Runs Start Here.
There was no shortage of power at first base during the 1960s. The 10 players listed here accounted for more than 3,000 home runs and 10,000 RBIs during their careers. How many ulcers they caused in opposing pitchers have never been fully determined.
Here’s my rundown of the top 10 first basemen of the 1960s.
1. Harmon Killebrew – Nicknamed “The Killer” for good reason, Harmon Killebrew was the power source for the potent Minnesota Twins lineup throughout the 1960s. Eight times in his career Killebrew hit 40 or more home runs in a season, leading the league in home runs for 6 of those seasons. He drove in 100 or more runs in a season 9 times during his career. Killebrew retired following the 1975 season, hitting 573 home runs in his career, an average of 1 home run for every 14 at-bats.
2. Willie McCovey – Though he was the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1959, Willie McCovey couldn’t find a regular starting position in the San Francisco Giants’ line-up until 1963, when he led the National League with 44 home runs while driving in 102 runs. He led the league again in home runs and RBIs in both 1968 (36 and 105) and in 1969 (45 and 126), when he finished fifth in the league in hitting with a .320 average. He was named National League Most Valuable Player for 1969.
3. Orlando Cepeda – This is the guy who kept Willie McCovey’s bat out of the Giants’ lineup for the first 4 years of his career. And for good reason. The National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1958 (hitting .312 with 25 home runs, 96 RBIs and 15 stolen bases), Orlando Cepeda strung together one outstanding season after another in the early 1096s. In 1961, Cepeda led the league in both home runs (46) and RBIs (142) while hitting .311. From 1960 through 1964, Cepeda batted a combined .307, averaging 34 home runs and 109 RBIs per season. After struggling with knee injuries, Cepeda came back in 1967 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals to win the National League MVP by hitting .325 with 25 home runs and a league-leading 111 RBIs.
4. Bill White - Bill White played first base for the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies during the 1960s. He hit .286 over 13 seasons and collected 7 Gold Gloves, batting over .300 3 times and driving in more than 100 runs 4 times. His best year was 1963, when White hit .304 with 27 home runs and 109 RBIs for the Cardinals.
5. Boog Powell –Boog Powell was a fixture at first base for the Baltimore Orioles throughout the last half of the 1960s. His .606 slugging percentage led the American League in 1964, and he helped the Orioles win the American League pennant in 1966 by hitting .287 with 34 home runs and 109 RBIs. He was slowed by injuries in 1967, but rebounded in 1968 (22 home runs and 85 RBIs) and was outstanding in the Orioles’ pennant-winning 1969 season with 37 home runs and 121 RBIs while hitting a career-high .304.
6. Norm Cash – As the Detroit Tigers first baseman, Norm Cash had the highest single-season batting average in the 1960s with .361 in 1961. He averaged 27 home runs and 83 RBIs per year during the 1960s. Over a 17-year career, Cash hit .271 with 377 home runs. He was also considered one of the league’s best-fielding first basemen.
7. Vic Power – Maybe the best defensive first baseman ever to play in the majors, Vic Power could also hit with authority. He batted .284 over a 12-year career, and was selected as Minnesota’s team MVP in 1962 when he hit .290 with 16 home runs and 64 RBIs. But it was his sure glove and quickness that set Power apart from other first basemen. He won 7 Gold Gloves, and led the league first basemen in assists 6 years in a row. He also tied a major league record with 2 unassisted double plays in a single game.
8. Dick Stuart – Dick Stuart made this list totally on the strength of his hitting. He ranked among the worst defensive first basemen in major league history. But as a slugger, Stuart could be devastating. His best year for the Pittsburgh Pirates was 1961, hitting .301 with 35 home runs and 117 RBIs. Traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1962, Stuart had a career season in 1963, hitting 42 home runs and leading the American League in RBIs (118) and total bases (319). Stuart’s numbers the next year were almost as good, as he hit 33 home runs and finished second in the league in RBIs with 114.
9. Jim Gentile – Jim Gentile played for 4 different teams during the 1960s. His breakout year was 1960 when, as the Baltimore Orioles first baseman, he hit .292 with 21 home runs and 98 RBIs. In 1961, Gentile had his best season, hitting .302 with 46 home runs and 141 RBIs. He also set a major league record with back-to-back grand slams in one game. He followed up in 1962 with 33 home runs and 87 RBIs. He was out of the major leagues after the 1966 season, and a comeback try in the minors (plus one season in Japan) never got him back to the majors.
10. Norm Siebern - Acquired by the Kansas City Athletics in the deal that sent Roger Maris to the New York Yankees, Norm Siebern was a dependable fixture at first base for the A’s from 1960 to 1963, averaging 19 home runs and 78 RBIs during his 4 seasons with the A’s. His best year was 1962, when he hit .308 with 25 home runs and 117 RBIs.