R Rushmore has been announced. See the winners below.
The cream of the crop. Best of the best. The face of the franchise, if you will.
It’s a game that transcends every sport, genre, and industry. If there was a Mount Rushmore for (fill in the blank), whose faces would be carved into it?
When it’s all said and done, who are the four all-time greats that you’d want to represent you?
In this case, it’s R Rushmore we’re talking about, and we left it up to you, our fans, to determine the four best players who have ever called Cheney Stadium their home ballpark.
We’re proud to unveil R Rushmore, featuring Alex Rodriguez, Juan Marichal, Felix Hernandez and Gaylord Perry. Keep reading for more on each of these legends and our 20 finalists.
We set some parameters.
First, this was about more than just success in Tacoma.
Among our top-20 finalists were hitters who played in fewer than 20 games with Tacoma (one game isn’t quite enough, so Griffey isn’t on the list). At the end of the day, if you want your face carved on R Rushmore, it’s about who went on to achieve baseball greatness at the highest level.
Did we consider the guys who raked PCL pitching or mowed down hitters at Cheney Stadium? Of course. But you were asked to pick the four players that, if you looked up at the mountainside and saw these four faces staring back at you, you could proudly say:
That’s R Rushmore.
Here’s the 20 finalists that you pick your four franchise greats from. We made a case for why each of them deserved to be considered. They are presented here in no particular order.
One of the original Tacoma Giants in 1960, Alou tore up the PCL for 150 glorious games in 1960. He slashed .306/.353/.461 in Cheney Stadium’s inaugural season, prefacing a beautiful Major League career. The 2-time All-Star led the NL with a .342 average in ‘66, and that wasn’t even the year he topped the league with 231 hits and 41 doubles (1969). Only seven players have collected 231 hits or more since then, with Ichiro Suzuki doing so twice. Alou played his final three years in Japan, leaving us wondering if he could’ve collected the 223 hits he needed to surpass 2,000 had he stayed in the states.
MLB Career (1960-74) – 1,667 games, 1,777 hits, 780 runs, 31 home runs, 427 RBI, 156 stolen bases, .307/.345/.381 (.726 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1960, ’63) – 175 games, 218 hits, 103 runs, 16 home runs, 83 RBI, 10 stolen bases, .307 BA
Félix Hernández – R Rushmore
Welcome to the top-20, Your Excellency. Félix Hernández was not only one of the most popular Mariners prospects in franchise history, but the right-hander was one of the most talked about newcomers of all-time when he jumped on the scene in 2005. The Valencia native pitched his final 19 Minor League games with the Rainiers before making his Mariners debut on Aug. 4 vs. Detroit. A 2010 Cy Young Award, six All-Star games, and a pair of ERA titles later, King Félix is undeniably one of the greatest to ever take the hill at R House.
MLB Career (Active, currently with Atlanta) – 419 games, 169-136 record, 3.42 ERA, 2,729.2 innings, 2,524 strikeouts, 805 walks
Tacoma Career (2005, 2016-17, 2019) – 25 games, 12-5 record, 2.57 ERA, 112 innings, 130 strikeouts, 56 walks
Let’s be clear, Kyle Seager is more than just “Corey’s brother.” If you look at the Mariners all-time WAR leaders among position players, Seager is fifth behind four of the greatest players ever: Junior, Edgar, Ichiro, A-Rod. When you’re fifth in a top-5 of bros who don’t even need to be identified by their full names, you’re in good company. Seager is also fourth in hits, doubles, home runs and RBI. But this isn’t a Mariners Mount Rushmore. This is Tacoma, where the now 33-year-old logged just 24 games in 2011. However, he was automatic in that brief stint, slashing .387/.444/.585 on his way to his MLB debut on July 7.
MLB Career (Active, currently with Seattle) – 1,321 games, 1,267 hits, 632 runs, 207 home runs, 706 RBI, 52 stolen bases, .256/.326/.443 (.768 OPS)
Tacoma Career (2011, 2019 rehab) – 33 games, 51 hits, 29 runs, 3 home runs, 24 RBI, 3 stolen bases, .352 BA
An admitted product of the steroid era, Canseco’s accolades are up there with the best in baseball history. 1986 Rookie of the Year, 1988 MVP, 6-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger, 2-time World Series champ, “No Entry” list at Cooperstown. If anything, Canseco has found a way to stay relevant since retiring nearly 20 years ago, running for President and authoring two books with mixed reviews from players and fans alike. But MVP honors don’t come easy, and this former Tacoma Tigers outfielder has one.
