Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame’

Outside Waiting

May 4, 2017

“Cannonball” Dick Redding

Back in 2006 the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown decided to right a wrong. They’d already begun making strides towards that goal in the 1970s, but made a big splash in 2006. What did they do? They created a special Negro Leagues committee to look over all the information available and decide on a long list (about 100) of Negro League players, managers, and executives to be enshrined at Cooperstown. They had people comb through all the info they could find to prepare a set of statistics and other pertinent facts (and not a few legends) to lay before the select committee. They got, in Shade of Glory, a pretty fair book out of it too.

So the committee met, whittled the list down to about 30 and then made one final vote. Sixteen players, managers, executives, and whatnot got in. It was a heck of a list. It is, at least in my opinion, one of the best jobs the Hall of Fame has done over the years. And you know there’s a “but” coming. “But” they also announced, sort of announced (they never actually said it officially), that they were now through with the Negro Leagues. They done what they could. They’d found the best people (including Effa Manley, the only woman in the Hall), gotten the best available stats, gotten the best experts, so they could now say that the Hall had the Negro Leagues taken care of, period.

In the years since 2006, there has not been one player who was primarily a Negro Leaguer who has appeared on any ballot in any of the versions of the Veteran’s Committee. Not a single one. Minnie Minoso showed up, but he could be excused because he had an excellent (and possibly Hall of Fame) career, but he was being looked at as a Major Leaguer. For 10 years that standard has held.

And they are wrong. There are a number of good choices for enshrinement in Cooperstown among Negro Leagues who are currently outside waiting for their chance. Not a one has even been considered by a Veteran’s Committee. Maybe none of them are of the quality necessary for the honor, but they ought to at least be considered. Take a look at the pre-1950 players showing up on the recent ballots and tell me that no outside Negro Leaguer was better (or at least as good) as the people on the list. Frankly, I don’t think you can do it.

This is a plea for the Hall of Fame to begin again to consider Negro League players for inclusion on the early Veteran’s Committee ballot. Don’t say “we have all we need” or “we have all there is.” Look harder, people.

And to give you some sense of who’s left out, here’s a pretty fair team of Negro Leaguers who currently aren’t in the Hall of Fame:

Pitchers: “Cannonball” Dick Redding, Bill Gatewood, Rube Currie, Phil Cockrell, Nip Winters, Bill Holland

Infielders: Lemuel Hawkins, Frank Warfield, Bud Fowler, Newt Allen, Bingo DeMoss, John Beckwith, Dobie Moore

Outfield: Heavy Johnson, Steel Arm Davis, Spottswood Poles, Hurley McNair

Cacher: Bill Pettus, Bruce Petway, Double Duty Radcliffe

Manager: Buck O’Neill, “Candy” Jim Taylor

That’s 20 of a 25 man roster (plus the managers). I left a few holes for you to fill in with your own favorites that I left out (like a Dave Malarcher or a Terris McDuffy).

I’m not saying all of them are Hall of Fame quality. What I’m saying is that all of them deserve a look.

BTW got the above picture from a blog called “The Negro Leagues Up Close.” Definitely a site worth looking at if you’re interested in the Negro Leagues. Type it in on Google.

2017 Spink and Frick Awards Announced

December 20, 2016

It dawned on me that I’d never mentioned the winners of two more Hall of Fame awards for the coming year. Along with player, manager, executive, and contributor enshrinement, the Hall of Fame has three other awards it gives out. The Buck O’Neill Award isn’t annual, but the other two are.


Claire Smith

Claire Smith

The winner of the 2017 J. G. Taylor Spink Award is Claire Smith. Ms. Smith is the first female winner of the award. The Spink Award is for print (and now digital) writers. She currently writes of ESPN, but previously was employed by the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Bulletin, Hartford Courant. She joins Effa Manley as the only women honored by the Hall of Fame.

Bill King in the booth

Bill King in the booth

The winner of the Ford Frick Award is the late Bill King (he died in 2005). The Frick Award is given to a broadcaster. King spent years as the primary voice of the Oakland Athletics.

Congratulations to both Ms. Smith and to Mr. King’s family.

My Own Little Hall of Fame Recap: II

December 15, 2016

Last post (Recap I) I listed the people making My Own Little Hall of Fame and commented how it compared to the one in Cooperstown. This time I want to look at what I learned (and didn’t) during the project.

