1923 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Bullet Rogan, KCM

P-Ed Rile, CAG

P-Rube Curry, KCM

P-Juan Padron, CSW

P-Dicta Johnson, TT/MB/CAG

P-Jose Mendez, KCM

P-Charles Corbett, ABC

P-Andy Cooper, DS

P-Tom Williams, CAG

P-Joe Strong, MB/CAG

C-Mitchell Murray, TT/SLS

C-Frank Duncan, KCM

1B-Oscar Charleston, ABC

1B-Edgar Wesley, DS

2B-Bingo DeMoss, CAG

3B-George Scales, SLS

3B-Candy John Taylor, TT/SLS

3B-Dave Malarcher, CAG

3B-Henry Blackmon, ABC

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

SS-Bill Riggins, DS

LF-Hurley McNair, KCM

CF-Cristobal Torriente, CAG

CF-Turkey Stearnes, DS

RF-Heavy Johnson, KCM

P-Bullet Rogan, Kansas City Monarchs, 29 Years Old, 3rd MVP

1921 1922

248 1/3 IP, 16-11, 2.94 ERA, 151 K, 150 ERA+, 3.02 FIP, 1.164 WHIP

207 AB, .362, 7 HR, 44 RBI, .362/.416/.551, 150 OPS+

WAR-8.6

Wins Above Replacement-8.6 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-6.0 (1st)

WAR Position Players-2.6 (10th)

Offensive WAR-2.5 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-8.6 (3rd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-6.0 (2nd Time)

Wins-16

Hits per 9 IP-7.683

Innings Pitched-248 1/3

Strikeouts-151

Games Started-24 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-20 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-4

Bases on Balls-77

Wild Pitches-9

Batters Faced-1,013

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.02 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-39 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.6 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-19 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-During this era in baseball, there wasn’t a player like Charles “Bullet” Rogan to be found. As a matter of fact, there weren’t many like him in all of baseball history. Babe Ruth combined the skills of pitching and hitting for about five seasons and Shohei Ohtani is making a name for himself in 2021 and that’s just about it. Bullet Rogan pitched and hit his way to his third Negro National League Most Valuable Player, as determined by me, and he’s not nearly done yet.

                Wikipedia says, “On August 6, 1923, Rogan combined with teammate and manager José Méndez to pitch a no-hitter against the Milwaukee Bears, Méndez pitching the first five innings and Rogan the last four. That season he hit .364 with a league-leading 16 wins and 151 strikeouts to lead the Monarchs to their first pennant.”

                Baseball Reference says, “Satchel Paige said this about Rogan in the book Blackball Stars: ‘Joe Rogan was one of the world’s greatest pitchers. …He was a chunky little guy, but he could throw hard. He could throw hard as Smokey Joe Williams-yeah.’”

                It’s going to be four more seasons before Paige enters the Majors and probably another five before he makes my list for the first time, but he’s the player to which Rogan’s pitching most often gets compared. Even Paige agrees. However, Rogan’s career OPS+ is 152 and Paige’s is 25.

P-Ed Rile, Chicago American Giants, 23 Years Old

184 2/3 IP, 15-7, 2.53 ERA, 69 K, 173 ERA+, 3.38 FIP, 1.164 WHIP

69 AB, .232, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .232/.274/.275, 43 OPS+

WAR-5.7

Wins Above Replacement-5.7 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

39-24, 2nd in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-83, 7th in league

ERA+-120, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Ed Rile, 5.7

Led in:

1923 NNL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.53

Adjusted ERA+-173

1st Time All-Star-Edward “Ed” Rile was born on June 30, 1900 in Columbus, Ohio. The six-foot-two, 210 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing first baseman and pitcher started in 1920 as a pitcher with the Indianapolis ABCs and then went to Columbus Buckeyes in 1921. That was an incredible year, because he pitched just five games, won them all, and, according to WAR, was the third best player on the Buckeyes. In just five games! No wonder when Columbus folded after the ’21 season, Rube Foster’s Giants snatched him up. He had the Giants’ best pitching season since Dave Brown in 1920.

                There is an outstanding article on SABR by Todd Peterson about the Black Ball Championships which went from 1866-to-1923. You’ll have to read the whole thing for context as I’m just putting the part that pertains to Rile.

                “Both owners desperately wanted to win the finale, which turned out to be ‘one of the greatest games played anywhere,’ replete with ‘brilliant fielding, eight fast double plays, and catches after long runs.’ Bacharach twirler Harold Treadwell fanned 12 and scattered eight hits while blanking the American Giants for 19 innings. But his teammates could do nothing with Chicago starter Ed ‘Huck’ Rile or Dave Brown, who came on in relief in the fifth. The jug-eared lefty allowed only six singles for the next 15 frames, and struck out 12 batters, including a bases-loaded punchout of George Shively in the top of the 18th inning. In the bottom of the 20th, Cristobal Torriente drew a walk off Treadwell, was sacrificed to second, and scored the game’s only run on a single by Dave Malarcher, beating weak-armed right fielder Ramiro Ramirez’s throw home by five feet.”

P-Rube Curry, Kansas City Monarchs, 24 Years Old

1920 1921

213 2/3 IP, 15-9, 3.24 ERA, 119 K, 135 ERA+, 3.31 FIP, 1.320 WHIP

91 AB, .242, 1 HR, 11 RBI, .242/.274/.319, 54 OPS+

WAR-3.7

Wins Above Replacement-3.7 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.6 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Hits Allowed-229 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-90

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1920 and ’21, Curry missed out in 1922, but it was still a good year, just not good enough. He’s back this year with his best year so far. Kansas City and the Chicago American Giants sure had a way of hoarding the best pitching in the Negro National League which is why they combined between them to win eight straight titles. This year was the Monarch’s first as they finally knocked the American Giants out of first.

                Baseball Reference says, “The tall curveball artist was 15-9 with 3 saves and a 3.24 RA in 1923. He also hit .242. He tied Andy Cooper and Huck Rile for second in the NNL in wins, one behind Rogan. His 119 strikeouts were second to Rogan, as were his 18 complete games. He tied Rogan and Bill Force for second in saves, behind Cooper. John Holway rates him as the best pitcher in the NNL that year.

                “In the winter of 1923-1924, Currie wnet to Cuba, where he was 8-2 for the legendary Santa Clara Leopards, considered arguably the best winter league team ever. Currie remained for the second season in Cuba that winter, going 2-3 for Santa Clara.”

                This will be Curry’s last year with the Monarchs as a new Major League formed this year called the Eastern Colored League.  Curry, along with many players, would make the jump to the new league. I’ll have more on that once I do the All-Star team for that league.

P-Juan Padron, Cuban Stars West, 30 Years Old

1922

137 2/3 IP, 7-8, 3.40 ERA, 80 K, 129 ERA+, 3.67 FIP, 1.300 WHIP

60 AB, .350, 3 HR, 13 RBI, .350/.381/.517, 132 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-2.6 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars West

24-33, 9th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-87, 6th in league

ERA+-103, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Juan Padron, 3.3

Led in:

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.286

2nd Time All-Star-Padron moved from the Chicago American Giants to Cuban Stars West this year and had a good season. It was his worst pitching season between 1922 and 1925, but I have him rated higher because for the only time in his career, he shined with the bat. It was the only time Padron hit over .233 and he belted .350. He hit three of his five total homers this year and it’s the only year his OPS+ was over 100. It’s the best Cuban Stars West pitching year since Jose LeBlanc in 1921.

                By the way, that picture above is most likely not Padron, but Isidro Fabre. According to Gary Ashwill of Agate Type, “Back in 2011 Brian Campf sent me this marvelous photograph of Juan Padrón with the New York Cuban Stars, ca. 1920: (above picture)

                “After I posted it, a couple of readers noted that the same image had been identified as Isidro Fabré.  At the time this is what I wrote to one of them:

                “’It’s an interesting case, since Fabré & Padrón played for the same team (NY Cuban Stars) at the same time.  But I think it’s pretty easy, when you look at it, to tell them apart.  Attached are juxtapositions of the Padrón photo with both the Fabré you sent and another image of Fabré which is probably a little better for these purposes, as it’s more head on.  The entire structure of the lower face is different, with Fabré having more of a square chin and a narrower face; their noses are quite different; their eyebrows are different; Fabré’s lips are fuller; Fabré’s right ear, while similar to Padrón at the top, is shorter.

“’I’ve also attached an image showing the Padrón photo juxtaposed with a photo of the older Padrón, probably in the 1950s, which I obtained from his family.  You can see other images of Padrón from the 1970s here.’”

Wikipedia posts that picture as Padron. Click on the link above for more on this from Ashwill.

P-Dicta Johnson, Toledo Tigers/Milwaukee Bears/Chicago American Giants, 36 Years Old

175 1/3 IP, 9-6, 4.11 ERA, 57 K, 107 ERA+, 3.80 FIP, 1.363 WHIP

63 AB, .175, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .175/.257/.190, 18 OPS+

WAR-3.0

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 41 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Toledo Tigers

10-17, 8th in NNL

Manager Dicta Johnson (3-10) and Candy Jim Taylor (7-7)

OPS+-94, 4th in league

ERA+-74, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Candy Jim Taylor, 1.7

Bears Team Stats

American Giants Teams Stats

1st Time All-Star-Louis “Dicta” Johnson was born on June 29, 1887 in Elizabethtown, Illinois. The five-foot-seven, 134 pound righty pitcher and outfielder started his Major League career with the Indianapolis ABCs from 1920-through-1922. In 1922, he went from Indianapolis to the Pittsburgh Keystones to finish the season. This season, his last, you can see he played for three different teams and had his best season ever.

                Wikipedia says, “Louis “Dicta” Johnson (born June 29, 1887) was an American spitball pitcher[2] in Negro league baseball and during the pre-Negro league years. He played from 1908 until 1923, mostly for the Indianapolis ABCs[1] and the Chicago American Giants.

                “In 1910 and 1911, Johnson followed many of his fellow Chicago players to the St. Paul Colored Gophers team, which became the Twin Cities Gophers in 1911. There he would play with Candy Jim TaylorWilliam BingaMule ArmstrongSherman BartonJohnny Davis and future College Football Hall of Fame legend Bobby Marshall.

                “In 1913, Johnson pitched a no-hitter for the Chicago American Giants.

                “Johnson pitched for the 183rd Infantry Team in 1918.

                “In 1922 he managed the Pittsburgh Keystones, and in 1923 he managed the Toledo Tigers, acting as a player-coach for the Tigers.”

                With all of the information on Johnson, I couldn’t find the day he died. I’m assuming he died or he’d be 134 at the time of this writing. I also don’t know what the nickname “Dicta” means. If any of my readers can fill in those details, it’d be appreciated.

P-Jose Mendez, Kansas City Monarchs, 38 Years Old

138 2/3 IP, 12-4, 3.18 ERA, 60 K, 138 ERA+, 3.30 FIP, 1.212 WHIP

88 AB, .239, 1 HR, 15 RBI, .239/.280/.409, 77 OPS+

WAR-3.0

WAR for Pitchers-2.9 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 42 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Kansas City Monarchs

54-32, 1st in NNL

Managers Sam Crawford (26-17) and Jose Mendez (35-20)

OPS+-116, 1st in league

ERA+-131, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Bullet Rogan, 8.6

Led in:

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.947

1st Time All-Star-Jose Colmenar Mendez was born on January 2, 1885 in Cardenas, Cuba. The five-foot-10, 152 pound righty pitcher, shortstop, and third baseman had a prosperous career long before the Negro National League started which is why he’s in the Hall of Fame. He started with the Monarchs in 1920 and ‘21 as a shortstop, moved to third in 1922, but then had his best Major League season ever at pitcher this year. He also took over as manager midway through the season and helped guide the Monarchs to their first NNL crown.

                Peter C. Bjarkman of SABR has much to say about Mendez and I suggest you click on the link and read the whole thing. I’m just going to focus on his death, of which Bjarkman writes, “The details of Méndez’s death also are at best quite sketchy. Little is known about his final months and illness, only that he was reported deceased less than 22 months after hurling his final Cuban League victory (on January 26, 1927) and barely two years after his final triumph on the hill for the Kansas City Monarchs (June 13, 1926, over the Cleveland Elite). There is even some dispute over the actual date of his death, which is reported in a pair of sources as October 31, 1928 (Nieto and Wikipedia), and in yet another as November 6 (Figueredo, Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball). González Echevarría (The Pride of Havana), who provides one of the fuller portraits of the pitcher’s youth, has surprisingly nothing to say about his demise and at one point even inaccurately gives 1930 as the death date. It is nonetheless clear that Méndez died in obscurity and apparent poverty and that he was most likely the victim of TB – James Riley claims bronchopneumonia without citing any sources.”

P-Charles Corbett, Indianapolis ABCs, 33 Years Old

190 IP, 12-10, 3.69 ERA, 66 K, 119 ERA+, 4.17 FIP, 1.363 WHIP

121 AB, .198, 0 HR, 18 RBI, .198/.242/.289, 38 OPS+

WAR-2.9

WAR for Pitchers-3.3 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 46 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

44-32, 3rd in NNL

Manager Dizzy Dismukes

OPS+-89, 5th in league

ERA+-105, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Charleston, 4.5

1st Time All-Star-Charles Corbett was born on March 8, 1890 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The righty pitcher and outfielder started with the Pittsburgh Keystones in 1922 and didn’t have a very good season. He came back this year with the ABCs, having his best year ever. Starting in 1924, he’d move to the Eastern Colored League and pitch well if not good enough to make my list. It should be noted it looked like the Negro National League had another Bullet Rogan in 1922 when Corbett hit .412 with two homers and 15 runs batted in. He’d never hit that way again over a full season.

                There isn’t much on Corbett on the internet, so here’s some information on the ABCs from Wikipedia: “In 1920, after a year-long absence from baseball, Taylor reorganized the ABCs and entered them in the new Negro National League (NNL), finishing in fourth place with a 39–35 record. The following season Oscar Charleston left for the St. Louis Giants, and the ABCs sagged to 35–38 and fifth place, despite a great season from Ben Taylor.

                “During the off season in 1922, C. I. Taylor died and his widow Olivia continued as the club’s owner, and Ben Taylor became the playing manager. He reacquired Charleston, who led a rejuvenated ABCs squad to a 46–33 record and second-place finish. The young catcher Biz Mackey enjoyed a breakout season in 1922, and with Taylor, Charleston, and third baseman Henry Blackman keyed a prolific offense.”

                There is no recorded date of death for Corbett, nor can I find a picture.

P-Andy Cooper, Detroit Stars, 25 Years Old

1922

183 1/3 IP, 15-7, 3.49 ERA, 68 K, 126 ERA+, 3.95 FIP, 1.156 WHIP

64 AB, .109, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .109/.136/.156, -24 OPS+

WAR-2.4

WAR for Pitchers-3.0 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. 60 percent chance)

Detroit Stars

39-27, 3rd in NNL

Manager Bruce Petway

OPS+-96, 3rd in league

ERA+-101, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Bill Riggins, 3.9

Led in:

Walks & Hits per IP-1.156

Saves-6

2nd Time All-Star-Cooper made my list for the second consecutive season and is going to be a regular on my All-Star teams. He had great control and would be one of the Stars’ best pitchers for many a year. Because of the lack of official games, all of the Negro National League players had lower WARs than they deserved, but in determining my Hall of Fame, which is based solely on numbers, it will hurt some of these great Negro League players.              

                Wikipedia says, “Cooper pitched for the Detroit Stars from 1920 to 1927. The Stars played in Mack Park, which was noted for its short fences. Despite the hitter-friendly dimensions of the park, Cooper excelled as a pitcher in Detroit. The short fences often allowed Detroit’s powerful hitters to provide good run support for Cooper. In The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, James characterized Cooper as the best Negro league pitcher of 1923.”

                Does Bill James ever sleep? You’d think just keeping up with the National and American Leagues would be enough for the prolific writer, but he also takes time to detail the Negro Leagues. Sure, I’m doing it now, but I’m not actually doing, what do they call it?, oh, research, I’m just piggybacking off the great writers on the net, scribes like Gary Ashwill and the wonderful writers of SABR. What I hope is happening for my readers and me is that we’re learning to appreciate many of these forgotten players.

P-Tom Williams, Chicago American Giants, 26 Years Old

1920 1921

94 IP, 9-1, 2.97 ERA, 23 K, 148 ERA+, 3.87 FIP, 1.351 WHIP

28 AB, .071, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .071/.071/.071, -63 OPS+

WAR-2.2

WAR for Pitchers-2.7 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 25 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.900

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.096

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1920 and 1921, Williams didn’t pitch in the Negro National League in 1922. According to Baseball Reference, he spent 1922 with the New York Lincoln Giants and Atlantic City, which were not considered Major League teams. He came back to the American Giants in 1923 and again showed why he was one of the early Negro National League greats. However, this is probably the last time he’ll make my list.

                BR says, “In 1923, he was back in Chicago and had his fourth big season in four years for them. He was 9-1 with a 2.97 ERA, finishing third in the NNL in ERA behind Ed Rile and Rogan. The Morris Brown alumnus was 12-4 with a 3.68 ERA and 99 strikeouts for Chicago and the Detroit Stars in 1924. He was 5th in the NNL in wins (behind Rogan, Andy CooperSam Streeter and Juan Padron), second in ERA (to Padron) and 4th in whiffs (trailing Streeter, Bob Poindexter and Rogan). He was 0-1 for Chicago in 1925 to end his career.

                “Williams threw a curveball, drop, spitballfastball and floater and was noted for his pick-off move.

                “From 1916-1923, he was 53-22 with a 2.44 ERA, walking 177 in 668 2/3 IP. His WHIP was 1.09 and his ERA+ 143. For this period, he was 5th in the Negro Leagues in wins (behind Redding, Dick Whitworth, Jeffries and Rogan), 1st in winning percentage (for hurlers with 100+ games), tied for third with 10 shutouts (with Brown and Jeffries), fourth in ERA for pitchers with 50+ games (trailing Cyclone Joe WilliamsJosé Leblanc and Redding), third in ERA+ for those with 100+ appearances (behind Rogan and Redding) and second in WHIP (behind Brown).”

                Williams died on January 19, 1937 at the age of 40 in Bremen, Illinois.

P-Joe Strong, Milwaukee Bears/Chicago American Giants, 20 Years Old

187 2/3 IP, 7-15, 4.27 ERA, 68 K, 103 ERA+, 4.03 FIP, 1.535 WHIP

81 AB, .235, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .235/.271/.358, 63 OPS+

WAR-2.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Milwaukee Bears

11-42, 11th in NNL

Manager Pete Hill

OPS+-69, 8th in league

ERA+-87, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Joe Strong, 1.2

American Giants Team Stats

Led in:

Losses-15

1st Time All-Star-Joseph Talton “Joe” Strong was born on August 4, 1902 in Jackson, Kentucky. The five-foot-11, 176 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing pitcher and outfielder started as a pitcher for the Cleveland Tate Stars in 1922. However, the Stars lasted just that one year and so Strong went to the Negro National League’s newest team, the Milwaukee Bears. Milwaukee would last just this one season and before 1923 was over, Strong moved onto the American Giants.

                Of the Bears, Wikipedia says, “The team was one of two (the Toledo Tigers being the other) created to fill one of the vacancies created in the NNL after the Cleveland Tate Stars and Pittsburgh Keystones had been dropped after the previous season. It drew much of its personnel from the disbanded Keystones and from the New Orleans Crescent Stars, an independent southern team. Hall of Fame outfielder Pete Hill, 40, was asked by Rube Foster to manage the team, and remaining roster spots were filled from tryouts held in Chicago in April, and by castoffs from other teams.

                “With limited financing and an inexperienced ownership, the team quickly fell out of the running in the league. Primarily due to poor home attendance at Athletic Park (later known as Borchert Field), the club played most of its games on the road, and finished in last place with a 12-41 record in league play, disbanding after the season.

                “Outfielders Pete Duncan (.321), Percy Wilson (.314), and Sandy Thompson (.310) were among the better hitters. Fulton Strong led the pitching staff with only four victories, against 14 defeats. Hill hit .296 in a part-time role as the Bears’ player-manager.”

                I’m assuming Fulton Strong is this man since he’s the only Strong on the roster.

C-Mitchell Murray, Toledo Tigers/St. Louis Stars, 27 Years Old

185 AB, .346, 6 HR, 40 RBI, .346/.407/.535, 144 OPS+

WAR-2.1

Offensive WAR-1.9 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Tigers Team Stats

Stars Team Stats

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as C-11

1st Time All-Star-Mitchell Murray was born on January 28, 1896 in Wyoming, Ohio. The five-foot-nine, 170 pound righty catcher started his Major League career with the Indianapolis ABCs and Dayton Marcos in 1920. He didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1921 and then in 1922, caught for the Cleveland Tate Stars. This season, with the Tate Stars defunct, Murray started his season for the Toledo Tigers before finally ending up on the Stars.

                Wikipedia has information on this one season for the Tigers, saying, “The team was one of two (the Milwaukee Bears being the other) created to fill one of the vacancies created in the NNL after the Cleveland Tate Stars and Pittsburgh Keystones had been dropped after the previous season. Its personnel consisted at first of a few veterans and semi-pro players, though it was improved in late May when it merged with the short-lived independent team, the Cleveland Nationals.

                “Operated initially by the NNL, it was taken over by Cleveland businessman Phil Fears after the two teams merged. While its play improved dramatically following the merger, it was under-financed and suffered from poor attendance, and ceased operations in July with a league record of 11-17. After the team disbanded, many of its better players transferred to the St. Louis Stars and Milwaukee Bears for the remainder of the season, in an effort to shore up both franchises. The NNL then invited the Cleveland Tate Stars to rejoin as associate members to play out the Tigers’ remaining schedule.”

C-Frank Duncan, Kansas City Monarchs, 22 Years Old

346 AB, .257, 0 HR, 39 RBI, .257/.332/.332, 74 OPS+

WAR-1.0

Defensive WAR-0.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 29 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Outs Made-281

Def. Games as C-83 (3rd Time)

Putouts as C-426 (3rd Time)

Assists as C-132 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as C-25

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-6.91

Range Factor/Game as C-6.72 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Frank Lee Duncan was born on Valentine’s Day, 1901 in Kansas City, Missouri. The six-foot, 175 pound righty catcher, first baseman, and outfielder started his Negro National League career with the Chicago Giants in 1920. In 1921, he caught for the Giants again before going to the Monarchs during the season. With the departure of Biz Mackey to the Eastern Colored League, there was a vacuum for good backstops and Duncan filled it due to to his good glove.

                Wikipedia says, “Duncan broke in with the 1920 Chicago Giants, forcing John Beckwith to move from catcher to shortstop. He hit just .161. In 1921, Duncan moved to the Monarchs and batted .250/.295/.277 (BA/OBP/SLG) for the combined season. In 1922, Duncan improved to .235/.317/.313 at the plate and was credited with 22 sacrifice hits to lead the Negro National League in that category. He led the NNL’s catchers in fielding percentage (.984) and assists (91).

                “In 1923, he batted .257/.332/.332 and fielded .960 while batting second for the pennant-winning Monarchs. That winter, he played for one of the most famous Cuban Winter League teams ever, the 1923–1924 Santa Clara Leopardos. He batted .336 and slugged .401 for the club, which won the pennant with a 36–11 record.”

                Duncan is going to have a long career, playing from 1920-to-1945, and he’s never going to be much of a hitter. However, he made up for it with his glove as he’ll be in the top 10 in Defensive WAR seven times in his career.

1B-Oscar Charleston, Indianapolis ABCs, 26 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

308 AB, .364, 11 HR, 94 RBI, .364/.453/.591, 170 OPS+

29 1/3  IP, 1-2, 4.60 ERA, 7 K, 96 ERA+, 4.43 FIP, 1.500 WHIP

WAR-4.5

Wins Above Replacement-4.5 (5th)

WAR Position Players-4.3 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-4.0 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Stolen Bases-25

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-2.67

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.42 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Charleston continued to dominate the Negro National League, though this season was his worst thus far. It was the first time he didn’t lead the NNL in WAR Position Players or Offensive WAR, thanks to Heavy Johnson and Dobie Moore, fantastic players themselves. It was also the first year Charleston made my list at a position other than centerfield as he played more games at first base than any other position.

