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Baseball Analysis  John Holway / History






Eddie Murray hit 500 homers with 3,000 hits, because his career was so long. You can't get 3,000 hits with a .287 average unless you hang around a long time. And on a homer-per-at-bat basis, he wasnt that great On the other hand, the O's never won a pennant after Edd-ee left, even tho Cal Ripken was just starting his long career with them.

If Murray is in, should Jim Rice follow? He was a line drive-hitter, and many of his hardest shots hit The Wall in Boston. In Detroit, or today's Camden Yards, etc, they'd have gone into the stands.

I'd also put in Jim Kaat, Tommy John, Burt Blyleven, and Luis Tiant. Three of them pitched briefly for NY; if they'd pitched many years in NY, they'd have been in long ago. That "NY" on your hat is worth a lot of votes at MVP and HoF time. Few people know that in 1967 Tiant was the most effective pitcher in history, holding opposing batters to a .168 average. I call it Pitching Average. It's equivalent to Rogers Hornsby's .424 batting average.

As usual, the vets committee concerns me.

To start, they've put a moratorium on Negro Leagers. The electors don't know anything about them and wouldn't be allowed to vote for them, even if they did know.

Jud Wilson, the all-time batting king at .366, isn't in and won't get in for at least several more years. It's tantamount to leaving Ty Cobb out.

Some others:

Mule Suttles, second to Josh Gibson in HRs. Mule hit a ball in Cuba that was measured at 598 feet. And he tattooed white big leaguers in California and elswehere. I'm still gathering new data on the 1938 season and have found five more homers for the big Alabama coal miner. I'm pretty sure in my mind that if he and Josh Gibson had been allowed into an integrated league, either or both would have broken Babe Ruth's 60-homer record in the 1936-39 period. The Babe's mark might not have lasted a decade. Well, why not? Roger Maris broke it, and he was no Gibson or Suttles. Mule hit for average too. He batted .337 lifetime and topped .400 four times.

Ray Brown, very close behind Satchel Paige in wins and well below him in losses. He could hit the long ball too and often pinch-hit or played the outfield. He and Gibson gave baseball probably its greatest battery of all time.

Biz Mackey, perhaps the best catcher of all time, who taught young Roy Campanella everything he knew. Pitchers rhapsodized about pitching to him, almost like women describing their lovers. ("Ooooh, he just got you on edge!") And a .320 lifetime hitter. Biz was certainly much better than Gary Carter.

Cristobal Torriente was far better than fellow Cuban Martin Dihigo. A deer in centerfield, he starred for Rube Foster's great teams of the 1917-28 era. Playing in a horrible hiitters' park, home of the "Hitless Wonder" White Sox, Torriente batted .334 lifetime; it would have been higher in a friendlier park.

Shorstop Dick Lundy was as good as, or better than, Pop Lloyd or Willie Wells at shortstop. He was considered the smoothest of the three and actually outhit Willie.

Blacks aren't the only victims of the Hall's discrimination. Many great whites have found theemselves locked out.

Cecil Travis and Johnny Pesky aren't even on the ballot. Look up their records and compare them with Phil Rizzuto, Pee Wee Reese, Rabbit Maranville, Dave Bancroft, Travis Jackson, and most of the other shortstops in the Hall. A ping hitter like Ichiro, the teenaged Travis debuted with a 5-for-5 day. He beat Joe DiMaggio in batting in 1941, when Joe hit in 56 straight games.

If Pesky hadn't lost three years in the war, he'd have had six 200-hit seasons to start his career. Only Wade Boggs had more. What the heck does he have to do to get in the HoF? And Johnny never held the ball in the '46 World Series -- the films prove that. That canard, now proved to be a cruel myth, has denied John the honors that ihave been conferred on inferior men.

Among pitchers, what about these:

Bobo Newom (see my profile).

Mel Harder won more games than any Indian but Bob Feller. Mel was also one of the greatest pitching coaches ever -- all those great Cleveland pitchers of the late 40s and 50s were his boys.

Dutch Leonard won more games (191) for a last-place team than Lefty Gomez won for a first-place team (189).

The way it's set up now, with Hall of Famers voting for more Hall of Famers, the balloting favors Yankee and Dodger candidates. You can bet the former Dodgers in the Hall are under pressure to vote for Gil Hodges (who had a real short porch in Ebberts). Travis and Leonard dont have a constituency. Only one living HoFer played for Washington, Harmon Killebrew, and he doesn't know, or particularly care, anything about the older Senators.

You wouldn't guess it from the above, but actually I think there are too many men in the HoF. The old-0timers got in all their old boyhood heroes, like Tommy McCarthy, and their adult drinking cronies -- look at the bubble of 1930 hitters who have been jammed into the Hall. Each generation who followed them did the same thing. And our children and grandchildren will do it all over again as soon as its their turn.

At this pace, we'll have 400-500 plaques there by the year 1936, when the Hall will be 100 years old. By stuffing more and more in, they'll have to extend the present building out into Glimmerglass Lake to get all the plaques in.

You can't kick anyone out, and its not fair to lock anyone out while less worthy ones are in. So what is the solution?

I favor a two-tier Hall, with gold plaques gleaming among the bronze to designate the Truly Great Players. A bronze plaque would be the first step, admitting a candidate to be considered for full Golden Plaque sainthood let's say 25 years in the future.

I would favor ten gold plaque players per decade, beginning about 1880. That would give us an even 100 through 1979.

It would also help prevent the travesty of the recent All Century Team, when voters, whose memories go no further back than the invention of the cell phone, were able to install Roger Clemens and Bob Gibson and leave off Bob Feller.

The more plaques we nail up on the wall, the cheaper everyone's plaques will beome. I can imagine a father and son gazing at the bewildering wall at Cooperstown 33 years from now.

"Dad," the boy asks, "who was Willie Aaron?"

"You mean Hank Mays, dont you, son?" the father replies gently.

Also read: My Hall of Fame Ballot

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