Half-Baked Hall: 1944-1945

1944 and 1945 were different years for MLB, with most of the stars joining the service. However, a lot of old stars with decrepit bodies were retiring at the same time.

See below for your write-up assignments. Random.org once again believes only Scot should write about the Senators. I gave some of you two assignments. If you feel you can't do them, let me know as soon as possible.

Blurb Date: March 7th

Final Ballot

Red Faber: 71%
Wally Schang: 41%
Joe Sewell: 47%

New Hitters

Dolph Camilli (yickit)
Harlond Clift (bhiggum)
Joe Cronin (Scot)
Tony Cuccinello (DPWY)
Jimmie Foxx (CanofCorn)
Babe Herman (daneekasghost)
Bob Johnson (Beau)
Chuck Klein (philosofer)
Al Simmons (New Britain Bo)
Lloyd Waner (nibbish)
Paul Waner (nibbish)

New Pitchers

Paul Derringer (bhiggum)
Willis Hudlin (DPWY)
Van Mungo (Beau)
Lon Warneke (yickit)


43 thoughts on “Half-Baked Hall: 1944-1945”

  1. Jimmie Foxx (CanofCorn)

    After writing for the likes of Wally Berger, Chick Hafey and Max Bishop, this is a welcome assignment.

  2. Willis Hudlin

    Usual Stuff:
    158-156 record, 4.41 ERA, 2613.1 IP, 677 K's

    Modern Stuff:
    102 ERA+, 4.16 FIP, 31.2 WAR

    Random Stuff:
    He allowed Babe Ruth's 500th homer. In 2001, as part of its celebration of its 100th year in existence, the Cleveland Indians selected him as one of its Top 100. He was widely known for his sinker. He came up with the Indians in 1926, and stayed with him until 1940 when he bounced around with four different teams (a record he still shares for teams in a season). During WWII, he served as a flight instructor during WWII. After four seasons away, he returned to the majors for one game in 1944 (which he lost in relief). Served as the Tigers pitching coach for 3 seasons in the last 1950s. He lived to be 96.

    Should You Vote For Him:

  3. Tony Cuccinello

    Shifted from second base to third base halfway through his career.

    Usual Stuff:
    .280/.343/.394 in 1,704 games and 6,880 PAs. 1,729 hits. 94 homers, 884 RBIs. 2-time All Star. Received MVP votes 4 times (including his final season hitting .308/.379/.400 in 1945 - a 129 OPS+ highest in his career)

    Modern Stuff:
    35.3 WAR, Had seasons of -15 runs and +15 runs defensively 4 years apart at the same position (weird, right?), 104 OPS+

    Random Stuff:
    After an excellent 1931 season with Cincinnati, he refused to sign a contract for 1932 and was traded to Brooklyn. Suffered a devastating knee injury in 1939 after a collision at 2nd base (neighborhood play not around yet?), causing him to retire in 1940. Casey Stengel convinced him to return as a player-coach in 1942. Avoided military service during WWII because of chronic laryngitis. Missed the 1945 batting title by .000087 (1 hit!). Oh, and on the final day of the season, his double-header was rained out while batting champion Snuffy Stirnweiss went 3-for-5. Ouch. Oh, and one of Stirnweiss's hits was originally scored an error, but was changed by the official scorer after he heard that Cuccinello's games were rained out. Extra ouch. He promptly retired again after that season to go into full-time coaching. He was the third base coach for the 1959 White Sox where he Scotty Ullger'd a late rally in Game 2 of the World Series getting him a lot of heat (and like Ullger, he retained his job for a few more seasons).

    Random Family Stuff:
    Homered in the same game as his younger brother Al on July 5, 1935. Uncle of 1965 Twins manager Sam Mele.

    Should You Vote For Him:
    Probably not, but it's like the Hall always has great 2b candidates

  4. Aloisius Szymanski changed his name to Al Simmons after being tired of people mispronouncing his name.

    He led the Philadelphia A's in 1929 with Phillly going 104-46 (beating Yanquis by 18 games), and defeating the Cubs in 5 games to win the World Series (Simmons hitting .365, 34 HRs, and 157 AL leading RBIs). In his first World Series he batted .300 with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, and scored 6 runs.