                SABR says, “In December 1922, Olivia Taylor traded Charleston to Rube Foster’s American Giants. Taylor was facing financial difficulties, and Biz Mackey and Ben Taylor also left the team. But Charleston returned to the ABCs prior to the season: Foster realized it was better for the league if Charleston played for the ABCs, and he worked out a deal with Taylor whereby Taylor would receive a subsidy for 1923 and let Charleston go to the American Giants in 1924. Charleston spent the 1923 season with the ABCs and was the leader of a depleted team that struggled to a fourth-place finish. In fact, the team needed Charleston to pitch on multiple occasions.”

                There’s no doubt the Chicago American Giants would have won their fourth straight crown if they had kept Charleston. However, I admire the selflessness of Rube Foster, the Chicago manager, who realized the dominance of his squad over the league wasn’t necessarily the best thing for the league. By letting Oscar go to Indianapolis, he practically handed the league crown to the Monarchs. Of course, it’s easier to be selfless when you’ve already won three straight NNL titles.

1B-Edgar Wesley, Detroit Stars, 32 Years Old

1922

265 AB, .291, 16 HR, 56 RBI, .291/.369/.532, 132 OPS+

WAR-2.2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-12.47

Range Factor/Game as 1B-12.25 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-It’s too bad Wesley was already older once the Negro National League started, because there’s no doubt he could have been one of the all-time greats. He has made two of these lists and has yet to have his best season yet. He did hit for a lot of power, belting 16 homers, a total good enough for fourth. You might remember he was the NNL’s first home run leader in 1920 when he hit 16. Part of the problem for Wesley is the Stars didn’t play as many games as some of the other league teams.

                Richard Bak wrote an article for Vintage Detroit titled Stearnes and Wesley: The Bash Brothers of Mack Park. Of the 1923 season, he penned, “In 1923, their first summer together, Turkey had 17 homers and 85 RBIs (both third in the league) and batted .362. Wesley had an off year, though his 16 round-trippers placed him fourth in that category. However, Wesley made up for it in a postseason exhibition series between the Stars and St. Louis Browns at Mack Park. In the first game of a three-game set, he poled a pair of homers, including a walk-off shot in the ninth, to climax a thrilling comeback win. He continued to hit and field well as the black pros beat the white big leaguers twice, causing Judge Landis to ban any further exhibitions between intact major-league and Negro League teams. Henceforth, the embarrassed commissioner decreed, only ‘all-star’ teams could play each other, thus diluting the embarrassment of a major-league club losing to its supposed inferiors.”

2B-Bingo DeMoss, Chicago American Giants, 33 Years Old

1920

278 AB, .255, 1 HR, 31 RBI, .255/.337/.309, 69 OPS+

WAR-1.8

Defensive WAR-1.8 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 35 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Sacrifice Hits-25

Putouts as 2B-185 (3rd Time)

Assists as 2B-287 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-29 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.32 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.21 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.971 (4th Time)

2nd Time All-Star-DeMoss last made my list in 1920 and then Frank Warfield was the representative at second base for the next two seasons after that. Warfield was off to the newly formed Eastern Colored League this year, so DeMoss is back, making it because of his glove not bat. On a team that relied on its pitching as much as the American Giants did, it was important to have good leather backing up those arms.

                Baseball Reference says, “Bingo DeMoss was considered one of the best second basemen of the pre-Negro Leagues period. Playing in pitcher-friendly ballparks in a low-offense era, his raw offensive numbers were never good. He was valued for his defensive talent, his base-running ability, his bunting and hit-and-run skills, and his leadership qualities.

                “At age 31, he hit .241. Offensive statistics were improving just as in the white leagues, but Chicago remained a pitcher’s paradise and the veteran was a decent 3rd on the champion team in hitting, well behind Cristobal Torriente (.346) and Jimmie Lyons (.295).

                “In 1922, the second baseman batted .256, fourth on the top team. DeMoss hit .252/.309/.332 in 1923, fielding a pretty slick .971.”

                DeMoss is well-regarded by both those who played with him and modern researchers. His defense was so good that even though he’s not adding much with his bat by this time in his career, he’s still made two of these lists. It’s possible he’s going to make another one, but since his hitting is so weak, it’s tough to tell.

3B-George Scales, St. Louis Stars, 22 Years Old

164 AB, .390, 11 HR, 45 RBI, .390/.505/.738, 220 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR Position Players-3.3 (8th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star teams. 35 percent chance)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-George Louis Scales was born on August 16, 1900 in Talladega, Alabama. The five-foot-11, 195 pound righty third baseman, second baseman, and first baseman started with the St. Louis Giants in 1921. When the Giants became the Stars in 1922, Scales remained on the team. During those two seasons, he had a total of 150 at bats and was hitting below .200. So before 1923, he was off to the New York Lincoln Giants of the newly formed Eastern Colored League and played nine games for them, hitting .412. He came back to the Stars and he started lighting up the Negro National League. You can see his slash stats above.

                Stephen V. Rice of SABR writes, “At 5-feet-11 and 195 pounds, Scales was big for the era. He had a stocky build and was nicknamed Tubby. He emerged as a power hitter in 1923, with a career-high .747 slugging percentage. On June 17 he homered in the 11th inning to give the St. Louis Stars a 9-7 victory over the Cuban Stars. And against the Milwaukee Bears on August 11, he contributed a single, triple, and home run as the St. Louis Stars earned another 9-7 triumph. A week later he joined the New York Lincoln Giants.

                “It was strength versus strength on September 3, 1923. Scales, regarded as a great curveball hitter, faced pitcher Arthur ‘Rats’ Henderson of the Bacharach Giants, who had ‘one of the best curve balls in history.’ Scales went 3-for-4 with a home run as the Lincoln Giants prevailed.”

3B-Candy Jim Taylor, Toledo Tigers/St. Louis Stars, 39 Years Old

215 AB, .372, 20 HR, 76 RBI, .372/.438/.712, 195 OPS+

4 IP, 0-1, 11.25 ERA, 1 K, 46 ERA+, 7.29 FIP, 3.000 WHIP

WAR-3.2

WAR Position Players-3.2 (9th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 53 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Tigers Team Stats

St. Louis Stars

29-43, 10th in NNL

Manager Joe Hewitt (17-23) and Candy Jim Taylor (15-25-1)

OPS+-114, 2nd in league

ERA+-79, 7th in league

WAR Leader-George Scales, 3.3

Led in:

Home Runs-20

AB per HR-10.8

Fielding % as 3B-.956

1st Time All-Star-James Allen “Candy Jim” Taylor was born on February 1, 1884 in Anderson, South Carolina. The five-foot-five, 165 pound righty third baseman, pitcher, and second baseman started his Negro National League career with the Dayton Marcos in 1920. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1921 and then ended up on the Cleveland Tate Stars in 1922. At this point in his career, he was already 38 and didn’t hit too well in the Majors. However, that changed this year as he played for Toledo and then for St. Louis, which he also managed.

                Bill Johnson of SABR writes, “His teams won more games than any team in the annals of organized black baseball. ‘Candy Jim’ Taylor’s professional baseball career began in 1904, well before Rube Foster’s first Negro National League was formed, and his managerial tenure ended abruptly, just before the 1948 baseball season began, due to Taylor’s sudden death. In between, Taylor played with, managed, or played against virtually every notable player in segregated baseball, and his teams twice won the Negro League World Series, and three other times captured the Negro National League pennant. His three brothers all played at the highest possible levels of the game, and his youngest sibling, Ben, was a lifetime .300 hitter who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. ‘Candy Jim’ neither married nor fathered any children, and had few casual interests outside the game. His was, in the purest sense, a baseball life.

                “Taylor signed on to manage the Baltimore Elite Giants for the 1948 campaign, his 44th in professional baseball, but entered People’s Hospital with an unspecified illness in Chicago during spring training. He died on April 3, 1948, at the age of 64, and was buried in Alsip, Illinois, at the Burr Oak Cemetery.”

3B-Dave Malarcher, Chicago American Giants, 28 Years Old

270 AB, .304, 3 HR, 41 RBI, .304/.386/.411, 108 OPS+

WAR-2.1

Defensive WAR-0.7 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as 3B-73 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 3B-107 (3rd Time)

Assists as 3B-117 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as 3B-20 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-David Julius “Dave” Malarcher was born on October 18, 1894 in White Hall, LA. The five-foot-seven, 150 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing third and second baseman started with the American Giants in 1920 and would be their third baseman for their three straight pennants. He never would be a great hitter, but he had quite the glove and with Chicago relying so much on its pitching staff, that was important.

                In his book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, James A. Riley writes, “When Malarcher joined the American Giants in 1920, the inaugural year of the Negro National League, he was called the best third baseman in black baseball and began his career with the American Giants by hitting .344. The first three years, the American Giants won the league championship, with Malarcher’s win-fling spirit making him a key cog in Foster’s machine, usually batting in one of the top two spots in the lineup. During the middle season of the three consecutive pennants, Malarcher suffered physical setbacks and missed considerable playing time. He was ordered not to play in 1922 because of torn ligaments around his heart, but was undeterred. He injured his leg in May but, determined to play, was back in lineup in July. Despite the handicaps, he managed a batting average of .235 for the 1921 season.”

                Again this is a situation where the stats are all over the place. Riley says Malarcher hit .344 in 1920, but Baseball Reference says he hit .259. This season, 1923, is the first one BR records Malarcher as hitting over .300.

3B-Henry Blackmon, Indianapolis ABCs, 31 Years Old

250 AB, .296, 7 HR, 43 RBI, .296/.343/.448, 105 OPS+

WAR-2.0

Defensive WAR-1.1 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 59 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as 3B-11 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.66

Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.47

1st Time All-Star-Henry Blackmon was born on September 16, 1891 in Hillsboro, TX. The six-foot-two, 185 pound righty third baseman started his Major League career with the ABCs in 1920 and then didn’t play in 1921. He came back in 1922 and, like Dave Malarcher, was more of a fielder than a hitter. After this season, he’d go to the Baltimore Black Sox of the Eastern Colored League but then come back for one game with the ABCs to finish his playing days in the Majors as he had an early death.

                On the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum page, James A. Riley writes in his book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, “The youngest of five children, he honed his baseball skills on the ball diamonds of Texas, and in July 1917 he was the third baseman with the Texas All-Stars. Three years later, while playing with a team called the San Antonio Black Aces, he left the Lone Star State to join C.I. Taylor‘s Indianapolis ABCs in 1920. While with the ABCs he earned a reputation as one of the cleanest fielders and had one of the best and snappiest arms in baseball, rarely making a bad throw. He was a fair hitter, with averages of .224 and .264 in 1922-1923, and a fair base runner. He was good-natured, likable, and popular with the fans, and earned the nickname ‘the Galloping Ghost.’

                “Blackman played a game against Hilldale on July 26, performing in usual fashion, and two weeks later he was dead. His death took place in the office of Dr. Montague on Madison Avenue in Baltimore. He had gone there because of a throat ailment that later developed into complications that caused his death, listed as a liver ailment. Over a thousand fans followed his bier as his remains were taken to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station to be sent to Texas for interment.”

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 27 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

378 AB, .365, 8 HR, 79 RBI, .365/.407/.534, 144 OPS+

WAR-5.5

Wins Above Replacement-5.5 (4th)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-3.9 (3rd)

Defensive WAR-2.1 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

At Bats-378

Singles-99

Assists-394

Def. Games as SS-94

Putouts as SS-225 (2nd Time)

Assists as SS-394 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-54 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.74 (4th Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-6.59 (4th Time)

Fielding % as SS-.951

4th Time All-Star-What a pleasure it is to write about Walter “Dobie” Moore, the best shortstop in the Negro National League at the beginning of its history. It’s too bad a tragedy shortened his career, but there’s time for that later. One thing I can’t find in my admittedly short amount of research is how he got the nickname “Dobie.” Since it’s used so commonly, I’m guessing he got the nickname early in his life, but I can’t find anything about it.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luiz Munoz write in Forgotten Heroes: Walter “Dobie” Moore, “In 1923, Dobie Moore picked up where he had left off the season before. The 1923 season would also be the start of the Monarchs dominance of the Negro National League. Over the next four seasons the Monarchs won Negro National League championships. The Monarchs were led offensively by the hitting of Oscar “Heavy” Johnson (.367 with 20 homeruns), Dobie Moore (.366) and Bullet Rogan (.355). Rube Currie (23-11), Bullet Rogan (20-19), Jose Mendez (15-6) and Big Bill Drake (15-9) all turned in outstanding pitching performances for the season. Kansas City finished the regular season with a 57-33 (.633) record to win their first Negro National League championship.”            

                Now there are two Negro Major Leagues, there would have to be a World Series and that will come in 1924. Moore is going to be part of that, but I’m getting ahead of myself. With players like Rogan and Moore, Kansas City is going to be good for quite a while.

SS-Bill Riggins, Detroit Stars, 23 Years Old

265 AB, .302, 6 HR, 43 RBI, .302/.379/.426, 110 OPS+

WAR-3.9

Wins Above Replacement-3.9 (7th)

WAR Position Players-3.9 (6th)

Defensive WAR-2.5 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-2.5

1st Time All-Star-Arvell “Bill” Riggins was born on February 7, 1900 in Colp, Illinois. The five-foot-eight, 160 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing shortstop and third baseman started his Negro National League career with the Chicago American Giants for three games in 1920 before going to the Stars. This was his best season ever, mainly due to his glove, as he led the NNL in Defensive WAR. He’ll make more of these lists.

                Baseball Reference states, “Bill Riggins was a top shortstop in the Negro Leagues during the 1920s who battled problems with alcohol. He is attributed with a .309 career average in the Negro Leagues and .321 in the California Winter League.

                “Riggins became a regular with the Detroit Stars in 1920, hitting .292 as the third baseman. In 1921, he batted .269/.307/.352 and fielded .884 at shortstop. The next year, the 22-year-old’s batting line was .256/.316/.330 while his .949 fielding percentage at short led the Negro National League. He was 1 for 10 against the 1922 Detroit Tigers in an exhibition. In 1922-1923, he hit .236 and slugged .294 in the California Winter League.

                “Riggins batted second and played short for Detroit in 1923. He hit .302/.369/.426 and fielded .923. he again struggled in a brief look against major leaguers, going 1 for 13 against the 1923 St. Louis Browns. In the 1923-24, he hit .326 and slugged .349 in the California Winter League.”

                Arvell Riggins couldn’t hit as well as Dobie Moore, but he could certainly keep up with him fielding.

LF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 34 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

376 AB, .327, 8 HR, 65 RBI, .325/.410/.481, 132 OPS+

1 IP, 0-0, 18.00 ERA, 1 K, 33 ERA+, 13.04 FIP, 5.000 WHIP

WAR-3.4

Wins Above Replacement-3.4 (10th)

WAR Position Players-3.5 (7th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-98

Plate Appearances-439

Bases on Balls-49 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-155

4th Time All-Star-After having his best season ever in 1922, McNair declined a bit in 1923, but not enough to keep him off my list. He now has been an All-Star four times, along with Oscar Charleston, Dobie Moore, Dave Brown, and Bill Holland. The latter two are now in the Eastern Colored League. A funny thing’s going to happen to the now 34-year-old McNair in 1924 – he’s going to move from left to rightfield.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote Forgotten Heroes: Hurley McNair, saying, “Hurley McNair returned to the Kansas City Monarchs for the 1923 Negro League season. The 1923 season would also be the start of the Monarchs dominance of the Negro National League. Over the next four seasons the Monarchs won Negro National League championships.

                “The 1923 Monarchs were led offensively by the hitting of Oscar “Heavy” Johnson (.406 with 20 homeruns, 120 RBIs and a .722 slugging percentage), Dobie Moore (.366 with 81 RBIs), Bullet Rogan (.364), John Donaldson (.351), Hurley McNair (.332), Wade Johnston (.332), George Sweatt (.310) and Newt Allen (.304).

                “The Kansas City Monarchs played their home games at Association Park and Muelbach Stadium. Kansas City finished the regular season with a 57-33 (.633) record to win their first Negro National League championship.

                “The Kansas City Monarchs had finally dethroned their arch rival Chicago American Giants to win their first Negro National League crown.”

                Despite his age, McNair isn’t done making All-Star teams.

CF-Cristobal Torriente, Chicago American Giants, 29 Years Old

1920 1921

261 AB, .387, 4 HR, 63 RBI, .387/.481/.556, 169 OPS+

21 IP, 2-1, 3.43 ERA, 9 K, 130 ERA+, 3.66 FIP, 1.381 WHIP

WAR-4.5

Wins Above Replacement-4.5 (5th)

WAR Position Players-4.1 (4th)

Offensive WAR-3.5 (4th)

Defensive WAR-0.4 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led In:

On-Base %-.481 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as CF-72

Putouts as CF-147

Assists as CF-13

Double Plays Turned as CF-4

3rd Time All-Star-After winning the Negro National League Most Valuable Player in 1920 (according to me) and then making my list again in 1921, Torriente missed some games in 1922 and didn’t make the All-Star team. Well, he came back strong this season, leading the league in on-base percentage and once again having an OPS over 1.000. Even though he’s not going to make my Hall of Fame, I have no issues with him being in Cooperstown.

                Peter C. Bjarkman of SABR writes, “Torriente’s Cuban League legacy is certainly impressive, even if sometimes distressingly thin. He boasts a legacy certainly the equal of the one attached to Méndez, even if he didn’t enjoy quite the same hometown icon status earned by the ‘Black Diamond’ with those politically charged early-century triumphs over big leaguers representing occupying American forces. His record as a hitter is largely unparalleled in his own era. He owned the third highest overall batting mark in league history (.352 in a dozen campaigns), trailing only Americans Jud Wilson (.372 but only six seasons) and Oscar Charleston (.360 across a full decade). Other records include an unsurpassed five times as leader in triples, four times as the home-run leader (although his high was four in 1923 due to the immense league parks), and twice as batting champion. And there were accounts of Torriente’s remarkable defense as a rocket-armed center fielder that supplement holes left by missing or spotty statistical records. One can question (and perhaps should question) the level of competition in an era that witnessed no major leaguers on Cuban soil for regular league games outside the exhibitions of the staged early-winter American Season. But that argument can be raised whenever one compares different leagues or eras. Any player must be judged by where he stood against the competition at hand, and Torriente seemed to rank well ahead of most of the field he faced.”

CF-Turkey Stearnes, Detroit Stars, 22 Years Old

279 AB, .362, 17 HR, 85 RBI, .362/.401/.710, 184 OPS+

7 IP, 0-1, 15.43 ERA, 2 K, 30 ERA+, 10.18 FIP, 2.429 WHIP

WAR-3.7

Wins Above Replacement-3.7 (8th)

WAR Position Players-4.1 (5th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (6th)

Defensive WAR-0.5 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2000)

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Triples-14

1st Time All-Star-Norman Thomas “Turkey” Stearnes was born on May 8, 1901 in Nashville. The five-foot-11, 175 pound lefty centerfielder had quite a rookie year and is off to an outstanding career. Many Negro League players are hindered from making my Hall of Fame due to the short seasons, but because Stearnes is going to play so well for so long, he’s easily going to go in. He already made it into Cooperstown in 2000.

                Thomas Kern of SABR writes, “Stearnes’ rookie year in 1923 was one for the ages. Detroit Stars historian Richard Bak recorded Stearnes as in the lineup on April 29 (Opening Day against Indianapolis) and barely a month later — May 31 — he hit for the cycle in a 7-6 win against Toledo. The season was a magical one for Stearnes: three triples in a game, multiple-homer games, and a first look at his towering shots that were necessary, according to Bak, to clear ‘Mack Park’s tall right field fence, which was topped with a wire screen, requiring better than average lift to clear it. “You got to hit a tall fly ball,” is the way Stearnes once described it. The statistical line for Turkey in 1923 — 18 home runs, 89 RBIs, .366 batting average, .403 OBP, and a .723 slugging percentage (purportedly the highest ever for a Detroit Star) — represented an incredible coming-out party. However, despite Stearnes’ heroics and the power-hitting first baseman Edgar Wesley, the Stars finished only a distant third behind the Kansas City Monarchs, who went on to play Hilldale that autumn in the first Colored World Series.”

RF-Heavy Johnson, Kansas City Monarchs, 28 Years Old

1922

374 AB, .406, 20 HR, 120 RBI, .406/.471/.722, 207 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-5.8 (1st)

Offensive WAR-6.1 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1923 NNL Batting Title (2nd Time)

1923 NNL Triple Crown

WAR Position Players-5.8

Offensive WAR-6.1

Batting Average-.406 (2nd Time)

Slugging %-.722 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.193 (2nd Time)

Games Played-98

Runs Scored-91

Hits-152

Total Bases-270

Doubles-32

Home Runs-20

Runs Batted In-120

Adjusted OPS+-207 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-125

Adj. Batting Runs-59

Adj. Batting Wins-5.4

Extra Base Hits-65

Times on Base-198

Offensive Win %-.874

Hit By Pitch-8

Power-Speed #-18.4

Assists as RF-10

Assists as OF-14

2nd Time All-Star-If it wasn’t for his incredible teammate, Bullet Rogan, who both pitched and played in the field, Heavy would have easily won my Most Valuable Player. Look at those stats above! It was quite the season and that’s in 98 games, about a third of a regular National or American League year. That means he would have hit about 30 homers and driven in about 180 runs had he played 154 games. This was easily his best season ever.

                Baseball Reference says, “In 1923, Oscar had a career year. Hitting fifth or third, he hit .406/.462/.722 and won a Triple Crown as Kansas City won their first pennant to mark the beginning of the Negro League dynasty. Johnson led the NNL in average, slugging, hits (152), RBI (120, 26 more than Oscar Charleston, the runner-up), doubles (32), total bases (270, 68 more than Moore) and runs (91). He tied Candy Jim Taylor for the home run lead (20). He was second in OBP (trailing Cristobal Torriente) and triples (13, one behind Turkey Stearnes), tied for fifth in walks (38) and was fifth in steals (17), showing that he could run despite his bulk.

                “Johnson spent part of that winter with what was arguably the greatest Cuban Winter League team ever, the 1923-24 Santa Clara club. He hit .345 and slugged .509 playing part-time at first base, leaving for the U.S. before the season ended.”

                It’s amazing a man with his girth – he was five-foot-seven and 200 pounds – could run with such speed, as proved by his 13 triples and 17 steals.

1922 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Bullet Rogan, KCM, 2nd MVP

P-Lewis Hampton, ABC

P-Jim Jeffries, ABC

P-Bill Force, DS

P-Dave Brown, CAG

P-Juan Padron, CAG

P-Bill Holland, DS

P-Slim Branham, CTS

P-Deacon Meyers, SLS

P-Andy Cooper, DS

C-Biz Mackey, ABC

C-Dan Kennard, SLS

1B-Ben Taylor, ABC

1B-Edgar Wesley, DS

2B-Frank Warfield, DS

3B-John Beckwith, CAG

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

LF-Hurley McNair, KCM

LF-Clarence Smith, DS

CF-Oscar Charleston, ABC

CF-Charlie Blackwell, SLS

CF-Clint Thomas, DS

CF-Valentin Dreke, CSW

RF-Heavy Johnson, KCM

RF-Oscar Owens, PK

P-Bullet Rogan, Kansas City Monarchs, 28 Years Old, 2nd MVP

1921

193 2/3 IP, 14-8, 2.83 ERA, 118 K, 159 ERA+, 2.91 FIP, 1.084 WHIP

241 AB, .369, 15 HR, 55 RBI, .369/.453/.600, 199 OPS+

WAR-9.0

Wins Above Replacement-9.0 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-4.6 (1st)

WAR Position Players-4.5 (4th)

Offensive WAR-4.3 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Kansas City Monarchs

47-31-2, 1st in NNL

Manager Sam Crawford

OPS+-120, 1st in league

ERA+-126, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bullet Rogan, 9.0

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-9.0 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-4.6

Saves-2

Games Started-21

Complete Games-20

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.91

Adj. Pitching Runs-32 (2nd Time)

AB per HR-16.1

Putouts as P-13

2nd Time All-Star-I’m not really following baseball at the time of this writing, but I can’t help but hear about the impressive 2021 season of Shohei Otahni, who is pitching and hitting his way to a possible MVP. Well, some 100 years before that, there was another two-way player who tore up his league and it was this chunky fireplug, Bullet Rogan, who I gave my MVP for the second consecutive season. No Monarch pitcher had ever done this well before.

