Half-Baked Hall Profile: Billy Hamilton

September 2, 2014

Billy-Hamilton-Phillies

Billy Hamilton 1866-1940

Outfielder
Kansas City Cowboys 1888-1889
Philadelphia Phillies 1890-1895
Boston Beaneaters 1896-1901

Career WAR: 63.3

Best Season: 1894 .403/.521/.523/1.004 157 OPS+ 198 R 100 SB 128 BB 292 TB 8.2 WAR

Quote: “I never saw a runner get a lead off first base like Billy” – Jack Carney

Nickname: Sliding Billy

Known For: Stolen bases and runs. Perhaps the prototype lead off hitter. Was baseball’s career stolen base leader until Lou Brock broke his record in 1979. One of only three players in baseball history to average more than one run scored per game played. Fourth on the career on-base percentage list behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, and John McGraw.

Total Number of Steals?: Depending on the source, its somewhere between 912 and 937. Hamilton was extremely protective of his base-stealing legacy, and even wrote at least one letter to the editor claiming that he was short changed in total stolen bases. If he were still alive, he would very likely argue that he should rightfully be second on the list (Brock retired with 938 SB).

Trivia: One of four major league hitters to lead off a game with a home run and end the game with a walk-off home run (Vic Power, Darin Erstad, Reed Johnson, Ian Kinsler).

More Rare Air: Hamilton’s 198 runs scored in 1894 is still a record for runs in a single season. The modern record belongs to Babe Ruth, who scored 177 runs in 1921. Nobody else has come any closer than that.

Half-Baked Hall is right: Hamilton’s induction was controversial. In a scandal that is right up there with Dan LeBatard’s vote-loan, a certain WGOM corny voter engaged in ballot-stuffing that was responsible for Hamilton’s election.

WGOM Election Results Page

Real HOF Page

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Roger Connor

August 31, 2014

Roger-Connor2

Roger Connor 1857-1931

First Base, Third Base
Troy Trojans 1880-1882
New York Gothams/Giants 1883-1889; 1891; 1893-1894
New York Giants (Players) 1890
Philadelphia Phillies 1892
St. Louis Brown 1894-1897

Career WAR: 84.1

Best Season: 1885 .371/.435/.495/.929 200 OPS+ 225 TB 51 BB 8 K 1 HR

Known For: One of the first sluggers in baseball, he held the major league career home run record (138) prior to Babe Ruth.

The Bad: Kind of a boring figure, he was considered a very good ballplayer but uninteresting in his day, and was often overshadowed in the press by his more colorful teammates. In Connor’s mind, the worst thing he did was marry a non-Catholic outside of the Church, and actually felt that his first daughter Lulu died before her first birthday as divine retribution for that sin.

That nickname will never last: It is suggested that the New York baseball club took the name Giants in part because of their 6’3″ 220 lb slugger, who stood out among his contemporaries.

A True Gentleman: Connor played in 1,998 major league baseball games without being ejected once. His only professional ejection came in a 1906 in a Connecticut State League game. The 45-year old Connor pummeled Tommy Tucker after Tucker threw Roger’s brother and teammate Joe to the ground. Among the reasons Connor hated his short stint as a manager in St. Louis: he was uncomfortable challenging umpires.

Home Run King: Among the positives that came from Hank Aaron’s chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record in the 1970’s – Roger Connor started to get noticed. People started to ask the question “whose record did Babe Ruth break?” and Connor, who had been largely forgotten by baseball, became a part of the Hall of Fame conversation. He was inducted in 1976.

Not sure if this is true, but: The BBHOF page gives him credit for hitting the first grand slam in big league history on September 10, 1881.

Voter comments:

* Roger Connor
Pros:
One of the very few people in MLB history to have played an entire season at third as a lefty.
84 Career rWAR
5th Place All time in JAWS Among First Basemen (ahead of people like Bagwell, the Big Hurt, and McCovey)
Nice ‘stache
Lots of Triples (5th all time) – I like to reward triples
He once hit a home run clear out of Polo Grounds off of Old Hoss Radbourn that prompted a sportswriter to write:

“He met it squarely and it soared up with the speed of a carrier pigeon. All eyes were turned on the tiny sphere as it soared over the head of Charlie Buffinton in right field.”

Not as amazing as the quadruple spin in the outfield, but impressive.

Cons:
Not immortal
Didn’t live up to the power hitting levels of later first basemen (though he was generally in the top ten in at bats per home run for his era, he never approached the home run totals of, say, Frank Thomas).

