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Wednesday, August 13, 2014
 
Part 5: The 1970s.

The membership of our alternative history Hall of Fame now stands thus:

20th century players: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson; Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Pete Alexander; George Sisler and Eddie Collins; Rogers Hornsby and Rube Waddell, Lou Gehrig, Sam Crawford, Eddie Plank, Harry Heilmann, Three-Finger Brown, Frankie Frisch, Frank Baker, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Terry, Goose Goslin, Burleigh Grimes, Red Faber, Eppa Rixey, Edd Roush, Heinie Groh, Lefty Grove, Gabby Hartnett, Charlie Gehringer, Carl Hubbell, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx, Paul Waner, Joe Cronin, Ted Lyons, Mel Ott, Hank Greenberg, Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, Ducky Medwick, Arky Vaughan, Stan Hack, Luke Appling, Billy Herman, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Lou Boudreau, Dizzy Dean, Johnny Mize, Zack Wheat, Max Carey, Dazzy Vance, Jackie Robinson, Bob Feller, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Larry Doby, Ted Williams, Hal Newhouser, Richie Ashburn, Stan Musial, Early Wynn.

19th century players: Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, Willie Keeler, Cy Young; Ed Delahanty, Old Hoss Radbourn, Herman Long, and King Kelly; Jimmy Collins and Fred Clarke; Kid Nichols and Amos Rusie, John M. Ward, Roger Connor, Pud Galvin, Dan Brouthers, Tim Keefe, Billy Hamilton, John Clarkson, Jesse Burkett, Mickey Welch, George Davis, Bid McPhee, Bill Dahlen, Jake Beckley, Jim O'Rourke, Bobby Mathews, Harry Wright, Davy Force, Joe Start.

Non-players/pioneers: John McGraw, Connie Mack, George Wright, Morgan Bulkeley, Ban Johnson, Alexander Cartwright, Henry Chadwick, Al Spalding, Judge Landis, Bill Klem, Tommy Connolly, Ed Barrow, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel and Branch Rickey.

Our Hall is at 108 members, while the real-life HOF in Cooperstown 115. Cooperstown has passed our number sooner than I expected, and the gap will only grow. One of the problems of the frequent measures taken to tighten up the Hall is that they invariably backfire. Pressure builds up, and it must escape somewhere. Our Hall, with a more measured approach, is not prone to such problems. It also helps being imaginary.

The 1970s will bring the Negro Leagues Committee: our alternate choices will parallel those of real life. One pitfall of the 1970s, the profligacy of the Veterans' Committee, we will avoid. Our VC is mostly for non-players now, and we don't have a backlog of ignored past stars, nor a committee that can be affected by a single Hall of Famer with some sportswriter allies dominating the proceedings.

1970 brings eligibility for Duke Snider, who gains election, and Billy Pierce, who misses. He'll draw interest in subsequent ballots but it's a long shot for him. Our VC will ignore the real-life group's election of Ford Frick. Cooperstown has made a habit of electing each commissioner, but we will stick with Landis.

1971 brings the election of Yogi Berra and Warren Spahn, with Nellie Fox falling short. Like Pierce, he could get a second look. The Negro Leagues Committee made its first selection, choosing Satchel Paige, and we will make that same pick. The VC had an active year but we will pass.

1972 sees the election of two pitchers in Robin Roberts and Sandy Koufax. Koufax has only 165 wins but the precedent of Dizzy Dean and his short-term dominance make Koufax electable. Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson get the call from the Negro Leagues committee.

The 1973 vote elects Whitey Ford, and also picks up Nellie Fox this time. The Negro Leagues committee selects Monte Irvin. And, after his unexpected death, Roberto Clemente is singled out in a special election, similar to the honor bestowed on Lou Gehrig.

1974 sees the election of Mickey Mantle and Eddie Mathews. The Negro League choice is Cool Papa Bell. The 1975 vote chooses Ken Boyer and Don Drysdale, with Negro League pick Judy Johnson.

1976 sees no new outstanding candidates, so Billy Pierce makes it through for election. Oscar Charleston is the Negro Leagues choice. The real-life VC is being very prolific, with Frankie Frisch's playing cronies and also executives and umpires. We are ignoring these choices.

In 1977 Ernie Banks and Jim Bunning gain election through our BBWAA, and the Negro Leagues committee chooses Martin Dihigo and Pop Lloyd, then votes to disband. Would that all committees were so cooperative, and did their work so well. This committee is actually the inspiration, in many ways, of this exercise. Often there is a better way. Our VC will concur with the real-life one in one matter, electing manager Al Lopez to the Hall.

1978 sees the election of Hoyt Wilhelm; Clemente would have been eligible here save for his early recognition. We close out the decade in 1979 with the election of Willie Mays, a fitting end for any exercise.

To sum up, the decade sees the election of:

20th century players: Duke Snider, Yogi Berra, Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts and Sandy Koufax, Whitey Ford and Nellie Fox, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Ken Boyer, Don Drysdale, Billy Pierce, Ernie Banks, Jim Bunning, Hoyt Wilhelm, Willie Mays.

Negro Leagues: Satchel Paige, Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson, Monte Irvin, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, Oscar Charleston, Martin Dihigo, Pop Lloyd.


Non-players: Al Lopez.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014
 
Part 4: the 1960s.

We continue our look at what an ideal Hall of Fame selection process might have accomplished, with a better thought out election process, groups dedicated to selecting 20th century and 19th century players, and money committed to doing research years before the actual fact of the Baseball Encyclopedia and the Society for American Baseball Research happened in the real world. The result, we hope, is a better process leading to better results.

Our world of might-have-been has produced a Hall with these members through 1959:

20th century players: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson; Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Pete Alexander; George Sisler and Eddie Collins; Rogers Hornsby and Rube Waddell, Lou Gehrig, Sam Crawford, Eddie Plank, Harry Heilmann, Three-Finger Brown, Frankie Frisch, Frank Baker, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Terry, Goose Goslin, Burleigh Grimes, Red Faber, Eppa Rixey, Edd Roush, Heinie Groh, Lefty Grove, Gabby Hartnett, Charlie Gehringer, Carl Hubbell, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx, Paul Waner, Joe Cronin, Ted Lyons, Mel Ott, Hank Greenberg, Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, Ducky Medwick, Arky Vaughan, Stan Hack, Luke Appling, Billy Herman, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Lou Boudreau, Dizzy Dean, Johnny Mize, Zack Wheat.

19th century players: Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, Willie Keeler, Cy Young; Ed Delahanty, Old Hoss Radbourn, Herman Long, and King Kelly; Jimmy Collins and Fred Clarke; Kid Nichols and Amos Rusie, John M. Ward, Roger Connor, Pud Galvin, Dan Brouthers, Tim Keefe, Billy Hamilton, John Clarkson, Jesse Burkett, Mickey Welch, George Davis, Bid McPhee, Bill Dahlen, Jake Beckley, Jim O'Rourke, Bobby Mathews, Harry Wright, Davy Force, Joe Start.

Non-players/pioneers: John McGraw, Connie Mack, George Wright, Morgan Bulkeley, Ban Johnson, Alexander Cartwright, Henry Chadwick, Al Spalding, Judge Landis, Bill Klem, Tommy Connolly, Ed Barrow, Joe McCarthy.

We have 94 men in our Hall at this point; Cooperstown in 1959 had 84 members of the Hall. Our exercise is ahead of reality, but that will not last. The actual Hall would get quite enthusiastic in the 1960s, and downright prolific in the 1970s.

In both 1958 and 1960 the real-life BBWAA failed to elect anyone; rather than going to yearly elections, they decided to try runoffs. Yearly elections resumed with 1966, and continue to this day. The Veteran's Committee was electing some people at this point. Our 1960 BBWAA election, not finding any worthy new candidates (Johnny Pesky and Allie Reynolds are the top names), looks backward and researchers produce Max Carey as a worthy name, who gains election. 1961 has a similar problem (Ralph Kiner, Vern Stephens, and Hal Newhouser are considered), and similarly Dazzy Vance is chosen.

1962 has no such issues. Jackie Robinson and Bob Feller both join the ballot and are elected immediately. Phil Rizzuto draws some support. The 1963 ballot elects Roy Campanella, and now the color line of the HOF is fully broken. More to come. George Kell and Dizzy Trout were also-rans.

1964 elects Pee Wee Reese to the Hall with Bob Lemon in the mix. In 1965 we gain Larry Doby with Enos Slaughter following on the voting list. 1966 brings Ted Williams, and his famous induction speech calling for the addition of Negro League players to the Hall. Spurred into action, our researchers work on the problem. Our Veterans' Committee also mirrors the action of the real-life version, and votes in Casey Stengel and Branch Rickey as non-player HOFers.

1967 produces no outstanding new candidates, with Ted Kluszewski likely the best player. Hal Newhouser is elected. In 1968 Richie Ashburn gains election. Herb Score reminds of what might have been. In 1969, it's Stan Musial and Early Wynn. Gil Hodges and Red Schoendienst draw interest.

The 1960s has passed quietly for us in our exercise. The effects of the World War II era show in the absence of candidates in some years, but also enables some research to catch a few misses. Our new members for the decade:

20th century players: Max Carey, Dazzy Vance, Jackie Robinson, Bob Feller, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Larry Doby, Ted Williams, Hal Newhouser, Richie Ashburn, Stan Musial, Early Wynn.


Non-players: Casey Stengel and Branch Rickey.


Thursday, August 07, 2014
 
Part 3: the 1950s.

Our alternative history Hall so far:

20th century players: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson; Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Pete Alexander; George Sisler and Eddie Collins; Rogers Hornsby and Rube Waddell, Lou Gehrig, Sam Crawford, Eddie Plank, Harry Heilmann, Three-Finger Brown, Frankie Frisch, Frank Baker, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Terry, Goose Goslin, Burleigh Grimes, Red Faber, Eppa Rixey, Edd Roush, Heinie Groh, Lefty Grove, Gabby Hartnett, Charlie Gehringer, Carl Hubbell.

