Posts Tagged ‘Clark Griffith’

My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1925

March 1, 2016

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.

 

Clark Griffith

Clark Griffith

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

Dave Orr

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.

 

1924: First in War; First in Peace

March 5, 2015
Firpo Marberry about 1924

Firpo Marberry about 1924

There are a lot of World Series games that are considered classics. Game 5 of 1956 (Larsen’s perfect game), game 7 of 1991 (Jack Morris vs. the Braves), game 7 of 1965 (Koufax on short rest), game 8 of 1912 (BoSox vs. Giants) all come to mind. But a lot of World Series’ taken as a whole aren’t particularly memorable. One of the better, and one of the more obscure, was the 1924 World Series.

The American League representative in the 1924 World Series was the Washington Senators. Yep, the famous mantra “First in War; First in Peace; and Last in the American League” had broken down. For the first time ever, a team from Washington was a pennant winner. In the entire history of the National League going back to 1876, no Washington franchise had finished first. In the entire history of the American League going back only to 1901, the Senators had never finished first. In the National Association and the Union Association and the Player’s League and the American Associations (professional leagues of the 19th Century) no Washington franchise had ever finished first. The Series became famous for that fact alone.

In the midst of the first big run by the Babe Ruth led New York Yankees, the Senators finished first in 1924 by two games over the Yanks and six over third place Detroit. It was a pitching heavy team. Catcher Muddy Ruel hit .283 with no home runs, but did a decent job catching a powerful staff. Most powerful was all-time great Walter Johnson. Johnson was 36 and late in his career. For the season he went 23-7 with 158 strikeouts to go with 77 walks, an ERA of .272 and an ERA+ of 149. He led the AL in wins, winning percentage, strikeouts, shutouts (6), ERA, ERA+, WHIP (1.116) and posted a 6.8 WAR (BaseballReference.com version). After the season ended he would win the MVP award. Tom Zachary was 15-9 with an ERA of 2.75 and an ERA+ of 148 (WAR of 4.7). George Mogridge was 16-11, but gave up more hits than he had innings pitched. The rest of the starters were 20-20. But owner Clark Griffith was an old pitcher and had spent much of his later active years in the bullpen. He knew the value of a good bullpen man and had cornered one of the first great relief men. Firpo Marberry was 11.-12 with a 3.09 ERA in 50 games. He had 15 saves, which, along with the 50 games, led the league. The 15 saves were also a Major League record (to be fair, no one knew that as the “save” stat had yet to be invented).

The infield consisted of Joe Judge, Bucky Harris, Roger Peckinpaugh, and Ossie Bluege from first around to third. Harris served as manager (and later went to the Hall of Fame as a manager) and hit .268. His 20 stolen bases were second on the team. He was all of 27. Judge was 30 and had been around since 1915 (in 1916 he replaced Black Sox player Chick Gandil at first). He was in a stretch where he was regularly hitting over .300 (.324 in 1924). His WAR was 3.9 (he had a 4.0 a couple of times) one of the highest of his career. He hit for little power. Peckinpaugh was a minor star.  He’d come over from the Yankees in 1922 and played a good shortstop. He usually hit in the .260s to .280 range with some speed and little power (He would win the 1925 AL MVP Award). Bluege was the kid. He was 23, in his third season, and getting better each year. He hit .280 and put up an OPS of .711.

The outfield had Nemo Leibold in center. At least he played the most games there. Leibold was one of the “Clean Sox” of 1919. He’d been in a platoon system (with Shano Collins) in right field then and came to the Senators in 1923. He hit .293 in 1924 (his next to last season) and had a WAR of 1.0. The corners of the outfield showcased two future Hall of Fame members. Goose Goslin was in left. He hit .344 for the season, led the team in home runs (12) and triples (17). His 129 RBIs led the American League. He had an OPS+ of 143 and a WAR of 6.4. Sam Rice held down right field. He started with the Senators in 1915 and had been a consistent star. He hit .334 in 1924, led the AL in hits with 216, led his team with 24 stolen bases and posted a 114 OPS+ with a 4.4 WAR.

