The Veteran’s Committee, this year, will focus on players that debuted before World War II. Their latest of countless alterations mandates that the Veteran’s Committee will only focus on ten individuals from the pre and post WWII era, with the eras under scrutiny flip-flopping ever year. Next year, they will analyze the merits of players who debuted after World War II. That being said, this year’s ballot lists a number of names modern fans have never heard of, but some who have legitimate cases for enshrinement. The list is as follows:
Sam Breadon: St. Louis Cardinals owner during famous Gashouse Gang days.
Bad Bill Dahlen: legendary shortstop of the Deadball Era
Wes Ferrell: pitcher during the rock ‘em sock ‘em prewar days.
Marty Marion: Cardinals shortstop noted more for defense.
Tony Mullane: forgotten pitching star of the late 1800s.
Hank O’Day: well-respected umpire who worked for 30 years.
Al Reach: early baseball pioneer best known for producing the famous “Reach Guide.”
Jacob Ruppert: Yankees owner from 1915 to 1945–responsible for bringing Ruth to New York
Bucky Walters: Reds ace during their heyday prior to WWII.
Deacon White: early baseball ironman who caught and played third base.
Of this group, had I a vote (there are 16 former players, executive and historians that have a vote on the Veteran’s ballot), I would certainly cast one for Dahlen, whose exclusion from Cooperstown is absurd. He is the only person on this ballot that I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for. However, given Ruppert’s ten championships at the helm of the Yankees, he most certainly should be in the Hall of Fame with the likes of Tom Yawkey. Deacon White deserves serious consideration and the more I analyze the old star, the more I support his enshrinement. Tony Mullane and Sam Breadon I am iffy on, as well as Hank O’Day–there aren’t many umpires in the Hall, so O’Day would be a good fit. Tim Hurst was an early umpire worth looking at too.
Albert Reach might be the most interesting person on this ballot. A former outfielder/second baseman, Reach hit .353 the first year baseball was organized, but his numbers fell off drastically after that. Reach isn’t on the ballot for his playing, however, for the man is best known as a baseball pioneer, much in the fashion of Al Spalding. Reach opened a sporting goods store in 1874, which was the largest such company in the States until he merged with Spalding. He nevertheless continued to published his famous “Reach Guide,” an indispensable booklet for the baseball fanatic. Reach and chum Ben Shibe, another baseball pioneer worthy of serious Hall of Fame discussion, created the figure eight pattern used on baseballs since the covering originally employed failed to protect the ball. About designing the figure eight pattern, Reach said, ““There were two manufacturers of reputation when I began to play ball in the fifties—Harvey Ross, of Brooklyn, and John Van Horn of New York. The cover they made was of horsehide, but a different design was used. Their design, a sort of clover leaf, left a weak spot where the ends of the cover were stitched together. It was usually there that the cover ripped off during a hard game, for we had heavy hitters in those days. After the ball with the new design appeared the ‘figure eight’ soon became the standard recognized all over the country” (Sioux City Journal, 8-09-1925).
Reach deserves serious consideration for what he meant to the game during its infancy. Of the remaining group, Bucky Walters was a very good pitcher, and pitched in a hitter’s era, as was Ferrell, but there are better pitchers from that era, such as Tommy Bridges and Charlie Root, who should have made this ballot instead of them. Ferrell has his supporters, but his peripheral stats are atrocious. For a man who never pitched on a pennant winner, he certainly has a very good record, with a winning percentage slightly over .600, but Ferrell’s WHIP is abysmal; he never once finished in the Top Ten in his league in that important category. Ferrell chewed innings (but who didn’t during that time?), but the fact that he coughed up more hits than innings worked while also issuing more walks that strikeouts he racked up, means Ferrell has little business on a Hall of Fame ballot. He was usually among the league leaders in hits allowed and walks issued–two stats you don’t want your name mentioned in. Ferrell led the league in hits allowed three consecutive seasons–he is not a Hall of Famer.