19th century players: Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, Willie Keeler, Cy Young; Ed Delahanty, Old Hoss Radbourn, Herman Long, and King Kelly; Jimmy Collins and Fred Clarke; Kid Nichols and Amos Rusie, John M. Ward, Roger Connor, Pud Galvin, Dan Brouthers, Tim Keefe, Billy Hamilton, John Clarkson, Jesse Burkett, Mickey Welch, George Davis, Bid McPhee, Bill Dahlen, Jake Beckley, Jim O'Rourke, Bobby Mathews.

Non-players/pioneers: John McGraw, Connie Mack, George Wright, Morgan Bulkeley, Ban Johnson, Alexander Cartwright, Henry Chadwick, Al Spalding, Judge Landis.

We'll pick up our imaginary exercise in 1950. The Veterans' Committee, tasked with electing 19th century players, has declared its mission complete and disbanded itself, pending more research that reveals other deserving players, such as those from the very early years before league play. In the meantime, our version of the BBWAA continues to vote with statistics provided by our researchers, but mainly just pass judgment on those newly eligible five years after their retirement. A steady stream of candidates has been picked, pleasing Coopertown by providing for sufficient inductions, but not so many nor so many at a time as to cheapen the Hall.

On the 1950 ballot Al Simmons is elected. Chuck Klein misses because our researchers see him as a product of his home parks. It is a good, positive reversal of the earlier quick election of George Sisler although Klein remains eligible.

1951 marks the eligibility of several players whose careers were somewhat artificially extended by World War II. As a result, there are more good players on the ballot than is typical. Jimmie Foxx and Paul Waner are elected, others who might be qualified are passed by...for now. Joe Cronin and Bob Johnson, Lon Warneke and Paul Derringer draw interest but miss election.

1952 comes and Joe Cronin, one of last year's eligibles, is elected along with Ted Lyons. Tommy Bridges tops the also-rans. In 1953 Mel Ott and Hank Greenberg get in, but there is some controversy among others who have not yet gained election. Billy Herman, Stan Hack, Ernie Lombardi, Red Ruffing, Mel Harder, and Dizzy Dean draw lots of interest, but fall short of election. Is the system broken? Perhaps there are just a lot of good candidates coming onto the ballot. The Hall's directors express satisfaction with the process.

In real 1953, the VC got active and elected several non-players: Bill Klem and Tommy Connolly, representing NL and AL umpires, respectively; Harry Wright, a name from the beginnings of baseball; and Ed Barrow, one of the the first to fit the role of "general manager," from the Yankees. Our VC will concur with these picks, and with their research will make two other picks from the game's beginnings; Davy Force and Joe Start, stars whose beginnings predate the league version of the game.

Perhaps hearing the criticism, our BBWAA accelerates their pace. No more than two players have been elected in any one year for some time, but 1954 brings three: Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, and Ducky Medwick. The grumbling slows but doesn't stop as some favorites still have not gained election. This time Arky Vaughan falls short among new eligibles.

The 1955 class of 1949 retirees is judged not to have any worthy candidates (Augie Galan and Dixie Walker are the best of the lot) and so some old choices are taken: Arky Vaughan and Stan Hack are elected. A controversy over Dizzy Dean's non-election ensues: are only 150 wins enough, with a high peak and emphasis on the "fame?"

1956 features the election of Luke Appling and Billy Herman. Dean is once again passed over, his short career the main issue. Joe Gordon and Bucky Walters also fall short in the voting.

The real-life BBWAA did not hold an election in 1957, having decided to vote only in even-numbered years; a Veteran's Committee would vote in odd-numbered years. We will pick up here with a VC that votes on non-players, whom we have been largely ignoring, and considers older players as well.

Our 1957 brings the election of Joe DiMaggio, along with longtime teammate Joe Gordon. The VC chooses their manager, Joe McCarthy. Bobby Doerr draws some votes.

1958 sees the election of Lou Boudreau, and the voters also buckle under popular pressure and elect Dizzy Dean. Dean is an anomaly in our Hall, but gains a place due mainly to the "Fame" part of the Hall.

Our BBWAA elects Johnny Mize in 1959, and the VC goes back over its research and chooses Zack Wheat from the past as a worthy candidate. Bob Elliott and Bobo Newsom draw interest but fall short.

So overall it is a quiet decade, with many worthy players recognized. We have come through something of a down period because of the effects of the war, which cut into the careers of many players. Several elected spent a few years in the military. Others likely did not make it because of their service. This effect will continue for a while into the 1960s.

So, with the 1950s concluded, elected this decade are:

20th century players: Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx, Paul Waner, Joe Cronin, Ted Lyons, Mel Ott, Hank Greenberg, Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, Ducky Medwick, Arky Vaughan, Stan Hack, Luke Appling, Billy Herman, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Lou Boudreau, Dizzy Dean, Johnny Mize, Zack Wheat.

19th century players: Harry Wright, Davy Force, Joe Start.


Non-players: Bill Klem, Tommy Connolly, Ed Barrow, Joe McCarthy.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014
 
Part 2: The 1940s.

In our alternative Hall, we have 33 members compared to the 26 in the actual HOF in Cooperstown at this point, the first induction ceremony in 1939. To recap, our members are:

20th century players: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson; Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Pete Alexander; George Sisler and Eddie Collins; Rogers Hornsby and Rube Waddell, Lou Gehrig.

19th century players: Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, Willie Keeler, Cy Young; Ed Delahanty, Old Hoss Radbourn, Herman Long, and King Kelly; Jimmy Collins and Fred Clarke; Kid Nichols and Amos Rusie.

Non-players/pioneers: John McGraw, Connie Mack, George Wright, Morgan Bulkeley, Ban Johnson, Alexander Cartwright, Henry Chadwick, Al Spalding.

In real life, there were no elections in 1940 or 1941. No veterans' committee met, and the BBWAA had decided to vote only every three years: they would vote in 1942, then in 1945. In our imaginary world, the BBWAA will continue to vote yearly on 20th century players, and a committee of experts will continue to vote on 19th century players. Also, the research commissioned will begin to produce a comprehensive record of the game's statistics. The effective jump-start of the Baseball Encyclopedia project and the Society for American Baseball Research about 35 years ahead of their actual existence will guide our voters as we get into the 1940s. Certainly the country was distracted with the war breaking out in Europe and soon to envelop the whole world, but we will suppose that does not affect our progress, though it might limit some Cooperstown induction ceremonies due to travel restrictions.

So, in our imaginary world, the Cooperstown people make it clear that a yearly induction is needed to keep visitors coming to the Hall and the game itself funds research to help the process. Old Reach Guides and the archives of The Sporting News, as well as city newspapers that covered the game, provide the materials and the relationship of baseball and the press helps makes these tools available.

We also get firmer rules. We will start enforcing the five-year rule in 1940, that players are not eligible to be elected until five years after they retire. We think of that now as always being the case but it was not in effect in the real world until the 1960s. Players including Lefty Grove, Joe DiMaggio, and Warren Spahn received votes while still active. Had this policy been in effect all the time Babe Ruth could not have been inducted until 1941. This will be another by-product of our research.

The effect of the research is that now, ballots are sent out with an information packet, presenting credentials of a number of candidates, and voters are allowed to select up to ten. With that here are our alternative votes.

1940: the BBWAA vote elects Sam Crawford and Eddie Plank, based on the information of the researchers. The 19th century voters, with more to rely on than faulty memories, select John Montgomery Ward, Roger Connor and Pud Galvin.

1941: The BBWAA picks Harry Heilmann and Three-Finger Brown. The Veterans choose Dan Brouthers and Tim Keefe.

In real life, the 1942 vote elected Rogers Hornsby. We've already elected him, so our 1942 ballot chooses recent retiree Frankie Frisch plus Frank (Home Run) Baker, while the VC selects Sliding Billy Hamilton and John Clarkson.

In 1943 again there was no actual vote; our voters are still at it, though. The BBWAA chooses Mickey Cochrane and Bill Terry. The VC picks Jesse Burkett and Mickey Welch, getting the last of the 19th century 300-game winners in addition to "The Crab". We won't quite follow the love for voting in all of the 1890s Baltimore Orioles, however.

In the real 1944 Judge Landis died, and a hastily-called meeting of the Veteran's Committee voted him, and only him, into the Hall he helped create. Landis was the first and to this point only Commissioner of Baseball. Our committee will likewise elect Landis with the Veterans also picking George Davis and Bid McPhee. The BBWAA, increasingly concentrating on recent retireees, chooses Goose Goslin and a somewhat controversial pick in Burleigh Grimes. Few pitchers without 300 wins have been selected so far, but Grimes with 270 victories tops the NL list for many years around. Only Grove wins more in this era. Rube Waddell and his 193 victories are controversially used as a case in point in this vote.

Now, the voters returned. The war was winding down in 1945, and the BBWAA voted but could not elect anyone with so many candidates to consider but no direction and no momentum from an annual election. Frank Chance came the closest, polling 72.5 percent with 75 percent needed. He was seven votes short of election. With that result, the Veterans' Committee went hog-wild, electing ten men. Some were qualified and some not.

On our own vote, only one truly qualified retiree from 1939 comes up, and that's Gehrig, already in. The BBWAA reaches back for two pitchers, Red Faber and Eppa Rixey, both with over 250 wins. This somewhat eases the controversy aroung the election of Grimes, but there is talk about diluting the Hall. Debate: is 250 wins to be the standard? The VC goes for Bill Dahlen and Jake Beckley.

Another real-time election in 1946, and again the BBWAA could not choose anyone. They even tried a runoff election, putting the top 20 on another ballot. It didn't work, as top vote-getter Frank Chance went from 71% on the first ballot to 57% on the runoff. The VC again decided to make up the difference and elected 11, including Tinker, Evers, and Chance as a group. Those who argue for a "small Hall" lost their argument right there. Our procedure and inclusiveness to this point will eventually have the effect of keeping our Hall smaller.

In our imaginary timeline the 1946 BBWAA selects Edd Roush and Heinie Groh, while the VC takes Orator Jim O'Rourke and Bobby Mathews, and declares its work to be done. More 19th century players, including those from pre-league days, will have to be chosen through more research that could take many years and the VC decides that it will not be a yearly voting committee though it will meet every year for discussion. This becomes established in a group much like the Society for American Baseball Research in our real history, but with a more official standing.