MLB Career (1985-2001) – 1,887 games, 1,877 hits, 1,186 runs, 462 home runs, 1,407 RBI, 200 stolen bases, .266/.353/.515 (.867 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1985) – 60 games, 81 hits, 41 runs, 11 home runs, 47 RBI, 5 stolen bases, .348/.440/.567 (1.007 OPS)
Juan Marichal – R Rushmore
“The Dominican Dandy” pitched for the Tacoma Giants in the inaugural 1960 season, and pitched game two of the Opening Day doubleheader the day Cheney Stadium opened. He made 18 appearances with Tacoma, including 12 complete games, before being promoted for his MLB debut in July. Marichal went on to be named an MLB All-Star 10 times, won an ERA title in ’69 (2.10), and was named the MVP of the All-Star Game in 1965. The legendary pitcher was enriched in the Hall of Fame in 1983.
MLB Career (1960-75) – 471 games, 243-142 record, 2.89 ERA, 3,507.0 innings, 2,303 strikeouts, 709 walks
Tacoma Career (1960) – 18 games, 11-5 record, 3.11 ERA, 139.0 innings, 121 strikeouts, 34 walks
You could argue that Choo deserves a spot on R Rushmore simply for being one of two Rainiers to ever hit a home run over the Great Wall of Cheney. But A.J. Zapp just missed the cut, so let’s expand. As recently as 2018, Choo’s age 35 season, the South Korean slugger set a Texas Rangers franchise record with a 52-game on-base streak en route to his first All-Star season. He might not be an all-time great by MLB standards, but Choo will be remembered as one of the rare talents who showed up and was consistently dangerous for two decades.
MLB Career (Active, currently a free agent) – 1,652 games, 1,671 hits, 961 runs, 218 home runs, 782 RBI, 157 stolen bases, .275/.377/.447 (.824 OPS)
Tacoma Career – 309 games, 242 hits, 71 runs, 24 home runs, 102 RBI, 46 stolen bases, .301 BA
Another one of the original Tacoma Giants in 1960, Fisher won 26 games on the hill between ’60 and ’61, and posted a sub 3.30 ERA in the process. He bounced around the Majors in the back end of his career, but 85 MLB wins and a lifetime 3.41 ERA is nothing to scoff at. Fisher is in tough company, even amongst his Giants teammates on this list. But if a guy had the kind of success he had with Tacoma, and he helped the team win a PCL Championship, that seems like a pretty good case to us.
MLB Career (1959-73) – 690 games, 85-70 record, 3.41 ERA, 1,538.2 innings, 812 strikeouts, 438 walks
Tacoma Career (1960-61) – 55 games, 26-17 record, 3.23 ERA, 367 innings, 216 strikeouts, 65 walks
Gaylord Perry – R Rushmore
Hall of Famer, 2-time Cy Young Award winner, 5-time All-Star. That’s that legendary stuff. His 1972 campaign with San Francisco is one of the best-pitched seasons of all time, where he won 24 times, dealt 29 complete games and finished with a microscopic 1.92 ERA in over 340 innings of dominance. His 2.50 ERA in 57 starts with the Tacoma Giants was nothing to shake a stick at either. Perry is the only Hall of Famer on this list who also played for Tacoma in parts of four seasons. Like we said, that’s that legendary stuff.
MLB Career (1962-83) – 777 games, 314-265 record, 3.11 ERA, 5,350 innings, 3,534 strikeouts, 1,379 walks
Tacoma Career (1960-63) – 57 games, 27-17 record, 2.50 ERA, 385 innings, 238 strikeouts, 118 walks
Like a few others on this list, McGwire’s career is tough to assess. He was a 1987 Rookie of the Year after graduating from the Tacoma Tigers to the Oakland A’s. The first baseman went to 12 All-Star Games, won a Gold Glove, a trio of Silver Slugger awards, and even a World Series in 1989. He broke Roger Maris’ single season home run record when he blasted 70 big flies in 1998. But the California native played in an era that’s kept so many players out of the Hall of Fame, and McGwire didn’t play mistake free either. It’s a tough call, but that’s why it’s up to you to decide if one of the greatest sluggers ever deserves a spot on R Rushmore.
MLB Career (1986-2001) – 1,874 games, 1,626 hits, 1,167 runs, 583 home runs, 1,414 RBI, 12 stolen bases, 1,317 walks, .263/.394/.588 (.982 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1986) – 78 games, 89 hits, 280 at-bats, 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 1 stolen base, .318/.405/.568 (.973 OPS)
The Oakland A’s utility man turned Yankees first baseman turned 40-something journeyman kept chugging along for 20 years, but it was from 1999-2006 where Jason Giambi really shined. During that 8-year stretch, the powerful Giambi smashed 277 dingers, compiled a 1.003 OPS and drew an astonishing 874 walks. He collected MVP votes in 7 of those 8 campaigns, and took home the plaque in 2000. Giambi was one of 89 who appeared on the Mitchell Report in 2007, which could keep him out of the Hall of Fame, but will it keep the former Tacoma Tigers powerhouse off R Rushmore?
