How do you pick a favorite player? That question “who is your favorite player?” is a common one to any baseball fan and yet it sometimes seems like a strange one.
Like asking someone “What is your favorite movie?” or “what is your favorite meal?” or “what is your favorite song?”, those are questions that seem like reasonable questions but it opens up a strange can of worms.
In terms of movies, I know intellectually Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries is a superior film to Airplane! But in the end, I would rather watch Airplane!
“Favorite” is subjective as opposed to saying “Who is the best player?”
My first favorite player was Butch Hobson. He played on a star studded Red Sox team (Yaz, Fisk, Rice, Lynn, Tiant…) and I liked the tough third baseman mainly because his name was Butch.
I had the brilliant comedian Jimmy Pardo on the podcast in 2016. He is the host of Never Not Funny, one of the best podcasts around. He is a die hard Chicago White Sox fan and he told some funny stories about rooting for the White Sox in the 1970’s. I brought up the number of White Sox featured in the Kellogg’s 3-D card series from 1978.
I brought up Alan Bannister, who I felt was probably the most obscure players who got the 3-D treatment. Jimmy informed me that Bannister was his favorite player as a kid.
Now that I found strange. Bannister’s 1977 season was the highlight of his 12 year career where me mainly played as a utility player. Even his 3-D card listed him as a vague “Infield-Outfield”. He didn’t hit for a high average, not show much power nor speed. Perhaps his versatility was what got him in the 3-D treatment. He led the league with sacrifice flies. He also had the most errors of any shortstop in baseball.
In fact in his career, his fielding at short was actually dangerous. Playing as an amateur in a tournament in Japan, he made a wild throw to first that struck a runner in the head. The runner later died from the wound.
He was drafted by the Phillies as a hyped college prospect from Arizona State in 1973. He played part of 1974 and1975 before being dealt to the White Sox in the deal for Jim Kaat. He played 139 games in 1977 and never met that mark again in a career that included stops in Cleveland, Houston and Texas through 1985.
So why was he Jimmy Pardo’s favorite player?
According to Jimmy, he saw a photo of Bannister leaping in the air turning a double play, and that impressed him. And Comiskey Park in the 1970’s featured many fans waving banners for individual players.
While the Chet Lemons and Richie Zisks of the world had no shortage of banners, Jimmy and his step brother decided to give Alan Bannister some love. They carried the “BANNISTER BOOSTER” sign to Comiskey Park.
Did it make sense that he gravitated to Bannister in a star studded team? Of course not. Nor did it make sense for me to be a big Butch Hobson fan.
But as I said in the podcast “That’s my guy.”
Jimmy agreed, totally understanding what I was saying. “That’s my guy!” he repeated.
Here is Jimmy’s appearance on the podcast.