Some of baseball’s most famous players have also been known for their major league love of cars. Check out this past and present shortlist of the most colorful cast of car guys to ever play the game.
The King of Crash
There is little question that Babe Ruth was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, baseball players to pick up a ball and glove. A terror to major league pitchers on the field, The Homerun King was even more dangerous on the road.
Back in the day, Ruth was known for hobnobbing with celebrities, purchasing customized, powerful automobiles and then promptly wrecking them. The best known player in baseball liked to drive fast, run red lights, and leave the scene of accidents, which on one occasion led to mistaken reports of Ruth’s death in 1920.
During the course of his career, Ruth bought and was given a small fleet of now rare vehicles. Check out this Motor Trend report on one survivor, a 1940 Lincoln Zephyr Continental Cabriolet, which sold in a 2006 auction for $407,000.
In November 1976, Reggie Jackson signed a 5-year, 2.96 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees and the first thing he did was buy a brand-new burgundy Rolls-Royce Corniche.
The Hall of Famer and man whose 563 home runs are the 13th most in major league history started collecting cars before he was able to drive. Around 30 of Jackson’s cars, worth around $3.2 million, were destroyed in a warehouse fire back in the late ‘80s. Sports Illustrated recently reported that today, the 66-year-old Jackson maintains two garages — one in Newport Beach and another 15,000-square-foot facility in Seaside, California, where he stores some of his favorites. These include a 1967 Ferrari NART Spyder, a number of ‘50s and ‘60s era Corvettes and meticulously restored Chevrolet sedans like his garnet 1955 Bel Air with a tan leather interior, which is nearly identical to one of the first cars he owned.
He had a reputation as one of the crankiest, most boorish and reckless players in Major League history. But one of the possessions Mickey Mantle held most dear suggests that somewhere inside The Mick beat the heart of a sentimentalist.
In 1949, the year that Mickey Mantle graduated high school and was awarded a contract to play baseball for the New York Yankees farm club, he purchased a brand new, baby-blue Plymouth “Super Deluxe” convertible. Perhaps the vehicle reminded Mantle of simpler times, but despite all the perks and material wealth that comes with legendary status Mantle held onto his favorite first car almost until the year he died (1995). The vehicle sold at an annual Oklahoma golf outing and charity auction hosted by Mantle for the “Make A Wish Foundation”. The last time at auction, in 2008, the car fetched $34,000.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy “Doc” Halladay is known for a pretty nasty cutter and a clear passion for really cool cars, if the 1932 Ford roadster in which he showed up for Spring Training earlier this year is any indication. In 2009, Halladay signed a 60 million dollar contract with the Phillies and, in 2010, won his second Cy Young Award.
Between pitching no-hitters, winning an ESPY and recording over 2,000 career strikeouts, Halladay reportedly helped rescue a boy from an anaconda while on a fishing trip in the Amazon in 2011. “The Dos Equis guy may have won trophies for his game face or bowled a round overhand,” wrote Steve DelVecchio, a contributor for Larry Brown Sports, “but [Halladay] is really the most interesting man in the world.”
In 2011, Evan Longoria’s 1967 Camaro RS was reportedly stolen from an Arizona parking lot while the Tampa Bay Rays third baseman was busy at spring training. Police believe the car, worth $75,000 and never recovered, was likely stripped for parts.
The 2008 Rookie of the Year now drives a 1969 Camaro SS. Longoria has a thing for vintage Chevrolet muscle, according to MSN Auto, and also proves that “not all MLB Camaros are tricked-out eyesores — or even new models, for that matter.”