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Ty Cobb [From Bill Burgess' Ty Cobb Memorial Collection]
Did Ty Cobb Once Kill A Man?
Ruth and Wagner Supporters (spreadsheet)
Was Cobb the greatest all-around baseball player who ever lived?  PART I



By Bill Burgess III

Introducing George Harold Sisler:  March 24, 1894, Manchester, OH - March 23, 1973, Richmond Heights, MO
St. Louis Browns, 1B,  '15-27, Washington Senators 1B, 1920,   Boston Braves 1B, 1928-30
St. Louis Browns manager, 1924-26
Boston Braves coach, 1930
Brooklyn Dodgers' scout, 1943-50, Pittsburgh Pirates scout, 1951-73, his death.
Since most people now feel so strongly that Lou Gehrig deserves to rate as the 1st baseman on the All-Time All-Star Team, I will now introduce
my choice, as an alternative, Georgeous George Sisler, The Perfect Player, The Sizzler.
I will do my best to express why I chose Sisler as my 1B, on my All-Time All-Star Team over Lou Gehrig. A lot of it was well known at that time,
but obscure for ages by now.
From around 1917, Sisler was touted as the natural next successor to Cobb by a great number of people. Like Ruth, he started out as a good pitcher,
but his hitting forced his conversion to a position player way before Ruth. Sisler was greater than Hornsby earlier. He was brilliant at first,
and only Chase out-fielded him. Hornsby started as a SS and converted to 2nd, presumably because he couldn't catch a popup behind him.
To be concise, Sisler was seen as the Greatest Player in BB from '20-22. Many articles in Sporting News and Baseball Magazine in my files confirm
this. Sisler and Hornsby were great cross-town rivals, and admired each other greatly. On the open market at the time, Sisler commanded the
higher trade price. Hornsby was perceived as #2, after Sisler, until he developed eye problems, which he never recovered 100% from.
I am basing my rating on peak value only. At their best, Sisler outplayed and out-classed Rogers in the field, on the bases, and in the dugout.
Rogers was way too unnecessarily blunt and this hurts team cohesion and morale. And while Hornsby's owners kept peddling him off, before '23,
trading Sisler was unthinkable. Branch Rickey turned down something like $350K for him. After 1923, Hornsby was the much better player.
In another thread, someone blasted me for putting Sisler on my all-time team, and Gehrig on my B team. I've included my defense to that
comparison below. Hornsby did have more pop, but I don't know if the Sizzler wouldn't have upped his power numbers if his eyes didn't go bad on him.
Perhaps another measurement of how they were perceived in their day is the Hall of Fame vote. Here it is;
Sisler Hornsby
1936,Feb.2----------- 77 (34%)---------105 (46%)
1937,Jan.20---------106 (52%)-----------53 (26%)
1938,Jan.19---------179 (68%)-----------46 (17%)
1939,Jan.25---------235 (85%)elected-176(64%)
1942,Jan.21--------------------------------182 (.78%)elected
Many people who had seen Sisler from 1918-22, never forgot him and always rated him up with Ruth, Cobb, and Wagner. I probably haven't convinced
you, but he was such an intense, competitive, complete all-round player, that I can't rate him lower than Hornsby, who couldn't catch a pop fly.
I've taken a lot of heat for my choice of Sisler for a long time. But he personifies my type of player over Lou.
I won't knock Lou in defense of George because,
1. You can't knock Lou.
2. I like him and put him on my B team.
One thing I can say by way of explanation is that I'm comparing them for peak value, not career. And there are many things to be said for The
Sizzler that are not obvious.
1. He was the greatest defensive 1B in BB history, after Hal Chase on an honest day.
2. He led his league in SB 4 times.
3. In 1922, he was 1st in the ML in TPR, with 6.3.
4. In '20, he finished 2nd behind Ruth in HRs with 19, in '19 he finished in a 3way tie for 2nd in HRs with 10.
5. In 1920, he led Ruth in total bases, 399 to 388, despite Ruth's 54 HRs to George's 19.
You may not be aware of it, but for the 1919-22 period, Sisler, and NOT Ruth was considered the Greatest Player in the game. This was the opinion
of such people as Christy Mathewson and Ferdinand C. Lane, long-time editor-in-chief of Baseball Magazine from 1912-37, Branch Rickey,
Bob Quinn, and many others.
While it is true that George Sisler's peak, 1920-22, is all too brief, while there, he blazed like a white-hot super-nova.  In 1920, although he led the AL in
only BA. (.407), and Hits (257 - still the ML record), he also posted the following stats.  However, I thought it might be more interesting to
display them in contrast with those of the Babe for the same year.
Sisler----27--- 154------692---631----404--178--137---257--49---18---19----122--399--46--19--.407--.449--.632----179-----42---17---71--15-----2-
Ruth-----25----142------616---458----305--205--158---172--36-----9---54---137--388-150--80-.376- -.532-- .847----252-----14---14---50---5------3
Name------FR--TPR----------(home SLG---away SLG)
Sisler------13---7.8----------(.760------------.503)  Away SLG. is 66% of Home SLG.
Ruth---------0---9.1----------(.985-------------.736)  Away SLG. Is  74% of Home SLG.  
Moreover, besides the above record, Geoge has more.  He played every inning of league time, led the league in assists, and went hitless in only
23 games.  That a so-called singles hitter could hang so close to a mighty slugger, in one of that slugger's mightiest seasons, shows that perhaps
that singles hitter isn't so power puny after all.  And add to that record, being the greatest defensive 1Bman in the MLs, and a league-leading base
stealer, and you start to perceive why the BB world considered Sisler the better and more valuable player in the game, from 1920-22.  He did win
the MVP in 1922.  George fanned only 327 times in his 15 yr. career. 
In terms of support, I'll concede you that Gehrig gets the majority of the big names. But Gorgeous George is not completely without big name support
of his own.  In my file," position players", I have Lou with 50 prominent baseball figures putting him on their all time teams, and George has 44.
Included in Lou's supporters are, with the yr. of their selection:
McGraw(31), Joe McCarthy(38), John B. Foster (long time editor of Spalding Guide, (1912-41), chose Lou in spring,'38, Dan Daniel(44),
Dan Daniel(44), Mack(50), Dykes(67), Fred Lieb(77), Bill James(2002), Gehringer(87), Dickey(87), Shirley Povich(97).
Included in Sisler's supporters are: Ban Johnson(29), Bucky Harris(31), Muddy Ruel(42), Grantland Rice(45), Red Smith(50), Eddie Collins(50), Max
Carey(50), J. Roy Stockton(52), Frank Baker(55), Cobb(61), Cochrane(61), Hornsby(62), Branch Rickey(65), Leonard Koppett(69), Bob Shawkey(77),
 Bob Broeg(98).
Connie Mack always chose George Sisler as his 1B, all the way up until July, 1944, before he switched to Lou Gehrig, similar to John McGraw.
So it is clear from this distinguished roster, that the case is anything but clear. So what caused so many sober men to choose Sisler over Lou?
Perhaps they saw deeper into the equation than later day observers.
One thing is clear. Some of Lou's stats are hyper-inflated due to his close proximity to the Babe. Ruth was almost always on base, and Lou had
many more runners to hit in than Sisler, who played on the lowly Browns, who in their entire history, have the dubious distinction, of being the
only team in ML history to have NEVER won a World Series. In fact, they only made it to the WS in '44 and lost to cross town rivals, the Cards.