                Wikipedia says, “’Charleston was everything—but Rogan was more’, said William ‘Big C’ Johnson, one of Rogan’s Army teammates. ‘Rogan could do everything, everywhere.’ ‘He was the onliest pitcher I ever saw, I ever heard of in my life, was pitching and hitting in the cleanup place’, said Satchel Paige. According to Rogan’s longtime catcher Frank Duncan, ‘If you had to choose between Rogan and Paige, you’d pick Rogan, because he could hit. The pitching, you’d as soon have Satchel as Rogan, understand? But Rogan’s hitting was so terrific. Get my point?’ Casey Stengel called Rogan ‘one of the best—if not the best—pitcher that ever lived.’

                “By his third season with the Monarchs, 1922, he hit .390, and his 13 home runs were good for second in the league.”

                Did the Monarchs win the Negro National League crown? It’s tough to say due to the way games played were counted at this time. Kansas City and Indianapolis apparently were co-winners of the NNL crown, but the Chicago American Giants had the highest winning percentage. Baseball Reference gives it to the Giants.

P-Lewis Hampton, Indianapolis ABCs, 21 Years Old

159 IP, 12-6, 2.49 ERA, 46 K, 181 ERA+, 3.42 FIP, 1.107 WHIP

133 AB, .361, 7 HR, 35 RBI, .361/.401/.624, 175 OPS+

WAR-6.2

Wins Above Replacement-6.2 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-4.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 23 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1922 NNL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.49

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.113

Adjusted ERA+-181

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.0

1st Time All-Star-Lewis Hampton was born in 1901, but Baseball Reference doesn’t know where or on what date. It also doesn’t list the day he died. What we do know is he had a terrific 1922 season as, just like Bullet Rogan, he produced from the mound and from the plate. His hitting gave him the edge over his teammate, Jim Jeffries, who pitched so well for the ABCs in 1921. Hampton is going to make this list at least one more time, but this season was the pinnacle of his career.

                There isn’t honestly a lot about Hampton in my admittedly very quick research. So here’s some information from Wikipedia on the Indianapolis ABCs. “The Indianapolis ABCs were a Negro league baseball team that played both as an independent club and as a charter member of the first Negro National League (NNL). They claimed the western championship of black baseball in 1915 and 1916, and finished second in the 1922 NNL. Among their best players were Baseball Hall of Fame members Oscar CharlestonBiz Mackey, and Ben Taylor.

                “During the off season in 1922, C. I. Taylor died and his widow Olivia continued as the club’s owner, and Ben Taylor became the playing manager. He reacquired Charleston, who led a rejuvenated ABCs squad to a 46–33 record and second-place finish. The young catcher Biz Mackey enjoyed a breakout season in 1922, and with Taylor, Charleston, and third baseman Henry Blackman keyed a prolific offense.” It’s funny, Hampton’s great season isn’t mentioned.

P-Jim Jeffries, Indianapolis ABCs, 29 Years Old

1921

208 2/3 IP, 21-12, 3.54 ERA, 88 K, 128 ERA+, 3.67 FIP, 1.256 WHIP

92 AB, .185, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .185/.235/.196, 18 OPS+

WAR-4.3

Wins Above Replacement-4.3 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.4 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 32 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins-21

Games Played-38 (2nd Time)

Saves-2 (3rd Time)

Innings Pitched-208 2/3 (2nd Time)

Games Started-21 (2nd Time)

Losses-12

Wild Pitches-7

Batters Faced-891

Def. Games as P-38 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Jeffries had his second consecutive good workhorse season, but all of those innings pitched seemed to affect him as he’d peter out after this 1922 season. He’ll pitch four more seasons and 18 more games, but he’ll never garner another win. In those latter seasons, he’d go 0-9 with a 6.08 ERA. No one would have predicted that from these last two dominant seasons for the ABCs, but the end of a career can come quickly.

                Gordon Gattle of SABR writes about a game by Jeffries on May 9, 1921. He says, “The Monday afternoon matchup featured Columbus’ Britt against Indianapolis left-hander Jeffries. Jeffries was eager for a starting assignment, and Britt wanted continued success against the ABCs.

                “Jeffries limited Columbus to three hits and one walk, and ‘looked about as good as anybody the [ABCs] have in the boxwhile Ewing issued 10 walks and was hit hard when the ball crossed the strike zone.”

                I’ll conclude with this from Gary Ashwill of Agate Type: “1) There’s been a lot of talk (in the comments here and elsewhere) about Jim Jeffries, the A.B.C.s southpaw who won 21 games against Negro league opposition in 1921.  I’ve already talked about his birthplace (Louisville, Kentucky) over at Seamheads.  As part of the new update to the DB, I’ve also been able to establish his time and place of death.  He passed away in Pulaski, Tennessee, on November 28, 1938, his death record still listing his profession as ‘Baseball Player.’” Jeffries didn’t have a great career, but for two years, was almost unstoppable.

P-Bill Force, Detroit Stars, 26 Years Old

176 1/3, 11-6, 3.83 ERA, 120 K, 118 ERA+, 3.99 FIP, 1.134 WHIP

73 AB, .274, 3 HR, 12 RBI, .274/.369/.493, 132 OPS+

WAR-4.2

Wins Above Replacement-4.2 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Detroit Stars

42-31-1, 4th in NNL

Manager Bruce Petway

OPS+-101, 4th in league

ERA+-118, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Bill Force, 4.2

Led in:

Hits per 9 IP-7.656

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.125

Strikeouts-120

Home Runs Allowed-16

Hit By Pitch-10

1st Time All-Star-William “Bill” Force was born on July 17, 1895 in Walker County, Georgia. The five-foot-nine, 165 righty pitcher and rightfielder started with Detroit in 1921 and did pretty well before having his best season ever in 1922. He was also Detroit’s best player per Wins Above Replacement. This was also the best season as a pitcher by anyone on the Stars in their short history. However, he’d never get close to a season like this again.

                There’s not much I could find on Force, but I’ll put this blurb from Wikipedia that says, “William ‘Buddie’ Force (July 17, 1895 – April 2, 1969) was an American left-handed pitcher in baseball‘s Negro leagues. He played for the Detroit Stars (1921–1923), Baltimore Black Sox (1924–1929), and Brooklyn Royal Giants (1930) and compiled a career record of 60–52 with a 4.21 earned run average and 506 strikeouts in 1,044-1/3 innings pitched. He pitched a no-hitter against St. Louis on June 27, 1922. Force was born in Walker County, Georgia, in 1895. He died in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1969 at age 73.”

                As for Detroit, it started in third place in 1920 when it was skippered by Pete Hill. He also managed the Stars in 1921 when they dropped to fifth place. This year, Bruce Petway, the Stars’ 36-year-old catcher, took over the team and they rose to fourth. It certainly had no lack of stars, no pun intended (or maybe it was), as seven Detroit players are going to make my list including three pitchers.

P-Dave Brown, Chicago American Giants, 25 Years Old

1920 1921

155 IP, 13-3, 2.90 ERA, 103 K, 156 ERA+, 3.25 FIP, 1.232 WHIP

52 AB, .058, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .058/.197/.077, -24 OPS+

WAR-4.1

Wins Above Replacement-4.1 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.4 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

37-24-1, 3rd in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-79, 7th in league

ERA+-133, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Dave Brown, 4.1

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.813 (2nd Time)

Hit By Pitch-10 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-For the third consecutive year, Brown was Chicago’s best pitcher. One thing this man didn’t add to the mix was hitting which made him different from most of the other star pitchers on this list. That’s why he was 10th in Wins Above Replacement but third in WAR for Pitchers. Brown isn’t going to have a long career, but these three initial dominant seasons helped guide Chicago to three straight Negro National League titles.

                Wikipedia says, “He had a good curveball and excellent control. He was also a good fielder and had outstanding speed, but was a weak hitter. Brown played with the Dallas Black Giants in 1917 and 1918. He was regarded as a ‘timid nice guy’ who did not cause trouble, but during his time with the Dallas Black Giants he was involved in a highway robbery. Although Brown was reported to have become a fugitive, Rube Foster agreed to pay $20,000 for Brown’s parole and he became a member of Foster’s Chicago American Giants.

                “Brown became the ace of the American Giants as they dominated negro league baseball in the early 1920s. From 1920 through 1922, he posted a 29-8 record in league games. His 11–3 record led them to a pennant win in 1921 including three victories in a playoff with the Bacharach Giants. His 8–3 record contributed to another pennant in 1922. In the winter following the 1922 season, Brown joined Oscar Charleston for the first season of the Cuban League‘s Santa Clara Leopardos.”

P-Juan Padron, Chicago American Giants, 29 Years Old

171 IP, 10-9, 2.74 ERA, 82 K, 165 ERA+, 3.27 FIP, 1.094 WHIP

62 AB, .161, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .161/.212/.390, 6 OPS+

WAR-4.0

WAR for Pitchers-4.2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Shutouts-4

1st Time All-Star-Juan Padron was born on October 20, 1892 in Key West, Florida. The six-foot, 185 pound lefty pitcher started his Major League career this season and just added to the already star-packed American Giants. Padron is going to have a short five-season career and I thought that would be because of some tragedy. That’snot the case with Padron as he is going to live to 89 years old.

                Eric of The Hall of Miller and Eric writes of Padron, “The tall righty (6’0″, 185) complemented a good fastball with good breaking stuff and a dominant changeup. There’s always been a little mystery around him. Twenty years ago James Riley shown him born in ‘Cuba’ with no death date and with no death date but a note that said he’d been reported dead at age 39. Now the Negro Leagues Database reports Padrón’s birth as 1892 in Key West, with a death in 1981 in Grand Rapids at age 89. Big differences.

                “In fact, Riley also indicates that Padrón debuted in 1909 and pitched in Cuba during the winters of 1909 to 1919. He also says that Padrón could hit. It appears that neither of those three things are true. As the amazing Gary Ashwill points out, Riley somehow conflated the record of Juan Padrón and portions of the record of Luis Padrón.

                “No difference of opinion exists in one key place: Juan Padrón was an outstanding pitcher. He’s one of the best pitchers I hadn’t heard of before starting this project. Unfortunately, his W-L record doesn’t reflect that excellence because he played with some iffy teams.”

P-Bill Holland, Detroit Stars, 21 Years Old

1920 1921

191 1/3 IP, 13-12, 3.01 ERA, 115 K, 150 ERA+, 3.19 FIP, 1.077 WHIP

64 AB, .125, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .125/.176/.125, -17 OPS+

WAR-3.5

WAR for Pitchers-3.9 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Walks & Hits per IP-1.077

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.646

Games Started-21

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-3.286

Losses-12

3rd Time All-Star-Having now made three of my lists at the age of 21, it sure looks like Holland is going to be one of the all-time greats. Well, he would be good, but just never be able to break the threshold to that next level. Still, I don’t think Detroit was complaining about him here in the early Twenties. Holland’s fiery nature allowed him to keep winning and he was the Stars’ best pitcher for these three seasons. He wouldn’t be back with them in 1923.

                The NLBPA has different stats than Baseball Reference. It says, “The 5’8″ 175-lb Holland joined his first pro team, the Detroit Stars, in 1920. In 1922 he led the league with 16 wins. Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell ranked Holland with Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams, and Bullet Joe Rogan as the best pitchers in the Negro Leagues. Though he relied mainly on the fastball, he also expertly mixed in a curve, a drop, a changeup, and an occasional emery ball.”

                Wikipedia says, “Bill Holland, a right-hander from Indianapolis, pitched 23 seasons in the Negro leagues. For the Stars in 1922, he appeared in 29 games (21 as a starter) and compiled a 13-12 record with a 3.01 ERA and 115 strikeouts. Holland’s 3.01 ERA ranked fifth best in the Negro National League during the 1922 season.

                “The Stars played their home games at Mack Park located on the east side of Detroit, about four miles from downtown, at the southeast corner of Fairview Ave. and Mack Ave. The team was owned by Tenny Blount and led on the field by catcher-manager Bruce Petway.”

P-Slim Branham, Cleveland Tate Stars, 22 Years Old

169 2/3 IP, 8-10, 4.19 ERA, 91 K, 108 ERA+, 3.63 FIP, 1.420 WHIP

62 AB, .210, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .210/.234/.274, 38 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 136 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cleveland Tate Stars

15-26-1, 7th in NNL

Manager Candy Jim Taylor

OPS+-85, 6th in league

ERA+-90, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Slim Branham, 3.3

Led in:

Assists as P-71

Errors Committed as P-5

1st Time All-Star-Finis Ernest “Slim” Branham was born on April 7, 1900 in Castalian Springs, Tennessee. The six-foot-two, 198 pound righty pitcher started with the Dayton Marcoses in 1920 and in 44 innings had a sterling 1.84 ERA. Yet when the Marcoses folded after that season, no Negro National League team picked up Slim for the 1921 campaign. This year, the Cleveland Tate Stars, a team that would last just this one season, gave him a shot and he proved himself valuable.

                Before I started writing about the Negro Leagues two seconds ago, I had never heard of Gary Ashwill, the famed historian. I should just save time and put the link to Agate Type and let you peruse all that he’s written about all of these players. I do suggest you read the rather lengthy article he has about Slim Branham and the search for his real name. Here’s just a bit:

                “2) Finest Ernest Branham signed his name ‘Finest’ on his draft card; yet it appears as ‘Finis’ in Social Security records.  His nephew, who would appear to have been named after him, appears in all the records as ‘Finis.’  He only passed away two years ago; it’s too bad no one got the chance to ask him about it.  But then, there may be other relatives around who know something about their family’s baseball connection.  (At least we probably know how ‘Finis’ was pronounced, though.)”

                Baseball Reference has Slim Branham as pitching for six seasons for various teams and dying at the age of January  19, 1957 in Cleveland. Ashwill’s research is a reminder that no Negro League stats, whether it’s performance on the field or even names and dates, are written in stone.

P-Deacon Meyers, St. Louis Stars, 22 Years Old

154 2/3 IP, 12-5, 3.67 ERA, 88 K, 123 ERA+, 3.53 FIP, 1.293 WHIP

54 AB, .222, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .222/.323/.278, 64 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-2.9 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 96 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Stars

26-36, 5th in NNL

Manager Bill Gatewood

OPS+-104, 3rd in league

ERA+-78, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Charlie Blackwell, 3.5

1st Time All-Star-George Allen “Deacon” Meyers was born on October 9, 1899 in Columbia, Tennessee. The five-foot-11, 160 pound righty pitcher and first baseman started with St. Louis in 1921 and didn’t do too well in his 42 2/3 innings. This year he shined in what is easily his best season ever. It would be the only year his ERA was under four and he would garner almost half of his career 25 wins here in 1922 due to his 12-5 record.

                There’s not a lot on Meyers in my very quick research, so here’s a bit on the St. Louis Stars from Wikipedia: “The Stars inherited almost the entire roster of the 1921 Giants (who had finished in second place), with the exception of Hall of Fame center fielder Oscar Charleston. Without Charleston, the Stars dropped to fourth place in 1922, though with a creditable 35–26 record. In 1923, they slipped badly, finishing with 28 wins and 44 losses, good for only sixth place. Midway through the year, they acquired several players from the Toledo Tigers when that team folded, including new manager Candy Jim Taylor. A 37-year-old third baseman, Taylor tied for the 1923 league lead with 20 home runs (19 hit while with St. Louis).

                “More importantly, over the next few years, Taylor put together one of the most impressive assemblages of talent in Negro league history, including Cool Papa Bell, whom Taylor converted from a left-handed pitcher into a brilliant defensive center fielder and leadoff man; Mule Suttles, first baseman and all-time Negro league home run king; Willie Wells, considered by many historians to be John Henry Lloyd‘s only serious rival as greatest shortstop in Negro league history; and Ted Trent, pitcher and wielder of one of the most effective curveballs in the league.”

                Meyers died on July 15, 1978 in Dayton, Ohio at the age of 78.

P-Andy Cooper, Detroit Stars, 24 Years Old

165 1/3 IP, 12-5, 3.70 ERA, 82 K, 122 ERA+, 3.96 FIP, 1.185 WHIP

61 AB, .148, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .148/.175/.213, 5 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR for Pitchers-3.3 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. 64 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led In:

Games Started-21

Shutouts-4

1st Time All-Star-Andrew Lewis “Andy” or “Lefty” Cooper was born on April 24, 1898 in Waco, Texas. The six-foot-two, 220 pound righty hitting, lefty pitching hurler started with the Stars in 1920, but really put it together this season on his way to a Hall of Fame career. He most likely won’t make my Hall of Fame which is based only on the recorded numbers, but perusing his stats, I think he’s a great choice for Cooperstown.

                Cooper’s Hall of Fame page says, “According to a scouting report prepared by famed Negro Leagues player and manager Buck O’Neil, Cooper had a live arm with a total command of all of his pitches, which included a running fastball, tight curveball and biting screwball.

                “’Andy never possessed the fine assortment of curves held in the supple arms of other pitchers. However, he did have what so many pitchers lack – sterling control,’ wrote Russ J. Cowans in 1941 in The Chicago Defender, one of the top African-American newspapers of the day. ‘Cooper could almost put the ball any place he wanted it to go.’

                “’In addition, Cooper had a keen knowledge of batters. He knew the weakness of every batter in the league and would pitch to that weakness when he was on the mound.’”

                I’ll have more on this later, but as good as Cooper’s stats are, there was a seven-year stretch he didn’t pitch in the Majors from 1930-to-1937. If those years were included, he would almost certainly have made my Hall of Fame.

C-Biz Mackey, Indianapolis ABCs, 24 Years Old

1921

328 AB, .369, 8 HR, 83 RBI, .369/.423/.595, 174 OPS+

WAR-4.4

Wins Above Replacement-4.4 (6th)

WAR Position Players-4.4 (5th)

Offensive WAR-4.1 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Biz is one of my favorite nicknames in baseball. It was given to him because he gave batters “the business” from his catcher position. Of course, when you can hit like this man, they have to find a place for you when you’re resting from catching and Mackey played every position this season. Did he give people “the business” at his 18 games at short, too? Who knows!

                Here’s some information from Mackey’s Hall of Fame page. It says, “Though somewhat overshadowed by such legendary names as Josh Gibson and Roy Campanella, when the Negro League’s top catchers are discussed, Biz Mackey is among those considered the greatest of his era.

                “’Actually, as much as I admired Campanella as a catcher, all-around, and Gibson as a hitter,’ said Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell, ‘I believe Biz Mackey was the best catcher I ever saw.’

                “In fact, a 1954 Pittsburgh Courier poll saw Mackey edge Gibson as the greatest Negro league catcher.”

                I’m not going to pick 1922 as Mackey’s best season ever, but it was his highest ever in WAR in his long career. It’s because he played in 90 games in which stats were recorded, the second most in his career. For the rest of his career, he’s only going to be over 70 games one more time.

C-Dan Kennard, St. Louis Stars, 38 Years Old

1920 1921

155 AB, .329, 4 HR, 31 RBI, .329/.385/.574, 157 OPS+

WAR-1.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 67 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

3rd Time All-Star-Though the Stars are in St. Louis like the Giants of previous seasons and Baseball Reference counts them as the same team, it’s technically a new squad. Charles A. Mills was the owner of this team since 1906 but after the 1921 season, he gave them up and most of the roster went from the Giants to the Stars, including Kennard. Some of this is recorded in Kennard’s 1921 write-up. The aged catcher has now made my list three straight times despite being 38.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type has a bit to say about Kennard, writing, “The second player to hit three home runs in a blackball game is truly overlooked: another catcher, a guy named Dan Kennard.  He basically has no reputation at all among Negro league historians.  He spent most of what were presumably his best years playing ball in the deep South, and didn’t make his way into big-time professional black baseball until he was 29.  The Seamheads DB has only 255 games for him, in which he hit .301/.368/.453—but, when adjusted, that actually adds up to an OPS+ of 142.  Also consider that nearly 2/3 of those games are from age 36 or later.

                “Kennard became the second player, after Santop, to hit three home runs in a blackball game, a feat he accomplished on May 4, 1913, in the uniform of the French Lick Plutos, at Northwestern Park in Indianapolis.”

                It would be interesting to know what kind of Major League career Kennard would have had if he wasn’t already 36 when the Negro National League started.

1B-Ben Taylor, Indianapolis ABCs, 33 Years Old

1920 1921

365 AB, .373, 2 HR, 70 RBI, .373/.420/.515, 153 OPS+

2 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K, 3.15 FIP, 0.500 WHIP

WAR-3.9

WAR Position Players-3.7 (7th)

Offensive WAR-3.2 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

50-34-1, 1st in NNL

Manager Ben Taylor

OPS+-106, 2nd in league

ERA+-112, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Charleston, 6.4

Led in:

Doubles-34 (2nd Time)

Singles-94 (2nd Time)

Putouts-939 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-90 (3rd Time)

Putouts as 1B-938 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-53 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.987 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Ben Taylor took over the managing reins from C.I. Taylor before the 1922 season and guided Indianapolis to the league crown…maybe. In the standings, Kansas City and Indy are tied for first:

1Kansas City Monarchs47312.6036.04.81.3
2Indianapolis ABCs50341.5956.14.71.4
3Chicago American Giants37241.6071.53.05.24.60.6
4Detroit Stars42311.5752.56.05.84.81.0
5St. Louis Stars26360.41913.048.06.16.9-0.8
6Pittsburgh Keystones14242.36813.048.05.57.1-1.7
7Cleveland Tate Stars15261.36613.551.04.65.9-1.3
8Cuban Stars West18430.29520.5100.04.87.1-2.3

                But Baseball Reference says the Chicago American Giants won the pennant, most likely because it had the highest winning percentage. That’s a good situation to have because if you’re a baseball fan from KC, Indianapolis, or Chi-town, you can claim your city as a winner.

                Wikipedia wraps up Taylor’s life, saying, “After retiring, Taylor was an active businessman, operating a poolroom and acquiring the rights to print and sell game programs at Baltimore Elite Giants games. In a 1949 Philadelphia Evening Bulletin article, Oscar Charleston selected Ben Taylor as his first baseman on his all-time All-Star team. In 1952, as the Negro league’s decline was in rapid motion, the Pittsburgh Courier polled its readers to name the greatest players of the Negro leagues. They eventually named 5 teams plus honorable mentions. Among those honored, Taylor was awarded 2nd team, first base.

                “He died at age 64 in Baltimore, Maryland.”        

1B-Edgar Wesley, Detroit Stars, 31 Years Old

307 AB, .349, 9 HR, 68 RBI, .349/.412/.541, 157 OPS+

WAR-3.4

WAR Position Players-3.4 (10th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Edgar Wooded Wesley was born 75 years before my brother, Rob, on May 2, 1891 in Waco, Texas. The five-foot-11, 215 pound lefty first baseman is the answer to a trivia question as the Negro National League’s first home run leader. He belted 11 of them in 1920 for the Stars, three ahead of his teammate, Jimmie Lyons. In 1921, he hit nine, finishing sixth in the league, and then this year, hit nine again, but it was good enough for fourth in the NNL.

                Lee Panas of Detroit Tiger Tales has this to say about Wesley, “Edgar Wesley was a big left-handed slugger and strong defensive first baseman and was considered the best all around player at his position in the early years of the Negro National League.  He was also known to be an aggressive base runner.  Indianapolis catcher Larry Brown recalled Wesley barreling into home plate so hard that he cut his chest protector: ‘My mask went one direction, my glove went the other and the ball went up to the stands’ (Richard Bak, Turkey Stearnes and the Detroit Stars).”

