Posts Tagged ‘Samuel Breadon’

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: the Owners

November 7, 2012

Now that we’ve gotten that silly trivial other election out of the way, we can get on with assessing the really important election, the Veteran’s Committee Hall of Fame election in December. Four men made the Veteran’s Committee ballot as contributors to the game. Three of them were team owners.  They are (alphabetically): Samuel Breadon, Alfred Reach, and Jacob Ruppert. Here are a few comments on each.

Samuel Breadon

Sam Breadon was an automobile dealer who liked baseball. He bought a minority share in the St. Louis Cardinals in 1917 and by 1920 became principal owner. He remained owner through the 1947 season. On his watch, the Cardinals went from being a yearly second division team to a model franchise. Among other accomplishments, he moved manager Branch Rickey to the front office. Rickey devised the “farm system” for the Cardinals and Breadon immediately saw the advantage of the system. He used it, along with smart trades to make St. Louis the most successful National League franchise of the era. Prior to Breadon taking control of the Cards, they had not (in the 20th Century) won anything. By the time he sold the team they had won pennants in 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1946. They won the World Series six of those years (’26, ’31, ’34, ’42, ’44, and ’46).  He died in 1949.

Al Reach

Alfred Reach was born in 1840 in London and moved to the US. He played ball for Eckfords (Brooklyn) in the early 1860s, moved to Philadelphia and played for the Athletics in the late 1860s. He played for the A’s from 1871-1875 in the National Association, helping them to a pennant in 1871. He spent most of his time as a left-handed outfielder, but as was usual for the era, played a lot of time at another position. In his case second base (making him a left-handed second baseman).  He wasn’t all that good, hitting .247 for a career with no home runs. He hit above .220 in 1871 (.353), the only time he did so (except for a three game stint in 1875). Through as a player after 1875, he stayed around baseball, becoming one of the founders of the Phillies in 1883 (with partner John Rogers). He remained president through 1899 when he sold out to Rogers. He founded a sporting goods company, which he later sold to Al Spaulding, In 1883 he began publishing (but not writing) the “Reach Guide” which became the primary baseball guide of the latter part of the 19th Century. It lasted well into the 20th Century. Copies are hard to find, but it’s a treasure trove of information on early baseball and, if you can get around the florid style of the era, a fun read. Reach died in 1928.

Jacob Ruppert

Jacob Ruppert (it’s actually Ruppert, Junior) invented the Yankees. OK, he didn’t found the team, but he took over a moderately successful New York Yankees team (they’d been the Highlanders until 1913) and began creating the greatest of all American sports dynasties. Between 1915 and his death in January 1939, the Yankees won pennants in 1921 through 1923, 1926 through 1928, 1932, and 1936 through 1938 (and would win again in 1939 with what was essentially a team he’d helped put together). They picked up seven World Championships (1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, and 1938). He brought Babe Ruth and Red Ruffing to the Yanks and brought  Tony Lazzeri, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Bill Dickey, among others to the Major Leagues.  After his death, the team he put together maintained its winning ways into the mid-1960s (obviously with new players).

Next time I want to look at the nominated umpire, Hank O’Day and make some general observations about the Veteran’s Committee vote.