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: 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: 1987 (BBWAA, ballot #6, 354/413)
In the mid-2000’s, Albert Pujols’ consistency with the Cardinals led to the nickname “The Machine”. For 10 years, Pujols hit 30 homers, had a .300 batting average and drove in 100 runs, with 100 runs scored nearly every year, too. Very few players can have that sort of consistency. Hank Aaron was one of those players, as was Eddie Murray. But, so was Chicago Cubs left fielder Billy Williams, who year after year put up great numbers while toiling for a poor Cubs team.
Year Inducted: 1949 (Veterans Committee)
It seems like, ever since the Cubs won the World Series this year, there’s no escaping them. And, to be honest that’s a good thing. The Cubs championship was historic, and it’s good for baseball to have the World Series title bounce around a little bit, instead of dynasties forming strong holds on it. But, and this may surprise a lot of people, they have won the World Series before. Twice, in fact. In the late 1900’s, the Cubs were poised to become a dynasty. They had a strong double play combination and one of the best pitchers of all-time anchoring their staff. That was, of course, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.
Year Inducted: 2005 (BBWAA, ballot #3, 393/516)
Some trades are instantly panned when they are made. The Red Sox trading Jeff Bagwell away was seen as an overpay since all they got was 22 innings of Larry Anderson. Ditto with the Cardinals’ trade of Steve Carlton. And yet, there are times when the seemingly key piece in the trade becomes a huge steal. In 1982 the Cubs traded Ivan DeJesus to the Phillies for Larry Bowa and a 22-year old infielder. Bowa, a fairly big name at the time, put up a 66 OPS+ in roughly 500 games for the Cubs while DeJesus put up similar stats for the Phillies. The real gem in that trade was the middle infielder, Ryne Sandberg, who would put up great numbers and go on to the Hall of Fame.
Year Inducted: 2012 (Veterans Committee)
Who would have ever thought that this day would come? The Chicago Cubs are World Champions. An historic and dramatic Game 7 victory brought the Cubs their first World Series title in 108 years. Within that time, the Cubs have had many Hall of Fame players that either played very little in the postseason, or never played in it at all. From pitchers like Fergie Jenkins to everyday players like Ernie Banks, many never even competing for the postseason. Many players that are linked to the Cubs, even if they didn’t play their entire careers there, became icons for the city and franchise, and the recent victory for the Cubs feels bittersweet when cherished members of the franchise like Banks, Harry Caray and of course Ron Santo aren’t here to see it.
Year Inducted: 1991 (BBWAA, ballot #3, 334/443)
There are some players that have heart breaking stories; stories that make people cry and stories that movies should be made out of. Today’s pitcher lost his mother when she was 52, was divorced once, lost his second wife to an automobile accident, then lost his fiance to suicide while she also killed their 3-year old daughter. Through it all, instead of going clinically insane he dominated the game and became an ambassador for several charities and the first Canadian in the Baseball Hall of Fame. That man was Ferguson Jenkins.