With the logjam broken the BBWAA in real time 1947 elected four and came near to electing a fifth. We will proceed apace, and our imaginary BBWAA elects Lefty Grove and Gabby Hartnett. Our BBWAA also elects Charlie Gehringer in 1948. In 1949 we get Carl Hubbell. It is also decided about this time that the burgeoning radio business and the announcers that work on air deserve the same priviliges as print journalists, so the broadcast guys are offered a chance to be BBWAA members.

The electees in our thought exercise from the 1940s:

20th century players: Sam Crawford, Eddie Plank, Harry Heilmann, Three-Finger Brown, Frankie Frisch, Frank Baker, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Terry, Goose Goslin, Burleigh Grimes, Red Faber, Eppa Rixey, Edd Roush, Heinie Groh, Lefty Grove, Gabby Hartnett, Charlie Gehringer, Carl Hubbell.

19th century players: John M. Ward, Roger Connor, Pud Galvin, Dan Brouthers, Tim Keefe, Billy Hamilton, John Clarkson, Jesse Burkett, Mickey Welch, George Davis, Bid McPhee, Bill Dahlen, Jake Beckley, Jim O'Rourke, Bobby Mathews.


Non-Players: Judge Landis.


Monday, August 04, 2014
 
Beginning a new series:
Baseball Hall of Fame Alternative History Part 1

Anyone who follows the game knows that a number of mistakes have been made in the history of Hall of Fame balloting, both by the BBWAA and the various incarnations of the Veterans' Committee. Let's imagine what might have happened if better choices had been made, right from the beginning.

First, let's imagine that the push to make a Hall of Fame for baseball was accompanied by a push to compile an accurate record. So, a committee was established to put together accurate statistics for the history of the game, nearly thirty years before the actual Baseball Encyclopedia project. Without computers this would proceed slower than it actually did, but some benefits could be realized right away, especially with the 19th century. And, since they were closer to the time, finding references and records could actually have been easier for them.

The first vote was taken in 1936 and we will continue that timeline. That vote was by two different groups; the general membership of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voting on the 20th century players, and another group (membership lost to history) to vote on the 19th century. Let's postulate that the 19th century group was better defined and chosen, composed of some historians and other experts in the period, and that we avoid confusion like both groups voting on some crossover players like Cy Young as actually happened at the time.

So we will say this first 20th century group turns out the same as it did: the election of that "first class," a classic of the genre, with Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson being selected. It really couldn't have gone much better than that. Never mind that Ruth had only been retired a year and would not have been eligible by today's rules, or that some active players got votes. We'll clean that sort of stuff up as we go and more quickly than the actual BBWAA did.

In real life the 19th century committee couldn't focus on any candidates and ended up electing no one: our imaginary group does better, and chooses the four who got the most votes from the committee: Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, Willie Keeler, and Cy Young. That's an equally fine group to be the first choices of the old-timers. Only Young out of that group was still alive by 1936 (or 1939, the first induction, for that matter) but it works.

So we are underway, with nine worthy representatives. A second ballot was taken in 1937; Young was elected by the BBWAA then, but he's already in by the Old-Timers in our alternate history, so we will suppose three players are elected but not quite the same three. In our alternative Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker make it, as they did, but also Pete Alexander, who finished 4th and came up a little short on the original ballot. Also, the various committees made the first non-player selections; managers John McGraw (who died in 1934) and Connie Mack (Mack was still active), early player and manager George Wright, and the first president of each league (National and American) Morgan Bulkeley and Ban Johnson. We will stand by the elections of these pioneers.

Apparently deterred by the failure of the actual 19th century committee, that group did not vote again. Its purpose was folded into the regular voting by the BBWAA. We will instead suppose that our more effective group continued for a second year and picked the next four on the original voting list: Ed Delahanty, Old Hoss Radbourn, Herman Long, and King Kelly. Long will be our first pick who is not in the actual Hall of Fame in Cooperstown; he was a longtime shortstop, mostly with Boston's NL club. This seems a reasonable expectation of what would have happened had this committee been continued in the real world.

Moving on to 1938, actual election winner Alexander is already in our Hall so we will look to the next in line. Assuming the research has not had time to catch up to our present levels, George Sisler (next in votes) will be elected, as well as Eddie Collins. Both got a lot of support in real life. Sisler is not as highly regarded today as he was then but a .340 career average and high peak got him recognized. Alexander Cartwright and Henry Chadwick, two sportswriters who did a lot to popularize the game and standardize rules, were also elected and we will concur. Reaching back to the 19th century, we will suppose our committee votes yet again, and picks Jimmy Collins and Fred Clarke (even though Clarke was just as much a 20th century player; he got votes from the committee initially). So far we are doing pretty well.

Then comes 1939. The guys actually elected by the BBWAA (Sisler, Collins, and Keeler) are already in for us, so we will look at the next guys who drew support; that would be Rogers Hornsby and Rube Waddell, so they get in for our election. Waddell won just 193 career games and will become a controversial selection in our imaginary exercise. Lou Gehrig was also elected in a special vote after his illness was announced early in the season, and we will do the same. Meantime the Old-Timers committee made six selections; three are already in for us (Anson, Ewing, and Radbourn) so we don't have to worry about them. We will ignore the dubious selections of Charles Comiskey and Candy Cummings, and go along with the pick of Al Spalding. He was the power behind the throne for a good bit of baseball history, but we will choose him as an early player rather than an executive. Our 19th century committee will also pick up Kid Nichols and Amos Rusie, giving us a nice roster for the first induction ceremony. To wit:

20th century players: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson; Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Pete Alexander; George Sisler and Eddie Collins; Rogers Hornsby and Rube Waddell, Lou Gehrig.

19th century players: Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, Willie Keeler, Cy Young; Ed Delahanty, Old Hoss Radbourn, Herman Long, and King Kelly; Jimmy Collins and Fred Clarke; Kid Nichols and Amos Rusie.

Non-players/pioneers: John McGraw, Connie Mack, George Wright, Morgan Bulkeley, Ban Johnson, Alexander Cartwright, Henry Chadwick, Al Spalding.


That's a pretty storied group, and a good representation of baseball history to 1939. In real life, even though they had only actually put 26 rather than 33 in the Hall, the BBWAA decided not to vote again until 1942. That's a mistake we will not repeat (partly because Cooperstown doesn't like it: no inductees means fewer visitors) and also suppose that research efforts are now bearing fruit.

To be continued!


Sunday, May 25, 2014
 
The 2/20 team shows some early promise:  a Hall of Famer, four guys who made five or more All-Star teams, 12 guys with ten major league seasons, a total of 21 with five.  We should at least have some material to work with this time.

Lineup:
1 Sam Rice, LF
2 Muddy Ruel, C
3 Tommy Henrich, RF
4 Brian McCann, 1B
5 Ryan Sweeney, CF
6 Frankie Gustine, 2B
7 Tom O'Brien, 3B
8 Charlie Babb, SS

Bench:  Shane Spencer, OF; Harry Raymond, 3B; Ryan Langerhans, OF; Julio Borbon, OF.

Rotation:
1 Justin Verlander
2 Livan Hernandez
3 Bill Gullickson
4 Clyde Wright

Bullpen:  Roy Face, Tom Buskey, Derek Lilliquist, Dave Davenport, Jim Wilson.

So, two good right fielders, two good catchers, a decent infielder, and not much else for positions.  Pretty good staff.  Had to mix and match at positions.  Very poor infield depth; only one infielder who played several seasons.  All in all, not terrible.


Saturday, May 24, 2014
 
The February 19 team isn't looking any better than the Feb. 17 squad.  Only three All-Star Game players, with one time each.  Only six guys got in ten major league seasons, and only 15 had at least five.  Tumbleweeds here.

Lineup:
1 Dick Siebert, LF
2 John Morrill, 2B
3 Gail Hopkins, 1B
4 Josh Reddick, RF
5 Alvaro Espinosa, SS
6 Russ Nixon, C
7 Chuck Aleno, 3B
8 Don Taussig, CF

Bench:  Chris Stewart, C; Larry Chappell, OF; Stan Sperry, IF.

Rotation:
1 Dave Stewart
2 Miguel Batista
3 Weldon Wyckoff
4 Bob Sadowski

Bullpen:  Tim Burke, Keith Atherton, Bill Kelso, Chris Zachary.

Wow, this may be the worst birthday team yet.  A couple of decent pitchers, but almost nothing in the lineup.  This team would have trouble competing in a triple-A league.  Dave Stewart was a fine pitcher for several years, but he's the best guy on this club.


 
The February 18 birthday team will be better than the previous day:  we've got one Hall of Famer and 20 guys with 10 years of big league experience.  It already shapes up as pretty good.

Lineup:
1 John Valentin, SS
2 Manny Mota, LF
3 Joe Gordon, 2B
4 John Mayberry, 1B
5 Alex Rios, CF
6 Jerry Morales, RF
7 Jamey Carroll, 3B
8 Frank House, C

Bench:  Rafael Ramirez, SS; Dal Maxvill, IF; Frank Fennelly, IF; Marc Hill, C; Chad Moeller, C; Brian Bogusevic, OF.

Rotation:
1 Kevin Tapani
2 George Mogridge
3 Sherry Smith
4 Bruce Kison

Bullpen:  Bob Miller, Luis Arroyo, Huck Betts, Herm Wehmeier, Shawn Estes.

Not much outfield depth, but pretty decent otherwise.  Lots of good on-base guys, and a power guy in Mayberry to drive them in.  I don't know that Valentin got much leadoff time, but he always had strong on-base numbers.  Pitching is a bit thin.


 
Time to get back to this long-neglected series.  We get back into it with the birthday boys of February 17, which may be the worst team we have yet compiled.  Only one All-Star appearance in the group, just one guy that reached 15 years, 9 with ten, 21 total with five years in the majors.  Not promising.

