I have been a Red Sox fan since 1953 and a baseball fan since 1952. The Braves picked up the tent and hustled off for a short stay in Milwaukee, and I quickly switched allegiances.
That is quite a time frame, and, no I never saw Tris Speaker in a Boston uniform. Speaker already had been traded to the Indians, so that is a falsehood.
The possible list can be extensive and includes players not easily recognized -- possibly a second and third team or even players who left scared memories, such as Tony Conigilaro, Roger Moret, Oil Can Boyd, Tony Horton, and Harry Agganis. That said, I will go to a more upbeat approach.
So my perspective of players I have seen play starts with Ted Williams and traversers to the present. Just who left an impression? Swiping a title from a great movie, I have my own magnificent seven, and the list is easily recognized by even the most casual of fans.
There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived
The natural starting point for pre-boomers would be Ted Williams, the best hitter I ever saw. I was certainly not alone in that assessment, and I did have the opportunity to meet Williams near the end of his career, and the end is just where I will begin with Teddy Ballgame.
In 1959 Williams was coming off two batting titles (1957 and 1958), and the anticipation was the 1959 season could be his last. Williams was 40 years old and playing for a lackluster team with 500 career home runs, a goal, and further statistical padding, but Williams was racked by injuries and hit just .254. Time to quit before his reputation soured like milk set out in the hot sun.
Williams returned for 1960, and so did the injuries, but what didn't return was a season-long slump. Williams managed 113 games and 390 plate appearances but slammed 29 home runs and hit .316. The last plate appearance was a home run at Fenway Park and retirement instead of coming to New York and an end-of-season series against the Yankees
The numbers attached to Williams's career are legendary, including a .482 career OBP. Williams is still in the picture, with a recent hit streak by Masataka Yoshida tieing Williams on a multi-hit game. If I had to pick a TSW season, it would be 1949, but others are close - he was that good a hitter.