Who Would You Rather Be? – Hall of Famer vs. World Series Champion

One of the best things about baseball is that there are so many potential debates and conversations that you can have regarding the game. People love to debate which is the greatest of all-time, who is the best at this or that and which players would you rather have on your team. I love the debates and the questions. So, today I propose a new question to you, “Who would you rather be? One of the all-time greatest in the Hall of fame or someone with four World Series rings?” Read below and let me know who you would rather be. One note, money is not part of the consideration. The money that the players earn today far outweighs the money that the players of yesterday. So, take money out of the equation and ask yourself, “Who would you rather be?”

Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub”, played with the Chicago Cubs from 1953 to 1971. He was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility with 83.8% (321 of the 383 ballots) of the votes. Banks started his baseball career with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League in 1950 and played there for one season. He served in the U.S. Army for two years, 1951 and 1952, and after a short return to the Monarchs he signed with, and played for the Cubs in 1953, their first black player. He was the shortstop for the Cubs until 1962, where he moved to first base. Until Cal Ripken Jr. broke his record, Banks had the record for the most number of home runs by a shortstop (345). He ended his careen with 512 home runs. Banks still holds the record for the most games played, at-bats and total bases while in a Cubs uniform.

Ernie Banks was named to 11 All-Star Teams, from 1955 to 1969. He is a two-time Most Valuable Players awards, in 1958 and 1959. He also finished in the Top 6 of the MVP voting three other times. His career Slugging Percentage is .500, which ranks as 105th in the history of baseball. He finished in the Top 10 in runs scored five times, finishing his career with 1,305 runs scored 115th overall. He has more hits than all other major league players, except for 79 others with 2,583 career hits. His extra base hits are just as impressive. As mentioned before, he hit 512 home runs in his career which is still ranked twenty-first all-time. He ranks 150th overall in career doubles, 208th overall in careen triples and 31st overall in total bases. He is also ranked 28th overall in career runs batted in.

Ernie Banks has the unofficial distinction as being the first black manager. In 1973, while a coach for the Cubs, Banks took over as manager for the game when Cubs manager Whitey Lockman was ejected during the course of the game. It may have been for a portion of the game, but Banks did manage. This happened two seasons before Frank Robinson was considered the first black manager.

In 1999, Banks was named to the All-Century team and was ranked as the 38th best player in the history of major league baseball by the Sporting News. He is widely considered one of the best players in the history of the game and is still well-respected by those within the game and those that follow it. However, with all of his accolades, Banks was never on a World Series winner.

Tino Martinez retired from baseball after the 2005 season. During his career, Martinez played for the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals. He was a first round draft pick of the Mariners in 1990 (#14 overall) and was chosen ahead of Royce Clayton, Charles Nagy, Marquis Grissom, David Weathers, Eric Karros, Jim Edmonds and Pat Listach among others.

In 1988, Martinez, Jim Abbott and Robin Ventura led the United States to a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

After a few years with the Mariners, he was involved in a four-team trade with the New York Yankees, replacing Don Mattingly as the Yankees first baseman. Martinez signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001, replacing another popular first baseman, Mark McGwire. He was then traded to make room for a kid named Albert Pujols.

In his career, Martinez batted .271, collected 1,925 hits with 339 career home runs and 1,271 runs batted in. He was a two-time all-star and finished second the 1997 MVP voting, a season where he hit 44 home runs and drove in 141.

Tino Martinez played in 21 career playoff series, winning 16 and losing 5. He has played in nine Division Series, winning seven. He has played in seven Championship Series, winning five. He has played in five World Series, winning four. In the one World Series that he did not win, 2001, he hit a dramatic home run in the ninth inning of Game 4, sending the game into extra innings (a game that I attended). He also hit a Grand Slam in the 7th inning of Game 1 of the 1998 World Series (another game that I attended).

After returning to the Yankees in 2005, Martinez retired at the end of the season. Since them Martinez has worked as an analyst on ESPN and has also been a Special Assistant to the General Manager of the New York Yankees in 2008.

There you go, Ernie Banks and Tino Martinez. One is a Hall of Famer and one of the All-Century Team members. The other has four World Series rings. So I ask you, “Who would you rather be?”

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