And now for the final installment of My Own Little Hall of Fame for this year. I’m doing this a little different this month. I’ll tell you who I’m adding and why they made it, but I’m saving most of my comments for a later post. I want to spend some time explaining what I’ve learned from this process and how it affects how I’m going to do it next year and the next, which should be the final year as it will take me to about the time the actual Hall opened. Here we go:
Adrian “Addie” Joss was a star pitcher for the Cleveland Naps until his untimely death. He led the American League in Earned Run Average twice, in wins once and produced a .623 winning percentage. He also pitched a no-hitter.
John Montgomery “Monte” Ward arrived in the as a pitcher. He pitched a no-hitter and led the National League in Earned Run Average as a rookie. The next season he led the league in both wins and strikeouts. Switching to the infield he became a superior shortstop. Later, he served as a manager and executive.
Now the commentary.
1. I was surprised how much Joss was admired in the era. There is almost universally positive press after his death. Much of that is to be expected, but to me it seemed to go deeper than just saying the standard “he was a hail fellow, well met” type of fluff that usually shows up in eulogies (and hopefully my own will have some kind things to say). I decided that the outpouring of good will would have probably gotten him an exemption to the five-year rule and he might have been elected to a 1910 Hall of Fame very easily. He seems to have been not only a quality pitcher, but genuinely admired. I’m not sure, if I were a voter in the period when Joss was elected, I would have voted for him, but Joss is one of those guys that I’m fairly sure would make an early Hall of Fame, but am not so sure he’d get into a later one (remember, it was very late when he made the real Hall).
2. Say, didn’t you forget something about Ward? Something about a union, maybe? Nope. I purposefully left out the Brotherhood. In the stuff I found on Ward there tended to be a great separation between how contemporaries saw him as a ballplayer and how they saw him as a rabble rousing union organizer (and the idea of Ward as a “rabble rouser” is a bit absurd to start with). It’s an age in which labor unions are not well liked (to put it mildly–you should read some of the comments on them), but Ward seems to have found a niche that set the union at a different level from his playing, managing, and executive work. Some of you might remember that he owned the Giants (co-owner), but that was later. Also his Federal League work hadn’t occurred yet. It seems to me that there is a short period of time in which Ward might have been elected to an existing Hall of Fame, after the Brotherhood memory had begun to fade and before he began to have trouble as an owner and assisted in forming the Federal League. I took advantage of that to put in a man who truly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
3. Something interesting I found is that ERA isn’t all that well-known in 1911 and when it is it is frequently spelled out (Earned Run Average) rather than abbreviated (ERA). So I did it that way for this post. My guess is that spelling it out helped explain it to people who’d never heard of it (that’s a guess).
4. I could find nothing referring to a perfect game as a “perfect game.” No hitter” showed up, so I decided to err on the side of caution and use no-hitter for this. I may have missed the first reference, so don’t take it to the bank that “perfect game” didn’t show up until after 1910.
Other comments to follow. These will be more in the nature of a look back at a year of doing this.