Major League Baseball’s Nine Best Players From Louisiana

Posted on April 15, 2022

While Louisiana has no Major League Baseball team to support it has produced a fair share of quality major leaguers. Would it surprise you to discover that some of these players are also some of the greatest characters in modern baseball history?

We have a ‘Thrill’, a ‘Gator’ and ‘Le Grande Orange.’ Louisiana baseball players certainly win the prize for best nicknames. Read on to discover more about Louisiana’s nine best baseball players in history.

Although, not having a MLB team may leave Louisianians with an empty feeling, they can still feel proud of these home grown players.

And let’s not forget, you’re in one of the lucky states that can get in on the sports betting action for this year’s baseball season.

No. 1 Mel Ott

The Gretna native never played minor league ball and never changed his unusual stance at the plate. He didn’t need to.

Ott, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, slugged 511 homers for the New York Giants playing and managing them over 22 years starting in 1926. He was the first National League player with 1,800 runs scored, 1,800 RBI and 1,700 walks.

Those 511 homers still rank 25th all-time in baseball history.

No. 2 Mel Parnell

Parnell is the pride of S.J. Peters High School in New Orleans, the lefty spent 10 years with the Boston Red Sox and was a two-time All-Star.

His best season came in 1949 when he finished 25-7 with a 2.77 ERA and 27 complete games. He broke the record for single-season wins by a Red Sox pitcher named Ruth who had 24.

Parnell was known as a Yankee Killer in his heyday and also threw a no-hitter in 1956.

No. 3 Rusty Staub

The one and only “Le Grande Orange.” The New Orleans native was beloved in Montreal playing for the Expos and given the nickname for his portly figure and orange hair.

Staub finished with 2,716 hits and was a six-time All-Star. He batted .279 in his career. He was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1986.

No. 4 Ron Guidry

I had a Ron Guidry poster on my wall growing up. He was “Louisiana Lightning” and then known as “Gator.”

There was a phase in the late 70s when Guidry was the best pitcher baseball had ever seen. In 1978 with the Yankees, Guidry went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA.

He helped the Yankees win two World Series titles. In 1978, it’s forgotten that the Yankees were down 2-0 to the Dodgers in the World Series, but Guidry threw a complete game in Game 3, turning the series to the Yankees.

No. 5 Chuck Finley

Another savvy left-hander, Finley went to West Monroe High School and pitched 17 years in the majors winning 200 games, mostly with the California Angels.

He finished with a career ERA of 3.85. Finley was a five-time All-Star but never made the World Series.

No. 6 Will Clark

Will The Thrill had a 15-year career with the Giants, Rangers, Orioles and Cardinals. He is a New Orleans native who played at Jesuit High School before going to Mississippi State. He was drafted No. 2 overall by the Giants in 1985.

His first MLB at-bat was against Nolan Ryan. What did he do? The Thrill hit a home run. He finished his career with 284 homers and a .303 batting average.

The San Francisco Giants are retiring his No. 22 on Jul. 30 this year.

No. 7 Vida Blue

The Mansfield-born Blue went to DeSoto High School before being drafted in 1967 and signing with the Oakland A’s for a $25,000 bonus.

His 1971 season ranks up there as one of the greatest of all time. Blue won both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards in the American League, going 24-8 with a league-best eight shutouts.

He finished with 209 career wins and was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

No. 8 Ben McDonald

Ok, so Big Ben’s major league career never did pan out. He was never an All-Star. In his best year, he was 14-7 with the Orioles in 1994.

Who cares? The Denham Springs native put LSU baseball on the map. He was a two-sport star coming out of high school (baseball and basketball) and played both sports at LSU. But when he shifted focus to baseball exclusively, McDonald was incredible.

He won the Golden Spikes Award in 1989 as the best player in college baseball and threw 44.2 consecutive scoreless innings that year. McDonald is in the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

No. 9 Bill Dickey

We’re going to claim Bill Dickey. The Yankee catcher was born in Bastrop but moved over the border to Arkansas at a young age.

Dickey played 17 years with the Yankees, winning seven World Series rings. He was an 11-time All-Star and finished his career with a .313 batting average.

His legacy lived on after his retirement as he became a mentor for the next great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra.

Photo by Associated Press
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Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He's won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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