Ever notice how everybody and his uncle has his own personal Hall of Fame? They’re all sure that they could do a better job than the people who really do vote for Cooperstown. Some of them are right. The guys at The Hall of Miller and Eric (you can find it on Google) have a pretty good one and I suggest you look it over. Some others not so much. Well, it’s time for me to go out on a limb and create “My Own Little Hall of Fame” just so my readers can get a good laugh every so often.
First a few comments. I’m going to start my HoF as if it was created in 1901 not in the 1930s.(I am shamelessly ripping that date off from Miller and Eric, but not making up the neat plaques they create.) So there’s no Babe Ruth in the first class. He hasn’t even started his Big League career in 1901 (Heck, he’s only six). I want to point out that a Hall of Fame formed in 1901 or 1911 or 1921 would be very different from the original Hall. If you form it in 1901, none of the first five members are enshrined. Only Honus Wagner had played significant time and Christy Mathewson was a rookie. Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, and Ruth weren’t up yet. Nap LaJoie is still playing and Cap Anson hasn’t been retired five years (His last season was 1897). The home run record was Roger Connor’s and he had only been retired a few years. So guys who would make a Hall of Fame formed in 1901 would be very different from the original class. Keep that in mind when making your own picks. Go the other way and ask yourself what happens with a Hall formed in 1960. Do Gehrig and DiMaggio make the first Hall over some of the original five or not?
Over the years, the real Hall has made some, at best, questionable choices. But not all of those were “bad” choices. Part of what I want to do with this project, is to show people that putting certain people in the real Hall is a product of the time in which they were added and may not have looked quite so bad when it was done. When Warren Spahn became the winningest left handed pitcher in National League history someone asked , “Who’d he beat?” Turns out the answer was Eppa Rixey and shortly thereafter Rixey went into Cooperstown. Today Rixey looks like a worse choice than he did in 1963. On the other hand, the times can help a worthy candidate who was overlooked. When Henry Aaron took the home run title from Babe Ruth, people asked “Who did Ruth pass?” The answer was Roger Connor and in 1976, two years after Aaron’s feat, Connor made it to Cooperstown. If you look at his home run totals, Connor doesn’t look like a particularly good choice but there’s little wrong with most of his stats.
Now some ground rules for this process. First, a player must be retired for five years for election, except for extraordinary circumstances (see Roberto Clemente and Lou Gehrig for example) . So for 1901, the last year a man can play is 1895. Once a player makes the Hall he can play later. This is designed to take care of players like Dan Brouthers who retired in 1896, then played a couple of games for the 1904 Giants (John McGraw did that kind of thing for a handful of old players). Next, the 10 year rule is waived for 19th Century players (and special circumstances such as Addie Joss dying with only nine years service). The game was so different in that the National League was, in its infancy, not significantly better than other leagues and some players were deserting it for leagues that paid more or paid about the same and were closer to home. Cal McVey is the type of player assisted by this kind of rule. The National Association is considered a Major League for purposes of this, helping guys like Ross Barnes and Al Spaulding. If I don’t then I’m going to have to leave out some of the great pioneering players. Only five men can be elected in one set. I know I’ve been critical of the 10 man rule, but this is a single voter and frankly if I keep it at five I can keep this going for longer. Not more than two of the five may be non-players (executive, manager, founder, contributor, umpire, etc.). There is no requirement that a non-player be selected. There is no preliminary ballot for you to look over and decide ahead of time who I should pick. You don’t like who I pick do your own research and tell me I’m wrong, Players banned by the real HoF are also banned by my Hall (sorry Pete and Shoeless Joe). Steroids? I don’t have to worry about that for a while. No manager or umpire may be elected until after his retirement (so McGraw can’t come in until the 1930s and Mack in the 1950s) unless their playing record might indicate they could be elected as a player (McGraw might fit in here). These types may be elected in the year following their retirement as a manager (or ump, or whatever). Next, I will try to add players based on the stats available at the time (no WAR or OPS or OPS+ or WHIP for 1901 guys). I figure that true voting in an earlier era would have focused strictly on what stats were currently available. That will be harder for very early guys where even fundamental stats like walks and strikeouts are tough to prove. In fact, I believe my most difficult task will be to determine what information was available in 1901 as opposed to 2001. Next, enshrinement will be once each month (meaning I’ll make 1910 by the end of the year) and the five is a maximum not a requirement. And finally, in true Hall of Fame fashion, all these rules are somewhat flexible if I get in a bind.
And now about the Negro Leagues. I have no problem including them; however, they do create a few difficulties. First, it’s a little hard to find out exactly when some of these guys retired, so some of them may end up being admitted to “My Own Little Hall of Fame” earlier than they should and others later than they should. For those in the real Hall, I will use the dates given by Hall for their years of service. Second, I know that no Hall of Fame established in 1901 is going to let black players inside in 1901 (some aren’t going to let them in even as paying customers). Heck, the real Hall took into the 1970s. Well, it’s “My Own Little Hall of Fame” and I’ll put them in when I think appropriate (so there). Third, stats are incredibly hard to find, particularly for the earliest players. Finally, there is no rigid rule on how many have to be put in at any time. They will be part of the five normally chosen and not be a sixth name thrown in from time to time. An exception to this may occur around 1950 when the Negro Leagues collapse and a lot of the older players never make it to the Major Leagues.
This should be fun. It will mean I have to do some serious research, which certainly should help me keep the Alzheimer’s at bay. Hope you will have a good time with it and won’t be laughing too awfully hard.