                Panas also mentions something I didn’t realize before and that’s that it was Major League Baseball who made the decision to recognize seven different Negro Leagues as major leagues. He says, “Historians have long considered baseball played in these leagues as comparable in quality to the White major leagues.  It is about time that they these leagues get their due recognition.” So Detroit Tiger Tales did what I’m doing and went back to retroactively write up all of these great players.

2B-Frank Warfield, Detroit Stars, 23 Years Old

1921

324 AB, .318, 0 HR, 32 RBI, .318/.369/.380, 103 OPS+

WAR-2.2

Defensive WAR-0.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as 2B-23

2nd Time All-Star-There weren’t a lot of great second basemen in the Negro National League at this time and I certainly wouldn’t give Warfield the title of “great,” but he is the best the NNL has to offer and so, for the second consecutive year, he made my list. At best, he’s an average hitter, but his fielding continued to be his strength and he constantly makes the top 10 in Baseball Reference’s Defensive WAR. I have no idea how many more times that glove will put Warfield on this list.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Reference wrote Forgotten Heroes: Frank Warfield which says, “During his career as a player he was primarily known for his defensive skills and base running abilities. Frank Warfield started his career as an outfielder and shortstop but transitioned to second base during the 1917 season. Defensively, he was considered the best second baseman in the East during the 1920’s. The double play combinations he formed with John Henry ‘Pop’ Lloyd and Dick Lundy are considered two of the best in Negro League baseball history. He was an exceptional fielder with outstanding range, good hands and he had a strong accurate throwing arm. He also possessed a unique underhand snap throw that enhanced his ability to turn the double play. Warfield’s versatility also enabled him to play third base at different times in his career. Baseball researcher Bill James in his book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract called Frank Warfield ‘a complete defensive wizard.’”

3B-John Beckwith, Chicago American Giants, 22 Years Old

1920

226 AB, .358, 7 HR, 52 RBI, .358/.415/.588, 170 OPS+

WAR-3.7

WAR Position Players-3.7 (8th)

Offensive WAR-2.9 (9th)

Defensive WAR-0.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as 3B-18

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.43

Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.34

2nd Time All-Star-I need to avoid being confused by two teams that existed in the 1920 and ’21 seasons. They were both from Chicago and one was named the American Giants and the other was just called the Giants. Beckwith was the third baseman for the Giants in 1920 and 1921 and then that team went defunct. So with no team, he didn’t leave town. Instead, he just ended up on the Chicago American Giants this season and made my list for the second time in three years. Like that squad needed any more talent!

                Wikipedia mentions his power, saying, “Standing 6-foot-3, and weighing upwards of 220 pounds, John Beckwith was one of the mightiest sluggers to ever take the field. Over a 16-year career (1918-34), the big righty, swinging his signature 38-inch bat, routinely batted over .400 against official Negro league competition.

                “A dead-pull hitter, Beckwith had one of the quickest bats around. In fact, opposing defenses sometimes employed an over-shift on the infield—a rare occurrence versus a righty. In 1921, the 19-year-old became the first basher to hit a ball over the laundry roof behind Crosley Field. Years later, he hit a 460-foot blast in Griffith Stadium; the ball would’ve gone farther had it not been stopped by a 40-foot high sign.”

                Because the NNL seasons are shorter and the stats incomplete, it’s hard to appreciate the power of Beckwith by just looking at numbers. Of course, to me it’s strange he had this reputation for power and yet never led any league in homers and only once led a league in AB per HR.

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 26 Years Old

1920 1921

329 AB, .386, 7 HR, 63 RBI, .386/.414/.541, 158 OPS+

WAR-5.0

Wins Above Replacement-5.0 (4th)

WAR Position Players-5.0 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-3.7 (6th)

Defensive WAR-1.5 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons, Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-1.5 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-187

Assists as SS-255

Double Plays Turned as SS-29

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.85 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.74 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-If it wasn’t for being on the same team as the Negro National League’s best player, Bullet Rogan, Moore might have garnered more fame. Not that he didn’t have some already as the NNL’s best shortstop for the third consecutive season. He’s not done making lists yet and is only going to be held back from making my Hall of Fame by a shortened career. We’ll save that for a write-up down the road.

                John B. Holway of SABR writes, “Like Roberto Clemente and Yogi Berra, Moore was a notorious bad-ball hitter. ‘There were no bad pitches for him,’ says Monarch second baseman Newt ‘Colt’ Allen. All the Monarchs learned to hit bad balls, Allen says, because when they barnstormed the prairie towns, the hometown umpires would call practically everything a strike. Moore used a long bat, and he’d swing overhand, bat down on the high pitches, Allen says. ‘I’d let them go, but he’d knock them two blocks. And a ball below his knees and outside was just right for him. The only way to get him out was to throw the ball right down the middle. Don’t pitch outside or inside.’

                “In the field, Moore could go deep in the hole, knock the ball down, and still get his man. What of Moore and Allen as a double play combination?

                “’Wonderful,’ says Duncan. ‘Couldn’t ask for anything better. When you see Newt Allen and Moore, you could take Charlie Gehringer, Frankie Frisch, and any of that bunch. Brother, you’re talking about a combination!’”

LF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 33 Years Old

1920 1921

318 AB, .374, 8 HR, 69 RBI, .374/.466/.553, 176 OPS+

18 IP, 1-0, 4.50 ERA, 9 K, 102 ERA+, 3.87 FIP, 1.278 WHIP

WAR-4.9

Wins Above Replacement-4.9 (5th)

WAR Position Players-4.7 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-3.9 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

On-Base %-.466

Bases on Balls-50

Def. Games as LF-78 (3rd Time)

Putouts as LF-118 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as LF-12

Double Plays Turned as LF-2

Errors Committed as OF-13

3rd Time All-Star-McNair is one of seven players to have made my list all three seasons of the Negro National League’s existence (thus far) and he had his best season ever in 1922. All three of his slash stats – batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage – were career highs. You can see those numbers above. It’s very rare, though not impossible, that a player has his best years when he’s 33, but McNair had been a good player for a long time, even if not in the so-called Major Leagues.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luiz Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote a paper called Forgotten Heroes: Hurley McNairand said, “The 1922 Kansas City Monarchs starting line-up featured an extremely productive group of hitters. Six Kansas City starters batted over .345 for the season. The Monarchs were led by the hitting of Bullet Rogan (.395 w/14 homeruns), Oscar ‘Heavy’ Johnson (.390 w/ 13 homeruns), Walter ‘Dobie Moore’ (.381 w/ 69 RBIs), Hurley McNair (.374 w/ 69 RBIs), Bartolo Portuondo (.349), Branch Russell (.345) and John Donaldson (.297).

                “Hurley McNair also led the Negro National League in on base percentage for the 1922 Negro National League season with a .511 OBP.

                “Negro League researcher, John Holway credits Hurley McNair with a .420 batting average when both ‘league’ and ‘non-league’ games are added together.”

                I’ll keep mentioning there are no official stats at this time and the numbers vary all over the place. Sometimes the stats contain non-league games and sometimes they don’t.

LF-Clarence Smith, Detroit Stars, Age unknown

310 AB, .345, 6 HR, 73 RBI, .345/.389/.529, 147 OPS+

WAR-3.1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Clarence Smith was born sometime, somewhere, but those items are not known and recorded by Baseball Reference. The five-foot-10, 185 pound righty outfielder and first baseman started his Negro National League career with the Columbus Buckeyes in 1921 and had an average season. After that team went defunct after its one season of existence, Smith came to the Stars and started hitting pretty well.

                Most of the time that information is hard to find for Negro League players, it’s because they had a short career, coming and going quickly, but Smith was around quite a while, playing 10 years for the Stars and others. It doesn’t look like Gary Ashwill of Seamheads even has that information. You can even see above there’s not a good picture of Smith.

                That is the nature of the Negro Leagues, though. They were a Major League treated as a minor league that didn’t have the organization of the National and American Leagues. The players were just as good, if not better, but the infrastructure wasn’t as, well, structured. This isn’t a rip on the Negro Leagues. In a perfect world the Negro Leagues shouldn’t have existed because there shouldn’t have been segregation. The ones missing out are the players whose careers can’t be as thoroughly examined as those in the white Major Leagues. However, what we can see are some remarkable players praised by blacks and whites alike. It would have been interesting to see how these players lined up against the likes of Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby.

CF-Oscar CharlestonIndianapolis ABCs, 25 Years Old

1920 1921

401 AB, .374, 19 HR, 102 RBI, .374/.433/.668, 195 OPS+

WAR-6.4

Wins Above Replacement-6.4 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-6.4 (1st)

Offensive WAR-5.7 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: Yes (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

WAR Position Players-6.4 (3rd Time)

Offensive WAR-5.7 (3rd Time)

Games Played-101

At Bats-401

Runs Scored-105 (3rd Time)

Hits-150 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-268 (2nd Time)

Triples-18 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-19 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-102 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-116 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-51 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-4.8 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-62 (3rd Time)

Times On Base-192 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-20.0 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as CF-91 (2nd Time)

Putouts as CF-215 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-215 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Every time I write about Charleston, I’m just amazed how good this player was. After playing for the ABCs in 1920, he played for the St. Louis Giants in 1921, but when that team was sold and became the St. Louis Stars, Charleston came back to the ABCs. He had his usual great season. Surprisingly, despite being arguably the best player in the Negro National League these first three seasons of its existence, I have yet to award him an MVP.

                Tim Odzer of SABR writes, “In 1922, thanks to St. Louis’s financial difficulties, Charleston once again returned to the ABCs. C.I. Taylor had died between the 1921 and the 1922 seasons, and ownership of the ABCs transferred to his wife, Olivia. (Charleston later spoke very positively of Taylor, crediting him with teaching him how to manage a team.) In 1922 the ABCs were led by three outstanding hitters — Biz Mackey, Ben Taylor, and Charleston. In the league’s opening doubleheader, Charleston went 6-for-8 with a home run and a double. That set the tone for his season: Of the 98 games for which box scores exist, Charleston failed to get a hit in only 16. Bill James has rated Charleston as the best player in the Negro Leagues for the 1921 and 1922 seasons.

                “After the 1922 season, Charleston married for the second time. The bride was a 27-year-old schoolteacher named Jane Howard. It was also Jane’s second marriage; her first husband had died in 1918. She often traveled with Charleston to Cuba during the winter, and several photos of them in Cuba appear in Charleston’s scrapbook. In fact, Charleston and Jane traveled to Cuba for their honeymoon, where Charleston played in the 1922-23 Cuban winter league. He and Jane had a rocky marriage, it seems, in part because Jane did not like baseball.”

CF-Charlie Blackwell, St. Louis Stars, 27 Years Old

1921

238 AB, .361, 5 HR, 55 RBI, .361/.451/.550, 171 OPS+

WAR-3.5

WAR Position Players-3.5 (9th)

Offensive WAR-2.9 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-When the St. Louis Giants were sold and became the Stars, the team was able to keep most of its previous roster, including Blackwell. He was St. Louie’s best player, though he slumped from the year before. Of course, when a player hits .405 with an OPS+ of 222 as Blackwell did in 1921, there’s not much room for improvement and a year hitting .361 with an OPS+ of 171 is definitely not to be scoffed at.

                Baseball Reference says, “Blackwell hit .361/.451/.550 with 52 runs, 55 RBI, 38 walks and 14 steals in 64 games for the St. Louis Stars in 1922, with a 186 OPS+. He tied for fifth in the NNL in triples (8, even with Clarence Smith), tied for 10th with RBI (with Rogan), tied for 7th in steals (with Lemuel Hawkins), was 4th in walks, placed 9th in average (between Mackey and [[John Beckwith]), was third in OBP (behind McNair and Rogan) and ranked 6th in OPS+. In the winter of 1922-1923, he was the fourth outfielder for Habana, behind Torriente, Jack Calvo and Marcelino Guerra. He hit .321 and slugged .423.

                Dr. Layton Revel of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research writes in Forgotten Heroes: Charlie Blackwell, “Charles Henry Blackwell passed away on April 22, 1935 in the Hines Government Hospital in Chicago. Blackwell had been residing in Proviso Township, Cook County, IL. before his illness struck him three months prior to his death. Charles was only 40 years old.”

                I can’t find what kind of illness he had.

CF-Clint Thomas, Detroit Stars, 25 Years Old

312 AB, .321, 7 HR, 67 RBI, .321/.367/.513, 137 OPS+

WAR-2.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Clinton Cyrus “Clint” Thomas was born on November 25, 1896 in Greenup, Kentucky. The five-foot-nine, 186 pound righty outfielder and second baseman started with the Columbus Buckeyes in 1921, leading the Negro National League in triples with 18 and showing significant speed. Once Columbus folded, Thomas came to Detroit and continued to show some of those skills that will put him on a few of my lists.

                Gary Joseph Cieradkowski writes, “Fortunately for Thomas, the newly formed Negro National League put a franchise in Columbus called the Buckeyes. His teammate from the Royal Giants, John Henry Lloyd, was the new team’s manager, and Thomas played the 1921 season hitting just shy of .300. Still, all the pieces weren’t right for Thomas. Because of his speed he was always shifted between second and third base, but never felt comfortable at either position and had trouble turning the double play. Then the Buckeye’s folded and Thomas was cut loose.

                “His contract was acquired by the Detroit Stars for 1922. He was still floundering at second base when fate stepped in. Regular center fielder Jessie Barber got injured, and when the right fielder was switched to center, Thomas took his place. It was a stroke of genius. In his first game as an outfielder, the fleet footed Kentuckian snatched up anything that came near him, including balls meant for the center fielder. The next game he was switched to center and a Negro League legend was born. More comfortable in his new position, Thomas loosened up and finished 1922 as the Star’s best hitter. The following year Hilldale, an eastern powerhouse club located just outside Philadelphia, poached Thomas away.”

CF-Valentin Dreke, Cuban Stars West, 24 Years Old

230 AB, .296, 1 HR, 26 RBI, .296/.372/.383, 105 OPS+

WAR-1.5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars West

18-43, 8th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-69, 8th in league

ERA+-74, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Valentin Dreke, 1.5

Led in:

Hit By Pitch-7

Errors Committed as CF-9

Double Plays Turned as CF-5

Double Plays Turned as OF-5

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-3.01

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.81

1st Time All-Star-Valentin Dreke was born on June 21, 1898 in Union de Reyes, Cuba. The five-foot-eight, 160 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing outfielder started his Major League career with the Cuban Stars West in 1920. In 1921, the team was called the Cincinnati Cuban Stars before going back to being the Cuban Stars West this season. Whatever they were called, they were pretty bad this year, but at least fans got to watch Dreke flagging down flies in center.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes about the 1922/23 Cuban League, “Of the three remaining teams, Almendares could boast of outfielders  Bernardo Baró (.403/.452/.544) and Valentín Dreke (.324), manager-shortstop Joseíto Rodríguez (.316), and minor league southpaw Eddie LePard (7-5, 2.17), but Habana would probably have been considered the favorite.  Los Leones featured both the best everyday player in Cuban baseball at the time, Cristóbal Torriente (.344/.435/.515) and the best Cuban pitcher (and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, period), Dolf Luque.  In 1923, Luque would go 27-8 with a 1.93 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds.  In the 1922/23 Cuban League, he went 11-7, 1.53.”

                Dreke would play for the Cuban Stats West through 1927 and lead the Negro National League in batting in 1924, hitting .389. However, like so many of these Cuban stars, he died young, at the age of 31 on September 25, 1929. His tragic death did not come from violence, however, but from tuberculosis. Dreke was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

RF-Heavy Johnson, Kansas City Monarchs, 27 Years Old

239 AB, .406, 11 HR, 64 RBI, .406/.450/.715, 212 OPS+

WAR-4.2

Wins Above Replacement-4.2 (8th)

WAR Position Players-4.2 (6th)

Offensive WAR-3.8 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1922 NNL Batting Title

Batting Average-.406

Slugging %-.715

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.165

Adjusted OPS+-212

Offensive Win %-.873

1st Time All-Star-Oscar “Heavy” Johnson was born on April 20, 1895 in Atchison, Kansas. The five-foot-seven, 200 pound righty outfielder and catcher played three games with the St. Louis Giants in 1920 and then didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1921. However, he was quite the pickup for the Monarchs this season as arguably the league’s best hitter. This year won’t be the only one in which hits over .400.

                Baseball Reference says, “Heavy Johnson was a big player who put up some big numbers in a relatively short career in the Negro Leagues, hitting .350 overall and winning a Triple Crown. He was in the Twenty-Fifth Infantry Wreckers, and all-black military unit (“buffalo soldiers”), from at least 1915 through 1922, spending many of his prime years in the military. He was honorably discharged in March of 1919 but reenlisted the next January. He was the catcher for the unit’s famed baseball outfit which produced other Negro League stars such as Dobie Moore. He was stationed in Hawaii from 1915-1919.

                “According to research by Gary Ashwill, an April 20, 1895 birthday appears to be correct for Johnson. The family then apparently moved to Youngstown, OH. In 1913, Johnson apparently added three years to his age to enlist in the Army and kept this false birthdate the rest of his life. Additionally, Ashwill gives an October 9, 1960 deathdate as a possibility.

                “Johnson joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1922, hitting .389/.438/.644 overall and .405 in Negro National League competition, winning a batting title as a rookie. He began the transition that year from catcher to right field.”     

RF-Oscar Owens, Pittsburgh Keystones, 28 Years Old

111 AB, .405, 5 HR, 28 RBI, .405/.463/.685, 208 OPS+

WAR-1.4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 230 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Pittsburgh Keystones

14-24-2, 5th in NNL

Manager Dizzy Dismukes (12-23-2) and Dicta Johnson (2-6-1)

OPS+-101, 5th in league

ERA+-75, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Owens, 1.4

Led in:

Errors Committed as RF-6

1st Time All-Star-William Oscar Owens was born on September 7 1893 in Reidsville, North Carolina. The five-foot-six, 155 pound righty outfielder and pitcher played just two years in the Majors – this season and in 1929 with the Homestead Grays of the American Negro League. This was the only season for the Pittsburgh Keystones and the .400 hitting Owens was the best reason to go watch them. He couldn’t field worth anything, but he sure could hit.

                I’ll print the whole write-up from Wikipedia, which admittedly isn’t much. It says, “William Oscar Owens (September 7, 1893 – April 30, 1960), nicknamed ‘Cannon Ball’, was an American Negro league pitcher between 1921 and 1931.

                “A native of Reidsville, North Carolina, Owens made his Negro leagues debut with the Homestead Grays in 1921. He played 10 seasons with the Grays, and also played for the Pittsburgh Keystones in 1922. Owens died in Washington, D.C. in 1960 at age 66.”

                For the 1923 season, I’m going to be doing write-ups for two Negro Leagues, the Negro National League and the newly formed Eastern Colored League. That means instead of writing about 25 forgotten greats, I’ll now get to write about 50 of them.

                I also don’t mean to take credit for the incredible amount of research done by people like Gary Ashwill of Seamheads and Baseball Reference. I’m just a complier, at best, who’s trying to give a taste of baseball history through the years. I’ve been glad to take this excursion into the Negro Leagues. It adds to my appreciation for the game.

1921 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Jose Leblanc, CS

P-Jim Jeffries, ABC

P-Dave Brown, CAG

P-Bill Drake, SLG

P-Roy Roberts, COB

P-Bill Holland, DS/CAG

P-Tom Williams, CAG

P-Lucas Boada, CS

P-John Taylor, COG

P-Rube Curry, KCM

C-Biz Mackey, ABC

C-Dan Kennard, SLG

1B-Ben Taylor, ABC

1B-George Carr, KCM

2B-Frank Warfield, DS

3B-Mike Herrera, CS

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

SS-John Henry Lloyd, COB

LF-Hurley McNair, KCM

CF-Oscar Charleston, SLG

CF-Cristobel Torriente, CAG

CF-Bernardo Baro, CS

RF-Bullet Rogan, KCM, 1st MVP

RF-Charlie Blackwell, SLG

RF-Crush Holloway, ABC

P-Jose Leblanc, Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 27 Years Old

1920

238 2/3 IP, 15-12, 2.53 ERA, 117 K, 152 ERA+, 3.31 FIP, 1.115 WHIP

133 AB, .263, 0 HR, 18 RBI, .263/.319/.331, 84 OPS+

WAR-7.0

Wins Above Replacement-7.0 (2nd)

WAR for Pitchers-6.2 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cincinnati Cuban Stars

29-40-1, 7th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-83, 7th in league

ERA+-111, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Jose Leblanc, 7.0

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-6.2

2nd Time All-Star-There were many tragedies in the old Negro Leagues and many short lives that went with them and Leblanc is one of those. The 27-year-old pitcher had a great year in 1921 and, if there had been such a thing, would have probably won the Cy Young Award. He was a workhorse pitcher for a poor team, but still ended up with a winning record.

                Speaking of that team, it went from being called the Cuban Stars West to the Cincinnati Cuban Stars this year.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type wraps us Leblanc’s life that ended tragically young. He writes, “On January 30, 1922, in the eighth inning of one of the games, a controversy erupted over a close play at home. Players from both teams argued with the umpires and with each other.  It went on and on. The crowd grew restless, and the argument more heated. JoséLeblanc, a pitcher for Cuba playing right field in this game, squared off against Antonio Susini, Central’s shortstop. They exchanged harsh words. Suddenly Susini lost it. With the bat he held in his hands, he struck a brutal blow to Leblanc’s head and knocked him senseless to the ground.

                “Leblanc had suffered a serious fracture in his left frontal parietal region. That night doctors operated on him, extracting several pieces of bone from his brain with tweezers. He never regained consciousness, and died the following afternoon.”

                Ashwill goes on to say Susini was charged with murder and served anywhere from 10-to-15 years in prison.

P-Jim Jeffries, Indianapolis ABCs, 28 Years Old

261 IP, 15-13, 3.03 ERA, 107 K, 127 ERA+, 3.83 FIP, 1.234 WHIP

163 AB, .252, 0 HR, 14 RBI, .252/.322/.288, 73 OPS+

WAR-6.2

Wins Above Replacement-6.2 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-5.4 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 33 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

37-37-2, 4th in NNL

Manager C.I. Taylor

OPS+-100, 3rd in league

ERA+-98, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Jim Jeffries, 6.2

Led in:

Games Played-42

Saves-3 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-261

Games Started-28

Shutouts-5

Hits Allowed-240

Batters Faced-1,090

Def. Games as P-42

1st Time All-Star-James Courtney “Jim” Jeffries was born on May 18, 1893 in Louisville. The lefty pitcher and outfielder started his Major League career with the ABCs in 1920 though, like many of these players, he had a career in the Negro Leagues before the Negro National League started. In 1920 for the ABCs, Jeffries led the NNL in saves while compiling a 7-8 record with a 3.77 ERA. Starting this year, he’d become the ABCs go-to pitcher for a couple of seasons.

                Thomas E. Merrick of SABR has an article about a duel between the two pitchers mentioned thus far – Jose Leblanc and Jim Jeffries. Here’s just a bit of it, but I suggest you read the whole thing:

                “Opposing Jeffries for this exhibition game was José Leblanc. The 27-year-old right-hander was one of the premier pitchers in the league. His 1920 performance included an 11-9 record, a 1.99 ERA — fourth best in the NNL — and 103 strikeouts, a figure topped by only one other NNL hurler. He had good control, walking only 41 batters in 167 innings.

                “The fans who came to Washington Park for this exhibition game were treated to a pitchers’ duel, with Leblanc and the Cuban Stars coming out on top, 2-0. Leblanc pitched all nine innings, striking out five, while giving up six hits and a walk. He stranded eight baserunners. Indianapolis ‘had a couple of chances to put across some runs, but Leblanc always tightened in the pinches.’

                “Jeffries also pitched a complete game. He allowed only five hits, but three were bunched in the ninth inning to produce the Cubans’ second run. Baro and Marcelino Guerra singled, and Baro scored when Matias Rios beat out a squeeze bunt. Cincinnati’s first run came in the second inning on an outfield error and an infield out. There were no extra-base hits in the game, and the only batter on either team to get two hits was Baro.”

