BASEBALL'S 2016 PRE-INTEGRATION ERA COMMITTEE BALLOT: ARE THERE ANY HALL OF FAMERS LEFT?

BASEBALL'S 2016 PRE-INTEGRATION ERA COMMITTEE BALLOT: ARE THERE ANY HALL OF FAMERS LEFT?
05 Dec
2015
Not in Hall of Fame

Index



Executive Decisions: Sam Breadon

As the president and majority owner of the St. Louis Cardinals for more than a quarter-century, from 1920 to 1947, Sam Breadon, who made his fortune as a Pierce-Arrow automobile dealer in St. Louis, oversaw the rise of the Cardinals from a mediocre National League team to a dynasty epitomized by the on-field antics of the 1934 Cardinals team, dubbed the "Gas House Gang," whose rough-and-tumble zaniness belied the fact that behind future Hall of Famers Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Frankie Frisch, and Joe Medwick those Cardinals won the World Series.

Under Breadon, the Cardinals won the first six of their eleven World Series championships while winning the NL pennant (and thus advancing to the World Series) another three times. The Cardinals' eleven World Series titles are second only to the New York Yankees in baseball history. Also under Breadon, Branch Rickey became the Cardinals' "business manager," what is known today as the general manager, and one of Hall of Famer Rickey's greatest accomplishments in this role, started in St. Louis, was the development of the "farm system," or the acquisition and fostering of minor-league teams to cultivate players who could ascend to the parent club.

Sam Breadon and Branch Rickey

Sam Breadon (right) and Branch Rickey plan the destiny of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Players who came up through the farm system for the Cardinals include Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, and Enos Slaughter—as well as Marty Marion, in consideration for the Hall on this ballot—while other Hall of Famers playing for the Cardinals under Breadon's watch include, in addition to Dean, Durocher (whose Hall of Fame credentials came later as a manager), Frisch, and Medwick, Jim Bottomley, Chick Hafey, Rogers Hornsby, and Johnny Mize—although Bottomley and Hafey have been considered to be marginal picks engineered into the Hall through the machinations of Frankie Frisch.

In addition, Hornsby, one of baseball's greatest-ever hitters whose two batting Triple Crowns came with the Cardinals, managed the Cardinals to their first World Series victory in 1926, defeating the powerhouse New York Yankees in seven games. The deciding Game Seven, played in Yankee Stadium, entered the annals of baseball lore, particularly the seventh inning, when the Yankees, trailing by a run, loaded the bases with two outs against Jesse Haines (another Hall of Famer, although he is one of the more dubious pitchers ever inducted). Out to the mound came Hornsby, motioning for the "grizzled veteran," 39-year-old Grover Cleveland "Pete" Alexander, to come in from the bullpen.

Alexander had already notched two complete-game victories in Games Two and Six, and adding to the legend is that Alexander may have been hung over from celebrating his win from the day before. Facing Tony Lazzeri, Alexander allowed a long fly that hooked foul before striking him out; then he blanked the Yankees for the next two innings to record the save and preserve the Cardinals' first world championship. (Bizarrely, Babe Ruth, whom Alexander had walked after retiring the first two Yankees in the ninth, tried to steal second base and was thrown out to end the game and the Series.) This iconic moment was captured in the 1952 movie The Winning Team, a gauzy biopic in which no less than Ronald Reagan portrayed Alexander, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1938.

Breadon insisted on hiring and overseeing his on-field managers, which invited conflicts that resulted in his trading Hornsby to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch; Frisch became a player manager in 1933 and led the Cardinals to World Series victory the following year. Other managers Breadon hired during his term included Eddie Dyer, Bill McKechnie, Gabby Street, and Billy Southworth, all of whom except McKechnie won world championships under Breadon, with McKechnie and Southworth eventually entering the Hall of Fame.

The proliferation of radio broadcasting coincided with the ascendancy of the Cardinals under Breadon, which resulted in the Cardinals developing a rabid following throughout much of the Midwest, a loyal fanbase that continues to this day, while the easy-going appeal of home-grown superstar Stan Musial made him into a folk hero. However, when Jackie Robinson began to play in 1947, several Cardinals players intended to go on strike to protest playing with an African-American. Breadon learned of this and, after consultation with National League President Ford Frick, confronted the team with the threat of suspension, backed by Frick. That ended the protest.