Lineup:
1 Alan Wiggins, 2B
2 Nemo Liebold, CF
3 Wally Pipp, 1B
4 Josh Willingham, LF
5 Willie Kirkland, RF
6 Dave Roberts, C
7 Cody Ransom, SS
8 Joe Miller, 3B

Bench:  Ike Boone, OF-1B; Steve Evans, OF-1B; Eddie Phillips, C;

Rotation:
1 Ed Brandt
2 Stump Weidman
3 Dick Bosman
4 Roger Craig

Bullpen:  Scott Williamson, Jaime Easterly, Danny Patterson, Brian Bruney, Jim Umbarger.

Definitely not impressive.  It's hard to tell where the strength of this team would be.  They'd be a decent AAA team.


Saturday, February 08, 2014
 
Resuming a dormant series:

1970s Hall of Fame voting was a mixed bag.  The BBWAA did a good job with their votes, and a Negro Leagues committee was formed to deal with those players and did a fantastic job.  The Veterans' Committee, however, opened a time of great shame for those people.

1971 was the first year for the Negro Leagues Committee and they took the very logical step of electing Satchel Paige to the Hall.  Paige was the most well-known of the Negro Leaguers and a well-qualified athlete, and was an excellent choice.  The BBWAA was not as successful, with no one reaching the 75% level.  Yogi Berra came fairly close in his first year on the ballot with 67%, but that wasn't a good showing for the greatest catcher to this time (some would still say the best ever).  Not a good showing for the writers that the three-time MVP could not garner enough votes for election.  300-game winner Early Wynn was also close but short in his third try at 66.7%.  Ralph Kiner, in his ninth try, came in at 59% as the other candidate to draw a majority of votes.

It was the VC that coughed up a hairball this time.  They elected SIX men to the Hall.  Executive George Weiss along with players Jake Beckley, Chick Hafey, Harry Hooper, Joe Kelley, Rube Marquard, and Dave Bancroft got the vote.  Weiss was reasonable as execs go, and Beckley and Kelley were fine players from the turn of the century.  Bancroft, a fine shortstop, was a decent selection.  Hooper and Marquard were "Glory of Their Times" selections, as interviewees in that classic book who got a boost from the fame of the publication.  As HOFers, they are not the best choices.  Hafey is one of the worst choices ever, a short-career slugger with era-inflated stats.  He is one of the "Frisch selections," as Frankie Frisch began to be the most influential voice on the committee and started lobbying for the election of the guys with whom he played.

The Hall acted to place limits on the number of guys the VC could elect, and that put the brakes on somewhat.  Frisch would still run amok for some time.  Things went better in 1972.  The Negro Leagues Committee picked Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard, two more excellent selections, and Sandy Koufax joining the BBWAA ballot swelled the voting as Koufax, Berra, and Wynn all gained election.  Koufax remains the youngest man ever elected, because he retired at such a young age.  The VC made fewer selections but just as poor, picking exec Will Harridge, and two poorly-qualified players in Lefty Gomez and Ross Youngs.  Youngs was another short-career slugger from an offensive ear, and Gomez failed to win 200 games lifetime in spite of pitching for the dynastic Yankees.  At least Gomez and Koufax made an interesting pair for induction.

1973 saw the election of Monte Irvin from the Negro Leagues, and Roberto Clemente in a special election after his sudden and untimely death.  A trio of aces in Warren Spahn, Whitey Ford, and Robin Roberts all hit the ballot in the same year, and only Spahn gained election.  Ford, Kiner, Gil Hodges, and Roberts all drew at least 50% of the vote, so several were close.  The VC picked umpire Billy Evans, 19th century pitcher Mickey Welch, and another Frisch special in George "High Pockets" Kelly.

The sting of having to wait a year was eased for Whitey Ford when he was elected along with teammate and buddy Mickey Mantle.  Roberts, Kiner, Hodges, and Bob Lemon in his 10th outing got over 50%.  Cool Papa Bell got the Negro Leagues vote, and the VC gave us umpire Jocko Conlan, 19th century guy Sam Thompson, and Frisch special Jim Bottomley even though Frisch had died by this time.  His legacy was still alive.  Ford and Mantle sharing the podium was fun.

Ralph Kiner finally edged over the 75% mark in 1975, with Robin Roberts just short and Lemon and Hodges over 50%.  Judy Johnson got the Negro Leagues vote while the VC elected Bucky Harris as a manager, plus Earl Averill and Billy Herman, two pretty good choices.

Roberts and Lemon got the votes in 1976, Oscar Charleston finally got his due, and Roger Connor got an overdue nod from the VC.  The VC gave us two more odd selections, offering up another umpire in Cal Hubbard plus another Frisch special, Freddie Lindstrom.  Lindstrom?  Really?  Complaints about the VC were getting very loud by now.

Ernie Banks was elected in his first try, and a group was pushing for the top that included Eddie Mathews, Gil Hodges, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider, and Don Drysdale all above 50%.  Pop Lloyd and Martin Dihigo were elected by the Negro Leagues Committee, which then declared its work done and voted to disband.  If only all committees were so effective.  The VC picked manager Al Lopez, 19th century pitcher Amos Rusie, and a big question mark in Joe Sewell.

The worst for the VC was in 1978.  The BBWAA gave up a solid pick in Eddie Mathews, the Vets went with exec Larry MacPhail, and with pitcher Addie Joss.  Joss does not qualify as a Hall of Famer, because one of the qualifications is to have played in ten seasons.  Joss played in nine.  The VC voted to suspend the rules for him.  It was a big and ridiculous overstep.  The move hurt the Hall and further damaged the reputation of the Veteran's Committee.  It was a group proudly waving the proverbial finger at the Hall of Fame.

In 1979 the BBWAA had a can't-go-wrong pick with Willie Mays, and the VC again dithered with exec Warren Giles, a decent pick, and a short-career slugger in Hack Wilson, a mediocre pick.  They had done much worse.  The 1980 vote got first-timer Al Kaline and finally picked Duke Snider on his 11th try.  The VC made two more mistakes by picking Tom Yawkey and Chuck Klein.

So, it was a good decade overall for the BBWAA and an excellent decade for the Negro Leagues Committee.  The Veterans' Committee almost undid all that good work, all by themselves.  A decade like the VC had is why people often want to redesign the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.


Sunday, August 11, 2013
 
Our look at voting for the Hall of Fame moves into the 1960s.  The early to mid 1950s had been an era of clearing up a backlog and electing some deserving candidates, moving the Hall in a good direction.  But as the end of the 1950s approached, most of the top candidates had been inducted, the lull caused by the Second World War had set in, and the baseball writers (BBWAA) was having trouble electing anyone.  Due to an apparent dearth of candidates, voting had been switched to the BBWAA voting every other year, alternating with the Veteran's Committee (VC) voting on older players and executives.  That was going pretty well, with Hall historian Lee Allen helping the VC to round up some worthy candidates for consideration and filling in some missing history.

1961 was a VC year, and the group elected 19th century player Sliding Billy Hamilton and another leadoff hitter, Max Carey.  Carey was a bit marginal, but not a terrible pick.  In 1962 Bob Feller and Jackie Robinson both got their first consideration on a HOF ballot, and both gained election.  Oddly, Robinson received only 78% of the vote.  Lingering racism?  Perhaps.  In a switch-up, the VC also voted this year, rather than alternating, and picked manager Bill McKechnie and player Edd Roush.  The VC voted again in 1963 and elected 19th century pitcher John Clarkson, 20th century pitcher Eppa Rixey, and outfielders Elmer Flick and Sam Rice.  Rice had been running about 50% in the BBWAA ballots, and his VC election would, hopefully, help clear the decks.

In 1964, the BBWAA decided to give the runoff a try again after the initial vote failed to have anyone reach 75%.  Luke Appling came in at 71%, Red Ruffing 70%.  The top 30 were listed on the ballot, with the top poller to get into the Hall.  Appling got 94%, Ruffing 91%, but only Appling got in.  Meanwhile, the VC elected six:  manager Miller Huggins, 19th century guys John M. Ward and Tim Keefe, plus Red Faber, Burleigh Grimes, and Heinie Manush.  The 1965 version of the VC added just one, 19th century pitcher Pud Galvin.

With 1966 the BBWAA decided to return to an annual vote.  They also got a prod.  The VC elected Casey Stengel, who had finally retired, and the BBWAA elected Ted Williams, who surprised everyone by using his induction speech to lobby for election to the Hall of Negro League stars such as Satchel Paige.  That project would get underway shortly.  The 1967 vote had Red Ruffing and Joe Medwick tied at the top, with Ruffing winning the runoff for election.  The VC picked Branch Rickey and, in a big hiccup, Lloyd Waner.

On the 1968 ballot Joe Medwick was elected without a runoff, and the VC picked Kiki Cuyler and Goose Goslin.  They were starting to let in way too many 1920s OF, and it would get worse quickly.  The 1969 BBWAA vote elected Stan Musial and Roy Campanella, with the VC going for a couple of marginal pitchers in Stan Coveleski and Waite Hoyt.  VC picks were going downhill.  In 1970 the BBWAA elected Lou Boudreau, and the VC hit a new low by putting in Ford Frick as an executive, plus Earle Combs and Jesse Haines.  None of those three has a strong case.

As we move into the 1970s, the BBWAA will do well and the Negro League Committee will form and do a fine job, while Frankie Frisch gains leadership on the VC and takes it further and further down.  It's a sad era.


Saturday, August 10, 2013
 
In our fourth installment we will be looking at the voting in the 1950s.  After some lurching back and forth about defining the Hall, it was during this era that the Hall really came into its own, and became a respected institution.  We have some very smart votes during this time period, with just a few  hiccups.

In the 1951 BBWAA vote, Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx were elected as a very strong class.  In 1952 Harry Heilmann and Paul Waner got the call.  In 1953 the BBWAA selected Dizzy Dean and Al Simmons.  You could argue with Dean's election due to his short career, but he excelled at the "fame" part.  Here we see the BBWAA doing a solid job of moving people through the ballot and generally selecting deserving candidates.

