Once again we’ve reached the time for those who such things as the fake death of baseball players who have all already been dead for decades to celebrate the passing of some of baseball’s not quite elite. After each election, once we realize that there are certain players who will never receive our vote for the Hall of Miller and Eric, we pay tribute to them through these obituaries.
And to make our next round of voting easier, we’re going to remove them from intellectual consideration, though not actual consideration. They’ll receive a brief write-up in this column along with a little trivia about their careers or lives.
There were 778 players we considered for the HoME as we began. Six elections in, we’ve elected 31 and put to rest 96 others, as you’ll note by looking over our RIP category and reading below. That leaves us with 651 players for our remaining 178 spots in the HoME. In other words, we can elect just a shade over 27% of the remaining players we’re considering.
And after each election, I’ll offer the following chart to keep you apprised of our progress.
Year Remaining from New Considered Elected Obituaries Continuing to Last Election Nominees this Election Next Election 1931 69 17 86 2 9 75 1926 71 25 96 9 18 69 1921 66 27 93 4 18 71 1916 53 31 84 5 13 66 1911 47 20 67 5 9 53 1906 33 28 61 3 11 47 1901 first election 54 54 3 18 33
Dead in 1931
Charlie Buffinton was a major league baseball pitcher. He began his career for the Boston Red Stockings (later Beaneaters) and Philadelphia A’s of the National League. Then he went to the Philadelphia Quakers of the Players League, the Boston Reds of the American Association, and finally the Baltimore Orioles of the National League. He won a total of 233 games over eleven seasons. He also played the outfield and first base at times, accumulating 543 hits and seven homers throughout his big league days. And apparently he didn’t do too much that was interesting. If he had, I wouldn’t have had to write what’s above.
Only one player in history, Eddie Collins, had more sacrifice hits than Jake Daubert. Daubert wan an NL first baseman for Brooklyn and Cincinnati from 1910-1924. At one time, he was vice president of the Fraternity of Professional Baseball Players of America, one of the forerunners of the MLBPA. Daubert was released from the Brooklyn Robins in 1918, as part of a gentleman’s agreement among owners to save some money and resign their players before the 1919 season. The move sort of backfired on Charles Ebbets, the Brooklyn owner. Daubert sued and settled out of court for most of the money he was owed. Of course, he was shipped to the Reds in the off-season, so the owners showed that they were still in charge.
When we’re killing off Dutch Leonard, we’re talking about the lefty, the one who pitched from 1913-1925. We’re not talking about the righty who pitched from 1933-1953. At least not this time. This Dutch holds the single-season ERA record, post 60’6” edition, at 0.96 in 1913. That year he gave up only 24 earned runs in 224.2 innings. This Dutch also pitched a pair of no-hitters and helped his Red Sox to World Series wins in 1915 and 1916 by winning his lone start in each series, besting Grover Cleveland Alexander the first year and Rube Marquard the second.
Denny Lyons contributed more value on offense than anyone in the history of the American Association except Harry Stovey and Pete Browning. And at 52 games, he’s the owner of the second longest hitting streak in baseball history. Kind of. See, in the AA in 1887, a walk truly was as good as a hit. In fact, a walk counted as a hit. But that only happened twice, so who’s counting. After having Amos Rusie break two of his fingers with a fastball in 1897, he was done. Those fingers never healed enough, and he retired at age 31.
And speaking of Rube Marquard, as we were just two obits ago, the lefty won 201 games in the NL from 1908-1925. It wasn’t just the 1916 World Series that was a struggle for him. He pitched in the Fall Classic five times, and each time his team lost, with Marquard posting a 2-5 record in his eight starts. On a more positive note, Marquard holds the record for most consecutive wins to start a season and most consecutive wins in one season, both at 19 during the 1912 campaign.
Remember when the Boston Red Sox won the 1918 World Series? Sure you do. Perhaps they won because the 36-year-old Dode Paskert hit cleanup for the Chicago Cubs. After stroking two hits against Babe Ruth in the first game, Paskert had only two more all series and failed to score a single run. Paskert’s World Series struggles are less awful than his nickname, Dode, which signified a person of low intelligence. Perhaps he preferred his other nickname, “Honey Boy”. No matter is he was dim or a World Series failure, Paskert’s reputation as a person is insured based on his actions on February 23, 1921 when he pulled five children out of a burning building while his face was blistered by the flames.
It’s possible to describe pitcher Jack Powell as the greatest loser in baseball history. With a 245-254 career mark, Powell has more wins than any other pitcher with a losing record. So he was good, but not so good. A one-game dichotomous microcosm of such a career came on September 29, 1900. Pitching against the Cardinals, Powell gave up seven runs in the first inning – but won the game. Only Mark Buehrle, 106 years later, matched that feat.
Ed Reulbach died 1961 as the last living member of the last Chicago Cubs team to win the World Series. Their presumptive ace after finishing his third straight season leading the NL in winning percentage, he started the opening game and was pretty disappointing. Staked to a 5-1 lead, Reulbach gave up three runs in the seventh before being removed. The pen would blow the lead, but the Cubs would come back and eventually take the game 10-6. Reulbach was banished to the pen, pitching just one more inning in a game three loss. He never led the league in winning percentage or anything else again, though he did win 104 of his 182 games after that World Series.
Slim Sallee was reported to stand 6’3” in 1885 – with a weight of just 148 pounds. So his nickname made sense. Sallee pitched in the NL from 1908-1921, mostly for the Cardinals. And he was eccentric. He had a wild windup, a drinking problem, and just disappeared on occasion. In August of 1909, he vanished for a week and was suspended by the Cards. He quit, swore he’d never play for the team again, and even said he’d never go back to St. Louis again. He did – the very next season – and won 10 of his 174 career games.
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 1936 election for more obituaries.