As with a lot of teams in the 1920s, the Washington bench was thin Wid Mathews and Earl McNeely both hit .300 as backup outfielders while Doc Prothro spelled Bluege at third. For the Series, McNeely would do most of the work in center field, spelling Leibold. Those were the only players with 35 or more games played. For the Series, infielder Tommy Taylor, who got into only 26 games in 1924 (his only year in the Majors), would also play a big role. No bench player hit even a single home run (Johnson had one giving the entire bench plus staff exactly one homer for the season).

It was a good team, a  surprise team. They weren’t expected to win the AL pennant and were slight underdogs in the World Series. They would draw the New York Giants, a team competing in its fourth consecutive World Series.

 

1910:Reds Postmortem

September 8, 2010

This marks the final post on teams that finished in the second division in 1910. As with the rest of them, Cincinnati had a poor year. They finished 75-79, 28 games out of first. That was two gamesworse than in 1909.

Manager Clark Griffith’s Red hit pretty well. They were fourth in average, slugging, and hits; third in runs; and led the National League in stolen bases with 310. Mid-season pickup Tommy McMillan at shortstop hit .185 and fellow middle infielder Dick Egan hit .245, but the rest of the starters hit .250 or above. Outfielder Mike Mitchell led the Nl in triples, while left fielder Bob Bescher led in stolen bases with 70.

As with the other second division teams, the bench was a distinct weakness. The Reds used 17 men on the bench during the course of the season, but only six played in  20 or more games. None of them hit particularly well, with backup catcher Ward Miller being the best of the lot with a .278 average and a .404 slugging percentage.

The Reds major problem was the pitching. George Suggs was the ace, going 19-11 with an ERA of 2.40 and 91 strikeouts. The other starters were a mixed bag, two of the four having more walks than strikeouts and one, “Sleepy” Bill Burns of 1919 Black Sox fame, having both more walks than strikeouts and more hits than innings pitched. His ERA was a Deadball Era busting 3.48. Overall the team ERA was sixth in the NL and the Reds were sixth in hits allowed and second in most walks awarded.

All in all the Reds played roughly as they had played in 1909. One thing the Reds had going for them was their age. They were one of the youngest teams in the NL. Unfortunately, the talent level wasn’t all that great. There were some good players available, just not many of them. Besher and Mitchell were both potential stars, but the rest of the team was mediocre at best. The outlook for 1911 wasn’t significantly better than in 1910.

Opening Day, 1910: Cincinnati

April 9, 2010

Clark Griffith

Cincinnati finished fourth in 1909, but was in the midst of a slow rise. Under manager Clark Griffith they had come from sixth in 1906, to fourth. The problem was they were still 33.5 games out of first and 17 out of third. Apparently they were content with the steady rise, because there were very few changes to the roster in 1910. Having said that, Cincy had used 29 position players in 1909, but only the starting eight and five others played more than 20 games.

Left fielder Bob Besher, who led the NL in stolen bases in 1909, led off. Dick Egan, the second baseman, held down the two hole and first baseman Dick Hoblitzel took the third spot in the lineup. Cleanup hitter Mike Mitchell remained in right field. The only change in the starting lineup occured in the five hole where new center fielder Dode Paskert replaced Rebel Oakes (who was now at St. Louis). Paskert had been the primary backup outfielder the year before. The sixth and seventh spots remained in the hands of third baseman Hans Lobert (who, despite the movie, didn’t look like Edward G. Robinson) and catcher Larry McLean. Shortstop Tommy McMillan remained in the eight hole.

Beside Paskert on the bench in 1909 were Miller Huggins, Frank Roth, Ward Miller, and Mike Mowrey (who was traded during the season).  The new bench saw Tom Downey as the backup infielder, Tommy Clark as the new backup catcher, and holdovers Miller (the fourth outfielder) and Roth (a catcher and pinch hitter). Huggins was at St. Louis.

The pitching in 1909 had Art Fromme, Harry Gaspar, Jack Rowan, Bob Ewing, and Bill Campbell start more than 20 games and Jean Debuc did the most out of the bullpen. None had been overly great. Fromme won 19 but lost 13, Gaspar was 18-11, and the others had losing records. Fromme, Gaspar, and Rowan were back. George Suggs (over from Detroit in the AL) and Fred Beebe (from St. Louis) replaced Ewing and Campbell. Debuc was also gone.