In 1953 we also have the first voting by the new Veterans Committee.  As usual with a new electorate, there is a desire to stake out their own territory.  The VC selected the first umpires for Cooperstown, choosing NL veteran Bill Klem and AL arbiter Tommy Connolly.  They also chose as "executives" Harry Wright, from the very beginnings of baseball, and Ed Barrow, arguably the first "general manager" as we understand the term today.  They also picked old-time players Chief Bender and Bobby Wallace, both marginal selections, but they were trying.

In 1954 the BBWAA selected Rabbit Maranville, Bill Terry, and Bill Dickey.  In the weird logic of the voters, they bypassed Joe DiMaggio and Hank Greenberg in doing so.  1955 brought a bonanza of four choices:  DiMaggio, Ted Lyons, Dazzy Vance, and Gabby Hartnett.  The VC selected the deserving Home Run Baker and the questionable Ray Schalk.  In 1956, Hank Greenberg and Joe Cronin were elected by the BBWAA.  The BBWAA, having done such good work, promptly decided to go to every-other-year voting.

On one level, it was reasonable to do this.  The voters had done a great job of working through the backlog of good candidates, and the war had thinned out the candidate list through that era, an effect felt in the results.  However, that war effect was washing out, an outcome the BBWAA did not foresee.  They probably should have, with the Jackie Robinson/Willie Mays era underway, and other big stars like Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks were emerging.  Those guys would change the shape of things in the very short run.

What was decided was that the VC would fill in the BBWAA off-years.  In 1957 the VC selected player Sam Crawford and manager Joe McCarthy.  With the 1958 BBWAA ballot, no one was elected.  154 men received votes, including the still-active Warren Spahn.  Only Max Carey reached 50%, and he was at 51%.  So, it was over the the VC for 1959.  They chose Zack Wheat.  Back to the BBWAA for 1960 for...nobody.  Edd Roush topped the list at 54%.  In fairness, they were not looking at many spectacular candidates.  In a less complimentary analysis, the voting was a mess.  In 1960, Lefty Grove got six votes.  Grove had been elected in 1947.  Possibly those six voters had intended to vote for Lefty Gomez and either spelled it wrong, or illegibly, or made a typo.  Still, six votes for a guy already elected.  The best guys actually awaiting election were likely shortstops Arky Vaughan and Luke Appling.  They should have been obvious, perhaps, but the best of the rest were arguable candidates like Johnny Mize, Goose Goslin, and Red Faber.  No one was blowing the doors off the place.  That would change.


 
When last we left the Hall voting, the baseball writers (BBWAA) charged with doing the voting had elected 12 players to Cooperstown's museum, while various committees of voters had elected seven early executives (including the first president of the NL and AL, respectively), two managers (the redoubtable John McGraw and Connie Mack, even though Mack was still active), and three 19th century players, all in time for the Hall's opening in 1939.  Following the special election in 1939 of Lou Gehrig, after he was diagnosed with the fatal disease that still bears his name, they declared it a job well done and did not vote again until 1942, a three-year gap.  It is there we pick up our story in this third essay.

The 1942 vote saw Rogers Hornsby elected with 78% of the vote.  Since Hornsby's last big league play had been in 1937, five years before, some would think it was his first time on the ballot, but this is not the case.  This was the fifth time Hornsby had been named, on each ballot taken so far.  In these early days, there was not always a hard-and-fast rule about not voting for active players, though that was now widely observed, and no five-year waiting period.  At any rate, Hornsby was an obvious selection and still got just 78%.

The only other players above 50% in voting were Frank Chance and Rube Waddell, both at 58%.  72 players drew votes, and while Hornsby was most qualified guys like Frankie Frisch and Mickey Cochrane did not draw enough votes to be elected, and several 19th century players drew votes but not enough for enshrinement.  By this time, most of the voters had not seen these old-timers, and the memory of guys like Ed Delahanty and Kid Nichols had faded.

And again, the next vote was scheduled for three years down the road, in 1945.  This was THE moment for the "small Hall" argument.  Cooperstown was never more exclusive than it was at this point.  If you believe in a Hall only for the greatest of the great, this was that moment in history.  All was about to change.

Commissioner Landis died in 1944, and they quickly arranged a committee meeting to elect him to the Hall.  It followed precedent, with both first league presidents already with plaques.  And a crossroads had been reached.

Without realizing it, the Hall had reached a tipping point.  For only the very best, or a wider membership?  With World War II drawing to a close, the museum officials were realizing more visitors would come if players were inducted.  A broader Hall made better business sense.  But, with every-third-year voting and a backlog of candidates, the BBWAA was having a hard time electing anyone.  The 1945 vote came and...no one reached 75%.  Frank Chance was closest at 73%, coming seven votes short of election.  Rube Waddell, Ed Walsh, Johnny Evers, Roger Bresnahan, Miller Huggins, and Mickey Cochrane, in order, got at least 50%.  95 players, including the still-active (but off at war) Joe DiMaggio received at least one vote.  Voting was a mess.

So, an "old-timers committee" was formed to vote on 19th century players, and they voted in a cartload, ten names in all:  Wilbert Robinson, a 19th century player but elected mostly for his managing, and nine players:  Roger Bresnahan, Dan Brouthers, Fred Clarke, Jimmy Collins, Ed Delahanty, Hugh Duffy, Hughie Jennings, King Kelly, and "Orator" Jim O'Rourke.  They ranged from the great to the very good, but none of these guys was a BAD choice.  However, not all of them were up to the established standard.  And electing Bresnahan as a 19th century guy was stretching the definition of the term a bit, though he did start his career in 1897.

That eased the backlog a bit.  Bresnahan had been fifth in the BBWAA voting, Collins 8th, Delahanty 9th, and the others had also received some votes.  Also, the BBWAA decided to go back to yearly ballots.  So they took a vote again in 1947, and promptly elected nobody.  Frank Chance was again tops, this time with 71%.  A total of 76 guys received votes.  So they decided to have a runoff vote, and vote again on the top 20 guys...only it was 21 because of a tie for 20th.  This time, Chance got only 57% of the vote, so no one was elected again.

The situation was becoming untenable, with gridlock settling in for the ballot.  Even Lefty Grove and Charlie Gehringer couldn't break through to get elected.  There was an impasse between the "wait your turn" school, which wanted to see the guys getting the most votes already get elected first, versus those (a minority at this time) who wanted to elect the newer, more qualified guys.  As a result, no one was getting elected.

What happened now was what has historically happened:  a committee was selected to break the backlog of no one getting elected, and they elected to many, changing the standards of the Hall.  Eleven more were added to the Hall.  Chance and poem-mates Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers, who had collected at the top of the voting lists, were all elected, as were pitcher/executive Clark Griffith, plus Jesse Burkett, Jack Chesbro, Tommy McCarthy, Joe McGinnity, Eddie Plank, Rube Waddell, and Ed Walsh.  This group included some of the weakest inductees of all time, particulary McCarthy and Chesbro.  The "small Hall" argument was effectively rendered moot forever in one fell swoop.  However, it did clear the decks for the ballot.

The decks were cleared so effectively that four players were elected by the BBWAA in 1947.  Carl Hubbell, Frankie Frisch, Mickey Cochrane, and Lefty Grove all got the required 75%, and Pie Traynor fell just short.  Charlie Gehringer, Rabbit Maranville, Dizzy Dean, and Herb Pennock also got at least 50%.  Only 39 players received votes, so the casting of ballots was much tighter.  That's how people get elected.

The number of voters was also down.  In 1947 only 161 cast ballots, down from a high of 274 in 1939.  For the 1948 vote that number went down to a new low, 121.  That remains the fewest number of ballots ever cast by the BBWAA in a Hall election.  They also elected a weak class, Herb Pennock and Pie Traynor.  No one else reached 50%, even though there were many better-qualified candidates.  Pennock posted a career 106 ERA+. Traynor a 107 OPS+.  In the meantime, the ballot included Al Simmons, Charlie Gehringer, Paul Waner, Jimmie Foxx, and others.

In 1949, the second-smallest BBWAA electorate ever (153) elected no one.  Charlie Gehringer led the voting at 67%.  They tried the top 20 runoff again, and this time Gehringer got in with 85% of the 187 ballots.  Not sure why more voted in the runoff, or how that worked, but someone did get elected even if it took them two tries.  The old-timers committee met again and elected Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown and Kid Nichols.  Brown had just died in 1948, though Nichols was still alive.  This continued the Hall's fascination with death that remains to this day.

In 1950 the BBWAA elected no one.  This time they did not have a runoff.  Mel Ott got the most votes with 69%, and also over 50% were Bill Terry, Jimmie Foxx, Paul Waner, Al Simmons, Harry Heilmann, and Dizzy Dean.  What to do?  We'll see what happens in our next installment.


Wednesday, August 07, 2013
 
Part 2:  The Voting Begins.

Bill James calls the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum "a self-defining institution that has failed to define itself."  This is true, although the Hall has tried, and tried, and tried.  The first vote was scheduled for 1936, with the rule that 75% of voters must choose a great for him to gain election, They also added rules limiting voters to listing no more than ten names, and split the ballot into two parts, for 20th century players and for 19th century players.  A smaller group was commissioned to be this "Veterans' Committee."  There was no listing of who was eligible, just these divisions and the instructions to send in those ballots.

And they voted.  Boy, did they vote.  They voted for guys who had just retired, guys who were already dead, and guys who were still active.  Lou Gehrig, still playing first base every day for the Yankees, the 1936 AL leader in home runs, and the 1934 Triple Crown winner, got 51 votes.  He would win the 1936 AL MVP award.  Babe Ruth, who had retired midseason 1935, got enough votes to be elected.  Mickey Cochrane, also still active, got even more votes than Gehrig.  Jimmie Foxx, Pie Traynor, Frankie Frisch, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, all still active, all got votes.  Hal Chase, thrown out of baseball for gambling, got votes.  Shoeless Joe Jackson, banned from baseball in the Black Sox scandal, got votes.  A total of 47 players got at least one vote in the regular balloting.

With all that, it may be a bit of a surprise they actually agreed on anyone.  They did, and quite well, with five players passing the 75% milestone to become the famous first class: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson.  Cobb was on the ballot of 222 of the 226 who cast their votes.  Ruth and Wagner each got 215 mentions, Mathewson 205, Johnson 189.  Nap Lajoie got 65% support, Tris Speaker 59%.  Cy Young got 49%, his support divided between the 20th century and 19th century ballots.

