It then got me to thinking about the other 29 teams and which of their current players have been on their teams the longest. In this day and age of free agency, there aren't that many players who've stuck around with their original teams. But twenty years ago, loyalty was a premium, and many of baseball's best players either played for one team for their entire career, or stayed with a team for a long, long time, before riding off into the sunset with another team.
In the 1986 Topps set, the team leaders cards for the 26 teams featured the players who were considered the "Deans" of the team. The dean meaning, "active player with their present team for the most consecutive amount of years." In the example below, after the 1985 season, Bobby Grich was the "Dean of the Angels, Continuous Service Since: 11/24/1976."
As you can see, Lee Smith was the "Dean of the Cubs, Continuous Service Since: 09/01/1980." This would mean that both men have played for their respective teams the longest. Every other player on the team came AFTER these guys came aboard.
Well, back to the point. I started looking around to see if any of the baseball websites had a list of the current "deans" on each team. Needless to say, I couldn't find one. But, undeterred, I went onto Baseball Reference, looked up each of the present 30 team's histories, and tonight, I have a list of the 30 active players who've played the most consecutive years on their respective teams. I can say that the man with the longest tenure on his team has been around since 1993, and the "Dean" with the shortest amount of service time with his team made his major league debut on 08/31/2005. Many "Deans" were easy to find as the player had been around for more than 9-10 years. But for those who had been around for five years or so, or if I had to break a tie between two or even three players (which I did for a couple of teams as you will see), the "Dean" was the man who made his major league debut the earliest.
So without further ado, here are the 2009 "Deans" of the Major Leagues (as of 07/22/2009). Starting with the player who has been around the longest with his team, but is the shortest amount of time (does that even make sense???):
- Jeremy Hermida, Dean of the Florida Marlins, MLB debut 08/31/2005 (if we started this at the beginning of the year, the Dean would have been Logan Kensing, who debuted 09/10/2004. But Kensing was traded to the Nats earlier this year).
- Randy Winn, Dean of the San Francisco Giants, Giants debut 08/02/2005 (I'm sure you're thinking it should be Rich Aurelia. However, between 2004-2006, Aurelia was a Mariner, Padre, and Red, before returning to the Giants).
- Jonathan Broxton, Dean of the Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB debut 07/29/2005 (beats Hong Chin-Kuo by a month and change).
- Nick Johnson, Dean of the Washington Nationals, Expos debut 05/28/2004 (making Nick the last Expo player still in the organization).
- David DeJesus, Dean of the Kansas City Royals, MLB debut 09/02/2003.
- Aaron Harang, Dean of the Cincinnati Reds, Reds debut 08/09/2003.
- Brandon Webb, Dean of the Arizona Diamondbacks, MLB debut 04/22/2003.
- Pedro Feliciano, Dean of the New York Mets, MLB debut 09/04/2002 (this was a surprise as I thought it would have been at least Jose Reyes).
- Bill Hall, Dean of the Milwaukee Brewers, MLB debut 09/01/2002.
- Carl Crawford, Dean of the Tampa Bay Rays, MLB debut 07/20/2002.
- Jake Peavy, Dean of the San Diego Padres, MLB debut 06/22/2002.
- Michael Cuddyer, Dean of the Minnesota Twins, MLB debut 09/23/2001.
- Carlos Zambrano, Dean of the Chicago Cubs, MLB debut 08/20/2001.
- Scot Shields, Dean of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, MLB debut 05/26/2001 (this took me by surprise as well. I would have guessed Chone Figgins).
- Jake Westbrook, Dean of the Cleveland Indians, Indians debut 04/11/2001.
- Jack Wilson, Dean of the Pittsburgh Pirates, MLB debut 04/03/2001.
- Brandon Inge, Dean of the Detroit Tigers, MLB debut 04/03/2001.
- Ichiro Suzuki, Dean of the Seattle Mariners, MLB debut 04/02/2001.
- Michael Young, Dean of the Texas Rangers, MLB debut 09/29/2000.
- Jimmy Rollins, Dean of the Philadelphia Phillies, MLB debut 09/17/2000.
- Melvin Mora, Dean of the Baltimore Orioles, Orioles debut 07/29/2000.
- Rick Ankiel, Dean of the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB debut 08/23/1999 (I know what you're thinking...this should be Albert Pujols right??? Well, Ankiel was never given his unconditioanl release from the team while he was figuring himself out in the minors. He debuted two seasons before Phat Albert. That makes him the man with the longest in terms of consecutive seasons on the team. Now, if Ankiel was actually RELEASED from the team, and then came back to the Cards a few years later, that's a different story. I know I'm going to get a lot of heat on this one...).
- Lance Berkman, Dean of the Houston Astros, MLB debut 07/16/1999.
- Paul Konerko, Dean of the Chicago White Sox, White Sox debut 04/05/1999 (most people forget that he was with the Reds and Dodgers before joining the Pale Hose).
- Roy Halladay, Dean of the Toronto Blue Jays, MLB debut 09/20/1998 (now, in the event he is traded, the title of Dean will then go to Vernon Wells, who made his debut on 08/30/1999).
- Eric Chavez, Dean of the Oakland Athletics, MLB debut 09/08/1998 (even with all the injury-plagued years, he's stayed around. Heck, he was there when Jason Giambi left the A's, and he was still around when Giambi came back).
- Todd Helton, Dean of the Colorado Rockies, MLB debut 08/02/1997 (if they haven't given him the title of Mr. Rockie the way Tony Gwynn was Mr. Padre, then something is horribly wrong).
- Tim Wakefield, Dean of the Boston Red Sox, Red Sox debut 05/27/1995 (spent a couple of seasons with the Pirates. I didn't realize that he had been with Boston this long).
- Mariano Rivera, Dean of the New York Yankees, MLB debut 05/23/1995 (yes, Mariano is the Dean. Derek Jeter made his debut four days later, Jorge Posada debuted in September of that year).
- Chipper Jones, Dean of the Atlanta Braves, MLB debut 09/11/1993 (yes, that's 1993, 16 years ago. I hadn't even graduated high school yet...)
So there you have it, guys who've shown their loyalty to their teams, after all these years. Sure, in five years, all these guys could either retire or move on to other teams, but as of this moment, they've all been around their teams longer than anyone. And no one, except their GM's maybe, can take that away from them.