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All-Thanksgiving team

Posted by Andy on November 27, 2010

Reader Kahuna Tuna put together this fantastic post on the best players born on Thanksgiving Day, which is a challenge since the date varies from year to year.

Starting position players:

C: Mike Scioscia (11/27/1958)

1B: Freddy Leach (11/23/1897) (played far more games as an outfielder, but there’s no full-time 1B)

2B: José López (11/24/1983)

3B: Scott Sheldon (11/25/1968) (more of a supersub, but there’s no full-time 3B)

SS: Billy Rogell (11/24/1904)

OF: Ricky Ledee (11/22/1973)

OF: Eddie Collins Jr. (11/23/1916)

OF: Lynn King (11/28/1907)

Backup catchers (lots of them born on Thanksgiving): Tim Laker (11/27/1969), Bob Finley (11/25/1915), Bubber Jonnard (11/23/1897) and Pius Schwert (11/22/1892)

Backup infielders: Roxey Roach (2B/SS — 11/28/1882), Dan Minnehan (3B — 11/28/1865). Overall, it’s a very versatile crew: López and Sheldon can play any infield position, Laker plays some 1B, and Rogell can handle 2B or 3B if needed

Leach, Sheldon, Roach, Minnehan and Pat Rooney (11/28/1957) will be the backup outfielders

Slash stats for the position players: .266/.328/.382/.710. No position player hit more than 80 career homers (López’s current total). Leach’s 102 career OPS+ is the best of the bunch, with Scioscia at 99, Ledee at 91, López at 86, Rogell at 84, Sheldon at 65, Collins at 61 and King at (shudder) 45. Runs will be hard to come by. Their GM will want to trade a pitcher for a first baseman with some punch.

The key man in the starting rotation is a Hall of Famer:

Starting pitchers: Lefty Gomez (11/26/1908), Mike Moore (11/26/1959), Pedro Astacio (11/28/1968), Benn Karr (11/28/1893)

Relief pitchers: Claude Jonnard (11/23/1897), Randy Veres (11/25/1965), Denny Riddleberger (11/22/1945), Marty O’Toole (11/27/1888), Yusmeiro Petit (11/22/1984), Terry Burrows (11/28/1968). Riddleberger and Burrows are the LOOGYs.

13 Responses to “All-Thanksgiving team”

  1. steven Says:

    Now THAT took some research!

  2. Paul Drye Says:

    Nice! Now you just need to do Canadian Thanksgiving and explain which team would beat the other 🙂

  3. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Uh oh, hate to be a turkey here, but I spot a few errors:

    1. Before some point in the late 1930s/early 1940s, Thanksgiving was on the last Thursday in November, not the 4th. So anyone born on November 22 or 23 in one of those years was not born on Thanksgiving Day.

    2. All or most of the 19th century birth dates that are shown did not fall on Thursdays. Remember, if you're working backwards using a repeating every 28 years calendar, 1900 was not a leap year. So another adjustment must be made. The rule of thumb here is that each day of the week between March 1, 1800, and February 28, 1900, fell two days of the week later than its 100th anniversary. November 23, 1997, fell on a Sunday, which I remember because I came back from a trip to Disney World on Friday, November 21 to the news that Kevin Stocker had just been traded for Bobby Abreu. So November 23, 1897, a date shown for three players on this team, would have fallen on a Tuesday, making Thanksgiving Day November 25 that year.

    3. 11/25/1968 - Looking ahead 28 years to 1996, Thanksgiving was on November 28 that year. (I have various personal memories from that month and that year, so I was able to come up with that one easily.) So, November 25 would have been a Monday. In fact, two other players are shown with the birth date of 11/28/1968.

    4. Some of the players may have been born outside the U.S., so their families may not have known that it was Thanksgiving Day.

  4. John Q Says:

    I see one glaring omission, Joe Dimaggio!

    Dimaggio was born on 11/25/14. He would be by far the best player on this team.

  5. StephenH Says:

    John Q. says Thanksgiving in 1914 was November 26th.
    PS-I like the idea of a Canadian Thanksgiving team as well.

