Year Inducted: 1936 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 222/226)
In 1992, Tom Seaver broke a record that many thought would never be broken. Seaver had set the record for the largest voting percentage ever for Hall of Fame induction. It was a record that was set all the way back in 1936, with the first ever induction class. But, it wasn’t a record that was set by Babe Ruth or Honus Wagner. It was set by the only player that could have challenged Ruth in his own time for being the greatest ever. It was set by the one person that may possibly have more legends surrounding him that Ruth. It was set by Tyrus Raymond Cobb.
Year Inducted: 1949 (BBWAA, ballot #6, 159/187, runoff)
Consistency is something that is a valuable commodity in baseball. When it comes to the Hall of Fame, consistency can sometimes be overvalued. A consistently average pitcher over 20 seasons, while being fairly remarkable, will sometimes put up numbers that make him look greater than he really was. The same is true of hitters. However, what makes a player like Eddie Murray or Hank Aaron amazing was that they were consistently great. Both players were constantly among the top players in their leagues, and could do that for a long time. Power hitters tend to be the more consistent hitters, but it isn’t always the case. One player that was a consistent hitter without a lot of power (in a classic sense) was Detroit second baseman, Charlie Gehringer.
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: 1947 (BBWAA, ballot #6, 128/161)
Catchers are expected to have short careers. They put a lot of physical strain on their bodies and will typically decline much faster than other players. Even so, it’s tough for them to stand out offensively, especially if they are rated negatively defensively. What made some of the greatest catchers as great as they were (Fisk, Carter, Berra, Piazza and of course Bench) was that they either were multidimensional (Carter and Bench) or just completely shattered all expectations of what people expected offensively of catchers (all the others). But, there’s one catcher that was there to start the offensive expectations among catchers, Mickey Cochrane.
Year Inducted: 1952 (BBWAA, ballot #12, 202/234)
The Tigers’ place in baseball history is often overlooked, especially when it comes to Hall of Fame outfielders. They’ve had some of the greatest hitters of all-time in their outfield. Ty Cobb, for one, was one of the most fearsome players of all-time and wound up with over 4000 hits. Al Kaline remains one of the more underrated stars of all-time, with 3000 hits and nearly 400 homers along with some great defense in right field. Before Kaline, in right field there was Wahoo Sam Crawford, teaming up with Cobb to form one of the best outfields of the early years of the game. But, who bridged the gap between the two right field sluggers? That would be right fielder Harry Heilmann.
Year Inducted: 1957 (Veterans Committee)
How does one define a slugger? Is it someone that hits a lot of home runs? Is it a player that leads his league in slugging percentage or extra base hits? If that’s the case, during the Dead Ball Era, who would be the best slugger? Ty Cobb was more known for just hits rather than hitting for power, as were stars like Honus Wagner and Eddie Collins. There was one, however, that was given the tag of “slugger”. That was Cobb’s fellow Detroit outfielder, Sam Crawford.
Year Inducted: 1992 (Veterans Committee)
Players who blossomed in the WWII years of the game used to be looked at with a certain stigma. With the country at war, and many great players drafted into service, those that stayed behind were either classified 4F or were too old. This led a lot of people to assume the talent pool was diminished, and therefore those players weren’t as good as they appeared to be. How else could the Browns win a World Series if teams weren’t at full strength? As time progressed, writers and historians started to overlook that stigma and realized that players from that time that were great deserve their proper recognition in the Hall of Fame. That’s why a player who dominated the game like Hal Newhouser did had to wait for many years to get inducted.