Breadon's only possible misstep involved his attempt to build a new stadium for the Cardinals, who had been playing at Sportsman's Park, the home field for the St. Louis Browns, although the Cardinals under Breadon had since eclipsed the Browns in terms of prestige and popularity. Breadon had earmarked $5 million for a new stadium but was unable to find suitable land, and with the threat of a substantial tax bill looming for the set-aside, tax attorney Fred Saigh persuaded Breadon, by now terminally ill with prostate cancer, to sell the team to avoid tax penalties. Saigh and another investor bought the team, but following Breadon's death in 1949, the sale was deemed to have been a tax dodge that put the team onto the market once again. The Cardinals looked to be moving to Houston, Texas, before brewing magnate "Gussie" Busch bought the team in 1953 and thus kept the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Under Sam Breadon's stewardship, the St. Louis Cardinals became one of the storied franchises in the National League, and indeed in Major League baseball, winning six World Series and nine NL pennants, with a number of the managers who led those teams being elected to the Hall of Fame. Breadon's business manager Branch Rickey revolutionized the acquisition and cultivation of baseball talent through implementation of the farm system of minor-league teams feeding talent to the major-league team. Either through the farm system or other means of acquisition, the Cardinals featured several players who were later elected to the Hall of Fame, from Dizzy Dean and Joe Medwick and Enos Slaughter to Rogers Hornsby and Johnny Mize and Stan Musial, perhaps the most beloved Cardinal whose fame and popularity helped to make Cardinals fans among the most fiercely loyal in baseball.

It is surprising that Sam Breadon has not been elected to the Hall of Fame yet, as so many of those who worked for him both on and off the field during his tenure have already been inducted. As we will see with the other two executives on the 2016 Pre-Integration Era ballot, it is hard to quantify what an owner or front-office executive truly produces for a club, but in the case of the rise of the Cardinals under Breadon, it is hard to miss the association. Sam Breadon is a Hall of Famer.

Executive Decisions: Garry Herrmann

The president of the Cincinnati Reds during the first quarter of the 20th century, August "Garry" Herrmann was also the president of the National Baseball Commission, the precursor to the position of the baseball commissioner, during much of his time with the Reds. Already a manual laborer by his teens because of the death of his father, Herrmann went on to own a legal newspaper serving Ohio's Hamilton County while becoming a cog in Cincinnati's corrupt political machine run by George "Boss" Cox. With Cox and others, Herrmann became part-owner of the Cincinnati Reds, and although Herrmann himself was not a baseball fan, he became the head of baseball operations for the club from 1902 to 1927.

Under Herrmann's stewardship, the Reds were largely an unexceptional team. From 1902 to 1918, they finished as high as third place (in a National League of eight teams) twice, in 1904, when the Reds won 88 games and lost 65, and in 1918, when the team posted a 68–60 win-loss record in a season shortened because of the First World War. Otherwise, the Reds endured ten losing seasons between 1902 and 1918, finishing last once and next-to-last three times.

However, the Reds' fortunes changed in 1919: In a shortened, 140-game season, the Reds, behind batting stars Heinie Groh and Edd Roush and ace pitchers Dutch Ruether and Slim Sallie, won 96 games, nine more than the New York Giants, to move onto the World Series against the Chicago White Sox. Ah, but for those who have seen John Sayles's excellent film Eight Men Out, you know that this Chicago team was the infamous "Black Sox," eight of whose members were accused of consorting with gamblers to deliberately lose the World Series, which the White Sox eventually did, losing five games in the best-of-nine series to Cincinnati.

Led by hitting sensation "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and future Hall of Famers Eddie Collins and Ray Schalk, and by star pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, the White Sox were the favorites to win the Series, but crucial contributors Cicotte, Jackson, and Williams were among the "eight men out"; thus, we may never know whether the Reds could have defeated the White Sox without the help of eight Sox themselves. (And although the nickname "Black Sox" would seem to suggest players tarnished by the scandal, it may refer to consequences from earlier in the season: Notoriously parsimonious White Sox owner Charles Comiskey reputedly refused to pay for the laundering of the players' uniforms, demanding that the players pay for that themselves, with the players protesting by refusing to do so.)

Curiously enough, Herrmann had been responsible for legitimizing the American League after its inception in 1901, and when, after the first modern "World's Series" (as it was called for a short time) between the two Major Leagues in 1903, the 1904 NL champions the New York Giants refused to play the AL champion Boston Americans in the next World's Series, it was Herrmann who brokered the agreement that codified the Series and led to his being called "the Father of the World Series."