1. I found it was harder than I thought. I expected to be able to read a few newspapers, check out some old baseball guides, and happily go about my business. It turns out that if you can find it, there’s quite a lot more information available than I thought. It can be hard to find, but mostly it’s spotty. Info on some teams is pretty easy, others are much more obscure.

2. I knew the statistics weren’t uniform. I was stunned how much they wandered all over the place. As time went on they tended to stabilize, but the wandering numbers continued throughout the project.

3. I knew some statistics were new, others ancient (by baseball standards). What I didn’t know was how few were generally accepted early on. RBIs, a staple of modern stats, was fairly new. So was the compilation of both walks and strikeouts. Pitcher walks and strikeout numbers weren’t too bad, but trying to find out exactly who they struck out was much more difficult. I had to resist using volumes like Nemec’s works on the 19th Century because those compilations were unavailable.

4. For years I was critical of the Hall of Fame for not inducting at least one player (or manager, or executive) every year. I felt they owed it to the fans. So I required my Hall to elect at least one every time. Then I got to the era of about 1920 and ran into a number of years where I was stretching it to elect someone. So there are, even after all the work, people in my hall that I’m not sure ought to be there really.

5. I knew to expect minimal information on 19th Century players, especially players from the American Association. I was struck by how little information actually existed. I admit to looking at more modern things to find some sense of which players I should be looking for when it came to the 1860s and the American Association of the 1880s.

Having said all those things, it was, I think, a worthwhile project, especially the decision to add Negro League players. I enjoyed trying to remember all those research skills I’d learn way back in graduate school. How accurate I am, is another story. Because there was no Hall of Fame in 1901 we can never know how close I am to what a 1901 Hall would look like. That may be good for my results.



My Own Little Hall of Fame Recap: I

December 13, 2016

With the end of this three-year project I’m going to do some recapitulation work on it. This post simply gives you the list of the people who got in. You can go back month by month and get a list, but it seems simple to put them all in one post. This way you don’t have to go through 34 months, but can in one place decide for each individual “Yay”, “Yuck”, or “Who?”
Just a quick comment before I do. The list is by position. Each player is put in the position most commonly associated with them. Particularly in the 19th Century, players regularly played multiple positions. Knowing that, I chose one for each player knowing that Deacon White, for example was also a catcher as well as a third baseman, which is where I put him. A couple of people are listed primarily as “contributors” because it was hard to pigeon-hole them. Also I did not separate the outfielders by left, center, and right as a number of the early players held down all three positions with some frequency. Having typed all that, here’s the list.

First Base–Cap Anson, Jake Beckley, Dan Brouthers, Frank Chance, Roger Connor, Dave Orr, Joe Start (7)

Second Base–Ross Barnes, Nap LaJoie, Bid McPhee (3)

Third Base–Frank Baker, Jimmie Collins, Deacon White (3)

Shortstop–Bill Dahlen, George Davis, Jack Glasscock, Joe Tinker, Honus Wagner, George Wright (6)

Outfield–King Kelly, Jim O’Rourke, Tip O’Neill, Harry Stovey, Pete Browning, Billy Hamilton, Ed Delahanty, Jesse Burkett, Sam Thompson, Hugh Duffy, Joe Kelley, Paul Hines, Willie Keeler, Elmer Flick, Fred Clarke, Sam Crawford, Sherry Magee, Harry Hooper, Bobby Veach, Zack Wheat, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker (22)

Catcher–Roger Bresnahan, Buck Ewing, Cal McVey (3)

Pitcher–John Clarkson, Tim Keefe, Charles Radbourn, Mickey Welch, Pud Galvin, Tommy Bond, Amos Rusie, Jim McCormick, Addie Joss, Kid Nichols, Joe McGinnity, Rube Waddell, Cy Young, Vic Willis, Mordecai Brown, Christy Mathewson, Eddie Plank, Ed Walsh, Walter Johnson, Urban Shocker (20)

Managers–Harry Wright, Jim Mutrie, Frank Selee, Ned Hanlon, John McGraw, Hughie Jennings, Connie Mack, Miller Huggins (8)

Umpire–Hank O’Day (1)

Executives–William Hulbert, Albert Spaulding, Charles Comiskey, Al Reach, Clark Griffith, Ban Johnson, Barney Dreyfuss (7)

Contributors–Daniel “Doc” Adams, Henry Chadwick, John Montgomery Ward (3)

Negro League–Rube Foster, Bud Fowler, Frank Grant, Frank Leland, Jose Mendez, Louis Santop, George Stovey, Sol White, Christobel Torriente (9)

A total of 92 people. In a real world only 83 would have a chance at enshrinement because the nine Negro League players and executives would surely be excluded. In the actual Hall 115 people were added in the first 34 years, the same number of years I used in this project. Although I consider myself a “big hall” person it seems I’m actually more conservative than the real Hall of Fame. I would have never guessed that was true. By the way, only two of the true Hall’s 115 were black (Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella). Of my 83, seventeen are not in both Halls (20%).