MLB Career (1995-2014) – 2,260 games, 2,010 hits, 1,227 runs, 440 home runs, 1,441 RBI, 20 stolen bases, .277/.399/.516 (.916 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1994) – 52 games, 56 hits, 28 runs, 4 home runs, 38 RBI, 1 stolen base, .318/.388/.500 (.888 OPS)
5-Tool players aren’t easy to come by, but we were lucky to have Adam Jones grace the Cheney Stadium outfield for nearly 200 games in 2006-07. During that time, he batted .301 and clubbed 41 homers, putting him near the top of the leaderboard in Tacoma history in both categories. Then he went on to make 5 All-Star appearances with the Baltimore Orioles, amassing four Gold Glove awards, a 2013 Silver Slugger nod, and garnered MVP votes in three-straight years (2012-14). Most importantly, he might be the No. 1 Twitter follow on this list.
MLB Career (Active, played 2020 season with Orix Buffaloes in Japan Pacific League) – 1,823 games, 1,939 hits, 963 runs, 282 home runs, 945 RBI, 97 stolen bases, .277/.317/.454 (.771 OPS)
Tacoma Career – 197 games, 241 hits, 144 runs, 41 home runs, 146 RBI, 24 stolen bases, .301 BA
The only Tacoma Cubs alumnus in the top-20, Hooton was nearly untouchable in his 12 outings with Tacoma, his only dozen Minor League appearances. In the same year he was drafted by Chicago, the right-hander went 7-4 with a 1.68 ERA, punching out 135 in just 102 innings of work. The Texas native had a standout Major League career over 15 years, winning 151 games, pitching to a 3.38 career ERA and finishing runner up to fellow top-20 finalist Gaylord Perry. If Hooton’s face isn’t engraved on R Rushmore, it will remain Cub-less forever. It’s decision time, Tacoma.
MLB Career (1971-85) – 480 games, 151-136 record, 3.38 ERA, 2,652 innings, 1,491 strikeouts, 799 walks
Tacoma Career (1971) – 12 games, 7-4 record, 1.68 ERA, 102 innings, 135 strikeouts, 19 walks
Playing in an era where offensive juggernauts populated outfields throughout baseball, Ibañez was surprisingly named to just one All-Star team during his 19-year Major League career. And that didn’t come until his age 37 season with Philadelphia in 2009. But even though he didn’t fill his mantle with accolades, Ibañez had over 2,000 hits, over 300 home runs and a lifetime OPS a tick over .800. What’s more is that he played with the Rainiers in parts of six seasons. He appeared in nearly 300 games, and has more hits, runs, total bases, and doubles with Tacoma than anyone on this list.
MLB Career (1996-2014) – 2,161 games, 2,034 hits, 1,055 runs, 305 home runs, 1,207 RBI, 50 stolen bases, .272/.335/.465 (.801 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1996-2000, 2004) – 296 games, 314 hits, 178 runs, 35 home runs, 168 RBI, 16 stolen bases, .280 BA
Alex Rodriguez – R Rushmore
A-Rod played only 56 games with the Rainiers, and he could still be considered one of the all-timers in a Tacoma uni. He was that dude in 1995, ripping his way to a 1.065 OPS and a mid-season call-up to the M’s. One of the shortest tenured Tacoma players to be a top-20 finalist, and a man with a complicated history, it’s tough to deny three MVPs, 14 All-Star appearances and a 2009 World Series championship with the New York Yankees.
MLB Career (1994-2016) – 2,784 games, 3,115 hits, 2021 runs, 696 home runs, 2,086 RBI, 329 stolen bases, .295/.380/.550 (.930 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1995-96) – 56 games, 78 hits, 37 runs, 15 home runs, 45 RBI, 2 stolen bases, .356 BA
The 1991 Mariners draftee could be the pitching equivalent to Shin-Soo Choo on this list. A dude who composed a pair of solid seasons in Tacoma, and then put together a 17-year Major League career with one elite season mixed in to nearly two decades of consistency. He won 176 games, finishing his career with an above .500 record, was a Cy Young Award finalist in 2002, and rode off into the sunset having contributed to seven MLB organizations. Not bad for an 8th round pick.
