March 4, 1984
The Veteran’s Committee added two new members to baseball’s Hall of Fame when they elected Pee Wee Reese and Rick Ferrell in 1984.
Reese was a fixture at short stop in Brooklyn for 15 seasons (his 16th and final season was the first in Los Angeles). He was a 10-time All Star Game selection and one of the most popular Dodgers during their glory years in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.
Ferrell was a catcher who played 18 major league seasons. Known for solid defense behind the plate and an uncanny patience at the plate, Ferrell had two separate stints with Washington. The first came when he was traded from Boston in the middle of the 1937 season. Ferrell was 31 years old at the time and already considered one of the best catchers in the league. He remained with Washington until he was traded away in early 1941.
Ferrell returned to the nation’s capital in 1944. Though it is likely his career was prolonged by the player shortage created by World War II, Ferrell proved that he still belonged by finishing his career with three strong seasons in a Washington uniform. Ferrell’s second stint with Washington was a catcher’s nightmare. He was the primary catcher for two full seasons in which the Nats had no fewer than four knuckle ball pitchers on staff.
Ferrell never received much support for the Hall of Fame from the baseball writers (he got nine votes in his best showing in 1958), and his selection by the veterans came as a surprise to many. At the time, Ernie Lombardi still had not entered the Hall, and many made the argument (rightly so) that Lombardi had better credentials than Ferrell. Lombardi was elected two years later.
When Ferrell was inducted that summer, he was a member of the same class as Harmon Killebrew, who amazingly wasn’t elected until his fourth year of eligibility.
Also this week: