Half-Baked Hall Profile: Willie Keeler

January 5, 2015

William Henry Keeler (1872-1923)

Keeler

Outfield
New York Giants 1892-1893; 1910
Brooklyn Grooms/Superbas 1893; 1899-1902
Baltimore Orioles 1894-1898
New York Highlanders 1903-1909

Career WAR: 54.0

Best Season: 1897 .424/.464/.539/1.003 164 OPS+ 27 2B 19 3B 5 K 7.1 WAR

Quote: “Keep your eye clear and hit ‘em where they ain’t; that’s all.”

Nickname: Wee Willie due to his 5’4″ height

Known For: Aside from his height, Keeler was known for “hitting ’em where they ain’t” – he was a prolific singles hitter, bunter, and speedster in the 1890’s and the first decade of the deadball era.

The Bad: Started his career at third base and was awful. In 1893 he made 10 errors in 12 games at the hot corner.

Wee Bat: Keeler used a 30-inch bat during his early years, considered the shortest bat in major league history.

Naked Brawl: So rough were Keeler’s defensive lapses, that they drew significant needling from teammates, including John McGraw who played with Keeler during his Baltimore years. It came to blows one day in 1897 while the two were showering after a game. It was reported that Keeler made McGraw “squeal” first.

$10,000 Man: Keeler became the first ballplayer to make more than $10,000 in a year when he signed with the New York Highlanders for the 1903 season. He may also have the distinction of being the first big money free agent signed by the team that would later be known as the Yankees. When Keeler retired he was known as the “Brooklyn Millionaire” – an exaggeration given that he was worth about $200,000 at the time.

WGOM Voter Comments:

C’mon, people. get John McGraw and Wee Willie Keeler in there. What more did you want them to do? – The Dread Pirate

Willie Keeler: Struck out only TWO times in 1899 with 633 plate appearances. I’d like to see him face Phil Hughes. – Beau

SABR Bio

Actual HOF Page

Election Results Page

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Three Finger Brown

January 2, 2015

Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown (1876-1948)

Brown1

Pitcher
St. Louis Cardinals 1903
Chicago Cubs 1904-1912; 1916
Cincinnati Reds 1913
St. Louis Terriers 1914
Brooklyn Tip-Tops 1915
Chicago Whales 1915

Career WAR: 55.1

Best Season: 1906 26-6 1.04 ERA (253 ERA+) 2.08 FIP 0.934 WHIP 9 ShO 144 K

Known For: The staff ace of an exceptional Chicago pitching staff during the first decade of the 20th century, Brown led the very talented Cubs to World Series wins in 1907 and 1908. His deformed hand allowed him to throw a “bewildering” curveball.

Quote: Brown’s sign off in his instructional manual How to Pitch Curves:

“I would like to meet every one of you personally if such a thing were possible. But as it isn’t possible, I want you to believe right now that Mordecai Brown’s hand is reaching out to you in the distance and he is wishing you–good luck.”

Nickname: Though he was (and is) commonly referred to as “Three Finger”, Brown technically had four and a half fingers on his right hand. From his SABR Bio:

Mordecai’s most familiar nickname was Three Finger, although he actually had four and a half fingers on his pitching hand. Because of childhood curiosity, Mordecai lost most of his right index finger in a piece of farming equipment. Not long after, he fell while chasing a rabbit and broke his other fingers. The result was a bent middle finger, a paralyzed little finger, and a stump where the index finger used to be.

Brown

Rival: Brown had a career-long rivalry with contemporary (and fellow Half-Baked HOF’er) Christy Mathewson. After Mathewson beat Brown and the Cubs with a no-hitter in June of 1905, Brown won the next nine duels between the two, including the playoff replay of the “Merkle Boner” game in 1909; a game in which Brown entered as a relief pitcher in the first inning and later said he was as good as he had ever been.

The More Talented Brother: According to Brown family lore, Mordecai’s brother John may have been better at baseball than his famous sibling, but did not apply himself to the sport.