MLB Career (1997-2013) – 681 games, 176-157 record, 4.03 ERA, 2,671.1 innings, 1,722 strikeouts, 794 walks
Tacoma Career (1996-97) – 27 games, 9-13 record, 4.15 ERA, 162.1 innings, 103 strikeouts, 57 walks
This is where things get tricky. McCovey is a Hall of Famer; an MVP, Rookie of the Year, 6-time All-Star. But, his Tacoma tenure lasted just 17 games. Following a 1959 Rookie of the Year campaign, he was demoted by San Francisco after a slow start to the 1960 season. After hitting 3 homers, driving in 16 and scoring 14 times in under three weeks, McCovey was called back up by the Giants, and never returned to Tacoma again. His time in the South Sound was oh so brief, but McCovey’s Hall of Fame legacy could be enough to land him a space on R Rushmore.
MLB Career (1959-80) – 2,588 games, 2,211 hits, 1,229 runs, 521 home runs, 1,555 RBI, 26 stolen bases, .270/.374/.515 (.889 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1960) – 17 games, 18 hits, 14 runs, 3 home runs, 16 RBI, 1 stolen base, .286/.390/.508 (.898 OPS)
We know. ‘How many players are you going to list that the Mariners traded away?!’ We’re getting toward the end of that shortlist, but we couldn’t leave off the Red Sox catcher. When Varitek was drafted by the Mariners in 1994, it was a tenuous relationship from the jump. The Rainiers got 87 games with the Scott Boras client in 1997 before he was shipped to Boston with fellow Top-20 qualifier Derek Lowe at the trade deadline. The switch-hitting catcher was behind the dish when the Red Sox broke the curse in 2004, and again when they solidified their dynasty in 2007. Add in three All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 2005, and you’ve got a case for a spot on R Rushmore.
MLB Career (1997-2011) – 1,546 games, 1,307 hits, 664 runs, 193 home runs, 757 RBI, 25 stolen bases, .256/.341/.435 (.776 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1997) – 87 games, 78 hits, 54 runs, 15 home runs, 48 RBI, .254/.329/.443 (.772 OPS)
The left-handed swinging catcher played nearly 200 games for the Tacoma Giants in 1960 and ’61, completing the battery for legends Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry. As part of one of the greatest Minor League teams ever in 1961, Haller helped Tacoma claim its first ever PCL Championship before catching for 12 years in The Show. Haller was inducted into the Simpson Kraft Cheney Stadium Hall of Fame in 1993.
MLB Career (1961-72) – 1,294 games, 1,011 hits, 461 runs, 134 home runs, 504 RBI, 14 stolen bases, .257/.340/.414 (.754 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1960-61) – 183 games, 119 hits, 60 runs, 17 home runs, 62 RBI, 5 stolen bases, .236 BA
Another Cheney Stadium Hall of Fame inductee, and Tacoma resident until his death in 2000, Ron Herbel pitched for the Tacoma Giants from 1961-63, and returned in the final year of his career with the Tacoma Twins. In his first year with the championship Giants, the right-hander went 16-5 with a 3.57 ERA. He finished just 8-14 in ’62, but improved his ERA to a 3.47 mark. Across a nine-year MLB tenure, the Denver-born hurler won a modest 42 games. Herbel’s Tacoma ties, his dominant season in a championship year, and his Tacoma baseball franchise record 17 complete games in 1963 are certainly enough to get a top-20 nod.
MLB Career (1963-71) – 331 games, 42-37 record, 3.82 ERA, 894.1 innings, 447 strikeouts, 285 walks
Tacoma Career (1961-63, 1972) – 136 games, 43-46 record, 3.59 ERA, 749 innings, 443 strikeouts, 232 walks
This Tacoma Tigers shortstop followed Canseco and McGwire by winning Rookie of the Year with the Oakland A’s in 1988. A decade later, with the Atlanta Braves, he was named to his lone All-Star team. Weiss only played 52 games with the Tigers across three separate seasons, but another Rookie of the Year and a 1989 World Series winner on his resume leaves us wondering if those prestigious trophies are enough to earn him R Rushmore honors.
MLB Career (1987-2000) – 1,495 games, 1,207 hits, 623 runs, 25 home runs, 386 RBI, 96 stolen bases, .258/.351/.326 (.677 OPS)
Tacoma Career (1987, 1989, 1992) – 52 games, 51 hits, 38 runs, 21 RBI, 4 stolen bases, .254 BA
There’s 20 of the best to ever walk through the tunnel at R House. You narrowed it to four all-time greats that we proudly plastered onto R Rushmore. Hit us up on Twitter (@RainiersLand), Instagram (@tacomarainiers) and Facebook to tell us where the voters went wrong.
About the Tacoma Rainiers
The Tacoma Rainiers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Tacoma has been a member of the Pacific Coast League since Cheney Stadium opened in 1960, and has been a Mariners affiliate since establishing the Rainiers moniker in 1995.
The most up-to-date news and notes about the Tacoma Rainiers and Cheney Stadium can be found at WeRTacoma.com, or by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand), Instagram (@tacomarainiers) and liking the team on Facebook.
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