Posts Tagged ‘Hank O’Day’

My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1929

July 5, 2016

Time once again for my foray into what a 1901-1934 era Hall of Fame might look like if there was one. This time two worthy inductees.

Connie Mack

Connie Mack

Connie Mack owned and managed the Philadelphia Athletics beginning with their creation in 1901. His teams have won seven American League championships and four World Series. A fine baseball mind both tactically and strategically, he is also known for his ability to find talent.


Hank O'Day

Hank O’Day

Pitcher, manager, and umpire Henry “Hank” O’Day has been around baseball since he 1880s. Between 1884 and 1890 he was a Major League pitcher with five teams. Beginning in 1895 he started a successful career as a National League umpire that lasted through 1927 with a short break to serve a field manager of the 1912 Cincinnati Reds and then as manager of the 1913 Chicago Cubs, finishing fourth both seasons. As an umpire he worked in 10 World Series. After retirement he served as a scout searching for qualified umpires for Major League service.

And now the commentary:

1. Why Mack this time instead of earlier? I’ve not been certain when to put in Mack. He’s still managing as late as 1950 but the real Hall of Fame put him in very early. I always assume these classes are chosen in December of the stated year (December 1929 in this case). In other words I’ve done it in conjunction with the modern Veteran’s Committee vote. After falling off in 1915, the Athletics got back to the World Series and won it in 1929. Seemed like a good point to add Mack. BTW I love the picture of Mack that’s above. Three balls to reference World Series wins in 1910, 1911, and 1913 and then the white elephant emblem.

2. So you finally figured out what to do with umps, did you? Yeah, kinda, sorta, maybe. Hank O’Day is such a unique baseball man that it seemed like a good idea to add him. He’s a pitcher, although not particularly successful. He’s a manager, and probably best described as mediocre. His team finishes at the bottom of the first division both years he’s in charge, which is pretty much a definition of mediocre. He’s universally regarded as a fine umpire. I figure that umping in 10 World Series is evidence of an overall competence. After retirement he starts scouting around looking for new umpires. He’s doing it officially, not on his own, indicating a level of trust in him by MLB. I didn’t mention above that he also served on the rules committee. I couldn’t find the exact dates, so I left it out. I seems to have been a substantial number of years. All of that should tell you that O’Day is in partially because he’s a very good umpire, but mostly because of the variety in his career. He’s one of a number of people who, if viewed simply as one-dimensional with regard to baseball probably shouldn’t be in a Hall of Fame. But if you look at the broad nature of their career, they are incredibly impactful (Guys like Clark Griffith, Charles Comiskey, Hughie Jennings, etc.).

3. Next time brings me squarely up against the Negro League issue. Here I mean the Negro Leagues that most of us know about, not the leagues of the 19th Century. Several famous (and not so famous) players and executives are going to show up over the remainder of this project. Let me remind you my rules allow not more than one Negro League type each year and he must be accompanied by an inductee that isn’t black. I know that putting one in is ridiculous for the era, but I wanted to make some sort of reference to the Negro Leagues, so I’m adding them anyway. But I can’t imagine that there would be a situation where a black man would be allowed to stand on the stage alone for induction, so the rule, and it would be unofficial sort of “gentleman’s agreement” by the Hall (I’m not quite sure how this makes people “gentlemen” but that’s the term used), is at least one other guy has to be there.

4. Here’s the carryover for 1930 including new guys for the everyday players: Jack Barry, Cupid Childs, Jake Daubert, Harry Davis, Mike Donlan, Jack Doyle, Art Fletcher, Larry Gardner, Charlie Hollocher, Tommy Leach, Herman Long, Bobby Lowe, Tommy McCarthy, Clyde Milan, Del Pratt, Hardy Richardson, Wildfire Schulte, Cy Seymour, Burt Shotton, Roy Thomas, Mike Tiernan, Joe Tinker, George van Haltren, Tillie Walker. That’s 24 and I have a limit of 20 on the carryover list. So four have to either go or make it to the Hall.

