I’ll start the new year by adding to My Own Little Hall of Fame. This year will mark the end of the project as I’ll get through 1934 and the first class of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame is 1936. It seems to me I should stop when the true Hall opens in arms. Because I don’t want to carry it over into another year, I’ll miss the class of 1935. Well, that’s too bad I guess.
Without further comment, the Class of 1923:
“Wahoo” Sam Crawford played from 1899 through 1917 for both Cincinnati and Detroit. With the former he won a home run title and two triples titles. Moving to the American League in 1903 he led the league in runs, doubles, RBIs three times, and triples four times. He helped his team to three consecutive American League pennants and is the all time leader in triples.
Playing most of his career for the Philadelphia Athletics, “Gettysburg Eddie” Plank is the winningest left-handed pitcher in Major League history. His teams won six pennants, appeared in five World Series’, and won the world championship in 1910, 1911, and 1913.
John Peter “Honus” Wagner is one of the greatest players ever. Playing every infield position plus the outfield, he became the preeminent shortstop of his era. Winner of a record eight batting titles in the National League, he also led the league in runs twice, in hits twice, seven times in doubles, three times in triples, won four stolen base crowns, and led his team to four pennants and two World Series appearances, winning the Series in 1909. His 1908 season is sometimes considered the finest hitting campaign by any player.
“Big Ed” Walsh played 14 seasons from 1904 through 1917, 13 of them with Chicago of the American League. A workhorse, he won 40 games in 1908 and picked up two ERA titles. He led Chicago to the 1906 World Series championship picking up two wins. He holds the record for the lowest ERA among pitchers with significant time in the Major Leagues.
And now the commentary:
1 Why do I know this list doesn’t actually surprise anybody? These are the kinds of people the Hall of Fame was meant to honor. You have two great pitchers, the greatest shortstop of all time, and a superior outfielder. This was an easy pick for me.
2. Of course you’ve probably noted that some of the blurbs under the pictures are a bit awkward in their wording. There’s a reason for that and it has to do with what was known in 1923 about these players.
3. Walsh was credited with the lowest ERA, but there was some dispute about exactly what that ERA was. It’s currently listed as 1.82 (and he also has the lowest ever FIP, which no one in 1923 knew), but that number isn’t written in stone quite yet. It moves as high as 1.85 once and dips to 1.80 once. I left the specific number out just for that reason.
4. Plank’s win total is in dispute. Most of that has to do with whether to count the Federal League numbers. He has (by modern count) 305 wins in the AL and 21 with the Feds. Most sources of the era don’t seem to consider the Feds when noting statistical information (although some do), so I decided not to give a specific number. Either with or without the Feds numbers, Plank’s still the winningest lefty ever (at the time) so it was easy just to let it go at that.
5. It seems generally known that Crawford had more triples than anyone else, but again there is some differences in the exact total. So I left it kind of vague.
6. There’s not much to say about Wagner. Everyone in the era knew how good he was when he played. I found a couple of places that really liked his 1908 season (as do I–and surely all of you do too), so I mentioned it.
7. RBIs are now becoming a stat of note, so I’m adding them in when appropriate. You know, until you start looking over, really looking over, the numbers on guys like Crawford and to some extent even Wagner, you don’t remember just how good they were.
8. The Class of 1924 won’t be anywhere near this good. As it’s Black History Month in the US and I generally spend the month looking at the Negro Leagues, so expect at least one Negro League type to make the cut in 1924.