We learned on Friday that the HoME is halfway full. Today, we’re reminded that it’s far easier to be eliminated than to get in – the time every election where we determine that there are certain players who will never receive our vote for the HoME. We pay tribute to those near-greats through these obituaries. And to make our process going forward is a bit easier, we remove them from intellectual consideration, though not actual consideration. In homage, we offer a brief write-up in this column that sometimes includes a little trivia about their careers or lives.
There were 744 players on our list for HoME consideration. With nineteen elections complete, we’ve elected 106 and put to rest 294 others. Please read more about the dead below and by looking over our RIP category. We now have 344 players to consider for our 106 remaining spots in the HoME. In other words, we can elect just under 31% of our remaining players.
As you can see by looking at the chart below, we’re carrying over as few players this year as in any election since 1911. We anticipated shorter ballots after switching to annual votes in 1977, but we haven’t gotten them. That’s both because we have a better sense of that the final HoME will look like, and we have fewer players who we have to evaluate each election. For me anyway, the obits are working very well.
Take a look at the chart below to monitor our progress.
Year Carried New Considered Elected Obituaries Continuing to Over Nominees this Election Next Election 1979 67 6 73 6 8 59 1978 78 6 84 5 12 67 1977 86 6 92 2 11 79 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 1979
The most interesting accomplishment of the playing career of Felipe Alou had to have been on September 15, 1963 when Willie Mays and Willie McCovey took a seat, and he was joined in the outfield by his brothers, Matty and Jesus, making them the only sibling outfield in big league history. Felipe was a talented hitter and totaled 2010 knocks in his career, including two hits crowns. He also led the NL in runs once and made three All-Star teams. His last baseball hardware came as a manager, taking home the NL Manager of the Year crown with the Expos in 1994.
It’s nice to say nice things about nice people. From what I can tell, Luis Aparicio was a nice person. And he’s in the Hall of Fame. Good for him. Really, good for him. It’s just that it’s his defense that got him there, and his defense wasn’t that good. What was good was his 1956 AL Rookie of the Year Award. Better than that was the nine consecutive AL stolen base titles to start his career. Aparicio finished with 2677 hits and was an All-Star in nine seasons. And he’s second in baseball history in SS assists to Ozzie Smith. The BBWAA voted him into the Hall in 1984. Good for him.
Since the mound was moved in 1893, no lefty pitcher threw more innings than Ted Breitenstein did in 1894, and no lefty started or lost more games than he did in 1895. Before the mound was moved, Breitenstein did something that only Bobo Hollimon has done since. He threw a no-hitter in his first major league start.
Smacking 262 home runs for four teams, mostly the Phillies, the left-handed hitting slugger Johnny Callison was a force in the NL in the early 1960s. He made three All-Star teams during his career that saw him take home a doubles title and a pair of triples crowns, but no triple crowns. It was the 1964 All-Star Game at Shea Stadium that was his best. After the NL tied the score in the bottom of the ninth against Red Sox closer Dick Radatz, the Monster retired a pair of hitters while watching runners advance to first and third. Up stepped Callison, and the rest is All-Star history. A shot to deep right won the game for the NL, 7-4.
Known as “The Capital Punisher” in part because of three straight seasons of 44+ homers for the Senators, Frank Howard was a huge man at 6’7” and an imposing figure for pitchers to face. As a Dodger, he was the 1960 NL Rookie of the Year. Traded to the Senators in a package for Claude Osteen after the 1964 season, Howard began to shine. All told, he won two HR titles, an RBI title, and a SLG title. He was an All-Star each year from 1968-1971 when he averaged over 40 homers per season. His long drive exploits were legendary, and as legends go, not necessarily all accurate. What seems correct though is that he’s one of four players, Harmon Killebrew, Cecil Fielder, and Mark McGwire being the others, to hit a ball onto the roof of the old Tiger Stadium.
Nicknamed “Gimpy”, I think because people are mean, Milt Pappas had a pretty interesting career. He was the first pitcher to reach 200 wins without the benefit of a 20-win season. And he was part of one of the most one-sided trades in the game’s history when the Reds gave up Frank Robinson for two plus years of Pappas, 70.1 innings of Jack Baldschun, and 138 at-bats from Dick Simpson. In perhaps his most famous moment, Pappas lost a perfect game when umpire Bruce Froemming called two straight balls outside, and Pappas walked Larry Stahl. Though the calls were said to be accurate, some say Pappas never forgave Froemming.
No lefty in the game’s history lost more games than Eppa Rixey’s 251. In addition to his 251 losses, he was on the winning end 266 times. He won 20 games on four occasions, including a league leading 25 for the Reds in 1922. Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment occurred in 1921, one of the first seasons of the live ball era. In 301 innings, he allowed just a single home run, a Clyde Barnhart solo shot on May 29. To be fair, the NL was in the dead ball era longer than the AL. The NL leaders in HR allowed only totaled 18 that season, and Highpockets Kelly led the NL with 23 bombs. And it was really tough to homer at Redland Field. Rixey’s Reds teammates hit only five homers all season at home. Okay, maybe his most impressive accomplishment is his Hall of Fame plaque. Of course, we don’t think he deserved it.
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 1980 election for more obituaries.