WGOM Half-Baked Hall: 1894-1896

I'll let you all in on a little secret. After the last vote I commissioned a focus group to try and tweak the rules to make this process a little more enjoyable long-term. I'm sure the tweaking isn't finished, as we want this process to be fun, not laborious. We're hopeful that the changes will make each new ballot more interesting as well as allowing us to speed through the years a bit faster.

Changes Now In Effect

1. Name change!  This was unanimous and suggested by CarterHayes.  Perhaps it will also put less pressure on people to vote "correctly." Big thanks to hungry joe for making the changes.

2. Daneeka's Ghost has created a voting history spreadsheet. A link to it is below. It's pretty amazing. Hopefully this spreadsheet along with Brian's will help people with their voting process.

3. Threshold to remain on the ballot has risen to 25%. If this had been in effect for the previous two elections, we'd already have seven fewer people around.

4. You can only use your Maybe vote on 25% of the ballot. For each ballot I will provide you with a max number.

5. After three times on a ballot, players will no longer have a Maybe option next to their name. They deserve a firm answer after 2-3 months of thinking about it.

Other Discussion Points

Some proposed limiting the number of times someone can be on a ballot. Majority decided that it's too early to place such a restriction, but this may be revisited if some players stay on for a while with little movement.

Discussion occurred regarding skipping around eras. Majority decided to keep things going chronologically for the sake of continuity and keeping the ballot more of an organic process.

Some thought that once we reach the 20th century, there will be fewer people remaining on the ballot year after year. Some felt the opposite, as views will be more entrenched as voters will be more confident, forcing us to kick people off after a while. We shall see.

1894-1896 Ballot

I am only listing the new people below. I went just over 30 people for this ballot to keep things moving. I'm hopeful we'll have many people fall off after this one and things will become a little saner.  There are 24 returning players and 9 new ones.

Returning Players to the Ballot

Voting History Spreadsheet

Brian's Player Spreadsheet

New Pitchers
Ice Box Chamberlain
John Clarkson
Tony Mullane

New Batters
Pete Browning
Oyster Burns
Charlie Comiskey
Jack Glasscock
Tommy McCarthy
Monte Ward


67 thoughts on “WGOM Half-Baked Hall: 1894-1896”

  1. Monte Ward is an interesting two-way player. Hit for longer than he pitched, but was a much better pitcher than a hitter in his prime.

    Tommy McCarthy is on the ballot because he made the Hall of Fame, though it's puzzling as to how he made it. Charlie Comiskey made it as a pioneer; not much of a player.

    One question I have for the masses: Paul Hines and George Gore were very similar players. Both centerfielders, both with similar slash lines, career length. I think Hines was sightly better, but he did significantly better than Gore in the voting. Would like to hear people's rationale.

    Also, while bS has not convinced me on Dave Orr, I'd like to trumpet Charley Jones now. He had a long career for the time, has a ton of gray ink, and lost two years during his prime because he was blackballed, which is no different in my mind than losing two years to war. Plus, his OPS+ is 150. Probably the second best hitter of the time after Ross Barnes, and I actually feel more confident about his candidacy than Deacon White.

    1. ...and lost two years during his prime because he was blackballed...

      Don't know why this one gets me going, but every time I hear it, I want to point out that likely the word they [you] were looking for here is this, not this.
      Even so - thanks for the continued management of this process. We're getting closer to a place where I feel I can participate.

      1. dictionary.com:

        black·ball [blak-bawl]
        verb (used with object)
        1. to vote against (a candidate, applicant, etc.).
        2. to exclude socially; ostracize: The whole town blackballed them.
        3. to reject (a candidate) by placing a blackball in the ballot box.
        4. a negative vote, especially in deciding on an applicant or candidate.
        5. a black, ball placed in a ballot box signifying a negative vote.

        1. Uhm, what's more persuasive, your internet source or mine?

          EDIT: better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. moar proof of why I should stay out of semantics discussions around here.