  6. James Smyth Says:

    He wasn't born on Thanksgiving, but what about my man, Hall of Famer Turkey Stearnes?

  7. Jimbo Says:

    Is it just me, or is that a surprisingly weak team? I'm thinking most random days have a stronger team.

  8. DoubleDiamond Says:

    In a few weeks, someone can put together a team that will include Nellie Fox and Rickey Henderson. I remember getting a Nellie Fox trading card as a child and noticing that he had the same birthday as my mother, December 25, so that's why I remember it.

    And a week after that, Hank Greenberg can be part of an all "new" team.

    (The two Jewish Hall-of-Famers, Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, have birthdays two days apart, but it is not readily apparent at first glance because they are January 1 and December 30, respectively.)

  9. kenh Says:

    At first I thought this post was about players who looked like they ate too much stuffing. I was going to suggest Fielder (s), Reuschel, Forster...

  10. DavidRF Says:

    Interesting... through 1938, Thanksgiving was the final Thursday of the month. In 1939, FDR tried to move it a week earlier (from the 30th to the 23rd) to make for a longer holiday shopping season. This become known as "Franksgiving". The move was not entirely successful in 1939 because he announced the change too late and a lot of schedules were already in place. But in 1940-1941 most celebrated "Franksgiving" with some protesting and celebrating "Republican Thanksgiving" a week later. After 1941, Congress passed the modern "Fourth Thursday" rule.

    Tommy McCraw is the only MLB player I could find who was born on Franksgiving. He fills the hole at 1B, but in name only. Looking at his numbers, he's one of the least impressive 1B-OF types I've seen with a career as long as his (13 seasons, 4400 PA).

  11. Tmckelv Says:

    I think this team would actually have nice starting pitching. With Gomez, Moore and Astacio at the top of the rotation and Scoscia behind the plate. Although Gomez would go 13-12 with a fine ERA and Moore would probably lose 19 games on a yearly basis with that line-up. The bullpen could use A LOT of help.

    Even if Eddie Collins Jr. could talk his father into playing on the team, all that would do would produce a new IBB record holder.

  12. Dave V. Says:

    The Thanksgiving team isn't good but I nominate my birthday (August 29) as the weakest birthday team of them all (besides perhaps Leap Day, which I haven't looked up).

    The best hitter born on August 29th is...Doug Decinces. Yikes. Overall, hitters born on Aug. 29 have a total of 2 All Star Game appearances (1 for Decinces and 1 for Aaron Rowand).

    Then for pitching I have Roy Oswalt followed by absolutely nothing. The next best pitcher appears to be the immortal Orval Grove (who does have 1 All Star appearance to his credit, in a year where he had a 0.4 WAR!).

    "My" team stinks 🙁

  13. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Sorry for not researching how Thanksgiving dates were fixed pre-FDR, everyone. I'm glad I know now!

    The new rules cost the team nine players: its starting first baseman (Leach) and one of its starting outfielders (Eddie Collins Jr.), plus two backup catchers (Schwert and Bubber Jonnard), both reserve infielders (Roach and Minnehan), starting pitcher Benn Karr, and two relievers (O'Toole and Claude Jonnard). Only Leach is hard to replace, although I'm sad to lose the Jonnard twins.

    I'll take Tommy McCraw and his 94 career OPS+, probably for the third outfield spot, meaning that either Tim Laker or Pete Noonan will play first. Ugh. The only other replacements are pitchers. Frank Corridon ably replaces Karr in the rotation. Scrubs Ed Cassian, Molly Craft and Russ Meers join the back end of the bullpen, and our swingman spot goes to Dan McFarlan (born 11/26/1874), our true secret weapon: no one knows whether he's left- or right-handed. López, Sheldon and Rogell can swap positions if they want, but they can't leave the lineup because we have no reserve infielders.

    If we'd been able to keep the first squad together, I'd have nominated Lee Fohl to manage the team. Now it looks like Mike Scioscia will have to serve as player-manager.

    I'm still chuckling at "Franksgiving," eighteen hours after I first read it here.