My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1916

Refreshed from seeing our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, I’m back to business. So it’s a new month and a new addition to My Own Little Hall of Fame. This time a pair of newly retired players, one from the everyday players list and one a pitcher.

Willie Keeler

Willie Keeler

“Wee” Willie Keeler was a star outfielder from 1892 through 1910. With a career average of .341 he managed to hit above .300 in the first 15 years of his 19 year career. Twice leading the National League in hitting, once at above .400, he was a key member of pennant winning teams in both Baltimore and Brooklyn. He led the NL in hits three times and in runs once.

Rube Waddell

Rube Waddell

George “Rube” Waddell was the premier strikeout pitcher of his era, winning strikeout titles in six consecutive seasons. His 349 strikeouts in 1904 is a record among pitchers throwing from a mound. He posted more than 20 wins four seasons and won two ERA titles.

Now the commentary:

1. The two men enshrined this time are easily the kind of men that would be elected to an existing Hall of Fame in 1916. Both were well-known and both had the kinds of numbers that impressed in the period.

2. Keeler, as is usual for the big names of the pre-1910 era, had a lot of hits, scored a bunch of runs, and had very high averages. He was also one of the players I was able to find out quite a bit about. He was extremely popular and well-known (He was elected to Cooperstown in 1939, very quickly after it was formed).

3. Waddell is a bit more problematic. He didn’t get anywhere near 300 wins, notching only 193. That’s not a lot for an era obsessed with high win totals among pitchers. He did, however, have an enormous number of strikeouts and was dominant for a while. The statement that his 349 strikeouts in a season is a record is correct for 1916. It has since been passed several times.ย His personality was a bit of a difficulty, which I ultimately decided was worth overlooking. There were a handful of things I found that seemed to indicate that some writers didn’t take him seriously enough to elect him to a 1916 Hall of Fame. Offsetting that was the knowledge that he was dead by 1915 (he died in 1914) and that should have led to a certain amount of sympathy vote.

4. The newly eligible for the Class of 1917 includes one certainty, Cy Young, and a handful of other players. Bill Dahlen, Roy Thomas, and Fred Tenney are probably the best of the everyday players coming up. All have a distinct problem from a 1917 perspective and Tenney is probably DOA Hall-wise. Deacon Phillippe and Jesse Tannehill (old Pirates teammates) show up with Young and probably, but not certainly, will have to wait if they are elected at all. Young would, I believe, so dominate the pitching list that all other pitchers would find themselves downgraded for at least that one year. Among Conributors, Bill Carrigan who won two World Series’ while manager of the Red Sox shows up. No idea at this point how much that achievement was lauded in the era. If he hangs around my ballot the chances are that early pioneer Bob Ferguson drops off.

5. The 1917 class puts me half way through this project. I intend to go through 1934 which will come in December next year and will get me very close to the opening of the actual Hall. That seems like a good place to stop. After announcing the 1917 class, I intend to do a post about what I’ve learned midway through this project. Hopefully, it will explain some about how I got to that point.

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8 Responses to “My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1916”

  1. Miller Says:

    I’m with you on Waddell. I think the writers of his time would have appreciated the strikeouts. And the sympathy vote can’t be discounted.

    Regarding Cy and 1917, let’s fast-forward 98 years and note Pedro, Unit, and Smoltz all got in together. I don’t know that Phillippe and Tannehill reach your standard, but I don’t know that Cy should hold them back either.

    Great stuff! Thanks.

    • verdun2 Says:

      Not sure what to do with Phillippe or Tannehill. Both, especially Phillippe because of the 1903 World Series, were much more famous than they are today. I’ve got a month to figure it out.
      Thanks for reading.
      v

    • wkkortas Says:

      I agree with Bill on Rube, plus you have to factor in what you talked about as far as the fame factor goes–I think we sometimes forget just how complete a hold the game had on the public in the early portion of the 20th Century, and Waddell was a highly publicized figure in his time. And, again, sorry about the mess in the kitchen while you were out.

  2. The Baseball Bloggess Says:

    Welcome back … and an extra big hoorah for Wee Willie Keeler!

    Keeler would say that he went 700 at bats without striking out (covering the end of 1895, all of ’96, and the start of ’97), batting nearly .400 during the run. Researchers pawed through the records and said that wasn’t true … they could find instances of him striking out at least twice during each full season in question. So, uh, that’s still good, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Gary Trujillo Says:

    Welcome back! Sorry about the beer cans…and the girl in the other room is leaving soon. :/

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