Spiking, sabotaging umpires, brawling, cheating, and just being general bastards. This game would be so much more interesting these days if players still played with the same attitude they did at the turn of the century.

Don't know how I missed this thread until now... but I'm not sure the old school guys did it "right". They were just a lot more hardcore. I think the average guy was a little more hardcore in 1880 or 1890 than today. Baseball was kind of like hockey today in the 1890s - it was a contact sport, or close to it. It was expected that you'd get into some rough stuff on the bases. It was commonplace to get into fistfights on and off the field. With players and umpires. There are documented incidents where brawls turned ugly and the only thing that saved opposing players or umps from being lynched (I mean actually killed or maimed by an out-of-control mob of fans) was the intervention of a hometown player.

Much of what went on in the 1890s would get a person arrested today. Could you imagine if a current Oriole went up to the ump (and there was only one back then), stomped on his feet with sharpened metal spikes, screamed in his face, shoved him a couple times, then slugged him in the jaw? That kind of thing really did happen pretty frequently.

But it wasn't popular. I mean, sure it has its fans. But ballplayers were thought of as thugs. Sometimes they weren't allowed to stay at better hotels. Many, many parents forbid their daughters from dating ballplayers, or their sons from playing ball. Ban Johnson started the American League and probably owed no small part of its success on the idea that it was the "clean" league. He didn't put up with that kind of crap. When McGraw refused to stop brawling, Johnson banned him indefinitely. By the end of the 1890s attendance was down, and four teams got contracted. Although I guess you could argue that the economy and syndicate baseball had a lot to do with that, too.

But anyway, if you really want to get a list like this right, about 80% of the players on it have to be from the 1880-1900 era. You could probably list most of the NL Orioles, en masse. Even the little guys like Keeler weren't above scrapping, and some even had nicknames based on their hotheadedness, like Dirty Jack Doyle.

Patsy Tebeau of Cleveland may have been even worse than McGraw. He ran the Spiders, and they were short on talent. So he tried to make up for it by out-dirtying the competition.

Roger Bresnahan, the Hall of Famer, was another brawler. Bill James once wrote that his main goal in life was to become John McGraw. And he didn't mean by being a great third baseman or OBP champ.

Jesse "The Crab" Burkett didn't get his nickname for his sunny disposition.

Cap Anson was what used to be called a blowhard. Probably a bully, too. Someone who ruled the Chicago Colts and his personal life through the sheer volume of his voice and at least the threat of violence. While it's a big stretch to say he was the driving force behind segregation in baseball, he certainly didn't help. And he was a big guy for his time, over 6' and 200 lbs, and was quick to use that to his advantage in arguments and disputes on and off the field.

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You must spread some reputation before giving any to Drungo Hazewood again. :)

Good, common sense post, though. The "good old days" generally weren't nearly so good as we remember them, much less as good as they get passed down to us by those who were around at the time. Many of us would have difficulties tolerating the conditions under which our parents and grand parents lived, working 60 or 70 hour weeks in factories or in the fields under a hot sun -- or more -- for very meager wages, walking or riding a bike or horse instead of driving a car; if they drove a car, the roads were often terrible. No FDA, no antibiotics, lots of babies and women dying in childbirth or in the epidemics that periodically ravaged the population.

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You must spread some reputation before giving any to Drungo Hazewood again. :)

Good, common sense post, though. The "good old days" generally weren't nearly so good as we remember them, much less as good as they get passed down to us by those who were around at the time. Many of us would have difficulties tolerating the conditions under which our parents and grand parents lived, working 60 or 70 hour weeks in factories or in the fields under a hot sun -- or more -- for very meager wages, walking or riding a bike or horse instead of driving a car; if they drove a car, the roads were often terrible. No FDA, no antibiotics, lots of babies and women dying in childbirth or in the epidemics that periodically ravaged the population.

But a hotdog and a Coke was a nickle!

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Juan Marichal? Is one swing of the bat enough, even if later regretted and repudiated? Marichal threw at 2 Dodgers first. And he's now like 71 and he still goes to cock-fights and corrupts Pedro Martinez.

Meh, I dunno because he is by many reports a really good guy.

On August 22nd 1965, Juan Marichal faced Sandy Koufax in the midst of a heated pennant race. The Giants and Dodgers had almost brawled just two days earlier over catcher's interference calls, when the batter tips the catcher's mitt as he swings. Los Angeles star shortstop Maury Wills had allegedly tipped the Giant's catcher's mitt with his bat on purpose in that contest, and Juan Marichal's best friend, outfielder Matty Alou had in turn tipped the edge of Dodger's catcher John Roseboro's facemask with his bat. Roseboro, in retaliation, had nearly hit Alou in the head with his toss back to the pitcher. This set the stage two days later for an ugly incident in Juan Marichal's life, a black eye on what was otherwise a brilliant Hall of Fame career.

In the game of August 22nd, Marichal had knocked down Wills and Dodger Ron Fairly with brush back pitches when Roseboro supposedly asked Koufax to hit Marichal with a pitch. Tensions were high and when Koufax refused, Roseboro's return throw came close to hitting Marichal in the head. The resulting name calling erupted into a melee when the irate Dodger receiver ripped off his mask and stood up. Suddenly, Marichal struck the catcher on the head with his bat and one of the most violent brawls in Major League Baseball history started. Willie Mays of the Giants helped the stunned Roseboro, now suffering from a concussion, to the dugout, while Dodger Bob Miller went after Marichal. Matty Alou punched Miller, and second baseman Tito Fuentes of the Giants threatened to use his own bat on the Dodgers.

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To go in a way different direction, but the toughest, most hardcore player in baseball history is probably Jackie Robinson.

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Much love to Earl, but if its a "modern" manager, Billy Martin gotta manage this team.

In 1969 during his tenure as manager of the Minnesota Twins, he beat up his star pitcher Dave Boswell and was fired. In 1974 with the Texas Rangers, he popped the team’s 64-year-old traveling secretary in a fight over a proposed club for the team’s wives. Hired back as manager of the Yankees in 1977, he took the team to a world title, but was, at one point, seen battling with Reggie Jackson in the dugout during a nationally televised game, and was again relieved of his position. In 1979—again managing in Minnesota—he clobbered a marshmallow salesman.
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To go in a way different direction, but the toughest, most hardcore player in baseball history is probably Jackie Robinson.

A very different direction: Discipline and restraint under incredible stress and fire.

Which is why the Dodgers picked him to be The Guy.

I think most of us have no clue what that was like for him.

It probably helped kill him. His wife said it did.

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Much love to Earl, but is its a "modern" manager Billy Martin gotta manage this team.

That's fair.

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I think he's on the team because he was a mean SOB that no one liked. I don't believe he had any intention of killing Ray Chapman.

Oh, I'm not saying he meant to kill Chapman, but as you said everyone hated him. Also, killing a guy is pretty intimidating.

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