Year Inducted: 1936 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 205/226)
Who was the best World Series pitcher ever? Several players would seem to have a claim to that title. Don Larsen had a perfect game in 1956, Jack Morris had his masterpiece in 1991, and Whitey Ford had lots of World Series wins for his Yankees. Yet, none of them had the best single World Series. In the second ever World Series in 1905, the New York Giants were pitted against the Philadelphia A’s with four of the best pitchers of all-time slated to pitch. The A’s put their hopes on the arms of Chief Bender and Eddie Plank, but they mustered a total of three runs. All three of those runs came in Game 2 against Joe McGinnity, who would win the crucial Game 4 for the Giants. In Games 1, 3 and 5 the A’s were stymied by one of the best right handers of all-time, Christy Mathewson.
Year Inducted: 1937 (BBWAA, ballot #2, 153/201)
Every record is meant to be broken. That’s the saying that most people in baseball live by. No matter how improbable it may have seemed at the time, Babe Ruth’s homerun records, Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak, Ty Cobb’s career hits and even Walt Johnson’s strikeout totals have all been surpassed and in some cases multiple times. Still, there are those records that just seem like too much has to happen in order for them to be broken. Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak seems pretty safe, as does Orel Hershiser’s shutout innings streak and Johnny Vander Meer’s consecutive no hitters are probably untouchable. But, perhaps no one is more associated with unapproachable records than Cy Young.
Year Inducted: 1946 (Veterans Committee)
There aren’t many first generation starters remaining in the Hall of Fame to cover. And, up to this point, a lot of them have been similar. They threw a ton of innings, didn’t strike many out, and had really low ERA’s. They mostly had short careers, but there were a few that pitched longer than 15 years like Pud Galvin and Cy Young. But, only one of the first generation of starting pitchers could rack up strikeouts like some current pitchers. That would be Philadelphia Athletics lefty, Rube Waddell.
Year Inducted: 1964 (Veterans Committee)
Casey at the Bat was a poem written by Ernest Thayer back in the 1880’s. It deals with the exploits of “Mighty Casey”, a mythological dynamic slugger, trying to win the game for the Mudville team one day but strikes out on three pitches. Thayer’s inspiration came from a game between the Giants and Phillies in August of 1887. In that game, against one of the top pitchers in the game, Dan Casey came up to bat and actually hit a tying single in a game that ended in a draw (so really, he only got the title from a phrase in the article). The mannerisms and motions of the pitcher, however, came from the man who surrendered the tying hit to the real Casey, Giants ace Tim Keefe.
Year Inducted: 1978 (Veterans Committee)
Many rules about Hall of Fame voting have changed over the years. Time on the ballot, number of ballots and the amount of time after retirement for a player to go on a ballot have all been modified since the first ballots were cast in 1936. And yet, one thing to stay constant over the years was the length of a career. In order for a player to be voted upon for the Hall of Fame, he must have played for 10 seasons in the Major Leagues. The Hall of Fame, for extreme circumstances (Lou Gehrig’s early retirement due to ALS, Roberto Clemente’s sudden death, etc.) has passed resolutions to bypass their voting requirements in the past due to tragedy, but that usually happens instantly. Addie Joss, however, had to wait for more than 65 years following the end of his career to be considered for induction.
Year Inducted: 1949 (Veterans Committee)
Does it really come down to luck? Is it possible the only thing that gets players into the Hall of Fame and makes them immortal is simply the winding of fate? Is that the only thing that prevents some of the older players from being recognized, while lesser players have been inducted? Baseball experienced a boom in popularity in the early 1900’s thanks to the newspaper industry. Now, more than ever, people were not just going to games, but also reading about them and the players. This happened right around 1905, and most players from before then were very quickly shoved further and further back in the collective conscience. One of the ones who suffered the most from this was Kid Nichols.
Year Inducted: 1939 (Veterans Committee)
The Internet can be a crazy place sometimes. Never before in the history of man has there been such a venue for the public to see the absolute creativity of so many people. Twitter, especially, has been ground breaking. Many sports figures have a Twitter account, including Hank Aaron and Joe Morgan. The problem becomes when the image of someone on the Internet takes away from who they really are. Would Chuck Norris be as known today if not for all the Chuck Norris jokes? Probably not. Unfortunately, the way that some people know of Old Hoss Radbourn isn’t due to his fantastic pitching resume, it’s from a Twitter account.