Lou, being on MUCH better teams, was always in a much better position for runs and RBIs. So I look upon his super-human productivity and realize,
he played in a premium scoring era. In the context of his era, Lou's productivity wasn't out of line. Other players were putting up numbers
very comparable to his. Foxx, Greenberg, Hack Wilson, Hornsby, DiMag, Al Simmons, all were turning out RBI seasons above 150, year after year. And
the others weren't on as good teams as Lou was. So his era, his great teams, and of course his own great talent explain his great numbers.
In '38, Joe McCarthy sentimentally chose Gehrig as his selection of the Greatest Ever player. Everyone smiled. No one took him seriously. In '44,
J. Roy Stockton, long time St. Louis sports writer and editor, named Sisler as HIS Greatest Ever ballplayer. Once again, everyone smiled.
No one took him seriously. Detroit fans were not amused, or maybe perhaps they were. Who's to say?
In his revised Historical Abstract, Bill James dropped Sisler from his top 100, along with Bill Terry. However, in his first edition, he said,
pp. 349, "As to peak value, the choice between Sisler and Gehrig is not so simple,. . . It is possible that given a more careful consideration of
defense and base running, given that it might later be established that Gehrig's superhuman RBI totals were a natural outcome of his productivity
and position in the lineup, I might switch to Sisler."
To directly compare stats in '20-22 with '27-38, is not real. Not all runs or RBIs are created equal. You're showing the raw, naked numbers,
which shouldn't be done. Until they are processed and indexed to the league averages, they are "cooked". It's like comparing 1908 with 1930.
We just can't do that and feel righteous about ourselves. It isn't fair to Sisler or to you & me. Was Greenberg a greater slugger than Mantle or
Musial, cause he sure buried them when it comes to RBIs? He even hit more HRs in a season than them. Numbers are relative until they are indexed.
Well, unfortunately for George, Mr. James went the other way, and demoted him. Well, this isn't the first time that the notorious Mr. James and I
have parted ways in important baseball matters.
This particular argument is almost a close clone of the Collins/Hornsby, Ty/Babe issue. The big difference is that Sisler's eye problems,
curtained his greatness, and longevity, while Cobb lasted a long time at a high level.
I know that there is no way that I'm going to change anyone's mind, but Sisler is my man, and I think that if he hadn't had his eye trouble, he
would have been many times greater yet.
I am totally aware of how crazy some of what I print sounds today. After 70 years of conventional wisdom, what I purport, that Sisler has a real
claim to A team honors, must have a quaint yet feeble, forlorn vibe to it. So, for that reason, I can't judge anyone for feeling incredulous to
my findings. But here is just one of very many instances, where everyone between 1918-22, said that the only thing that Cobb had that Sisler
lacked, was a maniacal, compulsive, obsessive determination to beat everybody at everything for as long as he could.
Here is a little quote about Sisler from Eddie Collins, from Sporting News, Nov. 8, 1950, pp. 14.
"I've seen some great players in the game, as I have stated before, and the greatest of them all, in my estimation, was Ty Cobb. But ranking
close behind him was George Sisler.  Sisler came as near to approaching, of even eclipsing, Cobb as any player ..…There were some great
players in my era, and Sisler ranked with  the greatest. I've heard it said many times that Cobb and Ruth ranked alone.  I think Sisler ought to be
included with them at the very top of the heap."  (Sporting News, November 8, 1950, pp. 14)
So that was Collins quote.  Perhaps it might have been because both Sisler an Collins were so exactly the same kind of player.  Both had
idolized the amazing Ty Cobb and had based their own style of playing baseball on Cobb's style.  In 1922, George broke one of his idols records.
He hit safely in 41 consecutive games, breaking by one Ty Cobb's 1911 record.  And George was injured for 2 games at the end in doing it.  He
so highly thought of at that moment, that his team refused over $200,000. for his contract.  Some say the figure was $350,000.  But it is known
that Sisler's market value, like Hornsby's were easily in the same category as Ruth's,  all though today, one wouldn't know it, to judge from their
lack of Ruth's fame.
Like Joe Wood before him, just when George bestrode the BB world, disaster struck him down.  During the winter of 1922-23, he contracted a
poisonous sinusitis, which caused him double vision. 
George Sisler had to sit out the entire 1923 season, due to it.  When he came back in 1924, his problems were not completely healed.
He couldn't look at anything for a prolonged period, before he had to look away to re-focus his vision.  And it didn't take pitchers long to discover
this.  So, they'd keep him waiting up there at the plate, until he had to look down to re-focus his eyes, and THEN they'd pitch to him.  Yet, incredibly,
George still lasted in the majors from 1923-29, coping with his eyes inability to focus.  It's a wonder he could play at all, with such double-vision.
But George was so respected for his BB smarts, that when he came back in 1924, the Browns GM offered him the position of player/manager,
which he filled from 1924-26, at the rate of $25,000./yr.  Defensively, George sparkled like Hal Chase on an honest, clean day.  He led the league
1Bmen in assists 6 times, and DPs twice.  He made 140 assists in 1922, despite being injured in his shoulder late in the season.  He was elected to
the Hall of Fame in its 4th yr. of voting, 1939, before Hornsby. 
Sisler's Power Case:
George did hit a lot of singles, that's true. And it is also true that that's how he was perceived, both then & now. And that's fair & accurate.
But Sizzler posted quite excellent power numbers during his all-too-brief "peak".
1917, 4th SLG.%, TB, OBP.
1918, 4th OBP, SLG.%, 5th TB.
1919, 2nd HR, SLG.%, 3rd TB
1920, 1st TB, 2nd HR, SLG.%, RBIs, 3rd OBP.
1921, 5th SLG.%, TB.
1922, 2nd TB, 4th RBIs, 5th SLG.%.
So, before we be hasty, and relegate The Sizzler to the "singles only" category of Boggs/Gwynn/Fox/Waner/Keeler type of hitter, let's hold up & see if the
stereo-type actually applies here. And it doesn't.
Special NOTE:
In 1920, Sisler hit 19 homers to Ruth's 54, so Georgie boy got no PR for power. If he had hit that many only the year before, Ruth would have had some competition
for PR/hype, since he created a hysteria by hitting 29.
One assumes Hornsby had better power than Sizzler.
But Sizzler led Hornsby in SLG. % in 1918 by 24 points,
-----------------------------------1919 by 100 points,
-----------------------------------1920 by 73 points.
He also led Rogers in HRs in 1919-20.
So, while Rogers, ultimately did have more power overall, I don't think we should assume that George Sisler had NO power to speak of.
In his times, he was considered a quite balanced power guy, like Aaron/Clemente in later times. A guy who could hold up his end without huffing & puffing.
In fact, before 1923, his power was not thought of as behind Rogers, but his full equal in power, & Rogers was what I consider the ULTIMATE balanced power
hitter ever. I am fully informed that that perception was altered in 1922, when Rogers broke through to the next level with his 42 HRs.
But how do we know, that George might not have risen to the occasion and upped HIS game, if not for the eye problems? All debate stops after that. George
wasn't the same guy. But for his brief peak . . .