Actual HOF Page

Election Results Page


Half-Baked Hall Profile: John McGraw

November 22, 2014

John McGraw (1873-1934)

john-mcgraw-1

3B, SS, OF
Baltimore Orioles (NL) 1891-1899
St. Louis Cardinals 1900
Baltimore Orioles (AL) 1901-1902
New York Giants 1902-1906

Manager
Baltimore Orioles (NL) 1899
Baltimore Orioles (AL) 1901-1902
New York Giants 1902-1932

Career WAR: 45.6

Best Season: 1899 .391/.447/.546/.994 168 OPS+ 124 BB 24 K 8.0 WAR

Quote: “McGraw eats gunpowder every morning for breakfast and washes it down with warm blood” – Artie Latham

Known For: Mostly for managing. Was the Giants’ skipper for 30 years. In that time his teams won 10 pennants and 3 World Series. From his SABR Bio:

The pugnacious McGraw’s impact on the game, moreover, was even greater than his record suggests. As a player he helped develop “inside baseball,” which put a premium on strategy and guile, and later managed like he’d played, seeking out every advantage for his Giants.

Nicknames: Mugsy, Little Napoleon

HOF Facial Hair?: Facial Hair? No need. And shave those sideburns or you’re off the team!

Is this professional wrestling or baseball?: It is entirely possible that John McGraw’s tactics as a player, such as tripping or blocking players while the umpire wasn’t looking, is the reason that baseball added multiple umpires to each game. There is no evidence that McGraw hit any opponents with folding chairs.

Batting Stance: McGraw choked up on the bat. While that eliminated most of his power potential, it was said that he could place the ball wherever he wanted.

The first canceled World Series: In 1904 McGraw refused to let his Giants play against Boston in what would have been the second World Series. McGraw didn’t get along with Ban Johnson during the manager’s brief time in the American League, and decided to keep his team out of the series to spite the AL President.

Last appearance: At the age of 60, McGraw managed his last game: opposite Connie Mack in the first ever All Star Game. He died less than a year later.

Voter Comments:

“With 76% of the vote, John McGraw makes into the Half-Baked Hall on his fourth try. As a player? As a manager? As a player-manager? The world will never know.” – Beau

WGOM Election Results Page

Actual HOF Page


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Cy Young

October 26, 2014

Cy_Young_by_Conlon,_1911-crop

Denton True “Cy” Young 1867-1955

Pitcher
Cleveland Spiders 1890-1898
St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals 1899-1900
Boston Americans/Red Sox 1901-1908
Cleveland Naps 1909-1911
Boston Rustlers 1911

Career WAR: 170.3

Best Season: 1901 33-10 1.62 ERA (219 ERA+) 2.64 FIP 0.972 WHIP 158 K 12.6 WAR

Known For: All he did was win. Credited with 511 wins, 94 ahead of the second winningest pitcher in baseball history (Walter Johnson). The annual award for the best pitcher in each league bears his name.

Quotes:

“He’s (Cy Young) too green to do your club much good, but I believe if I taught him what I know, I might make a pitcher out of him in a couple of years. He’s not worth it now, but I’m willing to give you a $1,000 for him.” – Cap Anson

“Cap, you can keep your thousand and we’ll keep the rube.” – Gus Schmelz

Source

The Nickname: Short for “Cyclone,” it was given to him during early in his career and referred to the way the fences would look after Young threw his practice pitches against them – they looked like a cyclone had hit them.

How Fast?: Chief Zimmer, Young’s catcher during his years with the Cleveland Spiders, used to put a beefsteak inside of his glove to protect his hand from the pain of Cy’s fastball. It is estimated that Young to Zimmer as a battery has played in more games than any other battery.

Adjustment: Young was able to stick in baseball for so long because he adapted as he lost velocity on his fastball. He focused on control and became one of the game’s best at control pitching.

Fitting, Perhaps: The Cy Young Award has been criticized (ahem) for being awarded too often to the top winner in the league rather than the best pitcher. Young was, of course, both the top winner and the best pitcher in his league many times during his long career.

