Baseball, possibly alone among its peers, has one foot squarely in nostalgia while the other is just as firmly rooted in analytical analysis and forward thinking. The sport, possibly dwindling in popularity as its languid nature loses out to the more immediately gratifying sports of basketball and football, not to mention other non-athletic intrusions into our attention and time, has always seemed like a game that’s purposefully a half-step out of touch with reality — like it was made for sepia coloring and a George Cohan soundtrack.
Appropriately, the world of baseball fiction is filled with all kinds of iconic characters, from Charlie Brown to the entire cast of The Sandlot to the coach from both versions of Bad News Bears to examples that run all around the various strata and striations of American life. Maybe that’s the key: the indivisible association between baseball and a faded picture with one bent corner portraying some long-lost vision of Americana that’s gone to time. Or maybe it’s because Major League Baseball offers a really excellent narrative framing device for screenwriters, poets, and other storytellers. Perhaps even a dabbling of both.
What follows are the five best fictional baseball players of all time, forever. Some of them are famous based on (fictional) reputation. Some of them are men, myths, and legends blessed with the keys to the kingdom, minds for victory, and arms like cannons. They span every era of baseball history, from the earliest days of the game to the post-PED era it inhabits today.