When you talk about your favorite baseball players past or present, you picture them in the uniform of the team they played the majority of their career with. Today, when you see Jimmy Rollins batting for the White Sox, you would most likely remember him for his All-Star seasons with the Phillies.
When you think about Barry Bonds, you picture him in his Giants uniform bashing home runs into McCovey cove and not the skinny Barry Bonds wearing the Pirates jersey. While Bonds became an elite player in a Pirates uniform he smashed records while in a Giants uniform so to this day, we associate him most as a Giant.
There are many All-Star and Hall of Famers in baseball that played for a single team or twos for many season, but had a short stint with other teams that you would never have expected. When you look back at their careers, everything looks normal, then all of a sudden you see a little glimpse of them on another team and go, "huh?". Those stints are usually forgettable. Sometimes it can be because a long time star is traded when his game starts slipping, or in an attempt to hang onto their careers they take a short-term contract on a random team. Now, let's get to the characters that you'll find on this list.
Some of these guys were traded early in their careers. Some were rental players dealt at the trade deadline. Others were just veterans who wanted to play as long as they could.
Here are my top 15 “He Played For Them?” baseball players.
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15 Mike Piazza - Florida Marlins
The all-time leader for home runs for a catcher was most well known for his time as a Los Angeles Dodger and New York Met and will be wearing a Mets hat on his plaque when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.
What also will be included on that plaque is “Florida Marlins, NL 1998”. In the early part of the 1998 season, the Dodgers traded the power hitting catcher to the Marlins. After playing only five games for them, the Marlins dealt Piazza to the Mets, where he went on to hit 220 home runs, making six All-Star game appearances, and a trip to the World Series in 2000.
14 Ozzie Smith - San Diego Padres
Ozzie Smith or “The Wizard”, had a long successful career with the St. Louis Cardinals. The 13 time Gold Glove winning played 15 seasons in St. Louis appearing in 14 All Star games, collecting 1,944 hits there, and helped them win a World Series in 1982.
Before becoming an all-time Cardinal great, Smith began his career in San Diego, playing four seasons as a Padre. Smith won two Gold Gloves in San Diego and was selected to one All Star game. On December 10th, 1981 the Padres and Cardinals swapped shortstops, as the Padres received Garry Templeton in the trade who played 10 seasons for the Padres.
13 Nolan Ryan - New York Mets
Arguably, some would say that Nolan Ryan is the best pitcher in MLB history. The first ballot Hall of Famer is known for his time with the California Angels in the 1970s and then dominating in the state of Texas playing for the Astros and Rangers in the back end of his career.
Many forget that Ryan began his career in a New York Mets uniform, playing four seasons for them including the magical season of 1969 when the Mets won their first World Series. The Mets traded Ryan to the Angels in 1971 for third baseman Jim Fregosi in what some say to be one of the worst trades in MLB history.
12 Pedro Martinez - Philadelphia Phillies
Pedro Martinez was most well known for his time as the ace of the Boston Red Sox. The Dominican born pitcher won 117 games, two Cy Young awards, and a World Series in 2004 during his time in Boston. Martinez also spent time with the Montreal Expos and New York Mets, appearing in four All Star games.
Some may forget that Pedro ended his career in 2009 with the Phillies when he was signed in August. He won five games for them down the stretch and even got to pitch in the World Series that season, which turned out to be his last appearance in the big leagues. It wasn’t the best postseason for Pedro, as he took two losses for the Phillies.
11 Willie Mays - New York Mets
Willie Mays is widely recognized as one of the greatest center fielders in MLB history. Mays was a 24 time All-Star, two-time NL MVP, 12 time Gold Glove award winner, a World Series champion and is remembered for one of the most iconic catches in baseball history, making an over the shoulder catch against the Indians in the 1954 World Series.
Mays ended his career where it began, in New York. But it was in a New York Mets uniform, not the old New York Giants. Mays was at the end of his long career and only batted .238 for the Mets and hit 14 home runs. It was a treat for former New York Giant fans to cheer on a old face on their new team.
10 Matt Holliday - Oakland Athletics
Matt Holliday has had a pleasant career with both the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals. In Colorado, Holliday batted .319 and helped lead the Rockies to their first World Series appearance in 2007. Holliday has been playing for the Cardinals the past eight seasons, appearing in four All Star games and won a World Series in 2011.
In between these two teams, Holliday played for the Oakland Athletics for the 2009 season. Holliday appeared in 93 games that year and batted .286 a career low at the time. The Rockies got some guy named Carlos Gonzalez in that trade. I wonder what that he’s up to now.
