Archive for May, 2014

Verdun’s Advice on How to Pick Up Girls

May 29, 2014
OK, so I didn't pick up Catherine Bell. The advice is still good.

OK, so I didn’t pick up Catherine Bell. The advice is still good.

Today a little advice for all you young guys on how to pick up girls. Trust me, I’m an old hand at it.

Back when I was in youth baseball I hit all of two home runs ever (this is germane eventually). One was a standard turn on the pitch, drive it hard, and rope it right down the right field line (I hit left-handed) and watch it go over the fence. As the first I’d ever hit, I hadn’t perfected a home run trot, so I just kind of ran around the bases and came home. But when I was 13 I hit my second homer.

With a decent knowledge of the strike zone and some speed, I was our team’s leadoff hitter. Of course I had no power, but over the years learned to bunt. I didn’t do the standard bunt all that well. I could get it down, but sometimes it rolled a couple of feet and the catcher could gun me out. Occasionally, I’d bunt it directly to the third baseman and he’d do the same as the catcher. But I did do a terrific drag bunt. Now the purpose of a drag bunt is to get on base by rolling the ball into the triangle between the pitcher, the first baseman, and the second baseman. If you do it just right, you can get to first before one of them can field it and another can cover first.

My coach knew I could lay down a drag bunt, so before this particular game he told me to try it in my first at bat. I laid down a beauty. It rolled just far enough away from the first baseman that he couldn’t get it and had to retreat quickly to first. The pitcher saw he couldn’t get it and froze. The second baseman came dashing in for the ball. I could see him from the corner of my eye and saw he’d try to grab it with his bare hand and flip it to first without being able to stand. Our assistant coach was in the first base box and, seeing that the second baseman was going to let it fly was already motioning me toward second.

Well, the kid threw a Star Trek ball. The ball “boldly went where no ball has gone before.” Remember how big Mark McGwire was? No way he was going to reach this ball, let alone some little 13-year-old kid. So I was off to second. Most of the way there I was able to pick up the head coach who was in the third base box. He was motioning for me to come on to third. So I rounded second and headed for third.

Most teams at that age have at least one kid who has no business being on a diamond, but he likes the game and so there he is. You gotta play him, so most coaches stick him in right field where, theoretically, he can do the least damage. Well, that was true of the team we were playing. They had this skinny kid who was all arms and legs (and little head) in right. He managed to get to the overthrow finally and heaved it toward the infield. At least it was supposed to go to the infield. It sailed off into left-center and the coach sent me on home. I saw the on deck hitter holding up his arms telling me not to slide, so I scored standing up and we were ahead 1-0. I found out later that the official scorer (we were a big enough town to have one) gave me a single and two errors.

As I said, I was 13 and was just beginning to pick up on girls. Linda lived across the street. She was also 13 and just beginning to blossom. She ended up the head cheerleader in both junior high and high school back when athleticism had nothing to do with becoming a cheerleader. Back then the head cheerleader and all the other cheerleaders for that matter were determined by the shape of their legs, the size of their racks, and the shape of their face. So that should tell why I was smitten with Linda.

I was outside the next day when I saw her. She waved and I wandered across the street to see her. It was a typical West Texas street, black top with a concrete sidewalk on either side and something approximating grass trying to grow on the hot, dry lawns. Both our places had a front porch that was just a concrete slab with an overhang. The porch ran across the middle third of the house front, giving access to the front door and a large picture window.

“I saw you had your uniform on last night,” she told me.

I nodded. I was a bit tongue-tied. I mean this was a girl and a pretty one too.

“Did you win?”

I nodded again. I was trying desperately to figure out something intelligent to say.

“How did you do?”

So I finally worked up the courage and told her. I told her about my home run the night before. I told her how I’d made great solid contact, how the ball had sailed majestically up in the air, almost achieving orbit, then settled down beyond the center field fence two fields away. I did have enough sense to not claim I’d called my shot.

“Oh, that’s so wonderful,” she told me. “And so are you.”





Tinker to Evers to…Saier?

May 27, 2014


Vic Saier

Vic Saier

This was originally supposed to be my Memorial Day post (Saier was in the military during World War I), but I wanted to get the mistake cleared up first. So here’s a late post on a former player who served his country (even if it wasn’t in combat).