Working with AL President Ban Johnson, Herrmann had developed the National Agreement in 1903, which established the National Commission to govern Major League Baseball's operations; the Commission was a three-member panel comprising the AL president, the NL president, and the mutually agreed-upon president of one of the existing baseball clubs, which just happened to be Herrmann, the president of the Cincinnati Reds. Following the Giants' refusal to play in the World's Series in 1904, Herrmann managed to secure a mutual agreement between the leagues to honor annual postseason play under the auspices of the National Commission, a practice that had continued despite the Great Depression and two world wars until the 1994 work stoppage that halted baseball operations.

However, Herrmann faced serious challenges in 1919. First, the then-NL president, John Heydler, refused to support Herrmann's re-appointment to the Commission, and then the Black Sox scandal threw the conduct of baseball into a glaring spotlight—one not helped by Herrmann's also being the president of the club that won the World Series. Herrmann was not involved in the scandal, of course, but it had shaken him—he resigned in early 1920, and because his position was never filled, the National Commission was finally dissolved, to be replaced by a single commissioner of baseball, the model that remains in place today.

The Cincinnati Reds never returned to the World Series under Herrmann's presidency although they had three second-place finishes from 1920 to 1927, finishing just two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in 1926 (who, as we saw with Sam Breadon, won their first world championship in a memorable World Series). Herrmann resigned for health reasons from the club following the 1927 season, and he died at age 71 in 1931. Herrmann was forward-thinking—he investigated the possibility of installing lights in a stadium for night baseball, and although that idea didn't get off the blocks, it is interesting that the first night game in Major League history did occur at Cincinnati's Crosley Field on May 24, 1935, four years after Herrmann's death.

A gregarious, generous man who liked to dress flashily and set a sumptuous dinner table, Garry Herrmann helped to standardize baseball operations and legitimize the World Series in the first quarter-century of the modern era while also overseeing the fortunes of the Cincinnati Reds, best-known, unfortunately, for being the beneficiaries of the 1919 World Series Black Sox scandal, although that should not be held against Herrmann. He had an important career in baseball, but it is not a Hall of Fame career.

Executive Decisions: Chris von der Ahe

Before George Steinbrenner, before Charlie Finley, even before Bill Veeck, there was Chris von der Ahe, way back in the 19th century, the first colorful owner in baseball history.

Von der Ahe owned the St. Louis Browns in the American Association, which despite the team name was not the St. Louis Browns that played in the American League in the first half of the 20th century before that franchise moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. In fact, the team name was originally the Brown Stockings before von der Ahe shortened it, and the later Browns were named to evoke memories of the Brown Stockings, which by the turn of the century, after von der Ahe had lost ownership of the club, had joined the National League and had become the St. Louis Cardinals.

Emigrating from Prussia (in what is now Germany) to the United States, von der Ahe landed in St. Louis, where he worked as a grocery clerk before buying the store, and in an innovation that would mark his baseball career, he added a saloon to increase business. Noticing that many of his patrons visited the bar after attending local baseball games, he then bought the bankrupt, scandal-ridden Brown Stockings in 1882, shortened the name to the Browns, and set about making himself the first celebrity baseball owner whose persona was as recognizable as his team.

Von der Ahe had the credibility to become a showman because he built the Browns into one of the strongest teams in the American Association; they won four consecutive league championships from 1885 to 1888. Crucial to the Browns' success was player-manager Charles Comiskey, who would go on to become the owner of the Chicago White Sox—including the infamous 1919 "Black Sox" team we encountered with Garry Herrmann—before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939. When Comiskey left the franchise after the 1891 season, the Browns deteriorated along with von der Ahe's own fortunes, but during the halcyon days the German-born owner, who knew very little about baseball but quite a lot about promotion, was in his prime.

To increase attendance at games, von der Ahe halved ticket prices from the standard rate of fifty cents, scheduled games on Sundays, and, not surprisingly for a saloon owner, sold alcohol from his Sportsman's Park stadium concessions—all practices proscribed by then-current convention. Those practices worked, however, as attendance soared, bolstered by a quality team on the field, and they helped to make baseball games accessible to more spectators. Moreover, von der Ahe provided amusements and luxuries to further entice attendees including sideshow attractions such as a Wild West exhibition, a "shoot-the-chute" flume ride built in the center field bleachers (think of the "Bernie's Slide Experience" at the Milwaukee Brewers' home stadium Miller Park today), and a "stadium club," a shaded enclosure beneath the grandstands where patrons could watch the game while indulging in food and drink. That last was the precursor to the luxury boxes that are ubiquitous in modern stadiums—although in von der Ahe's time the "stadium club" was open to all on a first-come, first-served basis.