      2. We're getting closer to a place where I feel I can participate.

        Yep, this is where I'm at. I'm reading all the stuff people are posting and enjoying the discussions, anyhow.

  2. I'm still stumping for Ross Barnes. You might be afraid to open your heart and let him in. Here's why you're wrong.

    * This does not set a trend for future ballots
    You might be worried that voting for one injury-shortened career means that you have to vote for people like Fidrych and Mattingly. This is an absurd fear. Neither of them were as dominant as Barnes, and you're the master of your own ballot. I plan on voting for Barnes, then denying Pete Rose based on career length - I can DO that.

    * Barnes was freaking dominant.
    Ross Barnes batted .431 in 1873, handily winning the batting title. Second place was secured by a time-travelling Milt Thompson¹, who batted .091 under the name "Dave Birdsall"². That over 300 points difference. That's crazy.

    ¹ - Cap Anson batted .391 in 1873, but I have excluded him for reasons that only true keepers of the game like myself and Brian McCann understand.
    ² - I can't prove this... yet.

    * He won the sabermetric triple crown twice
    That's pretty crazy, considering he only played seven full years. It's safe to say that if Ross Barnes had been able to play as long as Hank Aaron, he would've won the sabermetric triple crown a total of six times, and we wouldn't even need to have this discussion, because we would've named the Hall after him.

    * No, seriously, Ross Barnes was pretty good.
    Vote for him.

    1. I don't care if Chamberlain preceeded her by about 100 years, there's only one Ice Box to me.

  3. John Clarkson had a pretty interesting career. He relied on moving his pitchers and pitching around star hitters to pitch as many innings as he did. He often tried to wear a shiny belt buckle to blind hitters, and despite being asked to remove it many times, continued to try it (someone should ask Brian McCann about this). He adjusted to the first time they moved the mound back, but never could figure out 60 feet, 6 inches. His career tailspinned after that change (at the age of 30), though who knows if he would have figured it out if he was younger. He signed an agreement to sign a contract with the Boston team of the Player's League, but wound up just using that as leverage to get more money from the National League. It ruined his friendship with King Kelly. among others. He was at a train with Charlie Bennett (who just fell off the ballot), when Bennett slipped shaking Clarkson's hand and Bennett got his feet severed by the train.

    He was a raging alcoholic, and some believe it led to his mental health problems late in life. He spent most of his final four years in a sanitarium, and was often confused. There was a rumor for a long time that he had mutilated his wife, but no such thing happened. He died at just 47.

        1. I don't always die before 50, but when I do I've spent the several preceding years locked in a sanitarium.

  4. More great stuff on Pete Browning, the original Louisville Slugger (and likely who the bat was named after). Much like Clarkson, he was an alcoholic, probably even more so. He had mastoidal problems that made him deaf. Because he was deaf, he didn't go to school. And because of the mastoidal pain, he drank. Like Clarkson, he sold cigars after he retired. And like Clarkson, he spent most of his remaining years in an asylum, obviously due to physical problems, a lot of them caused by his drinking.

    Some inspiration for Major League:

    Deaf and illiterate, the six-foot, 180-pound Browning was eccentric as well. He refused to slide; played defense standing on one leg to prevent anyone running into him; stared into the sun to improve his "lamps" (eyes); treasured his "active" bats because of the hits they still contained; was constantly on the prowl for the next, new "magical" stick with hits in it; reportedly favored bats that were 37 inches in length and 48 ounces in weight; maintained a warehouse of "retired" bats in his home -- all of them named, many after Biblical figures; kept his batting statistics on his shirt cuffs; and when traveling over the circuit, frequently alighted from trains and introduced himself as the champion batter of the American Association.

    Also, I love this account of a defensive play he made in 1890:

    "The one act of the afternoon which stands out like a wart on a man's nose was a catch by Col. Browning (an embellishment; he was never in the military) in the fifth inning. Mr. [Hugh] Duffy, a distinguished townsman with whom it is a genuine pleasure to deal, tripped to the bat with his teeth set so hard that his jaw bones stuck out like handles on an Etruscan vase. He reached for the first ball which Mr. [Jersey] Bakely was good enough to land over the rubber.