-Nibbish

WGOM Election Results Page

SABR Bio

Real HOF Page

 

 

 

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: John Clarkson

August 29, 2014

John Clarkson pitching for Boston.

John Clarkson 1861-1909

 

Pitcher
Worcester Ruby Legs 1882
Chicago White Stockings 1884-1887
Boston Beaneaters 1888-1892
Cleveland Spiders 1892-1894

Career WAR: 85.7

Best Season: 1889 73 G 49-19 2.73 ERA 150 ERA+ 3.49 FIP 1.27 WHIP 16.7 WAR

Quotes: “(Clarkson) could put more turns and twists into a ball than any pitcher I ever saw.” – Billy Sunday

“In knowing exactly what kind of a ball a batter could not hit and in his ability to serve up just that kind of ball, I don’t think I have ever seen the equal of Clarkson.” – Cap Anson

Known For: Right handed pitcher who relied heavily on his curve ball. Won 30 or more games in six seasons, and retired with a total of 327 NL wins. Liked to keep his pitch count low so he pitched so the batter would hit it and the fielders would do their jobs.  Got into a year-long dispute with Al Spalding. Spent the last five years of his life in various asylums due to a nervous breakdown, depression, paranoia, and possibly various other mental disorders exacerbated by excessive drinking.

The Bad: Was blacklisted by many of his fellow players when he backtracked on his agreement with the brotherhood of players and negotiated a contract with the National League Boston club. Many thought he was sitting in on the early union meeting simply to report back to the NL owners.

Not that Bad, however: For a time, the rumor that Clarkson murdered his wife Ella during the last few years of his life was reported as fact. It is not true. She outlived him.

At least he looked good: Clarkson was known for his style and fashion. He was once called the “bright particular dude” of the Chicago White Stockings by Sporting Life.

That might pay for an inning decent pitching in 2014: When he joined the Beaneaters in 1888, he and catcher King Kelly were hyped as the “$20,000 battery”

Voter Comments:

“His numbers are extremely similar to Tim Keefe, and Keefe went in first-ballot. Clarkson had about 500 fewer innings, but had a slightly better ERA” – Beau

“I thought Clarkson was a slam dunk yes” – Daneekas Ghost

WGOM Election Results Page

SABR Bio

Actual HOF Page

 

 

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Jim McCormick

August 3, 2014

Jim McCormick 1856-1918
Jim McCormick

Pitcher
Indianapolis Blues 1878
Cleveland Blues 1879-1884
Cincinnati Outlaw Reds 1884
Providence Grays 1885
Chicago White Stockings 1885-1886
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 1887

Career WAR: 75.5

Best Season: 1883 43 G 28-12 1.84 ERA 170 ERA+ 3.01 FIP 1.114 WHIP 8.5 WAR

Quote: “McCormick was a burly, Scottish born pitcher” – every McCormick bio ever.

“I desire his services very much, however, for I think that, under the new [pitching] rules [allowing for unrestricted overhand throwing], he will be the best pitcher on the diamond. If he is released, it will only be for a good sum of money.” – Cap Anson

Known For: Interesting that he’s not really known. Probably the most chronically overlooked pitchers in history. He was a very good pitcher for a long time, and makes honorable mention on just about everybody’s list of best players not in baseball’s HOF. Maybe best known as a good friend of King Kelly and Cap Anson.

The Bad: Was among the players unloaded by Al Spalding when he was attempting to eliminate drinking and gambling from his club.

The Magic Number: He won at least 20 games in every professional season except his first (when he won 5 games in 14 appearances) and his last (in which he lost 23 on his way out).

Should Have Gone With McCormick: In 1880, Jim had a record of 45-28. The rest of the Cleveland Blues pitching staff was 2-7. Overall McCormick appeared in 348 0f the team total 549 games in the six-season history of the Cleveland Blues.

Voter Comments:

19th best pitcher of all-time according to JAWS. First nine years of his career his ERA was always above average, twice leading the league. He was a workhorse. In 1883, he pitched 342 innings and only allowed one homer. – Beau


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Cap Anson

July 27, 2014

Adrian Constantine Anson 1852-1922
Anson

First Base, Third Base, Catcher

Rockford Forest Citys 1871
Philadelphia Athletics 1872-1875
Chicago White Stockings/Colts 1876-1897

Career WAR: 93.9

Best Season: 1881 84 G .399/.442/.510/.952 172 OPS+ 82 RBI 5.8 WAR

Quote:

“The time may have been, and probably was, when base-ball was as rotten as horse racing, but that time has gone by. The men in control of base-ball matters are of the highest personal character, and no one will say anything against them. As to the charges against any individual player, I will believe them when they have been proved. Every thing [sic] possible has been done to protect the patrons of the National game, and efforts in that direction will never be abated. I don’t know of any crookedness in the ball field. If I did I’d undoubtedly say something about it.”

