Baseball's greatest players

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Man pitching baseball
Babe Ruth, one of the most well-known baseball players in history, began as a pitcher
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Find out what made these athletes baseball's greatest players.

Jackie Robinson

Born on Jan. 31, 1919, Robinson was 28-years-old when he began playing in the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Born Jack Roosevelt Robinson, Jackie was the first African American major league baseball player; his debut with the Dodgers ended an 80-year segregation known as the baseball color line.

Robinson played in six World Series, earned six consecutive All-Star Game nominations and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1947. Just two years later Jackie was awarded the National League MVP award. Known for his work with civil rights as much as for being one of baseball's greatest players, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1982 Jackie Robinson became the first Major League Baseball player to appear on a US postage stamp.

Mickey Mantle

Born on Oct. 20, 1931, Mantle was just 19-years-old when he broke into the big leagues with the New York Yankees. Playing his entire 18-year major league career with the Yankees, Mantle quickly became known as one of baseball's greatest players thanks to his three major league MVP awards and membership on 16 World Series teams.

In addition, Mantle holds the record for the most World Series homeruns (18), RBIs (40), runs (42), walks (43), extra-base hits (26) and total bases (123). Mickey Mantle was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and died in1995 at the age of 63.

Joe DiMaggio

Born on Nov. 25, 1914, DiMaggio was 21 when he joined the New York Yankees. Born Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio Jr., he was a center fielder and played his entire career with the Yankees. Nicknamed Joltin' Joe and The Yankee Clipper, DiMaggio was a three-time MVP winner and a 13-time All Star. DiMaggio was the only player in baseball history selected for the All Star Game in every season he played. In 1941, Joe thrilled baseball fans with a 56-game hitting streak.

DiMaggio's famous relationship with Marilyn Monroe began when he and the renowned starlet eloped in January 1954. Monroe filed for divorce less than a year later, but the couple remained close friends. DiMaggio claimed her body after her death in August of 1962 and he had a dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three times a week for 20 years. He never married again. DiMaggio was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955 and died following lung surgery in March of 1999.

Babe Ruth

Ruth was born on Feb. 6, 1895 and was 19 when he began playing in the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox. He began as a pitcher, but in 1920 he was traded to the New York Yankees where he played much of his career as an outfielder. Ruth led or placed in the top 10 in batting average, slugging percentage, runs, total bases, homeruns, RBIs and walks during his next 15 seasons with the Yankees. After he was sold from Boston, the team suffered for decades, having previously enjoyed a place amongst the top teams before the trade. The superstition that the trading of Ruth led to the team's demise was called The Curse of the Bambino   a curse that ended in 2004 when the Red Sox finally won a World Series title (their first in 86 years).

One of baseball's greatest players, Ruth became the first true American sports celebrity and in the 1920s was largely responsible for the enthusiastic rise in the popularity of the game. In 1936 Babe Ruth became one of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1969, he was named baseball's Greatest Player Ever in a ballot celebrating the 100th anniversary of professional baseball.

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