When Eric suggested that we write a pair of posts immediately after our 2015 obituaries, I first balked. That’s not because I haven’t learned a whole lot, but because I don’t remember who I was as a baseball fan, baseball researcher, or wannabe baseball scholar before the HoME. There’s no mental line of demarcation between what I used to know and what I know now. My love for the game has grown and grown and grown over my near-40 years of fandom. And my knowledge of the game keeps growing. Baseball, like the rest of life, should be a continuing education. This process has allowed me to learn more and more about the game I love. For that, I’m thankful.
- I’ve learned once again what an absolute gem BBREF is. If you don’t subscribe to their Play Index, you should. If you have a few bucks left over at the end of the year, you should sponsor a player page. Writing this has inspired me to sponsor Bobby Veach’s page for the next year. Like five others, he’s in the HoME but not any of the other Halls we follow.
- I’ve learned how difficult it is to put together a blog week-in and week-out for over two years. If my recollection is correct, we only missed one post on our Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. Congrats to all of you who have ever done so.
- I’ve learned what an absolute pleasure it is to accomplish a goal with a partner. Conducting the research it took to determine a Hall of my own might have seemed exciting, but it was Eric’s camaraderie and partnership
that allowed me to finish my end. Without him, not only would the HoME just be the HoM, but it would also be something a lot less scientific and something a lot less easily supported.
- I’ve learned just how touching it is to have someone read my work, whether it’s someone who I’ve know for years or someone who I just know from this blog or from theirs. Thank you, all.
- I’ve learned enough about partnership through the HoME that I was able to co-publish a book with another colleague while this project was going on. The partnership I had with my good friend and colleague, Dan Leyes, in order for us to write Public Speaking in the Semiosphere likely never would have happened were it not for the confidence I gained working on this project with Eric.
- I’ve learned that some great players were even greater than I thought. Tris Speaker, for example, I rank as the fifth best non-pitcher ever. Others I’d long underrated include Roberto Clemente, Eddie Mathews, and Phil Niekro.
- I’ve learned about some great players who weren’t anywhere near as great as I had
believed. And I learned why – all things other than hitting homers. These players include Willie Stargell, Harmon Killebrew, and Ralph Kiner, among others.
- I’ve learned, or maybe relearned, just how under-appreciated hitters of the 1970s and 1980s are. Jose Cruz, Roy White, Bobby Bonds, Darrell Evans, Willie Randolph, Sal Bando, and Buddy Bell all come to mind. Before this project I don’t believe I’d have put a single one of them in the top-215 all-time.
- I’ve learned about pitchers of the last three decades too. David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, Dave Steib and Orel Hershiser jump out as guys who rank higher historically than I’d have predicted. Kevin Appier and Chuck Finley rank waaaaay higher than I’d have thought.
- I’ve learned how to do things with Excel that I never thought I’d do.
- I’ve learned just how hard it is to be a catcher in Major League Baseball. It’s not just 100 years ago when their equipment stunk. It’s incredibly hard now. They play so much less than
other position players because their bodies simply cannot hold up. While they’re not as different from other position players as pitchers are, I think they’re less similar to shortstops than shortstops are to right fielders.
I’ve learned that it’s relatively easy to argue that one of my favorite players as an adult, Brian Downing, is better than one who should have been among my favorites as a kid, Jim Rice.
- I’ve learned that a few players, thought to be among baseball’s best ever in the field, weren’t close to as good as we’ve believed. Those guys include Omar Vizquel, Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox, and Ken Griffey Jr.
- And I’ve learned that this project isn’t ending with the induction of players. Check out the post coming up on Monday introducing the HoME’s manager project.
Thanks for reading, everyone.