Willie Mays making that over-the-shoulder catch. Brooks Robinson
barehanding a bunt. Roberto Clemente unleashing a rifle throw.
Think of the most spectacular fielding plays in baseball history
and those spring to mind. They're also what helped put those greats
on the all-time Rawlings Gold Glove team released Wednesday.
Big Red Machine teammates Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, glove
whiz Ozzie Smith and current stars Ken Griffey Jr. and Greg Maddux
were picked in the fan voting.
Plus, on the 50th anniversary of the first Gold Glove awards,
there was a surprise among the big names: Wes Parker, a defensive
ace in the 1960s and early 1970s, beat out the likes of Don
Mattingly and Keith Hernandez at first base.
"I'm thrilled to be recognized as one of those who worked hard
at what is an under-appreciated skill," Parker said. "I'm
particularly pleased to be the lone representative of the Dodgers
and the only awardee who is not and will not be in the Hall of
Fame. This is my Hall of Fame."
The nine winners have combined to earn 100 Gold Gloves, which
are chosen annually by major league managers and coaches.
Nearly 1 million votes for the all-time team were received
online, through the mail and in person at sporting goods stores.
"It's something I'm very proud of," Robinson said. "I'm glad
to see the defense get a little credit. Defense is what it's all
about in every sport, but offense gets all the attention."
Robinson drew the highest vote total of any player with 61
percent. He won a record-tying 16 Gold Gloves at third base for
Baltimore and was the MVP of the 1970 World Series, largely because
of his diving stops, backhanded plays and accurate throws.
"When you get to a World Series, that's kind of a showcase in
baseball," said Robinson, who began his pro career at second base
before a fortuitous switch to third. "I think that kind of was the
stage that people look for."
The closest vote came for the third outfield spot, where
Cincinnati's Griffey (9 percent) edged out Jim Edmonds of the St.
Mays (23 percent) -- his great grab in the 1954 World Series came
three years before the first Gold Gloves were awarded, but still
shows up in the highlight reels -- and Clemente (21 percent) made it
Andruw Jones, Ichiro Suzuki, Paul Blair and Curt Flood were
among the other outfielders up for consideration. A panel of
baseball experts chosen by Rawlings trimmed the list of more than
250 Gold Glove winners to a ballot of 50.
Morgan also won in a narrow election. Known for his quickness in
the AstroTurf era, he got 27 percent at second base and finished
ahead of Roberto Alomar (22 percent), Ryne Sandberg (21 percent)
and Bill Mazeroski (19 percent).
Maddux, tied with Robinson and Jim Kaat with 16 Gold Gloves, got
50 percent of the 974,284 votes. The San Diego ace with the catlike
reflexes on comebackers beat out Kaat and Bob Gibson among
The acrobatic Smith (56 percent) outdistanced Derek Jeter and
Omar Vizquel at shortstop. The popular Jeter certainly boosted his
chances with that into-the-seats diving catch against Boston and
his backhanded flip in the playoffs to nip Oakland.
"It truly is an honor to stand with the very best defensive
players," said Smith, who won 13 Gold Gloves at shortstop. "With
so many great players, it's almost impossible to pick the best at
Bench, famed for rocket throws that cut down would-be
basestealers, drew 59 percent to top Ivan Rodriguez and Bob Boone
Parker got 53 percent at first base. He won six Gold Gloves in
his nine-year career and finished ahead of Mattingly, who got nine
Gloves, and Hernandez, whose 11 Gloves are a record at the