5. The same list for the pitchers: Jim Bagby, Bob Carruthers, Jack Chesbro, Brickyard Kennedy, Sam Leever, Tony Mullane, Jeff Pfeffer, Deacon Phillippe, Jesse Tannehill, Doc White, Joe Wood. That’s 11 and the carryover total here is 10. So one is in or one is off.

6. And the same list for the contributors: Umps–Bob Emslie, Tim Hurst (who was also NL President); Managers–Miller Huggins, George Stallings; Owners–Charles Ebbets, August Herrmann, Ben Shibe; Negro Leagues–Rube Foster, Spottswood Poles, Candy Jim Taylor; NL President Henry C. Pulliam; pre-Civil War pioneer William R. Wheaton. A total of 12 and the carryover list is 10. So two have to go or make it. Don’t be too surprised if Rube Foster gets as serious look.



Three for the Hall

December 3, 2012

MLB just announced the results of the pre-integration Hall of Fame committee’s vote. Elected to the Hall of Fame were Jacob Ruppert, Hank O’Day, and Deacon White. That brings the total Hall membership to an even 300, according to the article. Ruppert was owner of the Yankees in the “Murder’s Row”, “Bronx Bombers” period and built Yankee Stadium, O’Day was an early National League umpire who is perhaps most famous for his participation in the “Merkle Game” of 1908. White was a 19th Century catcher and third baseman whose final season was 1890.

I’ve written a couple of posts on this year’s Vet’s Committee election and you can find info on all three there. If you do, you’ll understand that I am pleased by the choices. I would have chosen both Ruppert and White and mentioned that although I had no idea how to evaluate an umpire for Hall of Fame purposes, I had no problem with O’Day’s election.

According to the article Ruppert and O’Day each received 15 votes and White 12. Twelve votes were needed for election. Bill Dahlen received 10 votes and no other candidate received more than 3 votes. Congratulations to the family of each man.

2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot: the Ump and some thoughts

November 8, 2012

This is the final set of comments on the upcoming Veteran’s Committee vote for the Hall of Fame. I want to look at the one umpire nominated, Hank O’Day, and to offer a few comments on the ballot, including my own picks.

Hank O’Day

Hank O’Day was, like many umpires, a former players. He got to the Major Leagues in 1884, playing for Toledo (the same team as Tony Mullane, another person appearing on the ballot). He was a pitcher, went 73-110, and ended his playing days in the Player’s League. He had a couple of undistinguished years in the minors, then turned to umpiring. He was considered one of the finest umpires of his day, appearing in 10 World Series: 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1923, and 1926 (only Bill Klem did more–18). He’s probably most well-known today as the plate umpire in the “Merkle Game” of 1908, although he did not make the call that declared Merkle out. In 1912 he took a sabbatical from umping to manage the Cincinnati Reds. They finished fourth at 75-78. After a year back umpiring, he took over managing the Cubs in 1914. Again they finished fourth, this time at 78-76. After that he returned to umping and remained an umpire through the 1927 season. He was the second base umpire who called Bill Wambsganss’ unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series. After retirement he served as league scout for umpires, dying in 1935.

I have no idea how to assess O’Day’s qualifications for the Hall of Fame. When it comes to players, I have criteria that I consider when asking if I think a player is Hall of Fame quality. I’ll bet you do also. Yours may be different from mine, but there is a set of criteria. Same with managers, owners, executives. But exactly what criteria do you use for an umpire? Integrity? Decisiveness? Knowing the rules? All of them are important for an umpire, but any truly good umpire should have all three of them. If that’s the case, there ought to be 100 or more umps in the Hall of Fame. So how do we pick out O’Day from, for example,  Bob Emslie, the other umpire in the Merkle game, who was an umpire for 33 years and called four no hitters?

All the above should tell you that I have no inherent reason to not vote for O’Day. It’s just that I don’t have a  particular reason to do so. If he’s elected, I’m not going to be upset, but I’m also not going to say “Well, it’s about time” either.

So now a few comments on this entire ballot.

