At the Hall of Miller and Eric, the fake death that comes every election cycle can sometimes be fun. We kind of rejoice when we write obituaries for mistakes that the Hall of Fame made. And I, for one, experience a downright giddiness by metaphorically killing off a certain baseball announcer. In brief, Tim McCarver didn’t seem to care too much for Sabermetrics, and I didn’t care too much for his work. Upon the announcement of his retirement from the booth little over a year ago, David Roth summed up my feelings and those of so many other fans when he wrote, “Imagine McCarver as a virtuoso who continues to play the same solo — regardless of the composition being performed, and then without even bothering to tune his instrument, and by the end without bothering to wait for the part in the piece that requires his performance, just standing up and sawing away at it whenever he’s moved to do so — and you start to see the problem.” But this is neither the time nor the place for me to rail on McCarver. He’s retired, which is a good thing. I hope he enjoys it. And now he’s HoME-dead.
Of the 744 players who have been or will be up for consideration, we’ve held 25 votes through 1985, elected 121, and put to rest 341 others. We now have 282 players to consider for our 91 remaining spots in the HoME. So we can now elect a little over 32% of our remaining players. Please read more about the dead below and by looking over our RIP category.
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 1985 47 10 57 1 12 44 1984 50 5 55 2 6 47 1983 52 8 60 5 5 50 1982 51 8 59 3 4 52 1981 59 8 67 1 15 51 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 1985
For more than half a century, until Mark McGwire’s 1987 campaign, Wally Berger held the record for most home runs by a rookie. The center fielder also represented the National League in the first four All-Star Games and led the circuit in both home runs and runs batted in in 1935. After a 1936 shoulder injury, Berger wasn’t the same. He finished with 242 homers and a .300 batting average.
Lou Brock was part of one of the game’s most lopsided trades ever when the Cubs sent him to St. Louis in exchange for Ernie Broglio at the trade deadline in 1965. For the Cards, he’d go on to become a member of the 3000 hit club, the single-season stolen base leader, and the all-time stolen base leader (both marks later topped by Rickey Henderson). Brock was at his best when the spotlight was brightest. In three World Series, Brock posted a .391/.424/.655 line. Trivially, he is one of only four players (Luke Easter, Joe Adcock, and Hank Aaron were the others) to homer into the center field bleachers of the Polo Grounds.
“Beeg Boy” Rico Carty led the NL with a .366 batting average and a .454 on base percentage in 1970, the best year of his fifteen in the bigs. But his career didn’t always go so well. He missed the entire 1971 season after suffering a knee injury while playing in the Dominican. This was just three years after missing another entire season with tuberculosis. On the plus side, the owner of 204 career homers and a .299 average was voted to start the 1970 All-Star Game despite not being on the ballot. The write-in campaign led to a walk and a groundout.
Bob Caruthers was one of the greatest players in the history of the American Association. In fact, no player totaled more WAR in the league’s history. He earned his nickname, “Parisian Bob” when he held out after the 1885 season and negotiated his salary via telegram from Paris. Of note, Caruthers’ listed weight was 138 pounds, and he may or may not have played through a very successful 1887 season with malaria. Perhaps that would explain the weight?
Larry Doby was the Jackie Robinson of the American League. And he was also the second black manager in the game’s history. Despite seven All-Star games, a pair of home run titles, and being truly a great player for a period of time, Doby is not a HoMEr. He’s the first player to receive a HoME obituary who is a member of the Hall of Fame, the Hall of Merit, and the Hall of Stats. We’ll share more about his career and the reasons we don’t believe he’s of HoME-quality this Friday. For now, we will let the AL’s best player other than Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle for the decade from 1948-1957 rest in peace.
With two no-hitters to his name, Ken Holtzman is one of fewer than three dozen pitchers who own a pair of no-nos, both of which kind of interesting. In 1971 he scored the only run of his gem, and two years earlier, he joined Sad Sam Jones as the only pitchers to throw a no-hitter without recording a strikeout. Holtzman won 21 games in 1973 when he made the second of his pair of All-Star teams. He also has six post-season wins to his credit, four in the A’s consecutive World Series wins from 1972-1974.
Recipient of one of the first lucrative free agent contracts, Catfish Hunter won the 1974 AL Cy Young Award for the A’s and then was allowed to leave for the Yankees in 1975. He signed a five-year, $3.2 million contract, and he actually had a better season in 1975 than he did in his Cy season. Hunter made eight All-Star teams and owns five World Series rings. His best personal performance was a perfect game recorded on May 8, 1968 against the Twins. While Hunter may not be deserving of his Hall of Fame plaque, his plaque is interesting nonetheless. At a time when players were asked by the Hall to choose whose hat they’d wear on their plaque, Hunter decided on neither the A’s nor the Yankees out of respect for owners Charlie Finley and George Steinbrenner.
Known more today for his announcing acumen or lack thereof, Tim McCarver was also a catcher of some repute who’s among a select few major leaguers to appear in games in four decades. He led the NL in triples in 1966, his first All-Star season, and he was second in the MVP voting in 1967, his second and final All-Star campaign. Later he became known as Steve Carlton’s personal catcher. And in 2012 he won the Ford C. Frick Award for his work in the broadcast booth.
A talented righty who won 130 games, Andy Messersmith is best known for joining Dave McNally in playing without contracts in 1975 and challenging baseball’s reserve clause. Two days before Christmas of that year, arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that players would be declared free agents after playing one year without a contract. Essentially, Messersmith and McNally ended baseball’s reserve clause after nearly a century and ushered in free agency in 1976. On the field, Messersmith won 20 games twice and made it to four All-Star teams, including a start in 1974.
George Scott had an interesting career with eight Gold Gloves and three All-Star games, including the 1977 contest when he homered off Goose Gossage. Of course, his career could have ended after a 1968 season during which he hit just .171/.236/.237 in 387 trips to the plate. But the Red Sox stuck with the slugging first baseman who totaled 271 HR and 1051 RBI in what ended up as a solid career. His best season might have been 1973 when he put up 6+ WAR, but his most famous was 1975 when he won two-thirds of the triple crown and also led the AL in total bases.
The only player since 1893 with both more wins than Cy Seymour’s 61 and more hits than his 1724 is Babe Ruth. As a pitcher, he led the league in strikeouts in 1897 and 1898. As a hitter, he led in batting average, hits, doubles, triples, and runs batted in in 1905. Seymour may well be baseball’s greatest two-way player since the mound was moved to 60’6” non-Ruth category). And perhaps that’s why his sale from the Reds to the Giants in 1906 for $10,000 was the largest in history to that point.
Wilbur Wood had one heck of an interesting career as an incredibly durable starter and reliever. For half a decade, from 1970-1974, it could be argued that no pitcher in the game had more value on the mound. The knuckleballing lefty who made it to three All-Star teams led the AL in wins and innings in 1972 and 1973. In 1968 Wood set a since-broken record by pitching in 88 games, and he topped 300 innings four straight seasons, including starting (and losing) both halves of a double header in 1973. Trivially, the 49 starts he made with battery-mate Ed Hermann in 1972 are the most by a duo since the mound moved to 60’6” in 1893.
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 1986 election for more obituaries.