2017 Hall of Fame Ballot Announced

November 21, 2016

The Hall of Fame released the 2017 Ballot today. Here’s the list of holdovers in alphabetical order:
Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Trevor Hoffman, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker.

Here are the new guys on the list, again alphabetically:

Casey Blake, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Carlos Guillen, Vlad Guerrero, Derek Lee, Melvin Mora, Magglio Ordonez, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez, Edgar Renteria, Arthur Rhodes, Ivan Rodriguez, Freddy Sanchez, Matt Stairs, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield.

My thoughts on the list later.

ESPN Drafts Another Top 100 List

July 27, 2016

Over the last few days, in preparation for the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, ESPN has released a new Top 100 list. This one is the top 100 Major League players ever. You can go to ESPN’s website, click on the MLB part, and the list is available to check out. Let me save you a little bit of time by listing their top 20.

In order, the top 10 are Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Stan Musial.

The next 10 are, also in order, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Honus Wagner, Ken Griffey Junior, Joe DiMaggio, Sandy Koufax, Cy Young, Roberto Clemente, Roger Clemens, and Bob Gibson.

There are a handful of current players on their list. The five highest rated are Alex Rodriguez (21), Clayton Kershaw (26), Albert Pujols (31), Miguel Cabrera (39), and Mike Trout (40).

If you wanted to put together a starting lineup of one player at each position with the highest rated player at a duplicate position as your DH, four starters for a World Series run, and a reliever, you get a team that looks like this (number in parens is the position on the list):

1B Lou Gehrig (7)

2B Rogers Hornsby (25)

SS Honus Wagner (13)

3B Alex Rodriguez (21)

OF Babe Ruth (1), Willie Mays (2), Hank Aaron (3)

C Johnny Bench (29)

DH Ted Williams (4)

Starters Walter Johnson (8), Pedro Martinez (11), Greg Maddux (12), Sandy Koufax (16)

Reliever Mariano Rivera (49)

For what it’s worth, Josh Gibson checks in at 35 for the highest rated Negro League star (Jackie Robinson is 30).

So go take a look when you get a chance. If you have problems with the list (and I have several), take it up with ESPN, not me (although it’s OK to vent here). Enjoy?



My Own Little Hall of Fame: Locale

December 16, 2015
I need a building. Whattaya think of this design?

I need a building. Whattaya think of this design?

In a comment on an earlier post, the Baseball Bloggess asked where I’d put my Hall of Fame if it were real. Frankly, I hadn’t thought about it at all. But it’s a good question.

First a few parameters have to be set. As only Kansas City, and then only for a little while there, provides a Major League team west of St. Louis, we can rule out any city in the Western half of the country. We have to presume the Hall is going to be placed in a hotbed of baseball and although places like Wichita and Denver and San Francisco may have produced thriving teams, they don’t provide Major League teams and I would think that would disqualify them. We also have to consider traffic patterns of the era. There is no interstate highway racing through the heart of Kansas in 1901. There’s a railroad and it provides most of the long-range transportation in the US. That means we’re looking for a rail hub of some size. Also we need to note the size of the town. The population stats for 1900 show a much different US in terms of population distribution. The nation is heavily tilted toward the eastern half of the country.

My first thought is that there is no earthly reason to put the thing in Cooperstown, New York. The state of New York isn’t a bad choice for the location but Cooperstown isn’t one of the better options. Much of baseball’s early history revolves around New York City and specifically in Brooklyn. So they aren’t bad choices. Neither is Buffalo, interestingly enough. A lot a big early players came through Buffalo. That’s very much true in the 1850s and 1860s and continues through the 19th Century. Also Buffalo is one of the towns that hosts a Major League team for a while. It also maintains an integrated team for much longer than most places. Both Bud Fowler and Frank Grant come through Buffalo a one time or another. But by 1901 Buffalo is no longer associated with Major League baseball.