PCA--Win Shares---TPR,
---------PCA GG*-------WinSh**----TPR***---Bl Ink-------Gr Ink
1915 - 13 (Pipp)--------0.8--------10---------0-----------0
1916 - 3 (Pipp)---------1.7--------25---------0----------22
1917 - 7 (Pipp)---------3.5--------29---------0----------13
1918 - 1  --------------4.6--------22---------2----------18
1919 - 3 (Pipp)---------3.9--------24---------0----------26
1920 - 1  --------------7.6--------33---------9----------25
1921 - 4 (McInnis)------2.7--------27---------3----------26
1922 - 8 (Sheely)-------5.2--------29--------13----------22
1923 - INJ-----------------inactive-------------
1924 - 7 (Judge)------ -3.0--------11---------0----------11
1925 - 4 (Blue)------  -0.5--------19---------0-----------9
1926 - 9 (Todt)------  -3.4--------11---------0-----------2
1927 - 8 (Todt)------  -1.1--------16---------2----------11
1928 - 6 (Bissonette)---0.6---------0---------0-----------4
1929 - 10 (Kelly)----   1.3--------15---------0-----------5
1930 - 9 (Terry)-----  -1.8--------18---------0-----------0
PCA* = Mathew Sounder's PCA stat Gold Glove system
WinSh** = Bill James' Win Shares
TPR*** = Total Baseball's Total Player Rating
Introducing William Alexander "Bill" Lange: June 6, 1871, San Francisco, CA - July 23, 1950, San Francisco, CA
NL OF, 1893-1899
Bill Phelon wrote the following piece on Bill Lange in Baseball Magazine in 1915.
Bill Phelon, Chicago,  New York, Cincinnati. sports writer, 1889-1925  
1915  -  After seeing them all come and go for nearly thirty years: after seeing the great ones and the little ones, those who starred for years
 and years, and those who passed early from the game, two figures of them all persist in forcing themselves upon my memory, and in plain
opposition to each other--the forms of Tyrus Cobb and William Lange. Somehow, some way, these two always present themselves
before me for comparison, and, despite all the praise they lavish on the Georgian today, I cannot see where the gigantic Lange was his inferior!
Lest I seem biased in my love for old-time pals, I'll instantly add this: That I cannot see where Cobb is the inferior of Lange. If ever two men,
of strangely different physical and temperamental types, were to be counted as an equal, well-matched pair, these two were Lange and Cobb.
Were Lange a youthful player of today, he'd be Cobb's greatest rival. Had Cobb played in the time of Lange, he'd have been big Bill's closest
 competitor. If Lange possessed the eel-like agility of Cobb, there would have been no chance to stop him. If Cob had the size of Lange, without
 impeding his own speed, he'd never get through scoring.
On the defensive, there was, to my way of thinking, no choice, between Lange and Cobb. Both could cover enormous outfield territories: both were
marvelously sure when they got their hands upon the ball. I think Lange had the better throwing arm of the two. Moreover, Lange,
Lange, originally a catcher by trade, could be brought in from the gardens and used anywhere  in case of need, and played all the infield
places capably for Chicago at one time or another.
At the bat: Considering the time when each played, and the rules, I can see small difference between the colossal Californian and the wiry
wonder of the South.
Lange had no foul-strikes to handicap him, but in his day a caught foul tip was an immediate out. Then, too, he faced great pitchers, who
 during at least part of his career, worked from a shorter distance, and there were no "sacrifice flies" in the score to help his average.
It was on the bases, though--in the wondrous way that both circled round the cushions--that the strange likeness between Lange and
Cobb is most strongly demonstrated. It is said that Cobb does a lot of daring things, all his own invention, never tried by any other player.
 I distinctly remember many of Cobb's tricks as exact duplicates of Lange's --tricks forgotten when Bill left the game, and revived
long afterward by the Georgian. Nor do I call Cobb a copy-cat: he never saw Lange play ball, and his tricks are simply those that
naturally found new roots in the mind of a thinker and great base runner. Lange stretched his his hits just as Cobb does now.
 Lange was lighting quick to rush for an adjoining base on the slightest fumble or lack of watchfulness--just as Cobb is today. 
The smallest slowness of slovenliness in the throw-in, the pickup of the throw-in, or  the guarding of bases, meant the sudden arrival
of Lange at the next station--as is the case with Cobb when the smallest opening is given.  In straightaway steals, both Lange and Cobb
were marvels at getting away, or getting the jump on the pitcher's delivery. For a heavy man, Lange had terrific speed. Perhaps the lighter-built
Cobb could actually out sprint Lange, but when it came to the instant of arriving at the base, Lange's immense size used to scare the infielders
out of his way.  He never spiked any one, because he didn't have to --they broke for cover when his 230 pounds bore down upon them.
Cobb makes up for lack of weight by the wicked impetus of his slide and the dangerous onrush of his spikes.  Lange stole a few more bases,
both on the season and in proportion to number of games and chances offered. But in those days they were accustomed to let a runner steal
or fail,  without trying the hit and run or bunting as he went--hence Lange had fewer blossoming steals killed off by the batsmen than is the
case with Cobb.
In - short, Lange, in my humble opinion, was the full equal of Cobb--and, therefore, one of the greatest ballplayers that the game has ever known." 
(Baseball Magazine, August, 1915, pp. 47-48, "Handicaps of the Early Season, by William A. Phelon, pp. 41-50)
Bill James wrote a wonderful piece on Bill Lange in his "Bill James Historical Abstract, 1988, pp. 49-51, which he reprinted verbatim
in his updated 2001 Abstract."
Hughie Jennings, Apr. 4, 1869 - Feb. 1, 1928;  ML SS, 1B, 1891 - 1902;  Detroit manager, 1907-20;  Giants coach, 1921-25
 "(Walter) Brodie, who played alongside of Keeler, had personality.  Although he was not so good a fielder as Jimmy McAleer
or Bill Lange or Tris Speaker, because he lacked their speed, I doubt if there ever lived a man who played batsmen as accurately
as Brodie." (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 4, 1926, pp. B2)
1. Bill Lange's Sporting News obituary:
William A. (Big Bill) Lange, 79, regarded as one of baseball's all-time greats, . . .
When informed of his death, Clark Griffith, president of the Washington Senator, said: "I played ball with Bill Lange
on the Chicago National League club for some eight years. I have seen all the other great outfielders-Speaker, Cobb, DiMaggio--in action,
 and I consider Bill Lange the equal of, if not better than, all outfielders of all time. There wasn't anything he couldn't do."
. . . known as "Little Eva," a name pinned on him by the late Hugh Fullerton, because of the graceful manner, in which
he fielded his position, chasing down fly balls. (author's note; Little Egypt was a name of a famous belly-dancer.)
"Considered one of the greatest base runners of all time, . . . Here's what Honus Wagner once said about the Californian:
 'I'll never forget the first time I tried to put the ball on Lange. He pulled the prettiest hook slide I ever saw and there I was standing sort of
foolish-like, with the ball, nowhere near him.' "
At the height of his career, in 1899, he married (Grace Geiselman of Cal.) and entered the real estate and insurance
business in San Francisco with his father-in-law. He had been making $3,000. a year from the White Stockings, who agreed to double his salary
for 1900 if he would return, but he refused. (Sporting News, Aug. 2, 1950)
2. Alfred Henry Spink, Aug. 24, 1854 -  May 27, 1928; founder and editor of The Sporting News (1886), described Lange
as "Ty Cobb enlarged, fully as great in speed, batting skill and base running."
3. Tim H. Murnane, June 4, 1851 - Feb 7, 1917; ML 1B, 1872-78; Boston spwr. 1888-1917 of the Boston Globe listed the game's
best outfielders up to 1914 as Cobb, Joe Jackson, and Lange.
