California is the original stomping ground for scads of MLB players, including several dozens who played their way into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. California is a large state encompassing many weather patterns depending on latitude and proximity to the coast, but often, California weather tends to be more temperate than other states, which means there is plenty of time for outdoor sports – including baseball.
Due to California’s large population (hovering near 40 million), it’s no surprise that many MLB players hail from the Golden State. Let’s take a look at the areas contributing the most players, and where the Hall of Famers got their early starts.
All Hail From the Golden State
MLB player hometowns are certainly spread all over California, but it’s not a stretch to see that the bigger population centers contributed the most players to the majors. Los Angeles has the biggest hometown population of California players, with 316 total. Players from the City of Angels include Tony Gwynn, Bobby Doerr, Joe Gordon, and Eddie Murray, all Hall of Famers. Gwynn was one of the most productive players from LA. He spent 20 years in the majors, all for the San Diego Padres. He was a 15-time All-Star, received five Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, and won the batting title eight times. His .338 career batting average probably had something to do with that.
The second biggest population of California players comes from San Francisco: 227. Tony Lazzeri, Harry Heilmann, and “High Pockets” Kelly once called San Francisco home, and again, these are all Hall of Famers. San Diego contributed the third most at 170. Hall of Famer Ted Williams hails from San Diego, as do other players like Graig Nettles, Adrián González, and Adam Jones. Williams spent 19 years in the majors, all with the Red Sox, and went to the All-Star Game each season, was the batting title recipient six times, and had an overall career batting average of .344.
LA County Represent
As mentioned above, Los Angeles contributed the most MLB players. LA County is more than a county, though – it’s huge and encompasses many smaller municipalities that likewise have helped raise many future players into the majors. Long Beach, for example, contributed 101 players to the major leagues, including players like Jeff Burroughs, who played for 16 seasons with two All-Star Game appearances. He also won the 1974 American League MVP award and led the National League in on-base percentage in 1978.
Santa Monica is also the hometown of a bevy of baseball players – 57 to be exact. Dwight Evans, for example, played in the majors for two solid decades while earning three All-Star appearances, eight Gold Gloves, and two Silver Sluggers.
Pasadena is another locale with plenty of contributions to the MLB. Of its 41 players, we find guys like Mike McCormick, a southpaw pitcher who played in the majors for 16 seasons, went to the All-Star Game four times and nabbed the National League Cy Young Award in 1967 when he played for the San Francisco Giants.
David Wells, another lefty pitcher, hails from Torrance, California, along with 49 other MLB players. Wells was a three-time All-Star over his 21-year career and took home two World Series titles – once with the Toronto Blue Jays, and once with the New York Yankees. He also threw a perfect game with the Yankees, the 15th in MLB history.
Hallowed Hometowns of HOFers
Over two dozen fellas who found their way to Cooperstown, New York, started their lives in California. The Yankee Clipper himself, Joe DiMaggio, was born in Martinez, and that he wound up in the Hall of Fame was no surprise to anybody. During his playing time with the Yankees (a 13-year stint, interrupted only by three years spent in the military), he was a perennial All-Star (all 13 seasons he played), plus he helped his team win the World Series nine times.
Another HOFer from California is pitcher Randy Johnson, who hails from Walnut Creek. Johnson won the Cy Young Award five times, the World Series as a part of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, and was a 10-time All-Star select. After his retirement (once he spent 22 years in the bigs), his career ERA was 3.29.
Tom Seaver is another pitcher who was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Seaver, from Fresno, won the Cy Young Award three times, was a 12-time All-Star, and won the 1969 World Series as a part of the New York Mets pitching staff. Seaver is one of a handful who is a member of the 3,000 Strikeouts Club, which he accomplished in 1981.
Support Your Favorite California Boys
No matter which MLB team you follow, chances are there is at least one who hails from California. Whether you’ve been following their career path since they left the Golden State, or just found out your favorite pitcher is from LA, now is as good of a time as any to head to Fanatics to get some fresh new MLB gear.