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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

September 2018

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
Website »

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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

A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
Website »

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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 »

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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
View map »


Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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

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