While Pennsylvania is home to the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL franchise with the most Lombardi Trophies, it’s important to remember it’s not a one-sport state. In fact, you could argue Pennsylvania has a stronger connection to the America’s pastime, baseball, than football. With historic teams – the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies – continuing to place diehard fans into seats across a 162-game season.
Join us as we take a look at what may be the genesis of Pennsylvania’s love affair with baseball: the countless number of major league players who call the land of Hershey and the Liberty Bell their birthplace. We examined where most of the Pennsylvania-born players hail from, which city claims bragging rights for producing the most major leaguers, and the Hall of Famers with a Quaker State hometown.
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Everywhere Else
Baseball has been a part of life in Philadelphia since 1882 when the Pittsburgh Pirates, then called the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, went to bat for their inaugural season. A year later, they would be joined by the Philadelphia Quakers, but we know them today as the Phillies. Between these two teams, there have been over 30 playoff appearances, more than 15 pennants, and seven World Series championships.
With over 1.5 million residents of Philadelphia today, should we be surprised the state’s largest city has produced the most MLB players? Mike Piazza, Bucky Walters, and Roy Campanella are just a few of Philadelphia’s best baseball exports.
On the other side of the state, Pittsburgh offered up 129 players – 225 less than Philadelphia. Even though Honus Wagner was born in Chartiers, Pennsylvania, some residents of Pittsburgh would probably want to try and claim him as a product of their city.
More Famous Than the Rest of the Rotation
While there have been hundreds of baseball players born in Pennsylvania, the state also claims claim to some of the greatest players ever to swing. Reggie Jackson, born just north of Philadelphia in Abington, is their best candidate. His impact on baseball is the stuff of legends. In addition to being a member of the Hall of Fame, Jackson was an All-Star in 14 of his 21 seasons. He was an individual league MVP once and twice during the World Series. Oh, yeah, he was a member of four World Series winning teams too. Reggie Jackson is Pennsylvania baseball.
One hometown hero, Mike Piazza, may be beloved by the residents of Norristown, but playing regularly against the Pittsburgh Pirates as a catcher for the New York Mets wouldn’t have endeared him to Pennsylvanians living in other cities. In addition to being a well-respected baseball player and member of the Hall of Fame, he also was the subject of a song by artists Belle & Sebastian titled “Piazza, New York Catcher.”
Life, Liberty, and Love of Baseball
Whether they came from big cities, such as Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, or smaller towns like Altoona or Erie, Pennsylvania has produced many professional baseball players. It’s a point of pride for these cities pointing to some of the game’s greatest who once walked the same streets they do today. Remember the great Pennsylvanians who stepped up to the plate, and show your support for those still playing, by getting the best officially licensed MLB merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.