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Des Moines Baseball: A Look Back at Iconic Figures Who Passed Through Des Moines Baseball: A Look Back at Iconic Figures Who Passed Through

Des Moines Baseball: A Look Back at Iconic Figures Who Passed Through

Des Moines baseball

Des Moines, Iowa, may not be the first city that comes to mind when thinking of baseball hotbeds. However, the city has a rich history of producing and hosting some of the greatest players in the game. From the early days of the Des Moines Bruins to the modern-day Iowa Cubs, the city has been home to some of the most talented ballplayers who have gone on to achieve greatness at the highest level. Cutting to the chase, let’s have a look at a few of the many legends in Des Moines’ baseball history.

Vida Blue: A Legendary Ace

Long before the Iowa Cubs made their debut, the Iowa Oaks were the pride of Des Moines from 1969 to 1981. One of the most memorable players to wear the Oaks’ uniform was the legendary left-handed pitcher Vida Blue, who left a lasting legacy in Iowa baseball.

In his single season with the Oaks, Blue showcased his dominance on the mound with an outstanding 12-3 record, a 2.17 ERA, and 165 strikeouts. This stellar performance was just a preview of his future career. Blue went on to become a six-time All-Star, winning three World Series championships, the American League MVP, and the Cy Young Award. His legendary status was further solidified with a no-hitter in 1970, highlighting his extraordinary talent and lasting impact on the sport.

Greg Maddux: A Cubs Legend

In 1986, the Iowa Cubs experienced a rare highlight with the arrival of a young Greg Maddux, who would later become one of baseball’s greatest pitchers. Maddux’s Hall of Fame career spanned 23 years, during which he achieved an impressive 355 wins and four Cy Young Awards. However, it was in Iowa that his exceptional talent first became evident.

In just 18 starts, Maddux dominated with a stellar 10-1 record, a 3.02 ERA, and 65 strikeouts over 128 1/3 innings. His precision and control were remarkable, allowing only 30 walks. This outstanding performance in Iowa was a precursor to his illustrious career. Maddux earned a National League All-Star selection two years later and came close to winning the NL Cy Young Award the following year. Witnessing Maddux’s brilliance in Iowa was an unforgettable experience, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of baseball fans.

Kris Bryant: A Modern Marvel

Kris Bryant, the National League MVP in 2016, is a dominant figure in modern baseball. Born on January 4, 1992, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bryant’s rise to prominence began with the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines in 2014.

Bryant’s career is distinguished by his power, versatility, and relentless dedication. He made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and quickly became a key player for the team. His career statistics boast a .274 batting average, 172 home runs with 184 home runs and 504 RBIs with 542 RBIs. Bryant’s accolades include the 2016 National League MVP and a 2016 World Series championship.

Des Moines baseball

Throughout its history, baseball has been shaped by the great players, teams, and moments that have made the game what it is today

Other Players Who Shone

Some of the notable players who have suited up in Des Moines include:

  • Carl Sawatski: A catcher, played for the Des Moines Bruins (1950) and later played for the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Philadelphia Phillies in his eight-year MLB career.
  • Micah Hoffpauir: A first baseman/outfielder who holds the Des Moines franchise record for most seasons played (seven), at-bats (1,760), hits (523), doubles (121), extra base hits (210), RBIs (378), total bases (903), and sacrifice flies (29). He played 162 games for the Chicago Cubs during 2008-2010.
  • Cal Emery: A left-handed batter and thrower, played for the Des Moines Demons and later made his MLB debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1963.

A Closer Look at Des Moines’ Baseball History

The rich history of baseball in Des Moines, Iowa, tells a captivating story of skill, success, and commitment. Throughout the decades, the city has been home to countless remarkable ballplayers who have graced both the minor and major league levels. Their journeys and many others are expertly documented in “‘Pug,’ ‘Fireball,’ and Company: 116 Years of Professional Baseball in Des Moines, Iowa.” Place your order today and discover the thrill of baseball’s competitive world yourself!

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