4. Clark Griffith, Nov. 20, 1898 -  Oct. 27, 1955; (ML pitcher,1891-14), (Senators manager,1901-20), Senators owner,1920-55
Comparing these stars with Bill Lange, of the old generation, the shows that the old generation suffers. Cobb and Speaker
are Lange's superiors, and I think that Milan is almost Lange's equal. Among the other great outstanding stars of the past, and present were
Willie Keeler, Fred Clarke, Fielder Jones, Jesse Burkett, Elmer Flick, Hugh Duffy, Mike Donlin, Jimmy McAleer, Jim Fogarty, and Dickey Johnson.
 (Washington Post, April 26, 1914, pp. S2)
William B. Hanna,  (Oct., 1956? - Nov. 20, 1930);   (NY sportswriter, 1888-1930)
"Bill Lange covered as much ground as Speaker and was a sure catch and fine thrower.  As a base runner only Cobb
excelled him.  He was as adept at getting a start on the pitcher.  He wouldn't steal as many bases now, for the game, with the lively ball,
 is played differently, but even now he'd shine as a base runner.  Six footer though he was, he was one of the cleverest sliders in the game. 
Cap Anson, April 11, 1852 - April 14, 1922; (ML 1B, 1871-97), (ML man., 1875, '79-98) - "Bill Lange, who played for me when I had charge
 of the Chicago National League club, was in a class by himself as an outfielder.  He was a better outfielder than Cobb or Speaker and a
phenomenal thrower, and one year he stole 106 bases." (Washington Post, June 3, 1917, pp. S18)
J. Earl Wagner,  (61) - Nov. 11, 1943, (Owned Philadelphia Phillies & Washington Senators in 1890's, for brief periods). 
"Bill Lange, if he would cut out his monkey doodle business, as Chris calls it, would fit into my team as captain and I would pay
a liberal price for the release of Lange from the Chicago club, and would give him a contract that would call for more money than is paid
any player in the major leagues."  (Washington Post, October 8, 1899, pp. 8)
The 10 year rule prevents Bill Lange from being considered for the Hall of Fame.  I advocate that that rule be excepted for the case of Bill Lange.
I contend that he was the 2nd best defensive OF  the 1890's, after Jimmy McAleer, the 3 best all-around position player of the 1890's, after
Buck Ewing and Cap Anson, and ahead of Willie Keeler.  I further hold that Bill Lange is a top tier Hall of Fame player, irregardless of whether or
not he is ever recognized by organized baseball as such.  I personally place him in my Top 20 greatest all-around players of all time.
Introducing William "Buck" Ewing:  October 27, 1859, Hoagland, OH - October 20, 1906, Cincinnati, OH
NL catcher, IF, OF, 3B, 2B, P,  1880-97
NL manager, 1890, 1895-1900
Bill James; Nov. 5, 1949 - Still Alive; Prolific author of BB books, popularized new study of BB stats, called "sabermetrics", amazingly widely-read
on BB subjects. 
First called my attention to Buck Ewing, in his 1st Hist. Abstract, pp. 33-35. Bill points out that many respected BB men considered Ewing to
be the greatest all-around PLAYER ever, not simply the greatest catcher.  John B. Foster, Mickey Welsh and Monte Ward all thought Buck
was the greatest ballplayer ever to play the game, until the day they died.
That got my attention. Sadly, Bill now down-rates Buck as a catcher due to so few games caught.
John P. McCarthy, Jr. also chooses Buck as his catcher on his A team, from his book, Baseball's All Time Dream Team, 1994.
Connie Mack,  Dec. 22, 1862 - Feb. 6, 1956;  NL catcher (1886-96), Phil Athletics' manager (1901-50)
Had Ewing as his catcher as late as Dec. 24, 1931, and John McGraw had Buck as his catcher until he died.
John McGraw, April 7, 1873 - Feb. 25, 1934; ML 3B (1891-06); Baltimore Oriole man. (1899 , 01-02), NY Giants man. 1902-32)
Had Buck as his catcher until he died.
Grantland Rice,  Nov. 1, 1880 - July 13, 1954; (Atlanta, Cle., Nashville, NY spwr. 1902-54)  Most loved, and widely read sports writer of all time.
Put him on a All Time team in 1918.  (Sporting News, Jan. 10, 1918, pp. 5, column 2.)
4. Clark Griffith, Nov. 20, 1898 -  Oct. 27, 1955; (ML pitcher,1891-14), (Senators manager,1901-20), Senators owner,1920-55
Chose Buck as his catcher of his scientific team in 1952, and Cochrane/Dickey for his "power" team. (Sporting News, July 23, 1952, pp. 12)
A 3rd book describing Buck is The Greatest Giants of Them All by Arnold Hano, 1967. The section describing Buck is superb and too long to insert here.
But one can read this cool fascinating stuff on Buck Ewing through inter-library loans, for almost free.
Buck Ewing has been my catcher for about 17 years now. He was reputed to have been the best all-around PLAYER of the 1800's.
John B. Foster, NY spwr., 1888-1941, Editor-in-Chief of Official Spalding Baseball Guide(1908-41), NY Giants business manager/secretary, 1912-1919.
In spring, 1938, John B. Foster, the long time editor of Spalding Official Baseball Guide, from 1908-41, finally chose his all-time team,
and chose Ewing as his choice for the Greatest Ever Player.  Foster had been watching players come and go since 1887.
Here is John Foster's entry for Ewing, from that 1938 Guide.
The first to be picked, and the first who should be selected in this stretch of fifty years, is William Ewing, better known as Buck."
He is to be the catcher. He has been called the greatest all-round player ever connected with the game. I think that he was. He pitched,
played every position on the infield and played the outfield.
He did not play at them but played them. I was ready to laugh at his efforts when he essayed to pitch, but he quickly cured me of the inclination.
Although he did not have the finesse of Tim Keefe, that great pitcher who was his contemporary, he showed that he had the art, was thoroughly
conversant with the batter's weakness, and was doing his level best to pitch to it.
The great speed of Keefe, the curves of Mickey Welsh and the cannonball service of ponderous Ed Crane were missing in Ewing,
yet he had an effective style of his own and the batter was not slow in ascertaining it.
He was a good adviser to his brother "Long John."
As a thrower to bases Ewing never had a superior, and there are not to exceed ten men who could come anywhere near being equal to him.
Ewing was the man of whom it was said,
He handed the ball to the second baseman from the batter's box. George W. Howe, treasurer of the Cleveland club, once asked the manager
of the team, Oliver Tebeau, why the runners of Cleveland, who were very good, did not steal bases more often when they
Because they're out before they start, was the quick replay. "That man behind the bat for New York can't be fooled. He knows when a runner
 is going to start practically as
soon as the runner decides to make the attempt, and he shoots the ball down to Richardson, who catches the best man we've got.
He stands up an waits for him to come, and makes our runners look foolish."
What was said by Tebeau voiced the sentiment of every other captain in the league. Even the famed Mike Kelly used to study Ewing
for minutes at a time, trying to
find out how he managed to get the ball to second so smoothly and quickly." (Spalding NL Official Base Ball Guide, 1938, pp. 14)
Francis C. Richter, Philadelphia sportswriter (1876-1926),  AL Reach Baseball Guide Editor-In-Chief  (1901-1926, death)
John B. Foster's counterpart, Francis C. Richter, who had been watching ballplayers since the 1868, chose Ewing as the Greatest Player Ever in 1919.