The most famous, if not necessarily the best, double play combination in Major League history is still Tinker to Evers to Chance. By 1911, the combination was broken up for good. Tinker was still at short.  Evers was out much of 1911, but was back for 1912 and 1913. The real problem was first baseman Frank Chance. By 1911, Chance was 34 and appeared in only 31 games. For the entire rest of his career he would play in only 15 more. Ever wonder who replaced him at first? Let me introduce you to Vic Saier. Victor S. Saier was born in 1891 in Michigan. He was scouted as early as 1908, but not signed. He attended a local Business College, played on the local team, and was signed in 1910 by Lansing of the Southern Michigan League in 1910. He led the league in hits, batted over .300, and caught the attention of the Cubs. They signed him for 1911. He began 1911 as Chance’s backup, but when Chance was injured became the starter at first after failed attempts to draft two of the outfielders as first basemen. He played 73 games, hit .259 with a home run and 11 stolen bases. It wasn’t Chance, but it was good enough to get him the job for 1912. For the next couple of years he was good. He hit .288 in 1912, then had 14 home runs (3rd in the National League) in 1913 to go along with a league leading 21 triples. In 1914, he slugged a career high 18 home runs, second in the NL. He was doing well in 1915, when he injured his leg in a home plate slide. He was out for three weeks. He managed 11 home runs, 11 triples, 35 doubles, and 29 stolen bases, most prior to the injury. He didn’t recover well. His 1916 numbers were down, then in 1917 he was hurt in another play at the plate and was done after six games. He spent 1918 he joined the Army and was tasked with working in a defense plant helping the World War I effort. He resurfaced in baseball in 1919, this time with Pittsburgh. He got into 58 games, hit .223, and was done at age 28. For his career his triple slash line is .263/.351/.409/.760 with an ERA + of 120. He had 775 hits in 865 games, scored 455 runs, had 143 doubles, 61 triples, and 55 home runs to go with 395 RBIs. His WAR is 15.1 (Baseball version of WAR). After his career ended, he moved back to Michigan, ran a club in Lansing, and died in 1967. It wasn’t a great career. It also wasn’t a bad career.

Saier's military headstone

Saier’s military headstone


May 26, 2014

A few days ago I did a post titled You Gotta Score to Win. In it I mentioned finding two players: Billy Hamilton and Harry Stovey, who, for their careers had scored more runs than they had games played. I stated they were the only players with significant games played who had done so. Oops.

Somehow or other I missed George Gore. For his career Gore, who played mostly in the outfield in the 1880s, played 1310 games and scored 1327 runs, or 1.01 runs per game. He won pennants with both Chicago in the early and mid-1880s, then with the Giants in the late 1880s. He retired after the 1892 season and died in 1933.

Even genius’ make mistakes. Obviously so do I. 🙂

and Billy the Kid

May 22, 2014
Billy Pierce

Billy Pierce

Walter William “Billy” Pierce was born in 1927 in Detroit. He played sandlot baseball, but his first organized experience on the diamond didn’t occur until 1942. He played first for his high school team, then moved to the mound when the star pitcher was hurt. He was good enough to make an All Star High School game in 1944. He was 17 and won the game 8-0. He’d already come to the attention of the hometown Tigers and was signed for the 1945 season, a year that saw a lot of kids and graybeards playing in the big leagues.

He split time between Detroit and minor league Buffalo. At 18 he got into five games, all in relief for the Tigers. They got to the World Series. Pierce didn’t pitch, but did pick up a ring as the Tigers won in seven games. He was back in the minors in 1946 and ’47. His win total and his ERA got better, but in his last year he had 125 walks and an equal number of strikeouts. He got back to the Tigers in 1948, but because of a lingering 1946 back injury didn’t pitch a lot (55 innings) and was still having control problems. The upshot was a trade to the White Sox.

