Congratulations to the newest members of the Hall of Miller and Eric. With the inductions of Lou Gehrig, Frankie Frisch, Al Simmons, Goose Goslin, Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Bennett, Monte Ward, and Sherry Magee, our HoME is now populated with 52 of the greatest players in the game’s history. In other words, we’re nearly a quarter of the way through with filling the HoME.
Per our rules, players have to be named on both ballots for induction. Here’s how we voted.
Miller Eric 1 Lou Gehrig Lou Gehrig 2 Frankie Frisch Frankie Frisch 3 Al Simmons Goose Goslin 4 Mickey Cochrane Al Simmons 5 Goose Goslin Mickey Cochrane 6 Pud Galvin Charlie Bennett 7 Monte Ward Elmer Flick 8 Charlie Bennett Wes Ferrell 9 Red Faber Bill Terry 10 Sherry Magee George Sisler 11 Mordecai Brown Vic Willis 12 Bid McPhee Sherry Magee 13 Monte Ward 14 Jim McCormick
Lou Gehrig: A good argument can be made that Gehrig is the best infielder to debut between Rogers Hornsby and Mike Schmidt or perhaps Hornsby and Alex Rodriguez. He was likely the best career first baseman ever to play the game. The Murderers’ Row Yankee owns three of the best six RBI seasons in history and a 1934 triple crown. He won a pair of MVP awards, led the AL in SLG and RBI five times each, and added four runs titles, three home run titles, and a batting title. He was the all-time leader in consecutive games played until passed by Cal Ripken. He was the all-time leader in grand slams until passed by Alex Rodriguez. And whether or not Lou Gehrig actually suffered from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, he’s an easy HoMEr and one of the best players ever.
Frankie Frisch: After a very productive first half of his career with the New York Giants, the “Fordham Flash” was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals with Jimmy Ring for Rogers Hornsby. This was an epic trade. Consider Miguel Cabrera being sent to the Reds for Joey Votto and Homer Bailey. It was bigger than that. And it all came from a missed sign by Frisch and an accompanying berating by manager John McGraw. Frisch was indeed a superstar. He led the league in hits and runs once, and he won three stolen base crowns, the last of which being in his MVP season of 1931. He won two World Series with the Giants and two more with the Cardinals, and after his career ended, he became one of the most influential members of the Hall’s Veterans Committee.
Al Simmons: “Bucketfoot Al” earned his nickname because rather than striding toward the pitcher as he swung, his lead leg moved toward third base. The left fielder and two-time batting champ also led the league in hits twice and runs and ribbies once each. From 1925-1931 he hit .372, and he posted more hits than any righty in AL history until Al Kaline came along. In the World Series, Simmons was very good, hitting .329 over four Series and smacking six homers in just 73 at-bats. One of those homers was in Game Four in 1929. Simmons’ A’s trailed the Cubs 8-0 entering the bottom of the seventh. Simmons homered to lead off the inning and singled later as the A’s scored 10 runs to demoraalize the Cubs and take the win. The A’s pulled off another improbable comeback in the fifth game to close out the Series.
Goose Goslin: Because his only league-leading numbers were a batting title in 1928 and a RBI title four years earlier, you can see why Goslin might get lost in the shuffle of great outfielders. The fact that the Hall didn’t acknowledge him until the Veterans Committee got together in 1968 doesn’t help either. And playing in cavernous Griffith Stadium masked his power for years. Goslin was a very well-rounded player who hit with some thunder, ran pretty well, and played a very good outfield. He may well be baseball’s best outfielder other than Babe Ruth from 1923-1931. That’s a long time to hold such a meaningful designation. As one of the ten best left fielders in history, he’s a pretty easy HoME call.
Mickey Cochrane: The reason Mickey Mantle got his name, “Black Mike” was one of the best catchers ever to don the tools of ignorance. In fact, he’s debatably the best catcher in the first half of the 20th century. Think Joe Mauer if Mauer’s career ended today. As great as Cochrane was, perhaps the two-time MVP could have been even better. At just age 34 and still productive, Cochrane was hit in the head by a Bump Hadley pitch in a 1937 game. The pitch fractured his skull, and he was unconscious for ten days. More than 30 years later, MLB still didn’t require batting helmets. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947, Cochrane easily earns his HoME distinction with the election of 1946.
