So year two of my project to see what a Hall of Fame formed in 1901 would look like is done. With one year to go, here’s a wrap of what’s gone on so far and what I’ve learned.
1 I’m actually more conservative than the true Hall. In 22 years Cooperstown added 80 people. I’ve added only 63.
2. I’m also more liberal in that I’ve added four Negro League types while in their first 22 years, the Hall of Fame added none. The added their first black guy (Jackie Robinson) in 1962–27 years after founding the Hall.
3. I’ve been critical of the Hall of Fame for years when they elect no one. I’ve argued that the Hall should enshrine at least one person per year. So I set up my Hall with the idea that at least one person has to be elected each year. I’ve been an idiot. Sometimes (see the 1920 election as an example) I’ve had to put in people I’m not sure really belong because I’m required to elect someone (the football Hall of Fame has a requirement for enshrining members each year). So I apologize to Cooperstown. They got that one right.
4. We almost exclusively elect people to the Hall of Fame based on their statistics. Oh, occasionally a contributor (like an owner or GM or umpire) will get in, but generally players are judged on their stats. We have a thousand different places to look, a thousand different stats to apply, a thousand different people telling us which stats are meaningful. That’s the way we’ve done it for years. You can’t do that in my Hall. Simply put, stats are all over the place. There is no consensus on which are important and which are “well, isn’t that nice”. There is no consensus on what a particular player’s stats actually are. To use one example, Cap Anson’s hit total varies a lot, a whole lot.
5. By 1922 this is beginning to change. I’m beginning to see the guides, the papers, the books all start to show something like consistency on both which stats matter and what are the accepted numbers. The Elias Sports Bureau has helped, but so has the Sporting News and like publications.
6. Also the “important” stats are beginning to stabilize. ERA is now a big deal. It had been a big deal before, but in the 19th Century the stat is almost entirely missing (see my comment on the class of 1922 and Mordecai Brown–it’s comment 2). The main statistical problem is beginning to be the lack of 19th Century stats.
7. The 1901 Hall contains the following position numbers: first base-5, second base-3, shortstop-3, third base-2, outfielders-15, catchers-2, pitchers-16, managers-5, pioneers-3, owners-4, Negro Leagues-4, contributor-1. A total of 63. In several cases (for instance King Kelly and Deacon White) the player did time in several positions. For the above, I took the position he is most associated with today. The “Contributor” is Monte Ward. I simply couldn’t figure out which category he fell into so I left it at contributor. Guys like Henry Chadwick and Doc Adams are listed as pioneers and Charles Comiskey is an owner (rather than a player or manager).
8. I’m still not sure what to do with umpires. I have a pretty good idea of who contemporaries thought the best umps were, but I’m not sure how you actually determine that. Until I do, I think I’ll continue to be short on umpires.
9. The next 12 classes (all the remaining ones for me to choose), are a mix of very good years and very weak years. There are years with Honus Wagner and years with nobody.
10. Negro League information is getting better so expect a decent sized group to enter in the 1920s and early 1930s. Realizing the unrealistic nature of putting black players into a 1920s Hall of Fame, I’m continuing to do so unabashedly.
11. Here’s the list of everyday players available in 1923: Cupid Childs, Sam Crawford, George Davis, Harry Davis, Mike Donlin, Jack Doyle, George Gore, Dummy Hoy, Miller Huggins (as a player only), Hughie Jennings (as a player only), Bill Joyce, Bill Lange, Tommy Leach, Herman Long, Bobby Lowe, Tommy McCarthy, Dave Orr, Hardy Richardson, Wildfire Schulte, Cy Seymour, Roy Thomas, Mike Tiernan, Joe Tinker, George Van Haltren, Honus Wagner. I feel pretty good about the Wagner kid’s chance of making it. With a limit of 20 holdovers, at least five of the above will either make it or disappear from the list.
12. The pitchers available in 1923: Bob Carruthers, Jack Chesbro, Dave Foutz, Clark Griffith, Brickyard Kennedy, Sam Leever, Tony Mullane, Deacon Phillippe, Eddie Plank, Jesse Tannehill, Ed Walsh, Doc White. Again, there are more than the maiximum 10 so somebody is going to get elected or dumped.
13. The contributors: Bill Carrigan, Clark Griffith, Tim Hurst, Hughie Jennings, Pat Moran, George Stallings (All managers and Jennings and Griffith are not considered as either players or owners–except of course a combination of player, manager, owner might be good enough. Also Hurst spent significant time as an umpire,); Cal McVey, Lip Pike, William R. Wheaton (all pioneers); Henry C. Pulliam (NL President); owner Ben Shibe; Sol White (Negro Leagues). That’s 12 and I only allow 10 contributors, so again someone’s off or someone’s in.
14. And then there is 1926. It’s the year the “Black Sox” become eligible. I haven’t yet addressed the issue and haven’t addressed whether a “character clause” exists in a 1901 Hall of Fame. Fortunately I’ve got until April to decide. Frankly, I’m not sure what I’ll decide, but my initial thought is to “throw the bums out,” an attitude that was very common in the 1920s.
Tags: Hall of Fame