He still wasn’t very good in 1949 or 1950, but he began hitting his stride in 1951. Pierce himself credited new manager Paul Richards, who spent time as both Pierce’s manager and catcher in the minors, for helping him with his delivery and teaching him a slider. From 1951 through 1958 Pierce was a very good pitcher, leading the American League in wins, ERA, and strikeouts once each. He won 20 games twice and was a six-time All Star (starting the game in 1953, ’55, and ’56). Unfortunately, his team wasn’t all that good and in the AL they had to face the Yankees year after year.

But by 1959 Chicago was improved enough to challenge for the AL title. Pierce’s roommate, Nellie Fox, won the MVP, teammate Early Wynn won the Cy Young Award, and the ChiSox went to their first World Series since the Black Sox of 1919. Unfortunately, Pierce was beginning the downside of his career. He had his first losing campaign since 1954 (going 14-15), his strikeouts dropped by 30, and his ERA jumped by almost a full run. He did only relief work in the Series (a six game loss to the Dodgers). Pierce was only 32, but he’d been pitching off and on in the Major Leagues since he was 18.

He had two more decent, but distinctly, for him, down years at Chicago, then was sent to San Francisco and the National League in 1962 (there weren’t a lot of cross-league trades back then). The change of scenery helped. He went 16-6 and helped the Giants to their first pennant since the 1950s when they were in New York. At the end of the regular season the Giants and Dodgers were tied for first place, so a three game playoff series was held. Pierce pitched and won game one, took the save in game three, and the Giants ended up winning the playoff and returned to the World Series. In the Series, Pierce lost game two, then won game six. The Yankees won game seven..

In 1963 Pierce spent most of his time in the bullpen, repeating that in 1964. He picked up 12 saves in those two years, but his career was done. For his career he was 211-169 with an ERA of 3.27 (ERA+ of 119). He pitched 3306.2 innings, giving up 2989 hits, walking 1178 and striking out 1999 (I know he’s in his 80s, come on, somebody give him one more inning). He had 38 shutouts and pitched a one hitter.

After retirement he worked at a car dealership, did a little scouting, then worked in public relations and sales for an envelope company. Sporadically, he’s gotten some support for the Hall of Fame. In 2007 he received a statue at US Cellular Field (White Sox home park) as one of the greatest White Sox players. Works for me.



the Preacher,

May 20, 2014
Preacher Roe

Preacher Roe

Elwin “Preacher” Roe was born in Arkansas in 1916. There are at least three stories I could find concerning the nickname. I have no idea which is true, but the best one indicates he was an obstreperous child and his grandmother called him “Preacher” hoping it would help reform him. It didn’t.

In 1937 and 1938 he attended Harding College in Arkansas, pitching for the college team. He was a strikeout machine, once fanning 26 in 11 innings. That got the attention of the Cardinals, who signed him in ’38. He got into one game in ’38 pitching 2.2 innings and giving up four runs. That got him a trip to the minors. He spent 1939-43 in the minors, going 44-39 with a 3.37 ERA, more strikeouts than walks, and a1.271 WHIP.

In late 1943 the Cards sent him to Pittsburgh. He stayed through 1947 going 34-47 with a 3.73 ERA (ERA+ of 105) with more hits than innings pitched, but with a lot more strikeouts than walks. He took the league strikeout title in 1945 with 148. During the offseason he taught high school math and coached basketball. In an altercation with a referee in 1946 he was injured (a head injury). It hurt his pitching and he never recovered his arm speed (not sure exactly how that works, but then I was never a pitcher).

After the season ended, he was traded to Brooklyn for Dixie Walker (there were others in the trade). Walker wanted out of Brooklyn because of the signing of Jackie Robinson. Although a Southerner himself, Roe seems to have had no problem playing with Robinson or the other black players brought to the Dodgers later. He was close to battery mate Roy Campanella.

Without a fastball after the head injury, Roe developed a series of off-speed pitches and a spit ball. He never admitted to the spitter until after his playing days when he explained the process in an early Sports Illustrated article. His career got back on track and with Brooklyn he had six good seasons. He led the National League in winning percentage in 1951. He played in the World Series in 1949, 1952, and 1953 going 2-1 with 14 strikeouts in 28 innings. His 1-0 victory in 1949 was Brooklyn’s only win.

