Fans cast nearly 17 million votes throughout much of the summer to decide one player from the past or present for each of the active clubs whose combination of on-field contributions, character and leadership make him stand out from the rest. It was the first such widespread attempt of its kind, with five spectacular nominees on each club's ballot, and now the fans have spoken and seen their results.
The selections were unveiled 10 players at a time over the course of three episodes hosted by Karl Ravech this past week on ESPN, with segments from MLB Productions that featured spine-tingling footage and moving interviews. Here were the 10 players who were selected in the final show:
Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson
Ten-time All-Star; four-time NL Cy Young Award winner; No. 2 in K's among lefties.
Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams
The Splendid Splinter. Frequently called the greatest hitter ever.
Colorado Rockies: Larry Walker
Five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner.
Houston Astros: Nolan Ryan
All-time strikeout leader (5,714), seven no-hitters.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Rod Carew
An 18-time All-Star (1967-84) who also was on the Twins' ballot.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jackie Robinson
Broke MLB's color barrier in 1947, Hall of Famer and six-time All-Star.
Minnesota Twins: Kirby Puckett
Ten-time All-Star and Hall of Famer, two-time World Series champ.
San Diego Padres: Tony Gwynn
Eight-time NL batting champ, 15-time All-Star.
San Francisco Giants: Willie Mays
The "Say Hey Kid" hit 660 homers and was a 20-time All-Star.
Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr.
12-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner.
Voting was conducted from July 18 through Sept. 17, with the final stretch of voting in September conducted exclusively at MLB.com. Fans also voted this summer at all MLB ballparks, via mobile texting, at DHL.com and at any of the 1,600 participating DHL Authorized Shipping Centers around the country.
"DHL is a valued and creative partner of MLB and our shared commitment to excellence is reflected in the overwhelming fan response to the Hometown Heroes program," said Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business, Major League Baseball. "Thanks to the support of DHL, fans everywhere were given the opportunity to celebrate the contributions of some of baseball's greatest players and the rich history that belongs to each Major League franchise."
"This program would not have happened without baseball's great fans, and, on behalf of DHL and its employees, I want to thank them for participating," said Karen Jones, Vice President of Advertising, Brand and Promotions for DHL. "The nearly 17 million votes received further demonstrates the passion they have for the game."
That passion was demonstrated far and wide across the land, and even now that all 30 names have been revealed, the debate will go on and on as long as baseball is played. Here were the other 20 Hometown Heroes revealed in the first two episodes:
Atlanta Braves: Hank Aaron
Hall of Famer; baseball's all-time home run leader with 755.
Baltimore Orioles: Cal Ripken Jr.
All-time leader for consecutive games played with 2,632.
Chicago White Sox: Frank Thomas
Two-time AL Most Valuable Player (1993-94); now leading Oakland.
Florida Marlins: Dontrelle Willis
Two-time All-Star (2003, 2005); NL Rookie of the Year (2003).
New York Yankees: Babe Ruth
Hall of Famer; 714 homers; seven-time World Series champion; the legend.
Oakland Athletics: Reggie Jackson
Hall of Famer; 14-time All-Star (1969, 1971-75, 1977-84).
Philadelphia Phillies: Mike Schmidt
Hall of Famer; three-time NL Most Valuable Player (1980, '81, '86).
Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Wade Boggs
Hall of Famer; led AL in batting average (1985-88); 3,000th hit as a Ray.
Toronto Blue Jays: Joe Carter
Five-time All-Star (1991-94, '96); walk-off homer won 1993 World Series.
Washington Nationals: Gary Carter
Hall of Fame catcher; 11-time All-Star; led Montreal before club moved to DC.
Chicago Cubs: Ernie Banks
Hall of Famer; 11-time All-Star (1955-62, '65, '67, '69). Mr. Cub.
Cincinnati Reds: Pete Rose
Seventeen-time All-Star (1965, '67-71, '73-82, '85); all-time hit king (4,256).
Cleveland Indians: Bob Feller
Hall of Famer; eight-time All-Star (1938-41, '46-48, '50).
Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb
Hall of Famer; record holder for highest career batting average (.367).
Kansas City Royals: George Brett
Hall of Famer; three-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1980, '85, '88).
Milwaukee Brewers: Robin Yount
Hall of Famer; won AL MVP at two different positions -- shortstop (1982) and outfield ('89).
New York Mets: Tom Seaver
Hall of Famer; three-time Cy Young Award winner (1969, '73, '75).
Pittsburgh Pirates: Roberto Clemente
Hall of Famer; 12-time consecutive Gold Glove Award winner (1961-72).
St. Louis Cardinals: Stan Musial
Hall of Famer was 20-time All-Star (1943, '44, 1946-63). Simply "The Man."
Texas Rangers: Nolan Ryan
Hall of Famer; all-time leader with seven no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts.
"Over the course of baseball's history, certain players have become synonymous with the cities and franchises they have represented," Commissioner Bud Selig said in kicking off the balloting program back in July. "Through this program, and thanks to the support of DHL, we will celebrate the contributions of some of baseball's greatest players and the rich history that belongs to each Major League franchise. ... This kind of spirited debate is so closely associated with the history of the national pastime."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.