Known For: A career .334 hitter, at 6’2” 200 lbs, he was a huge man for his time. exceptional bat control, became player manager in 1877, belligerence towards opponents and umpires, perhaps the game’s first true national celebrity.

The Bad: One of the key figures in forcing black players out of professional baseball, was rated as the top bettor on baseball during the era.

3,000 Hits?: For a long time Anson was credited as baseball’s first 3,000 hit man. In fact, B=R lists him as having 3,435. That number is controversial for several reasons. First, it counts his time in the National Association from 1871-1875. MLB.com still does not count those hits. The first edition of Macmillan’s Baseball Encyclopedia published in 1969 gave him credit for just 2,995. Since then, historians have adjusted the number and it currently sits on 3,012.

Keep Your Day Job: Anson had a number of failed business attempts during and after his baseball career. Among those were a failed handball arena and bottled beer that exploded on the shelves. His most successful ventures were Bowling, in which he captained a championship team in 1904, and taking his family across the country performing a vaudeville act.

Not Even a Very Good Racist: Though his racist behavior was well documented, Anson probably gets too much credit for driving black players out of white baseball. It’s not that he wasn’t trying, but his influence over the rest of baseball has been pretty consistently overstated. He was a star on the field but by most accounts was not well respected by his peers, who would be unlikely to follow his lead if they weren’t moving that way on their own. At best, it is possible that without Anson, black players would have played a few more years before being completely eliminated from organized white baseball.

The best thing that can be said about Anson is that he was such a dominant player for such a long time that he is a Hall of Fame player and was elected by the WGOM in spite of his off-the-field failings.

Comments from Voters:

“I know it’s apples and oranges, but I think this hurt baseball more than Pete Rose did. That said, still voting for him. Anson helped make baseball popular as well in addition to the gaudy numbers.” – Beau

WGOM Election Results Page

SABR Bio

Actual Hall of Fame Page

 

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Old Hoss Radbourn

July 22, 2014

Charles Gardner Radbourn 1854-1897
100213-MLB-Hoss-Radbourn-TV-ia2_20131002200713983_0_0

Pitcher
Providence Grays 1881-1885
Boston Beaneaters 1886-1889
Boston Reds 1890
Cincinnati Reds 1891

Quote:

Tired of tossing a little five-ounce baseball for two hours? I used to be a butcher. From four in the morning until eight at night, I knocked down steers with a 25-pound sledge. Tired from playing two hours a day for 10 times the money I used to get for 16 hours a day? – Old Hoss after being asked if he got tired from pitching so often.

Career WAR: 77.2 Total (73.5 Pitching)

Best Season: 1884 59-12 1.38 ERA 205 ERA+ 2.75 FIP 0.922 WHIP 19.1 WAR 73 GS 73 CG 678.2 IP

Known For: May have put together the finest single season for a pitcher in history in 1884, one of the first pitchers to vary his arm angles, known as one of the top fielding pitchers of his era, maintains a Twitter account even though he has been dead for more than a century.

The Bad: Was suspended at least twice in his career for “slovenly” play. Feuded with a teammate Charlie Sweeney during the 1884 season.

The Interesting: Where to start? During his feud with Sweeney, Hoss reportedly lost a game on purpose by throwing lob pitches (this is in his 59-12 season), earning one of his suspensions. Sweeney was the only pitcher left on the roster, and the pressure without his teammate/rival Hoss around got to be too much. Sweeney quit the team in the middle of a game in a drunken fit. Old Hoss, though still on suspension, suddenly had some leverage with the team, and made the deal that he would pitch the team to the pennant in exchange for some contractual changes, including a raise and an exemption from the reserve clause. The Grays agreed, and Old Hoss started 41 of the team’s last 51 games, and at one point won 18 straight, and, of course, led the team to the pennant.

Innovations that didn’t quite stick: Hoss experiemented with a pitch that bounced in the dirt then crossed the plate at the strike zone. Though there was nothing in the rules stating it was not legal, the umpires did not allow it. One newspaper report insisted that he pitched with both arms, though there is no other evidence that he was ambidextrous. He also was (incorrectly) credited with inventing the change up.

Hall of Fame Facial Hair: Check.

