WGOM Half-Baked Hall: 1890 Election Results

I'd like to thank everybody for their participation so far in this venture I almost gave up on before it started. The response has been way more fervent than I anticipated, and it looks like it may have inspired Scot to start posting over at Coffeyville Whirlwind again. I consider myself fairly well-versed in baseball history, including several 19th century players. But I knew approximately zilch about this crop of guys and it was a blast to research.

So now to the question on everybody's mind: did the WGOM elect anyone from baseball's early years? Voting turnout was pretty good. Out of our 34 voters, we had 25 submit ballots. Several abstained due to not feeling comfortable with their knowledge of the players, and a couple abstained simply due to life circumstances getting in the way.  Nobody requested that their ballot be kept private, so there will be a link to the spreadsheet with all of the tabulations.

It's also apparent that we have (thankfully!) a diverse group of voters. We have small hall guys, medium hall guys, and big hall guys amongst our electorate. I'm excited to see how this plays out over the years.

Results after the jump! Please also note at the end of this post I've asked some questions of the electorate that I'd like people to respond to if they have an opinion.

Al Spaulding

With 76% of the electorate firmly in his camp, Al Spalding become the first member of the WGOM Hall of Fame! As I mentioned, what goes on the plaque would likely be contributions from our electorate. In this case, unknowingly!

Remaining On The Ballot

Ross Barnes: 68%
Deacon White: 60%
Jim McCormick: 48%
Tommy Bond: 36%
Candy Cummings: 36%
Bobby Matthews: 36%
Dave Orr: 28%
Charley Jones: 20%
Will White: 16% (+ 20% Maybe)
George Wright: 16% (+ 16%)
Larry Corcoran: 16% (+ 12%)
Guy Hecker: 16% (+ 8%)
Ned Williamson: 12% (+ 16%)
Dick McBride: 12% (+ 12%)
Joe Start: 12% (+ 12%)
Ezra Sutton: 12% (+ 8%)

Dropping Off The Ballot

Lady Baldwin: 8%
Charlie Ferguson: 8%
Jim Devlin: 4%
Ed Morris: 4%
Jack Rowe: 0%
Jim Whitney: 0%
George Zettlein: 0%


*George Zettlein was the only player to receive 25 NO votes.
*Despite being underrepresented, only one of the hitters dropped off the ballot.

Here's the spreadsheet with everyone's ballot.

Here's some charts!

Questions For The Electorate

1. Are we satisfied with the dropoff percentage? Did 20% leave too many people on the ballot? Not enough?

2. I am thinking rather than always doing a set number of years per ballot, I plan on going year by year (beginning now with players who retired in 1891) and adding eligible players until we hit a maximum of 30 people per ballot, whether that be just 1891, or if that goes all the way to 1895 or further. Is that a good amount? More/less? I know DPWY said that Think Factory had ballots upwards of 50 players. That seems overwhelming to me, but you all let me know.

3. Were people comfortable with the amount of time allotted for discussion and voting?

4. Any details about the process you'd like to see changed?

5. Do you want a break before the next ballot comes up?

58 thoughts on “WGOM Half-Baked Hall: 1890 Election Results”

  1. The most appropriate way to enshrine Al would be to have the narrator from the Burns documentary introduce him as "Alexander Goodwill Spalding"

    1. Awesome!

      This reminds me. When I select the Archives, all I get is that LTE box...didn't we used to have a list of links to specific categories?

  2. The process feels legit, and 25 voters is solid, and that number should theoretically grow.

    Only 48% for McCormick, though? You guys are going to make me stump for this guy, aren't you.

    1. I may have to do a Bert-style campaign for Barnes, Charley Johnson, and Orr, in response. C'mon, guys! Dave Orr, the Prince Fielder of the 1880s!

      1. C'mon, guys! Dave Orr, the Prince Fielder of the 1880s!

        If Orr makes it in before McCormick, I'll write several essays about how flawed the process is and hand in protest ballots.

  3. I find it interesting that the ballots of the two Citizens most known for their baseball historical knowledge (Scot and DPWY) are so different. Would love to hear the two of them comment on specifics.