    The next year he got the batting title (hitting .381), and the A's won again 102-52, beating the Cardinals for back-to-back Series Wins.

    Again, in 1931, the A's got their 3'rd pennant (107-45) with Simmons getting the batting title again (.390 with 22 HRs, 128 RBI, 100 runs scored, 200 hits, 37 doubles, 13 triples). Overall tenure with Phila. had BA of .356.

    Also significant and contributory time with PaleHosers, Tiggers, pre-Twins, Bo-Braves, Reds, A's-again, Bo-Sox, and A's-again. Wow. Can I keep my locker?

    He had a tendency to stride towards 3'rd base when hitting, so they called him a bucket-foot hitter.

    Simmons hit 307 HRs in his career, and compiled more hits than any right-handed batter in AL history until Mr. Kaline.

    Sporting News listed the 100 Greatest Baseball Players in 1999, and he was 43 on the list.

  5. Harlond "Darkie" Clift

    Hey, a third baseman! One of the first power-hitting third basemen, Clift was also known for being an excellent defensive player.
    He started his career with the St. Louis Browns in 1934 at the age of 21, and excelled early on. He managed to post WARs over 6 in 1937 and 1938 and drew a few MVP votes.

    At the age of 30, Clift started experiencing a rapid decline and was traded to the Washington Senators. Due to a horse-riding injury and a case of the mumps, he only played 139 games more games, and mostly under replacement level.

    Regular stats-
    .272/.390/.831, with career totals of 1558 hits and 178 home runs. Something else to note is that Clift was among the league leaders for most of his career at drawing walks, never ranking below 8th even towards the end of his career with his contact and power mostly gone.

    Advanced stats-
    116 OPS+, 39.1 WAR

    Harland Clift was an early version of the "three true outcomes" type that would become valued decades later, drawing walks, hitting for power and striking out more than many of his peers. He was very, very good for a three year span in his mid-twenties, but for whatever reason, he was pretty much done by the time he was thirty. JAWS ranks him as the 35th best third baseman all time, and there's only 13 in the current Hall.

    1. Due to a horse-riding injury and a case of the mumps,

      Weird injuries - a baseball tradition since 18whatever

  6. Van Mungo was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1931-1941 and then played a few years for the Giants during the WWII years. His record was 120-115, had an ERA of 3.47 and 1,242 strike outs. He was a 4-time all star and once was strike-out leader. He played for some pretty lousy Dodgers teams which could explain his middling W-L record. None of his "modern" stats are anything to write home about.

    Beside his cool ass name, Mungo was mostly known for his combative nature, getting in fights with fans, coaches, and teammates alike. He constantly got in teammates' grill for being so lousy and publicly called out players in the press. Guy also sounded like a peach off the field as he once was attacked by a guy with a butcher's knife because Mungo was sleeping with his wife. Dude was also probably the most fined of the era, amassing some $15,000 worth of fines, which was a lot of dough in those days.

    So decent enough pitcher who had the misfortune of playing for bad teams, given his lousy personality, probably got what he deserved.

  7. I heart random.org

    Joe Cronin

    Shortstop 20 Seasons (Washington/Boston) .301/.390/.468/.857 119 OPS+ 66.4 WAR (He was very good for a very long time)

    Joe Engel, the scout who signed Cronin for Washington, sent a telegram ahead of the team's new shortstop to Clark Griffith's niece and secretary, Mildred Robertson, claiming that he had just signed her future husband. Joe and Mildred were married 5 years later.

    Cronin 's big break as a major league shortstop came due to an arm injury to Goose Goslin, who played left field for the Nats. The team needed Goslin's bat in the lineup despite the fact that the left fielder couldn't throw more than a few feet. To compensate for the lack of arm in left field, the team's shortstop Bobby Reeves was expected to make the run to left field. Reeves tired quickly during the summer months of 1929, leaving the team looking for a capable backup at shortstop. Enter Cronin who quickly earned the starting job.

    Is still the youngest manager (26 years old) to manage in the World Series.

    He played and managed for some team in Boston too.