    "The sound that followed was the same as when the slats fall down in an old-fashioned bed. The ball mounted towards the town of Jefferson until it was lost to sight. It came into view again in a few moments in the extreme left field, and then it was observed that Mr. Browning was only a few rods away.

    "He rattled his lengthy legs towards his heart's desire as long as possible, and then jumped in a northwesterly direction, turning four times in the air and stretching one arm for the ball in a manner of a boy after his second piece of pie.

    "He got it.

    "Then applause went up from the grandstand like an insane man experimenting with a French horn. Pete had to doff his cap a dozen times."

                1. I believe I shall try a semi-reasonable facsimile of a New Guy 'olde timey' game recap this Sunday...provided Noah has a power supply for my laptop.

  5. Deacon White and Paul Hines have very similar statistics. They both played exactly 20 years during the same time-span. Hines has a slightly better OPS and more stolen bases. They both played premium positions. I'd be hard-pressed to vote for White and not Hines. Right now, White is getting way more votes than Hines. I think part of that is that White was an appealing option on the first ballot with so few hitters to vote for. With more choices on the second ballot, Hines got lost. This is not to say either of them are slam dunks; they certainly are not; just pointing out the discrepancy.

  6. Researching Jack Glasscock and I get this random reference from The Day Book, a Chicago newspaper in an article 20 years after he retired:

    Many a youngster goes to the big leagues full of ambition, and performs like a Jack Glasscock in the field, after which he is given the acid test.

    I have no idea what "the acid test" is, but Glasscock seems to have been known for his defensive wizardry.

    1. A quick recap of Glasscock:

      He became a star in the National League but jumped ship to the Union Association in 1884 to make more money. He earned the nickname Pebbly Jack because of his habit of picking up stones and tossing them away while playing shortstop on defense. After the Union Association folded, Glasscock became the best shortstop in the National League. He became a player-manager of the Indianapolis Hoosiers and turned into a drunken umpire baiter. When the Players League formed in 1890, he chose to stay with the National League which earned him considerabel animosity from his fellow players. After hurting his hand in 1891, Glasscock was no longer the preeminent defensive shortstop and ultimately moved to first base. Glasscock continued to play through 1901, spent three seasons with St. Paul, and finally ended his career playing for Minneapolis. Unlike most of these guys, Glasscock lived on until 1947 as a carpenter back in his native Wheeling, West Virginia.

      From the August 1, 1896 Saint Paul Globe:

      Tuesday Jack Glasscock, who was on the coaching line, informed Umpire Strouthers that he thought he was rotten. "That will cost you five," replied the umpire. "I said you were rotten," said Glasscock. "I said ten," retorted Strouthers. Glasscock expressed his contempt for the umpire by a liberal use of his fingers applied to the end of his nose, and the fine was raised to $25. Jack sat down, a sadder but wiser man."

  7. Ice Box Chamberlain was named because his veins were cold as ice, both on the field and everywhere else.

    an outfielder called Jocko Halligan considered himself to be quite a barroom brawler. One night he thrashed one player and then spotted another potential victim sitting at the bar. Jocko was unaware that Elton was watching his approach in the large mirror behind the bar. Just as Halligan was about to attack, the pitcher wheeled and flattened him with a bar mallet.

    He pitched ambidextrously, though not as often as Corcoran or Mullane. However, he did not wear a glove while on the mound, in order to better deceive runners. He was adept at picking runners off base with both hands.

    After his career was over, he tried multiple comebacks (and all his comebacks produced just two games total), even once declaring himself in the best shape of his life. This quote by Chamberlain is fantastic.

