My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1908

Taking time away from my look at World Series game 7 shutouts, here’s this month’s installment of My Own Little Hall of Fame.

Pebbly Jack Glasscock

Pebbly Jack Glasscock

John Wesley “Pebbly Jack” Glasscock was a premier shortstop for several National League teams between 1879 and 1895. He won the National League batting title in 1890 and hit over .350 on one occasion. An exceptional shortstop he led his league in fielding percentage, assists, putouts, and double plays numerous times.

Ned Hanlon

Ned Hanlon

Edward Hugh “Ned” Hanlon played outfield from 1880 through 1892, including the 1887 Detroit world champions. He began managing as early as 1889 and took the reins of the Baltimore Orioles in 1892. With three National League pennants and two second place finishes he led the Orioles through 1898. In 1899 he moved to Brooklyn and led the Superbas to championships in both 1899 and 1900 before retiring after the 1907 season.

Jim McCormick

Jim McCormick

James McCormick won 265 games pitching between 1878 and 1887, including 40 or more twice and 30 or more two other times. His 1885 and 1886 campaigns helped Chicago to postseason play. Along the way he led the National League in wins twice and in ERA once.

Now the commentary and answers to questions:

1. Who the heck is Jack Glasscock? Bet a lot of you are asking that. Glasscock is one of the best shortstops of the 19th Century and he’s been utterly overlooked (a lot like George Davis was until a few years ago–but Davis was better). He hit well enough but was, considering the era, an excellent fielder. He ended up hitting .290 and ended up with surprisingly good SABR numbers (baseball reference version of WAR at 61.9 and 22.3 on defensive WAR which is really good for the 1880s and ’90s plus he had an OPS+ of 112). I’m not allowed to use those numbers because they weren’t available in 1908, but it’s good to look at them after I’ve decided on whom I’m picking and find they agree with me.

2. Hanlon managed the most famous, if not the best, team of the 1890s. The Orioles are arguably one of the most famous of all teams. Their manager was an obvious option for this Hall. Additionally, when the main Baltimore players (minus McGraw) went to Brooklyn, Hanlon went with them and continued winning.

3. I thought long and hard about McCormick, but he had the best old-fashioned (as opposed to SABR) numbers available. His teams never won until late in his career but he managed to keep a couple of pretty mediocre teams in contention when he was at Cleveland. He also played in the Union Association and did well, but I’ve been unable to find out if the UA was considered a Major League in 1908, so I discounted his numbers. Again, after having chosen him I looked at his modern stats and discovered I had chosen pretty well (75.5 WAR from baseball reference, ERA+ of 118, and a decent WHIP).

4. Again I’m finding I have a list of very good players backlogged and some very good players that became eligible in 1908, but they’re just that, very good players, not true greats. Wilbert Robinson became eligible this time and I decided he failed to make a great enough impact as a player to make my Hall. We’ll see about his managerial credits later.

5. I’ve noticed that the stats are beginning to become more standardized. By that I mean I’m finally starting to get the same stats showing up each year. Much of the randomness of the numbers seems to be disappearing, but there’s still nothing even vaguely close to the completeness we have today. Also we’re beginning to see agreement on exactly who played back in the early part of the era. As a simple example, I’ve found a couple of team rosters which list all the players with one or two not having first names. Apparently they were so obscure that the records of the day didn’t know their first names. That’s a good way to explain what I mean when I say the nature of what is known is sometimes sparse, but it is getting better.

 

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10 Responses to “My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1908”

  1. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    I wasn’t familiar with McCormick or Glasscock. Ned Hanlon I was familiar with. Also, wasn’t Hanlon pretty close with John McGraw because of his affiliation with the original Baltimore Orioles?

    Glen

    • verdun2 Says:

      McGraw and Hanlon knew each other and Hanlon is supposed to have suggested McGraw get into managing (don’t know if that’s really true, but I saw reference to it).
      v

  2. Miller Says:

    I think it’s quite possible that Glasscock is the single greatest player (non-steroid division) in baseball history who’s eligible for the Hall and not in it. I’ll be very happy when they correct that injustice.

    As far as McCormick, I’m not yet sure. I’m troubled by the only nine-change seasons. And his best work came in part of a season for the pretty weak 1884 Union Association. Very interesting call. Much of the McCormick call, as with any player, has to do with the number of players who will ultimately enter your personal Hall. How many are you thinking? Or is that not so important in your consideration?

    • verdun2 Says:

      Good to see someone agreeing with me on Glasscock. McCormick was the most challenging choice for me. Pitching is so different in the 19th Century that it’s difficult to determine a player’s quality. Some, like Young and Nichols who aren’t yet eligible, are easy, but others like McCormick are much more speculative on my part. He’s not well known today and isn’t particularly well known in 1908. So I admit that he’s something of a stretch on my part. As I mentioned, I discounted the UA season because I couldn’t find out if the 1908 people considered it “major” or not. Might be worthwhile to look around and see when it became “major”. Apparently in 1908 that designation hadn’t been universally accepted yet.
      I have no number of honorees set up. I expect this to go only until about 1935 when the real Hall is being set up. After that, there’d be a redundancy that isn’t necessary. We know how the writers of the late 1930s voted and how they voted since. I presume, if you take out those I’ve already put it, the vote would be much the same (although a few guys like Bill Dahlen might make it if they didn’t have to add in guys like Wagner and Cobb).
      Thanks for reading.
      v

  3. Miller Says:

    How “major” it was is up for debate, I suppose. But if you check out the bbref link at the bottom, you’ll see that teams participated at varying degrees. McCormick’s Outlaw Reds, for example, played 105 games. Only five other teams participated at around that level.

    Anyway, great stuff as always.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/UA/1884.shtml

    • verdun2 Says:

      The contemporary info is of mixed minds about the UA. Some dismiss it and others refer to it as an “outlaw” league. Anyway I left out the UA stats when considering McCormick.
      BTW in researching I found that the St. Paul Apostles (or Saints or White Caps depending on who you believe) of the UA played all of 8 games then folded. None of them were at home so it appears to be the only “Major League” team to never play a home game (or be called the Apostles–God they don’t make nicknames like they used to). Gotta be worth a post some time.
      v

  4. Miller Says:

    Love that trivia nugget! Thanks!

  5. steve Says:

    Ned Hanlon is a name that has been popping up a lot lately. Been re reading an old Pirates history book. I guess he musta played for them too. Lots of hitting and running and station to station baseball associated with him or maybe that was the norm when he was in baseball.

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