  8. Paul Derringer

    Also known as "Duke" or "Oom Paul" (I have no idea), Derringer started his career in 1931 and had an amazing rookie season for the St. Louis Cardinals, posting an 18-8 record with 211.1 innings pitched, 134 strikeouts and a 3.36 ERA (119 ERA+) and finishing it off with a World Series victory.
    He slumped his sophomore year, dropping to 11-14 with a 4.05 ERA (though his ERA+ was still a strong 98), and after losing his first two games the following year, he was included in a six-player deal that brought Leo Durocher to the Cardinals and landed Derringer with the Reds. Going 7-25, 3.23 ERA (104 ERA+) for the rest of that season, he set the team record for losses.

    After that, though, he went on a tear, winning 132 games over his next 7 seasons from 1934 through 1940. The last three seasons, '37-'40, he averaged over 300 innings per season, getting to the World Series twice more, losing in '39 and winning a second World Series title in 1940.
    He had two more years with the Reds , but at the age of 34, he had started to decline. His contract was sold to the Cubs in 1943, and Derringer managed to make it to the World Series one more time in 1944, obviously not winning that one.

    For his career, he was a fairly dismal batter, not helping himself out much with his .175/.186/.208 line.

    Career numbers-
    223–212, 1507 strikeouts and a 3.46 ERA. 251 complete games and 32 shutouts.

    Advanced stats numbers-
    ERA+ 108, FIP 3.26, WHIP 1.282

    At 37.0 career WAR and WPA of 12.9, Derringer is about as borderline a candidate as I've written up. He pitched a lot of innings and a lot of games for 15 seasons, but really only had the three really good seasons from '37-'40 and his stellar rookie year in '31. JAWS has him as the 232nd best starting pitcher, and even factoring in some extra value for his relief appearances, he falls short of what I would consider a Hall of Famer.

  9. Jimmie Foxx
    James Emory Foxx - "Beast" or "Double XX"
    ...A man renowned for his generosity and good nature.

    The Hall of Famer*, three-time MVP ('32, '33, & '38 ... finished 2nd in '39 behind DiMaggio), Triple Crown winner (1933), two-time batting champ (1933 & '38) and nine-time All Star won the World Series twice with the Phillies - 1929 & '30 and lost the Series in 7 games to the Cardinals in 1931. (Foxx batted .344/.425/.609 in 18 career WS games).

    Foxx had a cup of coffee in the majors in 1925 as a 17-year-old (10 games), spent a bit more than a month with the big club in 1926, nearly three months in '27 mostly at First base, and then played no fewer than 100 games (averaged 141 per year) in each of the next 15 seasons, primarily as a First Baseman (also played 3rd -141 games- and catcher -108 games- ) with Philadelphia and Boston, batting .327/.432/.618 with and OPS+ of 165 during that run.

    Old School
    Averaged 122 Runs, 185 Hits, 37 HR and 134 RBI's (per 162 games) in more than 2300 games over 20 years.

    New School
    96.4 WAR/59.5 7yr-peak WAR/77.9, JAWS 163 OPS+

    Just for Fun:
    Top three "Similar Batters" - 1. Ted Williams, 2. Lou Gehrig, 3. Manny Ramirez
    "Similar by Ages" - 20: Mike Trout, 21-22: Ted Williams, 23: Joe DiMaggio, 24-32: Albert Pujols. From 33-36, most similar was Lou Gehrig.

    The film A League of Their Own based the team's manager (played by Tom Hanks) loosely on Foxx, who managed Fort Wayne Daisies (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) in 1952. In 1958, after a meeting with [Joe] Cronin in Boston, Foxx accepted a job as the hitting instructor for the Red Sox’s Triple A farm team, the Minneapolis Millers. His tenure with the Millers would last only one season.

    Troubles SelectShow

    *Was somehow on only 10/161 ballots (6.2%) in 1947! Inducted in 1951 with 79.2% of the vote.

    1. I didn't know about Foxx's troubles. Very sad to learn they prevented him extending his time with the game he clearly loved.

  10. Hmmm, I'll have mine in tomorrow morning if I can't get to them tonight. I just saw this post today, or at least I think its the first time I've seen it. Sorry.

