John Holway Hall of Fame
Cooperstown: Who's In? Who's Out? And why?
MY HALL OF FAME BALLOT
John B Holway
Here's how I filled out my Hall of Fame ballot:
Batted better than any shortstop but Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan. Was ahead of Vaughn until he was drafted and lost four years and some of his toes. Went 5-for-5 in his first big league game. Outhit DiMaggio in 1941, when Joe hit in 56 straight games. Would have been in decades ago if he had worn an "NY" on his hat.
First, he never held the ball. The official game films show that that was a myth, which has kept him out of Cooperstown, though he batted better than most shortstops there -- some 40 points better than his contemporaries, Phil Rizzuto and Pee wee Reese. Many of Ted's RBIs were Johnny.
Hit more home runs than any Negro Leaguer, including Cuban games (albeit with more at bats than Gibson).
Averaged one homer per ten at bats against barnstorming white stars. In an integrated league probably would have broken Babe Ruth's 60-mark in the 1936-39 era. His tenth-inning homer off Martin Dihigo won the 1935 East-West game with Williamsonian drama. A frequent .400 hitter until he was beaned.
Won almost as many Negro League games as Satchel Paige, with less losses. Probably won more, but his hometown Washington papers didn't cover him for several seasons. All-time percentage leader of black baseball. Won 23 in a row over two seasons. With Josh Gibson formed probably the best battery in baseball history. Also hit with power.
Baseball's greatest defensive catcher and probably the best handler of pitchers ever. His protege, Campanella, who also saw Mickey Cochrane, calls Biz the best. Pitchers rhapsodized about him: "Ooooh, he just built you up, made you feel you couldn't lose!" Steady .300-batting line drive hitter; led the league in 1924 with .440 average.
The Ty Cobb of the Negro Leagues, his lifetime .369 leads all black batters. Often topped .400. No beauty in the field, he stopped hard drives with his chest to throw the man out. A temperamental scrapper, he would do anything to win.
Hit 868 career home runs despite a 130-game schedule and a world record number of walks. If he had come to bat as often as Aaron, his total would be 1100; as often as Sosa, and he'd have topped 70 several years. Cannot estimate how many he'd have hit in MLB, but it's also impossible to say if Yaz, Wingfield, Puckett, Kaline, Ott etc could have hit 1100 in Japan.
Perhaps the main reason we're seeing Ichiro, Nomo, Ishii, Sasaki today, with more to follow. Visited Japan repeatedly 1931 until his death in 1969, promoting and encouraging baseball. Batted .398 in the lively ball era in 1929 and .349 lifetime.
Pioneered night ball, which saved the Negro Leagues and the minors. Gave Satchel Paige a second chance and Jackie Robinson his first. Built two Monarch dynasties, the 1920s built around Bullet Rogan, and the '40s built around Paige.
Won more games pitching for the perennial losers, the Senators and Cubs, than Lefty Gomez, who pitched for the perennial champion Yankees.
I could hve added more:
Jim Kaat, Bert Blyleven, Tommy John, and Luis Tiant, all of whom would already be in if they'd spent more (or any) time with the Yankees.
Cristobal Torriente, Cuba's greatest player -- yes, greater than Dihigo. Outhit Martin by 50 points, had a better pitching record, and played a good third base, left-handed. In a Havana showdown against Babe Ruth, slugged three homers while Babe went for the collar.
Sachio Kinugasa, a half-black G.I. baby who gew up to break Lou Gehrig's consecutive game record and hit 500 homers.