Today is not a sad day, my friends. Rather, it’s a day we get to pay tribute to some of the near-greats of the game, those who are falling off the HoME ballot, never to be heard from again. Unless, of course, we change our minds. Yes, it’s obituary time. We remove players from our active consideration set so that we can make our process going forward easier. With fewer players to consider, we think we’re better able to get the right players in the HoME.
There were once 744 players on our list for HoME consideration. With our twentieth election complete, we’ve elected 109 and put to rest 299 others. Please read more about the dead below and by looking over our RIP category. We now have 336 players to consider for our 103 remaining spots in the HoME. In other words, we can elect only about 30.5% of our remaining players.
And after each election, I’ll offer the following chart to keep you apprised of our progress. Yes, the chart is getting a bit long, but I keep it because it lets you see exactly what we’re dealing with – how many we elect, disregard, and consider each election.
Year Carried New Considered Elected Obituaries Continuing to Over Nominees this Election Next Election 1980 59 8 67 3 5 59 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 1980
At a time when nicknames so frequently took the place of given names, Fielder Jones was left to be known by his given name, Fielder. Would you rather call him by his middle name, Allison? Whether a Fielder or an Allison, Jones played from 1896-1908 and then tacked on a few games in the Federal League in 1914 and 1915. He was best known, perhaps, as the player/manager of the “Hitless Wonder” Chicago White Sox who won the 1906 World Series. Jones, a regular batting second and playing center field in that Series, helped the team live up to its name, hitting just .143/.250/.143. Still, he tied for the team lead by scoring four runs despite just three hits, three walks, and a caught stealing.
Mostly a Tiger middle infielder, Dick McAuliffe was a three-time All-Star who led the AL in runs scored in 1968. He had a pretty odd batting stance, which you can get an idea of by checking out his 1973 Topps card above. Most trivially, he’s the only American Leaguer ever to come to the plate 500+ times in a season without ever grounding into a double play. (Both Craig Biggio and Augie Galan have accomplished the same in the NL). Most historically, perhaps, was his participation in the 1968 World Series where his Tigers came back from 3-1 down to beat Bob Gibson and the Cardinals. Of course, McAuliffe managed only one hit in the final three games while the Tigers scored 22 runs.
The only player in major league history to pitch in a game during which he also hit for the cycle was Jimmy Ryan. Ryan was a hellion, a hero, and a financial advisor. During his career, he punched two reporters. He also, along with Walt Wilmot, saved hundreds of fans by ripping down barbed wire with a bat so they could escape a fire at Chicago’s West Side Park. And he advised in a 1905 article that baseball makes a poor profession because a player was considered old at age 35. When Ryan was 35, by the way, he posted a .405 OBP and 4.3 WAR for the 1898 Chicago Orphans.
Known to a generation of fans only as a pitching coach for 20+ seasons and the father of two major league pitchers, Mel Stottlemyre won 164 games in 11 seasons as a New York Yankee. He led the league in losses twice, but he won 20 on three other occasions and anchored a Yankee staff during some of the team’s very lean years basically between the end of Mickey’s greatness and Reggie’s arrival. Maybe his coolest feat was hitting an inside the park grand slam in a complete game victory over the Red Sox in 1965. He might say besting Bob Gibson in the 1964 World Series as a rookie was his top achievement, though the Yanks would go on to lose that Series with Stottlemyre taking the loss in Game 7, once again against Gibson.
Bob Veale was a lefty pitcher for the Pirates and Red Sox who posted 120 wins and 21 saves in thirteen seasons. He was an All-Star twice, won one K crown, and led the NL in walks four times in a five-year span. He has a pretty strange year in 1971 with a 6-0 record in relief despite a 6.99 ERA. Perhaps that season was karmic retribution for the 1968 season when he was 13-14 as a starter despite a 2.05 mark.
That’s it for 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 1981 election for more obituaries.