In the 1920s, America had come home from World War I, and turned their attention to domestic issues, and baseball. With prohibition in effect, going to a game was one of the few sources of entertainment, and was safer than the crime-filled streets of the Roaring 1920s.
Therefore, the decade represented a Golden Age of sorts, with so many players becoming national heroes, catapulting the sport to No. 1 in sports fans' minds.
Catcher: Mickey Cochrane (1925-1938). Cochrane's teams captured five pennants and three championships, including the first ever for the Detroit Tigers. Batted .320 and had a slugging percentage of .419 (leading the league in that statistic one season) while serving as a dugout leader, garnering two MVP Awards, and was the first catcher elected by sportswriters to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947. It took a terrible skull fracture to end his career.
First Base: Lou Gehrig (1923-1939). "The Iron Horse" won two MVPs, set the record for career grand slams, and held the record of most consecutive games played upon retirement. Took his team to seven World Series championships. Had an impressive career .340 batting average. Was twice named Most Valuable Player. Led the league in runs batted in five times, runs four times, home runs three times, hits once, and the statistic for games played nearly every year. Was chosen for the Hall of Fame in a special election in 1939, as he was dying of what came to be known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Second Base: Rogers Hornsby (1915-1937). Set the record for highest batting average ever (.424) to go along with eight batting titles and second highest career hitting average (.358). In 1922, he even won baseball's triple crown, leading in home runs, runs batted in, and batting average. Four times, he had the most runs batted in, and runs scored, while four times he led in hits and doubles. "The Rajah," also had a career fielding percentage of .957. This two-time MVP was inducted into the Hall-of-Fame in 1942.
Shortstop: Rabbit Maranville (1912-1935). Maranville dominated the field, leading the league in put outs and assists on several occasions. He also sported a .940 fielding percentage, games played, and plate appearances. He was a perennial top 10 MVP candidate over his career. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954.
Third Base: Pie Traynor (1920-1937). Traynor ranked near the top of the league in defensive plays (with a .947 fielding percentage at "the Hot Corner" at third base) as well as performance at the plate, sporting a career average of .320. Triples and bunting were other Traynor specialities. Eight times, he was a finalist for the MVP Award. He was chosen for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1948.
Left Field: Babe Ruth (1914-1935). Ruth is regarded as the greatest player ever because of his pitching and hitting feats. Upon his retirement, he held more than 50 records, a few of which persist today. Some of these records range from shutouts by a southpaw to slugging percentage in postseason play. Twelve times he won the home run title, but still managed to hit .342, a high average for a slugger. Amazingly, he only won one MVP trophy (in 1922), but was among the first chosen for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
Center Field: Ty Cobb (1905-1928). "The Georgia Peach" owned records upon his retirement for career batting average, hits, runs, and stolen bases. His feats included 11 batting titles, getting the most hits eight times, scored the most runs five times, and stole the most bases six times, including a season-high record that would stand until the 1960s. Though he only won one MVP Award, he was the first player voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1935.
Right Field: Al Simmons (1924-1944). Simmons was the MVP in 1929 and an RBI specialist. Eight times, he finished in the top 11 in MVP voting, and led the league in total bases twice, to go along with two batting titles. Simmons entered the Hall of Fame in 1953.
Bench 1: Catcher: Gabby Hartnett (1922-1941). Hartnett was a clutch hitter and one of the best catchers ever (leading the league in throwing out runners six times), earning an MVP in his career, to go with a .489 slugging percentage. Once the All-Star games were held, he was an annual fixture. He became a member of the Hall of Fame in 1955.
Bench 2: Outfield: Sam Rice (1915-1934). Rice led in games played, at-bats, hits, triples, stolen bases, and put outs while dominating defensively. Though he toiled in relative obscurity withthe Washington Senators, he did record a top-five MVP finish, and was voted in by baseball veterans to Cooperstown in 1963.
Bench 3: Infield: Joe Sewell (1920-1933). In four seasons, Sewell only struck out four times those years. In 7,132 games, he only fanned 114 times. Five times, Sewell was a top 10 MVP candidate, thanks to timely hitting and excellent fielding (.944 fielding percentage). Veterans chose him for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.
Pitcher: Grover Cleveland Alexander (1911-1930). Alexander ranks third all-time in wins (373), leading two teams to victory in the World Series. He led the league in wins six times, lowest ERA four times, shutouts (throwing 16 in one year), games started and innings pitched. He was an easy choice for the Hall of Fame in 1938.
Pitcher: Stan Coveleski (1912-1928). A frequent 20-game winner who won three for the 1920 Cleveland Indians World Series champs. Throughout his pitching career, he led the majors in single-season statistics of win percentage, shutouts (twice), and earned run average (twice). He was chosen by veterans for the Hall of Fame in 1969.
Pitcher: Burleigh Grimes (1916-1934). Threw a legal spitball, helped teams to four World Series contests, and won 270 games. He was the single-season leader in wins, innings pitched, complete games, and even strikeouts. Veterans chose him for the Hall of Fame in 1964.
Pitcher: Dazzy Vance (1915-1934). This Hall of Famer walked few batters, and won a lot of games with a low ERA. In fact, he led the league in ERA three times, wins twice, shutouts three times, and strikeouts seven times. He was one of the few pitchers to win an MVP Award (that came in 1924). Sportswriters picked him for the Hall of Fame in 1955.
Pitcher: Waite Hoyt (1918-1937): "Schoolboy" Hoyt pitched the Yankees to six pennants. Twice he won two games in a World Series. He's one of the few pitchers to lead the league in wins and saves. In 1969, the Veteran's Committee picked Hoyt for the Hall of Fame.
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College, who has published a book chapter connecting baseball and politics, and is a frequent attendee at nearby Atlanta Braves games.