9 C.C. Sabathia - Milwaukee Brewers
C.C. Sabathia spent the first eight seasons of his career playing for the Cleveland Indians, winning 106 games. The past eight seasons Sabathia has pitched for the New York Yankees, winning 100 games and being a key part of their 2009 World Series team when he won 19 games.
In between these two teams, Sabathia pitched a half a season for the Milwaukee Brewers when he was traded to them from the Indians at the trade deadline in 2008. Sabathia was great down the stretch for the Brewers going 11-2 and helped the Brewers clinch the Wild Card.
However, Sabathia didn’t pitch well in the NLDS taking a loss for the Brewers against the Phillies.
8 Lou Brock - Chicago Cubs
Lou Brock was one of the best players at swiping bags in MLB history. He currently ranks second on the all-time stolen base list with 938 steals. The longtime Cardinal played 16 seasons in St. Louis, winning two World Series, was a six time All-Star, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Before Brock was stealing all of those bases in St. Louis, he played four seasons for their rivals, the Chicago Cubs. Brock was dealt to the Cardinals on June 10th, 1964 in one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history.
7 Tom Seaver - Boston Red Sox
Most baseball fans would agree that Tom Seaver is the face of the franchise for the New York Mets. Seaver won 198 games with the Mets, three Cy Young awards, appeared in 10 All Star games with them, and helped lead them to their first World Series title in 1969. Following the Mets, Seaver pitched for Cincinnati winning 75 games as a Red.
His final year of his career in 1986, Seaver pitched for the Boston Red Sox winning five games for them. It just so happened that the Red Sox faced the Mets in the World Series that season, however Seaver could not pitch in that series due to a knee injury.
6 Andre Dawson - Florida Marlins
Andre Dawson had a successful career with both the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs. The power hitting righty clubbed 438 home runs, drove in 1,591 runs, and won the National League MVP in 1987.
At the end of his career, Dawson had a two year stint with the Florida Marlins. During his tenure there, Dawson only appeared in 121 games and hit 10 home runs. Years later, Dawson would take a front office job with the team and would win his first World Series ring when the Marlins won it all in 2003.
5 Trevor Hoffman - Florida Marlins
Trevor Hoffman will go down as one of the best closers in baseball history. The longtime closer for the San Diego Padres finished his career with 601 saves, which was a record at the time until it was broken by Mariano Rivera a few years later. Hoffman will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next season, in which he will more than likely be a first ballot guy.
Before heading to San Diego to pitch for 16 seasons, Hoffman spent one year in Florida pitching for the Marlins. Hoffman had two saves for the Marlins before being dealt mid-season to the Padres for slugger outfielder Gary Sheffield.
4 Curt Schilling - Houston Astros
Curt Schilling was one of the most clutch postseason pitchers to ever play the game. Despite playing most of his career for the Philadelphia Phillies, Schilling will be remembered for his clutch pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox where he won three World Series (one with Diamondbacks and two with Red Sox). In 2001, he was Co-MVP of the World Series with teammate Randy Johnson.
Some might forget that Schilling had a brief stint with the Houston Astros in 1991. That season Schilling went 3-5 with a 3.81 ERA before signing with Philadelphia the following season.
3 Wade Boggs - Tampa Bay Devil Rays
If the Boston Red Sox had a Mount Rushmore of their greatest hitters, Wade Boggs would be on there. The third baseman finished with 2,098 hits in Boston. He later went on to play five seasons with the Yankees where he won his first and only World Series in 1996.
Boggs went on to finish his career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, where he hit his 3,000th hit. Even though he only played two seasons in Tampa Bay, the Devil Rays retired his number 12.
2 Ken Griffey Jr. - Chicago White Sox
Just like Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr will be making a trip to Cooperstown this July to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Griffey spent 13 seasons playing for the Seattle Mariners and nine seasons playing for the Cincinnati Reds. He was a 13 time All-Star, the 1997 American League MVP, and belted 630 home runs during his career. The slugger was also phenomenal with his glove, winning 10 Gold Glove awards in a row.
Griffey ended his career doing a homecoming with the Mariners for the 2009-2010 season. However, in 2008, Griffey played a half a season in Chicago for the White Sox. In 41 games, Griffey hit .260 and smashed three home runs.
1 Reggie Jackson - Baltimore Orioles
Reggie Jackson had a long successful Hall of Fame career over his 21 big league seasons. Some remember him during his 10 years as a Oakland Athletic. Some remember him as a Yankee hitting those three home runs in one game during the 1977 World Series. Some remember his five seasons as a California Angel in which he makes a cameo in the movie “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad”.
I bet no one remembers that Jackson played one season as a Baltimore Oriole. Before he went to the Yankees, Jackson played one season for the Orioles in 1976. Jackson hit 27 home runs and drove in 91 runs that season.
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