Flipping the Bird on Camera: First ever.

Training: A quart of whiskey every day.

After Baseball: Owned and operated a saloon and billiards parlor. Was shot in the face in a hunting accident in 1894. Died of complications due to syphilis.

About Getting Shot: There were rumors prior to the 1884 season that Radbourn had been shot in the thigh by a “female acquaintance” – it turned out the person who was shot was a cousin Old Hoss.

Comments from Voters:

“Also, as your filling out your ballots, remember to toss Old Hoss some love. I didn’t think I would have to mention that, but here we are, not voting for a man so good at baseball that he inspired a man born in a different century to fake a Twitter account for him.” – Nibbish

“has anyone tweeted this honor to Old Hoss from the WGOM account?” – Cheaptoy
“Do we want that bastard to know? ;-)” – brianS

WGOM Election Results Page

SABR Bio

Actual HOF Page

 

 

 

 

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Ross Barnes

July 13, 2014

Ross Barnes 1850-1915
Barnes

2B, SS
Rockford Forest Citys 1868-1870
Boston Red Stockings 1871-1875
Chicago White Stockings 1876-1877
Cincinnati Reds 1879
Boston Red Stockings 1881

Quote:

“Ross Barnes was one of the best ball players that ever wore a shoe,
and I would like to have nine men just like him right now under my
management. He was an all-around man, and I do not know of a single
man on the diamond at the present time that I regard as his superior.” -Cap Anson

Career WAR: 27.9

Best Season: 1876- .429/.462/.590/1.052 235 OPS+ 21 2B 14 3B 6.0 WAR

Known For: One of the most exciting players in the early days of the professional baseball and a dominant hitter over the course of his very short career. Was an expert at the fair-foul hit, a ball that landed fair initially but rolled into foul territory. Barnes took advantage of the foul rules before it was changed by bunting balls that would roll into foul territory.

The Bad: His career was cut short by a malaria like disease called “the ague” which he contracted in 1877. His numbers never completely recovered from the illness, and shortly after his return the rule was changed and the fair-foul hit was no longer legal. He technically only played nine major league seasons, which make him ineligible for the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.

Interesting: Hit the first home run in National League history in 1876.

Fielding:

“Barnes was not only a good fielder of wide range, but he was a sure fielder. He played the hardest hits with so much ease that they looked easy. Almost every second baseman, who, at some time, commands so much attention that he is esteemed to be a leader, excels in some one characteristic or another. Either he is a great thrower or fields a ball better on his right side than on his left. Such was not the case with Barnes. He was almost Base Ball perfect in everything and as expert with one arm as with the other. If a one-hand stop was to be made it seemed as if he could grasp a ball as easily with his left hand as with his right.” -Spaulding Guide Obituary – 1915

Base Running:

“Harry Wright put Barnes to lead off in the batting order, both for his ability with the `wagon tongue’ and his speed on the bases. Probably Barnes could get to first base oftener than any other player on the Boston team, not excepting the great George Wright.” – Sam Crane, 1911

Comments from Voters:

“Barnes played before his 1871 stats on Baseball-Reference for Forest City in Rockford, Illinois (with Al Spalding). All his triples suggest he had great power for the era . He also was a master of the bunting foul balls at pitches he couldn’t handle before the rules were changed to not allow plate appearances to continue indefinitely. Being the best all-around player for five-plus years is nothing to sneeze at.” – The Dread Pirate

“* Barnes was freaking dominant.
Ross Barnes batted .431 in 1873, handily winning the batting title. Second place was secured by a time-travelling Milt Thompson¹, who batted .091 under the name “Dave Birdsall”². That over 300 points difference. That’s crazy.

¹ – Cap Anson batted .391 in 1873, but I have excluded him for reasons that only true keepers of the game like myself and Brian McCann understand.
² – I can’t prove this… yet.

* He won the sabermetric triple crown twice
That’s pretty crazy, considering he only played seven full years. It’s safe to say that if Ross Barnes had been able to play as long as Hank Aaron, he would’ve won the sabermetric triple crown a total of six times, and we wouldn’t even need to have this discussion, because we would’ve named the Hall after him.” – Nibbish

WGOM Election Results Page

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Tim Keefe

July 8, 2014

Tim Keefe 1857-1933

Tim_keefe

Pitcher
Troy Trojans 1880-1882
New York Metropolitans 1883-1884
New York Giants 1885-1889, 1891
New York Giants (PL) 1890
Philadelphia Phillies 1891-1893
NL Umpire

Quote: “I was considered a robber because I held out for $2,100,”

Career WAR: 89.9 Pitching, -2.2 Batting

Best Season: 1888: 35-12 1.74 ERA 156 ERA+ 1.89 FIP 0.937 WHIP 10.3 WAR

Known For: Change-of-pace pitch. Won 19 straight games in 1888. Leader of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, one of the leaders in the formation of the Player’s League. Currently 10th on the all-time wins list with 342, between Roger Clemens (354) and Steve Carlton (329).

