Hundreds of MLB players got their start in the Sunshine State, some of who played in the majors for decades and eventually made their way into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Growing up where it’s (almost) always warm is conducive to playing a lot of outdoor sports year-round, so it’s not a huge surprise there have been many Floridians making their way to the major leagues.
Let’s take a look and see what parts of the state have contributed the most MLB players, and which parts of Florida some of our favorite baseball heroes – from modern-day players to veterans of days long ago – hail from.
Florida’s Baseball Boys
Looking around Florida, we mapped out where MLB players hail from. Unsurprisingly, the bigger cities contributed more players to the major leagues, with Tampa offering up the most (96), followed by Miami (87), Jacksonville (52), Pensacola (36) and Orlando (35).
Steve Garvey, who played in the majors for 19 years and went to 10 All-Star Games, hails from Tampa and has a slew of awards to his name, including a 1981 World Series championship title, four-time Gold Glove recipient, and the 1974 National League MVP. Also from Miami are Gary Sheffield (22 years, nine ASG), Luis Gonzalez (19 years, five ASG), Fred McGriff (19 years, five ASG), Dwight Gooden (16 years, four ASG), and Carl Everett (14 years, two ASG).
Players from Jacksonville include Daniel Murphy (9 years, three ASG), who was the NLCS MVP in 2015 when he played for the New York Mets. His career batting average is .299, and he has knocked in 110 homers (so far). Also from Jacksonville are Vince Coleman (13 years, two ASG), and Glenn Davis (10 years, two ASG). Zack Greinke (14 years, four ASG) and Davey Johnson (13 years, four ASG) both hail from Orlando and Jay Bell (18 years, two ASG) comes from Pensacola.
The beach is where it’s at, and for the players hailing from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties, it’s just a stone’s throw from their hometown locale. Miami is the hometown of 87 MLB players, and the surrounding areas up the coast contribute their fair share as well.
West Palm Beach, for example, is the former stomping grounds of players like Dante Bichette – who has 14 years of MLB experience and has gone to four All-Star Games – and Robby Thompson, an 11-year MLB player who went to two ASG. Boynton Beach contributed eight players, including Rick Rhoden, a 16-year player who has gone to two ASG.
Another player who comes from the area is Mike Napoli, who is one of nine players who hail from Hollywood. Napoli earned a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2013 and has been to the All-Star Game once – so far.
Florida is also the hometown of several players who’ve made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Steve Carlton, a native of Miami, spent 24 years in the majors with six teams over his career. The lefty pitcher was a four-time Cy Young Award winner with a lifetime ERA of 3.22 and won the World Series twice – once with the St. Louis Cardinals and once with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Miami is also the hometown of another Hall of Famer: Andre Dawson. Dawson was the second player in MLB history to reach both 400 homers and 300 stolen bases and rang up plenty of other accolades during his 21-season run as a major leaguer. He was an eight-time All-Star, the 1987 National League MVP, nabbed eight Gold Glove Awards, four Silver Sluggers, and was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1977.
A little farther up the coast, you’ll find Sanford, Florida, the hometown of HOFer Tim Raines. Raines helped the Yankees win a World Series title in 1996, was a seven-time All-Star (in one of the games he secured the MVP), and won a Silver Slugger Award. He was also a prolific base stealer – he is the only player in MLB history to steal at least 70 bags in six consecutive seasons.
On the west side of Florida, you’ll find two more Hall of Famers in Tampa. Tony La Russa, a famed manager, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. La Russa managed three major league teams – the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, and led his teams to a World Series title three times – twice with the Cards and once with the As. He was selected Manager of the Year four times and, in all, led his teams to six league pennants.
Also out of Miami, you’ll find another Hall of Famer who was inducted for his work as an MLB manager. Al López was inducted in 1977, and while he did spend a considerable chunk of time in the majors as a catcher (19 seasons), his work as a skipper gained him the most recognition. When he retired, he was one of four managers to exceed a .580 winning mark after managing at least 2,000 games, and his teams never posted a losing record over 15 seasons of managing.
Also, although the induction ceremony doesn’t take place until July, there is another Floridian Hall of Famer we have to mention – Chipper Jones, who hails from DeLand, Florida. He spent his entire playing career with the Atlanta Braves, who he helped win the 1995 World Series title, was an eight-time All-Star, and National League MVP in 1999.
Get Your Gear On
Are you a baseball fan who hails from Florida yourself, or do you just dig all the amazing players that came from the Sunshine State? Never fear – Fanatics has an amazing selection of authentic MLB swag, so you can show off your fandom and support your favorite teams or players.