It All Began With a Big Train

It could still be argued that the greatest pitcher from a California high school is Fullerton’s Walter Johnson (left), one of the original five inductees for the MLB Hall of Fame in 1936. At right is Westlake’s Christian Yelich, perhaps the best current player in MLB from the state. Photos: bigtrain.org & signalscv.com.

Going through lists of Californians who are in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame plus those who have been MVP in either the American or National League offers more proof of the state’s greatness in America’s Pastime. We also have compiled lists of those who’ve been Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, World Series MVP, All-Star Game MVP and who’ve thrown a perfect game.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on CalHiSports.com. We will have more free baseball stories coming up on the site, but also some other major historical features for Gold Club only. You can now sign up for $3.99 per month or $9.99 for three months to see all of our authentic California high school features and lists. Yearly rate of just 6.8 cents per day also can be done. For details, CLICK HERE.

Long before Walter O’Malley or anyone else though about moving a major league baseball team from the East Coast to Los Angeles or San Francisco in the 1950s, the major leagues were nonetheless filled with Californians on their way to legendary Hall of Fame careers.

The favorite installment for many in the Ken Burns’ documentary series “Baseball” is the one that takes a look at the 1940s. In it, clips come at a rapid pace about Joe DiMaggio and his 56-game hitting streak, Ted Williams going for the last .400 batting average and Jackie Robinson’s emotional journey in 1947 when he began to integrate the game.

Jackie Robinson shown at Muir High (Pasadena). Photo: Cal-Hi Sports archives.


All three are from California, at least all three spent their high school years in the state. DiMaggio may or may not have ever attended a class at Galileo High in San Francisco (evidence from books about him are unclear), but he grew up in that part of the city (North Beach) and was a sandlot phenom at age 16. Williams once hit two home runs in one inning while playing at Hoover High in San Diego (the first known to do that in state prep history). Robinson was a multi-sport star at John Muir High in Pasadena (competing against whites in the 1930s), then did the same at UCLA.

In researching the Cal-Hi Sports record book, founder Nelson Tennis once discovered that Ted Williams’ and Jackie Robinson’s high school teams once played in the same high school baseball tournament. It was the 1935 Pomona tourney (which still exists). They were both playing at the same time at their high schools, but Nelson never found out if those teams and those two future legends actually played in a game against each other or if they actually played in any games in that tourney.

All three of those players were easy choices for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame — DiMaggio in 1955, Robinson in 1962 and Williams in 1966. But they were not the first from California (based on high school origin) to be inducted.

When the Baseball Hall of Fame began in 1936, one of the first inductees, known as one of the so-called “Five Immortals” alongside Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner, was pitcher Walter Johnson. He was born and grew up in rural Kansas, but Johnson and his family moved to California just before he began going to Fullerton Union High in Orange County.

In 1905, when Johnson was pitching in a game for Fullerton against Santa Ana, neither team could score and after 15 innings it was called a tie. According to research from newspapers at the time that Nelson looked up, the reason Santa Ana couldn’t score is because Johnson struck out 27 batters. That total is still one of the best for a single game high school game in U.S. and California history and will never be approached because these days high school pitchers would never be allowed to pitch 15 innings for one game.

Johnson, who often went by the nickname “Big Train,” played his entire major league career over 21 seasons with the Washington Senators. He still holds the MLB record for career shutouts with 110 and held the career strikeout record at 3,508 for 50 years.

After Johnson’s induction to Cooperstown, many others from California have followed. We have compiled a list below of every player from a California high school who has ever won a major award in baseball. Let’s just say no other state in the nation can come close and one could certainly argue that it’s just more proof that California doesn’t just lead the nation for baseball but the world.

MAJOR LEAGUE HALL OF FAMERS FROM CALIFORNIA
(Listed in order of year inducted with pro position)

DiMaggio is associated with the same high school in San Francisco as O.J. Simpson (football) and Hank Liusetti (basketball). Photo: SteinerSports.com.


