This Year Produced the Greatest Future Baseball Players

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When were the most people born who would go on to be great baseball players or Hall of Famers? In other words, in which year were the greatest “baseball babies” produced?

1931: Welcome Willie, Mickey, and Ernie

The best birth year is either 1931 or 1934. Both years produced four future Hall of Famers, most of them iconic players. In 1931, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks, and Eddie Mathews all entered the world: they would win a combined seven MVP awards and hit more than 2,100 homers.

Three years later, Henry Aaron, Al Kaline, Roberto Clemente, and Luis Aparicio were born. Because of the importance of those players, one of those years ranks first: either 1931 or 1934. The Great Depression was a superb time to brew a baseball baby.

Hall of Famers Born in 1903: A Big Class

The most Hall of Famers were born in 1903, with eight: Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Paul Waner, Mickey Cochrane (for whom Mantle was named), Carl Hubbell, Tony Lazzeri, Travis Jackson, and Chick Hafey. Five of those men were outstanding players, among the best at their positions. They were stars in the Roaring 20s and Depression Eras.

Best Baseball Birth Years in the 1960s

Worth mentioning is 1968, when Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, and Roberto Alomar were born. Other notables born that year were Gary Sheffield, the maligned Sammy Sosa, curmudgeon Jeff Kent, and guitar-strumming Bernie Williams. That’s a talented group of babies.

A few years earlier, in 1960, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, and (also maligned) Kirby Puckett entered the world, as well as 26 players who would go on to at least 1,000 games in the majors.

1950s: Rickey and Wade in ’58

The 1958 baby crop was fruitful: future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, and Alan Trammell. The best pitcher born in 1958 was Orel Hershiser, who has a place on the Dodgers All-Time Team.

In 1954, four future HOFers entered the world: Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, and all-time great shortstop Ozzie Smith.

1983: Future Hall of Famers Born That Year

Eventually, 1983 will be one of the most productive birth years for Hall of Famers. That year produced both Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, each of whom will deservedly have their day in Cooperstown. Joe Mauer, who already has a Hall of Fame plaque, was also born in 1983.

Other great ballplayers born in 1983 include that baseball original, Joey Votto, Dustin Pedroia, and Cole Hamels. And talk about originals, the always entertaining and underrated Zack Greinke was born on October 21, 1983.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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