Marty Marion is another suspect selection since there are dozens of players who played before WWII that were quite better than him. A tall, slender shortstop, Marion wasn’t the hitter that shortstop peers like Appling, Boudreau, Johnny Pesky and Cecil Travis were, but his glove kept him around. His claim to fame is winning the MVP in 1944 while a member of the World Champion Cardinals, but Musial, who won the honor the year prior, was clearly the heart and soul of that club. A career .263 hitter, Marion once led the league in doubles and was a good man for a sacrifice, but his worth was with the leather. An elite defensive shortstop, Marion, offensively speaking, doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the four aforementioned players. The Hall of Fame has always placed a premium on offense, which is why Marion’s inclusion on the ballot is a tad strange. However, there are much better all-round players from the prewar era not on the ballot who should be there instead of Marion. Buddy Myer comes to mind, as does Lave Cross and George Van Haltren. Cy Williams, Jake Daubert, Ed McKean, Jack Glasscock, Heine Groh… I could go on and on, would make for better selections than Marion. Marty Marion was a good ballplayer, one of the best defensive shortstops off all-time, but to place him on a list of the the best ten former players and executives of the prewar era is asinine.
That’s my two cents, feel free to cast two copper pieces of your own.
To name all the former players who at one time held the career record for homeruns is to offer a short roll call of names. Barry Bonds recently broke Hank Aaron’s record, which Mr. Aaron took from Babe Ruth, who held the record for several decades. The Bambino toppled the mark set by Hall of Famer Roger Connor, while Connor broke the record held by the man who set the original mark: Mr. Harry Stovey. Ruth, Aaron and Connor are all Hall of Famers while Bonds will be judged for the Hall of Fame in the up-coming year. As for Harry Stovey, few people can recall his name because he has yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The honor has yet to be bestowed upon the legend of the 1800s because historians pay little notice to Stovey’s primary league: the old American Association.
The reason Harry Stovey, one of the greatest speed/power combo threats in the game’s rich history, has been passed over repeatedly for inducted is the stigma of the American Association (AA). Often referred to as “The Beer and Whiskey League,” the AA was deemed a lesser caliber of play to the dominant National League. Be that as it may, Stovey participated in both leagues and shined in each one. The early legend of baseball was a five-time single season homerun champ–he won the homerun crown his rookie year–and also led the league in triples and runs scored in four separate seasons. Due to his many league leading totals, Stovey’s rank on the “Black Ink Test,” which focuses on the totals of league-leading stats, rests high on the all-time board and exceeds most of his peers. Stovey’s Black Ink mark is a stellar 56. Hall of Fame peers Billy Hamilton (43), Hugh Duffy (35), Orator O’Rourke (27), King Kelly (23) and Tommy McCarthy (3) all rest well below Harry’s mark.
If one were to offer a modern ballplayer as a likeness to Stovey, the name Barry Bonds would come to mind. Both ballplayers were exceptional athletes who were capable of leading their respective leagues in both homeruns and stolen bases. Although the stolen base stat wasn’t kept on a regular basis during the first few years of Stovey’s career, he nevertheless led his league in that department on three occasions. Old literature on the game will often list Stovey, in one of the years the stolen base wasn’t kept, as having pilfered over 150 bases in a single season. Perhaps, had stats been annotated like they are today, Ty Cobb, Maury Wills and Rickey Henderson would not be considered the record holders of past and present in that department.
At one point in baseball history, Harry Stovey held the single season record in both homeruns and stolen bases. An accomplished all-round ballplayer, Stovey was a slugging threat (he paced the league three times in slugging percentage) who also ran the bases with the speed of a gazelle. Although his career was anything but lengthy, Harry rests 21st all-time in the career triples department. Due to his prolific offensive accomplishments, Stovey remains, to this day, one of the single greatest run manufacturers in the game’s history. Capable of scoring and driving in a ton of runs, Stovey is one of just a select few ballplayers in history to average over a run scored per game. As a manufacturer of runs, scored and driven-in, Stovey is in the class of the elite. He accounted for an average of 1.615 runs manufactured per game, a tally that exceeded Hall of Fame peers Kelly (1.586), Hamilton (1.530), O’Rourke (1.469) and McCarthy (1.412). Modern day comparisons, Derek Jeter (1.208) and Alex Rodriguez (1.525) show that Stovey was quite remarkable, regardless the era.
When Harry Stovey passed away, he received a little support for the Hall of Fame but those individuals who turn their nose up to the American Association kept him from garnering much support. The highest percentage of the Hall of Fame vote Stovey ever received came just prior to his death when he netted the small total of 7.7% of the vote. A case could be made for Harry Stovey as the most underrated player in baseball history, for the man seemed to lack a weakness on the field. He was both swift and strong, leading his league in long balls and thefts on several occasions.
