Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball named its conferences after legendary broadcasters Vin Scully and Harry Caray, but the division names were reserved for the top-six bidders in the franchise auction, and now we know the six superstars whom divisions will be named after.
The one guideline that franchises had was that each division was to be named after a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, and the six franchises did not disappoint with their choices.
The Reapers earned first dibs for naming their division thanks to being the top bidder in November at $11,000 USD worth of SCORE Coin (SCO), and they went with a player who many consider the greatest player of all time, and certainly one of the most popular athletes ever, Babe Ruth.
“Even as obvious and predictable as the choice seems to be, with the first choice the Babe seems like the only choice to be made,” said Reapers co-owner Phil Bevis. “When looking at the greatest ball player of all time, the Babe is one name that is definitely not left out and the pinnacle of baseball greats in most people’s minds. The Babe was an enigma and a brand within himself, and we are proud to be able to name and represent the first division of the UFLB as, ‘The Babe Ruth’ Division. Now in the words of the Babe, ‘Let me show you how it’s done.... Loser!’”
A career that spanned 22 years with Boston and New York, Ruth is even bigger than baseball as an American sports hero. From movies to candy bars and more, he was one of the ‘first five’ to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 1936. Ruth was the first player to hit 50 and 60 home runs in a season and the first MLB player to reach 500 long balls.
Coming in at No. 2 in the November franchise auction were the Arctic Eagles and they also went with an iconic New York Yankee. Considered the greatest switch-hitter in MLB history, the Eagles will try to soar in the Mickey Mantle Division.
“Mantle was the definition of a gamer, as he was known to play with broken bones and torn ligaments throughout his Hall of Fame career,” mused Arctic Eagles owner Jope. “He was a true five-tool player, who could swing it from both sides of the plate better than anyone in history.”
‘The Mick’ was inducted into Cooperstown in 1974, and in 1999 was named to MLB’s All Century Team. Not only was Mantle one of the best at the plate — the only player to hit 150 home runs from both sides — but he retired with the highest stolen base percentage in the game. The term ‘tape measure home run’ came from one of Mantle’s monster shots in 1953.
The third-highest bidding franchise was the Scorpions and with an ownership group consisting of three Canadians, it’s not surprising they went with one of the best to ever wear the uniform of MLB’s only current Canadian club. The Scorpions will throw out their first pitch in the Roy Halladay Division, named after one of the best to ever take the hill for the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Roy ‘Doc’ Halladay was one of the most dominant pitchers of all time — he instilled fear in every batter to ever stand in the box against him and backed it up in the playoffs as well, remember the no-hitter for the Phillies in the NLDS?” asked Sho Alli, one of the Scorpions’ three owners. “When people think of some of the most talented guys on the mound, Halladay is at the top of the list.”
Halladay was considered one of the best pitchers of his era and certainly the most durable as he led MLB in complete games 7 times during his 15-year career. He nearly chucked a no-hitter in his second career start, and in 2010 he threw just the second perfect game in MLB post-season history. A two-time Cy Young winner, taking the honours in both the American and National Leagues, ‘Doc’ was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.
With the fourth selection in naming UFLB divisions, the Panthers went with another player who spent time north of the border — former Montreal Expo Vladimir Guerrero, for a very cool personal reason.
“Big Daddy Vladdy hit Kameron Loe (Panthers co-GM and former MLB pitcher) in the head with a line drive in his first start,” chuckled franchise owner Andrea Ellis. “He was pitching a gem, having retired 9 straight outs, with Kameron’s whole family watching, then
Vlad the Impaler struck. How could we not go with big bad Vlad?”
Guerrero started his career with the Montreal Expos and spent his first 7 years in Montreal before signing with the Anaheim Angels and spending a year each in Texas and Baltimore. A nine-time All-Star who hit for power and average and had a cannon of an arm in right field, Guerrero won the American League MVP in 2004 after previously hitting 39 home runs and stealing 40 bases in 2002. Guerrero was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.
Circa Sports Swingin’ Trout came in with the fifth selection and, after a couple modern picks, they went back in time with a man known simply as ‘Mr. Tiger’. Al Kaline was a member of the Tigers from 1953 until 2002 as a legendary player and broadcaster.
“Al Kaline is a Hall of Famer that represents the original hometown of the Swingin’ Trout,” proudly beamed Derek Stevens, a Detroit native and owner of the Swingin’ Trout. “He was always underestimated and yet a consistent winner. We wanted to celebrate his recent entry into the MLB HOF for the future of UFLB.”
Kaline was an 18-time All-Star in his 22 seasons, won the American League batting title in 1955 and 10 times was awarded the Gold Glove in right field. After collecting his 3,000th MLB hit, Kaline retired from the game and immediately jumped into the broadcast booth where he stayed until 2002! Kaline was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 on his first attempt with more than 88% of votes.
Rounding out UFLB’s six division names is the selection from the Defenders, and when it comes to nicknames, ‘The Kid’ is a classic one for a second-generation MLB player, Ken Griffey Jr.
“Ken Griffey Jr. aka ‘The Kid’ introduced a new generation of fans to MLB when he brought his swagger, flare and sweet swing to the league in the Spring of 1989,” reminisced Defenders owner Michael Smith. “While he will always be known for towering home runs and center field fence leaps to steal them from opposing hitters, that bright smile and hat on backwards energy saved the game before McGwire and Sosa captured hearts in the Summer of ’96.”
Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. not only became the first father and son to play in an MLB game for the same team in 1990, but in their first game together both singled and scored in the same inning, and later in the season hit back-to-back home runs — the first father-son duo to accomplish that feat. Griffey Jr. led the league in home runs four times and was named American League MVP in 1997. His 630 home runs are 7th most in MLB history and ‘Junior’ received 99.3% of votes to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.
“What an incredible list from our wonderful franchises that shows we have the start of a nice diverse group when it comes to baseball eras,” said UFF Sports Head of Baseball Dean Millard. “The divisions are now named after some of the best to ever play the game, and names that you will see again in Legends League Baseball, and will represent what UFLB will strive to be, the best ever.”
As for the rest of the franchises, those who choose to participate in the Division Auction will have a chance to bid and select what division and conference they play in this Thursday, February 17. Those who skip the auction process will be randomly placed in a division on Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, franchises and scouts are doing their final preparation for the Top Prospects Auction that runs from February 19-21 on the UFFS platform.
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