By 1954 he was 38 and through. He went 3-4 in 15 games (10 starts) and was traded to Baltimore. He retired rather than report. For his career he was 127-84 with an ERA of 3.43 (ERA+ of 116) with 956 strikeouts, 504 walks, 17 shutouts, and 1907 hits over 1914 innings. His WAR is 35.1 (Baseball version of WAR).

In retirement he ran a store in West Plains, Missouri (where one of the streets is “Preacher Roe Boulevard”. He died in 2008.

There are several great Roe quotes. The one I like best is, “Live every day like it’s your last, because one day you’ll be right.”

Roe's grave

Roe’s grave




The Cat,

May 19, 2014
Harry Brecheen

Harry Brecheen

This is the first of three posts about left-handed pitchers of the 1940s and 1950. All three were major contributors to their teams, but were never considered top line pitchers (although one came close). I wanted to take some time and introduce you to them.

Harry “the Cat” Brecheen spent most of the 1940s pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a team dominated by hitters like Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter. But the pitching was pretty good also and Brecheen ended up the best of the lot.

Brecheen was born in October 1914 in Oklahoma. He liked baseball, was left-handed, and learned to throw a screwball as a kid. Major Leaguer Cy Blanton barnstormed in the area and Brecheen credited him with explaining the mechanics of the screwball. In 1931 he was the ace of an American Legion youth team that won the Oklahoma state championship.

By age 20 he’d been discovered. He pitched in Class C Greenville, Mississippi and A level Galveston, Texas in 1935. He went 5-7 with an ERA north of five. In 1936 he split time between Class C Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Galveston. This time he went 6-22 and his ERA dropped into the fours. But he got the attention of the Chicago Cubs. They signed him to Class B Portsmouth, Virginia where he went 21-6. Being the Cubs, they traded their 21-6 lefty to St. Louis. The Cards left him in the minors into 1942. He had a winning record every year, kept his ERA in the threes or twos and in the years where the stats are available he had a lot more strikeouts than walks (He di pitch three innings with the big league club in 1940, but that’s all).

He got to the Majors to stay in 1943. He went 9-6, starting 13 games (of 20 pitched), with four saves, and posting a 2.26 ERA. He got into three World Series games that postseason, losing one game (the fourth) in relief.  He was 28 already which meant he’d gotten to the big time about the same time as a pitcher’s normal peak. For the next several years he was a mainstay of the Cardinals staff. They won a World Series in 1944 With Brecheen pitching a  complete game victory in game four.

But it was 1946 that made him famous. He went 15-15 in the regular season with a 2.49 ERA (ERA+ of 139) with 117 strikeouts and a league leading five shutouts. That got him multiple starts in the World Series. He won game two against Boston 3-0, then picked up the win in game six 4-1. Both were complete games. After nine innings on 13 October, no one expected him to pitch in game seven (15 October) on one day’s rest. But with the Cardinals leading 3-1 in the top of the eighth starter Murry Dickson tired. In came Brecheen to save the day. He struck out one, got a liner for out two, then gave up a double that tied the game (there were two inherited runners from Dickson). He got the last out to leave the score tied. Slaughter’s famous “Mad Dash” put St. Louis back on top in the bottom of the eighth. Brecheen then gave up two hits before consecutive outs ended the game. Having gone from a blown save to game winner, Brecheen became the first pitcher to win three games in a World Series since 1920 (Stan Coveleski), the first left-hander ever to win three in one Series, and the first to win one of them as a reliever.

He continued pitching well through 1949 with a career year in 1948. In the latter year he went 20-7, led the National League with a 2.24 ERA (ERA+ of 182), added a league leading 149 strikeouts, and an NL leading seven shutouts to his resume. he was 33.

He began to slip in 1950, having his first losing season (8-11). his ERA jumped to 3.80 (a career high). He hung on two more years with the Cardinals, then ended his career in 1953 with the Browns. He was 38. For his career he was 133-92 (a .591 winning percentage), had an ERA of 2.92 (ERA+ of 133), struck out 901 batters over 1907.2 innings while walking 536 men and giving up 1731 hits. He had 25 shutouts and his WAR is 41.3 (Baseball Reference version of WAR).

