The big news today is, of course, the start of the 2009 World Series. It’s the Yankees and Phillies in the I-95 series – Cliff Lee vs. CC Sabathia; forty pennants vs. seven; 10,000 losses vs. 9,500 wins. It’s going to be a fun Series, especially for those living in the greater New Jersey area.
The other big news of the day is that it’s my birthday – as if you had to ask. It’s kind of weird: for most of my life, the World Series has been done and over with for a week or more by the time my birthday rolled around, but, here we are, still waiting to celebrate the start of Game 1 tonight. Is that progress?
Anyhow, I figured that since there was already tons being written about the Series tonight – It’s About the Money comes immediately to mind – I’d focus on today’s other momentous occasion. Who is the best player ever born on October 28? For that matter, who is the best player ever born on any given day? Can we come up with a calendar of Greatest Ever Birthdays?
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Using the Rally WAR database (which, again, still only goes through 2008), I found the players born on each day of the year with the most career WAR. For example, February 5th has a couple of memorable players born on that day – 1925 MVP shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh (40.4 career WAR) and the great Roberto Alomar (63.5). But neither of them are the greatest player ever born on that day because they happen to share their birthday with one Henry Aaron (141.6 career WAR). Hank obviously shoots to the top of that list. Not all birthdays have such a clear leader, though.
For my birthday, we find two-time All-Star pitcher Bob Veale (27.6 WAR) as the best ever player born on October 28. It’s not exactly the heady company I would’ve hoped for, but it could certainly be worse. November 15, for example, has 1950s All-Star outfielder Gus Bell and his 14.3 career WAR as its best ever birthday star. That’s the worst “greatest birthday star” on the calendar (though the next three are at 15.5 or below and were all born in February).
The single best birthdate, though, has to belong to November 21 (funnily enough, less than a week after the worst). That’s the day that both “The Man” (Musial) and “The Kid” (Griffey Jr.) were born. Not a bad day for Hall of Famers. (No post like this would be complete without pointing out that Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell were born on the exact same day – May 27, 1968 – and have ended their careers with near identical WAR totals – 75.9 for Frank and 79.9 for Bagwell. That’s freaky.)
I’ll leave things there for now. Feel free to take a look at the calendar of Top Birthday WAR. Who’s the greatest player ever born on your birthday? Can you top my Bob Veale (or even Juan Guzman? Nate McLouth? Jeremy Bonderman?)? I’d love to hear it.