Von der Ahe capped his good fortune by erecting a larger-than-life statue outside Sportsman's Park—not of any of his ballplayers, but of himself as a monument to his entrepreneurial prowess. However, von der Ahe's innovation turned to desperation as the Browns' fortunes fell following Comiskey's departure, and he tried to recoup his losses by offering bigger and grander spectacles to encourage flagging attendance including, of all things, a betting racetrack built in the outfield, which the league challenged as a violation of rules that prohibited gambling—although von der Ahe cannily countered by noting that those rules covered only baseball, not horse racing.

Although von der Ahe knew little about the sport, that did not stop him from trying to guide the fortunes of his ball club. When Browns scout Billy Gleason presented him with a slightly-built shortstop prospect, von der Ahe immediately dismissed the kid as a looking more like a racehorse jockey and sold him to the Baltimore Orioles. That kid succeeded in Baltimore as a third baseman—but when John McGraw then became a manager, notably with the New York Giants, he entered baseball legend as one of the greatest managers of all time and an early inductee into the Hall of Fame in 1937.

And like George Steinbrenner decades later, von der Ahe eventually displayed a cavalier attitude toward his managers, particularly when the Browns plunged into the league cellar in the 1890s following Comiskey's departure. Between 1892, when the Browns entered the National League, and 1897, von der Ahe burned through 16 managers, including Tommy Dowd twice (shades of Billy Martin with the Yankees!), while von der Ahe himself, with his self-professed ignorance of baseball, is on the books as a manager in three different seasons, from 1895 to 1897, winning his only credited game in 1895 but winding up with a 3–14 record overall. During a game in 1894, von der Ahe allegedly replaced manager Doggie Miller with the Browns' official scorer, Harry Martin, before reconciling with Miller.

Yet despite his seeming interest in baseball only as a business enterprise, von der Ahe did enact non-peripheral practices that would become integral to the game. He recognized early the value in cultivating talent for the parent club by also operating the "farm club" the St. Louis Whites, which became a standard practice for the St. Louis Cardinals, the modern incarnation of von der Ahe's Browns, when enacted by Branch Rickey under the auspices of Sam Breadon. And von der Ahe recognized the value, admittedly in terms of promotion, of having a league's champion team play another league's champion team in a "World Series" to determine which was the better team, a concept that resurfaced in 1903 and, as we have seen with Gerry Herrmann, who solidified the concept, remains the crowning event in baseball today. And although "World Series" games before 1903 are now considered to be only exhibition games, in the four years between 1885 and 1888, the Browns tied the first series and then won the next series, both against the Chicago White Stockings, while losing in 1887 to the Detroit Wolverines and in 1888 to the New York Giants.

Chris von der Ahe might not have been savvy about the game of baseball, but he recognized its entertainment value and had the talent and foresight to exploit and enhance its value with innovations and practices that remain in place today—you can think of him the next time you buy that $12 cup of beer at your local ballpark. If there is not already a permanent exhibit extolling colorful Chris von der Ahe's contributions to baseball in Cooperstown, there should be. But are those contributions deserving of a plaque in the Hall of Fame? No.

Pioneering the Game: Doc Adams

How far back does Daniel Adams's baseball career go? Two decades before the Civil War began, when even the commonly understood 19th-century version of baseball had yet to be codified. Indeed, Doc Adams, who got the nickname because he did become a practicing physician (shades of Moonlight Graham from Field of Dreams?), spent most of his playing career as a member of the New York Knickerbockers, one of the first recognizable baseball teams, organized by baseball Founding Father Alexander Cartwright. Adams then became the president of the Knickerbockers before joining the rules and regulations committee of the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), the first organization created to govern baseball, and from which much of the structure of modern baseball, including Adams's contributions, derived.

Born in 1814 in Mount Vernon, New Hampshire, Doc Adams had already graduated from Harvard with a degree in medicine before he began to play organized baseball in 1839, joining in the following year the New York Base Ball Club. By 1845, he became a member of the New York Knickerbockers not long after the club's creation; curiously, many of the players were in the medical field. With baseball in its infancy, histories and playing records from Adams's time are fragmentary, and with players, teams, and schedules—and indeed the very rules of play—still being developed, Adams's on-field exploits have faded into legend.

