The best players to ever wear #15
Growing up, I became a Yankee fan because of my father’s love of the franchise; when he grew up in Northern New Jersey in the 1970s, his idol was none other than number 15 on the New York Yankees, Thurman Munson. Having inherited the number fifteen from my father, I wore the 1-5 on my back for almost every baseball game I have ever played in. Below, I wanted to take the time to recognize some of the greatest ball players to ever don the number fifteen in a Major League game.
Frank Thomas (1 Year)- A first ballot Hall of Famer, “The Big Hurt” finished his career with 521 HR and 1.704 RBI, winning the AL MVP in back to back years in 1993 and 1994. White Sox career leader in HR, RBI, doubles, XBH, BB, SLG, and OBP.
Johnny Mize (3 Year)- A ten-time All-Star and five time World Series Champion, “The Big Cat” led the NL in HR four times and RBI three times. Blended a powerful swing with a .312 career AVG, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.
Ron Santo (1 Year)- One of the greatest third basemen in baseball history, Santo was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, finishing his career with 70.4 WAR, ninth all-time amongst third baseman. Elected by the Gold Era Committee to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Red Ruffing (11 Years)- Winner of 273 games and six World Series Championships, got his nickname as a child because of the color of his hair. Thrived in New York, making six All-Star appearances, on his way to being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967. Played without four of the toes on his left foot after a mining accident.
Carlos Beltran (12 Years)- A decorated switch hitter, Beltran has appeared in nine All-Star games with four different franchises. A unique blend of power and speed, to this point, Beltran has 421 HR and 312 SB. One of the greatest postseason hitters of all time, with a career .323/.432/.646 slash line, 16 HR, and 41 RBI in fifty-five games.
Barry Larkin (2 Years)- Captain and shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, Ohio native led Reds to the 1990 World Series, finishing his career as a 12 time All-Star and nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner. The 1995 NL MVP, Larkin won the Roberto Clemente Award for service to the community, rounding out a resume that landed him in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
Jim Edmonds (10 Years)- One of the greatest defensive center fielders of the modern era, won eight Gold Gloves while anchoring the Cardinals playoff teams of the early 2000s. Finished his career with a World Series ring in 2006, and 393 Home Runs, before being voted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.
Dazzy Vance (1 Year)- The only pitcher to lead the NL in strikeouts for seven straight seasons, won the NL MVP in 1924, winning the pitching triple crown with a league leading 28 wins, 2.16 ERA, and 262 strike outs. Led the NL in wins and complete games twice, as well as ERA, and WHIP three times. A World Series Champion with the Reds in 1934, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
Jim Bunning (1 Year)- The only man to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and serve as a United States Senator, Bunning pitched his way to nine All-Star games, and 224 career wins. A three-time NL strikeout leader, Bunning threw no-hitters in both leagues, including a perfect game against the Mets on Father’s Day.
Tim Hudson (14 Years)- One of fifteen players to win a game against every team, and one of twenty-one pitchers to win at least 200 games, 2000 strikeouts, and have a winning percentage above .600. A member of the money ball Athletics, Hudson won 222 games, the 2010 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, and the 2014 World Series, while pitching three complete game one-hitters in his career.
Dick Allen (13 Years)- The 1964 Rookie of the Year, Allen led the league in HR twice, and OPS four times. A seven-time All-Star, reached his career peak by winning the 1972 AL MVP, when he led the league with 37 HR, 113 RBI, 99 BB, a .420 OBP, .603 SLG and 1.023 OPS. Rated by Bill James as the second-most controversial player in baseball history.
Joe Torre (9 Years) Punched his ticket into the Baseball Hall of Fame by managing the Yankees to four World Series championships and six appearances but finished his solid career as a nine-time All-Star, playing catcher, first base, and third base. The owner of a .297 AVG, 2342 hits and 252 HR, Torre won the 1971 NL MVP after leading the league with a .363 AVG, 230 hits, 137 RBI, and 353 total bases.
Dustin Pedroia (10 Years)- In his rookie season, won the AL Rookie of the Year, and led the Red Sox to their second World Series Championship in four seasons. The third player to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP in back-to-back seasons won the 2008 AL MVP after leading the league with 118 runs, 213 hits, and 54 doubles while hitting .326. A four-time All-Star, “The Laser Show” is known for displaying a swing much more powerful than expected from his 5ft 7in frame.
Hoyt Wilhelm (5 Years)- The first pitcher to appear in 1000 games, as well as the first to reach 200 saves, Wilhelm utilized the knuckleball en route to a twenty-year, Hall of Fame career. Holds the record for wins by a relief pitcher with 124, and was considered the first “relief ace” in baseball history. An eight-time All-Star, Wilhelm finished with a 2.52 ERA, good for top 50 of all time in a career that saw him pitch until the age of 50.
Thurman Munson (11 Years)- As captain of the Yankees, led the franchise to World Series Championships in 1977 and 1978. The 1970 AL Rookie of the Year and a three-time Gold Glove winner, Munson appeared in seven All-Star Games and was the center of the revived Yankee-Red Sox feud in the 1970s. Had his best personal season in 1976, winning the AL MVP after hitting .302 with 17 HR and 105 RBI, before having a historic postseason, hitting .435 to lead the Yankees past the Royals in the ALCS, before hitting .529 in the World Series and tying a record with six consecutive hits.