Once again we’ve reached the time for the morbid among us to celebrate the passing of some of baseball’s not quite elite. After each election, once we realize that there are certain players who won’t ever receive our vote for the Hall of Miller and Eric, we pay tribute to them through these obituaries, which include a little trivia about their careers or lives.
We remove these players from intellectual consideration, though not actual consideration, to help clarify our next round of voting. We need clarity. There were 778 players we considered for the HoME as we began. Four elections in, we’ve elected 16 and put to rest 51 others, as you’ll note by looking over our RIP category and reading below. That leaves us with 711 players for our remaining 193 spots in the HoME. In other words, we can elect less than 27.5% of the remaining players we’re considering.
And after each election, I’ll offer the following chart to keep you apprised of our progress.
|Considered This Election||Elected||Obituaries||Continuing to Next Election|
The following players are essentially dead as of 1916. They’ll be missed.
Ginger Beaumont was the only man in baseball history to swing a bat heavier than he was. Okay, not really. But he was reported to have swung a 55-ounce piece of, I can only suppose, lead. As a comparison, a 32-ounce bat is pretty normal, so he was swinging a bat that was the weight of a typical baseball bat and about a dozen vampire bats attached. And he did this before any other player in World Series history as the leadoff hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1903 series against Boston.
In 1903 Bill Dineen pitched the first shutout in World Series history. And the second. He won three games for the Boston Americans, as they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first ever fall classic. Still, he was better known on some levels for his umpiring, a career that he began less than a month after he stopped playing. Dinneen is the first person to play in and umpire a World Series game. And he’s the only one to pitch a shutout and umpire in one. Other highlights are being behind the plate for both the first All-Star game in 1933 and Babe Ruth’s 60th home run.
If you’re looking for the biggest loser in the game’s history, you have to point to Cy Young, loser of a record 316 games. But he also won 511, so he’s not really a loser. It’s not unfair to say that Red Donahue was. For the 1897 St. Louis Browns he won 10 but lost a mind-boggling 35 games, a record to this day since the mound was moved. And he lost those games in just 42 starts. Needless to say, he was something less than Mariano during his four relief appearances. Nor were his teammates, apparently, as he led the NL in complete games that season in spite of the terrible pitching.
Many of us know Kid Gleason only as the rookie manager of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox when some of his players decided to throw the World Series. He managed only four more years for the White Sox and never again in the majors. But he did have a long career as a pretty mediocre second baseman for two decades and pitcher who won 38 games in 1890. And he’s only of less than a few dozen players in the game’s history to appear in games in four decades.
Harry Howell is best remembered for his role in the batting title scandal of 1910. With Nap Lajoie comfortably in second place with a day to go, Howell’s Browns played their infield defense back, and Nap bunted for hit after hit in the double header. Howell’s role came after the official scorer ruled one of Lajoie’s bunts a sacrifice. He went to the press box to complain and possibly to bribe the scorer. For what it’s worth, the scorer didn’t relent, Cobb won the title, and Howell never got another job in the majors in any capacity.
If you’re ever asked where the term “Texas Leaguer” came from, mention Bill Joyce, the 1890s infielder who holds the big league record with four triples in a game. As one of the many stories about the origin of the term goes, Joyce and fellow former member of the Houston Mud Cats of the Texas League, Art Sunday, eased back-to-back bloop hits in their first game for the Toledo Black Pirates of the International League. Voilà! The Texas Leaguer was born. Maybe.
“The Goshen Schoolmaster” is a menacing sounding nickname. Really, it’s just that Sam Leever was a school teacher in Goshen, Ohio before his playing days. Sometimes things are so simple. And sometimes they’re quite difficult. Like the World Series. Leever lost both of his starts as the Boston Americans upset his Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series in 1903. Later, Leever was reported dead by The Sporting News in 1924 when they confused him with a distant relative. He lived almost 30 more years.
You can think of Dan McGann like Derrek Lee with era-appropriate power. One thing McGann did know how to do was get hit by a pitch. Trailing only Hughie Jennings and Tommie Tucker at the time of his retirement, McGann is still seventh all-time. He led the league on six separate occasions in his twelve-year career. I suppose it doesn’t matter, but he was involved in transactions during his career with a guy named Butts and another named Heinie.
Want a second example of how much defensive statistics and baseball equipment have changed over the years? Ed McKean topped 50 errors at shortstop eleven times in his career. He top 90 three times. And if you combine his play at second base, as a rookie for the 1887 Cleveland Blues, he made 105 errors. As a comparison, Troy Tulowitzki had 54 in his first seven seasons in Colorado. But even McKean didn’t make as many errors as Herman Long.
Billy Nash was a fine player who got on our ballot because he put in about fifteen years of decent play in the bigs. Only four times in his career did he even reach 3.0 WAR, which is both an unfair comparison and the same number as Ryan Zimmerman. Even though Sporting Life called him the best fielding third baseman in the league in 1895, he might just lag behind contemporaries Arlie Latham and Ned Williamson at the position.
For a quarter of a century Freddy Parent, the first shortstop Red Sox history and their number five hitter in the first World Series against the Pirates, held the record for runs scored in a single Series. Any of Parent, Jimmy Collins, or Buck Freeman could have been called the best non-pitcher in Red Sox history through about 1904. He lived a long life and was the last surviving member of the first World Series at the time of his death at age-96.
“Little All Right”, as he was known, Claude Ritchey had a fine major league career of thirteen seasons. In terms of value, he’s pretty similar to Ray Durham, though Ritchey did it more with the glove and Durham with the bat. In terms of import to the game’s history, Ritchey is pretty similar to a lot of guys who you’ve never heard of. But like seemingly every player in this set of obits, he did play in the first World Series. The Pirate second baseman was probably the worst hitter on either team during that Series, finishing with a line of .148/.258/.185.
For years, if there was one thing in baseball nearly as sure as the sun coming up, it was that Jack Taylor would take his regular turn in the rotation. He completed 187 consecutive starts from 1901-1906. More significantly, he may or may not have been guilty of throwing games. He was suspected in 1903 and again in 1905. Though he was never found guilty, he was once fined $300 for bad conduct. I think management maybe should have asked him to miss a start.
Rest in peace, all. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those who have made it into the HoME, and check back here after the 1921 election for more obituaries.