We come now to the penultimate (don’t you just love $50 words like penultimate?) class of the My Little Hall of Fame project. This time a broad selection of people, including one of the more obvious choices possible.
Longtime National League owner Barney Dreyfuss entered baseball in the 1890s. He served as President and owner of the Louisville Colonels and later the Pittsburgh Pirates. During his tenure his Pirates team won six pennants, two prior to the creation of the World Series, then won the World Series twice. He was instrumental in bringing to a close the “Baseball War” of 1901-1903 between the National League and the American League and is the man who first proposed a “World’s Series” between the two Major League pennant winners. His team participated in the first one.
Walter Johnson, the “Big Train,” pitched for the Washington American League team from the early 20th Century through 1927. Over his career he amassed more than 400 wins, became the first pitcher to record 3000 strikeouts, and led the league in wins six times, in strikeouts 12 times, in ERA five times, and helped his team win the 1924 World Series. He is the only player to win both a Chalmers Award and a League Award.
One of the greatest Negro League pitchers, Jose Mendez came from Cuba to star for the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1920s. He led them to a Negro World Series championship in 1924 before retiring after the 1926 season.
Star outfielder for Brooklyn in the National League he led his team to World Series appearances in both 1916 and 1920. He won the 1918 batting title and in the pennant winning season of 1916 led the league in extra base hits. He also led the National League in fielding twice.
And the commentary:
1. Dreyfuss was an easy choice as a contributor. He was an early advocate of the World Series, of gaining a “peace” between the warring American and National Leagues, and of contracting the National League to eight teams from the unwieldy 12 team league that existed most of the 1890s. Unfortunately, he was also an early advocate of syndicate baseball. I’m surprised it took quite so long for Cooperstown to come calling.
2. You knew Johnson was getting in, right? The only question was his win total. I noted a couple of differences in the final number, so left it at “more than 400 wins.”
3. Mendez is one of the truly outstanding pitchers of the early Negro Leagues. I suppose I might have put in another (although George Stovey did make it several classes ago), but his work with the Monarchs, a premier team in the 1920s, made him an easier choice.
4. Wheat has the kind of numbers that impressed 1930s writers. There are lots of hits, a high average, and he’s a good outfielder. One thing I noticed is that there’s praise for his later work (the years in the 1920s) that talks about him getting better with age. Of course we know that he covers that transition from the “Deadball” era to the “Lively ball” era so much of that later work is influenced by the change in eras. I don’t see anything that leads me to believe that the writers of the era paid attention to that.
5. Here’s the list of everyday players eligible for the final ballot in this project: George Burns, Cupid Childs, Ty Cobb, Jake Daubert, Jack Fornier, Larry Gardner, Heinie Groh, Baby Doll Jacobson, Tommy Leach, Herman Long, Bobby Lowe, Tommy McCarthy, Stuffy McInnis, Clyde Milan, Wildfire Schulte, Cy Seymour, Tris Speaker, Roy Thomas, Mike Tiernan, George Van Haltren, Ross Youngs (a total of 21 with 20 a maximum).
6. Now the same list for pitchers: Babe Adams, Chief Bender, Jack Chesbro, Wilbur Cooper, Stan Coveleski, Sam Leever, Rube Marquard, Tony Mullane, Deacon Phillippe, Urban Shocker, Jesse Tannehill, Doc White (a total of 12 with 10 a maximum).
7. Finishing with the contributors: umpires-Bob Emslie, Tim Hurst; manager-George Stallings; owners-Charles Ebbets, August Herrmann; Negro Leagues-Pete Hill, Oliver Marcell, Dobie Moore, Spottswood Poles, Ben Taylor, Christobal Torriente; and 19th Century pioneer William R. Wheaton (a total of 12 with a maximum of 10).
8. Without giving anything away I think the Cobb and Speaker kids have a pretty good chance of making it.