By Glen Sparks
Workers chiseled, jackhammered and dynamited for 14 years to turn a section of South Dakota’s Black Hills into the famous Mount Rushmore sculpture. Artist Gutzon Borglum’s monumental piece depicts U.S. presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, staring out into a vast expanse of rugged country. Each granite portrait stands about 60 feet high.
I mention this because Major League Baseball is asking fans to choose the four best players in every team’s history franchise history—the Franchise Four. (In other words, what players would be on your team’s Mount Rushmore?) Fans also can pick the four greatest players in the history of the Negro Leagues and among MLB pioneers and living players. Voting ends May 8. Results will be revealed at this year’s All-Star game, to be held July 14 at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
To make things a bit easier, MLB has nominated eight players for each team and category. Fans need to only check a box. Or, if they think a particular player has been slighted, they can type in a vote. (A little Mount Rushmore trivia: Borglum chose the four particular presidents for a reason. Washington represents the birth of the United States; Jefferson represents the expansion of the country through the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition; Lincoln represents the preservation of the Union; Roosevelt represents the development of the nation.)
The voting for a Franchise Four will be tough, especially for some of the more history-laden teams. Giants fans, for instance, can select Willie Mays, Christy Mathewson and Barry Bonds, but then most choose from among Willie McCovey, Mell Ott, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda for that final vote. Oh, and Buster Posey, too.
And, every player on the Yankee ballot is a Hall of Famer, or will be (Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera). Reggie Jackson didn’t make the cut, but he is among the Philadelphia/Oakland A’s list of candidates.
(Just a little more Mount Rushmore trivia: The carving began in 1927 and ended in 1941. Originally, the plan was to show each former chief executive from the waist up. Lack of funding did away with that idea.)
Of course, it’s fun looking at the ballots of some other teams. The Washington Nationals nominees include seven former Montreal Expos, plus current Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman. Meanwhile, Brandon Webb made the cut for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and James Shields is listed mong the Tampa Rays’ Great Eight.
Anyway, it should be fun, and I plan to vote for my nominees on all teams. I’ll also be posting my picks.