Mr. Richter was a Phil. spwr. since 1872, and served as the Editor-In-Chief of the AL Official Base Ball Guide from 1902-1926.
He had started sp. dept. at newspapers, and was of the most influential movers & shakers in baseball.
Even though by 1925, Richter had evolved to Cobb, that only served to prove that he had never allowed himself to grow stale.    
Here is the quote from Richter, taken from the 1919 Reach AL Baseball Official Guide.
"It is a difficult, not to say ungrateful, task to select any one player as superior to all the rest, though we have always been inclined to
consider Catcher-Manager William (Buck) Ewing in his prime, from 1884 to 1890, as the greatest player of the game.
from the standpoint of supreme excellence in all departments-batting, catching fielding, base running, throwing and base ball brains-a player
without a weakness of any kind, physical, mental, or temperamental. . . ."
I have seen all the players in the major leagues in action since 1868, and . . . Ty Cobb appears to me to be, with two exceptions,
just a trifle superior to all the rest. . . these two exceptions are Buck Ewing, the greatest catcher that ever stood in shoe leather
and Hans Wagner, the super-excellent shortstop of the Pittsburgh club." (Reach AL Baseball Official Guide, 1919)
John McGraw, April 7, 1873 - Feb. 25, 1934; ML 3B (1891-06); Baltimore Oriole man. (1899 , 01-02), NY Giants man. 1902-32)
In 1919, John McGraw had this to say about Buck.  "Roger Bresnahan was the greatest catcher I ever saw, always excepting Buck Ewing."
(Baseball Magazine, May, 1919, pp. 14)
Four years later, In his autobiography in 1923, John J. McGraw, had this to say about Buck Ewing.
He came as near to being a catcher without a single weakness as the game has ever known. In fact, Buck Ewing was a Ty Cobb behind the bat.
He had a mental capacity equal to his playing ability. Ewing could handle a team perfectly.  He had an uncanny knack of getting the jump on the pitchers.
No player ever studied a rival pitcher's delivery closer and was so quick to take advantage of the slightest false move.
As a thrower Buck excelled. He got the ball away from him with a quick round arm snap, no time being wasted. Buck threw what is known
as a very "heavy" ball, one that dropped in the baseman's hand like a lump of lead.
Ewing had so much confidence in his throwing that I have seen him deliberately roll the ball away from him just to tempt the base runner
into a steal. He was hard hitter as well as a scientific place hitter.
Roger Bresnahan was a close second to Ewing in all that goes to make a great catcher." (John J. McGraw, My Thirty Years in Baseball,
by John J. McGraw, as told to Bozeman Bulger, 1923, pp. 214)
In a truly wonderful article for The Sporting News, dated Feb.18, 1932, John B. Foster, gives a glowing description of Ewing.
I've cherry-picked a few choice tid-bits from that article.
"There are some who think Charley Bennett was a trifle superior to Ewing and some who incline to Mike Kelly. Of these two, Bennett
was much the better.  Kelly was popular with the crowd, but, as a technician, he was not the equal of Bennett, and the latter was
 not the equal of Ewing in brilliancy as well as in physical attainments.
One day, he was talking about throwing and about his arm.  "I can snap them just as easy as I can throw them." he said.
What's the use of standing up every time you want to catch a man off the bases.  You have got to lose two steps on the runner
while you are straightening yourself out.  You see, my forearm is pretty strong," extending his arm for inspection, as he said it.
"I've got good muscles below the elbow and around it. I'll bet that I can throw into the outfield using my forearm only, nearly as
far as some players can throw if they put all they have into an overhand motion."
"But don't you think that some day you will hurt your arm by so much of this forearm snapping of the ball?"  "I don't see why.  It's
there, and good.  Tell me what difference it makes if you use the muscles of your lower arm, depend upon them, you might say,
and don't use the muscles around your shoulder."  It may not make any difference, but some baseball men, you know, have a hunch
 that your forearm will give out quicker than your upper arm."
I'm still goin',"  was the reply.  Yet that was the very thing that happened. (Spring, 1892) His forearm did give out and he could no longer
 snap the ball as he had, but he could throw fairly well overhand and so he played in the outfield after he had finished catching. 
Ewing could handle the delivery of any pitcher. He was as remarkable in that respect as he was in others. Ed Crane, who was
called Hercules in his day--and he was the model of a Hercules--had more speed than any other pitcher in the National League,
but did not know how to control the ball, and to try to catch him was a task and something of a physical feat, for he had the reputation
of tearing up the hands of a catcher because of his speed. Ewing could handle him and escape the punishment that other catchers
seemed to receive and he could get winning games out of him where others failed to keep him steady.
As a field general, Buck brought the Giants into the championship class.  John Ward had tried it and failed.  Ward was a good leader,
but not of the type of Ewing, and not qualified to handle a team like the Giants as successfully as Ewing could handle them.
Buck knew the plays and the players of other teams. I doubt whether any catcher ever knew opposing batters more thoroughly than
he did and that helped to make him great.
One day, I told him I thought he led all the catchers in baseball history . . ."I'm glad you think so," said Buck. "I tried to do the best I could
and oh, man, but I did love to play with the old Giants. I used to think that if I could catch as well as Charley Bennett was catching
for Boston, we could win the championship.
We only beat 'em a game in 1889, so there couldn't have been much difference between me and Charley."
(The Sporting News, Feb.18, 1932, pp. 5, "Buck Ewing Called Greatest Catcher in Game's History, by John B. Foster)
John M. Ward - "There will never be another Ewing.  He is on top.  He was a great hitter and a brilliant man back of the plate."
Ward was being quoted by Granny Rice.  (The History of Baseball, by Allison Danzig and Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 255, column 1)
Tim Keefe  -  Upon Buck's death on Oct. 21, 1906, his former pitcher, Tim Keefe had these comments.  "The other players on the team
would go through fire and water for Buck, and I believe no better captain ever stepped upon a ball field.  The game has not in its
ranks to-day any one who can approach him.  I say most unhesitatingly that I never knew his equal as an all-around ball player.
"He was a fine fellow both on and off the field.  While the greatest catcher of ancient or modern times, he could do a smart trick
in the box, and once almost killed Roger Conner with one of his fast ones.  He could player any infield position skillfully.  I never saw
any one play a deeper short than he.  He was a great man for his pitcher, for he knew how to steady him, and no one ever made a
deeper study of the weaknesses of opposing batsman." (Washington Post, Oct. 28, 1906, pp. S4)
Cap Anson, April 11, 1852 - April 14, 1922; (ML 1B, 1871-97), (ML man., 1875, '79-98)
The best catcher I ever saw was Buck Ewing, who caught for the Giants when they won the world's championship
in 1888 and 1889.  I have never to this day seen his equal, but little Walters, of the New York Yankees, reminds me of Ewing's
throwing on bases.  "Ewing was a quick thinker and a natural born leader.   (Washington Post, June 3, 1917, pp. S18)
Sam Crane,  ML 2B, 1880-90.   NY sportswriter, 1990-25
"Buck Ewing was the best catcher I ever saw," says Crane.  "He had everything." (Baseball Magazine, April, 1918, pp. 475)
4. Clark Griffith, Nov. 20, 1898 -  Oct. 27, 1955; (ML pitcher,1891-14), (Senators manager,1901-20), Senators owner,1920-55
"In the catching line, the stars of the present day, are not as good as those of the other days. Buck Ewing
never has known an equal as a catcher. I call him the best ball player the world ever has known. The only man who ever approached him was
Mike Kelly, of the old Chicago White Sox.  Kelly, too, was a wonder, but not quite equal to Ewing." (Washington Post, April 26, 1914, pp. S2.)
