The 'All-Alabama/Notre Dame' MLB team
In anticipation of the BCS title game, let's put together an All-Star team of Irish and elephants.
|Carl Yastrzemski and Alex Avila are ... teammates? (Getty Images)|
When it comes to the actual BCS title game between Alabama and Notre Dame, the fine folks over at the college football page have you more than covered. But when it comes to contriving ways to tie baseball into all of this footballishness, we at Eye on Baseball will eagerly step into the breach.
In the service of doing just that, we've come up with the "All-Alabama/Notre Dame" team. As you may have already anticipated, this will be a baseball team. Thanks to Baseball-Reference, you can sort MLB players according to the upstanding undergraduate institutions into which they matriculated -- like, for instance, Alabama and Notre Dame.
And that's how we've come up with the All-Star team that follows, which is populated by major-leaguers who spent their "ramen noodles and crudely fashioned fake ID" days at either Alabama or Notre Dame.
Lettermen's jackets at the ready! Onward!
C -- Alex Avila, Alabama (2006-2008)
Sure, I could've gone with ND's Billy Sullivan, but Avila, who was drafted out of Alabama in 2008, owns a career OPS+ of 114 and, even at age 25, is regarded as a skilled handler of pitchers. He's one of just four Alabama products (the university, not the entire state) to appear in an All-Star Game.
1B -- Cap Anson, Notre Dame (1867-1868)
Rule of thumb: If you're a Hall of Famer, then you're going to make this ad-hoc All-Star team. Anson, while hardly a racial progressive, did tally 3,435 hits in his career and was one of baseball's biggest stars during the "primordial soup" days of the sport. Anson also spent time at the University of Iowa. That scholastically promiscuous cad!
2B -- Del Pratt, Alabama (1908-1909)
Across 13 major-league seasons, Pratt authored an OPS+ of 112 and played more than 1,600 games at second base. Pratt began his collegiate days at Auburn (of all places) but eventually wound up at Alabama as a textile-engineering student. In addition to being Alabama's star shortstop, Pratt also played football. A brief stint in law school preceded his major-league career. He earns this nod over the Fighting Irish's Craig Counsell.
3B -- Dave Magadan, Alabama
One can argue that there are better choices than Madagan to be found, but I'm a sucker for that .390 career OBP. I'm also a sucker for this: Magadan batted .525 (!!!) during his junior season at Bama. For his troubles, he was awarded the 1983 Golden Spikes Award.
SS -- Joe Sewell, Alabama (1919-1921)
Sewell, the only Crimson Tider in the Hall of Fame, went to Tuscaloosa to become a doctor, and while there he played baseball and football. Sewell signed after graduating (and after being voted senior class president), and the death of Ray Chapman hastened his arrival in Cleveland.
OF -- Carl Yastrzemski, Notre Dame (1958)
Yaz, an all-time great and a first-ballot Hall of Famer, attended Notre Dame on a baseball and basketball scholarship. However, after one year, the Red Sox offered him more than $100,000 to sign (in addition to paying for the remainder of his education).
OF -- Cy Williams, Notre Dame (1910-1912)
While at Notre Dame, Williams, in addition to playing baseball, lettered in track and was a football teammate of a forgettable bench-warmer by the name of Knute Rockne. After graduating with a sheepskin in architecture, Williams passed up a chance to compete in the 1912 Olympics in order to sign with the Cubs. Wise move. For a number of seasons, Williams was the NL leader in career home runs.
OF -- Riggs Stephenson, Alabama (1919-1920)
A teammate of Sewell's at Alabama, Stephenson was a college shortstop, but a shoulder injury he suffered while toiling for the Crimson Tide football team ended his infield days. So Indians overlord Tris Speaker made him an outfielder. Later in his career with the Cubs, Stephenson, along with Hack Wilson and Kiki Cuyler, helped form one of the most dominant outfields in major-league history. He ended his 14-year career with a slash line of .336/.407/.473.
SP -- Ed Reulbach, Notre Dame (1903-1904)
Recruiting scandal! Reulbach had already played minor-league ball under a pseudonym when he enrolled at Notre Dame in 1901. He was eventually banned from playing for the Irish because he was a mere freshman (they were unaware of his previous life as "Lawson" in the Missouri Valley League). Reulbach stuck it out, though, and became Notre Dame's star pitcher. He signed with the Cubs prior to his senior year and went on to win 182 games in the majors to go along with a career ERA+ of 123.
RP -- Brad Lidge, Notre Dame (1996-1998)
Lidge was drafted out of high school by the Giants, but he opted for college in South Bend. After a stellar junior season, in which he was named Big East (remember them?) Pitcher of the Year, Lidge was selected and signed by the Astros. Two All-Star appearances, two top-10 Cy Young finishes and 225 saves followed.
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