A second good place to start is Boston. The first great team of the professional leagues, the Red Stockings is in Boston and it utterly dominates the National Association. But other than those teams (and the Player’s League one season winner) Boston doesn’t produce much in the way of winners until the Beaneaters.

There’s Cincinnati. It produced the “first professional team” in baseball history with the Red Stockings of the 1860s. That’s kind of true. There had been professional players well before the Red Stockings, but the Cincy team appears to be the first team that was completely professional. That’s worth a nod to a Hall of Fame location. And it’s also reasonably near the center of US population in 1900.

Then there’s St. Louis. It’s located in the center of the country (well, at least as close to the center as a major town was in 1900) and had a great baseball tradition. It was on a major rail line for ease of travel for Hall visitors and it was the fourth largest city in the country in 1900. Nobody had heard of Houston, now the fourth largest city, in 1900.

All are good choices, each can be justified. But I’m going to build my Hall in Cincinnati. It has a lot of baseball connections and it well located for both ease of visitation and nearness to the most people. Feel free to build your own wherever you want. And don’t ask me to design any of them, I’m sure they’d all fall down (unlike the one in the picture above).

My Own Little Hall of Fame: 2015 Wrap

December 8, 2015

So year two of my project to see what a Hall of Fame formed in 1901 would look like is done. With one year to go, here’s a wrap of what’s gone on so far and what I’ve learned.

1 I’m actually more conservative than the true Hall. In 22 years Cooperstown added 80 people. I’ve added only 63.

2. I’m also more liberal in that I’ve added four Negro League types while in their first 22 years, the Hall of Fame added none. The added their first black guy (Jackie Robinson) in 1962–27 years after founding the Hall.

3. I’ve been critical of the Hall of Fame for years when they elect no one. I’ve argued that the Hall should enshrine at least one person per year. So I set up my Hall with the idea that at least one person has to be elected each year. I’ve been an idiot. Sometimes (see the 1920 election as an example) I’ve had to put in people I’m not sure really belong because I’m required to elect someone (the football Hall of Fame has a requirement for enshrining members each year). So I apologize to Cooperstown. They got that one right.

4. We almost exclusively elect people to the Hall of Fame based on their statistics. Oh, occasionally a contributor (like an owner or GM or umpire) will get in, but generally players are judged on their stats. We have a thousand different places to look, a thousand different stats to apply, a thousand different people telling us which stats are meaningful. That’s the way we’ve done it for years. You can’t do that in my Hall. Simply put, stats are all over the place. There is no consensus on which are important and which are “well, isn’t that nice”. There is no consensus on what a particular player’s stats actually are. To use one example, Cap Anson’s hit total varies a lot, a whole lot.

5. By 1922 this is beginning to change. I’m beginning to see the guides, the papers, the books all start to show something like consistency on both which stats matter and what are the accepted numbers. The Elias Sports Bureau has helped, but so has the Sporting News and like publications.

6. Also the “important” stats are beginning to stabilize. ERA is now a big deal. It had been a big deal before, but in the 19th Century the stat is almost entirely missing (see my comment on the class of 1922 and Mordecai Brown–it’s comment 2). The main statistical problem is beginning to be the lack of 19th Century stats.

7. The 1901 Hall contains the following position numbers: first base-5, second base-3, shortstop-3, third base-2, outfielders-15, catchers-2, pitchers-16, managers-5, pioneers-3, owners-4, Negro Leagues-4, contributor-1. A total of 63. In several cases (for instance King Kelly and Deacon White) the player did time in several positions. For the above, I took the position he is most associated with today. The “Contributor” is Monte Ward. I simply couldn’t figure out which category he fell into so I left it at contributor. Guys like Henry Chadwick and Doc Adams are listed as pioneers and Charles Comiskey is an owner (rather than a player or manager).

8. I’m still not sure what to do with umpires. I have a pretty good idea of who contemporaries thought the best umps were, but I’m not sure how you actually determine that. Until I do, I think I’ll continue to be short on umpires.

9. The next 12 classes (all the remaining ones for me to choose), are a mix of very good years and very weak years. There are years with Honus Wagner and years with nobody.

10. Negro League information is getting better so expect a decent sized group to enter in the 1920s and early 1930s. Realizing the unrealistic nature of putting black players into a 1920s Hall of Fame, I’m continuing to do so unabashedly.