P-Dave Brown, Chicago American Giants, 24 Years Old

1920

180 1/3 IP, 17-2, 2.50 ERA, 126 K, 154 ERA+, 2.77 FIP, 1.004 WHIP

69 AB, .174, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .174/.197/.203, 13 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.5 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

44-22-2, 1st in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-80, 8th in league

ERA+-115, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Dave Brown, 5.3

Led in:

Wins-17

Win-Loss %-.895

Walks & Hits per IP-1.004 (2nd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-6.787 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.288

Shutouts-5

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.77

2nd Time All-Star-I don’t want to disregard Brown, the star pitcher for the Negro National League’s star team, but I’d like to focus a bit on the manager of this squad, Rube Foster. The American Giants had won their second consecutive crown in this young league and it was guided by their 41-year-old manager.

                Here’s what Wikipedia says: “In 1920, Foster, Taylor, and the owners of six other midwestern clubs met in the spring to form a professional baseball circuit for African-American teams. Foster, as president, controlled league operations, while remaining owner and manager of the American Giants. He was periodically accused of favoring his own team, especially in matters of scheduling (the Giants in the early years tended to have a disproportionate number of home games) and personnel: Foster seemed able to acquire whatever talent he needed from other clubs, such as Jimmie Lyons, the Detroit Stars’ best player in 1920, who was transferred to the American Giants for 1921, or Foster’s own younger brother, Bill, who joined the American Giants unwillingly when Rube forced the Memphis Red Sox to give him up in 1926. His critics believed he had organized the league primarily for purposes of booking games for the American Giants. With a stable schedule and reasonably solvent opponents, Foster was able to improve receipts at the gate. It is also true that when opposing clubs lost money, he was known to help them meet payroll, sometimes out of his own pocket.”

                Also, a little bit from Wikipedia on Brown: “His 11–3 record led them to a pennant win in 1921 including three victories in a playoff with the Bacharach Giants.”

P-Bill Drake, St. Louis Giants, 26 Years Old

223 1/3 IP, 17-11, 3.02 ERA, 136 K, 127 ERA+, 3.09 FIP, 1.227 WHIP

92 AB, .174, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .174/.232/.217, 27 OPS+

WAR-5.1

Wins Above Replacement-5.1 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.1 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Giants

43-31-1, 3rd in NNL

Manager Dick Wallace

OPS+-114, 1st in league

ERA+-90, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Charlie Blackwell, 5.9

Led in:

Wins-17

Assists as P-107 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-9 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-William P. “Bill” Drake was born on June 8, 1895 in Sedalia, Missouri. The six-foot, 205 pound righty pitcher started his Major League career with the St. Louis Giants in 1920, leading the Negro National League in losses (14), games started (25), complete games (22), innings pitched (217 1/3), hits allowed (238), and batters faced (947). This year, Drake still pitched a lot of innings, but had more success.

                Baseball Reference says, “Bill Drake was a Negro League pitcher for a decade and a half. He is 15th all-time in the Negro Leagues in wins according to John Holway‘s statistics. Holway credits him with a 99-61 record, which is not reflect below (sic) as more recent research into 1921-1923 has reduced his record a bit. He was 0-6 in the postseason and against white major leaguers. He was known for his tendency to use the beanball to ward off hitters, giving him the nickname ‘Plunk.’

                “In 1920, Big Bill went 9-13. His 56 strikeouts ranked fifth in the Negro National League‘s first year.

“Drake was 16-9 with one save and a 3.87 RA in a fine 1921 season. He gave up only one home run in 195 1/3 IP and completed 19 of 22 starts. He tied Bullet Rogan for the NNL lead in wins and was second to Rogan in strikeouts (123-117). He hit .188/.253/.238. In an exhibition series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he was 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA.”

I’ve mentioned before even when BR is doing the write-up, its stats don’t match what it has on the player’s page. The article says Drake went 16-9, while the stats above say he went 17-11. It all has to do with what gets counted.

P-Roy Roberts, Columbus Buckeyes, 27 Years Old

245 1/3 IP, 11-16, 3.45 ERA, 126 K, 111 ERA+, 3.70 FIP, 1.255 WHIP

98 AB, .204, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .204/.243/.255, 41 OPS+

WAR-4.1

Wins Above Replacement-4.1 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 96 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Complete Games-23

Bases on Balls-99

Losses-16

Earned Runs-94

Hit By Pitch-22

Putouts as P-20

1st Time All-Star-Leroy “Roy” Roberts was born on June 21, 1894 in Florida. The righty pitcher didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1920 and this year entered the scene as, if I’m to judge by the stats, a hard-throwing, frequently wild pitcher. He would have a long Negro League career, but never be able to live up to his 1921 season. It was only in 1927 with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants of the Eastern Colored League that he pitched over 10 games again, but his ERA that season was 5.19.

                There’s not much on Roberts out there, but Wikipedia says, “Leroy (“Roy,” “Everready”) Roberts (June 21, 1894 – January 1, 1964) was a pitcher in baseball’s Negro leagues from 1916 to 1934. He played for several teams, but was mostly associated with the Bacharach Giants. In 1921 he spent a season as the ace pitcher of the Columbus Buckeyes, leading the Negro National League in innings pitched and several other categories while compiling a 7-15 record. His primary pitch was the fastball.”

                As usually happens with new ventures, there are adjustments to make and that was certainly the case with the NNL. There were a couple of team changes. The Cuban Stars West became the Cincinnati Cuban Stars and the Dayton Marcos squad was sold to two Columbus businessmen and renamed the Columbus Buckeyes. This would be the only season for the Buckeyes, who struggled on the field and at the ticket booth, while the Marcoses would come back in 1926 in the NNL.

P-Bill Holland, Detroit Stars/Chicago American Giants, 20 Years Old

1920

218 IP, 15-14, 3.39 ERA, 140 K, 114 ERA+, 3.24 FIP, 1.193 WHIP

87 AB, .105, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .105/.181/.105, -18 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Detroit Stars

30-33-1, 5th in NNL

Manager Pete Hill

OPS+-92, 4th in league

ERA+-98, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Bill Holland, 3.0

Chicago American Giants Team Stats

Led in:

Strikeouts-140

2nd Time All-Star-This is the second consecutive list for the fiery Holland and he’s got quite a few more coming. He made my All-Star team as a pitcher for Detroit last season and this year, pitched most of the year with the Stars before moving to the star-packed, pennant-winning Chicago American Giants. By the beginning of the 1922 Negro National League season, Holland would be back on Detroit. Devil, as he was known, is just at the beginning of a career that will carry him to many teams in four different Negro Major Leagues.

                Donna L. Hapler of SABR writes that one of Holland’s teammates pitched the NNL’s first no-hitter. She says, “On June 6, 1921, Bill Gatewood of the Detroit Stars pitched the Negro National League’s first no-hitter, defeating the Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 4-0.

                “Gatewood was a veteran pitcher, known for his spitball as well as for his versatility, and in 1921, he was part of a pitching rotation that included Bill Holland (real name Elvis William Holland), Andy Cooper, and William Force. And Gatewood was not just a reliable presence on the mound; he also got his share of good at-bats. In fact, in his no-hit game, he had a home run. The Chicago Defender’s Frank “Fay” Young noted that Gatewood was even used as a pinch-hitter sometimes, and also referred to him as ‘one of the mainstays of the Detroit Stars … and partly responsible for their position at the top.’”

                Gatewood made my list last year, but at 39-years-old, fell off a bit this season.

P-Tom Williams, Chicago American Giants, 24 Years Old

1920

159 2/3 IP, 14-8, 2.82 ERA, 77 K, 136 ERA+, 3.39 FIP, 1.127 WHIP

57 AB, .088, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .088/.103/.088, -46 OPS+

WAR-3.0

WAR for Pitchers-3.6 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Rube Foster’s Giants had quite a pitching staff as, for the second consecutive year, they have three pitchers on this list. It’s part of the explanation of why the Chicago American Giants dominated the Negro National League at the beginning of its existence. Williams’ sophomore year wasn’t as good as his rookie year, but he was still one of the NNL’s best pitchers. Even though he’s only 24, he’s probably got just one more list left.

                One of the things we don’t see recorded by Baseball Reference is the names of the ballparks in which these Negro League teams played or any kind of park factors. I’m not sure why that is but my guess is because there was a lot of bouncing around and barnstorming going on in those days. However, Foster’s Giants did have a home ballpark. Wikipedia has the details, saying, “The third South Side Park, the best known and longest lived venue by that name, was on the north side of 39th Street (now called Pershing Road).

                “Meanwhile, South Side Park became the home of the newly formed Negro league baseball team called the Chicago American Giants in 1911. It was renamed Schorling’s Park for team owner Rube Foster‘s white business partner, John C. Schorling, a south side saloon keeper who leased the grounds and happened to be Comiskey’s son-in-law.

                “The American Giants played their games there through the 1940 season. Then on Christmas Day of 1940, Schorling’s Park was destroyed by fire. The American Giants would play their remaining 10 seasons at Comiskey Park. Today, the Chicago Housing Authority‘s Wentworth Gardens housing project occupies the site.”

                Can you believe Foster had a white business partner?

P-Lucas Boada, Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 28 Years Old

141 1/3 IP, 7-8, 3.18 ERA, 50 K, 121 ERA+, 3.33 FIP, 1.189 WHIP

79 AB, .241, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .241/.286/.291, 63 OPS+

WAR-2.9

WAR for Pitchers-2.9 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 62 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as P-4.97

Range Factor/Game as P-3.71

1st Time All-Star-Lucas Boada was born in 1893 in Matanzas, Cuba. The five-foot-10 righty pitcher, outfielder, and third baseman didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1920, so this was his Major League debut year. He’d pitch four seasons for the Cuban Stars, but never have a better year than this one. His ERA was 3.18 this season, but it would be over five during the next three years. He was one of the better hitting pitchers in the NNL, so the Stars played him one game at first, three games at second, and five games at right.

                Dr. Layton Revel wrote a book in 2017 for the Center for Negro League Baseball Research called Early Pioneers of the Negro Leagues and writes on the Cincinnati Cuban Stars, saying, “Before the start of the 1921 season the Cuban Stars (West) moved to Cincinnati (OH) and called Northside Park and Redland Field as their home ball parks. The team was referred to as both the Cincinnati Cubans and the Cincinnati Cuban Stars in 1921. As he had been for years, Agustin ‘Tinti’ Molina returned to the United States as the field manager for the Cuban Stars. Tinti Molina is sometimes referred to as the owner of the team but Abel Linares was always the owner of the team. Most often Linares was more of the ‘money man’ behind the scenes.

                “The Cuban Stars starting line-up was fairly productive during the 1921 Negro National League season and compiled a .254 team batting average. Bernardo Baro (.343), Valentin Dreke (.296), Bienvendio ‘Hooks’ Jimenez (.292) and Marcelino Guerra (.260) paced the team in hitting. Julio Le Blanc (14-8), Lucas Boada (7-5) and Jose ‘Cheche’ Suarez (6-11) comprised the starting rotation for the Cuban Stars. Claudio Manela also pitched for the Stars during the season.”

                I have no date for Boada’s death.

P-John Taylor, Chicago Giants, Unknown age

155 IP, 6-14, 2.90 ERA, 71 K, 132 ERA+, 3.18 FIP, 1.206 WHIP

53 AB, .113, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .113/.175/.170, -2 OPS+

WAR-2.5

WAR for Pitchers-2.7 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 99 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago Giants

10-35-2, 8th in NNL

Manager Joe Green

OPS+-83, 6th in league

ERA+-85, 8th in league

WAR Leader-John Taylor, 2.5

Led in:

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.336

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-3.087

1st Time All-Star-John Taylor was born at sometime, somewhere, but Baseball Reference doesn’t know when or where. He was a righty throwing pitcher who had a short four-year career spread over six years in two leagues. In an era full of wild throwers, Taylor had good control as seen by his league-leading 1.336 walks per nine innings. He walked just 23 batters. Taylor will be the only representative for a poor Chicago Giants squad.

                It’s up to Gary Ashwill on Agate Type to fill in some details. However, according to Ashwill, it seems Baseball Reference has made a mistake. He writes, “There were no fewer than three Negro league pitchers of (some) consequence named John Taylor—Steel Arm Johnny TaylorJohn “Red” Taylor, and Schoolboy Johnny Taylor.  Probably the least known of these three, Red Taylor pitched for the Chicago Giants and New York Lincoln Giants in the 1920s. (The baseball-reference.com Negro leagues site has wrongly attributed his pitching for the Chicago Giants in 1920 and 1921 to Steel Arm Taylor.)

                “Taylor was a right-handed pitcher who used an emery ball, which, as Ben Taylor remarked sardonically in 1925, ‘has been declared illegal in all leagues except the Eastern [Colored] League’ (Baltimore Afro-American, January 17, 1925, p. A7).  According to the Chicago Defender (April 24, 1920), Taylor had ‘created quite a stir down East, where he was a member of the same club from which Tom Williams was secured; he is an overseas hero, is of fine physique, has a world of smoke on his offerings and knows the game.’”

                That’s part of the problem with doing these lists is there’s still a huge lack of information out there.

P-Rube Curry, Kansas City Monarchs, 22 Years Old

1920

193 IP, 14-11, 3.17 ERA, 102 K, 121 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 1.088 WHIP

94 AB, .191, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .191/.224/.298, 47 OPS+

WAR-2.4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Kansas City Monarchs

54-41, 2nd in NNL

Manager Sam Crawford

OPS+-104, 2nd in league

ERA+-113, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bullet Rogan, 8.1

2nd Time All-Star-Curry made his second consecutive All-Star team and made it by a fluke. One of the best pitchers in the league, Bullet Rogan, hasn’t been mentioned yet because I put him as a rightfielder. If I would have placed him on the list as a pitcher, his teammate, Curry, wouldn’t have made it. Not that Rube didn’t have a good season. He was one of the best pitchers on the 2nd best team in the league, tossing a lot of Ks, while still maintaining good control.

                There is a lot of dispute between those who spell this pitcher’s name Curry and those who spell it Currie. Gary Ashwill of Agate Type, the great Negro League historian, has a whole article on it. Here’s part of it:

                “Reuben “Rube” Curry was a top-notch right-handed pitcher for several winning ballclubs in the 1920s Negro and Cuban leagues, including the Kansas City Monarchs, Hilldale Club, Santa Clara Leopards, and Chicago American Giants. In the addendum to Riley’s Biographical Encyclopedia (p. 933), his name is given as George Reuben Currie, born July 17, 1898, in Kansas City, Missouri, and died September 1968, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This information, as it turns out, is entirely incorrect.

                “Well, when I started systematically compiling a database I decided that, wherever possible, I would try as much as possible to bypass secondary sources and go straight to the original evidence—that is, what people were called (or called themselves) at the time, when they were in their heyday, when the Negro leagues still existed. In the matter of spelling, I try to go with how the player in question actually spelled his name. If he changed the way he spelled it during his life, I go with how he spelled it while he was an active player.

                “In the case of Curry, we have first his World War I draft card (above), dating from 1918 (the year before he went pro with Gilkerson’s Union Giants), which he himself signed ‘Reuben Curry.’”

                Click on the link to see the whole article and the actual signature.

C-Biz Mackey, Indianapolis ABCs, 23 Years Old

.330, 8 HR, 70 RBI, .330/.377/.499, 146 OPS+

11 IP, 0-2, 5.73 ERA, 8 K, 69 ERA+, 5.68 FIP, 1.455 WHIP

WAR-2.8

WAR Position Players-3.1 (10th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. 55 percent chance)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-James Raleigh “Biz” Mackey was born on July 27, 1897 in Caldwell County, TX. The six-foot-one 235 pound catcher, shortstop, and first baseman started his Hall of Fame Major League career off in 1920 for the ABCs and had a good season, hitting .312 with a 126 OPS+, but fell short of making my list. Well, his hitting is going to go nuts for the next few seasons and there’s no doubt why he’s in Cooperstown.

                Chris Rainey of SABR writes, “Mackey’s work at bat and behind the plate earned him a contract for 1921. He wintered in Texas and played ball there before returning to Indiana for spring training in early April. Indianapolis opened the season with two wins over the Cuban Stars, but quickly fell off the pace after that. Mackey was even forced to take the mound and took three losses during the campaign. At the plate he hit .304, tied for the team lead in triples, and punched three home runs.

                “The nickname ‘Biz’ first started to appear in 1923. Both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Courier were using it by the end of the season. Mackey was a friendly, loquacious fellow with a competitive streak. He was known for giving the batter an earful when at the plate, hoping to break their concentration and focus. This ‘giving them the business’ earned him the nickname of ‘Biz.’ It should be noted that he was not the first ‘Biz’ Mackey to make the sports pages. A featherweight boxer who twice had world-championship matches against Abe Attell — yes that Attell of Black Sox infamy — had appeared in headlines for two decades as the catcher grew up.”

C-Dan Kennard, St. Louis Giants, 37 Years Old

1920

169 AB, .325, 2 HR, 38 RBI, .325/.370/.467, 135 OPS+

WAR-1.4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 68 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Kennard becomes the first catcher to make two All-Star teams on my list as his steady hitting and defense made him one of the best at his position. He split catching duties with another 37-year-old man named Sam Bennett. Bennett’s hitting wasn’t near what Kennard’s was so the Giants lost a lot when Dan wasn’t in the lineup. Of course, now that were both 37, neither of them were going to have long Major League careers.

                Wikipedia has a history of the Giants, saying, “The St. Louis Stars, originally the St. Louis Giants, were a Negro league baseball team that competed independently from as early as 1906 to 1919, and then joined the Negro National League (NNL) for the duration of their existence. After the 1921 season, the Giants were sold by African-American promoter Charlie Mills to Dick Kent and Dr. Sam Sheppard, who built a new park and renamed the club the Stars. As the Stars, they eventually built one of the great dynasties in Negro league history, winning three pennants in four years from 1928 to 1931.

                “In 1906, Charles A. Mills, an African-American bank messenger and baseball fan who wanted to upgrade the team, approached Conrad Kuebler, a white man who owned a ballpark, and convinced him to invest in the team. He then persuaded the Leland Giants to visit St. Louis to play against his team. Mills discovered that the Leland Giants’ star third baseman, Dick Wallace wanted a change of scenery, and persuaded him to join the St. Louis Giants as the team’s playing manager.”

Head & shoulders portrait of newly inducted Hall of Famer, Ben Taylor, 1st baseman of the Negro Leagues. Photo taken from team portrait of the 1915 Indianapolis ABC’s.

1B-Ben Taylor, Indianapolis ABCs, 32 Years Old

1920

408 AB, .392, 3 HR, 89 RBI, .392/.448/.520, 172 OPS+

10 1/3 IP, 1-0, 0.87 ERA, 5 K, 457 ERA+, 3.04 FIP, 1.161 WHIP

WAR-6.0

Wins Above Replacement-6.0 (4th)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-4.7 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-106

At Bats-408

Plate Appearances-460

Hits-160

Total Bases-212

Doubles-25

Singles-123

Times On Base-201

Putouts-1,153 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-106 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,153 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-61 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-56 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.95

Fielding % as 1B-.987

2nd Time All-Star-Old Reliable is back and had his best Major League season. Of course, Taylor’s problem was his Major League career started when he was 31, so my stats don’t account for the many seasons he played before his 1920 year with the ABCs. The Negro League Committee certainly knew all of that though and they put him in Cooperstown in 2006. Should I take any of this into account for my Hall of Fame? Well, I probably should, but I won’t because I’ve still got over 150 of these seasons to do and I’ve got to get going! (Even that little aside put me behind!)

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes the following on the ABCs: “The Indianapolis ABCs often played games against major black teams (especially the Cuban Stars) in various small or medium-sized Indiana towns.  In 1921, the ABCs played:

“1) the American Giants in Gary, Indiana, on July 9
2) the Monarchs in Anderson, Indiana, on July 16
3) the Cuban Stars in Kokomo, Indiana, on August 25
4) the Cuban Stars in Frankfort, Indiana, on August 26
5) the Detroit Stars in Muncie, Indiana, on August 27
6) the Columbus Buckeyes in Lebanon, Indiana, on September 2

“Also: there are several games played in Indianapolis for which I have found no box scores, most notably the famous 18-to-18 game.  I have checked the Indianapolis StarIndianapolis NewsIndiana Daily Times, and Indianapolis World.  All or some of the city’s black papers–the Freeman, Recorder, and Ledger–may have been publishing that year, but I have been unable to obtain them.”

What Ashwill does is research and what I do is garbage compared to that. I’m just compiling all of this research into what is hopefully a handy guide.

1B-George Carr, Kansas City Monarchs, 26 Years Old

1920

390 AB, .323, 14 HR, 73 RBI, .323/.389/.518, 155 OPS+

WAR-3.5

WAR Position Players-3.5 (8th)

Offensive WAR-4.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Carr made my list for the second consecutive year, as one of the top power hitters in this league with 14 homers, one behind Negro National League leader, Oscar Charleston, who had 15. It should be noted at this time in baseball history, Babe Ruth had just started making the long ball part of the game’s strategy and even in the Negro Leagues at this time there weren’t a lot of high dinger numbers.

                My wife and I took a quick trip to Kansas City to have dinner with her nieces and, had we been there longer and not during the Covid era, I would have liked to seen the Negro Leagues Museum. I remember a few years ago reading a lot of Joe Posnanski, the sports writer from KC, and he spoke a lot about that museum and the man most responsible for it, Buck O’Neil.

                Posnanski loved O’Neil and after reading Joe’s writing, so did I. He displayed such a positive attitude in all aspects of his life. He wasn’t voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame and here’s how he responded, according to Wikipedia:

                “God’s been good to me. They didn’t think Buck was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s the way they thought about it and that’s the way it is, so we’re going to live with that. Now, if I’m a Hall of Famer for you, that’s all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck. Don’t weep for Buck. No, man, be happy, be thankful.”

2B-Frank Warfield, Detroit Stars, 22 Years Old

318 AB, .264, 2 HR, 34 RBI, .264/.346/.362, 100 OPS+

WAR-2.4

Defensive WAR-1.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 28 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.02

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.90

1st Time All-Star-Frank Warfield was born on April 28, 1899 in Pembroke, Kentucky. The five-foot-seven, 160 pound righty second and third baseman started his Major League career with the Stars in 1920, playing 64 games and hitting .281 before moving to the champion Chicago American Giants, with which he played four games, hitting .182. This year, he started again on Detroit and would be with it a couple of seasons. Warfield is never going to be a great hitter, but his glove might put him on a few more lists.

                The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum quotes the book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, who writes, “A native of Indianapolis, he began his career in 1914 with the St. Louis Giants, but appeared briefly as a reserve left fielder with C.I. Taylor‘s Indianapolis ABCs in 1915. He spent most of the next season back with the St. Louis Giants as a shortstop, usually hitting third in the batting order. After only a year in St. Louis, C.I. Taylor engineered his return to the ABCs, where the middle infielder played for two seasons, one each at second base and shortstop.

                “Although hobbled by a sprained ankle during the latter year, he hit .240 and .324 in 1917-1918 while batting in the lower half of the lineup with the ABCs. In 1919 he joined Tenny Blount’s Detroit Stars as part of an aggregation that was probably the greatest team in Detroit’s history. Beginning in 1920, with the first year of the Negro National League, Warfield batted leadoff for the Stars, hitting .271, .269, and .342 for the 1920-1922 seasons.”

3B-Mike Herrera, Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 23 Years Old

317 AB, .246, 1 HR, 16 RBI, .246/.311/.309, 75 OPS+

1/3 IP, 0-1, 108.00 ERA, 1 K, 8 ERA+, -2.86 FIP, 15.000 WHIP

WAR-1.4

Defensive WAR-1.6 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 96 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Ramon “Mike” Herrera was born on December 19, 1897 in La Habana, Cuba. The five-foot-six, 147 pound righty third and second baseman started his Major League career in 1920 with the then-named Cuban Stars West and didn’t get off to a great start. This season, his glove put him on my list due to a lack of good players at the hot corner. Last year’s entry, the Kansas City Monarch’s Bartolo Portuondo, hit better than Herrera, but didn’t have his mitt.

