Ryne Sandberg, Spokane's own.
Baseball’s greatest players square off today at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati. The American and National League squads are loaded with talent, but one could argue that neither team would be able to handle an all-time all-star team of Pacific Northwest natives.
Five Hall of Famers grew up in the Northwest, including Spokane’s Ryne Sandberg. Northwest natives have led leagues in various hitting, pitching and field categories. They’ve also won league awards for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young (pitching), Gold Glove (defense) and Silver Slugger (hitting).
Position by position, we’ve put together an all-star team consisting of Washington, Oregon and Idaho natives. Our roster includes ex-Washington State Cougars like Ron Cey (a former Spokane Indians star) and John Olerud as well as Gonzaga University/Gonzaga Prep product Mike Redmond. Baseball-Reference.com was the primary source for some players’ high schools; debate exists over the alma maters of a few old-timers. Cities are listed if a player’s high school and city are different.
Mickey Lolich (Lincoln, Portland): The portly southpaw led the American League with 25 victories in 1971, but that may have been the least impressive of his league-leading numbers. Lolich also ranked first with 376 innings pitched, 308 strikeouts, 45 starts and 29 complete games. By comparison, last year’s major league leaders recorded 21 wins, 248 1-3 innings, 271 strikeouts, 34 starts and six complete games. Lolich compiled a 217-191 record in 16 seasons. That doesn’t count his 3-0 record in the 1968 World Series, when he was named Series MVP after leading Detroit past St. Louis. BACKUP:
Mel Stottlemyre (Mabton). Stottlemyre had the misfortune of playing for the New York Yankees during a down period, but few active pitchers will approach his 40 shutouts or 152 complete games. The right-hander from tiny Mabton in south-central Washington compiled a 164-139 record (with three 20-win seasons) and 2.97 earned run average from 1964-74 before an arm injury ended his career. Stottlemyre, a former Seattle Mariners pitching coach, played junior college ball at Yakima (Wash.) Valley under Bobo Brayton before the latter began his legendary coaching career at Washington State.
John Olerud (Interlake, Bellevue). The former Mariners and WSU star won three Gold Gloves and played in two All-Star Games. In 17 seasons, Olerud hit .295 with 255 home runs and 500 doubles. Olerud keyed world champion Toronto in 1993 by leading the AL in batting (.363). BACKUP:
Jack Fournier (Aberdeen). Hit .313 with 136 homers in 15 seasons. A notoriously poor fielder, Fournier led the National League with 27 homers for the 1934 Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers.
Ryne Sandberg (North Central, Spokane). The Hall of Famer, who recently quit his post as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, hit .285 with 282 home runs and 344 stolen bases in 16 seasons. Sandberg won nine consecutive Gold Gloves and played in 10 straight All-Star Games for the Chicago Cubs. The 1984 National League MVP won seven Silver Slugger awards, and led the league at least once in home runs, triples, runs, fielding percentage, assists and double plays. BACKUP:
Joe Gordon (Jefferson, Portland). Another Hall of Famer, Gordon hit .268 with 253 home runs in 11 seasons with the Yankees and Cleveland. He claimed American League MVP honors in 1942. Gordon was selected to play in nine consecutive All-Star Games, excluding three years of military duty during World War II.
Ron Santo (Franklin, Seattle). Santo overcame diabetes to make the Hall of Fame, batting .277 with 342 home runs in 15 seasons. He won five consecutive Gold Gloves, hit 25 or more home runs eight years in a row and was named to the NL squad in the All-Star Game nine times with the Cubs. BACKUP:
Ron Cey (Mount Tahoma, Tacoma). Cey hit .261 with 316 home runs in 17 seasons. He belted 22 or more homers 10 times and represented the Dodgers in six All-Star Games after moving on from Washington State.
Johnny Pesky (Lincoln, Portland). The Boston Red Sox star led the AL with 200-plus hits each of his first three years in the bigs. Pesky hit just 17 home runs in 10 seasons, but he was a career .307 hitter with a .394 on-base percentage. BACKUP:
Willie Bloomquist (South Kitsap, Port Orchard). He’s played anywhere and everywhere for 14 seasons, making himself useful at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths. At 37, he’s enjoying his second tour of duty with the Mariners.
