WGOM Half-Baked Hall (1891-1893)

The first ballot of the esteemed WGOM electorate resulted in one Al Spalding reaching the hallowed halls of our Hall of Fame. Who will join him next?

The previous voting and enshrinement cycle lasted about two weeks. (For those wondering, if we keep to that pace, this project will end in about two years.) I will be taking Philosofer's suggestion and allow for more discussion pre-vote. I pulled the trigger last time because discussion had died for one day, but then it picked back up again as people had more time to research.  However, if you know you're going to be out of town for a while and would like a ballot early, that should not be a problem.

I will also be asking people to use the Google form that yickit created for us, as it makes compiling so much easier.

There are 33 people on this ballot. Sixteen are returning from the previous ballot. This seems like a lot, but I think the "maybe" vote was used liberally because voters were unfamiliar with the players and because it was the first time. I suspect this will decrease as time goes forward, and if we allow for more discussion pre-vote.

There are four players who retired in 1891 and six each from 1892 and 1893. We also have added one player from the 1890 ballot that AMR requested.  Again, if you want to advocate for an addition to the ballot that I missed, please do so in the comments. I typically add people who have over 30 WAR or have other notable careers, including all those in the real Hall of Fame.

Ballot is below the jump. I have italicized players new to the ballot.


Ross Barnes
Charlie Bennett
Fred Dunlap
George Gore
Paul Hines
Charley Jones
King Kelly
Henry Larkin
Tip O'Neill
Dave Orr
Lip Pike
John Reilly
Hardy Richardson
Joe Start
Harry Stovey
Ezra Sutton
Deacon White
Ned Williamson
George Wright


Tommy Bond
Charlie Buffington
Bob Caruthers
Larry Corcoran
Candy Cummings
Pud Galvin
Guy Hecker
Tim Keefe
Bobby Mathews
Dick McBride
Jim McCormick
Old Hoss Radbourn
Mickey Welch
Will White

33 thoughts on “WGOM Half-Baked Hall (1891-1893)”

  1. In addition to us maybe splitting up some of the new folks on the ballot, I'm kind of hoping folks might make the "for" cases on players leftover on the ballot, that they voted for last time?

  2. feel free to add data to the Google spreadsheet I created. I'm gonna be slammed this week at work, and trying to finish taxes (mostly done, but zomg! converting an IRA to a Roth hurts like hell) and FAFSA.

  3. Copied from the Al Spalding induction thread, here's my thoughts on some holdover candidates for whom I voted yes or maybe:

    Tommy Bond: I just wasn't sure how to evaluate pitchers

    Candy Cummings: I gave extra credit for creating the curveball.

    Jim McCormick: 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: again, no idea how to evaluate pitchers, but I wanted to think more about him

    Ross Barnes: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: again, shortchanged by BR not including his 1869-70 seasons and probably the best shortstop of the nineteenth century

    1. copied over from my comment in the same thread, part of the case for Dave Orr, whom I've described as the "Prince Fielder of his day".


      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.

    2. also, I basically agree with DPWY that evaluating the pitchers is really, really hard for this era. It is a little easier for batters.

      I voted for Ross Barnes, Charley Jones, and Dave Orr.

      Barnes was incredibly productive. 28.1 rWAR, 167 OPS+ in only 499 games/2,507 PA. For context, Albert Pujols in 2007-09 played in 466 games, 2,020 PA, 27.6 rWAR, 179 OPS+, winning two of his three MVPs. Yea, his career was short (shortened by ill health), but (a) as DPWY noted, he also played prior to 1871 and those stats are not included and (b) careers were a lot shorter in those days for even the premier players.

      Jones (26.4 rWAR, 150 OPS+ in 894 games/4,182 PA) wasn't productive at as high a rate as Barnes, but gets credit for being a labor leader and getting screwed over (blackballed) by owners for two seasons during his prime. Without guys like Jones fighting for player rights to be paid for road games, the game has a much harder time establishing itself as a real profession.

      Orr (27.8 in 791/3,457, 162 OPS+) was an absolute monster at the plate, and described as an excellent defensive 1B (FWIW). I guess one can downgrade his numbers because they were accumulated in the American Association and Players League rather than the NL. But holy crap! He missed a ton of time due to injuries (and his career was over at 30 due to a stroke) and still was a dominating offensive presence.

      I focused mostly on peak for this era. These guys were pretty much all peak. They were not "compilers".

  4. I have a feeling Old Hoss will win votes due to his Twitter account.

    I think I'm sold on Ross Barnes. And am intrigued with Tim Keefe from the new bunch.

  5. I don't know for sure if I'm going to vote for him, but I've always loved the career of "Parisian" Bob Caruthers. He doesn't meet any of the usual Hall-of-Fame standards, but his composite career is pretty awesome. He only pitched for nine seasons, eight of them above average with three of those being excellent. Career ERA+ of 122 with one season leading the league in ERA and one leading the league in WHIP. And, for what it's worth, his career record was 218-99.

    But what really impresses me is that he was equally awesome on the other side of the ball. His career OPS+ was 134 in almost 3,000 plate appearances and he once led the league with an OPS+ of 201. In fact, he even stayed on for one more season as an outfielder after his pitching career was over, though he only played in 14 games.