    I am giving it to you straight that I never felt better in my life and have taken off 13 pounds. Nothing ever pleased me better than my release from the Cincinnatis and if ever I played ball in my life I’ll play it this year. Some people may have their own ideas about my work last season with the Reds, but I’ll tell you truly it was that bum atmosphere coupled with the rankest water in the universe that kept me down. But I’ll tell you once more this is going to be my base ball year and no mistake. I feel out of sight.

    1. Geez, never mind my comment about Oyster Burns above, judging a book by its cover, and all that.

      I don't know if my favorite part of that quote above is "The Best Shape of His Life" stuff of that he called the Reds "The Cincinnatis".

      1. I was going to comment on the "Cincinnatis" thing too. I'm gonna tell people I'm a fan of the Minnesotas.

  8. Also, as your filling out your ballots, remember to toss Old Hoss some love. I didn't think I would have to mention that, but here we are, not voting for a man so good at baseball that he inspired a man born in a different century to fake a Twitter account for him.

  9. Wondering if anyone has thoughts on Comiskey. If he goes in, he goes in as an owner/pioneer. I'm torn, especially since Eight Men Out tells me how he held Shoeless at gunpoint and made him gamble on baseball.

      1. It should be pretty well established by now that I am not a particularly close reader of my e-mail instructions. But also it's actually more efficient to ask here than search through my in-box. Considering you answered my inquiry in less than two minutes, my assumption was correct.

  10. I'd like to talk about Candy Cummings. I'm guessing he's suffering from a "how to assess pitchers" standpoint. I find him to be a very compelling case though. His numbers are fairly remarkable. What kind of stands out to me is actually his low K rate. The guy had a ton of success considering he didn't strike people out. It's actually at the point where I'm forced to wonder if he was playing a "don't strike people out" kind of game. Plus, he didn't walk people, so control didn't seem to be the real issue. Yes, it's hard to figure out what was exactly going on there. But clearly the guy was good.

    And besides. He invented the curveball. Pioneers get a break with me. They should with everyone. I mean, would you keep Washington out of the Hall of Famous Presidents just because he was the first? No, you'd admit him for that exact reason. And in Cummings' case, I think it's pretty cool that he wasn't striking a ton of people out but was the architect of a pitch designed to deceive batters. Something in that duality appeals to me. We should vote him in, I think.

    1. I don't disagree with any of this. Inventing something as important as the curve ball is a pretty big deal. On the other hand, without the curve ball, we wouldn't have to listen to Bert call games.....

    2. I'm torn on this. I don't like the word "invent" as it's likely many players, and some civilians, probably had already been curving baseballs. He no doubt popularized it and demonstrated it could make a pitcher better.

      Problem is so many players then popularized new ways of playing. Cummings had the first catcher (Hicks) willing to sit behind home plate to catch the curveball. That revolutionized catching. Is he in? Comiskey was the first first baseman to play off the base. Do we elect him if that's his claim to fame?

      Do we elect Sutter because he popularized the split finger? What if Sutter had been mediocre?

      I get the argument, but unless I'm also impressed with the numbers, I have a slippery slope in my head.

      1. I think the best rebuttal to the slippery slope is to draw a line. In this case, that line should be to weight the significance of the "invention". Not all inventions are equal, and we don't need to pretend they are.

        For example, I don't think playing off first base defines/affects the primary role of the first baseman in nearly the fashion that the development of the curveball affects the role of the pitcher. The ability to mix pitches is an essential skill of all pitchers (especially for starting pitchers). That is key to the role of the pitcher. That development doesn't happen unless someone popularizes deception/variety in pitch delivery. No one popularized that like Cummings did. Even if others were playing around with curving baseballs, Cummings is the guy who made it a real thing, used regularly, in real professional baseball games. That changed the path of pitchers dramatically.

        We're not all going to agree which things are key developments, and we'll all draw that line differently, but for me the invention of the curve ball is clearly on the "gets you into the Half-Baked Hall" side of the line. Fear that it'll lead to closer calls down the road doesn't change that fact.

        And Cummings was still pretty good besides. Which helps distinguish him from, say, Hicks.

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