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1976, RIP, Obituaries of Players We're No Longer Considering

RIP, Players Falling Off the 1976 Ballot

You'll be missed, Roger

You’ll be missed, Roger

After each election, once we realize that there are certain players who will never receive our vote for the HoME, we pay tribute to them through these obituaries. To make our process going forward is a bit easier, we remove them from intellectual consideration, though not actual consideration. To pay tribute, we offer a brief write-up in this column along with a little trivia about their careers or lives.

There are 744 players on our list for HoME consideration. With sixteen elections complete, we’ve elected 93 and put to rest 263 others, as you’ll note by looking over our RIP category and reading below. We now have 388 players to consider for our remaining spots in the HoME. Given the elections of Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas to Cooperstown, that number is now 119. In other words, almost 70% of our remaining players will receive obituaries at some point.

And after each election, I’ll offer the following chart to keep you apprised of our progress.

Year   Carried     New      Considered   Elected   Obituaries  Continuing to
         Over    Nominees  this Election                       Next Election
1976      82        26         108          6          16           86
1971      87        21         108          6          20           82
1966      94        26         120          7          26           87
1961      91        24         115          6          15           94
1956      92        32         124          7          26           91
1951      93        27         120          9          19           92
1946      94        26         120          8          19           93
1941      82        29         111          5          12           94
1936      75        29         104          8          14           82
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       0        54          54          3          18           33

Dead in 1976

There haven’t been many better games than the one Joe Adcock had to close out July of 1954. To start the second, he homered against Don Newcombe. An inning later, he hit a measly double against Irv Palica. By the time Adcock came up in the fifth, Irv Palica wasn’t so great. He surrendered Adcock’s second homer of the day. In the seventh, Pete Wojey was on for the Dodgers. And Adcock smacked his third homer of the day. By the time Adcock came up for the last time to lead off the ninth, Johnny Podres was on. And Adcock continued his slugging brilliance. Another homer and a major league record at the time of 18 total bases. The record was topped in 2002, but that one game nearly 60 years ago won’t soon be forgotten.

Slugging outfielder and career-long Senator/Twin Bob Allison won the 1959 Rookie of the Year in the AL when he smacked 30 homers and led the Junior Circuit in triples. Allison would go on to hit 256 long balls in his career and represent his team in three All-Star games. He was pretty bad in the playoffs, going just 2-26 with 10 strikeouts, but he does hold a couple of interesting home run distinctions. Against the Indians on July 18, 1962, he and Harmon Killebrew became the first teammates ever to hit grand slams in the same inning. And on May 2, 1964, he was one of four Twins to hit consecutive home runs in the 11th inning against the A’s.

Smoky Burgess is one of the greatest pinch hitters in the game’s history. A catcher when he wasn’t swinging the bat, Burgess wasn’t at all fast, and he holds records that suggest as much. He wasn’t able to score a single run in 1966, though he did have 67 at-bats, 21 hits, and 15 runs driven in – all records for a player with no runs scored.

Rocky ColavitoA six-time All Star and seven-time 30 home run hitter, Rocky Colavito hit 374 homers during a career of only a dozen full seasons. He’s best remembered as a Cleveland Indian who became a Detroit Tiger after a blockbuster trade right before the start of the 1960 season when the defending AL home run champ was traded for the defending AL batting champ, Harvey Kuenn. The Tigers won the trade. Kuenn played only one season in Cleveland and put up only 5.0 WAR for the rest of his career. Colavito, meanwhile, homered 139 times in four years in Detroit, and he posted 27.2 more WAR in his career.

There were nine seasons when Del Crandall caught over 75 games. In eight of those seasons, he represented the Braves in the All-Star Game. His strong arm helped him throw out over 45% of attempted base stealers during his career and contributed to his four Gold Gloves. And his powerful bat for a catcher contributed to 179 career homers, fourth most for an NL catcher at the time of his retirement.

Best known for his 18-1 mark in 1959, Roy Face was one of the games early great relievers. Making his debut for the Pirates in 1953, the righty managed 16 years in the majors, during which he made three All-Star teams. He also led the league in saves three times, and recorded his third 20-save season before any other reliever had two. After retirement, Face received Hall support for fifteen years, though never eclipsing the 18.9% he garnered in 1987 when he finished in a 14th place tie with Ron Santo.