Charlie Bennett: There seems to be no way to slice it where Bennett isn’t a top-ten catcher. His greatness is often overlooked due to what appears to be a paucity of games played. However, the research on catching conditions in the 19th century supports the position that Bennett played the most physically demanding position in baseball at its most physically challenging time. He was a warrior, with excellent defense, a good bat, and wonderful durability for his position. He was a gifted receiver and mobile fielder and thrower who racked up tremendous defensive value and who hit enough to be a middle-of-the-order hitter. He’s probably the second best catcher before Gabby Hartnett and the best pure catcher of his time.
Monte Ward: A Columbia Law School graduate and one of the champions behind baseball’s first union, the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, which brought about the Players’ League, Ward was a two-way player, at shortstop and on the mound, the likes of which the game has seldom seen. In 1878, Ward was the third best pitcher in baseball. In 1887, he was the game’s best position player. As a pitcher, he’s pretty much Johnny Podres or Eddie Lopat. As a hitter, we’re talking Cecil Cooper or Tommy Henrich. With the glove, think Ryne Sandberg or Jackie Robinson at second base, and think Alan Trammell or Pee Wee Reese at shortstop. We may well be looking at one of the 50 most valuable defenders as any position. Eric calls him Maury Wills and Alex Fernandez stuck together. And that’s a combination worthy of HoME induction.
Sherry Magee: Though Magee never received more than two votes by the BBWAA in any Hall of Fame election, his two votes here get him into the HoME. An under-recognized force in the deadball NL with a well-rounded game that included a good glove and a great bat, Magee led the NL in runs batted in four times. He had an impressive peak and career value that continues at a respectable level for over a decade. During the course of his career, no NLer other than Honus Wagner produced more value. The relatively early ending of his career hurts him a bit and kept him from generating a career as valuable as Simmons or Goslin. But his play had a similar level of impact.
Each season, some guys are elected, while others receive votes from only one of us. Below we’ll explain our reasons for such votes.
Pud Galvin: Value matters. Being the game’s fifth winningest pitcher and throwing the second most innings ever matter too.
Red Faber: Faber was spectacular for a couple of years. Otherwise he had a long and distinguished career. As far as career WAR among pitchers, he’s a shade ahead of Jim Palmer and Carl Hubbell.
Mordecai Brown: With a great peak during which he just dominated the NL, Brown continues to get a vote here. When I look at ERA+, a park adjusted measure compares a pitcher’s ERA to his league’s, I see Pete Alexander, Randy Johnson, and Cy Young all trail Brown.
Bid McPhee: As the one of the ultimate low and long players, it’s no surprise to see a vote for McPhee on this side of the HoME before the other. He was a brilliant defender with a competent bat. Though shaped quite differently, his value is pretty similar to Craig Biggio’s.
Elmer Flick: A solid top-dozen right fielder with no weakness in his game, until he couldn’t play anymore due to illness. He was the premier RF in the game during his career, even though Willie Keeler and Sam Crawford got more column inches.
Wes Ferrell: I believe everything counts, and pitcher batting is no exception. Ferrell, however, needs relatively little of it. Yes, he’s probably the best hitting pitcher ever, but he was a damn good hurler too. His bat puts him over the line easily and propels him into the middle-third of the HoME’s pitching ranks.
Bill Terry and George Sisler: It’s hard to talk about one and not the other. They are ultimately short-career peak/prime 1Bs with about the same overall value whose careers overlapped and who were both famous for batting .400. Sisler was probably the more talented player overall, but Terry owns the better total career package and played during the long stretch when the NL was a really tough league to stand out in. The little things go Terry’s way, so I have him above Sisler in this battle of near equals.
Vic Willis: Willis is eminently qualified based on the standard we’ve already elected toward. He’s in the thick of the group that includes Stan Coveleski, Joe McGinnity, and Rube Waddell already: short-medium length careers with a few excellent peak seasons and not all that much else.
Jim McCormick: See Willis above. McCormick currently appears to me to be the 1880s version of that kind of pitcher.
Please visit our Honorees page to see their plaques and to see more information about the HoME and those who have been elected.