These days, it’s pretty hard for an athlete to change teams without getting a lot of attention. Thanks in large part to social media cycles and breaking news around the clock on television, we hear about any athlete that switches teams. For crying out loud, Timofey Mozgov’s signing with the Lakers was big news in the summer of 2016.
Players move around a lot in baseball, with the trade deadline in the middle of the season being one of the most active in all of the four major sports in the United States. Offseason signings for guys that were considered washed up or deemed too injured to play for big contracts have signed for some pretty random teams throughout the years. Just look at guys like Ivan Rodriguez (Yankees, Astros, Nationals), Kerry Wood (Yankees, Indians) or Nomar Garciaparra (Cubs, Dodgers) in recent years that you probably forgot about.
Then there are those players that joined some really random teams, to the point where the jerseys and trading cards that were printed have since become high valued collectors items. Here are the top 15 players that wore random jerseys that you probably won’t be finding in stores, but can make some good cash if you do.
15 Anthony Rizzo
In 2007, Anthony Rizzo was selected by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the MLB Draft. Unfortunately, Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the next year, but bounced back to become a solid prospect. Rizzo was dealt to the Padres after the 2010 season with three other players for Adrian Gonzalez. Rizzo made 49 appearances for San Diego, batting just .141 with one home run.
14 John Smoltz
Michigan native John Smoltz was drafted by the local Detroit Tigers, but was traded to the Braves before making his Major League debut. In 1988, Smoltz would get his chance and played with the Braves all the way through the 2008 season with the exception of the 2000 season due to Tommy John surgery. Smoltz made eight All Star Game appearances and racked up a record of 210-147 with a 3.26 ERA in his 20 seasons in Atlanta.
13 Trevor Hoffman
One of the greatest relief pitchers of all-time, Trevor Hoffman posted 601 saves in his illustrious career and an impressive ERA of 2.87. You will, of course, remember that Hoffman played most of his career with the Padres. When he went to the Brewers in 2009, people were a bit surprised that he wouldn’t spend his entire career with San Diego, but what they didn’t know is that the Padres weren’t even his first Major League team.
12 Dwight Gooden
As a 19 year old that debuted with the New York Mets in 1984, many people thought that Dwight Gooden had the chance to become one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. He certainly looked like it at first, reaching four All Star Games in his first five seasons. Gooden would remain with the Mets until 1994 until he was suspended for the entire 1995 season. The attention was still on Gooden, who signed with the Yankees upon his return.
11 Reggie Jackson
People remember the famous afro and the young talent of Reggie Jackson when he was with the Athletics organization when they made the move from Kansas City to Oakland. We all also remember when he became Mr. October as a member of the Yankees, winning two World Series rings with the team (bringing his total to five). He then ended his career after five seasons with the Angels and one last fling in Oakland.
10 Yogi Berra
Another player that will always be fondly remembered as one of the great Yankees of all-time, Yogi Berra is perhaps the greatest catcher to ever play. Berra made his Yankees debut in 1946 and appeared to be a lifer after making every All Star Game between 1948 and 1962. 1963 saw limited playing time for Berra, who retired at the age of 38 and didn’t play in the 1964 season. However, Berra would manage the Yankees during that season.
9 Harmon Killebrew
Before the steroid era came into baseball, Harmon Killebrew was easily one of the best power hitters that the sport had ever seen. The 11-time All Star led the American League in home runs six times and he became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. Killebrew made his debut with the Washington Senators, who would later become the Minnesota Twins. For 20 years, Killebrew remained with the same franchise.
8 Wade Boggs
Casual baseball fans mostly know that Wade Boggs was a memorable player for the Boston Red Sox for a decade and then continued his great career with the Yankees in the mid 90s. For 12 straight years that spanned over his time in Boston and New York, Boggs made the American League All Star team. After that, you are more likely to remember Boggs getting into a bar fight with town drunk Barney Gumble on The Simpsons or even the episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where the gang tries to pound beers before you remember his other Major League stint.
7 Randy Johnson
When it came to intimidating pitchers, “The Big Unit” Randy Johnson was about as scary as they come. At 6’10”, Johnson was a power pitcher that was consistently getting over 100 miles per hour on his fastball. Johnson came up with the Montreal Expos (which a lot of people actually forget) until he was traded to the Mariners. Seattle made Johnson famous, but he also had memorable stops with the Diamondbacks and Yankees.
6 Hank Aaron
Making it to 21 All Star Games in a row is something that we will probably never see again and, with steroids mostly out of baseball, we probably aren’t going to be seeing someone eclipse 755 home runs either. Hank Aaron did both of those things throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, though, making him one of the greatest players of all-time. Aaron was with the Braves in 1954 and was still on the team when they moved to Atlanta in 1966.
5 Mike Piazza
Considered to be one of the best hitting catchers to play in the Major Leagues, Mike Piazza became a big star in the 1990s as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then in the late 90s/early 2000s, over the span of eight seasons, Piazza was a member of the Mets where he was just as popular as ever. In the twilight of his career, he played one season each with the Padres and Athletics, providing some decent batting statistics still as he neared 40 years old.
4 Willie Mays
When bringing up the greatest baseball player argument, a lot of the sport’s historians talk about “The Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays. Mays put up monstrous numbers with 3,283 career hits, 660 home runs and 1,903 runs batted in while stealing 338 bases. Mays won a Rookie of the Year Award and had 19 All Star appearances with the Giants as they moved from New York to San Francisco.
3 Manny Ramirez
Despite collecting more than 2,500 base hits and a total of 555 home runs, Manny Ramirez is always known for being a larger than life personality. The former Rookie of the Year made a huge splash in the 1990s with the Indians as he helped the team make it to the 1997 World Series. In 2001, Ramirez joined the Red Sox where he won two World Series titles. Even with the Dodgers from 2008-2010, Ramirez enjoyed success.
2 Pete Rose
Whether you like him or not (or even believe him or not), Pete Rose is the all-time hits leader in Major League Baseball history. Rose came up with the Reds in 1963 and played through the 1978 season. Rose would win two titles with the team before departing to Philadelphia where he made four All Star appearances in his five seasons (and had 17 total). Rose would end his career with Cincinnati, but there was one stop in between that’s frequently forgotten.
1 Babe Ruth
“The Sultan of Swat,” “The Bambino” or simply “The Babe,” whatever you wanted to call him, many would call him the greatest to ever trot onto a baseball diamond. Babe Ruth set just about every record in baseball during his time, including home runs, RBIs, walks and more (though some would eventually be broken). While his most memorable years were with the Yankees, people still know that he was a member of the Red Sox first thanks to the “Curse of the Bambino.”
What most people assume, however, is that Ruth retired as a Yankee. In fact, he would return to Boston to end his career, but it was with the Braves. Ruth played in 28 games in that final 1935 season, but he batted a paltry .181 with six home runs. He knew that he was done and decided to retire early in the season, ending his great career.
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