The Bad: Lost the first two games of the best-of-three 1884 World Series, then umpired the third game.

Interesting: Was the pitcher in an 1887 game when Dan Casey got a late hit to tie the game in a moment that many believe to have been the inspiration for the poem “Casey at the Bat”

Pitching Motion:

Besides pitching at different speeds, Keefe threw with different arm motions, often side-arm and underhand (submarine style, in today’s parlance) even though the overhand delivery had been legalized in 1884. He also made liberal use of the entire pitcher’s box, throwing from different angles (not simply straight on to the batter) and taking multiple steps before releasing the ball, not always pitching from a set position. Keefe was a master of the multistep hop, skip, and jump delivery, which he described in 1888 as combining “plenty of speed and strength and a series of gymnastics to terrify the batter,” in which “the pitcher had the batter completely at his mercy.”29 As Keefe recalled later in life, “We were pitching from a 50-foot distance then, and honestly, I sometimes used to wonder how they even hit us, with those advantages which we had.”30Charlie Bevis

Hall of Fame Facial Hair: Yes.

Nickname: “Sir Timothy” – due to his gentlemanly behavior on the field. Was used derisively when he was an umpire.

Comments from Voters:

“Keefe and Radbourn are locks for my yes vote, and I haven’t looked at the rest of the ballot.” -AMR

“Keefe is a slam-dunk for me. The guy was a beast.” -Beau

“Tim Keefe scoffs at Al Spalding’s 76%, storming past him with a more decisive 77% of the vote” -Beau

WGOM Election Results Page

SABR Bio

Actual Hall of Fame Page

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Albert Goodwill Spalding

July 6, 2014

Albert Goodwill Spalding 1850-1915
Albert Spalding 1

Pitcher-Center Fielder-First Base
Rockford Forest Citys 1868-1870*
Boston Red Stockings 1871-1875
Chicago White Stockings 1876-1877
Manager-Owner-Sporting Goods Magnate

*No statistics readily available from Rockford days.

Quote: “Baseball is the exponent of American Courage, Confidence, Combativeness, American Dash, Discipline, Determination, American Energy, Eagerness, Enthusiasm, American Pluck, Persistency, Performance, American Spirit, Sagacity, Success, American Vim, Vigor, Virility.”

Career WAR: 52.2 (pitching) 6.8 (batting)

Best Season: 1875: 54-5 1.59 ERA 136 ERA+ 2.09 FIP 1.036 WHIP 14.2 WAR (12.8 pitching WAR)

Known For: Was considered the league’s premier pitcher, and had the most wins in the league in each of his six full seasons. Won 54 games in 1875. Became president of the Chicago White Stockings and led the team to 5 pennants in the 1880’s. Innovator of the game – introduced spring training and organized world tours to expand popularity.

The Bad: Was one of the pioneers of the reserve clause system. Actively pushed the Doubleday myth

Interesting: One of the first star players to use a glove, though it was good business since he was already selling gloves during his playing days.

Name on Baseballs: Yes – every ball used up until 1976 had Al Spalding’s name on it.

Drinking and Gambling: Against. Spalding wanted a clean game, which is why he was supportive of the new National League in 1876. When he sold players, he made sure to get rid of the drinkers first.

Forbidden Zone: Ran for the U.S. Senate 1910.

Comments from Voters:

“Al Spalding won nearly 80% of the decisions he played in. One season, he went 54-5. Wins and whatnot aside, that’s crazy. The best pitcher in the National Association era, almost certainly.” -Nibbish

“Spalding has those impressive win totals, but he never led the league in any of the rate statistics. The year he went 54-5, his team average over 10 runs per game and led the league in every offensive category. The team as a whole went 71-8.” – Beau

“He was an above average pitcher, did the sporting goods going, and was a great early promoter of the game, but the anticompetitive stuff he did to break up the Players League (essentially union busting) and his role in the institution of the reserve clause caused me to withhold my vote.” – CarterHayes

Actual Hall of Fame Page

SABR Bio

WGOM Election Results Page