Bob Johnson (Stadium, Tacoma – formerly Tacoma High). Bob and older brother Roy recorded identical .296 career batting averages. Bob had far more power and clubbed 288 homers, 95 triples and 396 doubles in 13 seasons in the AL. He drove in more than 100 runs each year from 1935-41 with the Philadelphia (now Oakland) Athletics. Johnson earned seven All-Star Game invites. BACKUP:
Ken Williams (Grants Pass, Ore.). Williams was a .319 career hitter, with 196 homers in 14 seasons. In 1922, Williams hit .332 and led the AL with career highs of 39 home runs and 155 RBIs for the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles). He also had a career-best 37 stolen bases that season.
Earl Averill (Snohomish). Averill entered the Hall of Fame after batting .318 with 238 home runs in a 13-year career. In 1936, Averill led the AL with 232 hits and 15 triples and batted .378 with 28 homers and 126 RBIs for Cleveland. He struck out just 35 times in 682 plate appearances that season. Averill represented the AL in the first six All-Star Games. BACKUP:
Jacoby Ellsbury (Madras, Ore.). The former Oregon State star, now with the Yankees, put together a monster season with Boston in 2011. Ellsbury made his only All-Star Game appearance, won his only Gold Glove and established career highs with a .321 average, 32 home runs, 105 RBIs, 212 hits, 119 runs, 46 doubles, .376 on-base percentage, .552 slugging percentage and .928 OPS. He went errorless the entire season.
Dale Murphy (Wilson, Portland). Murphy averaged 36 home runs and 105 RBIs for Atlanta from 1982-87. Murphy was the NL’s Most Valuable Player in ’82 and ’83, when he received two of his seven All-Star Game invitations. He hit .265 with 398 home runs in 18 seasons. BACKUP:
Roy Johnson (Stadium, Tacoma – formerly Tacoma High). Johnson led the AL with 45 doubles as a rookie with Detroit in 1929. He posted a .296 career average in 10 seasons, albeit with just 58 home runs.
Sammy White (Lincoln, Seattle). White, who starred in basketball as well as baseball for the Washington Huskies, made the AL team in the 1953 All-Star Game. That season was the best of his 11 in the majors, as he registered career bests by hitting .282, pounding 14 homers and driving in 75 runs for the Red Sox. He also threw out 47 percent of would-be basestealers. BACKUP:
Mike Redmond (Gonzaga Prep, Spokane). The recently fired Miami Marlins manager hit .287 with a .991 fielding average in 13 seasons, primarily in a backup role with Florida (now Miami) and Minnesota. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Gonzaga University, Redmond had just 133 extra-base hits.
Harmon Killebrew (Payette, Idaho). A perennial all-star with the Minnesota Twins, Killebrew ranks 11th all-time with 573 homers. The Hall of Famer hit a modest .256 in 22 seasons, struggled wherever the Twins tried to hide him in the field and had nearly 1,700 strikeouts, but he blasted more than 40 homers eight times and topped 100 RBIs nine times. He was the American League MVP in 1969, when he set a career high with 140 RBIs and tied his career best of 49 home runs. BACKUP:
Jeff Heath (Garfield, Seattle). Heath hit .293 with 194 home runs in 14 seasons. In 1938 and ’41, the Indians star led the AL in triples, batted in the .340’s and drove in more than 110 runs. He later worked as a broadcaster for the Seattle Rainiers in the Pacific Coast League.
Randy Myers (Evergreen, Vancouver, Wash.). Myers ranks 11th in career saves with 347. He led the league in saves three times and was twice named Relief Pitcher of the Year. Myers, who played JC ball for his hometown Clark Penguins, posted a career-high 53 saves with the Cubs in 1993. BACKUP:
Gerry Staley (Battle Ground). Staley helped the 1959 Chicago White Sox reach the World Series (they lost to the Dodgers) by going 8-5 with a 2.24 ERA. He led the AL with 15 saves and 67 appearances. Staley recorded just 61 saves in 15 seasons, but he spent much of his career as a starter during an era when dominant relievers were uncommon. He finished his career with a 134-111 record and 3.70 ERA.