Young was fourth on the Veteran ballot, where no one polled at 75% on the 78 ballots cast.  57 different players drew votes here, spreading out the support too thin to settle on one, with Cap Anson and Buck Ewing drawing the most support at 50%.  That group would have to wait for things to sort themselves out.  Still, even with a messy process the BBWAA did manage to get five very highly qualified members into the Hall their first time out.  It was as good an outcome as they could have dreamed.  Success!

So, the next year, they went at it again.  This time, they agreed not to vote for players still active.  With the five most obvious choices off the board, the votes became even more spread.  The number of ballots declined to 201, but the number of players receiving votes went up to 113, including such luminaries as Red Dooin, Bugs Raymond, Shano Collins, and Marty Bergen.  But again, the results were good, as three men received the requisite 75%; Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, and Cy Young.  In addition, Pete Alexander, Eddie Collins, Willie Keeler, and George Sisler all drew more than 50% support, giving the voting for the next session a focus: that has always been a point for the Hall voting.

The Veterans' vote changed focus from 19th century players to pioneers of the game.  One committee selected John McGraw as a manager, the first field general to be selected, and the "Centennial Commission" chose Morgan Bulkeley, the first National League president; Ban Johnson, the first American League president; Connie Mack, still active as a manager but a manager since the beginning of the AL; and George Wright, the top player on the original acknowledged professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, as well as a manager and player in the early days of the National League.

In 1938 262 BBWAA members cast their ballots, with voting up again.  The larger poll numbers diluted votes, and only one player reached 75%, Pete Alexander at 81%.  George Sisler, Willie Keeler, Eddie Collins, Rube Waddell, Frank Chance, and Ed Delahanty all reached the 50% plateau.  120 players drew at least one vote.  The Centennial Commission selected two "pioneers," Alexander Cartwright, one of the early players and rule-setters of the game; and Henry Chadwick, a newspaperman who did much to popularize the game and set up consistent rules.

One more vote remained before the opening of the Hall, and 274 members of the BBWAA participated, electing George Sisler, Eddie Collins, and Willie Keeler.  108 players received votes.  The Old Timers Committee returned to work, selecting 19th century players Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, and Old Hoss Radbourn, plus player/executives Al Spalding and Charles Comiskey.  Candy Cummings was also selected, presumably because he is sometimes (falsely) credited as inventor of the curveball.

So, Cooperstown had its first induction class, a solid cross-section of the greats and developers of the game.  There were plaques to show, there was memorabilia to peruse, there were greats to spice up the proceedings.  All was good.  Also in 1939 came word that Lou Gehrig had contracted a disease which would not only end his career, but would soon end his life.  The BBWAA gathered to hold a special vote, and elected Gehrig to the Hall in a special ballot.

With the new museum open, the BBWAA considered its business at a close.  They agreed to vote again, but three years hence.  The next vote would wait until 1942.


 
Part 1:  Introduction

The mistake that most people make when thinking about the past is that the way things are now is the way things have always been.  They ignore technology changes, attitude changes, all kinds of differences.  For this reason, history remains a mystery to many people; therefore, they are doomed to repeat it.

Biblical example:  there is a verse that is often translated to the effect of "through a mirror darkly."  It is from one of Paul's letters (epistles) in the New Testament.  "Now, we see through a glass, darkly; then, we shall see face to face." is how some translations read.  It refers to the difference between how we see God now, and how we will view Him in the afterlife.  But it makes little sense to us today, who are used to looking in our modern mirrors, which transmit images so well.  In the time Paul was writing, there was no such technology; the best mirrors were reflections off of water or the like.  Glass for windows and mirrors, like we have today, came about nearly 1000 years later.  Paul was making a comparison between seeing a reflection in a pool of water versus seeing something face to face.  Big difference.

Well, it's a jump from that to something as relatively unimportant as the Hall of Fame voting, but the comparison is there.  We think the rules of the voting, five years after players retire, various committee setups, have always been the same.  This is not the case.  The only consistent rule for the Hall has been the 75% supermajority needed for election.  Everything else, literally everything, has changed in over 75 years of voting.  Including having a vote every year.

To give credit where credit is due, there are two major sources for this research.  The first is the model for all of us who would do baseball research, Bill James, and his book on the Hall of Fame, alternatively titled "The Politics of Glory," or "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame," depending on which edition you pick up.  It is an invaluable volume for understanding Cooperstown and how it came to be what it is.  The second is the invaluable on-line resource www.baseball-reference.com and its complete list of Hall of Fame voting results.

Through a variety of circumstances, baseball officially adopted Cooperstown as the birthplace of the game in spite of the provably false nature of the story.  It was expedient to accept it, and so it became the official story.  Then, the city fathers of Cooperstown got the idea to created a museum dedicated to baseball, including a "Hall of Fame" to honor the greatest players.  As it developed, the voting for the Hall would provide annual publicity for the museum, and annual induction ceremonies would provide a reason for people to visit the sleepy hamlet in central New York.  It was a perfect arrangement for what James has referred to as, "a museum conceived by an accountant."

To select the players for this Hall of Fame, the directors of the museum decided to poll those who had day-to-day contact with the game and the people who played it; the media.  Since there was no such thing as television, and radio was in its infancy and not regularly covering baseball games yet, that meant the most vibrant media of the time, the newspapers.  As it happened, those who covered the game had already gathered into a sort of trade guild, the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA).  This group had been deeply involved in the sport, and had been for many years, so they were as good a panel of experts as could be found.  The museum directors agreed with the BBWAA that the writers would conduct the vote, insisting only that to induct a player there must be a 75% agreement.  All other arrangements were left up to the writers themselves.

The opening of the museum was set for 1939, the supposed "centennial" of the Doubleday game in Cooperstown in 1839, when the young army officer was actually on duty rather than inventing baseball.  The voting began in 1936, so there would actually be members of it and plaques to view when the doors would open.  And so, in 1936, we truly begin our story, which will continue in the next installment.


Saturday, August 03, 2013
 
The February 16 birthday team is not in a promising position.  No Hall of Famers, seven guys with ten years, 16 more with five years.  Looks like depth but no great height to the talent.

Lineup:
1Jerry Hairston Sr. 3B
2 Herbie Moran, CF
3 Eric Byrnes, LF
4 Bobby Darwin, RF
5 Terry Crowley, 1B
6 Bill Pecota, SS
7 Barry Foote, C
8 Tim Cullen, 2B

Bench:  Don Landrum, OF; Ben Sanders, OF; Creepy Crespi, IF; Bob Didier, C.

Rotation:
1 Carl Lundgren
2 Bill Sanders
3 Glenn Abbott
4 Tommy Milone

Bullpen:  Dwayne Henry, Howie Judson, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Troncoso, Sergio Mitre, Alex Ferguson.

Actually not too bad, at least not as bad as some birtdhay teams we've seen.  It's a respectable lineup and decent rotation.


Sunday, July 28, 2013
 
Baseball fans know that the Hall of Fame inductions this weekend were rather an anticlimax.  Three new members were inducted this afternoon, but all three have been dead since before World War II.  All were selections of the various "Veterans' Committee"s that used to be one entity, but now have become several committees looking at several different groups of people.  Certainly 19th century star Deacon White is a fine addition, umpire Hank O'Day was well-known in his time, and so was longtime Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert, who was a chief architect of the dynasty.

With no living inductees, however, comes limited interest.  Fewer people come; the attendance of the Hall of Famers themselves was also down.  Crowds were smaller.  It's not particularly good for the Hall, a museum which depends on visitors, or the community, which largely does the same.  So, eyes fall on the people who do the voting for the largest block of players, those likely to still be alive, the Baseball Writers Association of America.  That group, the BBWAA, did not manage to elect anyone in their ballot, the biggest reason for the lack of a living inductee for the ceremony.

Now, I have seen BBWAA members trying to throw this on the players, for steroid use, as the stars of the Steroid Era hit the ballot.  "Oh, those evil men, using those nasty drugs, we can't vote for them, that's why no one was elected!  It's their fault!"

Well, yeah.  Steroids are certainly the reason why Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who otherwise would have been first-ballot selections, were not elected.  Neither reached 40%, with 75% the voting percentage needed for election.  It has also kept many people from voting for other viable, yet imperfect candidates such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro.  I understand why those guys have not been elected.  Certainly, in the absence of a steroid taint, Bonds and Clemens would have been at the podium this summer.

But what of Craig Biggio?  He collected 3000 hits, played key up-the-middle defensive positions (catcher, second base, center field) and played for many successful teams, as well as playing his whole career with the same franchise.  No mercenary is he.  Is he suspected of steroid use?  Hardly seems the type.  Yet he fell short, polling 68%.  The only reason I can fathom is that ":first-ballot" nonsense.  Did some voters identify Biggio as not good enough for first-ballot selection?

No Jack Morris?  He has been slowly climbing up the vote totals for several years, and had reached 67% last year, a level which nearly always heralds election the next year.  Yet he managed only the slightest of increases, to 68%.  Did the sabermetric backlash against his election keep him out?

What of Jeff Bagwell?  Did steroid whispers keep him on the outside, at 60%?  The same for Mike Piazza, at 58%?  Neither of those guys has ever been credibly mentioned as drug users, yet there are enough whispers about muscular builds that it seems neither of these qualified gentlemen could must sufficient support.

What of Tim Raines, at 52%?  Is the second-greatest leadoff hitter of all time not good enough for Cooperstown?  Or, perhaps, did his own illegal drug use keep him off some ballots?  Or Curt Schilling, with 216 wins and post-season heroics, but 39% of the vote?  Or reliever Lee Smith, stalled out with 48%, actually lower than the previous year's 51%.

No, I don't think the BBWAA's failure to elect anyone has to do with the stench of drugs, and a lack of candidates who don't reek of it.  Oh, that's part of it, but it is part of a bigger problem of the paralysis of the voting.  And it's a problem the BBWAA has faced before, a problem of its own making.  The group is hoist by its own petard, again.