11. Here’s the list of everyday players available in 1923: Cupid Childs, Sam Crawford, George Davis, Harry Davis, Mike Donlin, Jack Doyle, George Gore, Dummy Hoy, Miller Huggins (as a player only), Hughie Jennings (as a player only), Bill Joyce, Bill Lange, Tommy Leach, Herman Long, Bobby Lowe, Tommy McCarthy, Dave Orr, Hardy Richardson, Wildfire Schulte, Cy Seymour, Roy Thomas, Mike Tiernan, Joe Tinker, George Van Haltren, Honus Wagner. I feel pretty good about the Wagner kid’s chance of making it. With a limit of 20 holdovers, at least five of the above will either make it or disappear from the list.

12. The pitchers available in 1923: Bob Carruthers, Jack Chesbro, Dave Foutz, Clark Griffith, Brickyard Kennedy, Sam Leever, Tony Mullane, Deacon Phillippe, Eddie Plank, Jesse Tannehill, Ed Walsh, Doc White. Again, there are more than the maiximum 10 so somebody is going to get elected or dumped.

13. The contributors: Bill Carrigan, Clark Griffith, Tim Hurst, Hughie Jennings, Pat Moran, George Stallings (All managers and Jennings and Griffith are not considered as either players or owners–except of course a combination of player, manager, owner might be good enough. Also Hurst spent significant time as an umpire,); Cal McVey, Lip Pike, William R. Wheaton (all pioneers); Henry C. Pulliam (NL President); owner Ben Shibe; Sol White (Negro Leagues). That’s 12 and I only allow 10 contributors, so again someone’s off or someone’s in.

14. And then there is 1926. It’s the year the “Black Sox” become eligible. I haven’t yet addressed the issue and haven’t addressed whether a “character clause” exists in a 1901 Hall of Fame. Fortunately I’ve got until April to decide. Frankly, I’m not sure what I’ll decide, but my initial thought is to “throw the bums out,” an attitude that was very common in the 1920s.



Burning the Deadwood

July 30, 2015

So I see that the Hall of Fame leadership is again “fixing” the Hall voting. This time they’re calling out those writers who have no contact with baseball writing in the last 10 years and telling them they can’t vote in the next Hall of Fame election. Of course they’re not really banning them, because if the about-to-be-banned guy (or gal) can show some work that is baseball related they can get back in the good graces of the Hall and continue to vote. Apparently this would entail writing a piece for your local semi-weekly rag that says “The Hall of Fame is a great place. Go visit, people.”

This is the second change in as many elections. The first cut the number of years a player could be on the writer’s ballot from 15 years to 10 years, with guys (read Tim Raines here) already over 10 but not yet at 15 being grandfathered on. It’s supposed to cut the backlog on the ballot.

OK, I guess I applaud the Hall for the changes. I’ve argued that a lot of people voting for the Hall aren’t currently up to date on the sport and probably shouldn’t vote. I’ve also argued that if you can’t get in the Hall in 10 years you probably shouldn’t be elected by the writers. So hooray, I think.

Why is it I have a problem with all this? Maybe it’s because the “fix” is kind of smoke and mirrors. If a writer is about to lose their Hall of Fame vote, they can do something to get back into good graces. I know the Hall specified it had to be more than lip service, but guess who gets to determine what lip service means? Give you a hint–the place is located in Cooperstown. No hard, fast rule that says exactly what allows a writer thrown out of voting back into the fold. That strikes me as a problem.

Going from 15 to 10 years? As I said before, I’m all for it. But then there’s the little matter of the Veteran’s Committee taking up the players. I guess all this means that the Vet’s Committee gets to start looking at a particular player five years earlier. I realize that allows the writers to kick the steroid guys down the road quicker and thus wash their hands of the entire issue and era, but it’s going to come up again, team.

So “Yippee” for the Hall, I guess. I just can’t get all that excited about the changes and that’s kind of sad because they were changes I advocated. Am I just too hard to please?

My Own Little Hall of Fame: Midway

July 3, 2015

The selection of the Class of 1917 marks the mid-point of the My Own Little Hall of Fame project. I began it last year in March and intend to go through this year and finish in December next year with the 1934 class. Here’s a summary of some of the things I’ve discovered.