  11. Chuck Klein

    AKA "The Hoosier Hammer".

    Usual Stuff:
    .320/.379/.593 in 1,753 games and 7171 PAs. 2,076 hits, exactly 300 HR , 1201 RBIs. 2-time All Star. Won MVP once and finished 2nd twice.

    Modern Stuff:
    43.6 WAR, 137 OPS+

    Random Stuff:
    Had one of the best offensive years ever in baseball in 1930, hitting .386 with 250 hits, 158 runs, a .687 slugging, and 445 total bases. That’s the 4th highest total bases ever for a season (behind seasons for Ruth, Hornsby, and Gehrig), and it hasn’t been topped since. He also had 107 extra base hits that year, an NL record which was equaled by Bonds in 2001.
    In 1932 he led the NL in both HR and SB.
    In 1933 he won the triple crown.
    After retiring, he ran a bar in Philadelphia for a time. He endured some difficult financial times, largely due to a drinking problem. Sounds almost like a Cheers thing. Only it ended with a stroke and him moving in with his sister-in-law, so maybe it’s more like the Rebecca years than the Diane years?

    Really Random Thing:
    His retired number with the Phillies is the letter “P”.

    Neat Story
    Klein won the NL home run title in 1929, his first full year in the majors. However, he was helped along by his teammates on the last day of the season. In this game, the Phillies faced the New York Giants. The Giants' star slugger, Mel Ott, was tied with Klein for the lead with 42. In the first game, Klein homered to put him one ahead of Ott, who was held to a single. In the second game, the Phillies' pitchers walked Ott five straight times, including once with the bases loaded.

    “One of the reasons I’ve been able to play baseball well is because it’s fun for me.” - Chuck Klein

    If that ain’t what it’s about, right?

    Should You Vote For Him:
    Absofreakinlutely. He’s above the averages for all of the gray ink, blank ink, etc. He was an offensive juggernaut. His most similar by ages includes multiple Ted Williamses and multiple Joe Dimaggios (And a couple Magglios… so…?). He belongs. I had no idea who this guy was before reading about him. But now I know. And now you do too.

    1. My issue with Klein is that a lopsided amount of his homers came at the Baker Bowl, where he could deposit lazy fly balls over the 280 foot right field fence.

      Ruth also had a short fence, but man, look at Klein after he left Baker Bowl. It's like going from Bonds to Bonilla

      1. I understand that narrative, but looking at the numbers I would argue his numbers dropping in Chicago had more to do with plate appearances than fences. His totals didn't drop so much that 150+ plate appearances couldn't explain it. And Going back to Philadelphia didn't suddenly drive his numbers back up, so the short fence theory doesn't stand up too well in my mind

      2. Right, Baker Bowl + juiced ball 1930 was like Coors Field at its height. Teams combined to score 2,143 runs in Phillies games that season or 13.9/game. That's silly.

  12. Babe Herman

    Right Fielder for the Brooklyn Robins (and then the Reds, then the Cubs, then the Dodgers, then the Pirates, then the Tigers...)

    In Cooperstown? - Nope. Highest BBWA vote total was 6%.

    Slash Line - .324/.383/.532
    Other stuff - 40.3 WAR (JAWS ranks him 49th just ahead of Magglio ... so ...?)
    Was reasonably close to having more career walks than strikeouts (520 to 553)
    He was apparently an infamously poor fielder "Babe is still a great outfielder except for his inability to catch fly balls." a sportswriter quipped.

    Notable Seasons
    In 1929, Herman was hitting .400 on September 1, but finished second in the batting race at .381
    His 1930 season set team records that still stand for Brooklyn/Los Angeles in average, RBI, total bases, doubles, runs scored,and slugging.
    Led the league in triples in 1932.

    Personality / Reputation
    "Babe Herman is often recalled for zany baserunning, fielding lapses, and off-the-field malapropisms."

    He once hit a one-out bases loaded double that ended up with himself and two other runners standing on third base. This became infamous as him "tripling into a triple play" although the eventual game-winning run did score on the play.
    Years later Ring Lardner would say "Babe Herman did not triple into a triple play, but he doubled into a double play, which is the next best thing."

