Here it is, the monthly update of my personal quest to determine the probable look of a 1901 Hall of Fame. This time two new members: one an old time player that I missed earlier, the other a career baseball man. As usual, the commentary follows.
A multifaceted baseball man who covered many aspects of the game. He was a stellar pitcher winning over 230 games between 1891 and 1914. As a manager he won the first ever American League pennant. Later, as owner of the Washington American League team he picked up a World Series championship.
Dave Orr was a star first baseman in the 1880s. He won a batting title in 1884 along with an RBI crown. He also led his league in hits and triples before being felled by a debilitating stroke.
And now the commentary:
1. Griffith doesn’t seem that great at any of his positions, yet you add him? Yes, because of the totality of the career. True, if I were to view him only as a pitcher, I doubt I’d add him to a 1924 Hall of Fame. The same is true of his managerial prowess. And to be honest about it, he is by 1924 not that distinguished an owner (but then in 1924 neither is Jacob Ruppert of the Yankees). But put all 3 of them together, the player, the manager, the owner, and you’ve got a superior baseball man.
2. Who again is Dave Orr? Orr is one of the big mistakes I’ve made in this project. I was looking over my list in preparation for this class and there he sat on the contributors and everyday players list. Frankly, I’d simply overlooked him previously and used this class to correct the error. It’s not a great year for baseball nostalgia reaching back to 1884, but Orr is a deserving candidate and he had to go in at some point. He died in 1915 and that would have been a much better year to enshrine him. As a player he’s very good, leading the league in all the categories mentioned above, plus a handful of others that weren’t around yet (slugging twice, OPS+ twice, that kind of thing). I mentioned the stroke in the blurb above because it finished his career early. He doesn’t have the 10 years necessary to get into the real Hall so he’s very obscure today (and also in 1924). I admit I screwed this one up. I’d like to give myself a good excuse, but can’t think of even a lame one.
3. The next class, 1926, is a critical class. It marks the appearance of the 1919 White Sox (the so-called “Black Sox”) players on an eligible list. Most of them have no chance to make it, but Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, and Eddie Cicotte are potential inductees. When I set up this project, I left out any kind of “character clause” purposefully, because I knew it would solve the whole 1919 Black Sox issue without really seeing what attitudes were like in the 1920s (although I had a pretty fair idea). What I have to see is how much “forgiveness” there was in 1926 for what happened in 1919. From what I’ve seen so far it’s evident the willingness to overlook their conduct in a few games is something of a new idea. In 1926 there are still a lot of very angry people out there (about baseball among other things) and if you’re looking to see “Shoeless” Joe make it, don’t hold your breath. Having said that, I’m still checking things to see what I find.
4. The next few years see a steady trickle of very good to great players retiring and becoming eligible for a Hall of Fame. The more famous Negro League’s (in this case the Negro National League and the Eastern Colored League) are also forming and the first crop of early 1900s black players are starting to retire. So expect an uptick in the number of Negro Leaguers added for the rest of this project. One thing that may happen is that some year a Negro Leaguer is someone who should surely be enshrined while no overwhelmingly great white player is available. It seems that even as inclusive as the Hall I’m building is, the idea that a black man could stand on a podium and be enshrined in a Hall of Fame alone is something I cannot imagine happening. So don’t expect to see a Negro League player elected alone some year. I know that sounds a bit shaky, but I’m treading on a lot of toes in 1926 by putting in black players and can’t see a public accepting a black player without a white counterpart.
5. I also have to figure out what to do with Connie Mack. Technically he’s not eligible until after this project ends with the Class of 1934 (he does manage all the way into the 1950s), but the real Hall brought him onboard in 1937 which is while he was still active. I could get away with adding John McGraw, before he retired as a manager because he had a good, but not necessarily great, playing career. Mack’s career was mediocre so I can’t use the playing career as an excuse to add Mack in early. My rules are blurry enough to give me some slack here, but I haven’t made a decision yet. Will keep you posted.