Ned Hanlon, ML OF 1880-92, NL man. 1889-1907, exc. 1890 player's L. man.
"No man ever had anything on Buck Ewing as a catcher.  He had a wonderful arm, a great head, and was,
 in my opinion, the best all-round player that ever lived." ((Washington Post, Oct. 28, 1906, pp. S4)  By 1909, Ned had evolved to Ty Cobb.
John B. Sheridan, St. Louis spwr. (1880's-1929), Sporting News column, "Back of Home Plate", 1917-29
"(Joe) Vila questions the equality of Roger Bresnahan as a catcher to Buck Ewing, Mike Kelly or Charley Bennett.
I have had doubts between Breshahan and Ewing, but none about Bresnahan or Ewing's superiority to Kelly or Bennett.  To my mind,
Kelly was a great personality rather than a great ball player.  He was, when fit, a good hitter, a clever base runner or entertaining player,
but he never appealed to me as a great technician behind the bat.  Charley Bennett was slow, and a good mark to pitch to, a good thrower.
Ewing could receive, plan, throw, hit and run bases.  I have always agreed Buck was one of the three greatest catchers, Bresnahan and
 Kling being the other two.  I believe that Ewing and Kling had technically, better hands, were better receivers and takers of throws than Bresnahan . . .
(Sporting News, February 11, 1926, pp. 4, column 6)
William B. Hanna, Oct., 1956? - Nov. 20, 1930; NY sportswriter, 1888-1930
 "Buck Ewing, more than any other catcher, combined the four cardinal qualities of physical greatness as a backstop. He was A1
A1 as a batter, fielder, base runner and in head work.  If you'll think over the other catchers you will find few, if any, who had all of these virtues.
 Roger Breshahan came nearest, or Wally Schang, or Wilber Robinson.  They were faster afoot than most catchers. A number of receivers could
hit and catch and throw as well as Ewing, possibly.
Bennett was great as a backstop.  So were Johnny Kling, Lou Criger, Martin Bergen, Jimmy Archer, Billy Sullivan and Bill Killefer, and Doe
Bushong.  So are Schalk, O'Neill, Severeid, Bassler and O'Farrell, the last named one of the best of the day for all around excellence. 
None has made the intaglio-like impress of Ewing.  (Baseball Magazine, June, 1924, pp. 300)
"Did you ever stop to realize that Roger Bresnahan is the second Buck Ewing of Baseball?"
I hadn't, having created a sacred pedestal for Ewing.  They broke the Ewing mould.  (NY Herald Tribune, Dec. 31, 1926,
From an Oldtimer's Notebook, by W. B. Hanna)
Joe Vila,   (Dec.16, 1886 - April 27, 1934)    NYC sports writer, 1893-1934
"A six footer, weighing 180 pounds, Ewing was noted for his all-around skill. He was a smart backstop, possessing a complete
knowledge of the weak points of enemy hitters, a magnificent thrower to bases, always a .300 hitter and rated among the fastest
base runners.  Ewing not only was superb catcher, but he played every infield position capably and on several occasions showed
that he would pitch with more than ordinary skill.  "The History of Baseball: Its great Players, Teams and Managers, ed. By
Allison Danzig & Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 256)  Joe Vila wrote the above quote in the NY Sun in 1934.
Lee Allen, (Jan. 12, 1915 - May 20, 1969);  (Cincinnati spwr. 1945 - 1958), (Hall of Fame Historian, 1959-69);
"But Detroit also had Charlie Bennett, considered the greatest catcher in the game except for Buck Ewing;"
(The National League Story, by Lee Allen, 1961, pp. 61)
On more than one occasion he caught a brilliant game on one day, and on the following afternoon put in Bill Brown behind the bat and went
into the box himself.  In the fall of 1888 Ewing went to California as one of the star attractions of the Championship Giants, assisted by Mike Kelly,
Jerry Denny, and Tom Brown.  Ewing performed the remarkable feat of pitching every game played on that trip, sometimes two in a day, and
winning all except one.  The following year he caught eighty championship contests for the Giants without missing a game.
As aggressive a player as Buck was, he was never a rowdy in an age of unruly players.  He didn't verbally abuse anyone
and hence was extremely popular with all. 
One day in the spring of 1892, when he went to Connecticut to play an exhibition game with the New York's.  It was snowing and the
wind was cold and raw.  Ewing made a quick throw to second base and something snapped in this shoulder.  He never fully recovered
the use of his throwing arm afterward.
During his career, he accumulated a small fortune that allowed him to live in comfort after he retired from the game.  In the 7 yrs. After he
retired from baseball until his death, he lived well-to-do, owning considerable property throughout the West.  He had always had the good
common sense to put away a good part of each year's stipend.
Bill James, in his 1st Historical Abstract, 1985, said that while he wasn't including players from pre-1900 and the Negro
leagues in his top 100 All-Time list, he considered players Buck Ewing, Satchel Paige, and Oscar Charleston, not beneath his list,
but in the top 10 in some other invisible theoretical list, alongside of it. Sadly, in his 2nd Historical Abstract, 2001, he doesn't include
Ewing in his top 100 list, due to his catching only 636 games in 13 yrs.   He rates Buck only 17 among catchers all-time.  I first
discovered Buck Ewing in Bill's 1st Historical Abstract.  And I've seen no reason to down-rate him since.  Buck stopped catching
at age 32, because he threw his famous forearm out in spring, 1932
Most people today don't remember that in 1936, there were supposed to originally be 5 pre- 1900 players elected along with the Original 5.
It didn't work out that way.  Needing 59 votes to get in, the leading vote getters were Buck Ewing with 40, Cap Anson 40, Keeler 33, Young 32
Ed Delahanty 22, McGraw 17, Herman Long 16, Charlie Radbourn 16, Mike Kelly 16, Amos Rusie 12.  So none got elected. 
So, in 1939, Judge Landis, Ford Frick and William Harridge selected Buck Ewing, Cap Anson, Al Spalding, Candy Cummings, Comiskey,
Radbourne for inclusion in the Hall.  Less desirous way to get in.  Apparently, the post 1930 world has forgotten why 40 original voters
thought Buck Ewing was fully the equal of Anson, as a player.  I plan to remind them.
Most well-informed baseball fans now consider Buck Ewing the best all-around player who played pre-1900.  Bill James once considered
Buck Ewing to be among the top 10 all-around position players of a theoretical list of all time.  Author John P. McCarthy, Jr., who wrote
Baseball's All-Time Dream Team, 1994, considers Buck Ewing the greatest catcher of all time. 
I contend that the immortal Buck Ewing was the greatest catcher of all time, and until 1892, among the Top 10 All-Around Position Players
 of All Time, and the greatest All-Around Player of the 1800's. 
Introducing James Robert "Jimmy" McAleer, July 10, 1864, Youngstown, OH - April 29, 1931, Youngstown, OH
ML OF, 1889-98, 01-02,07
ML manager, 1901-11
1. James R. McAleer's entry in the 1932 Official Baseball Guide. Here is an excerpt.
"No outfielder has lived who could cover more ground than McAleer, and perhaps none who could cover as much
back of him and to either side. He made sensational catches appear easy."
