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Best Baseball Cities

October 25, 2012

October!

 The most special month of the year for every baseball fan. The World Series determines the best baseball team, but did you ever wonder which place can lay claim to the best baseball city?

We wondered too, and thought about what it means to be a great baseball town. We decided it’s more than wins and losses, attendance, and championships. It’s where there’s a batting cage in every backyard, kids sleep with their mitts, and families spend their entire weekend at the Little League field.

We realized that every big-league ballplayer represents thousands of kids who once dreamed playing in the Big Show.

So to find the best baseball cities, we counted the home towns for every single Major Leaguer who played in The Bigs from since 1920. Then we took those raw figures and factored in area population to come up with a per-capita rate of Major Leaguer production. The result is the Top American Baseball Cities of All Time. (note – we focused on the 50 largest metro areas, home to over half of all U.S. residents)
 

Here’s our top ten Best Baseball Cities

 

Big-Leaguers per Capita

Total Big-Leaguers Since 1920

1. San Francisco, CA

14.85

364

2. St. Louis, MO

14.64

293

3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA

12.48

816

4. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA

12.42

99

5. Cincinnati-Middletown, OH

12.39

172

6. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

11.74

88

7. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA

11.40

141

8. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

8.84

93

9. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC

8.63

60

10. Austin-Round Rock, TX

8.57

43

 

(note: these are metropolitan areas, which include the primary cities and the surrounding suburbs, and the per-capita rate is number of players per 10 million population over the span of the study.)


And here’s a special gift to all our stat geeks…
Click here to download a spreadsheet of all 361 major metro areas. It’s already sorted on the results for the 50 largest metros, and you’ll want to re-sort it to see how your home town ranks overall. You’ll never guess which place is #1 overall, when you consider all the smaller places!


It’s a diverse list. There are classic baseball cities like Cincinnati and St. Louis near the top, as well as a few intriguing surprises like Tampa, Charlotte, and Birmingham. With its perfect baseball climate, it’s no surprise California snags four of the top 10 slots.

#1 is none other than San Francisco, whose beloved Giants are playing for the World Series Championship this year. Starting Giant shortstop Brandon Crawford is from Mountain View, which is just outside of San Francisco. All-time great Joe DiMiggio hailed from the Bay Area town of Martinez, CA.

The American League’s representative in the 2012 World Series is the Detroit Tigers, who recently had hometown pitcher Darin Downs on their squad before he was designated for reassignment. New York and Chicago trailed only Los Angeles for total number of big leaguers produced, but couldn’t crack the top 10 when adjusted for population.

On the flip side of the coin, perhaps it’s no surprise that a city like Minneapolis, MN is at the bottom at 50th place. With its cold climate, maybe residents there are spending their time playing hockey instead of baseball. Other cellar-dwellers include Salt Lake City, UT at #49 and Indianapolis, IN at #48. Sunny Phoenix, AZ is a surprise at #47.


The Modern Era

All-time stats are interesting, but what about the current generation? To get an idea of which cities are turning out the most major leaguers in the modern era, we looked at players who were active from 1990 to present. The Los Angeles area leaps to #1 in those results, with 434 big-leaguers total for per capita rate of 16.97. Cincinnati jumps to #2, with San Diego and San Francisco coming in at 3 and 4.

Nashville anchors the list at #50 in the modern era, followed by Minneapolis at #49 and Richmond, VA at #48.

As you’re watching the World Series this year, think about these results and pay attention to the unlikely heroes that emerge from the shadows to take their place in history. There’s a good chance they’ll be from one of the cities on this list.

 

Bert Sperling
Sperling’s BestPlaces
Visit my blog at www.bertsperling.com