Year Inducted: 1998 (Veterans Committee)
When Curt Flood challenged the Reserve Clause in the late 1960’s, it was far from the first time that a player had attempted to challenge it. Attempts go all the way back to the late 1890’s with Monte Ward, who in addition to being a player and manager was also a full-fledged lawyer, who actually had a player he used twice to try to overrule the Reserve Clause. When the Giants’ shortstop had worn out his welcome with his team, he signed a two year deal with the White Sox. After the first year there, he tried to return to the Giants, but Charlie Comiskey went all the way to the US Court of Appeals to block him from playing a game for anyone other than the White Sox. That player was George Davis.
Year Inducted: 1939 (Veterans Committee)
Record keeping has always been the lifeblood of baseball statistics. This was, of course, insanely difficult in the era before computers and electronic databases. In the pre-1900’s era, every team had their own scorekeeper, and there weren’t any overseers from the league. As such, many errors were made that for a long time were passed down from generation to generation. Along with that, with baseball in its infancy, rules and stats were constantly in a state of flux. For example, there was at least one season where walks were counted as hits. Many historians have gone back and modified the stats for those old time players, but controversy remains. Some sites will use the old totals, some will use some of the corrections, some use all of the corrections and it can get confusing for studies such as this. The player that suffers the most from this is Cap Anson.
Year Inducted: 1980 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 340/385)
One of the more fun things to do in the offseason, especially around Hall of Fame ballot times, is to try to piece together each team’s all-time greatest team, and even compare them to each other. Of course every person will probably have a different team for each franchise, but the Yankees would obviously be the best in the AL, with the Red Sox and A’s vying for second, but the Tigers shouldn’t be overlooked. For their outfield, the Tigers would have to choose three of Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann and of course, the great Al Kaline.
Year Inducted: 1990 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 363/444)
The Big Red Machine was one of the greatest assemblies of talent ever on a baseball roster. Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, George Foster, Dan Driessen, Dave Concepcion, Senior Griffey, Cesar Geronimo, what an imposing and deep lineup. But, while many of those players were together for a couple of years, it wasn’t until 1972 that the team gelled and began its dominance. It was this season that the Reds acquired someone to man the keystone position that proved to be the key to them exploding. That was when they got future Hall of Famer, Joe Morgan.
Year Inducted: 1977 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 321/383)
When the Cubs won the World Series this year, many people felt it was vindication for a lot of their greatest players that either never got to play in the World Series or even a postseason series. Players like Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins never got to play in the World Series for the Cubs, and the team made absolutely sure to honor their past legends during the World Series. Unfortunately, the greatest Cub of all-time didn’t live to see his team bring home the trophy. That player was, of course, Ernie Banks.
Year Inducted: 1981 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 337/401)
Entrance into the 300 win club has been a gateway for induction for starting pitchers. That’s allowed for pitchers like Early Wynn and Tom Glavine to gain induction despite maybe not being the best pitchers of their time period. But, if 300 wins gets a player into the Hall of Fame, why is the average for Hall of Fame pitchers only about 271 not counting the relief pitchers? Maybe, at least in terms of the Hall of Fame, the BBWAA have been accepting the fact that a pitcher’s win total isn’t necessarily the be-all-end-all for judging a pitcher’s greatness. If it was, pitchers like Dizzy Dean and Bert Blyleven would never have been inducted, much less one of the most intimidating and dominating right handers of all-time, Bob Gibson.
Year Inducted: 2014 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 478/571)
Baseball loves its number clubs, doesn’t it? The 300 win club, 3000 strikeout club, 500 home run club, and others are used as benchmarks for greatness. However, there is one club that relatively few people talk about: the .300/.400/.500 club. In all of baseball history, roughly 20 players have maintained a .300 batting average, .400 OBP and .500 SLG for their entire careers. This is a feat that legendary hitters like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio haven’t accomplished. Not surprisingly, most of them are in the Hall of Fame that are eligible (Joe Jackson was part of the Black Sox Scandal and Lefty O’Doul only had 3000 plate appearances so he should be disqualified), or will be in the near future (with the possible exception of Manny Ramirez). One of the most overlooked players of this club is Frank Thomas.