The rank of baseball purists seems to be dwindling with each passing year as every institution seems to be adopting the plea used by AT&T, I believe, as their motto: “Rethink Possible.” The postseason used to be about the best clubs each league had to offer squaring off against each other, but now it is merely a contest of teams hot at the right time. This postseason, like the last few, is not populated with the best teams of each league as the St. Louis Cardinals, who backed their way into the World Series last year as the Wild Card team in the National League have done it again–only this time they needed a second doggone Wild Card to secure a place in postseason play. As a baseball purist I feel the postseason has lost much credibility with the advent of wild cards, but as a human possessing the capacity for reason, I fully understand that once change is adopted, it is damn difficult returning to previous days. What I propose, which will be detailed in the following paragraphs, is a realignment of baseball (let us not forget that realignment is taking place next year regardless) which, although not a return to the game’s elder days, hearkens back to a time when teams were judged on sustained excellence and not pockets thereof.
My realignment proposal begins with a return to the two division standpoint. Gone are the central divisions, thus negating a postseason wild card. The divisions would be as follows:
AL East: Blue Jays, Indians, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees
AL West: Angels, Astros, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, Royals and Twins
* The Houston Astros are moving to the AL West this coming season
NL East: Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates and Reds
NL West: Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Padres and Rockies
With the two division platform for each league, the Division Series will be abolished under this proposal, which leaves the League Championship Series, engaged between the leaders of each division and the World Series, participated by the winner of the LCS, as the main aspect of postseason play. The reason I wrote main aspect is because the final proposal I have will shy away from my baseball purist mentality and massage the needs of those who require change. In order to appease those gluttons for change who enjoy the March Madness mindset of college basketball, my final proposal is a winner-take-all tournament that will employ every team that failed to reach the four-team postseason. This way, every baseball fan, regardless if his team stinks or not, will have something to root for in October. The tournament will take place during the regular postseason play but will not be aired prime time, because the LCS and World Series will be allotted that time slot. The tournament could be a one-loss-and-you’re-out affair or a lengthy tournament that spans the range of the LCS and World Series–which could be best of seven or best of nine series. Either way, the integrity of the postseason isn’t compromised, since the best teams of each division will be engaged in the traditional postseason while the teams that failed to cop a flag will join the tournament.
I’d like to hear your views on this change–whether it’s too radical for baseball or not–and the changes you would propose to make the postseason a more legitimate affair. Certainly I am not the only person tired of teams with inferior records participating late in the postseason while the team’s that accumulated more wins are pushed out of the postseason because Lady Luck cares not for their team’s colors.
One of the most underrated players of his generation, Abreu was about as close as any player has ever been to being the perfect offensive weapon. Bobby could hit in the excess of 25 homers, steal 30+ bases, hit over .300 and post an on-base percentage over .400. The man was, simply put, an offensive stud. But Bobby spent the bulk of his career with the Phillies before they became an NL East powerhouse–much like Curt Schilling–and few people noticed just how great of a ballplayer Bobby was. Abreu may still catch on with another team because he still has the on-base skills, but the power and speed have faded.
Given what Abreu has already accomplished, how do you feel his chances for getting inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame stand? Tell us by employing the poll below.
The latest former All-Star to be designated for assignment, Johnny Damon’s road to 3,000 hits seems to have run out of gravel. The fading Indians cut ties with the outfielder since his offensive production was weak and his defensive worth has been nil for several years. This might be the end of the line for Johnny, but it was a solid ride. Inching up on 2,800 career hits, Damon nevertheless rests in the Top 50 all-time in career runs scored and doubles. Although the man didn’t seem to do anything right–no coach would ever teach his unorthodox swing–he racked up numbers that will get him some Hall of Fame support.
Do you think Johnny Damon will make the Hall of Fame? Utilize the poll below and tell us what you think.
Fans of sports teams have been known to gripe about ill representation, whether it be at an All-Star Game or some other function, but Washington Senators fans have a legitimate gripe when it comes to their lack of representation at basbeball’s Hall of Fame. A number of great Senators haven’t received much support by voters, even with such quality candidates like Mickey Vernon, Cecil Travis, Eddie Yost, Frank Howard and the former star second baseman Buddy Myer. When a player plays the bulk of his career with that capitalized “W” on his cap, he fails to get the exposure a player of the same caliber acquires when he sports pinstripes or plays in a larger venue. Many baseball fans have complained, justifiably so, of the Hall of Fame’s New York bias, pointing to players with lesser stats on better teams having been inducted over superior players on lesser teams. But the Hall of Fame isn’t perfect, far from it, and when one understands the location of the museum, it shouldn’t take the application of too much reason to understand the NY bias.
