Time again for a look at the newest inductees to My Own Little Hall of Fame. This time, it’s the class of 1928, meaning there are only six more classes to go.
John Franklin “Home Run” Baker was a star third baseman for the Philadelphia Athletics and New York Yankees. With the Athletics he helped power the team to four pennants and three World Series titles. Later he aided the Yankees to consecutive pennants in 1921 and 1922. During his career he led the American League in home runs three times and in RBIs twice.
Taking control of the Western League, Byron Bancroft Johnson renamed it the American League and made it the second active Major League in 1901. He remained President of the American League until his retirement and was, until 1920, a key member of the National Commission which presided over Major League Baseball.
And of course there are comments:
1. I have trouble understanding why the true Hall of Fame took so long to induct Frank Baker. He was, arguably the best third baseman to play in the Major Leagues prior to Eddie Mathews. I suppose some might argue for Deacon White or Jimmy Collins, but Baker would have to be in the conversation. I put him in the first chance I got.
2. Ban Johnson, like Baker, got in the first chance I had. Unlike Baker, a lot of people hated Johnson. He was arrogant, abrasive, self-centered, and a loudmouth. In other words he was a lot like the people who owned the teams. But in forming the American League, he gave baseball an alternative to the National League. He led it successfully through the league war that ended in 1903 with the NL accepting the AL as an equal. Then with the formation of the National Commission he became in some ways the de facto ruler of baseball. With the NL President in flux with some frequency, Johnson developed a clout all out of proportion to his position. By 1920, even without the Black Sox scandal, he was reaching a point where the owners were beginning to rebel at his authority. Despite that, it does seem likely that when he retired he’d be given a quick ticket to any baseball Hall of Fame existing in the era.
3. The everyday players available for 1929 include: Jack Barry, Donie Bush, Cupid Childs, Harry Davis, Mike Donlan, Jack Doyle, Art Fletcher, Ed Foster, Bill Lange, Tommy Leach, Herman Long, Bobby Lowe, Tommy McCarthy, Clyde Milan, Hardy Richardson, Wildfire Schulte, Cy Seymour, Burt Shotton, Roy Thomas, Mike Tiernan, Joe Tinker, George Van Haltren, Tillie Walker. That’s 23 and with a limit of 20 on the ballot, three have to be elected or go off the ballot. Look for more losses than elections.
4. The everyday pitchers for 1929 include: Jim Bagby, Bob Carruthers, Jack Chesbro, Dave Foutz, Brickyard Kennedy, Sam Leever, Tony Mullane, Deacon Phillippe, Jesse Tannehill, Fred Toney, Doc White, Joe Wood. That’s 12 and with a limit of 10 on the ballot, two have to be elected or go off the ballot. Again, look for more losses than elections.
5. And the contributors available for 1929 include: umps–Bob Emslie, Tim Hurst, Hank O’Day; owners–Charles Ebbets, August Herrmann, Connie Mack, Ben Shibe; pioneers–Lip Pike, William R. Wheaton; Executives–Henry C. Pulliam (NL President); managers–George Stallings; Negro Leaguers–Home Run Johnson, Spottswood Poles. That’s 13 and with a limit of 10 on the ballot, three have to be elected or go off the ballot. This time you may see some additions to the Hall.
6. I’m still wrestling with how to evaluate umpires. I’m beginning to look most closely at one particular ump. He was well regarded in his day, had a long career, and worked in baseball in other aspects of the game before becoming an umpire. I’m still not sure he’s going to make a 1920s-1930s Hall of Fame, but he’s beginning to stand out from the pack of umps when I look for information on umpires. Maybe later; maybe not.