After retiring he became pitching coach for the Browns and stayed with them when they moved to Baltimore. He remained as pitching coach through 1967, including one more World Series as his young staff stopped the Dodgers in 1966.  He died in 2004 and is buried in Oklahoma.

Brecheen's final resting place

Brecheen’s final resting place

You Gotta Score to Win

May 15, 2014

In my wanderings through 19th Century baseball in conjunction with my Hall of Fame research, I’ve come across a really interesting stat. It’s very unusual and probably only possible in the confines of the 19th Century. Did you know that a handful of players have actually scored more runs than they have played games?

As the most important thing you do in a ball game is score runs, if you can put up more runs than games played you’ve automatically been terribly successful. I’ve found a handful of players who’ve done so. Most of them are guys who played a handful of games, scored a fistful of runs then disappeared, but two did it for a long period of games.

Much the more obscure is Harry Stovey. I did a long post on him back a few months, but this is just a short note about him. He played 1468 games between 1880 and 1893, most of them for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association (not the current team in Oakland). In those games he managed to score 1492 runs, or 1.02 runs per game. In 1889 in 137 games he crossed the plate 152 times (1.11 runs per game). For what it’s worth, all those runs managed to get Philly exactly one pennant (1883). In the 1890 Players League he scored 142 runs in 118 games (1.20 per game). He also won a pennant with Boston (the Braves, not the Red Sox) in 1891, but had fewer runs than games played.

The more prominent player (and the man I was researching when I noticed this) is Hall of Fame outfielder Slidin’ Billy Hamilton. Hamilton played from 1888 through 1901, mostly with the Phillies and the  Beaneaters (now the Braves). He hit .344 for a career, but more to the point of this post he played 1594 games and scored 1697 runs (1.06 runs per game played). As far as I can tell, that’s the record for runs per game among any player with significant games played. His team won pennants in 1897 and 1898 with him scoring 152 runs in 127 games (1.2 per game) in 1897 and scoring 110 runs in 110 games in 1898. I’ll bet it was harder to do that than score the 152 in 127. In 1894 (remember that’s only a couple of years after the invention of the 60’6″ pitching distance) he played in 132 games and scored 198 runs (one and a half runs a game). The 198 is a record. It’s 21 above the total in second place (177 by Tom Brown in 1891 and by Babe Ruth in 1921). In comparison to Ruth, Hamilton only had four home runs.

I love to find stats like this. Not only are they interesting in themselves, but they tell us so much about how different the game was in the 19th Century. If you look at the top 10 (actually 11 with ties), seven of the highest runs scored totals are in the 19th Century (three of which are in 1894, Hamilton’s big year). The other four belong two each to Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It was a very different game and here’s a stat to reinforce that premise.


An Expanded Shout Out

May 8, 2014

I have a cat; actually a couple. They have a lot in common with me, primarily a complete lack of technological expertise. If you look at the blogroll to the right of this blog you’ll see it’s very short. Well, I’ve tried to add a lot of other blogs to it and either come up with links that go no where or, more frequently, go to places that I have no idea what it is I’m looking at when it gets there. But there are some good baseball blogs out there and I’d like to share them with you. So I’m adopting this method. I’m going to give you the name of blogs I read regularly then tell you to go to google, type in the blog title and if you like it, bookmark it for your own pleasure. Sorry to do it this way, but I’m getting tired of trying to do it on blogroll and making a fool of myself (something I do with great ease).

Kevin’s “Baseball Revisited” and Bill’s “On Deck Circle” are both listed and both still well worth a look. Kevin is currently doing a simulation of the World Series (he’s in 1909 now) and these are absolutely fascinating. Bill is a bit more eclectic and deals with both modern baseball and an occasional look into the distant past. “Sports PhD” appears to be moribund, but his stuff is so good I leave it up so you can take a look at it.

Non-blogroll blogs that I read listed in no particular order:

1. “The Baseball Attic” looks at bygone days and throws in an occasional quote or short view of this day in baseball.

2.”Broken Bats Baseball” is supposed to be a look at the Milwaukee Brewers current season, but the writer goes far beyond the last game to look at society, his own personal life, and how baseball affects us.