Buddy Myer, had there been no Charlie Gehringer, would be considered the best second baseman of his era. He had other peers that were quality players, two, Billy Herman and Tony Lazzeri, have been inducted to the Hall of Fame, but the portside-swinging second baseman stacks up awfully well to those two gents. Gehringer, The Mechanical Man, was clearly the cream of the 1930s 2B crop, but his runner-up might be left out of the Hall of Fame. Myer was a gifted, all-round performer who had terrific offensive value and possessed a glove superior to both Herman and Lazzeri. Buddy’s career fielding percentage at second base was an impressive .974 (five points above league average at the position) while Herman and Lazzeri fielded at an identical .967 clip.
Myer had a substantial edge in career fielding percentage over both Herman and Lazzeri. The Washington second baseman led the AL twice in fielding percentage while the slugging New York Yankee, Tony Lazzeri, never paced the junior circuit in fielding. The Washington man accumulated more career putouts at second base than Laz, but Tony hit with authority while Buddy, whose homefield was the cavernous Griffith Stadium, hit more to contact. The two men were terrific second basemen but newspaper writers of the time knew Lazzeri was inferior to Buddy at playing the position. An article written during the prime of their careers compared Myer more favorably to Charlie Gehringer, regarded by all analysts as the best 2B of their time, than Tony Lazzeri.
Offensively, Buddy Myer left little to be desired. The Senators weren’t known for their slugging, due in most part to their massive home stadium, but blasting the sphere, regardless his homefield, was never Buddy’s offensive game. The best contact hitter among second basemen of his day–not named Gehringer, of course–Myer owned an enviable batting eye. The Senators second basemen played ten years in which he had twice as many walks as strikeouts. Charlie Gehringer is the only second basemen who played in roughly the same era to top Myer’s mark with twelve seasons–nobody else even comes close. Billy Herman had five years in which he walked twice as much as he fanned while Red Schoendienst had five as well. Yankee Hall of Famers Joe Gordon and Tony Lazzeri had one such year combined between the two, with Gordon achieving the feat.
One of the most interesting facts on Buddy Myer is that he is the only American League infielder of the prewar years to win a batting title and not be named to the Hall of Fame. Buddy employed his remarkable batting eye to advantage, which enabled him to be a threat for a batting title year after year. What his sharp eye also did was enable him to post some impressive on-base percentages. Buddy’s career OBP of .389 exceeds all of his aforementioned Hall of Fame peers, with the typical exception of Gehringer. Lazzeri’s career on-base percentage was nine points below Myer at .380, followed by Herman’s .367, Gordon’s ,357 and Red Schoendienst’s rather poor .337 career on-base percentage. His on-base skills allowed him to be rack up more career stolen bases with 157 than Lazzeri (148), Gordon (89), Schoendienst (89) and Herman (67).
Although he wasn’t a slugger in the Lazzeri mold, Myer was a terrific run producer–better than Billy Herman. The mite second basemen posted a 100 RBI/100 run scored season during his career, a feat never achieved by Herman or Red Schoendienst. When looking at their runs manufactured average, the combination of runs scored with runs driven in, Myer has an edge on the Hall of Famers as well. Myer average 1.053 runs manufactured per game during his career, which is an average that eclipses Herman’s 1.042 and blows Schoendienst’s meager 0.901 average out of the water.
When an analyst wants to make a case for a player’s Hall of Fame induction, the best way is by comparing his stats to players already enshrined. Myer’s career stats are pretty fair indeed, with many exceeding the standards of the gents already enshrined. Billy Herman was widely regarded as the top second baseman of the National League during the pre-war years they played in, and Myer has many similarities to Herman in the most common of stats. Buddy Myer scored 1,174 runs to Herman’s 1,163. Myer drove in 850 runs compared to Herman’s 839. Herman’s batting average was a point higher at .304 to Myer’s .303, as was Herman’s .407 slugging average–Myer had a career .406 SA. But in the third slash line category, which makes Myer’s slash line far superior to Herman’s, is the 22 point separation Buddy has in on-base percentage: .389 to Herman’s .367. When compared to his Hall of Fame peers, Buddy Myer looks to be a very strong candidate for enshrinement.