Actual HOF Page

WGOM Election Results Page


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Rube Waddell

October 16, 2014

Rube Waddell 1876-1914

Pitcher
Louisville Colonels 1897, 1899Pittsburgh Pirates 1900-1901
Chicago Orphans 1901
Philadelphia Athletics 1902-1907
St. Louis Browns 1908-1910

Real Name: George Edward Waddell

HOF Facial Hair?: Didn’t need it

Career WAR: 61.0

Best Season: 1905 27-10 1.48 ERA (179 ERA+) 1.89 FIP 0.977 WHIP 287 K 9.2 WAR

Quote: Waddell had the “best combination of speed and curves” of any pitcher who played the game according to Connie Mack.

Known For: A larger-than-life figure who reportedly had the emotional and intellectual maturity of a small child. The top strikeout pitcher in an era when strikeouts were relatively rare. Many of his off-field exploits are legendary, even if some are slightly exaggerated.

The Bad: Was once suspended for a week for climbing in the stands to beat up a spectator.

Bad Impression: He was originally part of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1897, but was dismissed prior to making an appearance for the team after he sat by manager Patsy Donovan at a team meal. Apparently, Donovan was unimpressed with Waddell’s dinner conversation.

Unreliable: When Connie Mack signed Waddell with the A’s for the 1902 season, he sent two escorts to make ensure that Rube, whom Mack had managed in a semi-pro league a few years prior, made it successfully to Philadelphia.

Another Side: From his SABR Bio

The Rube also demonstrated his more compassionate side when Athletics’ centerfielder Danny Hoffman was knocked unconscious by a fastball to the temple. “Someone went for an ambulance, and the players crowded around in aimless bewilderment,” wrote Connie Mack. “Somebody said that Danny might not live until the doctor got there. Then the man they had called the playboy and clown went into action. Pushing everybody to one side, he gently placed Danny over his shoulder and actually ran across the field.” Rube flagged down a carriage, which carted the pair to the nearest hospital. Rube, still in uniform, sat at Hoffman’s bedside for most of the night, and held ice to Hoffman’s head.

Not a Bad Racket: Would often barter the ball he used in a famous duel with Cy Young for free drinks. Before long their were dozens of bartenders claiming to have the famous souvenir.

Did Not Happen: Rumors still persist that Wadell would frequently wander off the mound mid-game to chase fire trucks due to a fascination with fires. While he was a member of a volunteer fire brigade, there are no documented cases of him leaving a game to do so.

Probably Did Happen:

-In exhibition games Wadell was known to demand his fielders retire to the dugout for the final inning so he could strikeout the side.

-Married a woman after knowing her for three days. Over the course of the couple’s seven-year marriage, she often had him thrown in jail for “non-support”

-Played himself in a traveling theater company until he was he was let go due to a dispute over pay. The firing included the company dumping Waddell’s bags in an alley.

-The shoulder injury that caused his career to start downhill occurred in a fight with a teammate over a straw hat.

-Would, without notice, miss scheduled starts for reasons such as fishing or playing marbles with street urchins.

-Opponents would reportedly attempt to distract Waddell by holding up puppies or shiny objects.

Comments from voters:

“Rube Waddell is also goofier than a pet coon, if I’m thinking of the right guy.” – Spookymilk

“Spooky was right, Rube was goofier than a pet coon, and was possibly the most famous baseball player to non-baseball fans before Babe Ruth. Clinically, it looks like he may have had a developmental disorder. When he was 21 years-old, he had the intellectual maturity of a 7 year old. He was in and out of baseball a few times, was suspended multiple times for unruly behavior, including openly mocking his opponents. He was drunk a lot and had very public marriages and divorces…” – Beau

Election Results Page

Actual HOF Page

 

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: George Davis

September 14, 2014

George-Davis

George Davis 1870-1940

SS, 3B, CF

Cleveland Spiders 1890-1892
New York Giants 1893-1901; 1903
Chicago White Sox 1902; 1904-1909

Nickname: Gorgeous George

HOF Facial Hair: He grew his handlebars so he could look like his mentor, John Montgomery Ward.