3. “Hall of Miller and Eric” creates a personal Hall of Fame for the two writers. Their hall is interesting in itself, but much more fascinating is their commentaries on how they view players, what kinds of criteria they wrestle with in making their choices. I hope that real Hall voters spend as much time thinking about who they put in as these two guys do. Fascinating.

4. “Coco Crisp’s Afro” is another blog that exists on two levels. One level simply looks at the Oakland Athletics. The other has depth of thought about former players and other seasons. Worthwhile for both.

5. “Mediocre Means better than Some” is Kortas’ world in poetry. Now I’ve never been much of a poet but this guy is pretty good and his baseball stuff (which is admittedly infrequent) is top-notch.

6. “Tall Tales and True Stories” isn’t about baseball, but is about Glen’s story telling ability, which is considerable. Occasionally there’s a baseball oriented story, but the non-baseball ones are also worth a look.

7. “Nineteenth Century Baseball, New Haven Style” follows the New Haven team in its professional year. If you’re interested in the topic it’s a fine read.

So take a look at each. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them enough to return.

A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Bobby Mathews

May 5, 2014
Bobby Mathews

Bobby Mathews

1. Robert Mathews was born in Baltimore in 1851.

2. In 1869 he became both a professional and the main pitcher for the Marylands of Baltimore, one of the first professional clubs in Maryland.

3. With the forming of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, Mathews joined the Keokuk Westerns in 1871. On 4 May he threw the first pitch in a fully professional league (and to some people’s thinking, the first Major League) game. His team won 2-0 making him the first pitcher to win a game in the National Association.

4. After one season at Keokuk, he joined the Baltimore Canaries as their primary pitcher in 1872, then joined the New York Mutual where he pitched from 1873 through 1875.

5. In the NA he won 131 games, lost 112, gave up 2593 hits in 2221.2 innings, struck out 329 men while walking 196. His ERA was 2.69 with an ERA+ of 107 and a WAR of 39.7 (all stats from Baseball Reference dot-com and WAR is’s version).

6. He stayed with the Mutual in 1876 when they joined the newly formed National League. With the Mutual being tossed out of the league at the end of 1876, he joined Cincinnati in 1877.

7. In 1878 he pitched for the independent Brooklyn Chelseas until tossed from the team for public drunkenness (a recurring problem for Mathews throughout his career). He was later reinstated.

8. In 1879 he got a chance back in the National League with Providence as the backup pitcher to John Montgomery Ward. Mathews won 12 games and Providence won the pennant by five games. In  1880 he went west to play in the Pacific League (not the Pacific Coast League of later fame). The league folded before the year ended. In this period the NL was not considered, by many players, to be significantly superior to other leagues, some of which paid better. So Mathews’ actions in 1880 were not uncommon.

9. He was back in the National League in 1881 pitching for Providence and later for Boston.

10. With the establishment of the American Association, Mathews jumped to Philadelphia in 1883 where he stayed through 1887, his final season. He helped Philly to the AA pennant in 1883.

11. During the offseason Mathews, with no college education and a serious drinking problem, became an assistant coach for the University of Pennsylvania. Some sources credit him as the first college pitching coach.

12. By 1895 he was working for Joe Start (Providence first baseman in the 1870s and 1880s) at a “roadhouse” near Providence. His drinking was catching up with him and he died in 1898 at age 47.

13. For his career (NA, NL, and AA combined) Mathews won 297 games, lost 248, gave up 5601 hits in 4956 innings. He walked 532, struck out 1528, had an ERA of 2.86, an ERA+ of 104, and a WAR ( version) of 62.2. He’s never gotten a lot of backing for the Hall of Fame. Primarily because he is 60-75 in the National League, 106-61 in the AA, and 131-112 in the NA. The latter two leagues are almost totally forgotten today with MLB not even recognizing the NA as a Major League.

My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1903

May 1, 2014

After a couple of posts that I’d done earlier and saved for a rainy day, the eye is better and I’m back with new stuff finally.  So it’s time again for the newest inductions to My Own Little Hall of Fame. This is, for those of you who have forgotten, a once monthly exploration of how the Hall of Fame might look different if it had been started in 1901 rather than in the 1930s. First, a reminder of who’s in from the Class of 1901 (Ross Barnes, John Clarkson, William Hulbert, Tim Keefe, George Wright) and the Class of 1902 (Dan Brouthers, King Kelly, Charles Radbourn, Albert Spaulding, Harry Wright). Now the latest class with commentary below.

