In honor of the start of the World Series, I’ve published a new quiz of Sporcle Trivia: Can you name the players who won a World Series on surprising teams? The rest of this piece will have some minor spoilers for answers, if you want to give it a try first and then come back to read the rest.
As you might have guessed, this is a little bit inspired by my “Best Players without a World Series” quizzes (new version of that to come after the Series ends, of course), particularly how longtime answers Evan Longoria and Jacob deGrom both finally have a chance to win their first title after years and years, albeit for very different teams than they're known for; those two share the first answer on the quiz, with the winner getting to stay and the loser getting removed.
It’s kind of a loose definition, but I found a number of good names for the list. Still not as many as I expected going in, though; this is still a relatively-new phenomenon, one very largely tied to free agency. Also thankfully, I feel most of the picks fit the definition pretty well; I could have maybe stretched it to “teams that won a World Series with anyone other than their Primary Team”, but I basically scratched any edge cases. I think the closest ones here are, like, Gary Carter and Frank Howard? Both of which still played nearly twice as many games for what I think of as their “primary” team.
I guess guys like Johnny Mize and Darrell Evans are also maybe edge cases, where their years were pretty well split between three teams, but in both cases, I think it’s clear the teams they won with their weakest tenure. Still, it is kind of funny in the case of Mize, who wound up with 5 whole World Series titles for what basically wound up being four and a half years in a part-time role (the 1940s and ’50s Yankees were just ridiculous). Really, a couple of the Yankees answers wound up with multiple titles, although for most of them, it still definitely was not in their prime years.
I also decided to keep it to players who only won on these surprising teams, but there were a lot of good answers I could have gone with if I included players who also won while playing for teams they’re more associated with. I had ideas like Bery Blyleven on the Pirates, Eddie Mathews on the Tigers, Dave Parker on the Athletics, Roger Maris on the Cardinals, Steve Carlton on the Twins, Satchel Paige on the Indians… really, I might just do more research and pull that quiz together another day, we’ll see. And I wasn’t even sure how to treat guys who won with a team they’re known for, but jumped around a lot (like Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Roberto Alomar)... But for now, I was able to pull together 28 names, and that seemed like a good enough starting point.