The Diamond King has kicked off another A→Z Challenge. The original was created by The Collector last month when he asked his readers to make a list of favorite musicians from A to Z. The Diamond King is looking for bloggers to step into the batter's box and list their favorite baseball players based the first letter in their last name.
Although half of the letters were "no brainers" for me... I spent over an hour sifting through scans and binders coming up with my responses for the other letters.
Here are my favorites...
A - Jose Altuve
2011 Topps Update #US132
Before the trash can incident... Altuve was one of my favorite players in baseball. I don't think I've purchased a single card of his since... but I am rooting for him to prove his doubters that he can win batting titles without buzzers.
B - Barry Bonds
1987 Topps #320
I refuse to apologize for being a fan of Barry. He was one of the most entertaining players in the game for well over a decade.
Nothing like kicking off a Blog Bat-Around with back to back controversial picks.
C - Steve Carlton
1965 Topps #477
One of my favorite pitchers of all-time.
D - Yu Darvish
2012 Archives Fan Favorites Autographs #YD
The D's were challenging. Doug DeCinces, Ron Darling, Dave Dravecky, and Josh Donaldson were all players I considered... but if I were going to build a PC around any of these guys... it'd be Darvish.
E - Dennis Eckersley
2007 UD Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #SPS-EC
Eck was an obvious pick... but only because there just weren't many options to choose from.
F - Freddie Freeman
2007 Bowman Chrome #BDPP12
I came close to choosing Mark Fidrych... but decided to go with Freeman. There are only about ten MLB players outside of Oakland and San Diego that I actively root for and he's one of them.
G - Tony Gwynn
1979 TCMA Ogden A's #9
The second biggest no-brainer in this challenge.
I - Travis Ishikawa
2003 Bowman Chrome #341
One thing I learned from this challenge is that there are a lot of Japanese guys with last names that begin with I: Iwakuma, Ishii, Igawa, Irabu, Iwamura, and Ishikawa. Ishikawa is sort of a fan favorite in the Bay Area, so I went with him.
J - Derek Jeter
1997 Topps Rookie of the Year Autograph #NNO
Reggie Jackson was the first guy who popped into my head... but then I remembered Jeter. And even though Reggie played ten seasons in Oakland... and Jeter broke the hearts of A's fans... I like the latter more. He's just more of a likable guy.
K - Clayton Kershaw
2015 Strata Clearly Authentic Autographed Relic #CAAR-CKW
Yup. I'm one of those fans who root for players even when they play on teams I'm not a fan of.
L - Ramon Laureano
2019 Topps Chrome Rookie Autograph Refractor #RA-RL
Laureano has the honor of being my current favorite player on my favorite team.
M - Greg Maddux
1997 Leaf #36
The third biggest no-brainer in this challenge.
N - Hideo Nomo
1995 SP Die-cut #14
C'mon... admit it. Nomo-mania was awesome! If you were a baseball fan in the mid 90's... there's a pretty good chance you were a fan of Nomo.
O - Shohei Ohtani
2018 Topps Chrome Sepia Refractor #150
I originally had David Ortiz in this spot, but at this moment in time... it's hard not to enjoy Ohtani's game.
P - Kirby Puckett
1984 Fleer Update #U-93
Puckett was one of my favorite players not named Gwynn, Henderson, or Maddux during the 80's and 90's.
Q - Dan Quisenberry
1981 Fleer #31
The only other guy whose last name begins with a Q that comes to mind is Jamie Quirk. But that's not the only reason Quisenberry made this list. I was a huge fan of his submarine delivery back in the day.
R - Jackie Robinson
1956 Topps #30
I tried my best to limit my selections to players I watched during their career... but I just couldn't ignore Jackie Robinson's legacy and contributions to the game of baseball. Plus... this is my favorite card in my collection and I love showing it off.
S - Ichiro Suzuki
1993 BBM #239
This was the hardest decision of this challenge, because there are two Suzuki's I love, love, love collecting. I ended up choosing Ichiro... because of his legacy. Sorry Kurt.
T - Fernando Tatis Jr.
2016 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP17
Tatis is one of the most exciting players in baseball... and he happens to be on my second favorite team. Had I attempted this challenge two years ago, The Big Hurt would represent the T's.
U - Bob Uecker
1963 Topps #126
Never saw Uecker play... but always enjoyed his Miller Lite commercials. Plus Julio Urias, Jose Uribe, and Willie Upshaw were the only other guys who came to mind, so his competition was limited.
V - Fernando Valenzuela
2005 Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #FV
There's just something about the Dodgers and foreign pitchers who have the ability to entertain an entire sports' fans. I'm glad I witnessed first-hand Fernando-mania.
W - Ted Williams
1956 Topps #5
I've always admired guys who could hit for average. Rumor has it that Teddy fits the bill.
Y - Carl Yastrzemski
2001 Topps Team Legends Autographs #550
I've never claimed to be a Yastrzemski fan... but the Y's are limited. Originally... I was going to make this a multi-sport post and use Kristi Yamaguchi as my athlete. But after re-reading The Diamond King's challenge... I stuck to baseball and Yaz is my Y pick. He narrowly beat out Jordan Yamamoto, Michael Young, and Christian Yelich.
Z - Barry Zito
2000 Topps Chrome #451
I almost copied The Diamond King's selection of Gus Zernial... because I love his 1952 Topps card. However I never saw him play... but I did watch Zito play several times in Oakland and across the bay in San Francisco.
I'm sure as soon as I start reading some of your posts and picks... I'll make some revisions to my selections. For now... I'm happy with my choices... even if it meant leaving off favorites like Dwight Gooden, Masanori Murakami, Kurt Suzuki, and Frank Thomas.
Feel free to comment down below people you like or dislike from my list. And thank you Kevin and Chris for inspiring these challenges.
Happy Saturday and sayonara!
Here's my response to The Collector's A→Z Music Challenge:
Alan Parsons Project
Bruce Hornsby & The Range
They Might Be Giants/Tribe Called Quest
***Don't actually own CD's or albums of these artists