Year inducted: 1976 (Veterans Committee)
The 1970s were actually a great time for the Hall of Fame. Beginning in 1971, the Hall of Fame finally started selecting and inducting members of the Negro Leagues. This means that longtime baseball legends like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson were finally getting the recognition that they deserve, and affirming their place among the game’s immortals. The decade also saw some of the best players of all-time ever being inducted by the BBWAA-including Willie Mays (1979), Mickey Mantle (1974) and Ernie Banks (1977). And yet, the decade saw some of the worst inductees of all-time, most of them on the back of the Veterans Committee.
While the Veterans Committee’s rules and procedures have changed a lot over the years, the overall mission has remained clear. To determine the worthiness of players from the early part of the game (19th century), and modern players that the BBWAA may have overlooked for some reason. They serve as a good check and balance system to ensure deserving candidates don’t get lost in the fold. The problem comes when either side plays favorites.
Like several other players mentioned on this blog, Freddie Lindstrom was voted in by the Frankie Frisch and Bill Terry coalition that voted in several of their teammates. Each player’s induction was met with criticism and derision by the BBWAA and general populace. Lindstrom was no exception.
Lindy, like many of the others, wasn’t a bad player-in fact he was a decent one. In his career, he slashed .311/.351/.449 for a wRC+ of 109. In fact, like Chick Hafey and Ross Youngs before him, Lindstrom started off on track to a Hall of Fame career. In his first seven seasons, he hit .327/.369/.474 for a wRC+ of 116. He also combined some very good hitting with being a strong defender at third base, and gained a reputation among the elite in the game as the best third baseman of the time. However, injuries started taking their toll on Lindstrom. In 1931 he broke his leg, and also started suffering from back spasms. His injuries forced him to switch to the outfield, where he mostly remained until his retirement in 1936. Unfortunately, his injuries were severe enough to prevent him from reaching the heights he seemed destined to achieve.
Lindstrom, besides being a teammate of Frisch and Terry, was also another of a slew of players in the Hall of Fame that were inducted due to an inflated batting average. In Lindstrom’s career the average Major League hitter had a batting average of .291. It was a period where many players hit for a high average, which really dilutes the value of a .300 hitter when they are in such abundance. Lindstrom was a solid, above average hitter, but is not one of the all-time greats.
Stay tuned for the next update, the first catcher in the rankings.
On deck 7/9/16 this catcher was one of the few players from the 1919 Black Sox to not get banned for life.