TOWER GROVE • If I remember correctly, we were talking about baseball cards.

Last week on http://www.101sports.com/category/hotcorner" target="_blank">a Sunday morning radio show here in St. Louis, 101 ESPN/WXOS baseball reporter Brian Stull mentioned to me that he had a complete set of 1979 TOPPS cards, and somehow that led to a discussion about the best baseball card or best player we had for every position. When it came to picking the best Stull said he'd ever seen play at each position, third base would be the trickiest. He said in his lifetime, there has been a parade of exceptional third baseman from Mike Schmidt to Alex Rodriguez, George Brett to Scott Rolen, Ryan Zimmerman, Evan Longoria, Ken Caminiti for a stretch, and several more. He didn't mention Robin Ventura because clearly he goes without saying.

This got me thinking about a fun exercise for all.

What is the Lineup of Your Lifetime?

Who is the best third baseman to play in the majors during your time as a baseball fan? Who's the most dominant pitcher you have watched play? Not heard about. Not read about. But saw on TV or in person. Who is the best left fielder from your lifetime?

I carried this question into the press box this week and asked a variety of my colleagues, trying to get as many generations and geographical regions represented as possible. The other two Post-Dispatch baseball writers, Hall of Fame scribe Rick Hummel and beat writer Joe Strauss, both participated, as did columnist Bernie Miklasz and uber-sportswriter Tom Timmermann. I pulled in a lineup from twentysomething intern who will be writing for the PD this summer, and even sent out an APB on http://www.facebook.com/BirdLandPD" target="_blank">the Bird Land@Facebook page for an aspiring journalist who is still a teenager.

Each person was asked to pick eight position players, a starting pitcher and a closer for their lineup. A few also elected to select a designated hitter, though this being a National League town that wasn't necessary. Most of the people who participated decided not to start with their birth year, going instead with the year they became "aware" or "conscious" of pro baseball. Miklasz, for example, went with the year he first fell for the Baltimore Orioles. I went with the year that I first remembering clipping out box scores from the Rocky Mountain News and buying wax packs. The natural fondness for players from your youth was encouraged to play a part in decisions, and several people who participated elected not to look up stats at all.

What emerged from these lineups was a snapshot of the game through several decades of great players, and how some of the consensus finest players cut across generations and are still playing.

Here are the Lineups of a Lifetime that I collected from colleagues and others. Feel free to add your own in the comments. I've got some other ideas for people around the ballpark to ask, and I'll reproduce those through the years. I'll start with mine.

GOOLD LINEUP (start year 1981)

SP Greg Maddux
RP Mariano Rivera
C Pudge Rodriguez
1B Albert Pujols
2B Robbie Alomar
3B Mike Schmidt
SS Alex Rodriguez
LF Rickey Henderson
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Tony Gwynn

MIKLASZ LINEUP (start year 1966)

SP Tom Seaver
RP Mariano Rivera
C Johnny Bench
1B Albert Pujols
2B Joe Morgan
3B Mike Schmidt
SS Alex Rodriguez
LF Barry Bonds
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Vlad Guerrero

HUMMEL LINEUP (start year 1951)

SP Sandy Koufax
CP Mariano Rivera
C Johnny Bench
1B Albert Pujols
2B Joe Morgan
3B Mike Schmidt
SS Ozzie Smith
LF Stan Musial
CF Willie Mays
RF Hank Aaron

STRAUSS LINEUP (start year 1967, Cardinals vs. Impossible Dream Red Sox)

SP Greg Maddux
CP Mariano Rivera
C Johnny Bench
1B Albert Pujols
2B Joe Morgan
3B Mike Schmidt
LF Barry Bonds
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Ichiro Suzuki
DH Edgar Martinez

Strauss added this written explanation of his selections: "If I had compiled a team beginning with my birthday (1961), an outfield of LF Bonds, CF Mays and RF Aaron/F. Robinson/Clemente would be possible, perhaps likely. Eddie Mathews was a dominant third baseman whose flame burned too quickly. It's impossible to exclude Bonds in LF, but Rickey Henderson is for me the best leadoff hitter in the game's history. Bench narrowly beats out Ivan Rodriguez. I have no issue with those who might prefer Harold Baines over Martinez at DH. Maddux bests Roger Clemens and the most elegant pitcher of at least two generations, Jim Palmer. Cal Ripken changed how SS is perceived. ARod took that change to another level. Ichiro narrowly outpoints Tony Gwynn. Ichiro doesn't score well with the WAR crowd; he's merely a transcendent player. Given health, he should next season clear 4,000 career hits between Japanese League and MLB."

TIMMERMANN LINEUP (start year 1967, too)

SP Randy Johnson
CP Mariano Rivera
C Johnny Bench
1B Albert Pujols
2B Joe Morgan
3B Mike Schmidt
SS Derek Jeter
LF Barry Bonds
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Hank Aaron

STULL LINEUP (start year 1976)

SP Randy Johnson
CP Mariano Rivera
C Johnny Bench
1B Albert Pujols
2B Rod Carew
3B Mike Schmidt
SS Ozzie Smith
LF Barry Bonds
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Dave Parker

MATTHEW LEACH LINEUP (start year early 1980s)

Matthew is the Cardinals beat writer for MLB.com.

SP Pedro Martinez
RP Mariano Rivera
C Mike Piazza
1B Albert Pujols
2B Roberto Alomar
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Cal Ripken Jr.
LF Barry Bonds
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Larry Walker
DH Edgar Martinez

Leach added that he had a difficult time leaving Rickey Henderson off his lineup, a decision that he had I both had and made differently. He thought about using Henderson at center (he played less than 500 games there), at DH (spirit of the request?), or at utility just to get him in the lineup. "But ... Barry was better," Leach wrote. I wasn't prepared to make that same statement. I am, however, thrilled to see Larry Walker make an appearance. Right field, not third base, was the toughest call for me when it came to the lineup.

BEN FREDERICKSON (start year 1997)

Ben, a student at Mizzou's School of Journalism, is this year's recipient of the Rick Hummel Internship, and he'll be working at the P-D this year.

SP Greg Maddux
CP Mariano Rivera
C Joe Mauer
1B Albert Pujols
2B Chase Utley
3B Cal Ripken Jr.
SS Derek Jeter
LF Manny Ramirez
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Ichiro Suzuki

RYAN DELL (start year 1998)

Ryan is a student at Mehlville High, where he's the co-editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. He plans to pursue a journalism degree in college.

SP Randy Johnson
CP Mariano Rivera
C Joe Mauer
1B Albert Pujols
2B Chase Utley
3B Chipper Jones
SS Alex Rodriguez
LF Barry Bonds
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Ichiro Suzuki

That gives the project a good start. Now it's your turn. Throw your Lineups of a Lifetime up in the comment section below. I'll put out feelers for others, just so we continue to get a good cross-generational look at the past players who still rank as the best and the contemporary players who have trumped decades of baseball with their current performance.

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