Half-Baked Hall Profile: Christy Mathewson

January 18, 2015

Christy Mathewson 1880-1925

Matty

 

Pitcher
New York Giants 1900-1916
Cincinnati Reds 1916

Career WAR: 95.3

Best Season: 1908 37-11 1.43 ERA (168 ERA+) 1.29 FIP 0.827 WHIP 34 CG 11 ShO 6.17 K/BB 11.1 WAR** (1905 is very close)

Known For: Baseball’s gentleman star of the first decade of the deadball era, Mathewson is very closely tied in history to John McGraw, though the two were polar opposites in terms of lifestyle. Mathewson was also known for his “fadeaway” pitch. Also, the 1905 World Series (see below).

Quote:

“He gripped the imagination of a country that held a hundred million people and held this grip with a firmer hold than any man of his day or time” – Grantland Rice

 

Rough Start: As a 19 year old rookie in 1900, Mathewson was 0-3 with a 71 ERA+. He primarily was used as a batting practice pitcher that year, and wrote to a friend “I don’t give a rip whether they keep me or not.”

1905 World Series: Three games against Philadelphia, three complete game shutouts. Mathewson allowed only 13 hits in 27 innings pitched. He struck out 18 to only one walk.

After the 1905 World Series: About a week after his clinching shut out, Mathewson lost a semi-pro game he pitched in Michigan 5-0 after a friend convinced him to play during a hunting trip. About a year later, Mathewson almost died due to a case of diphtheria.

After his outstanding 1908 season: Mathewson pitched to a no-decision in the team’s loss in the Merkle replay. He also felt responsible for the deaths that occurred in the stands that day, believing that he should have convinced the team not to play. Later that offseason, he found the body of his younger brother, Nicholas, who had committed suicide, perhaps in part due to the fact that Christy had advised the Tigers not to bring him directly to the majors.

Farewell Game: In his only appearance on the mound for a major league team other than the Giants, Mathewson pitched against fellow Half-baked HOF’er Three-Finger Brown on Three-Finger Brown day in Chicago. Mathewson allowed 8 runs but still outdueled Brown as the Reds beat the Cubs 10-8.

Black Sox: Christy was a central figure in exposing the Black Sox scandal as he was covering the series for the New York Times.

The Great War: Mathewson enlisted as a Captain in the Chemical Warfare Division. He was accidentally exposed to mustard gas during a training exercise, and was also among those who contracted the flu while in France.

WGOM Voter Comments:

Mathewson won the 1905 World Series with three complete game shutouts. It was the heart of the dead ball era, but still. Just one walk in 27 innings.

He also led the league in K/BB ratio 8 consecutive seasons. – Beau

A friendly reminder that both Mathewson and Lajoie are pretty much definitive, inner-circle Hall of Famers. – Nibbish

 


Half-Baked Hall Profile: Nap Lajoie

January 14, 2015

Napoleon Lajoie (1874-1959)

Nap

2B, 1B
Philadelphia Phillies 1896-1900
Philadelphia Athletics 1901-1902; 1915-1916
Cleveland Naps 1902-1914

Career WAR: 107.4

Best Season: 1904 .376/.413/.546/.959 203 OPS+ 49 2B 15 3B 102 RBI 8.6 WAR

Known For: One of the best all-around players of his era, and on the short list of best second basemen of all time. He was the American League’s first triple crown winner. The active only player in baseball history to have a team named after him.

The Bad: From his SABR Bio:

During his career, Lajoie also had some famous run-ins with umpires. In 1904 he was suspended for throwing chewing tobacco into umpire Frank Dwyer’s eye. After one ejection, Lajoie, who stubbornly refused to leave the bench, had to be escorted from the park by police. And in 1903, Nap became so infuriated by an umpire’s decision to use a blackened ball that he picked up the sphere and threw it over the grandstand, resulting in a forfeit.

Quote:

“He plays so naturally and so easily it looks like lack of effort. Larry’s reach is so long and he’s fast as lightning, and to throw to at second base he is ideal. All the catchers who’ve played with him say he is the easiest man to throw to in the game today. High, low, wide — he is sure of everything.” – Connie Mack

Importance beyond numbers: It is said that Lajoie may have single-handedly brought legitimacy to the new American League when he jumped from the Phillies to the A’s in 1901. The reason he jumped: after being assured that he and teammate (and fellow H-B HOF’er) Ed Delahanty were making the same salary, Lajoie saw one of Big Ed’s checks and discovered he was making about $400 less. The Phillies ultimately obtained an injunction that stated the only team Nap could play for in Pennsylvania. He responded by signing with Cleveland.

Innovator of baseball uniforms: Lajoie broke from the norm of his fellow players and purchased a new mitt prior to each season. His most important contribution to the aesthetic of the game, however, was the league rule enacted when Nap almost had to have his leg amputated due to an infection caused by the blue dye in his socks. So began use of white sanitary socks under the team-colored socks.

WGOM Voter Comments:

In 1912, Nap Lajoie batted .368 and finished in fourth place., 41 points behind Ty Cobb. Crazy   – davidwatts

A friendly reminder that both Mathewson and Lajoie are pretty much definitive, inner-circle Hall of Famers. – nibbish

And Lajoie a younger Kenneth Brannaugh -Rhubarb_Runner

 

 

 


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

 

 


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