Rand: October was only a dream for these stars

  • Updated: October 8, 2012 - 11:59 PM

Postseason play isn't a given, even for Hall of Famers with 2,000-plus career games.

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“Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks played 2,528 games – all in Chicago – but never reached the postseason.

Photo: , Star Tribune file

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It's been a rough couple of years for Twins fans, but as the MLB playoffs march on, here is some perspective: It's only been two calendar years since your team was in the playoffs. Imagine being a ballplayer and NEVER playing in a postseason game. Moreover, imagine being a Hall of Fame player with that distinction. Impossible, right?

Not at all. Here are the five Baseball Hall of Fame players who appeared in at least 2,000 regular-season games without playing a single game in the postseason (research via baseball-reference.com). Granted, they played in an era in which making the postseason was more difficult than it is now, but that makes it no less heartbreaking:

Ernie Banks: Mr. Cub played his entire career on the North Side of Chicago -- 2,528 games in all. For the first 14 seasons, the Cubs did not even sniff the perimeter of the playoffs, finishing fifth or worse in the NL every year. This was no fault of his own, of course. Banks clubbed 512 career home runs and was the back-to-back NL MVP in 1958 and 1959.

One that got away: In Banks' final full season, 1969, the Cubs led the NL East (first year of division play) by nine games in mid-August and still five games in early September before collapsing and finishing eight games behind the Miracle Mets.

Luke Appling: Another Chicago player, this time on the South Side. Appling played in 2,422 games for the White Sox from 1930 to 1950. He hit .310 for his career -- and .388 in 1936 -- but it was never enough to help the lowly Sox into the postseason.

One that got away: Not really. The best the Sox finished in the AL in Appling's 21 seasons was third place with an 86-68 record in 1937. The Yankees were 102-52.

Ron Santo: Notice a theme? Players are dedicated to Chicago, no matter how bad the teams are. Santo was a teammate of Banks for many years, playing for the Cubs from 1960 to '73 (and one final year with, you guessed it, the White Sox). That's 2,243 games, nine All-Star appearances, five Gold Gloves and zero playoff trips.

One that got away: Same as Banks, 1969.

Harry Heilmann: Played 2,147 games between 1914 and 1932, the vast majority with Detroit. He batted at least .390 four times, including .403 in 1923.

One that got away: Heilmann did not play in 1915, when the Tigers won 100 games (but still finished second in the AL and missed the playoffs). In 1934-35, after he was gone, the Tigers reached back-to-back World Series.

George Sisler: He was a .340 career hitter and hit an incredible .420 in 1922. Unfortunately, he did most of this for the perennially awful St. Louis Browns during a 2,055-game career between 1915 and 1930.

One that got away: The Browns actually finished 93-61 in 1922 and in second place -- one game behind the Yankees. Sisler hit .427 in September, to no avail.

MICHAEL RAND

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