Many of us have probably been to our 20 year (or more) high school reunion. There are some people you may have stayed in touch with all those years, others may have crossed your path just a few times, but for many of your classmates it could be the first time you’ve met since high school.
It can be like that in baseball too. Except, there aren’t nearly as many on-field reunions because most players don’t stay in the game for 20 years. Even when they do, their playing time at either or both ends of their careers can make reunions with other specific players pretty unlikely. And, of course, there’s always the difficulty of being in different leagues. But, it does happen sometimes. After the break, you can take a look at pairs of players who have appeared together in games separated by 20 or more seasons. Which players do you think have had the most “reunions”?
So, here’s the list from the game-searchable era, ordered chronologically by last game.
- The bolded pairings indicate that one or both players are pitchers and the pair faced each other in a PA in both of the games
- Maximum possible spans are in pair 1 (Beck/Simmons) and pair 13 (Rose/Perez), with one game the first of one player’s career, and the other game the last of the other player’s career.
- Other career debuts are in pairs 2 (Dickson), 8 (Morgan), 27 (Clemens), 29 (Maddux), and 30 (Griffey and Vizquel).
- One other career finale in pair 16 (Carlton), and also the second-to-last career game for Niekro on that day.
- The longest span between first and last matchup is Franco and Clemens (pair 27), at more than 23 years. Pairs 11 (Staub/Rose), 13 (Perez/Rose) and 21 (Henderson/Morgan) have spans exceeding 22 years.
- The “stars must have been aligned” award goes to pair 1 (Beck/Simmons). Their first matchup in 1924 was Beck’s first career game and only appearance prior to 1927, and their last tilt was Simmons’ final career game and one of only 4 appearances he had that year.
- No matchups at all for a number of notables with very long careers, including Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Gaylord Perry, Jim Kaat, Tommy John, Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough, and others.
- Honorable mention to Tom Glavine and John Smoltz who were teammates on the 1988 and 2008 Braves’ teams and, being starters, never appeared in the same game. Similarly, Dennis Eckersley and Rick Honeycutt appeared in an Aug 27, 1977 game, and were teammates on the 1997 Cardinals, but didn’t appear in the same game.
- Close call for Dave Philley and Elmer Valo who last appeared together on June 10, 1961 and who also both appeared in the Athletics/White Sox series of Sep 11-13, 1941, but not in the same game.
- Close call for Ted Simmons and Don Sutton who last appeared together on Apr 7, 1988 and who also both appeared in the Cardinals/Dodgers series of Sep 20-22, 1968 but not in the same game.
- Close call for Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton who both appeared in the Mets/Dodgers series of Jun 10-12, 1968 but not in the same game, and also both appeared in the Astros/Dodgers series of Jun 6-9, 1988 but not in the same game.
- Close call for Bill Buckner and Charlie Hough who first appeared together as Dodger teammates on Sep 21, 1970 and who also both appeared in the Red Sox/Rangers series of May 28-30, 1990, but not in the same game.
- Close call for Carlton Fisk and Rick Dempsey who first appeared together on Apr 25, 1972 and who also both appeared in the White Sox/Orioles 1992 series on both July 6-8 and July 20-22, but not in the same game.
- Close call for Nolan Ryan and Rick Dempsey who first appeared together on Jun 27, 1972 and who also both appeared in the Rangers/Orioles 1992 series on both July 16-19 and July 23-26, but not in the same game.
- Close call for Nolan Ryan and Rich Gossage who last appeared together on Jun 12, 1992 and who also both appeard in the Angels/White Sox 1972 series on both May 29-31 and Sep 8-10, but not in the same game.
- Close call for Nolan Ryan and Bert Blyleven who both appeared in the Angels/Twins series of Apr 18-19, 1972 but not in the same game, and also both appeared in the Rangers/Angels series of Jun 15-17, 1992 but not in the same game.
- Close call for George Brett and Carlton Fisk who last appeared together on May 25, 1993 and who also both appeared in the Royals/Red Sox series of Aug 7-9, 1973, but not in the same game.
- Close call for Eddie Murray and Dennis Martinez who first appeared together on Apr 9, 1977 and who also both appeared in the Angels/Mariners series of May 19-21, 1997, but not in the same game.
Here are some possible pairings for players before the game-searchable era.
|Player A||Player B||First Game||Last Game|
|Cap Anson||Jim O’Rourke||1872 AA||1893 NL|
|Lave Cross||Jack O’Connor||1887 AA||1907 NL|
|Deacon McGuire||Hughie Jennings||1891/92 AA/NL||1912 teammates|
|Bobby Wallace||Harry Davis||1894/95 NL||1915/16 AL|
|Nap Lajoie||Harry Davis||1896 NL||1916 teammates|
|Bobby Wallace||Honus Wagner||1897 NL||1917 NL|
|Bobby Wallace||Tommy Leach||1898 NL||1918-06-30|
|Ty Cobb||Walter Johnson||1907 AL||1927-09-05|
|Tris Speaker||Walter Johnson||1907 AL||1927-09-22|
|Ty Cobb||Tris Speaker||1907-08 AL||1928-08-30|
|Eddie Collins||Tris Speaker||1907-08 AL||1928-08-30|
|Ty Cobb||Eddie Collins||1906-08 AL||1928-09-11|
|Eddie Collins||Jack Quinn||1909-10 AL||1930-08-05|
|Eppa Rixey||Rabbit Maranville||1912-13 NL||1933-05-17|
|Jack Quinn||Rabbit Maranville||1913 teammates||1933-07-07|
|Herb Pennock||Babe Ruth||1914 AL||1934-08-12|
There were two new pairs added to the list last season and nine added just in the last 5 seasons. But, with so much player movement every year, it can be tough to guess which pair of players may be next to join this list. Who do you think it could be?
The Blue Jays and Phillies are again on each other’s interleague schedule. But, if you’re wondering about Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel, sorry! Even though Thome debuted in 1991, he never played against Vizquel’s Mariners until opening day of the 1994 season. On the other hand, should Arthur Rhodes make his way back onto a major league roster this year, he and Vizquel could possibly have a reunion, 20 seasons after their first encounter on Aug 19, 1992. Similarly, if Ivan Rodriguez lands a job, he and Jim Thome could connect, 20 seasons after their first meeting on May 19, 1992.
Please let me know of any possible combination I may have missed. Would be happy to check them out.