The My Little Hall of Fame class that is 1914 enters the Hall in a dark period of human history. I always presume the election is held in December of the year (about the time real Hall of Fame ballots are released) so the voters and inductees will all know that World War I was wrecking Europe when the Hall results are announced. In her wonderful book The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman informs us that the French military academy lost the entire graduating class of 1914 to the war. Fortunately for both the voters and the Hall honorees, the US was still on the sidelines in 1914, so the Hall election is still a main topic and a time of joy for the fans. Here’s the Class of 1914:
James Joseph Collins was a star third baseman between 1895 and 1908. He played for both the National League Boston team and the American League Boston team before finishing his career in Philadelphia. An outstanding defender of the Hot Corner he led his league in putouts, assists, and double plays on many occasions. In 1898 he led the league in home runs. As the first player-manager of the American League Boston team he led his team to two pennants and the first ever World Series victory.
Between 1899 and 1908 Joseph McGinnity averaged 25 wins per season, winning 30 or more games twice. He earned the nickname “Iron Man” for pitching both games of a double-header, doing so three times in one month in 1903. In that same season he set the National League record for complete games and innings pitched (post-1892). In postseason play he led Brooklyn to a win in the Chronicle-Telegraph Series of 1900 and helped his team to a victory in the 1905 World Series.
And now the commentary:
1. First a disclaimer. It seems that Joe McGinnity was known as “Ironman” because he worked in an iron foundry prior to playing Major League baseball. But the legend of his double-header success leading to his nickname was already around in 1914. I chose to use the mythological reasoning for the nickname because it seemed to be more commonly accepted in the era.
2. Collins is arguably the finest third baseman in baseball prior to Home Run Baker (Deacon White might argue that). It seemed his acceptance into an early Hall of Fame would be easy. He was also popular from all his years in Boston and his World Series win was already legendary (although Cy Young and Bill Dinneen were getting most of the credit).
2, McGinnity was also an easy choice. He had a lot of wins, a ton of innings pitched (he averaged 344 innings a season over his 10 year career, going over 400 twice). The complete games and innings pitched records still stand. He also pitched for both National League teams in New York which made him something of a celebrity. He was, however, seen as the second pitcher behind Christy Mathewson in the latter part of his career. That doesn’t seem to have changed the way he was viewed.
3. 1915 doesn’t add just a whole lot in quality players for consideration for the Class of 1915. Among everyday players George Davis finally shows up. Among pitchers there is Jack Chesbro. The addition of Davis will move the backlog of everyday players to 21, so someone has to be dropped or someone has to make the Class of 1915. Frankly I’m not sold on Davis as an early inductee. His rise to prominence is something of a creation of the more modern stats, so I don’t know what will happen yet. Chesbro was a nice pitcher, but I’m also not sold on him as an inductee, although there’s a lot of info on him because of his great 1904 season and those good years with the Pirates. With only eight names on the pitching list (including Chesbro) I can punt him down the road if necessary.
4. The Contributors list adds old-time umpire Jack Sheridan to the list. Sheridan is one of the few umpires I can find out much about. He seems to be well-respected. I’m not sure what to do with umps yet, so don’t expect anything exciting there. He will push the contributors list above my maximum of 20, so someone will either have to be elected or someone will have to be tossed onto the discarded pile. As I’m at a quandary about what to do with umpires I doubt I’ll elect Sheridan. But I also doubt he’ll be discarded simply because I’d like to err on the side of caution and keep him around until I can make some sort of decision on umpires. If someone goes off the list, it will most likely be John T. Brush. Of all the contributors on the 1915 list, he’s the one that I feel fairly safe in saying nobody liked (well, maybe Mrs. Brush). That’s not a great way to get yourself elected to much of anything.