Doc Adams

Daniel "Doc" Adams's early innovations helped to shape baseball.

However, according to John Thorn, Major League Baseball's official historian since 2011, and researcher Freddy Berowski, Adams was the first baseball shortstop. Team sizes during this period varies from eight to eleven players, but teams used only three infielders, one to cover each base, while employing three to six outfielders. Baseballs were very light, and outfielders could not throw them very far, so in 1849 or 1850 Adams began to play an intermediate position between the infield and the deep outfield, what we now call a cut-off position, so he could relay balls from outfielders to the appropriate base. When ball quality improved in the 1850s, enabling outfielders to throw the ball farther, Adams moved closer to the infield, although his was still an interim position and would not become an infield position until later, with Dickey Pearce credited as being the first to play in the position we know today as shortstop.

Nevertheless, the structural innovation that Adams had inspired had profound consequences—shortstop would soon be considered a team's most crucial defensive position outside of catcher—while Adams's impact on the sport continued off the field as well. Adams was elected in various years to be one of the team's off-field officers, often the club president or treasurer, a common practice as baseball clubs were small and simple as compared to the sophisticated business organizations they would soon become. Nevertheless, Adams's stewardship created an organizational structure that newly formed clubs emulated while his stature as a powerful and respected baseball figure grew within the burgeoning baseball environment. And not only did Adams still maintain his medical practice, located in New York City, but he was even involved in the manufacturing of baseballs and baseball bats for a time; Adams noticed that the more tightly a ball was stitched, the farther it would travel when hit or thrown.

And as the need to codify baseball grew, Adams became involved in creating formats, rules, and regulations to govern the sport. Both as a member of the Knickerbockers and as a member of the NABBP formed in 1858, of which he became the chairman of the rules and regulations committee, Adams tried to institute a number of reforms that were eventually successful, although Adams's initial efforts, sometimes vigorously opposed, may not have been immediately implemented. This uncertainty stems from sometimes fragmentary and conflicting accounts concerning events that occurred one-and-a-half centuries ago, although there is a consensus about several important innovations.

One is the size of a baseball team. As noted above, baseball clubs could, and did, field a team of varying sizes (naturally with mutual agreement by the other team, whose squad was of the same size); Adams advocated for a nine-player squad, a convention that was soon adopted and of course remains in effect today. Another innovation was to play a regulation game of nine innings. When Adams began playing baseball, teams played until one of them had scored 21 runs. Adams was adamant about establishing a nine-inning game although he was opposed by others, notably fellow Knickerbocker Duncan Curry, who wanted a seven-inning contest. (Curry was also an insurance executive who co-founded the Republic Fire Insurance Company.) And while some of the details conflict, it is accepted that the nine-inning rule had been adopted by all participating clubs in 1857.

As chairman of the NABBP's rules and regulations committee, Adams also called for standardizing the distance between the bases and between home plate and the pitcher's mound. The current standard was an imprecise "forty-two paces" between home plate and second base as well as "forty-two paces" between first and third base. Adams proposed a uniform 90 feet between all bases, which remains to this day, and a distance of 45 feet between home plate and the pitcher's mound, which was adopted but had been revised twice, first to a distance of 50 feet and then to the current distance of 60 feet, six inches. Adams also wanted to eliminate the "bound rule," which stated that any batted ball caught on one bounce, or hop, was an out. His proposal, the "fly rule" (not to be confused with the later infield fly rule), stated that to be an out, the batted ball must be caught in the air without having touched the ground, which has been the convention for a century and a half. However, this rule was opposed for several years, and it was only adopted in 1864, by which time Doc Adams had retired from baseball.

And then Doc Adams seemed to have disappeared from baseball history while Alexander Cartwright, Henry Chadwick, Albert Spalding—as well as Abner Doubleday and his bogus baseball creation myth—had become instrumental to the story of how baseball was born and developed; all but Doubleday were elected to the Hall of Fame early on while Adams has never been considered for the Hall until now. Initially forgotten but recently re-discovered, Doc Adams's legacy has amassed a groundswell of support—in 2014, the Society for American Baseball Research declared that Adams was its Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend for the year, and we have seen how SABR has also endorsed Bill Dahlen and Harry Stovey as overlooked figures from the 19th century.

Based on the historical record, Daniel "Doc" Adams did champion many of the early innovations that codified the game of baseball and that made it into the game we watch today. Those are achievements that are worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Are There Any Pre-Integration Era Hall of Famers Left?