1. I have a much greater appreciation of how hard it is to be a Hall of Fame voter. I fully expected I would be able to simply look through some newspapers, a few journals, the contemporary guides, and come up with a quite obvious Hall. Oops. It actually takes a lot to make the determinations necessary to elect a Hall of Fame. If you do it right, or at least attempt to do it right (which is all I’ll admit to) it gets complicated fast. What stats are available? Which matter? Why? I’ve been very critical of the Hall of Fame voters on a number of occasions. I’ve discovered that it’s harder than it looks (which doesn’t mean the actual voters haven’t made mistakes). I have a new respect for those voters who are trying to get it right (which is different from all voters).

2. So far I’ve elected 52 members, or about 3 a year. By contrast the real Hall of Fame elected 62 members in its first 17 years (about 3.6 per year). So I’m actually being a bit more conservative than the real Hall voters. That kind of surprises me. I thought I’d probably end up adding more than the real Hall.

3. The number of people added each year has dropped. That makes sense. Any newly established institution like the Hall of Fame is going to begin with a backlog of quality candidates for membership. It takes a few years to clear that backlog, but once it’s gone, then the number of newly eligible quality candidates should, in most years, be considerably fewer. In my case that’s been absolutely true.

4. I’ve made it a point of  doing two things that the real Hall doesn’t do. First, I elect at least one for each class. There is no requirement the real Hall do so. Second, I’ve added three Negro League players already (Bud Fowler, Frank Grant, and George Stovey). I know that probably wouldn’t happen in 1917 and with the rise of racial tensions after World War I  it certainly wouldn’t happen between 1920 and 1934. However, I still intend to buck that and add Negro League players as I feel appropriate. It just seems like the right thing to do.

5. I was initially concerned with the number of “Contributors” I was adding. These are people added because of something they did for baseball other than play the game (William Hulbert, founder of the National League, is an example). Then I got to looking over the real Hall’s inductees in the first several years and noted they also added quite a number of “contributors” early. The number of contributors elected by Cooperstown has decreased in the last 40 or so years (although there are still several). As I look at my preliminary list of contributors going out to 1934, I note that I’ll probably be electing fewer also because the first couple of generations of contributors will be pretty much gone and the new group is, as a whole, less impressive (which does figure).

6. It’s interesting, and frankly obvious, how uneven the quality of players available in a given year becomes. Some years there are an entire list of quality candidates, not all of which will make it, but all of which will deserve study. Other years I simply want to say, “Yuck.” Of course that was destined to be true, because all the good players don’t retire at once and not every year has a bunch of good players leave the game. It does help to clear some of the backlog, but I’ve found it too tempting to simply add someone because he’s the best available guy not because he’s truly a Hall of Fame caliber player. I’m sure I’ve slipped up a time or two and let someone in based on that, but I try to watch it closely.

7. I knew that statistics were going to vary, but, frankly, was surprised by how much. From a preliminary look forward, that seems to start changing in the 1920s, especially with the Elias Sports Bureau’s arrival (maybe I should look at Al Munro Elias a bit more closely as a Hall of Famer). It does make it difficult to determine exactly who should get in my Hall because every time I look to hang my hat on a particular stat it changes. For instance, RBIs aren’t yet an official statistic and what I find concerning RBIs changes. I have to admit I sometimes go to Baseball to determine which number is the one I should use. It’s not quite fair, but it does make it easier for me. When I do, I have to resist the temptation to look at the newer stats (OPS+, WAR, etc.). They weren’t even thought of yet and I don’t want to be influenced by them.

8. It has been an education for me to do this. I’ve had to read stuff I didn’t know existed, had to sort through things that sometimes were contradictory, had to almost flip a coin occasionally as to what do I believe. And it’s astounding how quickly the pioneers (pre-1876) guys have disappeared.

9. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve had to determine how much “fame” mattered over “greatness”. I’m still not sure I know the answer to that last. Go back a couple of months and look at my comments on John McGraw and you’ll get a feel for the structure of the question itself. It first manifested itself in trying to determine why Bill Lange, a 19th Century outfielder with Chicago, was so utterly famous (he’s now very obscure). I looked at his numbers and they were good (I even fiddled around with his newer SABR-style numbers, which aren’t bad–123 OPS+, five years of 3.5 or more WAR in a seven year career) and he came off as a very good player, but I wasn’t sure he was great. It began to dawn on me that the two things (famous and greatness) were not interchangeable and that came to a head in the John McGraw problem. That may be the most profound observation I’ve discovered on this project (and profundity from this site should scare you to death). If I ever figure out the complete answer, I’ll have a book (and a number of you telling me I got it wrong).