Thursday, June 16, 2016

Friday Five: Top 5 Raleigh Capitals Players

Earlier in the week I posted a card of Carl Yastrzemski that I picked up from a Carolina League All-Star set that was put out in the mid 1990s.  The card featured Yaz on the now defunct Raleigh Capitals who were an on and off again team that played in North Carolina's capital city until they shit their doors for good 1967 when they were merged with their crosstown rivals the Durham Bulls. 

The Capitals generally spent their time in the Carolina and Piedmont League, both leagues were in the lower levels in the minors.  Add in the fact that there were years were the franchise did not field a team, years where the franchise did not have an affiliation with a Major League team and the window for the Capitals to field quality talent was somewhat limited. 

While the top half of this list is loaded with talent, if I went past five players and expanded the list to say 10, there would be some really unknowns on the list.  Not the unknowns, like that guy played in 1910 and was a solid player, but unknown because the player appeared in 100 games in 1930.  Not good. 

Without further delay, the top 5 Raleigh Capitals players....

5.  Johnny Allen - 1928 - Allen played for the Raleigh Capitals as a 23 year old pitcher on his way up to the Major Leagues.  The North Carolina native spent four years in the minors before making his debut with the Yankees in 1932.  His first few seasons spent in New York and Cleveland went very well.  In four seasons with the Yankees Allen won 50 games, including 17 as a rookie season.  The Yankees ended that season as World Champions.  Allen's first three seasons in Cleveland also were very strong as he posted a 49-19 record before his career drastically fell off during the second half of the 1938.  Allen made the All-Star that year, but was hurt during the break.  The injury was apparently reported with the same accuracy that most NHL teams, or the New England Patriots, report their injuries.  It was reported that Allen fell on a bar of soap, yet his arm was dead. 

4. Wilbur Wood - 1960 - Wood played for the Capitals in 1960 during his first year in professional baseball.  I always think of Wood as a White Sox, but he started his career with the Red Sox.  He spent parts of four seasons in Boston and did almost nothing.  He literally never won a game for the Red Sox in four years, which was really 36 games with 8 starts.  Wood went on to have some great years for the White Sox in the early 1970s, winning twenty games four times between 1971 and 1974.  While the peak of his career was really sharp, he was a really really good pitcher for a brief time. 

3. Joe Medwick - 1951- Medwick was the star of the 1930s Cardinals Gashouse Gang teams which brought the team a World Series Championship in 1934.  He won the Triple Crown in 1937, the National League MVP in 1938, and lead the league in all sorts of offensive categories during the 1930s.  The Cardinals eventually traded to the Dodgers where his career started to fade.  Medwick bounced around between the Dodgers, Giants, Braves, and Cardinals at the end of his career.  He played his last Major League game in 1948 at the age of 36.  Medwick did not really retire at the point, but rather ended up in the Minors where he tried to revive his career.  In 1951, the 39 year old future Hall of Famer was hired to manage the Raleigh Capitals.  The team had no affiliation, so Medwick put his name in the lineup card for 60 games on a roster that filled with older local players who had been long time fixtures in the Carolina League including Duke graduate Crash Davis and Woody Fair. 

2. Hank Greenberg - 1930 - Greenberg came through Raleigh as a 19 year old at the beginning of his career.  He played a total of 122 games for the Capitals and ended the 1930 season with a .314 average, 26 doubles, 14 triples, and 19 home runs.  Greenberg was on the Tigers by 1933 and was an offensive force with the team from the very beginning of his career.  He slashed .339/.404/.600 with 63 doubles, 26 home runs, and 139 RBIs during his first full season in 1934 helping the Tigers reach the World Series.  While his final career statistics are respectable, Greenberg served in World War II and basically lost five years of his career during the prime of his career.  In 1940, the season before he left for the war, Greenberg hit .340/.433/.670 with 50 doubles, 41 home runs, and 150 RBIs.  After World War II, he returned to baseball and put up three good season, the final with the Pirates, before calling it quits in 1947 at the age of 36.  Greenberg was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. 

 1. Carl Yastrzemski - 1960 - Yaz spent his first season in professional baseball with the Capitals hitting .377/.472/.579 with 34 doubles and 15 home runs.  In 1961 Yastrzemski took over in left field for the Red Sox and spent his entire 23 year career in Boston.  He retired in 1983 with 3,419 hits, 452 home runs, 646 doubles, and 1844 RBIs.  Yaz's final career slash line was .285/.379/.462 with a Triple Crown in 1967 along with an MVP Award.  He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 and is considered the fourth best left fielder of all-time by Jaffe's WAR Score System behind Barry Bonds, Teddy Ballgame, and Rickey Henderson.


  1. The overall talent depth of the franchise might have been more like a shower than a bath tub, but that sure ain't a bad top 5!

    1. Definitely stocked at the top. There are a lot of minor league teams who had longer runs than the Capitals who cannot come close to touching this list.