                Bill Nowlin of SABR writes, “Were the Boston Red Sox the last major-league team to sign a black player? Or were they one of the first? Did the Red Sox actually have a black ballplayer long before Pumpsie Green and 22 years before Jackie Robinson debuted with the Dodgers? Havana’s Ramon ‘Mike’ Herrera totaled 276 at-bats in 1925 and 1926 while serving as a second baseman for the Red Sox (an even .275 batting average). He also played for Negro League teams both before and after his stretch with Boston, one of just 11 players who played in both the Negro Leagues and major leagues before World War II.

                “Photographs of Mike Herrera seem to show that he could easily ‘pass’ for white, and for those who want to measure such things, he may have been more white than black. So did he have to ‘pass for black’ when he was in the Negro Leagues? Not really, Bolton explained. There were a number of light-skinned players in the Negro Leagues and even more ‘white’ Cubans. These players were used to playing together in Latin America. It was only in the United States that they were segregated.”

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 25 Years Old

1920

244 AB, .324, 8 HR, 56 RBI, .324/.355/.566, 158 OPS+

WAR-4.0

WAR Position Players-4.0 (5th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (10th)

Defensive WAR-1.6 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-1.6

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.00 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.78 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Moore, the slick-fielding, great hitting man from Atlanta, continued to be the best shortstop in the Negro National League. I don’t know how much stock to put in Baseball Reference’s Defensive WAR, but he led the NNL in that stat telling us what many people have already concluded, that he could field with the best of them. In 1920, Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians, one of the best shortstops in the Majors, was killed by a pitch from Carl Mays. If things had been different, Cleveland could have picked up this man, whom Casey Stengel rated highly indeed. (Read Moore’s 1920 blurb for more info.)

                Wikipedia says, “Born in Georgia, Moore served in the United States Army and played for the 25th Infantry Wreckers from 1916 to 1920, along with Bullet Rogan and other future Negro leaguers. He went directly to the Monarchs in mid-season 1920, where he was the league’s top shortstop until his career ended. 5’11” and 230 pounds, he fielded his position with Gold Glove ability and hit for a .359 lifetime batting average with better than average power and speed.”

                Meanwhile, John B. Holway of SABR mentions, “Dobie wasn’t popular with all the Monarchs. ‘Some fellows on the team didn’t care too much for him,’ says utility-man Carroll ‘Dink’ Mothell. ‘He was outspoken. If you were doing something he didn’t like, he’d tell you about it. If you resented it, he didn’t stop at that, he’d keep on telling you your faults. The way he talked to you, a person might resent it.’”

SS-John Henry Lloyd, Columbus Buckeyes, 37 Years Old

362 AB, .348, 0 HR, 54 RBI, .348/.392/.448, 136 OPS+

WAR-3.8

WAR Position Players-3.8 (6th)

Offensive WAR-3.7 (6th)

Defensive WAR-0.6 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1977)

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Columbus Buckeyes

30-38-1, 6th in NNL

Manager John Henry Lloyd

OPS+-89,  5th in league

ERA+-95, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Roy Roberts, 4.1

Led in:

Def. Games as SS-90

Putouts as SS-256

Assists as SS-252

Double Plays Turned as SS-32

Fielding % as SS-.955

1st Time All-Star-John Henry “Pop” Lloyd was born on April 25, 1884 in Palatka, Florida. The five-foot-11, 180 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing second baseman, shortstop, and first baseman didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1920, but started this year as the manager and shortstop of the Columbus Buckeyes, the only year of their existence as a Major League team. He was already 37 by the time he came into the Major Leagues, but his reputation allowed him to be inducted into Cooperstown in 1977.

                Wikipedia says, “John Henry ‘Pop’ Lloyd (April 25, 1884 – March 19, 1964),nicknamed ‘El Cuchara’, was an American baseball shortstop and manager in the Negro leagues. He is generally considered the greatest shortstop in Negro league history, and Babe Ruth reportedly believed Lloyd to be the greatest baseball player ever.

                “Known for his gentlemanly conduct, Lloyd was probably the most sought-after African-American player of his generation. “Wherever the money was, that’s where I was,” he once said. His career record bears this out, showing him constantly moving from team to team.

                “In 1921, he was hired to organize a new team in Foster’s young Negro National League. Lloyd’s Columbus Buckeyes were not a notable success, however, on the field or in the box office, finishing seventh in a field of eight, and folded upon season’s end. The following year, Lloyd was back in the east managing the Bacharach Giants, who had moved to New York City.”

                My loyal reader, V, mentioned I need to come up with a different method for my Hall of Fame for the Negro Leagues since so many players, like Lloyd, already had their best years behind them by the time the NNL started. When you look at a player like this man, I can see his point.

LF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 32 Years Old

1920

392 AB, .344, 10 HR, 78 RBI, .344/.388/.533, 158 OPS+

19 IP, 1-1, 3.32 ERA, 9 K, 118 ERA+, 3.14 FIP, 1.105 WHIP

WAR-3.6

WAR Position Players-3.6 (7th)

Offensive WAR-3.6 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-89 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-McNair made my list for the second consecutive year and has a few more of these lists to go. He was 32 years old already, but he’s still got some good seasons left, including his best ever. McNair is one of five Monarchs to make my list and it’s a surprise to me they didn’t win the league. They just couldn’t match the pitching of Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants, but the Monarchs sure could hit.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luiz Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote a paper called Forgotten Heroes: Hurley McNair and say about their subject: “McNair put up excellent numbers at the plate and was the team’s leading hitter for the 1921 Negro National League season.

                “Rube Currie (13-8) and Bullet Rogan (12-8) led Kansas City’s pitching staff in ‘league’ play in 1921. Rogan has been credited with a record of 20-11 (.645) when games against ‘league’ and ‘non-league’ opponents were added together. Also pitching for the Monarchs in 1921 were Zack ‘Hooks’ Foremen (6-4), Sam Crawford (6-6) and Cliff Bell (3-2).

                “After the regular 1921 season was over, the Kansas City Monarchs lost an eight game series to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association. The Blues won five of the eight games. Kansas City also played a post season exhibition game against the Major League All Stars who were led by Carl Mays and Wall Schang. The Monarchs lost the game to the ‘Big Leaguers’ by a score of 3 to 5.”

CF-Oscar Charleston, St. Louis Giants, 24 Years Old

1920

284 AB, .433, 15 HR, 91 RBI, .433/.512/.736, 250 OPS+

11 IP, 0-0, 5.73 ERA, 8 K, 69 ERA+, 2.50 FIP, 1.727 WHIP

WAR-5.9

WAR Position Players-6.1 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-6.4 (2nd Time)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

1921 NNL Batting Title

1921 NNL Triple Crown

WAR Position Players-6.1 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-6.4 (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.433

On-Base %-.512

Slugging %-.736

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.248

Runs Scored-104 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-15

Runs Batted In-91

Adjusted OPS+-250

Runs Created-105 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-57

Adj. Batting Wins-5.7

Extra Base Hits-44 (2nd Time)

Offensive Win %-.926

Power-Speed #-20.4

AB per HR-18.9

2nd Time All-Star-Wow, look at this season from Charleston. He could’ve easily won my Most Valuable Player but I’m giving it to someone who had a very Shohei Otahni like season. Still, that doesn’t take away from what Charleston did.

                As incredible as Charleston’s season was, it was still not as good as Babe Ruth’s in a lot of key stats including on-base plus slugging. Ruth’s was 1.359 and Charleston’s was 1.248. This was despite Charleston hitting .433.

                Tim Odzer of SABR writes, “Now in demand, Charleston was sold to the St. Louis Giants for the 1921 season. He took pride in his purchase price, clipping a newspaper article that stated he was worth more than Rogers Hornsby or Babe Ruth. He had another strong campaign during which he led the Negro National League in home runs, hitting 15 in 339 plate appearances. In fact, there were three occasions during the season on which Charleston hit two home runs in one game. Because of his surge in power, newspapers started to call him the colored Babe Ruth; this is the major-league player to whom Charleston was most frequently compared during the 1920s. Charleston also stole 32 bases and hit .433. After the 1921 season, Charleston spent the winter in Los Angeles and played in the California Winter League. He hit .405 as the Colored All-Stars went 25-15-1 and posted a winning record in games against teams that included both major- and minor-league players. By the end of the California Winter League season, the Los Angeles press proclaimed Charleston to be the second greatest living player, behind only Babe Ruth.”

Head & shoulders posed portrait of newly inducted Hall of Famer, Cristobal Torriente, centerfielder for the Chicago American Giants of the Negro Leagues. Photo taken from 1920 Chicago American Giants 165.79 PD

CF-Cristobal Torriente, Chicago American Giants, 27 Years Old

1920

290 AB, .352, 12 HR, 74 RBI, .352/.430/.593, 187 OPS+

37 1/3 IP, 3-1, 2.89 ERA, 21 K, 134 ERA+, 2.49 FIP, 1.179 WHIP

WAR-4.9

Wins Above Replacement-4.9 (2nd Time)

WAR Position Players-4.6 (4th)

Offensive WAR-4.2 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as CF-.975

2nd Time All-Star-Last year’s Negro National League Most Valuable Player had another great year and was again a big part of the Chicago American Giants winning the pennant. He’ll never have another season as good as his 1920 year, but during the first half of the 1920s, there weren’t going to be too many players better than this Cuban centerfielder. He didn’t lead in any offensive stats this season, but that’s because that other Hall of Fame player from his position dominated them all. See Oscar Charleston above.

                 SABR has a couple articles on Torriente for the 1921 season, one about him scoring the winning run in the American Giants’ 13th consecutive win on June 20 and one about an exhibition game against an all-time great Joe McGinnity, who was 48 at the time. You can find them both online, but I’m going to put just a bit from the McGinnity article, written by Stephen V. Rice.

                “The Staley team [for whom McGinnity toiled] faced a formidable nonleague opponent, the Chicago American Giants, in a three-game series at Staley Field on July 14-16, 1921. Managed by Andrew “Rube” Foster, the American Giants were the defending champions of the Negro National League. Foster’s team featured Cristóbal Torriente, a Cuban slugger called ‘the black Babe Ruth.’

                “Dave Brown pitched a complete game and struck out 11. The American Giants collected 21 hits, setting a record for the most hits by a visiting team at Staley Field. DeMoss had four hits, Torriente had three, and the seven other American Giants had two hits apiece.”

CF-Bernardo Baro, Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 25 Years Old

1920

300 AB, .343, 7 HR, 64 RBI, .343/.392/.520, 156 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR Position Players-3.3 (9th)

Offensive WAR-3.1 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 62 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as CF-2

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-2.29

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.22

2nd Time All-Star-Life expectancy for Cuban players certainly wasn’t long during this era. Baro’s teammate, Jose Leblanc, would die before the 1922 season and Baro would die by the age of 34 and I’ll have more on that in a bit. This was Baro’s best season ever and there’s not much chance he’ll make my list again, despite the fact he’s only 25 at this time. Of course, ages in the Negro National League and especially those of the Cuban players are always hard to determine.

                Negro Leagues Baseball Museum eMuseum page quotes from the book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, saying “Playing in his homeland during the winter seasons, primarily with Almendares, he had a lifetime Cuban League batting average of .313 for an intermittent eleven-year career that scanned the period of 1915-1929. His best year came in 1922-1923, when he led the league with a .401 average. Other sterling seasons showed averages of .364 and .352 (1918-1920), two consecutive seasons of .309 (1925-1927), and .311 (1928-1929). Playing with Almendares in a 1920 series against the New York Giants, he hit .405, with I home run and 6 doubles in 37 at-bats for a slugging average of .649. In honor of his great career, he was elected to the Cuban Hall of Fame in 1945.

                “In 1929, while playing in the Negro Leagues, Baro suffered a ‘mental collapse’ and had to be restrained with a straitjacket. The next year, he closed out his Negro Leagues career with a lifetime batting average of .302, after appearing with the Kansas City Monarchs for a portion of the season. After leaving the Monarchs he returned to Cuba, and a short time later, in June 1930, he died suddenly in his homeland.”

RF-Bullet Rogan, Kansas City Monarchs, 27 Years Old

259 AB, .305, 6 HR, 47 RBI, .305/.384/.483, 144 OPS+

204 IP, 16-8, 1.72 ERA, 124 K, 223 ERA+, 3.34 FIP, 1.172 WHIP

WAR-8.1

Wins Above Replacement-8.1 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-5.3 (4th)

Defensive WAR-0.5 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

1921 NNL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-8.1

Earned Run Average-1.72

Wild Pitches-5

Adjusted ERA+-223

Adj. Pitching Runs-40

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.1

1st Time All-Star-Charles Wilber “Bullet” Rogan was born on July 28, 1893 In Oklahoma City. The five-foot-seven, 160 pound righty outfielder, pitcher, and second baseman started with the Monarchs in 1920 and had a decent season, but as they say, you ain’t seen nothing’ yet. He had a great season as a pitcher and also played regularly in rightfield, hitting over .300 with a 144 OPS+. With these two skills combined, I had no choice but to give Rogan the Negro National League Most Valuable Player.

                Bill Thompson of Banished to the Pen writes, “Come 1921, Rogan had already established himself as one of the most important faces in all of baseball. He didn’t look the part of an all-world baseball player, but he certainly played the part. The short, stocky, and chunky two-way player’s 1921 season with the Monarchs is the sort that just makes you go, [Wow!]. In his 8.9 (2.4 on offense, and 5.3 pitching) sWAR season, he slashed .298/.373/.476 with 7 home runs, 19 stolen bases, and a .385 wOBA in 294 plate appearances. The right-handed hurler sported an ERA of 1.79, a WHIP of 1.18, and ERA+ of 217, while holding opponents to a .225 BAA in 220.2 innings. Let those numbers wash over you for a minute, because they are…impressive. Go ahead, take as much time as you want, they give me the sweats too.”

                There’s a good chance Rogan will be the first Negro League inductee into my Hall of Fame. It will be between him and Oscar Charleston.

RF-Charlie Blackwell, St. Louis Giants, 26 Years Old

294 AB, .405, 12 HR, 89 RBI, .405/.478/.670, 222 OPS+

WAR-5.9

Wins Above Replacement-5.9 (6th)

WAR Position Players-5.9 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-5.4 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Assists as RF-18

Double Plays Turned as RF-5

Assists as OF-20

Double Plays Turned as OF-5

1st Time All-Star-Charles H. “Charlie” Blackwell was born on December 12, 1894 in Brandenburg, Kentucky. The five-foot-seven, 150 pound lefty outfielder started with St. Louis is 1920, playing centerfield and having a good season, finishing sixth in Offensive WAR (2.6). It portended what was ahead this season when Blackwell just smacked the ol’ horsehide around as arguably the second best hitter in the league to Oscar Charleston.          

                Baseball Reference says, “The little outfielder batted .405/.478/.670 in 1921, with 88 runs, 20 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs, 89 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 79 games. He also had 20 outfield assists, mostly playing right field. He was among the NNL leaders in almost every category – second in runs (behind Charleston), tied for 7th in doubles (with Tank Carr and John Henry Lloyd), 7th in hits (119), tied for 4th in triples (with Biz Mackey and McNair), tied for third in homers (with Torriente, trailing only Charleston and Carr), second in RBI (two behind leader Charleston), 5th in steals, 2nd in average (to Charleston), 2nd in slugging (to Charleston), 2nd in OBP (to Charleston) and second in OPS+ (behind Charleston, of course).”

                Blackwell’s going to make another list or two, but never have another season like this one. Can you believe how much power a man 150 pounds had? As mentioned above, the little man was third in homers and he’d never hit this many again. His problem is he would decline quickly from this peak he reached in 1921.

RF-Crush Holloway, Indianapolis ABCs, 24 Years Old

381 AB, .323, 3 HR, 63 RBI, .323/.374/.415, 122 OPS+

WAR-2.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 65 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as RF-80

Putouts as RF-130

Range Factor/9 Inn as RF-1.87

Range Factor/Game as RF-1.75

Fielding % as RF-.959

1st Time All-Star-Crush Christopher Columbus Holloway was born on September 15, 1896 in Hillsboro, TX. The six-foot, 180 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing outfielder didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1920, but had a good beginning here in ’21. He’d never match this again and would end up with more of a reputation defensively than at the bat. He would have a long career, playing 15 years and retiring at the age of 42.

                Wikipedia says, “A blockbuster seven-player trade sent Holloway to the Indianapolis ABCs in 1921. Because the second base position was already locked down by Connie Day, Holloway was converted into an outfielder by manager C. I. Taylor, who also mentored him on base stealing.

                “Thanks to Taylor and his observations of Cobb, Holloway became an intimidating presence on the base paths. As base stealing aficionado Jake Stephens described him: ‘By God! You’d be committing hara-kiri to get in the way of Crush Holloway or Jimmie Lyons. They’d cut you to death. I mean, they’d sharpen their spikes before they went out on the ball field. Like Cobb’. To take advantage of his exceptional speed, the switch-hitting Holloway perfected the drag bunt to outrun the infield and get on base for those batting behind him. During his time spent with the ABCs between 1921 and 1923, he consistently retained a batting average (BA) around .300.”

                By the way, according to some sources on the internet, Holloway was named after a train crash called the Crash at Crush.

1920 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Dave Brown, CAG

P-Jose Leblanc, CSW

P-Sam Crawford, KCM

P-Tom Williams, CAG

P-Rube Curry, KCM

P-Cheo Hernandez, CSW

P-Tom Johnson, CAG/DS

P-Bill Gatewood, DS

P-John Finner, SLG

P-Bill Holland, DS

C-George Dixon, CAG

C-Dan Kennard, SLG

1B-Ben Taylor, ABC

1B-George Carr, KCM

2B-Bingo DeMoss, CAG

3B-Bartolo Portuondo, KCM

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

SS-Morten Clark, ABC

SS-John Beckwith, COG

LF-Hurley McNair, KCM

LF-Koke Alexander, DM

CF-Oscar Charleston, ABC

CF-Cristobal Torriente, CAG, 1st MVP

CF-Bernardo Baro, CSW

CF-Jimmie Lyons, DS

P-Dave Brown, Chicago American Giants, 23 Years Old

148 2/3 IP, 13-3, 1.82 ERA, 101 K, 195 ERA+, 2.67 FIP, 0.908 WHIP

53 AB, .132, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .132/.233/.132, 9 OPS+

WAR-4.4

Wins Above Replacement-4.4 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-4.5 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

43-17-2, 1st in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-96, 3rd in league

ERA+-153, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Cristobal Torriente, 4.8

Led in:

1920 NNL Pitching Title

WAR for Pitchers-4.5

Earned Run Average-1.82

Walks & Hits per IP-0.908

Hits per 9 IP-5.085

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000

Hit By Pitch-10

Adjusted ERA+-195

Adj. Pitching Runs-28

Adj. Pitching Wins-2.9

1st Time All-Star-Dave K. Brown was born on June 9, 1897 in Marquez, Texas. The five-foot-11, 165 pound lefty pitcher was one of the first pitching superstars of the Negro Leagues.

                Before I go any further, here’s a note from Baseball Reference, to show you the stats with which I’m working: “Negro League player stats include league games, interleague games (against major Negro League competition), and games against select top-level independent Black Baseball teams. Player stats do not include the extensive amount of exhibitions and barnstorming games Negro League teams often played. Negro League data is not complete. Research is still ongoing and we’ll continue to publish updates as more information becomes available.”

                James A. Riley wrote a book called The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues and is quoted on the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum page. He writes, “Mixing outstanding speed, a good curve, a hard drop, and excellent control in a relatively short but sterling career, the smart left-hander was the ace of Rube Foster‘s dominating Chicago American Giants clubs of the early 1920s. His clutch pitching in 1920-1922 (10-2, 11-3, and 8-3 in league contests for a composite .784 winning percentage) was a primary factor in the club winning the first three Negro National League championships.”

                Thank the Lord that people more diligent than me have gone back and researched all of this Negro League history.  I know very little about the Negro Leagues and in this first list, the only name I recognize is Oscar Charleston.

P-Jose Leblanc, Cuban Stars West, 26 Years Old

167 IP, 11-9, 1.99 ERA, 103 K, 177 ERA+, 2.57 FIP, 1.072 WHIP

77 AB, .182, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .182/.259/.247, 51 OPS+

WAR-4.1

Wins Above Replacement-4.1 (5th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars West

35-34, 5th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-88, 5th in league

ERA+-114, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Jose Leblanc, 4.1

Led in:

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.512

1st Time All-Star-Jose Leblanc was born in 1894 in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The righty pitcher, rightfielder, and first baseman would have a very short career and, unfortunately, a very short life. While he was around, however, he was dominant. It’s interesting to write about Cuba in the 1920s, some three decades before Fidel Castro took over and Cuban players became rarer in the Major Leagues. Yet here in the Negro Leagues is a whole team of Cubans.

                Gary Ashwill of the Reconstructing Negro League & Latin American Baseball History page writes, “There are two interesting points about Leblanc. First, his greatest successes as a ballplayer were really in the United States. His Cuban League record over three seasons as pitcher amounted to a meager 4-7. But in the U.S., he would go 32-24 against top black competition for a team that went 89-93 overall. For two of those years, 1919 and 1920, the Cubans were exclusively a road club; Leblanc’s 17-12 in those seasons was his road record. By 1921, Leblanc was one of the top pitchers in the Negro National League.

                “The other thing about Leblanc is that we know very little about him. We know his primary pitch was a spitball, and we know that he probably threw right-handed. Other than that….virtually nothing. I haven’t been able to find a team photo of the western Cuban Stars in 1919-1921, and I am reasonably certain I’ve never seen a photo of Leblanc. We don’t even really know what his name was. He appears as ‘Julio LeBlanc’ in reference books, but I’ve so far seen him called only ‘José Leblanc’ (with a small “b”) in Cuban sources (which is the usage I’ve adopted in the Seamheads DB).”

P-Sam Crawford, Kansas City Monarchs, 28 Years Old

188 IP, 14-8. 2.78 ERA, 106 K, 127 ERA+, 2.93 FIP, 1.144 WHIP

70 AB, .186, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .186/.230/.257, 45 OPS+

WAR-4.0

Wins Above Replacement-4.0 (6th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.0 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 81 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Kansas City Monarchs

44-33-2, 2nd in NNL

Manager Jose Mendez

OPS+-109, 1st in league

ERA+-106, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Sam Crawford, 4.0

Led in:

Strikeouts-106

Fielding % as P-.980

1st Time All-Star-Samuel “Sam” Crawford was born on April 15, 1892 in Dallas. The six-foot-one, 200 pound righty pitcher, outfielder, and second baseman was the first star pitcher for the vaunted Kansas City Monarchs. He was the first pitcher in the Negro National League, now officially a Major League here in 1920, to lead the league in strikeouts. This would be his only good season as he would fade quickly after this.

                It should be noted just because Baseball Reference starts its recording of the NNL in 1920, it doesn’t mean there weren’t any Negro Leagues going on before this. Seamheads has pitching stats for Crawford going all the way back to 1910 when he was 18 years old for a team known as the New York Black Sox. He then pitched for many teams for many leagues all the way until 1920.

                If you google Sam Crawford in this time period, you run into the problem of finding much more information on the American League outfielder Sam “Wahoo Sam” Crawford. Crawford was a long-time teammate of Ty Cobb and made 12 of my lists, entering my ONEHOF (One-A-Year Hall of Fame) in 1912. There’s very little on the NNL’s Sam Crawford.

                Even on the Baseball Reference page for this Crawford, there’s a lack of dates, including the day he died. I have a feeling this is going to be a familiar occurrence writing about the Negro Leagues. Yet I’m grateful for all of the work put in by historians to give us as much info as we have.

