Player’s View: What Is Your Favorite Baseball Memory?

© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What is your favorite baseball memory? I asked that question to 10 major league players, and in nearly every instance, the response began with a question of their own: “Does it have to be from my own career?” While all were happy to share one (or more) meaningful memory from their time in the big leagues, it was primarily magic moments from their days as fans and/or young amateurs that stood out the most.

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Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox

“I have two. Being able to have all of my family members at the All-Star game with me in San Diego in 2016 is one. The other is having my family with me in London, England for the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry series [in 2019]. They were all with me for the [2018] World Series as well, so there are actually three: All-Star Game, World Series, and being able to travel all the way to London, halfway around the world, to watch me play. In no particular order, those would be my favorite baseball memories.”

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Jack Flaherty, St. Louis Cardinals

“The play Derek Jeter made in Oakland, the flip home to Jorge Posada. The ball down the line, the overthrow, and he comes out of nowhere to flip it home. It’s one of those things you watch and are like, ‘I don’t know how he ended up there, or why he ended up there.’ The importance of that play and how cool it was… I played short growing up, and while I wasn’t a Yankees fan, I was a big Jeter fan. He was a guy I looked up to, and that play was purely instinctual, like he had no business being there.

“In my own professional career, my favorite memory to this point is probably winning [2019 NLDS] Game Five on the road in Atlanta. Being a part of that first inning the guys put together [10 runs]… all I had to do was go out there and not give it up. I just needed to pitch as many innings as I could.”

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Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles

“My favorite baseball memory would be when I was 11 years old. AAU Baseball was huge in Florida — I’m sure it still is — and my team won the 11-and-Under championship. That was in May of 2003. We’d kind of had a tougher season up to that point, we’d underachieved, but then we ended up winning the state tournament. It was a really special time. There’s nothing like winning like that when you’re a kid. It was the biggest deal in the world to us. That was definitely the happiest I’ve ever been on a baseball field.

“My favorite memory as a pro would probably be John Means’ no-hitter last year in Seattle. Just to be a part of that… and the way that he did it, too. That no-hitter is kind of in its own category, because it was between a no-hitter and a perfect game. A dropped third strike was the only baserunner, and then he was immediately thrown out [attempting to steal]. It was very unique as far as no-hitters go, and by far the most dominant performance I’ve seen at any level of professional baseball. To get to witness it firsthand was amazing.”

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Lance McCullers Jr., Houston Astros

“My favorite memory as a player was probably closing the ALCS in 2017. I had already pitched in that series against the Yankees; I’d started Game 4 in New York. When you’re facing the Yankees in a postseason, there is always a little bit of extra fun to it because of their storied history. So, closing it out like I did, and sending us to our second World Series — especially in the [Hurricane] Harvey year that led up to those moments — definitely stands out.

“I grew up a Yankees fan, in Tampa, Florida. They have spring training in Tampa, and I’ve probably been to at least 50 of their spring training games in my lifetime. Growing up, Robinson Canó was my favorite player. Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens… all those guys. So, growing up a Yankees fan, and then fast-forwarding to facing them in the ALCS and being able to pull through, throwing all those curveballs… that’s probably my favorite moment as an individual.”

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Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals

“There’s maybe not one specific memory, but I used to really enjoy travel baseball in the summer down in Florida. You would play your games from Jupiter down to Miami — there were the weekend tournaments — and you’d be driving back and forth with a couple of your buddies in the car and someone’s parent [behind the wheel]. There would be snacks after the game. School was over, it was summer… and when I was 12, we did that Cooperstown tournament. It was kind of like it is now, you’re traveling around playing with the boys.

“Favorite major league moments… I almost had one last week. [Throwing a no-hitter] would have been neat. But it will still go into the books as a great fun game. And any time my wife and kids get a chance to come to the game, and get down on the field; that’s always going to be fun. There are a lot of great memories from playing in Japan, too, especially with the fans there. If you play baseball long enough, there are going to be a lot of great memories. Until I win a World Series, it will be hard to pick just one favorite.”

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Dylan MooreSeattle Mariners

“I grew up in Southern California and watched the Angels a lot, and their World Series run, and victory in 2000, kind of cemented my love for the game. I went to a bunch of games that year. David Eckstein was my guy, watching him play shorts. As a kid, that was very impactful, especially that World Series.

“As a player… last year, we were down early to Houston and came back to win. I hit a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth. That would have to be my best baseball memory as an MLB player.”

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Sergio Romo, Seattle Mariners

“My favorite baseball memory has nothing to do with me. I was fortunate enough to make the All-Star team in 2013 — the game was at Citi Field — and it was Mariano Rivera’s last year. In the eighth inning, he came out of the bullpen to pitch, and not a person was sitting down. They played “Enter Sandman.” It was one of the most amazing moments. It sticks with me, even though it had nothing to do with me.

“One that does… Oh, my goodness. Obviously, my big moment was in the 2012 World Series when I was able to get the last out. And it was a strikeout. That’s really what we play for. Right? I was that kid in the backyard, playing catch with my dad, and I was on the mound with one out to go in the World Series. I actually got to live that for real.”

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Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics

“It would have to be winning the World Series [with Atlanta] last November. That final out in Houston, storming the field and getting to celebrate that World Series title I’ve been waiting for my whole life for. Winning the World Series is by far my favorite moment, getting to celebrate with my teammates, my coaches, my family. All of that.

“I’ve been wanting to win a World Series ever since I could talk. I grew up a big baseball fan. I love the game. I love competing. I always played sports, always wanting to win, and when you win the last game of the baseball season, and get to be the one hoisting the trophy… I mean, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

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Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

“I think I’ll give you a moment from when I was a kid. The worst-to-first Braves in 1991. Sid Bream slides in safe at home plate to beat the Pirates. I’d just turned 10 years old. I grew up a Braves fan — a rabid Braves fan, and a Dale Murphy fan. Watching that magical season… it kind of turned things around and started a dynasty there. I’ve got that picture framed in my office at home, signed by Sid Bream. Francisco Cabrera base hit to left, Barry Bonds comes up throwing, Mike LaValliere catches it but can’t reach him at home. Sid was like the slowest guy in the whole league, with a big old giant knee brace on, chugging along. That’s my favorite baseball memory.

“Playing days… I mean, the one I get asked about the most — probably the biggest moment in my career — was Game Seven of the NLCS in 2006. Carlos Beltrán up to bat, bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. It’s like everything you ever dream about as a kid, coming through on the field in a moment like that.”

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Jesse WinkerSeattle Mariners

“Going to this place called Thornebrooke, a school right by where I grew up in Orlando. I used to go there with my dad and my brothers, and we would hit when I was really young. I was nine or 10 years old, and it was the coolest moment because it was my dad throwing batting practice, and my brothers hitting with me, shagging, running around, having fun.

“The best game of my life was last year in Cincinnati. I hit three home runs, and my family was there. My daughter was there; she’ll be two in May. That’s a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life. I don’t think anybody really had words for it afterwards. My brothers, my dad, and I hung out, and we didn’t really talk about the home runs. I don’t know if we knew what to say to each other about it. I think we were all kind of like, ‘Holy crap. That really just happened.’”

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