    Truly Random Thing
    Herman was the stand in for Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in "Pride of the Yankees"

    Much of this from his SABR bio.

  13. Lon “Dixie Dude” Warneke
    6'6" Righty from Arkansas
    119 ERA+, 41.9 WAR

    From his SABR profile:

    teammate Phil Cavarretta had this to say of him, “To me, during the years I saw him pitch with the Cubs (and later with the Cardinals) he was one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen…he’d win 18, 19, 20 games for you. His best pitch was an overhand curve ball. He had a good change and a good fastball – his fastball had good movement.”

    Lon on how he became a ballplayer:

    One day I went to the manager of the Houston club and asked for a job as a ball player. Why did I do that? Well, you never know what you can get or what you can do until you try. I had played first base for the high school team in Mt. Ida, and also on the town team. Frank Snyder was the manager of the Houston club at that time and he gave me a trial at first base, and then very promptly and decidedly declared that I would never be worth a darn as a first baseman. He asked me to pitch some for him and I did. He liked my pitching so well that he signed me to a contract and farmed me out to the Laurel, Miss., club in the Cotton States League. That was in the summer of 1928 and I was just 19 years old.

    Random record: He played nine years without committing an error – the last six without an error to set his consecutive game record.

    After he retired, he became an umpire for 10 years.

  14. Dolph Camilli
    1B 135 OPS+ .277/.388/.492 42.8 WAR

    From his SABR bio

    Skip Clayton and Jeff Moeller, authors of 50 Phabulous Phillies, rank the Phils trade of Dolph Camilli to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938 one of the worst ever made. The Phils got Eddie Morgan and $45,000 in return. The Dodgers got a good defensive first baseman, a solid hitter, and the National League’s Most Valuable Player of the 1941 season.

    Spent 8 seasons in the Minors before breaking into the bigs with the Cubbies.

    Local Connection: "After the 1906 earthquake devastated San Francisco, a call went out for laborers to help rebuild the city and among those responding was Alex Camilli[Dolph's Father], by then living in Hibbing, Minnesota."

    Dolph held out for better pay in both 1937 and 38, “No matter what kind of year you had all they wanted to do was give you about a $1,000 raise.”

    Also refused to report to the NY Giants after being traded by the Dodgers:

    While playing for the Dodgers he built up a severe animosity toward New York’s third major-league team, the New York Giants and their fans. When he was traded to them in July 1943, he refused to report and stayed home for the entire remainder of the season and returned to work on his cattle ranch in California. He was passionate in his position: “I hated the Giants. This was real serious; this was no put-on stuff. Their fans hated us, and our fans hated them. I said nuts to them, and I quit.”

    Managed 4 minor league seasons (one as a player manager) and spent 25 years as a scout.

    1. Not related to Dolph Camilli's Hall of Fame case, but his son Doug was a catcher who played for the Dodgers (1960-64) and Senators (1965-67, 1969). He played in 313 games and had 767 at-bats. His career stats are .199/.256/.309. His number one similarity score, according to b-r.com, is Bob Uecker. Number six is Corky Miller.

  15. Lloyd Waner

    Is he enshrined in the real deal?

    The back of the baseball card:
    .315/.353/.393 in 1,993 games and 7,772 ABs. 2,459 hits. 27 homers, 598 RBIs. 1-time All Star.

    Stats My Dad Doesn't Quite Understand:
    23.1 WAR (22.2 JAWS - 116th best among Centerfielders), 99 OPS+, peak WAR of 3.6

    Closest bbref Comp:

    Richie Ashburn, who put up similarish (if better) slash stats with better defense. 63.6 WAR for Ashburn, so this comp is debatable.

    Cool Name, Bro:
    Little Poison? Hell yeah. Though, he was in his brother's shadow even in this regard.

    A few words about about Lloyd Waner:
    He was decent (though certainly not HOF worthy) throughout his early career, but after 1939, his last six season were good for a grand total of negative 0.5 WAR. The batting average looks pretty snazzy until you realize that he was only in the top 5 of his league once (during his rookie season), and he's got a crazy lack of black ink (10) or grey ink (71).