No, the BBWAA has become unable to elect anyone because of an oversupply of good candidates, not a lack of them.  There are many reasons for this.  The faction of the voters that refuse to vote for anyone below the level of, say, Mickey Mantle has a lot to do with it.  Those are the voters that wish to establish a very high standard for the Hall that has little to do with the Hall's history.  Then there are those voters who wish to keep the Hall "clean," and refuse to vote for anyone who has even a hint of a steroid allegation against them.  They want to make sure no steroid user even enters the Hall, ignoring the almost certainty that a steroid user is already enshrined, and even if it means keeping out those indicted merely by whisper and innuendo.

And then there is the collective inertia of such a large voting body.  Perhaps you didn't know that over time, the BBWAA has voted for fewer and fewer candidates on its ballots.  It's almost a straight-line graph, with some blips in it, that shows how many candidates have been listed per ballot over time.  At the very beginning of the voting process, the normal was nearly ten per ballot.  Some years, it was more than ten, which is probably due to some election anomalies.  In time, the average has slipped, from 9 in the 1950s to 8 in the 1960s, dropping to 7 in the 1980s, to a low of 5.1 on the 2012 ballot.  Some of the voters, bucked this trend, as the 2013 average bumped up to 6.6 names per ballot, actually the highest total since 2003, and the last time it had been higher was 1999.  Someone was trying.  It wasn't enough.

The biggest reason is that the BBWAA has tied themselves in knots by overflowing their own ballot with qualified choices.  There are SO MANY good candidates on the ballot, it is difficult for even the voters who are trying hard to sift through their choices to pick out the good ones.  The membership has tried to raise the bar for election, but at the same time many of those elected recently are marginally qualified:  Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson.  If those guys, why not Lee Smith?  Why not Fred McGriff?

At the same time, fully qualified candidates like Tim Raines are turned away, and a guy like Kenny Lofton can't even get enough votes to stay on the ballot when he's better than several players already in the Hall.  The BBWAA has successfully tied itself and its ballot up in knots.  On next year's ballot, there will be 14 candidates who are Hall of Fame worthy by any definition, and a total of 24 who could be added to the Hall with no drop in quality of the enshrined.  That doesn't include the four guys who dropped off of last year's ballot who fit one or both definitions.  Even if you exclude some of them for steroid concerns, there are more than enough worthy candidates to fill any ballot.

Fortunately, next year's ballot includes at least one guy who should be a foolproof choice, Greg Maddux.  Biggio, back for his second try, should get in.  Yet, I am not confident the BBWAA can climb out of the hole it has dug for itself.  The power-that-be at the Hall have made adjustments before when this happened, usually by making changes at the Veteran's Committee level.  This year, all that got them was three long-dead inductees.  Maybe next year we can get a couple of guys who have been dead for a little less than 70 years.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013
 
The February 15 team has one Hall of Famer, eight guys with ten major league seasons, and 17 more with five years.  We have a chance here for our best team in awhile.

Lineup:
1 Sliding Billy Hamilton, CF
2 Russell Martin, C
3 Ron Cey, 3B
4 Nate Schierholtz, RF
5 Hal Lee, 1B
6 Dee Miles, LF
7 Charlie Irwin, 2B
8 Alex Gonzalez, SS

Bench:  Charlie Reilly, IF; Rick Auerbach, IF; Don Kelly, OF-3B; Bobby LaMotte, IF; Mark Davidson, OF.

Rotation:
1 George Earnshaw
2 Jimmy Ring
3 Johnny Cueto
4 Melido Perez

Bullpen:  Ugueth Urbina, Barry Jones, Joe Hesketh, Mitchell Boggs, Joe Moeller, Chuck Estrada.

Decent pitching, and a few good guys in the lineup though we ran out of depth after a few positions.  This group would make a decent showing.


Monday, July 15, 2013
 
The Valentine's Day edition of our series has ten players with ten years in the majors and eleven more with five years.  We'll see what that gets them.

Lineup:
1 Candy LaChance, SS
2 Earl Smith, C
3 Tim Jordan, 1B
4 Len Gabrielson, LF
5 Joe Gerhardt, 2B
6 Arthur Irwin, 3B
7 Larry Milbourne, CF
8 Lou Sylvester, RF

Bench:  Kelly Stinnett, C; Morgan Murphy, C; Benny Zientara, IF; John Marzano, C; Claude Berry, C; Jack Lewis, IF.

Rotation:
1 Pretzels Getzein
2 Red Barrett
3 Dave Dravecky
4 Oscar Judd

Bullpen:  Takashi Saito, Damaso Marte, Will McEnaney, Tyler Clippard.

One thing this team has is backup catchers; lots and lots of backup catchers.  Not much else, though.


 
No Hall of Famers for the February 13 team, six guys with ten major league years, 14 more with five years.  Looks a little thin on talent.  We'll see.

Lineup:
1 Eddie Foster, 2B
2 Sal Bando, 3B
3 Bill Bradley, 1B
4 Matt Mieske, RF
5 Emmitt Seery, LF
6 Jerry Browne, CF
7 Kevin Stocker, SS
8 Fritz Buelow, C

Bench:  Pete Castiglione, IF; Tuck Turner, OF; Guy Zinn, OF.

Rotation:
1 Harry Kelley
2 George Gill
3 Dick Hughes
4 George Gill

Bullpen:  Donnie Moore, Frank Williams, Logan Ondrusek, Wayne Lemaster.

Suspended:  Hal Chase.

This team already sucks, but I won't let Chase and his gambler friends anywhere near it.  Got to have some standards.  Feel sorry for Bando and Bradley, two good players, to get thrown in with this sorry bunch.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013
 
Well, we have a number of players born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln.  Nine players with ten major league years, then 16 more with at least five years, so we have some depth, as well as one Hall of Famer, even though it is a weak one.

Lineup:
1 Dom DiMaggio, CF
2 Chet Lemon, RF
3 Chick Hafey, LF
4 Earl Sheely, 1B
5 Lenny Randle, 2B
6 Jim Fogarty, 3B
7 Joe Garagiola, C
8 Mike McGeary, SS

Bench:  Chick Fulmer, IF; Enzo Hernandez, IF; Chris Snyder, C; Dave Revering, 1B; Kiddo Davis, OF.

Rotation:
1 Pat Dobson
2 Don Wilson
3 Monk Dubiel
4 Tim Redding

Bullpen:  Don Stanhouse; Ray Corbin; Jerry Walker; Steve Mura, Dennis Springer.

Not a bad team at all:  pretty good lineup, decent pitching.  Not a great team but a contender in their good years.


 
Not optimistic about the February 11 team.  We have only four players with 10 major league seasons, then 13 more with at least five years in the majors.  Looks like we might be a little thin on talent.

Lineup:
1 George Hausmann, 2B
2 Jimmy Ryan, CF
3 Ben Oglivie, LF
4 Ollie Brown, RF
5 Brian Daubach, 1B
6 Hal Rice, C
7 Tom Veryzer, SS
8 Red Shannon, 3B

Bench:  Todd Benzinger, OF-1B, Leech Maskrey, OF, George Alusik, OF-1B, John Patterson, IF, Brent Butler, IF; J.R. Towles, C.

Rotation:
1 Ray Collins
2 Sammy Ellis
3 Brian Matusz
4 Yank Terry

Bullpen:  Matt Lindstrom, Ed Walsh (the second one),  Brian Eversgerd, Kevin King, Willie Smith.

Yep, not much here.  Ryan was a fine 19th century player, but there is just very little of quality in this team.


Monday, June 24, 2013
 
The birthday team for February 10 boasts a Hall of Famer, though in my opinion the weakest HOFer ever voted in by the BBWAA.  14 guys with 10 years in the majors, and 10 more with five, so this club should have some depth.  Let's take a look:

Lineup:
1 Lenny Dykstra, CF
2 Curt Welch, RF
3 Lance Berkman, 1B
4 Alex Gordon, LF
5 Randy Jackson, 3B
6 Cotton Tierney, 2B
7 Jim Keenan, C
8 Cesar Izturis, SS

Bench:  Ralph Hodgin, OF; Lenny Webster, OF; Alberto Castillo, C; Ruben Mateo, OF; Kevin Sefcik, IF.

Rotation:
1 Herb Pennock
2 Allie Reynolds
3 Billy O'Dell
4 Jim Barr

Bullpen:  Larry McWilliams, Bobby Jones, Hiroki Kuroda, Jeanmar Gomez, Bob Logan.

Pretty good staff, led by some old Yankees and Giants, and a decent lineup.  This team would do pretty well, and is one of our better units so far.  Not a great team, but a solid contender.


Saturday, June 15, 2013
 
Hi there!  Miss me?  Got a little busy there for a while, but now seems like a good time to pick up with the birthday boys, and we are at February 9.  A look at the list shows 11 guys with 10 or more years of major league experience, and ten more with at least five years.  Let's see if the quantity translates into quality.

Lineup:
1 Charley Bassett, 2B
2 John Kruk, LF
3 Vlad Guerrero, CF
4 Vic Wertz, RF
5 Heinie Zimmerman, 3B
6 Pete O'Brien, 1B
7 Specs Topcorer, SS
8 Dioner Navarro, C

Bench:  Todd Pratt, C; Clete Boyer, IF; Mookie Wilson, OF; Aki Iwamura, IF; Buzz Boyle, OF.

Rotation:
1 Tex Hughson
2 Jim Nash
3 Roy Mahaffey
4 Eddie Solomon

Bullpen: Erv Palica, John Urrea, Pat Underwood, Doug Linton.

Pitching is a little thin, but the lineup is pretty good.  Being able to go Kruk-Guerrero-Wertz there is pretty solid.  Outfield is shaky defensively.  Infield defense should be solid.


Sunday, April 21, 2013
 
The February 8 birthday team doesn't look too promising:  no Hall of Famers, guy with most experience has 12 major league years, six guys have ten years, ten more have five.  Not a lot here.

