The year 1927 was a big deal in baseball. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs, Lou Gehrig became a star. Walter Johnson retired. Into all that I drop my Hall of Fame inductees for the year.
A leading shortstop in the 1890s, Hughie Jennings helped lead the Baltimore Orioles to National League pennants in 1894, 1895, and 1896 along with Temple Cup victories in 1896 and 1897. After the founding of the American League he led the Detroit Tigers to consecutive World Series appearances in 1907, 1908, and 1909.
A stalwart of the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 and 1870 he transitioned to the National Association helping the Boston team to championships in 1872, 1874, and 1875. In 1873 he managed Baltimore to a third place finish. With the forming of the National League, he joined the team in Chicago and helped lead it to the first National League title.
Now the commentary:
1. Jennings is one of those people who isn’t a Hall of Famer based on either his playing, his coaching, or his managing. But put them all together and you’ve got someone who made a legitimately large contribution to baseball. There used to be a joke that Jennings was in the Hall of Fame because while Detroit manager he was able to keep Ty Cobb from killing a teammate, or another Tiger from killing Cobb. You could make a case for that.
2. McVey is more problematic. He was one of the first really good players who had a substantial career in the National Association, with the pre-Association teams (Cincinnati), and went on to a couple of good years in the NL. By 1927 he was largely forgotten, but he died in 1926 and there were a spate of articles I found mentioning the passing of an era and all that kind of thing. McVey wouldn’t be the first player who got in on a sympathy vote after he died (or was at death’s door), so I took the chance to add him based on that sympathy vote. Having said all that, if I had a vote at the real Hall of Fame, I’m not at all sure I’d vote for McVey (just so you know).
3. And having said that, McVey becomes what is most probably the last of the really old-time players to make this little Hall of Fame. Essentially 19th Century players are forgotten by 1927 almost to a man. I still have a couple on my holdover list, but that’s more for my information than it is a belief that they could be inducted. Guys like Lip Pike for instance still show. But by 1927 Pike had been dead for 25 years and I find no evidence of an impending baseball nostalgia craze about to occur. I reserve the right to change my mind if I find things pointing to a revival in interest in 19th Century baseball. The retirement of someone like John McGraw might trigger it. Will let you know.
4. There’s one really good choice coming up in 1928 and then in a couple of years a large group of Negro League players start showing up (guys like Rube Foster, Louis Santop, Spottswood Poles, etc.), I plan to use a system which does not allow for more than one Negro League person a year (I have enough trouble seeing one get in, let alone more than one) and making sure he is always accompanied by a white player (or exec). I can’t imagine any 1920s Hall of Fame honoring a black man without a white counterpart. I just can’t feature a ceremony inducting only black players. The image of a black man standing on a Hall of Fame stage alone is simply something I doubt the US was ready for in 1928, or 1929, or anytime else in the run of my Hall (through 1934). It is going to make for a couple of odd pairings, but I can see no other way around it.
5. Here’s the list of everyday players on the list for 1928: Frank Baker, Jack Barry, Cupid Childs, Harry Davis, Mike Donlan, Jack Doyle, Art Fletcher, Bill Lange, Tommy Leach, Herman Long, Bobby Lowe, Tommy McCarthy, Clyde Milan, Hardy Richardson, Wildfire Schulte, Ct Seymour, Roy Thomas, Mike Tiernan, Joe Tinker, George Van Haltren.
6. The pitchers: Bob Carruthers, Jack Chesbro, Dave Foutz, Brickyard Kennedy, Sam Leever, Tony Mullane, Deacon Phillippe, Jesse Tannehill, Doc White, Smokey Joe Wood
7. And the contributors: umpires Bob Emslie, Hank O’Day, Tim Hurst (with Hurst serving a short stint as NL President); owners Charles Ebbets, August Herrmann, Ben Shibe, Connie Mack (who did a little managing); manager George Stallings; NL President Henry C. Pulliam; pioneers Lip Pike, William R. Wheaton; and Negro Leaguer Home Run Johnson.