Career WAR: 84.7

Best Season: 1897 .353/.410/.509/.918 144 OPS+ 31 2B 10 3B 10 HR 135 RBI 23 K

Known For: A well rounded player. He batted .300 or better in every season from 1893-1901. He was also very steady in the field.

The Bad: Was the subject of a lengthy and somewhat ugly court battle between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants. After both Davis and Giants management ignored the reserve clause so Davis could sign with Chicago in 1902, John McGraw took over for the decided he wanted the star player back. From Davis’ SABR Bio:

The move threatened to destroy the new peace treaty which had been forged between the two leagues that winter. White Sox owner Charles Comiskey threatened legal action. Davis went to Ward who argued, rather disingenuously, considering that he had helped Davis jump his New York contract the previous year, that the reserve clause in Davis’s 1901 Giants contract constituted a legal hold on the ballplayer’s services for the 1902 season, thus overruling any claim the White Sox had on his services. Ward declared Davis was entitled to rejoin the Giants per the new contract. Comiskey counter-attacked by first securing an injunction from an Illinois court, which prevented Davis from playing baseball for any team other than the White Sox in that state. In July, Comiskey obtained another injunction, this one from the U.S. Court of Appeals, which prohibited Davis from playing for any team anywhere other than the White Sox. The National League owners, weary of the dispute, instructed Giants owner John Brush to give up his rights to Davis. In all, the shortstop played only four games for New York that year, and none for Chicago.

Disappearing Act: George Davis was not inducted into the other Hall of Fame until 1998, almost a century after he played. Part of the reason it took so long is that Davis disappeared, not only from the minds of baseball fans, but almost from the face of the earth. Between 1918, when his name was used in a car ad, and 1968 there was no sign of George. It wasn’t until 28 years after Davis’ death that the circumstances of his death were discovered by a historian from the baseball Hall of Fame. It turns out he died in a mental hospital at the age of 70, and his wife had him buried 24 hours later in an unmarked grave.

Enigmatic Relationship: His relationship with his wife and the mysterious circumstances surrounding their marriage/living arrangements was enough to merit its own SABR bio.

WGOM Voter Comments:

“George Davis one day, on his way to the ballpark, saved some kids who were trapped in a burning building, then went on to play in that day’s game afterwards.” – Beau

 

HatB_-_Jose_Canseco's_misfortune

-hungry joe

WGOM Results Page

Actual HOF Page

 

 

 

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Jack Glasscock

September 11, 2014

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Jack Glasscock 1857-1947

Shortstop, Second Base

Cleveland Blues 1879-1884
Cincinnati Outlaw Reds 1884St. Louis Maroons 1885-1886
Indianapolis Hoosiers 1887-1889
New York Giants 1890-1891
St. Louis Browns 1892-1893
Pittsburgh Pirates 1893-1894
Louisville Colonels 1895
Washington Senators 1895

Quote: “…one of the greatest players from a fielding standpoint the game has ever known” – Al Spink

Nickname: Pebbly Jack

Real Name: John Wesley Glasscock

HOF Facial Hair: Yes

Career WAR: 61.9

Best Season: 1890 .336/.395/.439/.834 137 OPS+ 172 H 32 2B 9 3B 8 K

Known For: The “King of the Shortstops” was one of the best defenders of his era, and possibly should be in the conversation of greatest ever. Difficult to strikeout.

The Bad: Could be belligerent to umpires, particularly during his short stint as player-manager with Indianapolis.

In my day we used our bare hands: Played most of his career during the bare-handed era. Had significant trouble adjusting to the glove he used later in his career.

Pebbly Jack: Earned his nickname by keeping an immaculate field around the shortstop position. He would inspect the field carefully for pebbles, and would generally pocket those he found, helping to avoid some of the bad hops that caused errors for other fielders.