1. If I were on the Veteran’s Committee, I would vote for three people: Deacon White, Jacob Ruppert, and Samuel Breadon. White I mentioned on the post about the everyday players.

2. Why Ruppert? Well, I think Jacob Ruppert is the most overlooked person eligible for the Hall of Fame (except possibly for Marvin Miller). He is the foundation stone for the greatest of all baseball dynasties and if you’re going to put in his players and his general manager (Ed Barrow) you need to put in the man who had the intelligence to pick up all those people and weld them into a  team for the ages.

3. Why Breadon? Simply put, he’s Ruppert in the National League. As SportsPhD pointed out in a comment on the owners post, Breadon’s Cardinals were only slightly less successful than Ruppert’s Yankees over a comparable period. His players weren’t as spectacular as Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio, but they were as effective. And Musial and Dean are close to what the Yanks put on the field.

4. I have no problem if they put in Reach, but I’d rather see the other owners first. His sporting goods empire makes no impact to me on his Hall of Fame qualifications and his team is never all that good. The Reach Guide was good, but most of that was due to the editorial skills of Henry Chadwick, not Reach.

5. The pitching list is particularly interesting to me. Obviously I wouldn’t cast a vote for any of them, but they are still interesting. Much of it has to do with the following question, “Is this really the best set of pitchers left from the period before World War II that isn’t in the Hall?” If the answer to that is “yes”, then we can congratulate ourselves for having  enshrined in Cooperstown all the great pitchers of the era. Maybe we have. Or maybe we haven’t My point here is that if these are the three best pitchers still available for the Hall of Fame from the 1876-1946 era then we’ve pretty much gotten the best of the pitchers already in Cooperstown.

6. I wonder if the people putting together the ballot have a quota of some kind. Note there are 3 position players, 3 pitchers, 3 owners, and 1 umpire. Doesn’t the symmetry strike you as a bit strange? Are there really only 3 everyday players capable of making the ballot? Are there really as many as 3 owners who outshine all but 3 everyday players?

Anyway that’s my take on the 2012 Veteran’s Committee ballot. Feel free to disagree.

2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot

November 2, 2012

Just got a first look at the 2012 Veteran’s Committee ballot. It contains 10 names and covers the period 1876-1946. Here (alphabetically) are the names on the ballot:

1. Sam Breadon–Cardinals owner who hired Branch Rickey

2. Bill Dahlen–Deadball Era shortstop

3. Wes Ferrell–1930s AL pitcher

4. Marty Marion–1940s Cardinals shortstop and MVP

5. Tony Mullane–1880s American Association pitcher and later sports writer

6. Hank O’Day–Deadball Era umpire

7. Alfred Reach–“Reach Guide” founder and sporting goods magnate

8. Jacob Ruppert–owner of the New York Yankees 1920s and 1930s

9. Bucky Walters–1930s-40s National League pitcher who won both an MVP and 1940 World Series

10. Deacon White–19th Century bare handed catcher and third baseman.

That’s the list. Will comment on it later. Election day is 3 December.

The Crab

September 6, 2011

Johnny Evers

Some players have careers that are easy to evaluate. Whatever criteria you use, whatever stats you emphasize, whatever stats you make up, Babe Ruth is going to be pretty clearly marked out as a player. Others aren’t so easy to define. One of those is Johnny Evers.

Evers was born in upstate New York in 1881, and began his minor league career in 1902. That same year he was the “throw in” guy in the purchase of a pitcher by the Chicago Cubs. Evers was short, weighed barely 100 pounds, had great range, could throw well, and made a lot of errors because of his range (he got to a lot of balls then couldn’t make the play). Initially the shortstop, he was moved to second base after about a week. There he was terrific by Dead Ball Era standards. He teamed with Joe Tinker at shortstop and Frank Chance (later his manager) to form the most famous, if not necessarily the best, double play combination of the era. The team won 116 games in 1906 (a number equaled once, and that with eight more games on the schedule) but lost the World Series. They won the Series the next two years. Evers hit well, but this was a team built on pitching and defense and his play at second was, perhaps, more significant than his hitting.

He was also a pain, which is a nice way of saying few people liked him. It helped earn him the nickname “The Crab”. He and Tinker didn’t speak off the field for years. You get a lot of reasons depending on the source. Evers own version has Tinker firing a ball to record an out that hurt Evers hand. When Evers complained, Tinker laughed and that destroyed any brewing friendship. And with Evers there don’t seem to have been a lot of friends. To say he was “high-strung” is to understate the measure. He alienated teammates with his criticism of bad plays, opponents with his hard play. In fact, he alienated almost everyone (I guess his folks liked him, but that’s a guess). In 1911, he had a nervous breakdown that cost him most of the season. Again there are a lot of  stories of what happened, but Evers own account says he lost money in a business venture and was broke.

Evers also had a habit of not going out with the guys in the evenings. With his personality, would you want him along? (A Dale Carnegie graduate he wasn’t.). He used his spare time to read, including the baseball rulebook. He became something of an expert on the more arcane rules, which led to his participation in the most famous of all Dead Ball Era plays, the “Merkle play”. With two out in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game in 1908, Giants baserunner Fred Merkle failed to advance from first to second on a single while the winning run scored (there are a lot of places on-line where you can get the details). Evers retrieved a ball (probably not “the” ball), stepped on second, and demanded the umpire declare Merkle out and the run void. Apparently Evers and umpire Hank O’Day knew the rule. O’Day called Merkle out, the game ended in a tie, the season ended in a tie, the Cubs won the replay, and their last World Series to date.

In 1913, Evers became manager of the Cubs. Think about that. Here’s a high-strung guy that fights with everyone, that no one likes, and you make him the team manager (and you wonder why the Cubs don’t win often). Despite all that, the Cubs still finished third, but Evers managed to alienate everyone, including the beer salesmen and the owner, so out he went. They sent him to Boston where he took over the second base job for the Braves. His leadership skills (“Play hard or Evers will scream”) and his getting hot with the bat during the last half of the season were considered reasons why the “Miracle Braves” moved from last to first in the final three months of the season to capture the National League pennant, then win the NL’s first World Series since 1909 in a four game sweep of the Athletics. Evers won that season’s NL Chalmers Award (the early version of the MVP).

It was his last good year. He was on the downside of his career anyway and his nerves began really fraying. His did poorly in 1915, worse in 1916, and was cut prior to the 1917 season. He did some managing after his retirement, skippering both the Cubs and the White Sox. He did reasonably well, but never won. He  got into one game in both 1922 and 1929, drew two walks and had no hits, then retired for good. He ran a sporting goods store in Albany, New York (wonder how he was with customers), had a stroke in 1942, made the Hall of Fame in 1946, and died in 1947.

For his career Evers hit .270, slugged .334, had an OBP of .356, for an OPS of .690 (OPS+ of 106). He hit all of 12 home runs, had 216 doubles, 70 triples, and 1659 hits for 2051 total bases. He scored 919 runs and knocked in 528. He had 324 stolen bases.  He never led the NL in any major hitting category but finished as high as second in both walks and stolen bases. In World Series play he hit .316, scored 11 runs, knocked in six, and stole eight bases. He hit .438 with an OBP of .500 in the 1914 World Series victory. As a fielder he led the NL in assists twice and also in errors twice, doing both in 1904 (now that’s a neat trick). He also led the league in putouts and fielding percentage among second baseman once each.

So those numbers don’t sound all that great, do they? Even for Dead Ball Era players they’re not that spectacular. But Evers seems to be one of those guys that is more than the sum of his stats. He’s bright, he’s aggressive, he’s also a pain. Those are things difficult to evaluate. He’s a good second baseman, a lousy teammate. He’s a good glove man, not so great with the bat. He’s knowledgable about the game, but he can’t stay healthy. He’s certainly a mixed bag. I like him because he’s fun to study, but I don’t think I’d like to have known him. And maybe that’s the fascination with Evers. He’s all those things listed above and that makes for an interesting character.