Was just watching a little MLB Network. Saw an interview with Torii Hunter, and was reminded how much I always liked the guy.
When Hunter was a young player with the Twins, Sports Illustrated sent me to Minneapolis to hang with him. In a word: Fantastic. We spent the day driving around, talking, etc. I don’t recall anything spectacular, just that he was a nice, honest, decent, friendly individual. In fact, inspired by Hunter’s appearance, here’s my top-of-the-head All-Nice Guy lineup from my years covering the majors:
C-Sal Fasano: Simply the best, without question
1B-Sean Casey: There has never been a friendlier human being to walk the planet.
2B-Delino DeShields: Most writers didn’t like. But I found him to be extremely intelligent and honest.
SS-David Eckstein: As human as they come.
3B-Robin Ventura: Smart, and understood the oddness of the writer-ballplayer relationship.
OF-Shawn Green: Just a cool dude. And Jewish bonus points!
OF-Gary Sheffield: Strange to be on this list, but I can’t recall a boring moment with him.
OF-Ken Griffey, Jr.: As entertaining as they came.
DH-Mike Sweeney: A truly nice and humble man.
P-Dwight Gooden: Too nice for his own good.
P-Steve Traschel: Always accesible and reasonable.
P-Gregg Olson: The reliever, not the catcher.
P-Kerry Lightenberg: I wonder if he still has the lambchops.
P-Paul Wilson: Coulda shoulda been a great Met.
Manager: Tony Muser: Players hated him. I always liked the guy.