Year Inducted: 1945 (Veterans Committee)
There are some players that get celebrated more for their personality than for their play. Most of these would be players from the early years of the game. Players like King Kelly and Rube Marquard are some very good players, but get remembered due to their antics than their stats. Sometimes, even a player’s death can cement them in baseball lore forever. Such is the tale of Ed Delahanty.
Delahanty was one of the first great right handed hitters, slashing .346/.411/.505 with a wRC+ of 144 in his 16 year career. Playing mostly for the Phillies, Big Ed hit 101 homers along with 522 doubles and 181 triples in between bouts of drunkenness and hangovers. He gained a reputation as being able to do everything on a ballfield, as he was a great and powerful hitter (the first man to top .400 three times), he was also a good baserunner (he stole 455 bases) and drove in his fair share of runs (1464 RBI, 1599 runs). Delahanty even had one of the first 4-HR games in history while (as The Baseball Project song states) “the ball was dead and the fences far”.
Delahanty was also renowned for his fielding ability. With a strong throwing arm and solid speed, Delahanty was able to put up 61 fielding runs, an impressive total for a left fielder. His 238 outfield assists ranked 11th all-time when he stopped playing.
Delahanty’s career was one of the finest of all-time. He ranked fourth in fWAR and second in RBI at the time that his career ended. However, the way his career ended often overshadows his results. While playing for the Washington Senators in 1903, Delahanty was out of shape and constantly in trouble for his boozing. After a trip to Detroit, on the way to New York, Delahanty was kicked off the train after needing to be subdued. This resulted in him being on the International Bridge while spotted by a watchman looking for smugglers. After a brief scuffle, the watchmen fell down while dragging him back to the middle of the bridge and lost track of Big Ed. Then there was a splash and his body washed up in Canada a few days later.
Delahanty was obviously one of the best hitters of all-time and his personal demons with alcohol robbed him of a very long career. As such, he still is a very deserving member of the Hall of Fame.
Stay tuned for the next updates.
On deck 11/27/16:
#47- This left hander was one of the best pitchers ever and won exactly 300 games.
#46- The Big Hurt