It’s pretty hard to believe how many of these obituaries can include the “Snodgrass’ Muff” game. Larry Gardner is one more of those players. In the tenth inning of the deciding eighth game, he drove in Steve Yerkes with the winning run of the Series. Gardner was a fine defensive third baseman, known for his ability to field bunts. Even though it was during the Deadball Era, hitting just .198 in 98 trips to the plate over four World Series, all wins, isn’t impressive at all.

Jim GilliamA fine player was lifetime Dodger Junior Gilliam. A 2B and 3B who would occasionally play LF as well, Gilliam led the majors in triples as a rookie in 1953. He made two All-Star teams during his 14 seasons. It was in the 1959 game when he homered against Billy O’Dell that he became the only player to homer in both the Negro League’s East/West Game and MLB’s All-Star Game.

Dick Groat was the long-time double play partner of Bill Mazeroski in Pittsburgh. Groat was a pretty good defender himself, but it was his offense, particularly his league leading .325 batting average that propelled him toward the 1960 NL MVL Award. Of course, it’s not like he deserved the award. The five-time All-Star was a lesser contributor than Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, and others in 1960. But he did win that batting title. His 26 games in the NBA were nice, but they don’t help his HoME cause. As a two-time All-American at Duke, he was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Elston HowardThe first black player to suit up for the New York Yankees was the versatile Elston Howard. He only got into 100 games eleven times in the majors, but in nine of those seasons he was an All-Star. From 1961-1964, he was a very valuable player, winning the AL MVP in 1963. Howard, who homered against Don Newcombe in his first World Series at-bat, might have been more influential on the game than even his playing record would indicate. He’s said to be the creator of the donut used to add weight to bats so those on deck can prepare for their at-bats. And it’s also possible that he was the first person to use the index finger and pinky finger to signal that there are two outs – because it was more easily seen from the outfield, not because he was against peace.

You might have heard that Roger Maris hit 61 homers for the Yankees in 1961. Somewhat famously, such a dangerous hitter coming off an MVP season the year before too didn’t draw a single intentional walk that year with Mickey Mantle batting behind him. Some people still call him the single-season record holder in homers because he didn’t use PEDs. Didn’t he though? I have no clue. This is idle speculation, but greenies, which is a cute term for speed, which is a cute term for amphetamines, were prominent in major league clubhouses when Maris played. Hell, some people still celebrate Babe Ruth because he hit his 60 in only 154 games. Me? I say the leader is Ned Williamson for the 1884 Chicago Cubs. He hit a record 27 before the powers that be moved the mound back from a manly 50 feet to a pathetic 60 feet 6 inches.

Stu Miller was a fine relief pitcher. Really, he was. He led the NL in ERA in 1958, and he posted the most games and saves in baseball in 1963. But Miller is best known for his performance in his one All-Star Game in 1961. Pitching for the NL in San Francisco, Miller was actually blown off the mound by powerful winds. And I’d say a lack of balance. No problem. He struck out four in his 1.2 innings and took the win as Roberto Clemente drove in Willie Mays and Frank Robinson to give the NL a 5-4 triumph in ten innings.

Dick RadatzAppropriately known as “The Monster”, Dick Radatz was a superstar out of the Boston bullpen from 1962 to 1965. Then he was pretty much done. Perhaps that’s because he threw more than 134 innings of relief per year during that time. He led the AL in saves in 1962 and 1964, and he set a relief record by fanning 181 in 1964. Over the next four seasons he threw about as many innings as he averaged at his height. And then he was done.

Known as “Moose” not because of his size but because of his hair’s resemblance to that of Benito Mussolini, Bill Skowron was a talented first baseman, mostly for the Yankees, who went to six All-Star games and won five World Series. All told, he hit .293 in 141 trips to the plate in the Series, and he homered eight times.

Bill White had a remarkable career in the game. As a player, he was good but nothing special. His six consecutive 20-homer seasons led to 202 in his career. He put up 200 of his 1706 career hits in 1963. And he won every NL Gold Glove Award at first base from 1960-1966. After his playing days, he spent 18 seasons calling Yankee games. And upon leaving there he became the second to last President of the National League.