Rewriting the defensive record book: Glasscock ended his career as the major league leader for shortstops in putouts, assists, total chances, double plays, and fielding percentage.

WGOM Voter Comments:

“If Dave Orr is the Prince Fielder of his day, Glasscock is the Ozzie Smith of his day. A competent hitter, whose stats as a batter would have landed him on the ballot. What excites me is his brilliance at shortstop, which is well-documented, not just by WAR, but also by sportswriters at the time. The Sporting News said that his contemporaries considered him the best shortstop ever.” – Beau

“From the August 1, 1896 Saint Paul Globe:

Tuesday Jack Glasscock, who was on the coaching line, informed Umpire Strouthers that he thought he was rotten. “That will cost you five,” replied the umpire. “I said you were rotten,” said Glasscock. “I said ten,” retorted Strouthers. Glasscock expressed his contempt for the umpire by a liberal use of his fingers applied to the end of his nose, and the fine was raised to $25. Jack sat down, a sadder but wiser man.”” – The Dread Pirate

WGOM Results Page

SABR Bio

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Kid Nichols

September 9, 2014

nicholscharlesbio

Kid Nichols 1869-1953

Pitcher
Boston Beaneaters 1890-1901
St. Louis Cardinals 1904-1905
Philadelphia Phillies 1905-1906

Real Name: Charles Augustus Nichols

Career WAR: 116.6

Best Season: 1890 27-19 2.23 ERA 2.98 FIP 1.146 WHIP 222 K 7 ShO 170 ERA+ 13.1 WAR

Quote:

“In my day, the ’90s, if you won only 20 games, the club owner would say ‘You didn’t do so good this year, we’re going to cut your salary next season.”

Known For: Was the winning pitcher in 300 baseball games by the time he turned 30. Finished his career with 360 pitching wins. He completed 532 of the 562 games he started. Was a star from his rookie season, when the 20-year old may have had his best season. Relied primarily on the fastball.

The Bad: Was often mistaken for the bat boy in his first few major league seasons because he looked so young. This is also how he got his nickname.

Ty Cobb Stumped For Him: The deadball star may be one of the main reasons that Nichols finally got his due with induction into the real Hall of Fame. JoePos explains:

Cobb did not face Nichols’ best — their careers barely overlapped — but in the 1940s Cobb would rant to anyone who would listen about Nichols greatness.

“You’re a bit too young to remember,” Cobb told one reporter in 1948 — this was a pitch he repeated often, “but I knew a pitcher who was a real pitcher. His name was Kid Nichols. He was with the Boston Nationals early in the century.”

And then, as proof, he would pull out Kid Nichols statistics that he carried around with him. Yeah, he walked around with Kid Nichols’ stats. This was a committed man.

“How can they possibly keep Kid Nichols out of the Hall of Fame?” he asked.

Laying the Groundwork: Nichols, in a precurser to MLB At Bat, held a patent on an electronic scoreboard system that he developed around 1907. It was a way to deliver baseball to fans not at the ballpark in the pre-radio era, and it is said that he would have crowds of a couple thousand gathered to watch the World Series.

Not Just Baseball: Kid was also fond of bowling. He was good at that too. Nichols won the Kansas City bowling championship at the age of 63.

Voter Comments:

“Kid Nichols is an obvious yes.” – AMR

WGOM Election Results Page

SABR Bio

Actual HOF Page

 

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Ed Delahanty

September 7, 2014

Edward-Delahanty

Ed Delahanty 1867-1903

LF, 1B, 2B
Philadelphia Quakers/Phillies 1888-1889; 1891-1901
Cleveland Infants 1890
Washington Nationals 1901-1903

Nicknames: Big Ed, The King of Swat

Quote:

“…the hardest man in the league for pitchers to puzzle.” – Cincinnati Reds pitcher Red Ehret

Career WAR: 69.5

Best Season: 1896 .397/.472/.631/1.103 190 OPS+ 44 2B 13 HR 126 RBI 62 BB 22 K

Known For: Primarily the way he died.

