Since Major League Baseball was founded 140 years ago, close to 20,000 men have stepped between the foul lines and taken their turn at America's pasttime.
Thankfully, a handful of them have done their best to keep the spirit of Christmas alive throughout the baseball season.
So, with all apologies to my Jewish brothers (I'm looking your way Ryan Braun and Sandy Koufax) allow me to regale you with some thoughts on the longstanding partnership between baseball and December 25. I mean, what would the dog days of summer be like without such popular holiday staples like Ebenezer "Ed" Beatin, Frosty Thomas or even George Bailey?
And what about Charles Dickens Bold?
I don't know if he could write a story, but I do know that in his only at bat with the St. Louis Browns...he struck out.
Perhaps the classics aren't your thing and you'd rather hear a song?
No, no, Burl Ives never played baseball professionally...but both Brett and Jamey Carroll are active and I'm willing to bet they could hum you a tune.
"Granny Hamner got ran over by a Rob Deer" anyone? Anyone?!?
Maybe some jingling Bells ("Cool Papa" or Derek) are more your style. To be honest, you could fill a team full of them.
You'd be hard pressed to find a Santa or a Claus that played ball (former infielder Billy Klaus comes closest), but let's face it...without his four-legged friends, he's kinda worthless. And yeah, I'm talking about Dasher Troy, Rolff Dancer, the "Cuban Comet" Minnie Minoso, Cupid Childs and Joe "Blitzen" Benz.
But what about "the most famous reindeer of all"?
No...not "Reindeer Bill" Killefer. I'm talking about 152 game winner, and former Yankee hurler, Rudolph "Rudy" May.
Anyway, in the spirit of former catcher Steve Christmas...here are The Hall's Top Five Major Leaguers to remember this Christmas.
MATT HOLLIDAY, Outfield
Colorado Rockies (2004–2008), Oakland Athletics (2009) and St. Louis Cardinals (2009–present)
Holliday will enter 2011 with a career batting average of .317, 179 home runs and 691 RBI. The four-time All-Star was, in 2007, awarded the National League Championship Series MVP. Not too shabby.
J.T. SNOW, First Base
New York Yankees (1992), California Angels (1993–1996), San Francisco Giants (1997–2005), Boston Red Sox (2006) and San Francisco Giants (2008)
Known as a spectacular fielder, Snow won six-straight (1995-2000) Gold Gloves throughout his 16-year career. His career numbers...a .268 batting average, 1509 hits, 189 home runs and 877 RBI.
IVAN DeJESUS, Shortstop
Los Angeles Dodgers (1974-1976), Chicago Cubs (1977-1981), Philadelphia Phillies (1982-1984), St. Louis Cardinals (1985), New York Yankees (1986), San Francisco Giants (1987) and Detroit Tigers (1988)
Perhaps the most noteworthy accomplishment of DeJesus (other than somehow lasting 15 years in the Majors and leading the National League in runs scored in 1978)...being the punchline to the question "who did the Phillies trade future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg for again?"
COOKIE ROJAS, Second Base/Manager
As a player...Cincinnati Reds (1962), Philadelphia Phillies (1963–1969), St. Louis Cardinals (1970) and Kansas City Royals (1970–1977)
As a manager...California Angels (1988) and Florida Marlins (1996)
Rojas was a five-time All-Star in his 16 year playing career...and even made it to four straight games (1971-1974) while with the Royals. While with the Phillies, Rojas played at least one game at all nine positions in the field, including pitcher and catcher. As a manager, he posted a career 76-79 record.
As previous mentioned...you could put together an entire team of Bells. That said, Gus, Buddy and David make up a rare three-generation Major League family. In his 15-year career, Gus Bell hit .281 and was an All-Star four times. His son Buddy managed close to the same batting average (.279), while stacking up more than 2500 hits. From 1979 to 1984, he brought home six Gold Gloves. And lastly...David. In 2004, he hit for the cycle while with the Phillies...joining his grandfather to become the only grandfather-grandson duo in Major League history to accomplish the feat.