Eddie YostKnown as “The Walking Man”, Eddie Yost was the prototypical Billy Beane player half a century too early. Eight times he drew at least 120 free passes, leading the league six of those times. His career batting average was a paltry .254, but he got on base at an outstanding .394 clip. In addition to walking, Yost showed impressive durability. His 829 consecutive games played from 1949-1955 remains one of the top-ten such streak’s in the game’s history.

That’s our death toll this election. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those who have made it into the HoME, and check back here after the 1977 election for more obituaries.

Miller

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Discussion

8 thoughts on “RIP, Players Falling Off the 1976 Ballot

  1. Ah, Moose Skowron. Broke my heart as a 9 year old beating my beloved Milwaukee Braves (Aaron, Mathews, Spahn, Burdette, the aforementioned Joe Adcock) with a grand slam in the tenth inning of game seven of the 1958 World Series. A terrific clutch hitter!

    Re Maris, I believe that he led the NL in doubles as a Cardinal in ‘ 67 playing in spacious Busch Stadium. That same compact swing that produced all those homers for the Yanks exploited the friendly right-field porch in Yankee Stadium. It wasn’t a lessening of his power in St. Louis. It was the dimensions of the home stadium. Maris’ problem was that he was rarely healthy for a full season.

    Gerry Monroy ________________________________________

    Posted by Gerry Monroy | February 3, 2014, 8:41 am
    • Thanks for your comments, Gerry. Memory is an interesting thing – and lack of memory is a real part of the reason we run this site. People romanticize certain players or teams or eras. What we hope to do is to use the statistical record to straighten out those sometimes romantic visions. While Maris certainly had health issues, he wasn’t much of a doubles hitter in St. Louis. He wasn’t within 25 of the league leader either season he played there. And he hit exactly seven two-baggers in both of his home NL seasons.

      Posted by Miller | February 3, 2014, 11:15 am
  2. For reasons unknown (maybe brought on from being on a jury for a criminal case for several days) I started thinking about who might be the best player no longer up for intellectual consideration. So I took a quick, relatively light review of recent candidates removed from intellectual consideration and identified the WAR/5, WAR/7 and WAR/10 from BBRef of these candidates (no Eric equivalents were used in this analysis). I then classified the players by their position (I didn’t focus on pitchers. Blame Obama.).

    My list isn’t particularly insightful: Nellie Fox, Rocky Covalito, Kiki Cuyler. I figured Nellie Fox would have the best qualifications based on being a middle infielder, until I looked at the spreadsheet and realized 2B had the highest averages for their HoME BBRef WAR/5/7/10. It reminded me how little I know for expecting it to be a corner outfielder or 1B.

    And so I share my ignorance with you.

    Posted by mike teller | February 3, 2014, 10:31 pm
    • I think Eddie Cicotte is probably the best player we’re no longer considering. Of course, Cicotte is out for non-performance issues.

      That’s right. The question is difficult enough that I basically avoided it.

      Posted by Miller | February 4, 2014, 4:53 am
      • That’s a really interesting question. Agreed that Cicotte is probably the best player by the conventions we set forth in our Home Rules (namely that we only consider MLB onfield accomplishments).

        If we worked with a looser set of rules, then guys like Gavy Cravath might be right up there with Cicotte.

        By the time we’re done, I think there will be a few big surprises. Spoiler hint: Watch the corners, that seems to be where the biggest discrepancies exist between traditional stats and modern analytical stats.

        Posted by eric | February 4, 2014, 8:33 pm
    • Mike, so psyched to hear that you used the HOMESTATS spreadsheet! I really enjoy keeping it up, and it’s got lots of fun info on it. I like that idea about some of the unelecteds getting some love. There’s a few other things I’d like to add someday when time allows, so let me know if you have any other suggestions, and I’ll work ’em in.

      Posted by eric | February 4, 2014, 8:28 pm
  3. Do you guys create the WAR (BBRef/Eric versions) and other data for all candidates or only the ones that you agree on? I just think it would be interesting to see considered, but no longer considered, in more of a chart form. However, I certainly understand that if this takes extra effort to complete, it makes sense only to do it for those who are HoME worthy. Maybe I’m just a lover of the lovable loser.

    Posted by mike teller | February 4, 2014, 11:21 am
    • We each create our own numbers using WAR and other inputs. Interesting idea about the chart. We’ll have to look into it.

      And for those lovable losers, keep reading the obituaries. Thanks for reading, Mike!

      Posted by Miller | February 4, 2014, 11:25 am

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