Hoping to get back into the National League and hoping to see his estranged wife, he took a train bound for New York. It was a long train ride from Detroit to NYC, and Big Ed decided to down five shots of whiskey. The liquor made him uncontrollable. He pulled a woman by her ankles out of her berth, then began threatening passengers with a razor. Finally, the conductor decided to stop the train near Niagara Falls before crossing into the US. He told Delahanty to not make trouble because he was still in Canada. The drunken Delahanty slurred, “I don’t care whether I’m in Canada or dead.” It was a prescient reply. The conductor kicked him off the train, and a few minutes later Delahanty, trying to cross the train bridge into the United States, fell to his death below. There are some people who believe he was murdered and some who think he committed suicide. But most people think that one of the greatest ballplayers of all time simply made a bad drunken decision, and his body was found a week later at the base of Niagara Falls.

He Played Some Ball Too: Batted better than .400 three times, led the league in slugging percentage four times. He was also known as a “fleet-footed, rifle-armed” left fielder.

Double Agent: Served as an agent for the new American League in 1901 by helping to  facilitate the defection of at least nine Philadelphia Phillies to the new league. As a result he (and the other jumpers) were banned from playing organized baseball in the state of Pennsylvania.

A HBT Meme A Century Before The Internet: Delahanty was not a stand out, or even a very good, player prior to 1892. It was reported that he came to the team “in the best shape of his life” that year. It must have been true, because the 24-year-old posted an OPS+ of 150 or above 10 of the next 11 seasons.

Immortalized By The Baseball Project:

Sometimes, hungover, he might lose a pop fly in the glare of the Washington sun.
And yes, he swung at bad pitches, and let the Irish in him sharpen up and boozy-bloat his tongue.
Nights on the road he led a bachelor’s life, with the bright short blaze of a shooting star.
But he soaked some homers-yeah, four in one game–when the ball was dead and the fences far.

WGOM Voter Comments:

“Delahanty is the first player on the ballot who played for franchise that is currently the Minnesota Twins. Not that we’re homers here”. – Scot

“He had four brothers, every single one of them playing in the majors, though only Jim was any good.” – Beau

SABR Bio

Actual HOF Page

WGOM Election Results Page

 

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Dan Brouthers

September 4, 2014

200px-Danbrouthers

Dan Brouthers 1858-1932

First Baseman
Troy Trojans 1879-1880
Buffalo Bisons 1881-1885
Detroit Wolverines 1886-1888
Boston Beaneaters 1889
Boston Reds 1890-1891
Brooklyn Grooms 1892-1893
Baltimore Orioles 1894-1895
Louisville Cardinals 1895
Philadelphia Phillies 1896
New York Giants 1904

Quote:

Brouthers really was a great hitter, one of the most powerful batters of all time. Big Dan in his prime, against the present-day pitching and the modern lively ball, would have hit as many home runs as anybody. I don’t think I ever saw a longer hitter. – John McGraw

Career WAR: 79.4

Best Season: 1886 .370/.445/.581/1.026 208 OPS+ 284 TB 40 2B 15 3B 11 HR

Nickname: Big Dan

HOF Facial Hair: Borderline

Known For: A dominating hitter of his era, he was among the league leaders in most offensive categories during his prime. Held the major league record for slugging percentage (.519) for players with at least 4,000 at bats until Ty Cobb passed him in 1922. Played in four different decades. Won five batting titles.

The Bad: Literally killed an opposing catcher in a collision at home plate in a semi-professional game in 1877. The 19-year-old Brouthers was cleared of wrongdoing by the police.

Connection to the Twins: Made Bill James’ list of players most like Kent Hrbek by decade.

Respected by his peers: Brouthers was elected vice president of the first organized player’s union.

Intangibiles: Brought his Irish Setter “Kelly” to games when he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles. The dog would sit in the player’s area and watch the game.

Voter Comments:

I think he should get voted in. And his plaque can say something like “We’re kind of dog people.” – Philosopher

WGOM Election Results Page

Actual HOF Page