1936 – Walter Johnson P (Fullerton)
1946 – Frank Chance 1B (Fresno)
1952 – Harry Heilmann OF
(San Francisco Sacred Heart)
1955 – Joe DiMaggio OF (San Francisco Galileo)
1956 – Joe Cronin SS (San Francisco Sacred Heart)
1962 – Jackie Robinson 2B (Pasadena Muir)
1966 – Ted Williams OF (San Diego Hoover)
1971 – Chick Hafey OF (Berkeley)
1971 – Harry Hooper OF (Oakland St. Mary’s)
1972 – Lefty Gomez P (Richmond)
1973 – George Kelly 1B (San Francisco Polytechnic)
1975 – Ralph Kiner OF (Alhambra)
1976 – Bob Lemon P (Long Beach Wilson)
1978 – Eddie Matthews 3B (Santa Barbara)
1980 – Duke Snider OF (Compton)
1982 – Frank Robinson OF (Oakland McClymonds)
1984 – Don Drysdale P (Van Nuys)
1985 – Arky Vaughn SS (Fullerton)
1986 – Ernie Lombardi C (Oakland Cole Elementary)
1986 – Bobby Doerr 2B (Los Angeles Fremont)
1988 – Willie Stargell OF (Alameda Encinal)
1990 – Joe Morgan 2B (Oakland Castlemont)
1991 – Tony Lazzeri 2B (San Francisco St. Teresa’s Elementary)
1992 – Tom Seaver P (Fresno)
1992 – Rollie Fingers P (Upland)
1999 – George Brett 3B (El Segundo)
1999 – Robin Yount SS (Woodland Hills Taft)
2000 – Sparky Anderson MGR (Los Angeles Dorsey)
2002 – Ozzie Smith SS (Los Angeles Locke)
2003 – Gary Carter C (Fullerton Sunny Hills)
2003 – Eddie Murray 1B (Los Angeles Locke)
2004 – Dennis Eckersley RP (Fremont Washington)
2007 – Tony Gwynn OF (Long Beach Poly)
2009 – Rickey Henderson OF (Oakland Technical)
2011 – Bert Blyleven P (Garden Grove Santiago)
2014 – Bobby Cox MGR (Selma)
2015 – Randy Johnson P (Livermore)
2018 – Trevor Hoffman P (Anaheim Savanna)
2018 – Alan Trammell SS (San Diego Kearny)
Note: None scheduled to go in for 2020.

MAJOR LEAGUE MVPS FROM CALIFORNIA
(Awards given from 1911-1914, 1922-28, since 1930)

Dustin Pedroia of Woodland is one of an astonishingly high number of all-time best Boston Red Sox players who are from California. Photo: Pinterest.com.


American League
1913 – Walter Johnson, Senators P (Fullerton)
1924 – Walter Johnson, Senators P (Fullerton)
1930 – Joe Cronin, Senators SS
(San Francisco Sacred Heart)
1939 – Joe DiMaggio, Yankees OF
(San Francisco Galileo)
1941 – Joe DiMaggio, Yankees OF
(San Francisco Galileo)
1946 – Ted Williams, Red Sox OF (San Diego Hoover)
1947 – Joe DiMaggio, Yankees OF
(San Francisco Galileo)
1949 – Ted Williams, Red Sox OF (San Diego Hoover)
1958 – Jackie Jensen, Red Sox OF (Oakland)
1966 – Frank Robinson, Orioles OF
(Oakland McClymonds)
1974 – Jeff Burroughs, Rangers OF (Long Beach Wilson)
1975 – Fred Lynn, Red Sox OF (El Monte)
1980 – George Brett, Royals 3B (El Segundo)
1981 – Rollie Fingers, Brewers P (Upland)
1982 – Robin Yount, Brewers SS (Woodland Hills Taft)
1989 – Robin Yount, Brewers SS (Woodland Hills Taft)
1990 – Rickey Henderson, Athletics OF (Oakland Technical)
1992 – Dennis Eckersley, Athletics P (Fremont Washington)
2000 – Jason Giambi, Athletics 1B (West Covina South Hills)
2008 – Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 2B (Woodland)

