Yoopers who Played Major League Baseball

Throughout the history of Major League Baseball, there haven’t been many players who grew up in the Upper Peninsula. However, there have been fourteen MLB players born or raised in the Upper Peninsula, and that’s pretty impressive! Especially considering how short summers can be. As you can see four of them were born in before 1900. The most recent player to see MLB action is Mike Bordick who played 102 games with the Toronto Blue Jays as recently as the 2003 season. And to much acclaim, Kevin Tapani is the only member of the list to win a World Series.

We tip a hat to all each of the gentleman. And we would love to complete this collection of baseball cards. Do you have one for any of the following players? Who’ll be the next Yooper to make it to the big leagues?

Let’s play ball!

MLB Players from the Upper Peninsula

Where each of the 14 Yooper baseball players were born.

  • Dolly Gray

    Dolly Gray

    Born: Dec 4, 1878
    Hometown: Atlantic Mine
    Teams: Washington Senators
    Playing career: 1909-1911

    Dolly was a left-handed pitched for the Washington Senators. And some sources say he was born in Ishpeming rather than Houghton. He played 110 games across three seasons with the Senators. According to Wikipedia he got the nickname Dolly from the song “Nellie Gray” where his teammates distorted the lyrics ‘darling’ to Dolly. Dolly died at age 77 in Yuba City, California.

    Career stats of Dolly Gray

  • Hank Olmsted

    Hank Olmsted

    Born: Jan 12, 1879
    Hometown: Sac Bay
    Teams: Boston Americans
    Playing career: 1905

    Hank attended both Notre Dame and Valparaiso universities. At age 26 he pitched three complete games for the Boston Americans. Hank died at age 89 in Bradenton, Florida.

    Career stats of Hank Olmsted

  • Clarence Lehr

    Clarence Lehr

    Born: May 16, 1886
    Hometown: Escanaba
    Teams: Philadelphia Phillies
    Playing career: 1911

    Clarence played outfield, shortstop and second base for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1911. He played 23 games that season with 4 hits and 2 runs over 27 at bats. Clarence died at age 61 in Highland Park, MI.

    Career stats of Clarence Lehr

  • John Perrin

    John Perrin

    Born: Feb 4, 1898
    Hometown: Escanaba
    Teams: Boston Red Sox
    Playing career: 1921

    John lived in Escanaba through 1918 when he attended the University of Michigan where he played baseball and football. He was starting tailback for Michigan’s 1918 national championship team. He went on to play four games with the Boston Red Sox in 1921 where he had 3 hits and 3 runs. He continued to play with several minor league teams and in 1926 played six games for the Hartford Blues of the NFL. John died at age 71 in Detroit.

    Career stats of John Perrin

  • Les Sweetland

    Les Sweetland

    Born: Aug 15, 1901
    Hometown: St. Ignace
    Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs
    Playing career: 1927-1931

    Les played a total of 161 games in the majors over five-year career. According to Wikipedia Les’ 7.71 ERA in 1930 is the highest in the modern era for a full season in which the pitcher qualified for the ERA title. Les died at age 72 in Melbourne, Florida.

    Career stats of Les Sweetland

  • Bill Burich

    Bill Burich

    Born: May 29, 1918
    Hometown: Calumet
    Teams: Philidelphia Phillies
    Playing career: 1942-1946

    Bill played two seasons for the Phillies in 1942 and 1946 where he played shortstop, playing in 27 games. Like many men of his generation, his career was cut short by World War II. In 1943 he enlisted in the Army, serving for three and a half years before returning to baseball. He continued to play in the minors through 1948. Bill died at age 92 in Apple Valley, California.

    Career stats of Bill Burich

  • Dan Dobbek

    Dan Dobbek

    Born: Dec 6, 1934
    Hometown: Ontonagon
    Teams: Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins
    Playing career: 1959-1961

    Dan attended Western Michigan University before signing with the Washington Senators in 1955. He played in 198 games with the franchise as an outfielder. He served in the militar from during the 1957-1958 seasons and continued to play in the minors through 1963 after his stint in Minnesota.

    Career stats of Dan Dobbek

  • George Brunet

    George Brunet

    Born: Jun 8, 1935
    Hometown: Houghton
    Teams: Kansas City Athletics, Milwaukee Braves, Houston Colt 45s, Baltimore Orioles, California Angels, Seattle Pilots, Washington Senators, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals
    Playing career: 1956-1971

    George attended Calumet High School and signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1952. He would never play for the Tigers but on to play for nine different MLB franchises playing in 324 games. After his career in the United States he went on to a hall of fame career in Mexico, where he was inducted in 1999. At age 42 he threw a no-hitter on June 20, 1977, while playing in Mexico. Amazingly, he pitched until he was 54 years old finishing his career with 36 years of pitching in organized baseball.