    What hurts his candidacy is that he played in the inferior American league and his short career. He also doesn't have any off-the-field extra-curriculars of note that I could find. But he's probably the best two-way player of all-time.

  6. Keefe and Radbourn are locks for my yes vote, and I haven't looked at the rest of the ballot.
    I didn't realize that "Maybe" votes would roll over into the next vote. I thought that maybe there would be a vote next year.

    1. Keefe is a slam-dunk for me. The guy was a beast. Radbourn is more borderline for me, but will probably get vote based on his peak.

  7. I'll write on behalf of my Yes votes for Bond, McCormick, and Mathews (I think Barnes and White have been well-covered).

    Tommy Bond: Led the league four times in SO/BB ratio, twice in ERA, twice in WHIP. He has the all-time record in SO/BB ratio. Rules were different and all that, but still impressive.

    Bobby Matthews: Another strikeout specialist, leading the league four times. However, I may change my vote on him. His ERA+ is really unimpressive and he mostly dominated once switching to the AA.

    Jim McCormick: Several fantastic seasons, rates well in black ink and every HOF standard, and has a great JAWS score as well.

  8. Apparently SABR's Nineteenth Century Research Committee named Harry Stovey its Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend in 2011. From Stovey's SABR write-up:

    When he retired in 1893, he was the all-time major league leader in home runs with 122 and was third on the list as late as 1920. He finished in the top four in home runs ten times, leading the league in five of those seasons. Stovey’s other offensive numbers include 347 doubles, 174 triples, 908 RBI, more than 500 stolen bases (records are not available for six of his seasons, so he may have stolen up to 800 bases) and 1,492 runs in 1,486 games, including nine seasons of 100 or more runs. Besides home runs, he led the league in more than twenty other offensive categories, including extra-base hits five times, runs scored and triples four times, slugging percentage and total bases three times, stolen bases twice and RBI once.

    SABR's other Overlooked 19th Century Legends: Pete Browning (2009), Deacon White (2010), Bill Dahlen (2012), and Ross Barnes (2013).

    1. Stovey kind of popped out at me too. That was a surprise. Lots of ink. Also, a very long career for the time.

      1. I was just about to make this same comment. 23rd highest blank ink of all time (caveat: 8 to 12 teams per league)

  9. I'm just starting to read up on these folks and King Kelly, while having a fine baseball career, seemed like an interesting person away from the diamond.

      1. While playing in Boston, he decided to take up acting and joined a Vaudeville company.
        He had a song name after him called"Slide, Kelly, Slide which was later made into a movie.
        And he may or may not have been the inspiration for the poem 'Casey at the Bat'

      2. On the field, if wiki is to be believed, he was one of the first catcher to use a glove and chest protector and apparently was the master of the feet first hook slide.

  10. I am on the fence, but leaning towards "no" when it comes to Hardy Richardson.
    His 1890 season was impressive, then next season he struggled and then he was out in two years. I wonder what happened, old age? injury? rules changes?

    1. I'm guessing he just got old. It was a pretty fast decline, but not surprising or unprecedented given his age.

      I'm leaning no as well, but a great player for several years.

  11. Not much conversation the past five days. Do people want more time? Is anyone else planning on profiling a player?

    1. I've been kind of swamped at work and with taxes. Was hoping to spend some time on this on sunday.

  12. All right, I'm going to throw out the ballot today. No deadline has been set, and talk is still encouraged. You can change your ballot as often as you want until the results are posted.

  13. Even though he is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame I have never heard of the name George Wright, but he is an interesting guy. Not only was he good at playing and promoting baseball, but was a skilled cricket player, and help introduce and popularize golf in America.

    His numbers do not seem Hall of Fame worthy, but seems like he was more of an ambassador (Al Spalding lite?). Wondering what other people think about him.

    1. Both Spalding and Wright were elected as pioneers, not players. Spalding's case as a player is certainly better, so I was more inclined to vote for him (though I voted maybe). Spalding's case as a pioneer also seems to be stronger, though there may be information on Wright I'm missing. It seems Wright belongs more in the golf hall of fame than the baseball version. I don't know why he's not in the golf hall of fame.

  14. fwiw, I have updated the WGOM HOF nominees spreadsheet (names for all the additional nominees, stats for the pitchers).

    I'm considering voting for two pitchers: Bob Caruthers (122 ERA+ and 43.8 pitching rWAR over 340 games, but also 134 OPS+ and 16.8 rWAR as a position player), and Tim Keefe (126 ERA+ and 88.9 pitching rWAR over 600 games; bonus points for being a co-organizer of the Players League). I hope to get to the batters tonight, but if anyone else wants to fill out the data, feel free to do so. Beau shared the URL via email earlier.

    1. Thanks again for your work on this Brian. I'm sure it's a huge help for those without the time to research each player individually. I know it's a help for me just to compare everyone at a quick glance.

      'Spoiler' SelectShow
  15. The voting period has officially ended. Results should be up sometime this week, and then we'll talk about how to make this process better and take a break.

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