Naming baseball's Mount Rushmore is harder than it seems. Do you go by dominance? Contribution? Star power, dedication to craft, power, patriotism, mustache? There really is no "correct" answer and even trying to start the debate is a journey in itself.
I took on this monumental (heh) task by naming the players that my mind continued to come back to. The ones who could not be denied, could not be topped.
First, Babe Ruth: The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, The Great Bambino. This is an obvious choice. Not only is he the greatest of all time, he's arguably one of the five most famous Americans ever. He is an icon who lingers in our minds a century after his playing days.
Then, there's Jackie Robinson. Skill and contribution to the game aside, this man paved the way for WiIlie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, Ken Griffey Jr., CC Sabathia, and all the greats who came after him. He had the courage not to fight back and because of it, no one will ever wear #42 again.
Now, let's make the case for Nolan Ryan. Yes, there's the untouchable record of 5,714 strikeouts. And yes, he threw seven no-hitters. But, did you know that he also threw 12 one-hitters and 18 two-hitters... WTF? There are 220 former major league players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Nolan Ryan struck out 23.2% of them. That is one of the more insane stats in baseball. So, sure, there are other pitchers worthy of the honor, but Nolan is the only one making it to my mountain top. (Also, he threw Robin Ventura into a pretty badass headlock.)
Finally, Willie Mays. Willie was the definition of a five-tool player, arguably the greatest center fielder of all time, and a man with a smile on his face who loved what he did. There were not many who played the game like The Say Hey Kid.
Of the 400+ replies to my post, asking Insiders to name their Mt. Rushmore of baseball with a Derek Jeter 1-of-1 on the line, many people nailed the first two—Babe Ruth was mentioned 249 times (the rest of you must have rocks for brains) and Jackie Robinson was mentioned a respectable 142 times.
Nolan Ryan was mentioned 73 times (more than any other pitcher) and Willie Mays was mentioned 49 times.
But, only one person combined all four: Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Nolan Ryan, and Willie Mays. That person is walking away with the coveted Derek Jeter 1-of-1.
Congrats to William Vest of Jenks, Oklahoma! Enjoy your Derek Jeter Holy Grail. Hopefully, you'll get a chance to wear it to a game in 2020.
P.S. - We do fun stuff like this on RSVLTS Insiders all the time. If you haven't joined yet check it out!