    1. I almost put maybe for Ross Barnes, and I can see a case for him. Generally, I would rather err with an exclusion that could be fixed later rather than including somebody that doesn't belong.

    2. Here are our differences:

      Tommy Bond (I said maybe, Scot said no): I just wasn't sure how to evaluate pitchers

      Candy Cummings (I said yes, Scot said no): I gave extra credit for creating the curveball.

      Jim McCormick (I said maybe, Scot said no): I was pretty impressed he could have such a lengthy career as a pitcher (in this era) and wanted to let him linger

      Will White (I said maybe, Scot said no): again, no idea how to evaluate pitchers, but I wanted to think more about him

      Ross Barnes: (I said yes, Scot said no): I'm a big Hall kind of guy. Plus, Barnes played before his 1871 stats on Baseball-Reference for Forest City in Rockford, Illinois (with Al Spalding). All his triples suggest he had great power for the era . He also was a master of the bunting foul balls at pitches he couldn't handle before the rules were changed to not allow plate appearances to continue indefinitely. Being the best all-around player for five-plus years is nothing to sneeze at.

      Charley Jones (I said yes, Scot said no): possibly the best OF for the first decade of the National League/American Association, had a much longer career than most of his contemporaries, he was blacklisted for two-plus years in his prime (for demanding to be paid while on the road), his counting stats aren't that great because his teams never played 100 games in a year until he was 34

      Joe Start (I said yes, Scot said no): very good lengthy career (25+ seasons when many players were barely living that long!); shortchanged by Baseball-Reference because he was playing professionally throughout the 1860s for the Brooklyn Atlantics as the best player on the best team in NY (the Jetah!!!!)

      Ezra Sutton (I said yes, Scot said no): best third baseman in the early years at a time when the position was much more challenging defensively (relatively speaking) to second base because of the style of play (lots of bunting, etc.); supposedly had a very good season in 1870 for Forest City pre-Baseball Reference stats

      Deacon White (I said yes, Scot said no): One of the best hitters in early baseball despite playing catcher nearly 40% of the time and 3b (see Sutton comment above), the rest

      Ned Williamson (I said maybe, Scot said no): Again, positional bonus for a third baseman who had a pretty good bat. I could see myself dropping him off the ballot soon, but I thought he needed more time for consideration

      George Wright (I said yes, Scot said no): again, shortchanged by BR not including his 1869-70 seasons and probably the best shortstop of the nineteenth century

      I think the biggest difference is that I'm voting for a bigger Hall than Scot.

      1. I won't argue with your reasoning, especially for the batters. I probably should have utilized the "maybe" vote because I want to see how they compare to those elected later on. I think our main difference is where the line should be drawn, a question I am still developing in my mind.

          1. #playyousissies

            In 1887, despite multiple injuries, Orr had another fine season. His .338 batting average was third best in the American Association.[3] In April 1887, Orr sustained serious injuries and reported to be in critical condition after colliding with catcher Andy Sommers, as both players were pursuing a batted ball. Orr's injuries included a dislocated knee, a badly bruised breast, his front teeth broken off, his tongue bitten through, and hemorrhaging.[10] He remained out of the lineup until the middle of May.[11]

            The Metropolitans started the 1887 record with a 6-24 record. On June 2, 1887, the manager was fired, and Orr took over on an interim basis as player-manager and captain. In his first game as manager on June 3, 1887, Orr had to be carried off the field after a blood vessel in his leg burst while sliding into second base.


            On January 22, 1890, Orr signed with the Brooklyn Ward's Wonders in the newly formed Players League.[21] Orr helped lead Brooklyn to second place in the league with a 76-56 record. In June 1890, Orr became the first Brooklyn player to hit the ball over the left field fence at Eastern Park.[22] On June 17, 1890,[23] Orr had two ribs broken when he was hit by a pitch, "but continued to play until he was threatened with erysipelas."[24] Though he had been expected to miss the remainder of the 1890 season,[24] he returned to the lineup on July 7. Orr batted .359 in 48 games before the injury and improved to .397 in 59 games after the injury.