Considering that much of the period covered by the Pre-Integration Era, 1876 to 1946, had already been under scrutiny even when the Baseball Hall of Fame named its inaugural class in 1936, and that in the intervening 80 years the era has been revisited many times, it is fair to think that by now all the Hall of Fame figures from the era have been inducted.

That seems to be the position taken by many contemporary observers, who decry the continual examination of baseball's distant past when so many other figures from baseball's more recent past have been ignored; who discount the accomplishments of players from bygone decades (and, at this point, centuries) because the quality of play, and indeed the very structure of play, does not equate to the contemporary game; and who denounce the enshrinement of players or other figures from the Pre-Integration Era—which put another way is indeed the Segregation Era, when baseball deliberately excluded individuals who were not white from participating.

The first point is a valid one; as noted, this period has long been examined. However, the Hall of Fame has instituted the three separate committees—Pre-Integration, Golden Years, and Expansion—for the current veterans-committee function, and their charter is to evaluate these candidates with, presumably, the equivalent criteria used for other eras to determine whether any is a Hall of Famer. Given the many years in which this period has been examined, with the correspondingly decreasing number of eligible figures (and I can hear Bobby Mathews and Tony Mullane supporters clearing their throats), it may be a good idea to have the Pre-Integration Committee meet every other turn instead of once every three years as is the current practice; in other words, have the other two committees meet in alternate years twice each before returning to the Pre-Integration Committee.

But the second point and especially the third apply contemporary biases to past periods. Yes, of course the quality of play is much superior now than compared to bygone generations, but the primary consideration should be to determine whether, for a player, he was significantly better than his contemporaries and not whether he is significantly better than the best players today. Otherwise, there is no point to the evaluation—will today's players be summarily dismissed fifty years from now because they may not conform to future standards? And given how many current and recent players have and may be overlooked initially, how fair is that? As for figures from the Segregation Era, how much punishment should they endure because they may not have been civil rights activists?

The Baseball Hall of Fame is a museum that celebrates legacy. By definition, it is indebted to history, and history is not immutable. Of course, an event occurs and its having occurred does not change, but its initial recording may not be complete or even consonant (think two witnesses to a traffic accident who then recount different stories), and, more importantly, its interpretation at the time and subsequently may change—and often does. Ron Santo is regarded as one of the greatest third basemen of all time, but despite 15 years on the BBWAA ballot, he was never elected to the Hall of Fame by the writers. (His best showing was 43.1 percent in 1998, his final year on the BBWAA ballot.) In 2012, the Golden Era Committee selected him for the Hall. Ron Santo's statistics never changed, but the perception of his accomplishments did, and his playing days are within relatively recent memory—why was he a Hall of Famer in 2012 but not in 1998?

The picture becomes fuzzier the longer it has been exposed to time. For a Harry Stovey, certainly for a Doc Adams, their careers, their lives, occurred in the distant past, making it harder to overcome presentism, the tendency to evaluate historical events and personages through a contemporary prism, and evaluate their accomplishments within the overall scope of the Hall of Fame, which considers baseball in 1885 to be as valid as baseball in 1985 and in 2015.

Yes, the Pre-Integration Era has been thoroughly examined, but is has not yet been picked entirely clean, and partly that is because of the changing perceptions over time. Harry Stovey looks to be the 19th-century equivalent of a "30-30" player, combining power-hitting with base-stealing ability. Marty Marion was a defensive ace, while Frank McCormick was a fine hitter. Both Bucky Walters and especially Wes Ferrell were pitchers who helped their teams on the mound and at the plate. Garry Herrmann was an important influence in the first quarter century of the modern game begun in 1901, and Chris von der Ahe established the precedent of the eccentric, colorful owner who knew how to promote baseball as entertainment.

And on this Pre-Integration Era ballot for 2016, there are no less than three figures whose accomplishments merit their inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Bill Dahlen was a prototype of the hard-hitting shortstop. Sam Breadon presided over the rise of the St. Louis Cardinals as a baseball dynasty, which continues to this day. And Doc Adams established and championed practices in baseball's earliest days that have shaped the game we know and love today. That is why we continue to evaluate and reward legacy. There are still a few unrecognized Hall of Famers left from the Pre-Integration Era.


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Last modified on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 21:47

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0 #1 Committee Chairman 2015-12-07 04:12
Amazing DDT! Just amazing!
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