National League
1938 – Ernie Lombardi, Reds C (Oakland Cole Elementary)
1941 – Dolph Camilli, Dodgers 1B (San Francisco Sacred Heart)
1947 – Bob Elliot, Braves 3B (El Centro Central)
1949 – Jackie Robinson, Dodgers 2B (Pasadena Muir)
1961 – Frank Robinson, Reds OF (Oakland McClymonds)
1975 – Joe Morgan, Reds 2B (Oakland Castlemont)
1976 – Joe Morgan, Reds 2B (Oakland Castlemont)
1977 – George Foster, Reds OF (Lawndale Leuzinger)
1979 – (tie) Willie Stargell, Pirates 1B (Alameda Encinal)
1979 – (tie) Keith Hernandez, Cardinals 1B (San Bruno Capuchino)
1985 – Willie McGee, Cardinals OF (Richmond Ells)
1989 – Kevin Mitchell, Giants OF (San Diego Clairemont)
1990 – Barry Bonds, Pirates OF (San Mateo Serra)
1991 – Terry Pendleton, Braves 3B (Oxnard Channel Islands)
1992 – Barry Bonds, Giants OF (San Mateo Serra)
1993 – Barry Bonds, Giants OF (San Mateo Serra)
1996 – Ken Caminiti, Padres 3B (San Jose Leigh)
2000 – Jeff Kent, Giants 2B (Huntington Beach Edison)
2001 – Barry Bonds, Giants OF (San Mateo Serra)
2002 – Barry Bonds, Giants OF (San Mateo Serra)
2003 – Barry Bonds, Giants OF (San Mateo Serra)
2004 – Barry Bonds, Giants OF (San Mateo Serra)
2007 – Jimmy Rollins, Phillies SS (Alameda Encinal)
2011 – Ryan Braun, Brewers 3B (Granada Hills)
2017 – Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins OF (Sherman Oaks Notre Dame)
2018 – Christian Yelich, Brewers OF (Westlake Village Westlake)
2020 – Freddie Freeman, Braves 1B (Orange El Modena)

MAJOR LEAGUE CY YOUNG WINNERS FROM CALIFORNIA
(AL-NL combined 1956-66, separate since 1967)

American League
1967 – Jim Lonborg, Red Sox (San Luis Obispo)
1981 – Rollie Fingers, Brewers (Upland)
1985 – Bret Saberhagen, Royals (Reseda Cleveland)
1989 – Bret Saberhagen, Royals (Reseda Cleveland)
1992 – Dennis Eckersley, Athletics
(Fremont Washington)
1993 – Jack McDowell, White Sox
(Sherman Oaks Notre Dame)
1995 – Randy Johnson, Mariners (Livermore)
2002 – Barry Zito, Athletics (San Diego University)
2007 – C.C. Sabathia, Indians (Vallejo)
2020 – Shane Bieber, Indians (Laguna Hills)

National League
1962 – Don Drysdale, Dodgers (Van Nuys)
1967 – Mike McCormick, Giants (Alhambra Keppel)
1969 – Tom Seaver, Mets (Fresno)
1973 – Tom Seaver, Mets (Fresno)
1975 – Tom Seaver, Mets (Fresno)
1976 – Randy Jones, Padres (Brea Brea-Olinda)
1986 – Mike Scott, Astros (Hawthorne)
1999 – Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks (Livermore)
2000 – Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks (Livermore)
2001 – Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks (Livermore)
2002 – Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks (Livermore)
2020 – Trevor Bauer, Reds (Newhall Hart)

WORLD SERIES MVPS FROM CALIFORNIA
(Since 1955)

1959 – Larry Sherry, Dodgers P (Los Angeles Fairfax)
1966 – Frank Robinson, Orioles OF (Oakland McClymonds)
1974 – Rollie Fingers, Athletics P (Upland)
1979 – Willie Stargell, Pirates 1B (Alameda Encinal)
1983 – Rick Dempsey, Orioles C (Encino Crespi)
1984 – Alan Trammell, Tigers SS (San Diego Kearny)
1985 – Bret Saberhagen, Royals P (Reseda Cleveland)
1989 – Dave Stewart, Athletics P (Oakland St. Elizabeth)
1996 – John Wetteland, Yankees P (Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman)
2001 – Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks P (Livermore)*
2002 – Troy Glaus, Angels 3B (Carlsbad)
2005 – Jermaine Dye, White Sox OF (Vacaville Wood)
2008 – Cole Hamels, Phillies P (San Diego Rancho Bernardo)
2019 – Stephen Strasburg, Nationals P (San Diego West Hills)
*Co-MVP with Kurt Schilling.

ALL-STAR GAME MVPS FROM CALIFORNIA
(Since 1962)

1964 – Johnny Callison, Phillies OF (East Bakersfield)
1971 – Frank Robinson, Orioles OF (Oakland McClymonds)
1972 – Joe Morgan, Reds 2B (Oakland Castlemont)
1973 – Bobby Bonds, Giants 3B (Riverside Poly)
1976 – George Foster, Reds OF (Lawndale Leuzinger)
1981 – Gary Carter, Expos C (Fullerton Sunny Hills)
1983 – Fred Lynn, Angels OF (El Monte)
1984 – Gary Carter, Expos C (Fullerton Sunny Hills)
2003 – Garret Anderson, Angels OF (Granada Hills Kennedy)
2006 – Michael Young, Rangers INF (La Puente Bishop Amat)
2019 – Shane Bieber, Indians P (Laguna Hills)

MAJOR LEAGUE ROOKIES OF THE YEAR FROM CALIFORNIA
(AL-NL combined 1947-48, separate since 1949)

After shining in three sports at Linden, Aaron Judge headed off to Fresno State. Photo: PerfectGame.org.


