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1998, RIP, Obituaries of Players We're No Longer Considering, Uncategorized

RIP, Players Falling Off the 1998 Ballot

It's unusual to find such a baseball-oriented grave site. And it's unusual for the HoME to write an obit for someone with Dizzy's greatness.

It’s unusual to find such a baseball-oriented grave site. And it’s unusual for the HoME to write an obit for someone with Dizzy’s greatness.

Today we kill off eight more players, three of whom, all pitchers, who have long been part of our backlog. One is in the Hall of Fame, our 51st such causality. One is in the Hall of Stats and the Hall of Merit. And one is an underrated Philadelphia A’s swingman from the 1920s.

At the start of our project, we had 744 players in our database for review. In 1998 we inducted Bert Blyleven, Gary Carter, Red Faber, and Willie Randolph. That means we’ve elected 158 of the game’s greats in our 38 elections. And now we’re up to a robust 418 obituaries. That means we have 169 players to review for our 54 remaining HoME spots. Right now we can elect just under 32% of the remaining population.

Below is the tally from each election since our first in 1901.

Year   Carried     New      Considered   Elected   Obituaries  Continuing to
         Over    Nominees  this Election                       Next Election
1998      33         9          42          4           8           30
1997      40         3          43          3           7           33
1996      42         7          49          4           5           40
1995      41        11          52          4           6           42
1994      38       8+1          47          3           3           41
1993      41         9          50          3           9           38
1992      40        10          50          3           6           41
1991      40         9          49          1           8           40
1990      42         9          51          3           8           40
1989      45        10          55          6           7           42
1988      44         7          51          2           4           45   
1987      44         3          47          0           3           44
1986      44         4          48          1           3           44
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 1998

Jesse BarfieldJesse Barfield led the AL in home runs and made his only All-Star team for the Blue Jays in 1986, but the one thing that really made Barfield special was that arm. And what an arm it was. Michael Humphreys of Wizardry calls Barfield the second best defensive RF in history. And he hit 241 homers to boot. Not bad.

Jack ClarkKnown today as much of his off-field problems and comments about Albert Pujols as anything he did on the field, Jack Clark was nonetheless quite an effective hitter when he was able to stay healthy. With two years at All-Star level and another four or five with 4-WAR, he put together a nice career. Even though he hit an impressive 340 home runs, it was during the 1985 NLCS when he shined the most. It’s Game Six of the series. Clark’s Cardinals trail by a run going into the ninth. Tom Niedenfuer allows two to reach base, but he has two outs when he gets to Clark. A three-run bomb and three Ken Dayley outs later, and the Cards were on their way to the World Series.

Dizzy DeanWe likely haven’t written an obituary for anyone with a peak as good as Dizzy Dean’s. The Cardinal great and 1934 NL MVP was well on his was to his sixth consecutive All-Star level season when a 1937 All-Star Game line drive off the bat of Earl Averill fractured his toe. Dean’s motion had to be altered, and he lost his blazing fastball as a result. Before the injury, Dean had a run of four consecutive NL K titles. He also won 20 games four years in a row, including victory titles in 1934 and 1935 when he won 30 and 28 games respectively. Dean’s HoME omission is a difficult one, but with a body of work really only six seasons long, we think it’s the correct one.

Mike FlanaganMike Flanagan was a fine lefty hurler for the O’s and Jays from 1975-1992. He won 167 games in his career, including an AL-leading 23 in 1979. To go along with those wins came the Cy Young Award. Frankly, there were a bunch of better pitchers in the AL that season, but voters were impressed by the wins. He never threw a no-hitter himself, but he did pitch the seventh inning of a combined no-no against the A’s in 1991.

Pedro GuerreroOne thing Pedro Guerrero could do was hit. It’s a good thing too, because he really couldn’t field. The five-time All-Star also couldn’t stay on the field. As a Dodger and a Cardinal, he topped 137 games only five times. Hell, he topped 115 just seven times. There were bright sports though. His bat placed him third in the MVP voting three times and fourth once. He led the NL in OBP and SLG in 1985. And he was tri-MVP of the 1981 World Series.

Carney LansfordThe 1981 AL batting champ, Carney Lansford, played 3B in the majors for fifteen seasons for the Angels, Red Sox, and mostly with the A’s. A .305 career hitter in the post-season, Lansford excelled in the 1989 playoffs, first hitting .455 against he Blue Jays in the ALCS and then posting a .438 in the World Series against the Giants. With the outstanding Play Index from BBREF, we can learn such things as Lansford played the fewest games of anyone in MLB history with at least 1000 runs, 2000 hits, 200 SB, and 150 HR. It’s useless knowledge, but it’s fun.

Billy Pierce, 1951It’s very difficult for us to kill off Billy Pierce, a lefty who pitched mostly for the White Sox and mostly in the 1950s. Pierce is a personal favorite of mine, and he’s a guy who Eric clung to for a few elections after the time I had given up the ghost. He had four seasons when he pitched like an All-Star and two more when he was pretty close. And if you’re crafting an argument in his favor, you would be accurate to say his sixth in WAR among AL lefties for the first 70 years of the Junior Circuit’s existence. He made seven All-Star teams with the White Sox, and he led the AL in ERA in 1955 and wins in 1957. His career highlight may have occurred with the Giants in 1962 when he was awesome against the Dodgers in the three-game tie-breaker to end the season. He pitched a shutout to open the series and then recorded a save to close it. Overall, Pierce is close. But he has fewer three-win seasons than Mel Stottlemyre, Bob Welch, or Larry French. He has fewer four-win seasons than Bob Lemon, Jimmy Key, or Claude Passeau. And he has fewer five-win seasons than Jerry Koosman, Carlos Zambrano, or Jon Matlack. There are arguments on both sides. We just found the “no” arguments more compelling than the “yes” arguments.

Eddie RommelIt’s possible that Eddie Rommel was involved in the most ridiculous game in baseball history. At least one of the most ridiculous. Rommel pitched for the Philadelphia A’s from 1920-1932 and later became the first umpire to wear glasses in a game. But that hardly matters. Here’s what matters. It’s July 10, 1932. Philadelphia starter Lew Krause gives up three runs to the Indians in the first inning, so manager Connie Mack pulls him. Okay, fine. But there’s one problem. Mack only brought one relief pitcher with him to Cleveland that day. But this was 1932, when men were men and pitchers threw until their arms fell off. After the A’s fourth, they led 5-3. But Rommel gave up the lead. They scored seven in the seventh, but Rommel coughed up six in the bottom of the inning to relinquish the lead again. They backed him with two more in the ninth, but he gave up one to tie. There was no more scoring for six innings. Rommel’s A’s then ended the misery with two in the sixteenth. But they didn’t! Rommel gave the two runs back. It wasn’t until the eighteenth that the A’s and Rommel got the win. After pitching 17 innings, giving up 29 hits and 9 walks, and allowing 14 runs, Eddie Rommel got the win.

That’s it for our 1998 election. Please check out our Honorees page to see the plaques of our four new members and all of the HoMErs. And check back here after the 1999 election for more obituaries.




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