John B. Foster - "There was at least one great performer among the 5 mentioned--Jim McAleer.  John Foster thinks
he was a better outfielder than Tris Speaker. John ought to know." (Sporting News, June 8, 1933, pp. 4, column 3)
If you knew who John B. Foster was, you listened to his perceptions, like EF Hutton. He & Francis Richter were to
the sports writers, what Mack / McGraw were to managers. His credentials:
John B. Foster, NY sportswriter (1888-1941)
Editor-in-Chief of the Official Spalding NL Base Ball Guide(1908-41)
NY Giants business manager & secretary (1912-1919)
Years on BB 's rules committee. Considered an authority on BB law, rules, admin. Credited with answering
500,000 questions on BB rules, laws, and various phases of BB. Wrote digest of rules for the French. Was named
official authority for rules for Japan. Official scorer at Polo Grounds. Foster was like Chadwick in his understanding
of the game & lifetime devotion to it.
Foster/Richter were mirror twins of each other's commitment to baseball.
Upon the passing of James R. McAleer, The Sporting News ran this.
Bert Walker, Detroit spwr. 1920-47
"Bert Walker of the Detroit Times commenting on the passing of Jim McAleer, writes: Old time baseball fans will
deeply regret the passing of one of the greatest fly hawks baseball has ever known. In his day there were few
outfielders who could equal his speed, judgments, and all-around out fielding ability. Down in Cleveland,
where McAleer began his professional career, fans of another generation still compare outfielders with their old favorite (McAleer).
"It is astonishing, but true, when a new phenom flashes across the Cleveland outfield, the spectators gasp:
He is another McAleer.' One would expect them to say 'another Speaker!' But though McAleer's heyday was past
when Speaker was in his prime, the minds of the fans, when looking for superlatives, revert to the early days of
the game when a 20 year old Youngstown boy began making outfield history." (Sporting News, May 7, 1931, pp. 4, column 5)
Upon his passing, Sporting News furthermore ran this editorial piece.
"Great, far beyond the average as a player . . . When he was at his zenith in Cleveland there was none like him.
He was not the best batter in baseball, nor was he the best thrower, but how he could catch outfield flies!
Cy Young, NL pitcher(1890-1900), AL pitcher(1901-11)
He saw Cy Young come in and when McAleer temporarily withdrew from baseball, and Young continued, Cy said:
That man helped to make me. His catches of hits that no other man was good enough to make, saved many a
game when I was beginning and afterward, when I was successful enough to know it myself!
"No major league grounds (ballparks) in the U.S. was without some McAleer record when he was at his best.
He was an aural outfielder, as well as one who judged fly balls by sight. He would start back with the ring of the ball and bat as they
came together, and pursue a direct line in the course of the flight of the ball or toward an angle, and to the point where he thought it
would fall and he could reach it.
"Did I ever train my ear to do that?" . . . "No, I could do it when I was a kid." Some times he played left field,
center field and right field in one afternoon, although he stood in center field from force of habit. (Sporting News, May 7, 1931, pp. 4, column 1)
Hughie Jennings, ML SS, 1B, 1891-1902;  Detroit manager, 1907-20,   Giants coach, 1921-25
"(Walter) Brodie, who played alongside of Keeler, had personality.  Although he was not so good a fielder as Jimmy McAleer or
Bill Lange or Tris Speaker, because he lacked their speed, I doubt if there ever lived a man who played batsmen as accurately
as Brodie." (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 4, 1926, pp. B2)
I contend that Jimmy McAleer was the greatest defensive Outfielder of the 1800's, and one of the top 5 Ofs of all time, along with Tris
Speaker, Willie Mays, Richie Ashburn.  However, I do not advocate Jimmy McAleer for the Hall of Fame. 
Introducing Charles Wesley "Charlie" Bennett, Nov. 21, 1854, New Castle, PA - Feb. 24, 1927, Detroit, MI
NL catcher, 1878 - 1893
In the superb book, "The History of Baseball: Its great Players, Teams and Managers, ed. By Allison Danzig & Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 255,
we find this introduction to its CATCHERS section;
The GREAT CATCHERS of baseball have included Bill Dickey, Roger Bresnahan, Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett, Buck Ewing, Johnny
Kling, Ray Schalk and Roy Campanella.  Also, Jimmy Archer, Lou Criger, Martin Bergen, Wallie Schang, Steve O'Neil, Bob O'Farrell,
Charlie Bennett, Rick Ferrell, Mike (King) Kelly, Gabby Street, Billy Sullivan, Jimmy Wilson, Hank Gowdy, Bill Killifer, Wilbert Robinson,
 Walker Cooper, Al Lopez, Yogi Berra and Ernie Lombardi.
William B. Hanna, Oct., 1956? - Nov. 20, 1930; NY sportswriter, 1888-1930
Bennett was great as a backstop.  So were Johnny Kling, Lou Criger, Martin Bergen, Jimmy Archer, Billy Sullivan and Bill Killefer, and Doe
Bushong.  So are Schalk, O'Neill, Severeid, Bassler and O'Farrell, the last named one of the best of the day for all around excellence. 
None has made the intaglio-like impress of Ewing.  (Baseball Magazine, June, 1924, pp. 300)
Francis C. Richter, Philadelphia sportswriter (1876-1926),  AL Reach Baseball Guide Editor-In-Chief  (1901-1926, death)
Charley Bennett was listed with Buck Ewing as the 2 best catchers from 1880-1890, by Francis Richter.
Robert Sensenderfer,    (Dec. 31, 1883 - Jan. 3, 1957)  (Philadelphia spwr.  50 yrs.)
In the Philadelphia Bulletin in 1936, listed Buck Ewing and Charlie Bennett among the great players of baseball prior to 1900.
3. Tim H. Murnane, June 4, 1851 - Feb 7, 1917; ML 1B, 1872-78; Boston spwr. 1888-1917 of the Boston Globe listed the game's
Listed Bennett on his All American team in 1900.
Kid Nichols,  (Sept. 14, 1869 - April 11, 1953)   (NL pitcher, 1890 - 1901,  04-06)
"Charley Bennett was the best catcher during my time.  He worked with me in Boston until he lost his legs in a railroad accident.  He went through several
seasons without having a passed ball.  He never had an equal as a throw to bases."  Bennett was the catcher of the world champion Detroit Team of 1887.
He went through several seasons without having a passed ball.  He never had an equal as a throw to bases." 
Sporting News writeup:
"The old catcher helped Detroit win the pennant and the World Seires in 1887.  Bennett's arm was a primary factor in beating the St. Louis Browns
in the post-season games of that year. 
After Bennett had caught for 7 years for Detroit, this city dropped out of the National League and the veteran catcher went to Boston to finish
his playing days.  He was forced out of the game in 1894 when he lost both of his legs in a railroad accident while on a hunting trip.
When he was forced to give up baseball, Bennett came back to Detroit and became adept at painting chinaware.  First he tried it as a pastime
and later as means of livelihood.  It was with characteristic patience that Bennett trained his distorted fingers in the delicate art of china painting.
. . . it is certain that Bennett ranked with the greatest catchers of his period.  Above all else, he was loyal to his job, frequently sticking behind
the plate when suffering intense pain from injuries sustained in the line of duty. 
James Hart, manager of the old Boston club, has told how Bennett once insisted on catching though his hands were torn and bleeding.