  4. I almost didn't put Ross Barnes in my Yes column. Despite the black ink suggesting he was the best hitter of the National Association, only 499 games and just 2500 PA was hard to swallow. But I decided I couldn't penalize the guy for the structure of the league or for the untimely end to his career.

    1. If there were MVP awards, he might have 3. That's less impressive with a 8 team league and poor competition, but he still did that all in a very short time. And it's not like many players played into their 30's back then

    2. That's what ended up getting me to give him my vote. If the league eventually expands to 700 game seasons, I wouldn't want Bip Snyder excluded because he never hit 125 home runs in a season.

      1. Ha, I mean Bip Roberts. Bip Snyder was a secret agent alter ego that I made up when my brother and I would trespass in the woods behind our house when we were kids (the idea being that if we were ever caught, we'd give fake names and say that we were secret agents.... it made a lot of sense to a ten year old).

  5. Now that it's over, I'm curious to hear from folks on Spalding. He was an above average pitcher, did the sporting goods going, and was a great early promoter of the game, but the anticompetitive stuff he did to break up the Players League (essentially union busting) and his role in the institution of the reserve clause caused me to withhold my vote.

    1. I left all the extracurriculars off the table and decided he was never at ant time the best pitcher in the league, so withheld my vote.

      Also, I keep seeing Spaulding in places. Was that an alternate spelling for him ? Or is that the name of the sporting goods?

    2. My thinking, for whatever it's worth, is that in addition to his playing career, for better or for worse, he was an important figure in the early days of the game.

      1. This. With Spaulding, you can select the extra-cirriculars you consider good for the game or those you thought were bad. But there were plenty of both. There probably wouldn't be baseball without Spaulding.

        1. this as well. Plus, really, his pitching numbers were pretty spectacular. I don't really know what they mean except relative to other pitchers in this period. His numbers just stood out for me in terms of tremendous peak (and it's ALL peak).

          1. Yea, my point was just to not oversaturate the market. If the next one is ready, let it go. But think about spacing things out going forward.

  6. Well, my vote wouldn't have done anything except maybe keep the first vote free of any inductees.
    I would have probably been Maybe on Spalding.

  7. Any chance Spalding's plaque can be modified to indicate that he played in 1868-70 (for Rockford)?

  8. I think I'd like a little more conversation the next time around, pre-vote. I'm glad many of these guys are returning to the ballot. I think for now, 20% is good, but if the ballot gets too large we might be better served to do separate "maybe" ballots, from different eras, so they don't keep coming up. I'd rather focus on the new ones each time, and look at missed ones all at once. 30 players on a ballot seems about right too.

    I tend to be a large hall guy, but I have to admit I was still surprised that Deacon White and Ross Barnes didn't get in. And I'm gonna have to look harder at McCormick, apparently.

    1. I'd maybe almost want to jump around a little bit too. Rather than our next iteration being the next years, why not the 40's or something like that? I think that'd be fun.

    2. I thought the Maybes got on next year's ballot.
      I also suggested that we all grab one or two players on the ballot and make their case (or not), as I did for Ezra Sutton.

      1. I like people weighing in on players, I'm just concerned that it leads to one WGOMer becoming a proxy on that player for all other voters.

        1. This may be complete coincidence, but the first three people who sent in their votes after Brian shared his spreadsheets pimping Barnes, Jones, and Orr, all voted for Barnes, Jones, and Orr.

          I agree this is a risk, but I'd rather have more info than not. I don't think assigning people players is a good idea, but if people want to voluntarily do a bio or two on a player, that's great. I hope people don't feel like they can't pile on.

          1. Maybe that's something we can coordinate behind the scenes once we know who else might be interested in participating? I'd be happy to send out a call with each ballot asking for those who previously expressed interest in participating to indicate which players they might like to (briefly) write up.

  9. Hey, Beau, can you freeze the first two columns of the ballot spreadsheet, so that when you scroll over to the farther right columns we can still see who the voter was? thanky.

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