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Baseball Analysis  John Holway

The Lucky 39 –


Hall of Fame Picks:

Some Great Ones –

And Some Questions



John B Holway


Jud Wilson


Mule Suttles Mackey

Biz Mackey


After waiting for up to half a century, some of North America’s greatest ballplayers at last stand on the doorstep of the Hall of Fame.

Jud Wilson, whose .367 lifetime average makes him the Ty Cobb of the Negro Leagues, tops an outstanding list of black stars, who have been nominated by a special committee to enter the hallowed Hall next July. 

Mule Suttles, black baseball’s third-ranking home run slugger, who might have broken Babe Ruth’s 60-mark if he'd been given the chance, will no longer have to stand outside knocking on the door.  Mule’s longest drive, a measured  598 feet in Havana, was a full 100 feet longer than  Barry Bonds’ longest.

William Bell and Ray Brown, who won almost as many games as Satchel Paige but lost a lot less, should get their plaques at long last.

Biz Mackey, called by many the best defensive catcher who ever lived, should join Johnny Bench and Mickey Cochrane looking down from the wall of champions.

Cuba’s Cristobal Torriente and the smooth shortstop, Dick Lundy, will surely join them.

Owners Cum Posey and July Wilkinson, who built two of the most powerful dynasties the game has ever seen, are also on the ballot and should be elected

with ease.

The five-man committee did a splendid job recognizing these and many more giants of the game.

But it also made some curious choices, naming sentimental favorites that pushed more qualified men off the ballot.  This was a sad waste of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

First, let’s look at the good news.  The top eight position players nominated filled in the last missing blanks in the list of black stars before Jackie Robinson.


Over 2,000 at bats 


Hall of Famers


                                                                                                     Hall of Fame

                                                   Ab      Ba     psn   combined*  Study 

Jud Wilson                              4037    .367     if          .350    

John Beckwith                        2257    .354     c, ss     .349     .349 among HR leaders

Josh Gibson                            2857    .353     c          .358     .359

Turkey Stearnes                    3795    .351     cf        .346     .345 (tops in HR)

Oscar Charleston                   4949    .349     cf,1b,p .349     .348


Bullet Rogan                          2088    .347    p,of,2b  .350     .338 (2nd in pitching wins)

Pop Lloyd                               3144    .344     ss,1b    .347     .343

Mule Suttles                           3202    .343     of,1b    .334     #3 in HR

Buck Leonard                        2178    .343     1b        .336     .320

Cristobal Torriente                2761    .341     of, p     .343     22-11 as pitcher


Cool Papa Bell                       4757    .326     cf,p      .337     .317

George Scales                        2804    .326     if          .311     among top 10 in HR

Fats Jenkins                           2555    .325     of         .324     .325 speed 

Biz Mackey                            3998    .320     c,ss      .327     great defense

Red Parnell                            2307    .319     of         .312

© 2006 John B Holway.  May not be used without permission of the copyright holder.


Dick Lundy                             3008    .306     ss         .306     .306 great defense

Vic Harris                                 2583    .306     of, mgr             speed, great manager   

Dewey Creacy                         3328    .302     3b                    top 10 in HR

Willie Wells                            3910    .301     ss         .311     .319

Oliver Marcelle                     2494    .298     3b        .306     great defense 


Newt Allen                              3914    .295     2b        .292    

Sam Bankhead                         2212    .292     ss,cf,p .316     1st black mgr in minors

Judy Johnson                         3721    .284     3b        .292     .293


            Red Parnell’s .319 average is not Hall of Fame calibre, yet he took a possible slot away from the fiery team leader, Vic Harris.

Under 2,000 at bat


            When the committee named men with under ten years service, it opened the door to controversy.  With a few exceptions, such as pitcher Addie Joss, the Hall sets a ten-year minimum.

            In a shocking violation of the rule, the committee named the popular Minnie Minoso, who played only two seasons in the black leagues before moving to the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.  It was an obvious ploy to put Minnie in the Hall when his .296 big league average had kept him out for years.

            This may be the most egregiously poor choice in the 70-year history of Hall of Fame voting, which has been tainted by many other examples of favoritism.  Even if the larger voting committee rejects him in (unlikely), Minnie has taken one of 39 valuable spaces away from some other candidate, who earned it more than he did.

