My most admired players

My most admired players
By Ryne Sandberg, Yahoo Sports
July 25, 2005

Ryne Sandberg
Yahoo Sports
Editor's note: MLB analyst Ryne Sandberg offers a different top 10 – his 10 most admired people in baseball – to kick off his Enshrinement Week at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be held Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.

More Sandberg: SportStream's Hall of Fame preview

I can't believe the Hall of Fame inductions are less than a week away. It's been a fun six months since the voting was announced. The entire experience has been great for my entire family.

My wife Margaret has worked with Kim from the Hall on coordinating this weekend's events, and I can't wait to get to Cooperstown on Wednesday. The support I've gotten from friends and family has been incredible and I can't wait to see all of them this weekend. I'd also like to thank everyone from the Hall of Fame. I know I'll miss many of the names, but the entire organization has been first class through the entire process.

Growing up, I always was intrigued by baseball's icons. Here's my top-10 list of players whom I respect the most in the game (in no particular order):

  • Nolan Ryan – He was the most feared pitcher I ever faced. As a hitter, I never looked forward to facing him. He threw a better fastball than anyone I ever saw.

  • Pete Rose – His work ethic, hustle and love for the game on the field should be remembered forever. He's a Hall of Famer in my book.

  • Willie Mays – He probably was the best defensive outfielder ever. I loved how he combined speed with power.

  • Hank Aaron – I admired his longevity. And the home run king let his bat do the talking on his way to 755 home runs.

  • Joe DiMaggio – Obviously I never saw him play, but I always have respected the way he was a true professional. He was a great player and an American idol.

  • Mike Schmidt – I had the honor of playing with him in a few All-Star games and when I came up from the minors in 1981 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was the best third baseman I ever saw.

  • Ozzie Smith – I played many games against him, and he was a great player. He had a great glove and a flare for the game that I respected.

  • Larry Bowa – We were traded together from the Phillies, and when I came over to the Chicago Cubs, he was at short and I was at third base. He showed me how to prepare for a game – from taking ground balls before the game to the mental preparation of facing a pitcher.

  • Tony Gwynn – The best hitter I ever saw. Tony could hit line drives anywhere on the field. He had the best hands you'll ever see, and he had no holes in his swing.

  • Andre Dawson – Another teammate of mine who was a great professional. He hit 49 home runs in 1987, and it seemed like he was going deep every other day.

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    Updated on Monday, Jul 25, 2005 7:03 pm, EDT

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