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National Archives

Born to Play Ball

March 1, 2008 to July 20, 2008

Play Ball!

Sponsored By:

Houston Astros


Who was better? Babe Ruth or Willie Mays, Honus Wagner or Alex Rodriguez, Walter Johnson or Sandy Koufax? Could Ty Cobb put up the same gaudy statistics in today's game? Would Barry Bonds put up even greater home run totals had he played against 1920s' pitching? Baseball historians and fans of our national pastime love to argue such points. Some have developed elaborate tables of statistics in an attempt to measure the careers of players from different eras, yet many would take exception to these tables or any historian's conclusions attempt to rank players. What every fan of the game does agree upon is that baseball loves a good argument.

This exhibit will spark more of the same debate, which is why this display was created - to get baseball fans talking about what players might make their all-time list. No opinion can be wrong, and each list will have its own merits.

At the core of Born to Play Ball is a list of fifty great players, five at every position, including groups for right- and left-handed pitchers, with honorable mentions at every spot. Nearly every name has a plaque in Cooperstown's National Baseball Hall of Fame - the other players probably will be inducted into the shrine some day. The players, from all eras after 1900, were selected for a number of reasons: batting statistics, defense and other accomplishments. Yet baseball is much more than a career batting average, earned run average or wins. Some players changed the game, while others showed a brilliance for a brief time. Not every member of the 500 home run or 300 win clubs is included. Some players have been banned from the game. Others are accused of using steroids or human growth hormones.

Born to Play Ball represents a love of the game by many of its fans and historians; many of their opinions are reflected in the players who are included. The original working title for the exhibit was Let the Debate Begin. It is hoped that everyone who sees Born to Play Ball will compile their own list of all-time greats, and have fun doing so.

Now, let the debate begin ....

Players by Position

Exhibit Events

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
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