American League
1951 – Gil McDougal, Yankees 3B
(San Francisco Commerce)
1958 – Albie Pearson, Senators OF (El Monte)
1960 – Ron Hansen, Orioles SS (Albany)
1971 – Chris Chambliss, Indians 1B (Oceanside)
1975 – Fred Lynn, Red Sox OF (El Monte)
1977 – Eddie Murray, Orioles 1B (Los Angeles Locke)
1980 – Joe Charboneau, Indians OF
(Santa Clara Buchser)
1981 – Dave Righetti, Yankees P (San Jose Pioneer)
1987 – Mark McGwire, Athletics 1B (La Verne Damien)
1994 – Bob Hamelin, Royals 1B (Irvine)
1997 – Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox SS
(Bellflower St. John Bosco)
2004 – Bobby Crosby, Athletics SS
(Westminster La Quinta)
2007 – Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 2B (Woodland)
2008 – Evan Longoria, Rays 3B (Bellflower St. John Bosco)
2017 – Aaron Judge, Yankees OF (Linden)

National League
1947 – Jackie Robinson, Dodgers 1B (Pasadena Muir)
1956 – Frank Robinson, Reds OF (Oakland McClymonds)
1962 – Ken Hubbs, Cubs 2B (Colton)
1965 – Jim Lefebvre, Dodgers 2B (Inglewood Morningside)
1967 – Tom Seaver, Mets P (Fresno)
1973 – Gary Matthews, Giants OF (San Fernando)
1976 – (tie) Butch Metzger, Padres P (Sacramento Kennedy)
1982 – Steve Sax, Dodgers 2B (West Sacramento Marshall)
1983 – Darryl Strawberry, Mets OF (Los Angeles Crenshaw)
1992 – Eric Karros, Dodgers 1B (San Diego Patrick Henry)
2003 – Dontrelle Willis, Marlins P (Alameda Encinal)
2007 – Ryan Braun, Brewers 3B (Granada Hills)

MAJOR LEAGUE MANAGERS OF THE YEAR FROM CALIFORNIA
(AL-NL combined 1936-1982, separate since 1983)

American League
1962 – Bill Rigney, Angels (Oakland)
1967 – Dick Williams, Red Sox (Pasadena)
1981 – Billy Martin, Athletics (Berkeley)
1984 – Sparky Anderson, Tigers (Los Angeles Dorsey)
1985 – Bobby Cox, Blue Jays (Selma)
1986 – John McNamara, Red Sox (Sacramento Christian Brothers)
1987 – Sparky Anderson, Tigers (Los Angeles Dorsey)
1989 – Frank Robinson, Orioles (Oakland McClymonds)
2000 – Jerry Manuel, White Sox (Rancho Cordova Cordova)
2012 – Bob Melvin, Athletics (Menlo-Atherton)
2018 – Bob Melvin, Athletics (Menlo-Atherton)

National League
1973 – Gene Mauch, Expos (Los Angeles Fremont)
1991 – Bobby Cox, Braves (Selma)
1993 – Dusty Baker, Giants (Fair Oaks Del Campo)
1997 – Dusty Baker, Giants (Fair Oaks Del Campo)
2000 – Dusty Baker, Giants (Fair Oaks Del Campo)
2001 – Larry Bowa, Phillies (Sacramento McClatchy)
2004 – Bobby Cox, Braves (Selma)
2005 – Bobby Cox, Braves (Selma)
2016 – Dave Roberts, Dodgers (Vista Rancho Buena Vista)
2017 – Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks (Van Nuys Montclair Prep)

MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHERS WITH PERFECT GAMES FROM CALIFORNIA

1956 – Don Larsen, Yankees (San Diego Point Loma)
1984 – Mike Witt, Angels (Anaheim Servite)
1998 – David Wells, Yankees (San Diego Point Loma)
2004 – Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks (Livermore)
2010 – Dallas Braden, Athletics (Stockton Stagg)

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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