Shortstops tend to be the most underrated hitters in history, mostly because they are typically known for their gloves first. However, without some positive contributions offensively, even an Ozzie Smith level defender would have difficulty making it into the Hall of Fame. Shortstop is one of the more populated positions in Cooperstown, with 22 inductees at the position. The median score for shortstops comes in between Luis Aparicio and Barry Larkin at 26116. Here are how some outside shortstops rank:
Year Inducted: 1936 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 215/226)
In 1896, future Hall of Famer Ed Barrow was the owner of several Minor League teams, including one in Pattersonville, PA. It was there that he had a young shortstop who he thought belonged in the Major Leagues. So he called Fred Clarke (whom Barrow discovered) and Barney Dreyfuss (the owner of the Louisville Colonels) to come and scout this player. What the two men saw was a stocky, awkward looking player that they didn’t think would stick. However, the scout they brought with them said that he should be offered a contract, and soon Honus Wagner embarked on the greatest career of any shortstop in history.
Year Inducted: 2007 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 537/545)
Coming back from the 1994 player’s strike was the most difficult thing baseball has ever had to do. Literally, the sport had to be brought back from the dead. In order to do that, it needed something to rally around; in short, a hero. While the Home Run Race of 1998 would be a big draw, it wouldn’t have had the same effect if one man made himself into a legend simply by going to work every day, and playing one of the hardest positions on the diamond. In one of its dark times, baseball turned to Cal Ripken Jr and his quest to become the Iron Man.
Year Inducted: 1999 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 385/497)
Very few, if any, player plays solely one position for his entire career. Most players start at a difficult position like shortstop or center field and switch to an easier position as age or injuries set in. It is incredibly rare that players move to a difficult position as they age, and usually it is due to team need rather than any other reason. There are two prominent examples of this in the Hall of Fame. One was, of course, Craig Biggio, who played multiple positions due to team need. The other was the only player to win an MVP at two different positions, Milwaukee’s own Robin Yount. Continue reading
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: 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: 1964 (BBWAA, ballot #7, 189/201, runoff)
In 1962, the Hall of Fame welcomed two of the greatest players of all-time into their wings: pitcher Bob Feller, and second baseman Jackie Robinson. Both players, in addition to being statistical greats, were instrumental in shaping the culture of the game as well as the Hall of Fame itself. Upon gaining induction, Feller wrote a piece in The Saturday Evening Post where he campaigned for three players to be inducted. One was Satchel Paige, who would become the first Negro League player inducted in the following decade. Another was Red Ruffing, inducted within the next two ballots. The third was inducted on the following ballot, Chicago White Sox shortstop Luke Appling. A fair question to ask is, why did the writers fail to induct Appling sooner?