The first baseman, in baseball, is the man who covers first base. However, in addition to his direct fielding duties, the first baseman is also a vital defender for several reasons:
- Since most batters who reach base stop at first base, the first baseman is the first line of defense against the runner advancing. He must be able to hold runners close to the bag while maintaining a better-than-average range to chase down balls hit his direction.
- The first baseman receives all of the incoming throws on all routine grounders, and his abilities to stretch out and catch a thrown ball must be second-to-none.
- In general, the first baseman's job is to make the difficult look routine, and to do it with a frequency unrivaled on the baseball diamond. With the exception of the pitcher and catcher, nobody touches the ball more on average than the first baseman.
Although it is not a set rule, good defensive first basemen are usually right-handed. This is because a left-handed person must lean left to catch balls, making him more likely to be spiked or ran through by oncoming runners.
The first baseman is marked by a 3 for official scoring purposes. For example, a groundout from the third baseman to the first baseman would be marked as
and a foul out
to the first baseman would be recorded as
In general, the first baseman is a bulkier and slower player, more developed for power than speed or contact. Unlike the Olympian agility and range required for the shortstop and second baseman positions, the first baseman is more often designed with the build of an outfielder or catcher, but with the surer hands required of his position. This is not to say first basemen cannot be agile, or fast, or tough outs: just that they are rarely the most agile or fastest on the team.
Throughout the years, a number of excellent first basemen have graced Major League Baseball. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of first basemen (although some only played first base for brief periods in their career) who made a significant mark in the majors, with Hall of Famers denoted in bold:
Hank Aaron - Joe Adcock - Cap Anson - Jeff Bagwell -
Ernie Banks - Jake Beckley - Jim Bottomley - George Brett - Dan Brouthers
Bill Buckner - Rod Carew - Norm Cash - Orlando Cepeda -
Frank Chance - Jack Clark - Will Clark - Cecil Cooper - Ed Delahanty
Carlos Delgado - Walt Dropo - Darrell Evans - Cecil Fielder - Jimmie Foxx - Andres Galarraga - Steve Garvey - Lou Gehrig
Mark Grace - Hank Greenberg - Charley Grimm - Harry Heilmann - Todd Helton - Babe Herman - Keith Hernandez - Gil Hodges
Kent Hrbek - Gregg Jefferies - Wally Joyner - Joe Judge - Eric Karros - Harmon Killebrew - Ted Kluszewski - Buck Leonard
Fred Lindstrom - Roger Maris - Don Mattingly - Willie McCovey - Fred McGriff - Mark McGwire - Johnny Mize - Dale Murphy
Eddie Murray - Stan Musial - John Olerud - Rafael Palmeiro - Dave Parker - Tony Perez - Boog Powell - Pete Rose
George Sisler - Willie Stargell - Fred Tenney - Bill Terry - Frank Thomas - Jim Thome - Mickey Vernon - Carl Yastrzemski
Games: 2413, Eddie Murray
At-Bats: 11336, Eddie Murray
Hits: 3418, Cap Anson
Runs: 1996, Cap Anson
Doubles: 581, Cap Anson
Triples: 243, Jake Beckley
Home Runs: 521, Willie McCovey
Runs Batted In: 2076, Cap Anson
Stolen Bases: 455, Ed Delahanty
Batting Average: .342, Dan Brouthers
Games: 163, Ernie Banks, 1965 Chicago Cubs
At-Bats: 677, Don Mattingly, 1986 New York Yankees
Hits: 257, George Sisler, 1922 St. Louis Browns
Runs: 167, Lou Gehrig, 1936 New York Yankees
Doubles: 64, George Burns, 1926 Cleveland Indians
Triples: 22, Jake Daubert, 1922 Cincinnati Reds
Home Runs: 70, Mark McGwire, 1998 St. Louis Cardinals
Runs Batted In: 184, Lou Gehrig, 1931 New York Yankees
Stolen Bases: 67, Frank Chance, 1903 Chicago Cubs
Batting Average: .420, George Sisler, 1922 St. Louis Browns
Most Gold Gloves, American League: 9, Don Mattingly
Most Gold Gloves, National League: 11, Keith Hernandez
Suggestions, additions, corrections? Holla.