As a team, Cincinnati hadn’t done much to improve on a fourth place finish. They’d gotten rid of one position player and a couple of pitchers, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to rally from a 33 game deficit. They were still fast and had a couple of potential .300 hitters, but nothing much else.

Next: Philadelphia (NL)

Perfect…..Sort of

February 15, 2010

The year 1917 had a couple of unusual pitching performances. In this post and a later one, I’m going to take a look at them.

The 23rd of June 1917 was a normal baseball day in Boston. The games (it was a doubleheader) were in the afternoon and the Washington Senators were in town. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Senators ace Walter Johnson wasn’t supposed to pitch so the first game should have been just another outing in an attempt to grab the pennant. Instead, the Sox fans were treated to a once ever happening, a perfect game in which the winning pitcher only faced 26 batters.

The Sox sent lefty ace Babe Ruth (you forgot he was a pitcher, didn’t you?) to the mound against Senators right-hander Doc Ayers. The Washington lineup was : Ray Morgan (2b), Eddie Foster (3b), Clyde Millan (cf), future Hall of Famer Sam Rice (rf), Joe Judge (1b), Charlie Jamieson (lf), Howard Shanks (ss), John Henry (c), and Ayres. Not exactly Murder’s Row. For the season, Rice would hit .302 and lead the team with 25 doubles, 69 RBIs, and 35 steals, while Judge would lead the team in slugging at .415. On the other hand, Jamieson was a backup outfielder who played in only 20 games that season and hit all of a buck 71.

It should have been a relatively easy day for Ruth, but he was already arguing with the umpire Brick Owens after the first pitch. On four straight pitches he walked leadoff hitter Morgan. Enraged, Ruth charged the ump and managed to slug him. Ruth was escorted off the field by police and catcher Pinch Thomas was also tossed out after apparently making some comments about the ump’s ancestors. In came Sam Agnew to catch, and to pitch the Sox called on 26 year old right-hander Ernie Shore.

Shore had been in the Majors for a while. He’d won more than he’d lost, managing 19 wins in 1915 and 17 in 1916. He’d split two decisions in the 1915 World Series victory over Philadelphia and had won both starts in the 1916 win over Brooklyn. So Shore wasn’t some bum being brought in to fill a hole, but he’d not expected to pitch that day and had only five warmup pitches before throwing his first real pitch.

Senators owner/manager Clark Griffith sent Morgan on the first pitch. Catcher Agnew threw him out by a comfortable margin. Then Shore set down Foster and Millan to end the inning. And that was it for the Senators. Shore shut them down completely, allowing no hits, no runs, and striking out two. At the end of the game the score stood 4-0 with Sox center fielder Tilly Walker, third baseman Larry Gardner,  catcher Agnew, and pitcher Shore scoring runs while right fielder Harry Hooper and Agnew each drove in a pair (remember, Agnew was in the lineup only because Pinch Thomas was tossed out in the first inning).

Shore had pitched at perfect game. Well, sort of. There was that nagging problem of Morgan reaching on a walk, but then Shore hadn’t pitched to him, Ruth had. And of course Shore was pitching when Morgan was thrown out at second. So all 27 outs were made with Shore on the mound, but he’d only pitched to 26 men. Hadn’t happened before, hasn’t happened since. For years baseball carried it as a perfect game, but noted Ruth had walked a man. Since the changes in rules it’s no longer considered “perfect” but merely a joint no hitter.

Shore played eight years in the Majors going 65-42 with a 2.47 ERA, 271 walks, and 310 stikeouts over 982 innings. Not a bad career, but certainly nothing special. He died in 1980, known for one game. It was a heck of a game.

BTW—-special piece of trivia. Harry Hooper played right field and led off for the Red Sox. In 1922 he was in the outfield for the White Sox when Charlie Robertson threw a perfect game for Chicago. As far as I can tell, Hooper is the only player to participate in two “perfect” games (but see below).