The Baseball Analyst, a b-spankin' new site founded by two All-Baseball veterans, has a great three-part series on favorite ball players. A wide swath of contributors, from bloggers to national media stars, pitched in with reminiscences of childhood heroes. Make sure you catch Darren Viola (Baseball Primer) on Mickey Mental, Brian Gunn (Redbird Nation) on John Tudor, and especially Jeff Peek (Traverse City Record-Eagle) on Aurelio Rodriguez. Note to Peek: that's a long magazine article, maybe even a book, just begging to be written.

My faves growing up? I loved Darrell Evans in his Giants years. Jack Clark, too, and for a while I owned an orange T-shirt upon which my grandma's friend Gloria Landis painted a black "Giants" in that 1978 script across the front, with "CLARK 22" on the back. Homemade memorabilia.

I loved Chili Davis when he came up -- he got his nickname because when young, he had such bad haircuts kids said it looked like someone put a chili bowl on his head. At least that's how I remember it. If I'm wrong, please don't tell me unless the truth is somehow better.

But for a brief shining moment, Atlee Hammaker was absolutely the tops in the eyes of a young Lefty Malito who wanted nothing more than to grow up and pitch for the Giants. That brief shining moment lasted until the 1983 All-Star Game, when Hammaker got pounded by Fred Lynn -- first All-Star grand slam ever -- and many others for about 18 runs in the third inning. He went on to win the ERA title that year, but due to injury, I believe, was never really the same. (Who knew that Atlee pitched in 13 games with the *1995* White Sox?)

I will also admit freely that in 1999 or perhaps even 2000, I told my brother, on his way to the Giants Dugout, to get me a Marvin Benard T-shirt. I loved the way Marvin scooted around the outfield like a Nicaraguan bug, bunted for hits and slugged home runs. My brother instead bought me a plain orange T-shirt with "SAN FRANCISCO" across the front, and it was all downhill for Marvin after that. I still have the T-shirt.


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