The committee, which rewarded Minoso’s two-year .293 average,

turned its back on Chino Smith’s six-year .420, Artie Wilson’s .378, Pancho Coimbre’s .367 Heavy Johnson’s .365, etc.



                                                    Ab    BA    psn     years   combined  Study 

Chino Smith                                902    .420     of         6          .388

Larry Doby                               581    .384     2b        4          .292     .307

Artie Wilson                              859    .378     ss         5          .369 

Dobey Moore                         1759    .371     ss         7          .361     .344

Bob Boyd                                   226    .369     1b        3


Pancho Coimbre                         496    .367     of         4          .356

Heavy Johnson                         1728    .365     of         7          .364

Rap Dixon                              1847    .361     of                     .341

Lazaro Salazar                            691    .361     1b, p    6

Monte Irvin                            1063    .356     ss         8          .296     .358


Jimmy Austin                              718    .352     ss         4 

Tetelo Vargas                             537    .352     of         8          .297

Charlie Blackwell                      1941    .348     of                     .332

Willard Brown                       1488    .344     ss, of                            .351 top 10 in HRs

Sam Jethroe                            1390    .341     of         7         .300


Ray Dandridge                       1034    .338     3b,2b   8          .324     .315

Huck Rile                                 1336    .337     if, p                  .335     49-30 as pitcher

Alejandro Oms                       1321    .329     of                     .338     .320

Bill Wright                                1412    .326     of                     .342

Ed Wesley                                1814    .320     1b                    .324     among top ten in HR    


italics -- played in major leagues




Rev Cannady                            1861    .315     ss,2b

John Donaldson                       922    .313     p,of     

TJ Young                                 1023    .307     c

Jim Taylor                              1145    .298     3b                    .300

Buck O'Neil                           1123    .297     1b        8          3 years in Navy


Sammy T Hughes                   1620    .294     2b                    .297

Minnie Minoso                        291    .293     of         2          .296

Bill Perkins                               1533    .290     c                      .309

Pelayo Chacon                         1388    .290     ss                     .276     father of Elio

Martin Dihigo                        1901    .280     all psns            .292     .307


Ed Wesley seems to be particularly victimized.

            Donaldson spent several years with white semipro teams, where historian Phil Dixon reports he compiled an impressive strikeout record.

I suspect that Candy Jim Taylor was nominated in order to have three Taylor brothers in the Hall.  Manager C.I. is legitimate and deserves to be elected.  However, Ben’s lifetime .309 is low for a first baseman.  And Candy’s credentials are even more suspect.



            The committee was selected because it had just completed a major statistical study of the 1920-48 era.  In fact, the nominations were held up until that was finished.  But the Hall ignored its own rationale for waiting, when it instructed the group to nominate men from the pre-1920 era also. 

Dick Clark and I had done the stats for the Macmillan Encyclopedia, but Clark’s fellow committee members apparently didn't consult them.

            My conclusion is that the newspaper record is too skimpy to be meaningful.  And when adequate statistics do exist, they don't confirm the reputations.  I concede that the dead-ball era depressed Negro League batting statistics more than whites’, but I recommended that the choices be limited to owners and managers. 


Doc Wiley                                  319    .320     c          .320

Louis Santop                          1120    .311     c          .298  power unconfirmed

Ben Taylor                             2974    .309     1b                 good defense

Spot Poles                                 577    .305     of         .317  great speed

Grant Johnson                          293    .294     2b        .323


Pete Hill                                  1818    .276     of         .289

Frank Grant                           minor league data only

Bud Fowler                              minor league data only

Sol White                                pioneer executive

C.I. Taylor                              mgr


Poles was the early Cool Papa Bell.  He and Hill both hit well against white big leaguers.  Poles was 21-for-42, Hill 27-for-73 (.370).


First base


At first base the popular and well-loved Buck O'Neil, 94 years old, was nominated, though an unsentimental look at the numbers shows that Edgar Wesley and others were unfairly passed over.


Lazaro Salazar                            691    .361     1b, p   

Ed Wesley                                1814    .331     1b                    among HR leaders       

Tank Carr                                2769    .319     1b                   

Jim West                                  2744    .297     1b                    great defense

Buck O'Neil                           1123    .297     1b                    3 years in Navy



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