P-Tom Williams, Chicago American Giants, 23 Years Old

157 IP, 12-4, 1.83 ERA, 65 K, 193 ERA+, 2.90 FIP, 1.045 WHIP

51 AB, .176, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .176/.222/.176, 19 OPS+

WAR-3.9

Wins Above Replacement-3.9 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.0 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Saves-3

Assists as P-78

Range Factor/9 Inn as P-4.82

1st Time All-Star-Thomas “Tom” Williams was born on September 28, 1896 in Charleston, SC. The pitcher had his best season ever in the Negro National League’s inaugural Major League season. Rube Foster’s Chicago squad is going to have three pitchers on my list and three position players and that’s what’s going to help them be the first champions of this league. Williams was mainly a starter, but did pitch in relief six times, garnering three saves.

                Baseball Reference says, “Williams debuted in 1916 with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, allowing 4 runs (3 earned) in 8 2/3 IP. He moved to the Chicago American Giants in 1917 and starred at 13-2, 1.28. He only allowed 29 walks and 78 hits in 126 2/3 innings. He finished second in the midwest among top black teams in wins (behind Dick Redding), tied for third in complete games (12), tied for second with 3 shutouts (behind Redding), led in WHIP and second in ERA (trailing Redding). He split 1918 between the Brooklyn Royal Giants (0-3, 3.40) and Hilldale (1-0, 1.56 in 3 G). He was 4-4 with a 3.20 ERA for Hilldale in 1919 and tossed 7 innings (3 R, 0 ER) for the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants.

“Williams returned to Chicago in 1920 and duplicated his 1917 stardom. He was 12-4 with 3 saves, 1.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He tied Jim Jeffries and Bill Holland for the save lead in the inaugural season of the Negro National League. He also tied for second with 2 shutouts (one back of Dizzy Dismukes), tied for 6th in wins, was 5th in WHIP and again finished second in ERA (this time behind Dave Brown).”

P-Rube Curry, Kansas City Monarchs, 21 Years Old

205 1/3 IP, 10-11. 2.81 ERA, 101 K, 126 ERA+, 2.56 FIP, 1.135 WHIP

78 AB, .141, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .141/.183/.141, -3 OPS+

WAR-3.5

Wins Above Replacement-3.5 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000

1st Time All-Star-Reuben “Rube” Curry was born on October 10, 1898 in Kansas City, Missouri. The six-foot-one, 195 pound righty pitcher and outfielder had a pretty good year, but is going to have even better ones to come. I would have guessed Rube was a nickname, not his actual name. Is it the same with the American Giants’ manager and Hall of Famer, Rube Foster? No. His name is Andrew Bishop Foster and Rube is indeed a nickname.

                Baseball Reference says, “Rube Currie was a top Negro League pitcher of the early 1920s who appeared in all four Eastern Colored LeagueNegro National League editions of the Negro World Series. He was noted for his curveball and his control. His name was spelled Curry by contemporary sources but historians invariably refer to him as Currie.

                “Currie grew up playing alongside Newt Allen and Frank Duncan. He began his career with the 1919 Chicago Unions, a minor team. In 1920, he was 12-13 for the Kansas City Monarchs but his 122 strikeouts tied Sam Crawford for second in the Negro National League behind Bullet Joe Rogan. On September 27, he threw a 15-inning 1-1 tie against Dicta Johnson.”

                You’re going to notice what people write and what Baseball Reference records are going to be different at times. That makes sense when the people writing aren’t BR, but BR wrote the above and still has different numbers from what its own stats! But that’s the way of the Negro Leagues, there aren’t any clear-cut statistics to go by.

P-Cheo Hernandez, Cuban Stars West, 26 Years Old

187 IP, 12-10, 3.08 ERA, 71 K, 115 ERA+, 3.28 FIP, 1.342 WHIP

97 AB, .237, 3 HR, 16 RBI, .237/.275/.381, 95 OPS+

WAR-3.3

Wins Above Replacement-3.3 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-2.8 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 90 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Jose “Cheo” Hernandez was born in 1894 in La Habana, Cuba. The five-foot-eight righty pitcher and rightfielder played only this one season in the Majors. Baseball Reference doesn’t have a lot of info. It doesn’t have a birthdate, a death date, a weight, or does it even list if he was a left or right-handed hitter. He did play rightfield six times this season along with pitching in 26 games. He was a decent hitter, especially compared to many of the pitchers I’ve already recorded.

                Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria wrote a book called The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseballand says this about Hernandez, in a section about a series of games against John McGraw’s New York Giants: “(On October 18), Cheo Hernandez take the pound against (Pol) Perritt. The score was 7-4, but a sour note was introduced when the fans and the press detected that the (National League New York) Giant players were performing with some indifference. Diario de la Marina suggested that the Americans were not taking care of themselves well (i.e., that they were drinking too much), and not playing with the same dedication and intensity that led them to nearly defeat Brooklyn for the National League pennant: ‘It is well known to all that players in American clubs who visit us, do so with the purpose of taking a trip and enjoying certain freedoms that are forbidden back home, and that for that reason it is not possible for them to conduct themselves with the same earnestness as when they are competing for their league championship.’”

P-Tom Johnson, Chicago American Giants/Detroit Stars, 31 Years Old

148 2/3 IP, 13-2, 2.42 ERA, 69 K, 146 ERA+, 2.89 FIP, 1.083 WHIP

56 AB, .125, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .125/.222/.125, 4 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 157 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago Team Stats

Detroit Stars

37-27, 3rd in NNL

Manager Pete Hill

OPS+-107, 2nd in league

ERA+-105, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Jimmie Lyons, 4.3

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.867

1st Time All-Star-Thomas Jefferson “Tom” Johnson was born on April 22, 1889 in Bryan, Texas. The six-foot, 180 pound righty pitcher started with the Giants this year and went 11-0 with a 1.84 ERA. He then went to Detroit to end his season. After this year, he would pitch just one more Major League season and then die an early death at the age of 37. That has been the case with quite a few of the players I’ve already written about.

                Baseball Reference says, “In 1915, Tom was 2-1 for the Indianapolis ABCs and 3-5 for Chicago. He spent most of his remaining career with the American Giants. He went 4-0 in 1916 and 5-0 in 1917. On September 2, 1916, he pitched five innings of no-hit ball against the Cuban StarsDick Whitworth relieved him and added two more hitless innings before darkness ended the combination no-hitter at seven innings. Johnson missed 1918 and part of 1919 while serving in the US Army. With the 365th Infantry, he was sent to France and reached the rank of Lieutenant.

                “When the War ended, Johnson came back to Chicago, going 2-3 in 1919, 7-0 in 1920 and 7-7 in 1921. Johnson moved to the Pittsburgh Keystones the next year but spent much of the season in the hospital. He pitched for the semi-pro Chicago Giants in 1923. After his pitching career ended, Johnson was a Negro National League umpire before dying of tuberculosis.”

                Again I note the disparity between the BR stats which states Johnson went 11-0 for the Giants and the write-up that says he went 7-0.

P-Bill Gatewood, Detroit Stars, 38 Years Old

159 IP, 15-5, 2.72 ERA, 90 K, 130 ERA+, 3.12 FIP, 1.138 WHIP

61 AB, .279, 0 HR, 12 RBI, .279/.380/.393, 131 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR for Pitchers-2.4 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 56 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins-15

Home Runs Allowed-6

1st Time All-Star-William Miller “Bill” Gatewood was born on August 22, 1881 in San Antonio. The six-foot, 195 pound righty pitcher was part of a great Stars pitching staff in this inaugural Negro National League season. He’ll be the answer to the trivia question of the first NNL leader in wins. He would pitch for five more seasons, but never have this success again. Of course, at this point, Gatewood was already 38 years old.

                Bill Johnson of SABR has much to say about Gatewood and I suggest you read the whole thing. Here’s just a bit: “On June 6, 1921, Gatewood added yet another achievement to his baseball resume, throwing the first no-hitter in Negro National League history. Facing only 29 batters, Gatewood shut down the Cincinnati Cuban Stars, a team that included future Cuban Baseball Hall of Famer Valentín Dreke, on only two walks. Gatewood also struck out ten, and added a home run of his own to cement the 4-0 victory. Historian Larry Lester, in his biography of Rube Foster, added a bit of detail:

                “’In a 1921 game, as a member of the Detroit Stars with Bruce Petway catching, the Cuban Stars protested to the umpire that the ball was doing “funny things.” The umpire examined the ball and found a nick and tossed it out of play. A short time later more complaints were registered and …The Cubans demanded that Gatewood be searched. The pat down revealed a half-dozen bottle caps in (the pitcher’s) pocket. Busted and now angry, Gatewood started off batters with knock-down pitches and eventually struck out 10 and walked two batters en route to a no-hitter.’

                “Bill Gatewood died of ‘cancer of stomach’ after a month-long battle at the Ellis Fischel Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, on December 8, 1962. He was 81.”

P-John Finner, St. Louis Giants, 34 Years Old

166 IP, 7-8, 2.98 ERA, 65 K, 119 ERA+, 2.87 FIP, 1.175 WHIP

75 AB, .147, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .147/.210/.173, 14 OPS+

WAR-2.6

WAR for Pitchers-2.9 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 333 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Giants

32-40, 6th in NNL

Manager Dick Wallace

OPS+-88, 6th in league

ERA+-102, 5th in league

WAR Leader-John Finner, 2.6

Led in:

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.627

Range Factor/Game as P-3.74

1st Time All-Star-Johnny Charley “John” Finner was born on August 7, 1885. The six-foot-two, righty pitcher and rightfielder was St. Louis’ best player in this first Negro National League season. He had a losing record, but had good control. He’d never have a season better than this one. You might notice above there’s not a lot of details on Finner. There’s no birthplace listed and there’s also no date or place of death.        

                Since there’s not a lot of information on Finner, let’s talk about this league for a minute. The details come from a book, Blackball in the Hoosier Heartland: Unearthing the Negro Leagues Baseball History of Richmond, Indiana by Alex Painter. He writes, “Foster’s vision came to fruition officially on February 13, 1920 with the founding of the Negro National League (NNL) at a YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri.

                “The inaugural season would feature eight teams, including Foster’s Chicago American Giants, as well as the Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis ABCs, St. Louis Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, and the Chicago Giants.

                “The stars were aplenty in the new league, and each team had their luminaries.

                “Though Foster’s Chicago American Giants won the league championship in 1920 with the best record within league play, all of the teams continued barnstorm (sic) to help supplement their team coffers and defray expenses. It was also equally important for brand awareness. Though teams would play roughly-150-200 games per year, ‘only a third…counted in the league standings. To survive, a team had to travel.’”

P-Bill Holland, Detroit Stars, 19 Years Old

169 IP, 11-6, 2.77 ERA, 96 K, 128 ERA+, 3.03 FIP, 1.136 WHIP

61 AB, .066, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .066/.109/.066, -48 OPS+

WAR-2.5

WAR for Pitchers-3.1 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Saves-3

Home Runs Allowed-6

1st Time All-Star-Elvis William “Bill” Holland was born on February 28, 1901 in Alexandria, Indiana. The five-foot-nine, 180 pound switch-hitting, righty pitching hurler and outfielder would have a decent career and is going to make a lot of my lists. He never had those outstanding seasons that would lead him to the Hall of Fame, but he’ll be pitching effectively into his late ‘30s. As a young man, he couldn’t hit, but that would improve in his later years.

                Wikipedia says, “Holland debuted in Richmond, Indiana as a teenager in 1918 with the Richmond Giants, a team that had also featured Negro league legends Oscar Charleston and Connie Day during the season. Holland started games on consecutive days, pitching twenty innings in less than twenty-four hours. He only allowed five earned runs while striking out twenty-four hitters. After the Negro National League was founded, Holland got his start working for the Indianapolis ABCs baseball club, before being sold to the Detroit Stars in 1920. It was with the Stars that he pitched with other Negro league greats like Andy CooperBill Gatewood, Tom Johnson and Gunboat Thompson. After three seasons with Detroit, he moved to the East Coast and spent the rest of his career working for the Lincoln GiantsBrooklyn Royal Giants, and the New York Black Yankees.

                “Holland eventually acquired the nickname ‘Devil’ because of a legendary competitive streak. Negro league second baseman Dick Seay once called Holland the toughest pitcher he ever faced, while also reflecting on his fiery disposition, ‘(If) you hit him, and the next time you came up there, you had to duck. And you knew it. He’d look at you mad, (and) let you know he’s going to throw at you: “Get ready to duck now.”’”

C-George Dixon, Chicago American Giants, 24 Years Old

136 AB, .324, 0 HR, 34 RBI, .324/.391/.463, 154 OPS+

WAR-1.8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 300 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.66

1st Time All-Star-George Dixon was born on January 4, 1896 in Greenwood, South Carolina. The lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher was the best backstop in the this first Negro National League season. He’d never come close to hitting as well as he did this year, but he’d play another 10 seasons in this league and the Negro National League II. It’s possible he’ll make more All-Star teams, but, just as in the National and American Leagues, it’s tough to tell for catchers.

                Wikipedia says, “George ‘Tubby’ Dixon (January 4, 1896 – August 4, 1940) was a Negro leagues catcher for several years before the founding of the first Negro National League, and in its first few seasons.

“When he started catching for the Chicago American Giants during spring training in Palm Beach, Florida, newspaper reports called him ‘the best young player that has been tried out with the Giants in years.’

“In 1917, 21 year-old Dixon registered for the WWI Draft. He lists his current occupation as professional ball player, working for Rube Foster. He lists his current address as 3664 Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. And he lists himself as single but supporting his mother. 

“Dixon appears to have played his last few seasons in Cleveland. He died in Cleveland in 1940.” He was 44.

                Since this league was Chicago American Giants’ manager Rube Foster’s brainchild, you can bet he would stock his team with many of the best players. There will be six players from this pennant-winning team on my list.

C-Dan Kennard, St. Louis Giants, 36 Years Old

131 AB, .290, 2 HR, 19 RBI, .290/.380/.427, 141 OPS+

WAR-1.5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 69 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Daniel “Dan” Kennard was born on September 3, 1883 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The five-foot-six, 164 pound righty catcher was already 36 by the time this new Major League started. He’ll only play for a few more seasons, most of it for St. Louis. He was a pretty good hitter for a catcher, with decent slugging and the ability to draw walks and get on base. It’s amazing how normal his name is on a team with others like Tullie McAdoo and Lunie Danage.

                Wikipedia says, “Daniel Kennard (born September 3, 1883 and died May 21, 1947) was a Negro leagues catcher for several years before the founding of the first Negro National League, and in its first few seasons.

“On July 28 of 1915, 31 year-old Kennard moved from the West Baden Sprudels to become the catcher for the Indianapolis ABCs. He started his first game for the A.B.C.s by pitching.

“Kennard died at the age of 63 in St. Louis, Missouri and is buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Hillsdale, MO.”

What Wikipedia doesn’t say in its text is how many teams Kennard played for. Here’s the list. He played for the French Lick Plutos, West Baden Sprudels, Chicago American Giants, Indianapolis ABCs, Chicago Black Sox, St. Louis Giants, St. Louis Stars, back to the St. Louis Giants, and finished with the Detroit Stars. He played for most of those teams before the Negro National League started. I want to know what a Sprudel is! (Never mind, I looked it up on Wikipedia, which says, “Their name derived from a bottled water produced at the Hotel. The Hotel bordered on a local salt lick and mineral spring and the minerals from the spring made the water act as an effective and marketable natural laxative. The product was labeled as ‘Sprudel Water’ (from German ‘Sprudelwasser’ meaning ‘sparkling water’). Their frequent rivals, the French Lick Plutos, came from a hotel on the same spring that had also bottled the water and sold it as ‘Pluto Water’.”)

1B-Ben Taylor, Indianapolis ABCs, 31 Years Old

343 AB, .321, 4 HR, 64 RBI, .321/.379/.443, 145 OPS+

23 1/3 IP, 1-1, 2.70 ERA, 7 K, 133 ERA+, 3.27 FIP, 1.029 WHIP

WAR-3.8

Wins Above Replacement-3.8 (8th)

WAR Position Players-3.1 (4th)

Offensive WAR-2.7(5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

44-38-4, 4th in NNL

Manager C.I. Taylor

OPS+-94, 4th in league

ERA+-95, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Charleston, 5.2

Led in:

Runs Batted In-64

Putouts-878

Def. Games as 1B-90

Putouts as 1B-875

Assists as 1B-51

Errors Committed as 1B-20

Double Plays Turned as 1B-34

1st Time All-Star-Benjamin Harrison “Ben” or “Old Reliable” Taylor was born on July 1, 1888 in Anderson, South Carolina. The five-foot-11, 175 pound lefty first baseman is the first Negro League player I’m writing about that has made the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He had a great career even before the Negro National League became a Major League this season. By this time, he was already 31 years old and Taylor would start fading.

                Old Reliable’s Hall of Fame pages says, “Belonging to one of the most famous families in African-American baseball history, Ben Taylor had a career that spanned almost four decades, serving as most a premier first baseman and as a successful manager.

                “Playing along with his brothers C.I, Steel Arm John, and Candy Jim, Ben Taylor starred for a number of teams in the pre-Negro Leagues era of 1908 to 1920, and then moved around the various leagues and teams during the golden era from 1921 to 1941.

                “Taylor was a lifetime .300 hitter who maintained a scientific approach to the game. He was noted for his ability to hit to all fields, his execution of the hit-and-run – and became known as ‘Old Reliable’ for both his clutch-hitting and his outstanding defensive play at first base.

                “His was soft-spoken and well-respected – and his reputation as a teacher was noted by Hall of Famer Buck Leonard, who said: ‘I got most of my learning from Ben Taylor. He helped me when I first broke in with his team. He had been the best first baseman in Negro baseball up until that time, and he was the one who really taught me to play first base.’”

1B-George Carr, Kansas City Monarchs, 25 Years Old

308 AB, .315, 4 HR, 51 RBI, .315/.355/.435, 135 OPS+

WAR-2.6

WAR Position Players-2.6 (8th)

Offensive WAR-2.3 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as 1B-.986

1st Time All-Star-George Henry Carr was born on September 2, 1894 in Atlanta. The five-foot-11, 200 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing first baseman, outfielder, and third baseman played at six different positions this season, all but pitcher, catcher, and shortstop. Usually, if it has a choice, a team doesn’t put its good fielders at first base, and Carr did field decently this season. For the next few seasons, his Defensive WAR would be under 0.0.

                Wikipedia says, “Prior to the Negro leagues, Carr played high school baseball and graduated from Pasadena High School in Pasadena, California. He played for the Los Angeles White Sox, and in the Winter Leagues in Florida in 1916, playing with and against pre-Negro league stars like John Donaldson, the ‘Taylor boys’ C. I. TaylorBen Taylor and Candy Jim Taylor. The next year, Carr played with and against some of those same players, plus José Méndez“Gentleman” Dave Malarcher, and Andy Cooper. He continued to play Winter Baseball with the Los Angeles White Sox and Captained the team in 1921.

                “In 1917, 23 year-old Carr registered for the WWI Draft. He listed his current occupation as a movie actor listing Martin Turner and Universal Studios as his employer. His current home address was 1249 East 25th Street in Los Angeles. He is listed as married and lists his wife and three children as dependents.”        

                Carr is going to make a few more of these lists. I’m voting my Hall of Fames in the same manner for the Negro Leagues as I am for the American and National Leagues. It will be interesting to see who gets in!

2B-Bingo DeMoss, Chicago American Giants, 30 Years Old

236 AB, .314, 0 HR, 36 RBI, .314/.409/.390, 138 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR Position Players-3.1 (5th)

Offensive WAR-2.5 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 36 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as 2B-66

Putouts as 2B-180

Assists as 2B-191

Errors Committed as 2B-17

Double Plays Turned as 2B-19

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.62

Fielding % as 2B-.956

1st Time All-Star-Elwood “Bingo” DeMoss was born on September 5, 1889 in Topeka, Kansas. The five-foot-11, 180 pound righty second baseman and outfielder was known more for his fielding than his bat. As a matter of fact, this is his only Major League year in which his OPS+ was over 100 (138). He then would have an OPS+ of 88 in 1921 and after that it’d never be above 69 in a full year for the rest of his nine seasons. Of course, it should be noted in this first season of the Negro National League, he was already  30. He could apparently hit the ball better in his youth.

                Bill Johnson of SABR writes, “James Riley, in his encyclopedia, summarized DeMoss’ skill set as follows: ‘A scientific clutch hitter with superior bat control and exceptional eye-hand coordination, he was a good contact hitter and could place the ball where he wanted. A natural right-field hitter, he was a skilled hit-and-run artist and a superb bunter … Jocko Conlon, who before becoming an umpire played exhibitions against the Chicago American Giants, said that DeMoss could drop a bunt on a dime. While there is no definitive account of how DeMoss was anointed ‘Bingo’, the existing narrative is that it derived from his ability to ‘place a bunt anywhere he wanted on the field’. Kansas City Monarchs catcher Frank Duncan once observed that,’I’ve never seen a man bunt a ball like DeMoss. Looked like when you play pool and draw a ball back. How he did it, I don’t know, but he sure did it.’”

3B-Bartolo Portuondo, Kansas City Monarchs, 26 Years Old

327 AB, .306, 0 HR, 23 RBI, .306/.362/.373, 119 OPS+

WAR-3.0

WAR Position Players-3.0 (6th)

Offensive WAR-2.5 (8th)

Defensive WAR-0.8 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 230 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Stolen Bases-27

Def. Games as 3B-63

Assists as 3B-127

Errors Committed as 3B-16

1st Time All-Star-Bartolome “Bartolo” Portuondo was born on August 24, 1893 in La Habana, Cuba. The five-foot-seven righty third baseman, first baseman, and shortstop is a surprise to me because I thought all of the Cubans played on the Cuban Stars West. That’s the thing about this project on which I’ve embarked is that I’m going to be learning a lot about the Negro Leagues over the next few weeks.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes, “Courtesy of Larry Lester, here’s something to file under ‘Things I Should Have Known But Didn’t’: Omara Portuondo, one of Cuba’s most famous singers, is the daughter of Bartolo Portuondo, Cuban League and Negro league infielder in the 1910s and 1920s.  He captured stolen base crowns in the 1919/20 Cuban League (with Almendares) and the 1920 Negro National League (with the Kansas City Monarchs).

                “This is from Omara’s biography at World Music Central:

                “’Omara Portuondo was born in Cayo Hueso (Havana) in 1930. Omara’s mother came from a rich Spanish family and was expected to marry into another society family. Instead she ran off with the man she loved, a tall, handsome baseball player from the Cuban national team. Moreover he was black and in those days mixed race marriages were still frowned upon in Cuba. ‘My mother always hid the fact that she had married a black man. If they bumped into each other in the street they had to ignore each other. But at home they recreated what society denied them – a haven of peace and harmony. They loved each other very much,’ Omara recalls.”

                Portuondo died on August 24, 1981 at the age of 87.

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 24 Years Old

190 AB, .332, 2 HR, 31 RBI, .332/.380/.458, 150 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR Position Players-2.1 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.15

Range Factor/Game as SS-4.95

1st Time All-Star-Walter “Dobie” Moore was born on February 8, 1896 in Atlanta. The five-foot-10, 180 pound righty shortstop is one of three shortstops to make my list. However, that’s less than the four centerfielders who made it, some of whom were among the Negro National League’s best players.  For his entire Major League career, Moore would be a great hitter, especially considering his position. His career average in his short career would be .350.

                John B. Holway of SABR starts his article with this quote from Casey Stengel: “’Has anybody else told you about Dobie Moore? Well, I’ll tell you something about him. That Moore was one of the best shortstops that will ever live! That fella could stand up to the plate and hit right-handed, he could hit line drives out there just as far as you want to see.’

                “Casey Stengel should know what he was talking about. He discovered Dobie Moore, along with Bullet Joe Rogan, Oscar ‘Heavy’ Johnson, and several other black stars playing with the 25th Infantry team in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 1919. If an untimely accident hadn’t abruptly ended Moore’s career seven years later, there are some who say he might have become the finest black shortstop of all time.

                “’I first saw Moore down below Albuquerque,’ Casey recalled more than half a century later. ‘We were down near the Mexican border, and the army brought these buglers and made all the soldiers line up and march across the ball field and pick up pebbles and rocks so we could play.’”

