Wyoming’s Best Baseball Players
It's Opening Day and baseball fans all over the country are ready for a brand new season. To celebrate, here’s a look back at five of the greatest baseball players in Wyoming history.
1. Art Howe – Before he made the big leagues, Howe attended the University of Wyoming in the late 1960’s. His professional career includes 11 seasons in the majors, where he amassed a .260 lifetime batting average for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.
After his playing days were over, Howe went on to manage the Astros, Oakland Athletics and New York Mets. He led the A’s to three consecutive playoff appearances from 2000-2002 and was famously portrayed by the late actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the movie ‘Moneyball”.
2. Tom Browning – The Casper native will forever be part of the record books after pitching only the 12th perfect game in MLB history as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in 1988. He went on to win a World Series with the Reds in 1990.
Browning’s other career accomplishments include being named the Sporting News Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1985, when he became the first pitcher in over 30 years to win 20 games in his rookie season. He was also named to the NL All Star Team in 1991.
Along with his perfect game and his World Series title, Browning is best known for the epic prank he pulled in 1993, when he snuck out of Wrigley Field and watched the rest of the game, in uniform, from a rooftop across the street.
3. Dick Ellsworth – The pride of Lusk, Wyoming, spend 13 in the majors as a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers.
His first call to the big leagues came in 1958, when he became the youngest player in the National League. He won 22 games for the Cubs in 1963 and was named to the All Star team the following year. His 84 wins were the most of any Cubs pitcher during the 1960’s. He went on to win 115 games in his career before retiring as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1971.
4. Mike Devereaux – This Casper product spent 12 years in the show, compiling a .254 lifetime batting average for five teams. After coming up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1987, the journeyman outfielder had two tours of duty as a member of the Baltimore Orioles and Dodgers. He also played for the Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers.
The highlight of his career came as a member of the Braves in 1995, when he had two game winning hits in the National League Championship Series. He was named the NLCS MVP and went on win a World Series ring that fall.
5. Mike Lansing – Born in Rawlins and raised in Casper, this slugger spent 9 years in the majors as a member of the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox. A .271 lifetime hitter, his best year came with the Expos in 1996, when batted .285 and was among the league leaders in doubles.
Lansing also holds the unique distinction of being the fastest MLB player to ever hit for the cycle, when he completed the feat in only four innings as a member of the Rockies in 2000. Several years earlier, he became the first second baseman to hit two home runs in the same inning since 1894.
Sadly, Lansing would later be implicated in the infamous 2007 Mitchell Report, which linked him and several former teammates to steroid use. In spite of those allegations, Lansing’s legacy lives on in Casper, where the former home of the Casper Ghosts minor league team is named in his honor.
Honorable Mention: John Buck – The proud son of Kemmerer holds the record for the most major league home runs ever hit by a Wyoming native. Buck spent 11 years in the majors, recording 134 home runs as a member of Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Known as one of the premiere defensive catchers in the game, Buck’s best year came with the Blue Jays in 2010, when he batted .281 with 20 home runs and was named to the American League All Star Team.