Lineup:
1 Hoot Evers, LF
2 Bert Haas, 3B
3 Bug Holliday, CF
4 Willard Marshall, RF
5 Bob Oliver, 1B
6 Don Haffner, 2B
7 Steve Dillard, SS
8 Charlie Householder, C

Bench:  Butch Niemann, OF; Joe Cassidy, IF; Felix Pie, OF; Buddy Blattner, IF; Adam Piatt, OF.

Rotation:
1 Fritz Peterson
2 Aaron Cook
3 Fred Blanding
4 Jim Parque

Bullpen:  Joe Black, Burke Badenhop, Cookie Cuccurullo.

Not much catching, thin on the lineup and the pitching staff.  Decent outfield, though.


Thursday, April 18, 2013
 
The February 7 birthday team doesn't have any Hall of Famers but it does have depth:  12 players with ten years of major league service and 13 more with five years.

Lineup:
1 Charlie Jamieson, LF
2 Tom Daly, 2B
3 Al Smith, RF
4 Carney Lansford, 3B
5 Mel Almada, CF
6 Spike Shannon, 1B
7 Damaso Garcia, SS
8 Pat Moran, C

Bench:  Endy Chavez, OF; Andy Reese, OF-IF; Adrian Brown, OF; Charlie Reipschlager, C-OF; Benny Ayala, OF; Eliezer Alfonso, C; Humberto Cota, C;

Rotation:
1 Earl Whitehill
2 Burt Hooton
3 Juan Pizarro
4 Scott Feldman

Bullpen:  Dan Quisenberry, Brad Hennessey, Dave Borkowski, Charlie Puleo, Seth McClung.

Playing Garcia out of position at SS, and Shannon out of position (he's an OF) at first.  So, a lot of players/depth, but not always at the positions you need.  Decent lineup, very good rotation, this team would be a contender, especially with a near-Hall of Fame ace reliever.


 
The February 6 birthday team will not be very deep, with just 11 players holding five years in the majors, but it does feature the best player in baseball history.

Lineup:
1 Frank LaPorte, 2B
2 Smoky Burgess, C
3 Babe Ruth, RF
4 Richie Zisk, LF
5 Dale Long, 1B
6 Glenn Wright, SS
7 Pedro Alvarez, 3B
8 Chad Allen, CF

Bench:  Goldie Rapp, IF.

Rotation:
1 Babe Ruth
2 Bobby Mitchell
3 Mike Morrison
4 Travis Wood

Bullpen:  Bob Wickman, Bill Dawley, Mark Hutton, Walt Hutzinger, Kanekoa Texeira.

Not sure what to do on those days when Ruth has to switch over to be the ace of the staff as well as RF; maybe one of the pitchers can play the outfield.  Pretty good lineup, though.


Saturday, April 13, 2013
 
The February 5 birthday team should be one of our best, if a bit short on depth.  Two Hall of Famers, nine guy with ten years of major league experience, but only eight more with five years.  It should work out.

Lineup:
1 Roberto Alomar, 2B
2 Roger Peckinpaugh, SS
3 Hank Aaron, RF
4 Don Hoak, 3B
5 Lee Thomas, 1B
6 Max Flack, LF
7 Chuck Diering, CF
8 Mike Heath, C

Bench:  Bill Rariden, C; Norm Miller, OF; Jack O'Brien, OF-3B; Vic Correll, C.

Rotation:
1 Jack Lynch
2 Al Worthington
3 Chris Brock
4 Roberto Rodriguez

Bullpen:  Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Webb, Cy Buker, Javier Martinez.

Excellent lineup, though not much pitching at all.  With offense from Aaron, Alomar, and friends, I think they would have success anyway.


 
The February 4 birthday team has no Hall of Famers, just four guys with ten years in the big leagues, and 15 more with five years.  Not expecting much here.

Lineup:
1 Doc Miller, RF
2 Lefty Davis, CF
3 Possum Whited, 1B
4 Germany Shaffer, 2B
5 Steve Brye, LF
6 Eddie Ainsmith, C
7 Lou Say, 3B
8 Rob Picciolo, SS

Bench:  Chris Bando, C; Chris Coste, C-1B; Gary Allenson, C; Stan Papi, IF; Jeff Gardner, IF.

Rotation:
1 Joe Sparma
2 Rollie Naylor
3 Doug Fister
4 Rankin Johnson

Bullpen:  Dan Plesac, Max Leon, Pat Perry, John Frascatore.

A good reliever in Plesac, but he's about the only quality pitcher.  Not much of a lineup, either.  This team would have trouble in a decent minor league.


Sunday, March 24, 2013
 
The February 3rd birthday team has no Hall of Famers, but seven guys with ten years in the majors and nine more with five years.  That's kind of in-between:  let's see what we've got.

Lineup:
1 Skip Schumacher, LF
2 Bake McBride, RF
3 Fred Lynn, CF
4 Lucas Duda, 1B
5 Joe Stripp, 3B
6 Eric Owens, 2B
7 Dick Tracewski, SS
8 Lou Criger, C

Bench:  Jim Dyck, LF-3B; Wayne Comer, OF; Chicken Hawks, 1B-OF; Newt Randall, OF; Celerino Sanchez, 3B.

Rotation:
1 Slim Sallee
2 Joe Coleman
3 Harry Byrd
4 Buck Ross

Bullpen:  Mike Wallace, Joe Klink, Freddie Tolliver, Don Kaiser.

Well, a decent team, but not much depth.  Very thin bench, not much of a bullpen.  Lineup and rotation aren't bad, though.


Saturday, March 23, 2013
 
The Groundhog Day birthday team has ten guys with ten years, sixteen more with five years, and a Hall of Famer.  We've got us some depth here, friends.

Lineup:
1 Don Buford, LF
2 Willie Kamm, 3B
3 Red Schoendienst, 2B
4 Melvin Mora, CF
5 Max Alvis, 1B
6 Ray Demmitt, RF
7 Mike Garbark, C
8 Adam Everett, SS

Bench:  Travis Snider, OF; Otis Miller, IF; Bill Abstein, 1B; Buddy Biancalana, IF; Walt Kuhn, C.

Rotation:
1 Wes Ferrell
2 John Tudor
3 Scott Erickson
4 Orval Overall

Bullpen:  Dale Murray, Warren Brusstar, Pat Clements, Sheldon Jones, Manny Sarmiento.

Lots of third basemen, but not lots of power.  Had to switch several guys to positions that were not their main spots, tried to be logical about it.  Could have gotten Snider's bat in the lineup by putting Kamm at short and moving Mora back to the infield, but this seemed to make more sense.  Might do it differently on a different day.


 
A new month:  the February 1 birthday team.  Five guys with ten years and nine more with five years, no Hall of Famers.  Does not look like a deep or terribly talented team.

Lineup:
1 Rich Becker, LF
2 Austin Jackson, RF
3 Carl Reynolds, 1B
4 Tim Naehring, 3B
5 Paul Blair, CF
6 Hector Luna, 2B
7 Danny Thompson, SS
8 Billy Sullivan, C

Bench:  Harry Bemis, C-1B; Lew Brown, C-OF; Ron Woods, OF; Joe Connolly, LF; Jim Kelly, RF; Hal King, C-PH.

Rotation:
1 Kent Mercker
2 Brett Anderson
3 Joe Harris
4 Pete Wood

Bullpen: Ernie Camacho, Cecilio Guante, Phil Norton, Bob Smith.

Hmm.  The ace starter spent most of his career as a reliever, and the #3 starter was 3-30 lifetime.  That's not a good rotation.  The pitchers will probably benefit from that strong defensive outfield, but not much hitting.


Thursday, March 21, 2013
 
The January 31 birthday team is packed:  three Hall of Famers, nine guys with ten years, 14 more with five years.  No shortage of talent here.

Lineup:
1 George Burns, 1B
2 Tim Hendryx, LF
3 Jackie Robinson, 2B
4 Ernie Banks, SS
5 Tex McDonald, RF
6 Jim Manning, CF
7 Bob Ferguson, 3B
8 Fred Kendall, C

Bench:  Yuniesky Betancourt, IF; Rafael Santana, IF; Pinky Hargrave, C; Dave Cochrane, OF-IF.

Rotation:
1 Nolan Ryan
2 Hank Aguirre
3 Josh Johnson
4 Charlie Robertson

Bullpen:  Ted Power, Jim Willoughby, Duke Maas, Bob Apodaca, Brad Thompson.

Thin in the outfield, but with Burns at the top of the lineup and Robinson and Banks to center around, this is a solid team.  Ryan heads a good staff.


 
The January 30 birthday team has a lack of depth.  only three guys have at least ten years of major league service, eleven more have five years.  This won't be one of our best teams.

Lineup:
1 Sandy Amoros, LF
2 Davey Johnson, 2B
3 Walt Dropo, 1B
4 Jorge Cantu, 3B
5 Charlie Neal, SS
6 Vin Campbell, CF
7 Jeremy Hermida, RF
8 Jordan Pacheco, C

Bench:  General Stafford, OF-IF; Nick Evans, OF-1B; Dave Stegman, 1B; Dave Moates, OF.

Rotation:
1 Tony Mullane
2 Brooks Lawrence
3 Mickey Harris
4 John Patterson

Bullpen:  Joe Kerrigan, Doc Watson, Joel Davis, Hipolito Pena

A halfway decent lineup, though Pacheco is a bit of a stretch at catcher.


Monday, March 18, 2013
 
The January 29 birthday team shapes up as one of our worst.  Only seven players have ten or more years in the major, and just five more have five years.  No Hall of Famers either, so few stars and no depth.

Lineup:
1 Steve Sax, 2B
2 Mike Aldrete, LF
3 Hank Edwards, RF
4 Alex Avila, C
5 Dick Burrus, 1B
6 Bill Rigney, SS
7 Hack Simmons, 3B
8 Art Allison, CF

Bench: Ray Hayworth, C; Bill Kreig, C-OF; Lance Niekro, OF-1B; Miguel Ojeda, C; Jim Tyrone, OF.

Rotation:
1 Jason Schmidt
2 Bobby Bolin
3 Bill Voiselle
4 Jair Jurrjens

Bullpen:  John Habyan, Brian Edmondson, Tony Pierce.

Some talent here, but very, very thin.  At least we had a catcher.  Several, in fact.