Cap Anson

Cap Anson

Adrian “Cap” Anson was a career .300 hitter who became the first player to amass 3000 hits. He won four batting titles in his 27 year career. As manager of the Chicago National League team, he won five pennants.

Roger Connor

Roger Connor

Roger Connor is the all-time leader in home runs. In 1890 he won the Player’s League home run title but his peak was 17 in 1887. A solid first baseman, he led the Giants to consecutive pennants in 1888 and 1889, helping his team to capture both postseason matches against American Association opponents. Additionally, he won a batting title in 1885.

Buck Ewing

Buck Ewing

Greatest catcher of the Nineteenth Century. Captain of the Giants when they won back-to-back pennants in 1888 and 1889. In 1883, became the only catcher to win a home run title. Served as manager of the Cincinnati team at the end of his career.

Bud Fowler

Bud Fowler

Considered the first “Colored” professional. Credited with inventing shin guards. Played for a number of integrated minor league teams and for many of the premier “Colored” teams of the Nineteenth Century. Helped form the first all black league.

Now to answer your questions before you ask them:

1. You did notice you only put in four, didn’t you, Dummy? Yeah, I noticed that. My feeling was that a 1903 voting group would be so overwhelmed by the numbers and legends of Anson, Connor, and Ewing that there would be a tendency to vote only for the three of them and leave off everyone else. You’ve seen this happen recently a lot and I decided it probably wouldn’t be any different back in 1903. So I went with four inductees.

2. Fowler? Really? OK, I know there is no chance that a black ball player in 1903 is going to be elected to a Hall of Fame. I’m sure that in some areas where I’ve lived he’s not even going to be allowed into the building except maybe for an hour our two every other week, but I stipulated when I set up this Hall that I would allow in black players despite the mores of the day. And Fowler is the first (expect Frank Grant when he becomes eligible). Fowler could have gone in earlier, but I put him off until 1903 for a reason. With all the fuss Anson made about playing against black players in the 1880s, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put a black player at the same time. I’d love for this to have really happened. I would love to see if Anson would even show up for the ceremony or appear on the same stage with Fowler. I call it a bit of poetic justice. I know that has no place in a real Hall of Fame, but I just couldn’t resist.

3. “Colored”? Most of the documentation of the era used “colored” more often than “Negro” “black” “African-American” or any other word to describe black Americans. The term “Ethiopian” also shows up a lot. I went with “colored” as the word most likely to be used despite my own misgivings about the use of the word. Expect to see it replaced by “Negro” as we get deeper into the 20th Century.

4. Again, the statistics are all over the place. Anson won several RBI titles but I find almost no contemporary record that acknowledges that, so the stat wasn’t mentioned. I’m not sure, from what I’ve read, that they even knew Connor had more homers than anyone else (especially Brouthers) but I listed it anyway.

5. I’ve made one change in how I categorize my Hall. I’ve lumped everyone not an everyday player or a pitcher into the contributors category. So it’s now owners (Chris von der Ahe, William Babcock), managers (Jim Mutrie, Charles Comiskey), players with a major career prior to 1870 (Jim Creighton, Candy Cummings, Bob Ferguson, Lip Pike, Joe Start), writers (Henry Chadwick), pioneers (William Wheaton, Monte Ward) umpires, etc. all in one group. I have to admit I’m woefully uninformed about very early umpires, so I’m just beginning research on them. Also, I’m finding that after compiling my initial lists, I’m only adding one or two new players each year to the list. That seems to be about on par with what the real Hall adds. I know the real Hall puts out a lot of new names, but there are really only a couple or so that have a chance at getting in. As an example in 1908 Dummy Hoy and Wilbert Robinson are the only everyday players new to the list worth even a quick list and there are no significant pitchers. But in 1907 you have Billy Hamilton, Cupid Childs, and pitchers Amos Rusie and Gus Weyhing to look over. That seems to fit in pretty well with how the real Hall works.