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OK’s Major-League Production

A legacy of big-time ballplayers



 



Baseball is said to have first been played in present-day Oklahoma in 1869, when Fort Sill hosted games between soldiers of the 7th U.S. Cavalry, under the command of George Armstrong Custer, and the 19th Kansas Volunteers.

Over the decades since, Oklahoma-born Hall of Famers include New York Yankee legend Mickey Mantle (Spavinaw); 14-time All-Star catcher Johnny Bench, Gold Glove winner Bobby Murcer and Kansas City Monarchs star Charles Wilber “Bullet Joe” Rogan (Oklahoma City); Paul “Big Poison” and Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner (Harrah); and Willie Stargell (Earlsboro). They’re part of the state’s impressive legacy; however …
 


THE CLAIM: Oklahoma has sent more baseball players to the major leagues than any other state.

THE SOURCE: Moments in Oklahoma History, by Bonnie Spear. Published by Reliance Press, 1988.


FACT CHECK: False.
 

The Baseball Almanac reports that every state in the Union has produced at least one Major League Baseball player. From the sport’s first major league season in 1876 through the 2017 World Series, analyzing rosters for the home states of the 16,563 athletes born in the U.S. shows California as the runaway winner with 2,224 players.

Oklahoma – and its territorial lands before statehood – is listed as the birthplace of 263 MLB players, 20th overall in the nation.

The first Major League Baseball player born in what is now Oklahoma was Adair Bushyhead Mayes, nicknamed Paddy Mayes after his arrival on St. Patrick’s Day 1885. The native of Locust Grove, Cherokee Nation, played outfield in five June games for the 1911 Philadelphia Phillies, recording a walk and no hits in five at-bats.

He was followed by two Territory-born classmates from the famed Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Mike Balenti Jr. and the legendary Jim Thorpe.

Balenti was born July 3, 1886, in Calumet, to Cheyenne Belle Rath, daughter of renowned buffalo hunter Charles Rath, and a Hungarian immigrant. Balenti played in 1911 for the Reds and 1913 for the Browns.

Thorpe was born May 28, 1887, in Prague. He excelled in track, baseball and football and shattered world records in the 1912 Olympic decathlon and pentathlon. His medals were stripped away months later when it was reported he was paid $2 a game to play baseball with the Class D Rocky Mount Railroaders. New York Giants manager John McGraw would offer Thorpe a three-year deal worth $6,000 a season, making him at the time the highest-paid rookie in the sport’s history.

Senior among Oklahoma’s MLB players active in the 2017 season is seven-time All Star Matt Holliday, born in Stillwater on Jan. 15, 1980. The 2007 National League batting champion and a key member of the St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Champion squad, he ended the year with a career total of 314 homeruns. Newcomers Koda Glover, Michael Fulmer and Brian Anderson, all born in the spring of 1993 and making their MLB debuts in the last two seasons, are among those continuing Oklahoma’s baseball tradition.

 

The Top 20

California: 2,224
Pennsylvania: 1,397
New York: 1,141
Illinois: 1,046
Ohio: 1,021
Texas: 913
Massachusetts: 661
Missouri: 601
Florida: 529
Michigan: 425
New Jersey: 420
North Carolina: 409
Indiana: 377
Georgia: 363
Alabama: 330
Tennessee: 304
Virginia: 288
Kentucky: 287
Maryland: 283
Oklahoma: 263

Dominican Republic: 707
Venezuela: 376
Puerto Rico: 263
Canada: 245
Cuba: 198
 


Editor’s note: Oklahoma is rich with history, lore and fun facts, but some of them aren’t quite factual. In this series, M.J. Alexander hunts for the accuracy – or lack thereof – behind some of our state’s stories.

 

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Calendar

August 2018

Science and the Bible dramatically converge to reveal ancient Jerusalem’s most famous king-prophet pairing. In this interactive, multimedia exhibit, visitors discover the illuminating history...

Cost: Free

Where:
Armstrong Auditorium
Herbert W. Armstrong College
14400 S Bryant Ave
Edmond, OK  73034-8174
View map »


Sponsor: Armstrong International Cultural Foundation
Telephone: 405-285-1010
Contact Name: Shane Granger
Website »

More information

 The Mabee Center will come alive in a colorful expression of dance, drum music and song as members of tribal nations from around the country gather to honor, strengthen and share traditions...

Cost: $7-$15

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918.495.6000
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Science and the Bible dramatically converge to reveal ancient Jerusalem’s most famous king-prophet pairing. In this interactive, multimedia exhibit, visitors discover the illuminating history...

Cost: Free

Where:
Armstrong Auditorium
Herbert W. Armstrong College
14400 S Bryant Ave
Edmond, OK  73034-8174
View map »


Sponsor: Armstrong International Cultural Foundation
Telephone: 405-285-1010
Contact Name: Shane Granger
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Science and the Bible dramatically converge to reveal ancient Jerusalem’s most famous king-prophet pairing. In this interactive, multimedia exhibit, visitors discover the illuminating history...

Cost: Free

Where:
Armstrong Auditorium
Herbert W. Armstrong College
14400 S Bryant Ave
Edmond, OK  73034-8174
View map »


Sponsor: Armstrong International Cultural Foundation
Telephone: 405-285-1010
Contact Name: Shane Granger
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Science and the Bible dramatically converge to reveal ancient Jerusalem’s most famous king-prophet pairing. In this interactive, multimedia exhibit, visitors discover the illuminating history...

Cost: Free

Where:
Armstrong Auditorium
Herbert W. Armstrong College
14400 S Bryant Ave
Edmond, OK  73034-8174
View map »


Sponsor: Armstrong International Cultural Foundation
Telephone: 405-285-1010
Contact Name: Shane Granger
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us every Thursday this summer for morning yoga practice while enjoying the beautiful sunrise over Will Rogers Gardens. This class is designed for all skill levels, so grab your...

Cost: $5 per class

Where:
Will Rogers Gardens
3400 NW 36th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73112
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 405.297.2279
Contact Name: Becca Leon
Website »

More information

Science and the Bible dramatically converge to reveal ancient Jerusalem’s most famous king-prophet pairing. In this interactive, multimedia exhibit, visitors discover the illuminating history...

Cost: Free

Where:
Armstrong Auditorium
Herbert W. Armstrong College
14400 S Bryant Ave
Edmond, OK  73034-8174
View map »


Sponsor: Armstrong International Cultural Foundation
Telephone: 405-285-1010
Contact Name: Shane Granger
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Science and the Bible dramatically converge to reveal ancient Jerusalem’s most famous king-prophet pairing. In this interactive, multimedia exhibit, visitors discover the illuminating history...

Cost: Free

Where:
Armstrong Auditorium
Herbert W. Armstrong College
14400 S Bryant Ave
Edmond, OK  73034-8174
View map »


Sponsor: Armstrong International Cultural Foundation
Telephone: 405-285-1010
Contact Name: Shane Granger
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Individual Artists of Oklahoma is making waves this August with the sexiest beach party this land-locked state has ever seen. To be held on Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 8 p.m. to...

Cost: $25 in advance / $30 at the door

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.412.2541
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Variety Care will hold a free Family Fun Day, themed There’s No Place Like Home, at its new community facility, Britton Health Center. The day will feature live music, games, prizes, food...

Cost: Free

Where:
Britton Health Center
721 West Britton Road
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: Variety Care
Telephone: 405.632.6688
Contact Name: Lance Evans
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Individual Artists of Oklahoma is making waves this August with the sexiest beach party this land-locked state has ever seen. To be held on Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 8 p.m. to...

Cost: $25 in advance / $30 at the door

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.412.2541
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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