Four-Decade Players

From BR Bullpen

They're the kings of durability: players who appeared in four different calendar decades. Many of these guys are Hall of Famers, but some are just better-than-average players who worked hard and stayed healthy for a very long time.

Remarkably, out of the 36 players on the list, four - Rick Dempsey, Carlton Fisk, Tim McCarver and Katsuya Nomura - got there despite playing what is arguably the most physically demanding position on the field: catcher.

The list includes players active at the major league level in the United States or Japan for at least one game in each of four different decades; in many cases, the feat was only achieved thanks to a token appearance at the end of a player's career, or a cup of coffee at the beginning of such.

Due to the Majors not being established until 1876, the following three players do not qualify as four decade players although they played four decades at the highest level of play available to them at the time: Joe Start (1859-1886) Candy Nelson (1867-1890) and Deacon White (1868-1890).

African-Americans have played professionally since 1878 when Bud Fowler first did so, although he had been playing since at least 1877 and possibly as early as 1872. Major League Baseball does not consider any African-American players or leagues prior to 1920 to be Major League (and only recognized that status for some leagues in 2020, one hundred years after the fact). The following players played four decades at the highest level of play possible to them at the time: Bud Fowler (1878-1904), Clarence Williams (1886-1913), Candy Jim Taylor (1904-1942), Smokey Joe Williams (1905-1932), John Henry Lloyd (1906-1932), Pelayo Chacón (1908-1931), Oscar Charleston (1915-1941), José María Fernández (1915-1947), George Britt (1917-1942) and Bill Holland (1919-1941). More research being done may lead to more names being added in the future.

Nick Altrock, Candy Jim Taylor, Satchel Paige and Minnie Minoso are the only players to appear in five different decades.

In the list below, bold indicates the player is a member of Baseball Hall of Fame.


None. Bartolo Colon, who debuted in 1997, and Adrian Beltre, who debuted in 1998, were the closest to achieving the feat, but both last played in September of 2018, Colon on the 22nd and Beltre on the 30th.









None. Jimmie Dykes, who debuted in 1918, was the closest to achieving the feat, but he last played in 1939. Listed in the introduction to this article are several players from the Negro Leagues who played at the highest level available to them during these decades.





Further Reading[edit]

  • Andrew Simon and David Adler: "These players' careers spanned 4 decades",, November 22, 2018. [1]