Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame’

Watching the Tracker

January 22, 2018

Jim Thome

Wednesday marks the announcement of the latest class in the Hall of Fame. It appears to be a significant class.

I’ve been following along with the balloting by checking in on a Hall of Fame Tracker run by Ryan Thibodaux. He scours the internet and social media looking for Hall of Fame voters who announce their ballot early. He then posts a running total without commentary. It’s a quick and convenient way to keep track of who’s in and who’s out.

As I type this he’s recorded a little less than 50% of the total voters. It’s possible to see as many as six or as few as three players enshrined in Cooperstown. Polling at over 90% (remember that’s 90% of the 50% recorded, not 90% of the total vote) are Vlad Guerrero, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome. Edgar Martinez is at 80% while both Trevor Hoffman and Mike Mussina are in the 70% range (Hoffman just over 75% and Mussina just under the magic line). Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds are all in the 60% range, with Schilling being just ahead of the other two. Larry Walker is the only other player above 40%.

Depending on the way the other 50% of the vote goes Martinez and Hoffman are currently in and Mussina will just miss. The other three would almost have to totally whiff on the rest of the votes to fail election.

I’m not sure what I think of all this. I’m not a supporter of the “steroid boys” getting elected, so I’m OK with them waiting another year. I’m happy to see Walker doing well and thrilled that Edgar Martinez is finally getting his due. Even if he doesn’t make it this year, it’s a good sign for next year. And Hoffman I would support, but he’d be toward the bottom of my list of 10. He’d certainly come in below Mussina. But it’s also a good sign that Moose is moving up the line enough. We might see him jump over the magic 75% next year (or just maybe this year). I also wonder how much the utterly ill-defined “character clause” is effecting Schilling. Don’t care much for his politics, but they’re not electing him mayor, they’re electing him to the baseball Hall of Fame.

So there the vote stand less than a week from the big reveal. Good luck to all six who are close and the others can remember the old Brooklyn cry, “Wait ’til next year.”


Having just gone through a major family crisis, I’ve been away from here for a while (except for the post just below). Although the problem isn’t yet completely solved we’re mostly through it, so I hope to get back to something like a regular musing again. Thank you for your patience.


Modern Era Ballot Released

November 10, 2017

The latest iteration of the Veteran’s Committee for the Hall of Fame just released the ballot for the “Modern Era” Committee (that’s the most recent retirees). Here they are in the order that shows up on the Hall of Fame website (it’s alphabetical):

Steve Garvey

Tommy John

Don Mattingly

Marvin Miller

Jack Morris

Dale Murphy

Dave Parker

Ted Simmons

Luis Tiant

Alan Trammell

Committee members will vote in December and are allowed to vote for up to five people.

Commentary to follow.


“Out, Damned Spot”…

July 28, 2017

Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Act V, Scene 1). (Do you supposed she was trying to get the dog to go out for the night?)

Pie Traynor

Over at The Hall of Miller and Eric they’ve begun running a series rightfully castigating the Hall of Fame for leaving out some of the people who have been shunted aside (guys like Ted Simmons). They have their own Hall and one of the requirements is that the two Hall’s be the same size (excluding umpires and they’re in the midst to trying to figure out how to add Negro Leaguers). So that means for every guy they put in who isn’t truly in the Hall, they have to kick to the curb someone who is enshrined in Cooperstown (which doesn’t mean they put someone in, then toss someone else out). That’s not exactly how it works, but I trust you get the idea. It’s a site worth checking out, team. It’s also a project with some interesting ideas that are worth considering.

All of that got me to wondering about the bottom of the Hall (to use Kevin Graham’s phrase, “the bottom-feeders”). I’ve done a thing or two on the bottom of the Hall, but never actually sat down and went about trying to figure out in something like a systematic way who actually is the bottom of the Hall. These are the guys who, if they ever decided to pare down the Hall of Fame, should be the first shown the door. And before I go further, let me emphasize that I am in no way suggesting that these, or any other players currently enshrined, be ousted from Cooperstown (and neither are the Miller and Eric team). Once you’re in, you’re safely in.

What comes below is a 25 man roster with 2 men at each position, one reliever, and 8 starting pitchers that make up the lowest rung of the Hall of Fame. Although I have reservations about WAR as the be all, end all of stats (any stat existing in multiple versions is automatically suspect), it’s a good quick way to measure the players involved. I simply looked at Baseball Reference’s list of players by position and by WAR for each position and took the two (one, eight) guys with the least WAR for my team. As usual this easy system comes with a load of caveats. First, there are several managers (Stengel, Harris, Southworth, etc.) who show up on a position list and have less WAR than at least one other Hall of Famer on the same list. I excluded them as they are in the Hall as much, if not more, for their managerial acumen as for their playing ability. Second, I dumped guys who played way, way back (George Wright, Jim O’Rourke, Candy Cummings, etc.) because they played much or most of their career with shorter schedules, no mound, and in some cases (Cummings) a very different game. Finally Monte Irvin showed up as the left field Hall of Famer with the least WAR. I excluded him and would have excluded other similar Negro League stalwarts.

Got all that? Then here’s the list of the bottom of the Hall. I draw no conclusions from it (except as mentioned at the end of the article) and merely pass it along for those interested.

Catcher: Ray Schalk, Rick Ferrell

First Base: George Kelly, Jim Bottomley (ain’t it great that someone named Bottomley is in the bottom tier?)

Second Base: Johnny Evers, Bill Mazeroski

Shortstop: Travis Jackson, Rabbit Maranville

Third Base: Pie Traynor, Fred Lindstrom

Left Field: Lou Brock, Heinie Manush

Center Field: Hugh Duffy, Lloyd Waner (I know Duffy spent most of his career in the 19th Century, but he also played most of it after the advent of the pitching mound and longer schedules, so I added him.)

Right Field: Ross Youngs, Tommy McCarthy

Starters: Jesse Haines, Rube Marquard, Lefty Gomez, Jim Hunter, Herb Pennock, Jack Chesbro, Chief Bender, Addie Joss

Reliever: Rollie Fingers

OK, team, that’s the list. A couple of final points. First, these are not players who lost significant time to World War II or other long term military service (I thought there might be one or two of those). Both Joss and Youngs died while still active (at least more or less active) so their WAR is effected by that and it should be remembered. I decided to add them anyway. For what it’s worth, if you toss Joss off because of odd circumstances (like a death) then Waite Hoyt is his replacement. And Sam Thompson replaces Youngs. As a final bit of an aside, I remember when Pie Traynor was (in 1969) picked the greatest of all third basemen. Now he makes this team.

Still a formidable team.


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).