If you are still in your 20’s or early 30’s, the chances are great that you grew up playing the Backyard sports games. They made games for baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer and skateboarding. And they were all fantastic. ALL OF THEM WERE.

The purpose of this article is for me to give you my fully honest ranking of the cover athletes on the Backyard Baseball games. Having spent my entire weekend playing, this has been the only thing on my mind.

For reference, the five game covers being compared will be the original Backyard Baseball (original), and then BYBB 2001, BYBB 2003, BYBB 2005 and BYBB 2007.

5) Alex Rodriguez (BYBB 2005)

If you never played Backyard Baseball 2005, then you are doing a disservice to Atari, Humongous Entertainment, Pablo Sanchez and myself. This was the best of the games, no doubt about it. And it was also the most realistic of the bunch.

The reason that A-Rod ranks so low on the totem pole is that he is the least impactful cover athlete within his game. He was still a beast when you drafted him, but not to the level that our other players were.

The best major-leaguers to draft in this game, in my opinion, were Pedro Martinez and Alfonso Soriano. Randy Johnson was always a bad pick because of his slow swing. You need decent hitting at all nine spots, and Pedro can actually hit the occasional dinger. Soriano is fast and a great opposite field hitter.

Sorry Alex Rodriguez. You are at the bottom of the list. (This has nothing to do with the steroids. Or does it???)

4) Stephanie Morgan (BYBB original)

Pablo Sanchez also graces the cover of this game. But, because he’s sliding into home plate, he’s not the feature player. Given that Stephanie is smiling as she prepares to apply the tag on Pablo in this picture , well… she’s probably going to make sure the GOAT is out at home.   

Stephanie is a slightly below average player in the BYBB franchise. She has her moments and is a decent line-drive hitter, but she isn’t a “must-draft” player. But the fact that she got PABLO out on a game cover, proves how great she is capable of being.

This cover makes it ahead of 2005 because of the appearance by Pablo. And that’s all there is to it.

3) Mike Piazza (BYBB 2003)

Backyard Baseball 2003 plays very similarly to the 2001 game. The major differences lie in the available pro players to choose from and the stadiums. The audio was slightly better, but that’s really it. It’s a quality game.

Mike Piazza however, wasn’t exactly dynamite. He’ll get the nod ahead of A-Rod for the swag he brings to the game. He comes in rocking a backwards hat with the classic Piazza power. His arm behind home plate won’t be gunning the fastest runners down.

At the end of the day, he was still a guy you loved to have on your team. And, a player with a fantastic name. Who doesn’t love saying “Piazza”? That’s a top-tier last name. Third place.

2) Albert Pujols (BYBB 2007)

The 2007 edition of Backyard Baseball was VERY different from the others, but it was still fantastic. They made stealing harder, and the fields had deeper dimensions. The power-ups were a little more creative, and there were more players to choose from than ever before.

Albert Pujols graced the cover of this game, and it was almost guaranteed that you’d get a hit with him at the plate. The game’s popularity was a lot lower than the three games before it, but it was still a stellar time. I got the game for my birthday in sixth grade.

Pujols was always a good pick. It would have been foolish to ever not choose him. The same goes for Pete Wheeler, AKA Pete Stealer. If you put Pete in the leadoff spot and Pujols after him, that’s two guaranteed runs every time.

St. Louis Cardinals Pujols was an all-time great. In real life and in video games.

1) Cal Ripken (BYBB 2001)

Backyard Baseball 2001 might be the single best game in the entire Backyard franchise. And on the cover it features Stephanie Morgan as the catcher, and Cal Ripken Jr. batting. Noted in the background are Pablo Sanchez, Vicki Kawaguchi and Marky Dubois.If you picked Ripken when you played, the chances were great that your team would win the World Series. He was a stellar hitter and could throw any player out on a ground ball to short. Even Kenny Lofton, whose speed was unfair, couldn’t beat out Ripken’s arm.

Cal wasn’t the best player in the game, but he was up there at the top. Ken Griffey Jr. is the guy you always wanted to have, to ensure 1-2 home runs PER GAME. Ripken earned the right to be on the cover though, and listed as the best cover athlete.

When you play in 2,632 consecutive games in real life and literally NEVER strike out in the video game, you’re golden.

THANK YOU FOR READING

I hope that you all had as much fun reading this as much as I did writing it. Backyard Baseball forever! PS, check me out on Twitter @TheTriumphant23 for clips of the games. YES, I still play them.