    A Fair too kind quote about Lloyd Waner, courtesy of his older brother:
    "He is a better player than me and can spot me 25 feet and then beat me in a sprint. A batter's got to knock a fly over the fence to keep him from reaching it, and he doesn't miss 'em either."

    nibs, I'm confused and need someone to tell me what to do. Is Lloyd Waner worthy of my vote?:
    Not unless you think Denard Span is a lock.

  16. Paul Waner

    Is he enshrined in the real deal?
    He certainly is. He was so good that he got his little brother in, too.

    The back of the baseball card:
    .333/.404/.473 in 2,549 games and 9,459 ABs. 3,152 hits. 113 homers, 1309 RBIs. 4-time All Star. 1-time MVP

    Stats My Dad Doesn't Quite Understand:
    72.8 WAR (57.5 JAWS - 11th best among Rightfielders), 134 OPS+, peak WAR of 6.9

    Closest bbref Comp:
    Tony Gwynn (similar AVG, similar WAR, very close in OPS+ decent comp)

    Cool Name, Bro:
    Big Poison? Oh yeah. They don't come all that much better.

    A few words about about Paul Waner:
    "Big" was, of course, a bit of a misnomer. Paul was 5' 8" and never weighed more than 155 pounds. He and his brother apparently got their kickass nicknames quite by accident, as a Brooklynite fan noted that "Big Person" (Paul) and "Little Person" (Lloyd) were killing the home team. Due to his accent, it sounded like "Big Poison" and "Little Poison". This sounds like a beautiful bit of colorful baseball apocrypha, which is why it's completely and I will not be looking into its veracity in any way.

    nibs, I'm confused and need someone to tell me what to do. Is Paul Waner worthy of my vote?:
    Almost certainly, unless by "small hall" you mean "Clicking 'yes' sucks, I'd rather click 'no'"

    1. Apparently, my paternal grandfather was known as "Little Poison" around Austin, MN in the late '20's and early '30's as he had a habit of getting into...let's call them "street altercations." Someone convinced him that boxing was a better option than jail and he went on to earn his Gold Gloves.

  17. Bob Johnson

    Younger brother of Roy Johnson, who you also have probably never heard of. I assumed when I got this guy that this would be one of those ho-hum, barely squeaked by 30 WAR so we have to talk about him guys. Whoops. Bob Johnson was GOOD. His biggest comps are Brian Giles, Moises Alou, and Magglio Ordonez, all great hitters. Bob was similarly whatever in the outfield, so he didn't add much there. He was mostly forgotten as he was kept in the minors until he was 27 (despite destroying AAA pitching) while the Al Simmons/Jimmie Foxx team was racking up pennants and played for losers his entire career. He played at least 117 games every year of his 13 year career and rarely missed more than a handful of games, even at age 39. I'm going to his list his OPS+ for every year of his career.


    Holy hell that's impressive. He has no black ink, and considering he played for bad teams it's no wonder he never got more than 1% of a hall-of-fame vote. But he has a TON of gray ink and is well above the hall of fame standard there. JAWS has him as a 18th best left fielder of all-time sandwiched between Zack Wheat and Ralph Kiner.

    Should I Vote For Him?: He's not a slam dunk candidate, but if you voted for Wheat, take a hard look at Bob.

    1. I seem to remember that he had the nickname "Indian Bob", although I have no idea why he would have been called that.

      1. He did! He was born on a reservation, and his mother was half-Cherokee. Though when asked he said he was American.

    1. Baseball-reference.com terms.

      Black Ink: When a player leads in a major category, his stat is shown in bold, hence blank ink.
      Gray Ink: When a player is in the top 10 in a season in any given category.

      The higher the number, the more likelihood that someone is a Hall-of-Famer. It's not a scientific measurement, just a tool to look for correlation among voter habits.

  18. Vote Red Faber!

    Who doesn't like a super long career fashioned around two pretty amazing seasons? He went 25-15 for an absolutely horrible '21 White Sox team (who went 62-92). He played baseball for 20 years! He compiled so many stats!

    ...I have a hard time getting to riled up for these 1920s-1930s pitchers, but my gut says that Faber was better than the vast majority of them.

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