Mostly trim and muscled, young and nattily attired, baseball players are a sight to behold as they gallop and roll across the lawns of glorious parks across the country. Sports commentators have been known to say, “He really fills out his uniform.” It’s all that filling that keeps me coming back to baseball.
With the World Series upon us, it’s a good time to celebrate the boys of summer, with an intentionally biased collection (I am partial to pitchers, and have been since high school) of the finest men to swing a bat, pound a glove, or make dreams come true with a game-ending triple play.
Ability: 4 bats
Looks: 3 bats
At 6’5” and 225 pounds, Bumgarner owns the mound in more ways than one. His huge, handsome, hulking presence and remarkable pitching agility has earned him spots in the Top 10 best MLB pitchers lists for the past three seasons. The youngest and best pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, Bumgarner’s wicked fastballs, change ups, curveballs and sliders slip past batters at an amazing rate, earning the Hickory, South Carolina native two World Series rings (in fact, he was the youngest-ever left-handed pitcher to throw 8 scoreless innings in a World Series start at age 21 and 91 days). Soft-spoken, with a Southern drawl that could melt butter, Bumgarner is married to his high school sweetheart, and they live on a South Carolina farm.
Ability: 3 bats
Looks: 4 bats
The leggy, sensuously-lipped Cano has been a N.Y. Yankee since starting his MLB career in 2001. A five-time All-Star, Cano began the past season with a strong .302 batting average. During his only plate appearance at the All-Star Game, he was hit by a pitch and suffered a right quad contusion. On August 20, he hit his 200th career homer, a three-run center field blast in Yankee Stadium. In addition to extensive charity work, he has a pediatric rehabilitation ward in New Jersey named after him. Cano has a son (also named Robinson) who lives with his mother in the Dominican Republic. In 2012, Cano became a naturalized American citizen.