In fact, Bennett had caught several innings before it was known he was jnjured.  The knowledge did not come from Bennett but from John
Clarkson, his pitcher, who griped that when the ball was returned to him, it was stained with blood.  Even when Clarkson reported it to Manage-
ment, Bennett protested against leaving the game and it was only after much insisting that he consented to leave."
(Thursday, Sporting News, March 3, 1927, pp. by Sam Greene)
I contend that Charlie Bennett was the 2nd greatest defensive catcher of the 1800's, after the immortal Buck Ewing, although not the equal
as an all-around catcher of King Kelly, due to offense.  I hold that Charlie Bennett deserves to rank among the very greatest defensive
catchers of all time.  I do not advocate Charlie Bennet for the Hall of Fame.
Introducing Martin Bergen,   Oct. 25, 1871, North Brookfield, MA - Jan. 19, 1900, North Brookfield, MA
Red Sox catcher, 1896 - 1899
William B. Hanna, Oct., 1956? - Nov. 20, 1930; NY sportswriter, 1888-1930
Bennett was great as a backstop.  So were Johnny Kling, Lou Criger, Martin Bergen, Jimmy Archer, Billy Sullivan and Bill Killefer, and Doe
Bushong.  So are Schalk, O'Neill, Severeid, Bassler and O'Farrell, the last named one of the best of the day for all around excellence. 
None has made the intaglio-like impress of Ewing.  (Baseball Magazine, June, 1924, pp. 300)
Marty was listed on the All-Time All-Star Teams of Roger Bresnahan in 1936 and Hugh Duffy's in 1936, along with Mike "King" Kelly.
Introducing James Patrick "Jimmy" Archer,  May 13, 1883, Dublin, Ireland - March 29, 1958, Milwaukee, WI
ML catcher, 1904, 07-18
William B. Hanna, Oct., 1956? - Nov. 20, 1930; NY sportswriter, 1888-1930
Bennett was great as a backstop.  So were Johnny Kling, Lou Criger, Martin Bergen, Jimmy Archer, Billy Sullivan and Bill Killifer, and Doe
Bushong.  So are Schalk, O'Neill, Severeid, Bassler and O'Farrell, the last named one of the best of the day for all around excellence. 
None has made the intaglio-like impress of Ewing.  (Baseball Magazine, June, 1924, pp. 300)
Joe Williams, Dec. 17, 1889 - Feb. 15, 1972;  Cleveland & NY sportswriter,  1910-1964
How many catchers from 1900 on would you name above Bresnahan?  Who were the star catchers the period developed?  Johnny Kling,
Jimmy Archer, Ray Schalk, Steve O'Neill, Bob O'Farrell, Gabby Hartnett, Mickey Cochrane and a few others
(The History of Baseball: Its great Players, Teams and Managers, ed. By Allison Danzig & Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 255;  Writing in 1937 of
the players who had failed to qualify for the Hall of Fame, Joe Williams said in the NY World-Telegram:)
"Jimmy Archer became a great pitcher through an accident. . . . Much has been printed this winter about the marvelous throwing ability of Archer.
Jimmy can throw from a crouch position and he uses simply his forearm in making the "peg" to second or third or first.  At catching runners
trying to steal or runners off base he is equally good.
The wonderful record he made while catching for the Cubs last year was due to the fact that he can throw by using simply his right arm and
without taking a standing position.  Other catchers have tried the Archer method without success.  They find they cannot throw unless the
entire body is brought into action.  The time it takes them  to get into an upright position and take proper aim gives the base runner the necessary
Archer explained that several years before he had been badly burned and the scar tissue remained.  And that scar tissue enabled him to snap the
ball to his infielders.  The snap travels at the same speed as the many muscles in other catchers throwing from an upright position.
For other catchers to try to throw like Archer would tire them out in a short time.  (Washington Post, March 6, 1910, pp. M7)
The Chicago Cubs, when they won pennants for Frank Chance, had two superb catchers in Johnny Kling and Jimmy Archer.
(The History of Baseball: Its great Players, Teams and Managers, ed. by Allison Danzig & Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 256)
Introducing Edward Nagle "Ned" Williamson:  October 24, 1857, Philadelphia, PA - March 3, 1894, Mountain Valley Springs, AR
at the age of 36, from liver/heart illness.
NL 3B/SS: 1878-1890
1878-90 - Played 8 seasons at 3rd, then 4 at SS, and finished with 52 g. at 3rd/21 at SS.
Great glove, led league once each at doubles, HRs, Walks. In 1894, Reach Guide cited a 9 person poll, and James Hart,
James O'Rourke and Arthur Irwin called Ned Williamson the games greatest player.
Cap Anson put him on his all time team in January, 1918.
 Tim Murnane, a former ML 1st baseman,  turned sports writer, put him on his team, in 1914, but at 2B!
He was also named in a 1938 article in Spalding Guide as one of the best ever 3Bmen.
Ned Williamson's Gold Gloves Estimates, According to Mathew Sounder's PCA stat system:
1878 - 4 (Hague)
1879 - 1
1880 - 2 (Bradley)
1881 - 1
1882 - 2 (Denny)
1883 - 2 (Denny)
1884 - 1
1885 - 1
1886 (SS) - 3 (Irwin)
1887 (SS) - 12 (Ward)
1888 (SS) - 12 (Iwrin)
1889 - NR
1890 - 11 (Tebeau)
Introducing Herman C. Long:  April 16, 1866, Chicago, IL - September 17, 1909, Denver, CO
NL SS, 1889-1904
1889-1903. All time glove. Scored lots of runs in his peak, hit well 1894-97.
But Wallace, Wagner and Herman Long could play so much deeper than Jennings that they naturally could get
grounders that Jennings could not get, and make, also go farther back for fly balls than Jennings could go.
(Sporting News, February 11, 1926, John B. Sheridan, St. Louis spwr. (1888-1929) Sporting News column, "Back of Home Plate", 1917-29)
With a powerful arm, a quick release, and outstanding range, speed, and agility, Long played shortstop,
according to the Boston Globe, like a man on a flying trapeze." . . . His career chances-per-game (6.4) tops all shortstops.
. . . twice knocking in over 100 and scoring over 100 seven times. His 149 runs scored led the NL in 1893
and his 12 HRs led in 1900. Noisy and uncouth on the field, he urged teammates to greater efforts, ragged opponents,
and stirred up fans. He always played all out, once breaking Pittsburgh catcher Connie Mack's leg witha ferocious
 slide when there was no play at the plate.
(The Ballplayers, ed. by Mike Shatzkin, 1990, pp. 633.)
In 1889 shortstop Herman Long made 117 errors. Today he would never have the chance to make so many without
being booted back to the minors, but the game was different in 1889, when Long's numerous miscues didn't even
lead the league. In more than 16 major league seasons he accumulated an astonishing 1,070 errors at
SS alone, plus another six when he filled in at other positions. Add his minor league bobbles and he probably
more errors than any other man in BB history.
Yet Long was regarded as one of the best shortstops of his day, and many authorities place him at the top of the list.
Although he made scads of errors, he also covered more ground than any of his counterparts. Many of his misses
came on balls that other shortstops could only watch go by from afar. Long was spectacularly acrobatic as he
pursued batted balls, cutting off some hits with moves more likely to be seen at the circus. He ranks second
all-time in total chances per game. The outstanding plays that occasionally resulted from his attempts made the
extra errors worthwhile. (Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia, ed. of Total Baseball, David Pietrusza,
Matthew Silverman, Michael Gershman, 2000, pp.674)

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