Sports

Pro sports longevity: Who spent the most years with the same team?

Former Boston Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski throws out a ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of baseball’s World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in Boston on Oct. 23, 2013.
Former Boston Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski throws out a ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of baseball’s World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in Boston on Oct. 23, 2013. The Associated Press

Kobe Bryant has announced this season, his 20th with the Los Angeles Lakers, will be his last. Bryant is the first NBA player to spend that many years with one franchise, though it’s not completely uncommon across the other pro sports in the United States.

Here, a list of those who spent the most seasons with the same team in Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NFL and NHL:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

23 – Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox: Yaz had 1,822 hits for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. That’s 11 more than Wade Boggs and Nomar Garciaparra, combined.

23 – Brooks Robinson, Orioles: Was third-youngest player in the American League to start his career, was the second-oldest player in the AL when his career ended.

22 – Al Kaline, Tigers: There’s nine players in baseball history with 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. Kaline was one home run short of being the 10th.

22 – Stan Musial, Cardinals: Was with the Cardinals 23 years, essentially; Musial missed the 1945 season after enlisting in the United States Navy.

22 – Mel Ott, N.Y. Giants: Despite relatively small stature at 5-foot-9 and about 170 pounds, he led the Giants in homers for 18 consecutive seasons.

22 – Ty Cobb, Tigers: Highest average in MLB history, was four votes away from being a unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

22 – Cap Anson, White Stockings/Colts: He was a White Stocking, and then a Colt, and left before his franchise became the Orphans. It’s now called the Cubs.

NBA

20 – Kobe Bryant, Lakers *: A 17-time All-Star (and counting), a five-time champion, a two-time gold medalist and the No. 3 scorer in NBA history.

19 – Tim Duncan, Spurs *: It would be perhaps surprising if he didn’t join the 20-season club next year, since there’s no signs his game is slowing.

19 – John Stockton, Jazz: Durable until the end, starting all 82 games in the season he turned 40, he’s the NBA’s career leader in assists and steals.

18 – Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks*: A game changer by being a sharpshooting big man, Nowitzki is expected to play a 19th season in Dallas before his career ends.

18 – Reggie Miller, Pacers: Never averaged less than 10 points a game, never shot less than 80 percent from the line, and was a 3-point trendsetter.

18 – Karl Malone, Jazz: Finished his career with the Lakers in a (futile) hope to win that elusive title, but Malone will always be synonymous with Utah.

* – denotes active streak

NFL

21 – Jason Hanson, Lions: When he was on the field, it was points for Detroit: He tried 1,274 field goals and extra points in his career, making 1,160 of them.

20 – Darrell Green, Redskins: Played in 295 games, the most of any defensive player in NFL history. Intercepted 54 passes over three different decades.

20 – Jackie Slater, Rams: A college teammate of Walter Payton’s, it took him three seasons to become a starter for the Rams. He never lost the job.

19 – Bruce Matthews, Oilers/Titans: Part of the family that has a football legacy like few others, he went to the Pro Bowl 14 times and played guard, center and tackle.

19 – Jim Marshall, Vikings: Yes, he ran the wrong way for a touchdown – in a game the Vikings won. Other than that, he should be better-known for making 282 consecutive appearances.

NHL

25 – Gordie Howe, Red Wings: “Mr. Hockey” played in Detroit in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. (And technically the 1990s, if you count the Detroit Vipers.)

24 – Alex Delvecchio, Red Wings: He played for the Wings, coached the Wings and was a general manager for the Wings – with a statue and three Cups to his credit.

22 – Steve Yzerman, Red Wings: Now the general manager in Tampa Bay, he spent his entire career in Detroit. Won Cups, gold medals and a trip to the Hall of Fame.

22 – Stan Mikita, Blackhawks: Born in Czechoslovakia, raised in Canada, Mikita is forever linked to Chicago. Won Hart, Art Ross, and Lady Byng in same season twice.

21 – Martin Brodeur, Devils: The NHL’s all-time leader in goaltender games, wins, saves and shutouts, and a three-time Stanley Cup champion from his Jersey years.

21 – Ray Bourque, Bruins: Won his only title as a member of the Avalanche (Joe Sakic letting him hoist the Cup was unforgettable), but he’s still Boston royalty.

21 – John Bucyk, Bruins: He arrived in Boston in 1957 and never left, playing for the Bruins through the late 1970s and working for the franchise ever since.

21 – George Armstrong, Maple Leafs: His numbers aren’t eye popping, but his leadership is still revered in Toronto even now. A four-time champion with the Maple Leafs.

Related content:

Story: The Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins reflects on Kobe Bryant

Video: Cousins talks about Kobe Bryant

Numbers: Where Bryant ranks all-time

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