Former heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield once said, “It’s not the size of the man, but the size of his heart that matters.”
Today’s Dose of baseball trivia reminds us that size doesn’t always matter. Here are ten of the greatest “little guys” in baseball history, all of whom played way above their heads.
At 5’6”, Jose Altuve is a giant in the game. In 2017, the Houston Astros second baseman led his team to the first World Series title in franchise history while being named AL MVP, AP Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year. Altuve has led the league in batting and stolen bases, collected Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, and has played in five All-Star Games.
Yogi Berra won ten World Series championships, more than any player in history. A three-time AL MVP and 18-time All-Star, the 5’8” Berra is perhaps the greatest catcher ever to don a mask. Yogi, who once stated, “I really didn’t say everything I said,” is a member of the MLB All-Century Team.
William Henry Keeler was one of the greatest hitters of his time, winning two batting titles while “hitting ‘em where they ain’t” between 1892 and 1910. At 5’4”, Wee Willie hit over .300 in 16 of his 19 big league seasons.
A fine all-around player, Kirby Puckett played the game with great enthusiasm. The 5’8” center fielder played a dozen years for the Twins, retiring in 1995 with a .318 career batting average, highest by any right-handed AL batter since Joe DiMaggio.
Roy Campanella did not let his 5’8” frame keep him from becoming one of the best catchers of all time. Campy led the Brooklyn Dodgers to the 1955 World Series title, was an eight-time All-Star, and won three NL MVP awards in a hall-of-fame career cut short by an automobile accident.
Baseball historian and statistician Bill James named Joe Morgan the finest second baseman in baseball history. The spark plug of the Big Red Machine, Morgan earned two NL MVP awards, five Gold Gloves and the 1982 Silver Slugger Award. Only 5’7”, Morgan belted 268 career homers.
Dustin Pedroia was 2007 AL Rookie of the Year. The following season, the 5’9” second baseman was named league MVP. A four-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner is all Heart and Hustle, an honor he received from MLB in 2013 for excelling both on and off the field.
No catcher in history has more putouts or played in more games than Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge led Florida to the 2003 World Series title, was named 1999 AL MVP, and won 13 Gold Glove awards. The 5’9” backstop was inducted into Cooperstown in 2017.
At 5’5”, Freddie Patek was the shortest player in baseball during his 14-year career. A three-time All-Star, Patek led the AL in stolen bases in 1977 and is a member of the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.
The Scooter is the perfect nickname for Phil Rizzuto, who won seven World Championships in 13 seasons playing shortstop for the New York Yankees. A great bunter and superb defender, the 5’6” right-hander had his number 10 retired by the Yanks in 1985.