    Career stats of George Brunet

  • John Goetz

    John Goetz

    Born: Oct 24, 1937
    Hometown: Goetzville
    Teams: Chicago Cubs
    Playing career: 1960

    The right-handed pitcher had an impressive 11-year career in the minors after attending Western Michigan University. He played in four games for the Chicago Cubs in 1960. John died at age 71 in Troy, Michigan. Interestingly, he was apparently born in Goetzville while having the last name Goetz. According to Wikipedia the Goetz family settled here in 1882. A post office was established in October 1882 spelled as Gatesville, but was changed to Goetzville in February 1917.

    Career stats of John Goetz

  • Gordy Lund

    Gordy Lund

    Born: Feb 23, 1941
    Hometown: Iron Mountain
    Teams: Cleveland Indians, Seattle Pilots
    Playing career: 1967-1969

    Gordy played two seasons in the majors for the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Pilots. He played in 23 games. After his playing career, Gordy went on to manage the Chicago White Sox farm system from 1974-82 finishing with a win-loss mark of 608-615 (.497).

    Career stats of Gordy Lund

  • John Hiller

    John Hiller

    Born: Apr 8, 1943
    Hometown: Iron Mountain*
    Teams: Detroit Tigers
    Playing career: 1965-1980

    The legendary baseball pitcher, John Hiller, played his entire Major League Baseball career for the Detroit Tigers. Over the course of 15 seasons John pitched 1,242 innings. He was on the 1968 World Series winning Tigers, where he made two appearances as a relief pitcher. At 27 years old, Hiller's career took a turn when he had a series of three heart attacks. He would miss the 1971 season, and after a lengthy recovery, returned to the Tigers in 1972. He played in the 1974 All-Star Game and finished his career as the Tigers franchise leaders among games played for pitchers. *Though John wasn't born or raised in the Upper Peninsula, he and his family have called Iron Mountain home for much of his adult life. He's certainly an honorary Yooper in our almanac.

    Career stats of John Hiller

  • Jim Manning

    Jim Manning

    Born: Jul 21, 1943
    Hometown: L'Anse
    Teams: Minnesota Twins
    Playing career: 1962

    Jim attended Trout Creek High School and was a right-handed pitcher for the Minnesota Twins in 1962. He played in five games with a 5.14 ERA.

    Career stats of Jim Manning

  • Dick Pole

    Dick Pole

    Born: Oct 13, 1950
    Hometown: Trout Creek
    Teams: Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners
    Playing career: 1973-1978

    Dick attended Northern Michigan University and signed with the Red Sox in 1973. He pitched a no-hitter in the International League and made his Major League debut later that year. His six-year career earned him 77 starts and 122 games. After his playing career Dick went on to coach in the minors where he coached Greg Maddux who gave some credit to Dick, “I remember when Dick Pole told me one day, ‘Why don’t you stop trying to strike guys out? Just try to get them out, and you’ll probably strike out just as many guys, if not more. He was right. I’ve always tried with two strikes just to make a pitch and get the guy out. You get a lot of strikeouts just on accident.” As recently as 2009 he was pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds.

    Career stats of Dick Pole

  • Kevin Tapani

    Kevin Tapani

    Born: Feb 18, 1964
    Hometown: Escanaba
    Teams: New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs
    Playing career: 1989-2001

    Kevin was born in Des Moines, Iowa, but was raised in Escanaba where he played quarterback and won the 1981 MHSAA Class A Football Championship. He went on to pitch at Central Michigan University where he threw a no-hitter and as drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 1985 MLB Amateur Draft, though he opted not to sign. A year later he signed with the Oakland Athletics. In 1990 he would finish 5th in voting for the AL Rookie of the Year. Kevin Tapani has the distinction of being the only player on our list to win a World Series. He did so in 1991 as a member of the Minnesota Twins. Kevin finished his career with a pitching record of 143–125, 1,482 strikeouts and a 4.35 ERA.

    Career stats of Kevin Tapani

  • Mike Bordick

    Mike Bordick

    Born: Jul 21, 1965
    Hometown: Marquette
    Teams: Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets
    Playing career: 1990-2003

    Born to a military family Mike moved often growing up, spending most of his time in Maine and going to play baseball for the University of Maine Black Bears. He signed with the Athletics in 1986. Mike went on to have an incredible career. He amassed 1,720 games played in the majors for four different franchises. He had 1,500 hits and 91 home runs for his career. In 2012 Mike became a part-time color analyst for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

    Career stats of Mike Bordick

If you know of any other players please comment below and let us know who they are, we don’t want to leave anyone out.

Sources: baseball-almanac.com baseball-reference.com wikipedia.org

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