SS-Morten Clark, Indianapolis ABCs, 30 Years Old

376 AB, .287, 1 HR, 24 RBI, .287/.350/.354, 110 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR Position Players-2.1 (10th)

Offensive WAR-2.6 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 157 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-95

At Bats-376

Plate Appearances-429

Singles-90

Sacrifice Hits-17

Outs Made-285

Assists-247

Errors Committed-57

Def. Games as SS-92

Putouts as SS-198

Assists as SS-241

Errors Committed as SS-55

Double Plays Turned as SS-20

1st Time All-Star-Morten Avery Clark was born on December 19, 1889 in Bristol, TN. The five-foot-nine, 130 pound (!) lefty hitting, righty throwing shortstop, third baseman, and outfielder was already 30 in this inaugural Negro National League season and would be playing his last Major League game in 1923. Clark is an example of the confusion of the NNL stats which sometimes included exhibition games. That’s why he played more games than anyone else.

                Clark was part of some games played in Cuba against some National and American League all-stars, including Babe Ruth. Here’s a bit of the article, I suggest you read the whole thing.

                “We’re pleased to pass along this update from SABR member Gary Ashwill at Seamheads.com on August 11, 2014:

                “The Giants left Havana in mid-November, and their place was taken by the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants of the Negro leagues. The team’s trip was organized by its secretary, Edward B. Lamar, for many years a well-known promoter in black baseball circles and founder of the Cuban X-Giants. Lamar was actually the instigator of the first trips to Cuba by black American teams in the 20th century, sending his X-Giants to Havana severaltimes in the 1900s. For this trip the Bacharachs brought the core of their regular team, captain and ace pitcher Dick Redding, shortstop Dick Lundy, pitcher Red Ryan, and catcher Julio Rojo, and added superstar Oscar Charleston and infielder Morten“Specs” Clark from the Indianapolis ABCs, slugger Charlie Blackwell and infielder Joe Hewitt from the St. Louis Giants, and a trio of stars from the Hilldale Club, catcher Louis Santop, spitballer Phil Cockrell, and fancy-fielding first baseman Toussaint AllenOliver Marcell, the Bacharachs’ star third baseman, also applied for a passport, but for some reason did not make the trip.”

                Clark died on November 17, 1943 in Los Angeles at the age of 53.

SS-John Beckwith, Chicago Giants, 20 Years Old

137 AB, .285, 2 HR, 22 RBI, .285/.324/.394, 114 OPS+

8 IP, 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 5 K, 110 ERA+, 3.43 FIP, 1.375 WHIP

WAR-1.3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star teams. Impossible)

Chicago Giants

5-31, 8th in NNL

Manager Joe Green

OPS+-78, 7th in league

ERA+-68, 8th in league

WAR Leader-John Beckwith, 1.3

1st Time All-Star-John Christopher Beckwith was born on January 10, 1900 in Louisville. The five-foot-11, 200 pound righty third baseman, shortstop, and first baseman made this list as the best player on hapless Chicago Giants, a team that played only 36 games this season. It’s not like Beckwith was bad. As a matter of fact, he’s going to be making quite a few of my lists over the next few seasons. He’d play in various leagues until 1935.

                John Holway of SABR writes, “Hank Aaron may be baseball’s new Babe Ruth – but will he ever hit them as far and as hard as another mighty slugger only now being resurrected from the mists of baseball’s past, a black Bunyon from Louisville by the name of John Beckwith?

                “Broad shouldered, round faced, moody, Beckwith was one of the first in that long line of black power hitters beginning with Louis Santop and Josh Gibson of the old Negro leagues and continuing down to Mays and Aaron of the modern major leagues. Some who saw him say Beckwith was the mightiest of them all.

                “There was one big difference between Beckwith and Aaron. Although both were quiet and introverted, Beck, unlike Hank, had a reputation for being rough, even in his era, the 1920’s, when black ballplayers had to be tough to survive.”

                Despite this reputation for power, the most homers Baseball Reference records him as hitting is 15 in 1925. Admittedly, that was in just 50 games and 183 at-bats.

LF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 31 Years Old

317 AB, .325, 4 HR, 47 RBI, .325/.376/.473, 153 OPS+

WAR-2.9

WAR Position Players-2.9 (7th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-73

Putouts as LF-125

Assists as LF-11

Fielding % as LF-.978

1st Time All-Star-Allen Hurley McNair was born on October 28, 1888 in Marshall, TX. The five-foot-six, 150 pound lefty outfielder would be with the Monarchs for a good stretch of time despite being 31 this year. I’m glad I now get to cover the Negro Leagues but there will still be some disadvantages to the players. For one thing, there were many leagues playing before the Negro National League and many of the players I’m writing about had good careers before 1920. McNair is one of those.

                James A. Riley, who wrote The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, penned the following, which is recorded on the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum eMuseum page: “Earlier in his life McNair played with the 25th Infantry Wreckers baseball team at Fort Huachuca. He was a little man with a big head, and hit with the power of a big man. At times he was moody and self-centered, insisting on doing things his way and not playing if something was not to his liking. He also played with winter-league teams, including the Los Angeles White Sox in 1920 and the Colored All-Stars in 1921. He was always available to help young players learn the game. A few years later in California, he taught Willie Wells to hit a curveball by tying his leg to home plate so he could not back away from the curve.”

                McNair started in 1911 and was a pitcher/outfielder in his early days. During the 1910s, he played mainly on teams in Chicago.

LF-Koke Alexander, Dayton Marcos, Unknown age

117 AB, .350, 1 HR, 23 RBI, .350/.429/.504, 178 OPS+

WAR-1.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 187 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Dayton Marcos

16-36, 7th in NNL

Manager Candy Jim Taylor

OPS+-75, 8th in league

ERA+-75, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Koke Alexander, 1.6

1st Time All-Star-Koke Alexander was born sometime and would eventually die, but very little is recorded about any of those events at Baseball Reference. Nor are we told his birthplace, height, weight, or the side of the plate from which he batted. That is not a surprise to me. It’s been eye-opening how many of the stats BR has been able to assemble. Koke is on my list as the Marcos sole representative. Wikipedia does put his birthdate as February 1, 1888 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which would make him 32 during this season. It also says he threw right-handed.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes, “Here’s an update on a player who has been something of a mystery“Koke” Alexander of the Dayton Marcos and other teams in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

                “First, I ran across a photo of him (above) playing for Dayton’s Colored Men’s Improvement Association team in 1922. He’s in the middle, with Samuel Dewitt, another player I’ve never seen an image of, on the left, and Will Owens on the right.

                “Born in 1888, he’s a little older than I would have expected, though it is certainly possible he was really younger than this—it’s very common to find earlier birthdates on World War I draft cards than in other records. I have tried to track him down in other records, including in his birth state of North Carolina, with no luck so far, so he remains a little mysterious. But this is I think the best lead I’ve come up with.”

CF-Oscar Charleston, Indianapolis ABCs, 23 Years Old

346 AB, .353, 5 HR, 59 RBI, .353/.418/.517, 179 OPS+

16 1/3 IP, 0-0, 3.31 ERA, 5 K, 109 ERA+, 3.29 FIP, 1.714 WHIP

WAR-5.2

Wins Above Replacement-5.2 (1st)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (1st)

Offensive WAR-4.5 (1st)

Defensive WAR-0.7 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-5.2

WAR Position Players-5.5

Offensive WAR-4.5

Runs Scored-80

Hits-122

Total Bases-179

Triples-11

Runs Created-74

Extra Base Hits-36

Times On Base-161

Def. Games as CF-87

Putouts as CF-206

Assists as CF-17

Double Plays Turned as CF-3

Putouts as OF-209

Assists as OF-18

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.56

Fielding % as CF-.987

1st Time All-Star-Oscar McKinley Charleston was born on October 14, 1896 in Indianapolis. The five-foot-eight, 185 pound lefty centerfielder and first baseman is the first genuine Negro League superstar I’m covering. He could have easily won my MVP and was arguably the best player in this first Negro National League season. As you’ll see over the years, he’s a combination Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, a man who hits for average and power. (Before you say it, yes, I know Babe Ruth could also hit for average (.342).)

                Tim Odzer of SABR writes, “With the creation of the Negro National League in 1920, Charleston re-signed with the ABCs, a move Foster allowed in the interest of league-wide competitive balance. His 1920 season was another star turn as he stole 20 bases and posted an OPS that was 76 percent better than the league average. In the inaugural NNL doubleheader, Charleston went 1-for-4 in the first game and laced a two-run triple in the second game. The press also continued to make note of his defensive ability. In a game one week later, the ABCs were leading 4-2 in the top of the ninth with two men on and two men out when Jose LeBlanc hit a rocket to center field. Charleston, who had already made two good catches, saved the game with a dazzling catch made with his back to the plate. The fans jumped onto the field and showered Charleston with money.”

                You’ll want to read the whole SABR article and the descriptions of Charleston from some of the all-time greats.

CF-Cristobal Torriente, Chicago American Giants, 26 Years Old, 1st MVP

231 AB, .411, 2 HR, 58 RBI, .411/.479/.606, 223 OPS+

8 IP, 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 1 K, 110 ERA+, 3.68 FIP, 0.875 WHIP

WAR-4.8

Wins Above Replacement-4.8 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-4.8 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-4.2 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1920 NNL Batting Title

Batting Average-.411

On-Base %-.479

Slugging %-.606

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.085

Doubles-21

Adjusted OPS+-223

Adj. Batting Runs-36

Adj. Batting Wins-3.8

Offensive Win %-.902

1st Time All-Star-Cristobal “Carlos” Torriente was born on November 16, 1893 in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The five-foot-10, 190 pound lefty outfielder and pitcher wins my first Negro National League Most Valuable Player. It was between Torriente and Oscar Charleston so I gave it to the man on the better team. I also gave it to the man who hit .411, and led in on-base percentage, slugging average, and on-base plus slugging, so I don’t feel too bad.

                Wikipedia says, “Torriente played in his homeland from 1913–1927 and holds the record for the highest career batting average in Cuban winter league history (.352). He earned two batting titles and hit as high as .402. In 1920, his team, Almendares, played a nine-game series against the New York Giants. The Giants added Babe Ruth for this tour of Cuba. Torriente outhit Ruth in most categories and Almendares beat the Giants, five games to four. Along with Martín Dihigo and José Méndez, Torriente is considered one of the greatest baseball players from Cuba. He was one of the first class of inductees of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

                “Torriente played on the great Chicago American Giants teams of 1918–1925, and was a member of the club when they were founding members of the Negro National League in 1920.”

                Since my Hall of Fame is statistics-based, Torriente won’t be making my Hall of Fame, though he did make it to Cooperstown. That’s because the real Hall of Fame takes into account his great years before this first Major League season of 1920.

CF-Jimmie Lyons, Detroit Stars, 30 Years Old

227 AB, .379, 8 HR, 46 RBI, .379/.445/.595, 209 OPS+

28 1/3 IP, 1-2, 3.49 ERA, 12 K, 102 ERA+, 3.86 FIP, 1.482 WHIP

WAR-4.3

Wins Above Replacement-4.3 (4th)

WAR Position Players-4.5 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-3.8 (3rd)

Defensive WAR-0.5 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 37 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Power-Speed #-11.6

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-2.71

1st Time All-Star-James Henry “Jimmie” Lyons was born on October 10, 1889 in Indianapolis. The five-foot-six, 160 pound lefty outfielder was yet another of the great centerfielders this season in the Negro National League. The top three players in WAR Position Players all played this same position. After this season, Lyons is going to move to leftfield and fall off a bit. It makes sense since, in this first NNL season, he’s already 30.

                Negro Leagues Baseball Museum eMuseum page quotes from the book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, saying “One of the fastest men ever to wear a baseball uniform, Jimmie Lyons fit precisely into Rube Foster‘s style of play. A good hitter and an expert drag bunter, he utilized his speed at the plate as well as in the field and on the bases. He took an exceptionally long lead and, with speed comparable to that of Cool Papa Bell, he was rarely picked off or thrown out at second on attempted steals.

                “Finding his niche with the Chicago American Giants during the early 1920s, when the Giants were dominating black baseball, his all-around ability contributed heavily to their successive pennants in the first three years of the old Negro National League’s existence. In 1920, the first year of the league, he hit .386 and stole a league-high 22 bases in 44 games.”

                Baseball Reference has Lyons as stealing 21 bases and finishing second behind Bartolo Portuondo, who had 27 thefts.

CF-Bernardo Baro, Cuban Stars West, 24 Years Old

241 AB, .336, 4 HR, 35 RBI, .336/.392/.456, 153 OPS+

4 2/3 IP, 0-0, 7.71 ERA, 3 K, 50 ERA+, 3.44 FIP, 1.714 WHIP

WAR-1.8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 63 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Bernardo Baro was born on February 27, 1896 in Cardenas, Cuba. The five-foot-six, lefty outfielder and first baseman would have a short career and has one better season than this one coming up. He’s the fourth centerfielder to make my list which makes this the most represented position, not counting pitchers. Baro is also the fifth Cuban player to make my list and, even to this day, that country has produced great ballplayers.

                Negro Leagues Baseball Museum eMuseum page quotes from the book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, saying “A brilliant outfielder, he could make all the plays but ‘showed off’ too much in the field. The small, light complected Cuban starred in centerfield with the Cuban Stars in the Eastern Colored League, and in 1923-1924 he formed, along with Pablo Mesa and Alejandro Oms, one of the greatest outfields in black baseball history. A left-handed batter, the veteran outfielder was a five-point player, a player who can run, field, throw, hit, and hit with power. (These are the five points that scouts look for in a player.) He was an excellent hitter who hit to all fields with extra-base power and was a good bunter. He was very fast and a great base runner, and had wide range in the field and a good arm.”

                As I wrap up this first year of the Negro National League, I’m pleased at how much I’ve learned from those who took the time to research all of these things including Baseball Reference, James A. Riley, and Gary Ashwill.

1944 American League All-Star Team

Note: You may know I get all my information from Baseball Reference, a site that does an incredible job and should be in the Hall of Fame. During the time I was writing this page, BR made the announcement Negro Leagues would now be counted as Major Leagues and now includes all of those stats. So starting after this page, I’m going to go back in time and start choosing Negro League All-Star teams until I’m caught up again. Thanks for your readership!

ONEHOF-Ted Lyons

P-Dizzy Trout, DET, 1st MVP

P-Hal Newhouser, DET

P-Tex Hughson, BOS

P-Nels Potter, SLB

P-Jack Kramer, SLB

P-Johnny Niggeling, WSH

P-Bob Muncrief, SLB

P-Bobo Newsom, PHA

P-Hank Borowy, NYY

P-Joe Berry, PHA

C-Hal Wagner, PHA/BOS

C-Frankie Hayes, PHA

1B-Nick Etten, NYY

2B-Snuffy Stirnweiss, NYY

2B-Bobby Doerr, BOS

3B-Ken Keltner, CLE

3B-Pinky Higgins, DET

SS-Lou Boudreau, CLE-Inducted into Ron’s HOF

SS-Vern Stephens, SLB

LF-Bob Johnson, BOSInducted into Ron’s HOF

LF-Dick Wakefield, DET

CF-Stan Spence, WSH

CF-Johnny Lindell, NYY

CF-Thurman Tucker, CHW

RF-Roy Cullenbine, CLE

1944 ONEHOF Inductee

Ted Lyons, P

1925 1926 1927 1930 1932 1935 1938 1939 1942

4161 IP, 260-230, 3.67 ERA, 1073 K, 118 ERA+, 4.01 FIP, 1.348 WHIP

1563 AB, .233, 5 HR, 149 RBI, .233/.270/.285, 45 OPS+

Career WAR-70.3

For the second consecutive year, a player from the Windy City has been inducted into the One-A-Year Hall of Fame. In 1943, it was Cubs’ catcher Gabby Hartnett and this season, it’s White Sox hurler Teddy Lyons. Lyons is the first pitcher inducted into the  ONEHOF since Carl Hubbell in 1940. Next year’s nominees are Bill Terry, Mickey Cochrane, Tommy Bridges, Hardy Richardson, Elmer Flick, Johnny Evers, Larry Doyle, Art Fletcher, Wally Schang, Joe Sewell, Kiki Cuyler, Earl Averill, Ernie Lombardi, Luke Appling, and Stan Hack.

                Lyons last made my list in 1942 at the age of 41 and then he went off to war. Warren Corbett of SABR writes, “Then he joined the Marine Corps. He was too old for the military draft, but he was single without dependents. While he made no patriotic speeches about his decision to enlist, he had seen fellow players who had families sign up to do their part for the war effort. ‘So, take him away, marines,’ the Chicago Tribune’s Irving Vaughn wrote, ‘but don’t lose the return address.’  Lyons was commissioned a second lieutenant and eventually was promoted to captain.

                “Contemporary accounts indicate that Lyons spent a fairly comfortable war serving as a physical fitness instructor while pitching for and managing Marine Air Corps baseball teams. Late in 1944 he joined service all-star teams made up mostly of major leaguers, including Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, that sailed to the Pacific to entertain the troops. After he faced DiMaggio in one of the games, he complained, ‘I left the country to get away from DiMaggio, and there he was.’”

P-Dizzy Trout, Detroit Tigers, 29 Years Old, 1st MVP

1942 1943

352 1/3 IP, 27-14, 2.12 ERA, 144 K, 167 ERA+, 2.79 FIP, 1.127 WHIP

133 AB, .271, 5 HR, 24 RBI, .271/.317/.429, 108 OPS+

WAR-10.9

Wins Above Replacement-10.9 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-9.3 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 25 percent chance)

Detroit Tigers

88-66, 2nd in AL

Manager Steve O’Neill

Ballpark: Briggs Stadium (Hitter’s)

OPS+-92, 4th in league

ERA+-115, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Dizzy Trout, 10.9

Led in:

1944 AL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-10.9

WAR for Pitchers-9.3

Earned Run Average-2.12

Innings Pitched-352 1/3

Games Started-40

Complete Games-33

Shutouts-7 (2nd Time)

Hits Allowed-314

Batters Faced-1,421

Adjusted ERA+-167

Adj. Pitching Runs-52

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.8

Base-Out Runs Saved-33.21

Win Probability Added-4.0

Sit. Wins Saved-3.5

Base-Out Wins Saved-3.6

Assists as P-94 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-4 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Trout easily had his greatest season this season and the best Detroit pitching year since Ed Killian in 1907. Much like Dizzy, some of Killian’s value came from his bat as he slashed .320/.346/.410 that season for an OPS+ of 138. This season, Trout, along with his phenomenal pitching, hit five homers and slashed .271/.317/.429 for an OPS+ of 108. I gave Killian the MVP in 1907 and I’m giving Trout the MVP this season. The writers picked Hal Newhouser, who also had a great season along with a flashier won-loss record. We’ll talk about him next.

                Richard Bak of Vintage Detroit Collection writes, “In almost any other season, a pitcher who wins 27 games and leads the majors in practically every major pitching category while taking his team to the cusp of a pennant would be considered a shoo-in to win the Most Valuable Player Award. But 1944 was no ordinary season for the Detroit Tigers, who had not one but two starting pitchers deserving of MVP honors. The man who did win the award, Hal Newhouser, rang up a 29-9 record, topping the majors in wins and strikeouts and placing second in ERA.

                “The man who finished just four votes behind Newhouser in MVP balloting, Paul “Dizzy” Trout, was just as dominating.The 29-year-old righty had a career year. He finished 27-14 and led all big-league pitchers in innings (352), ERA (2.12), starts (40), complete games (33), and shutouts (7). He also pitched relief and occasionally pinch-hit. (One of the game’s best-hitting pitchers, Trout batted .271 with five home runs and 24 RBIs that season.) There was no Cy Young Award given out in those days. But if there had, it would have been a coin flip between the two Tigers as to who would have won it.”

P-Hal Newhouser, Detroit Tigers, 23 Years Old

1942

312 1/3 IP, 29-9, 2.22 ERA, 187 K, 159 ERA+, 2.58 FIP, 1.172 WHIP

120 AB, .242, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .242/.278/.275, 55 OPS+

WAR-8.4

Wins Above Replacement-8.4 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-7.8 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (1 2/3 IP, 3 R, 2 ER)

MVP Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1992)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

1944 AL TSN Pitcher of the Year

1944 AL MVP

Wins-29

Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.389 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-187

Championship WPA-20.4

2nd Time All-Star-After Newhouser made my list in 1942, he slumped in 1943, going 8-17 and leading the American League in walks with 111. He came back this year and is off and running to a Hall of Fame career. I gave the MVP award to his teammate, Dizzy Trout, but Newhouser won it from the writers. But c’mon, which of those honors is more valuable! Besides, Newhouser is going to have a better season in 1945 and again be the writers’ choice. Will he be my choice? You’ll have to wait and see.

                Mark Stewart of SABR has much to say about Prince Hal’s 1944 season, so I suggest you read the whole thing. Here’s just a bit: “When Newhouser arrived at the wartime spring-training camp in Indiana, Richards told him that he was a thrower. ‘I’m going to make you a pitcher,’ he said. By this time Newhouser was a three-pitch pitcher, with a fastball, curveball, and changeup. Richards taught him how to throw a slider. Back then the pitch was known somewhat derogatorily as a nickel curve, but in Newhouser’s hand it was a sharp-breaking pitch that looked enough like his fastball that batters couldn’t handle it.

                “After the season, the MVP vote was a toss-up between Newhouser and Trout. Dizzy had 27 victories to Newhouser’s 29, but had made 40 starts, logged 352⅓ innings and had an ERA of 2.12. Trout actually received more first-place votes than Newhouser, but Hal won the overall voting by four points to cop the trophy by a narrow margin. Newhouser had led the majors with 187 strikeouts, and had an ERA of 2.22. He twirled six shutouts to Trout’s seven, and also saved two wins for Detroit, thus he had a hand in a total of 31 victories.”

P-Tex Hughson, Boston Red Sox, 28 Years Old

1942 1943

203 1/3 IP, 18-5, 2.26 ERA, 112 K, 152 ERA+, 2.33 FIP, 1.048 WHIP

66 AB, .152, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .152/.243/.152, 15 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (L, 1 2/3 IP, 4 R)

MVP Rank: 12

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Red Sox

77-77, 4th in AL

Manager Joe Cronin

Ballpark: Fenway Park (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-105, 1st in league

ERA+-90, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Bobby Doerr, 6.3

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.783

Walks & Hits per IP-1.048

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.732

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.33

3rd Time All-Star-Boston had the worst pitching in the American League with only one ace and that was this man, Tex Hughson. When he pitched and got the decision, the Red Sox were 18-5, but they were 59-72 when other pitchers started. Unfortunately, his country needed him more than his team and in the midst of a Cy Young-type season, he went off to war. His is the best Boston pitching season since, well, his own in 1943.

                Andrew Blume of SABR writes, “Hughson dominated again in 1944, compiling an 18-5, 2.26 (career-best ERA) record, his .783 winning percentage and 1.05 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) leading the league and keeping the Red Sox in contention for the AL flag. Selected to his third and final All-Star team, Hughson was the pitcher of record in the AL’s 7-1 loss at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. After retiring the side in order in the fourth in relief of starter Borowy, Tex allowed four runs, three of them earned, on five hits in the fifth.

                “On August 9, 1944, Hughson pitched his final game before leaving the team for military induction, defeating the White Sox with a 9-1 four-hitter at Fenway, the ninth game he had won that year by allowing only one run. After the game, the Red Sox stood in second place, 6 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Browns. With the loss of Hughson, coupled with the further loss within a few weeks of both Doerr and catcher Hal Wagner to the military, the Red Sox folded, losing 29 of their final 50 games, including 10 in a row in September, as the Browns won their first and only American League flag.”

P-Nels Potter, St. Louis Browns, 32 Years Old

1943

232 IP, 19-7, 2.83 ERA, 91 K, 129 ERA+, 3.01 FIP, 1.211 WHIP

82 AB, .159, 0 HR, 5 RBi, .159/.207/.171, 6 OPS+

WAR-5.6

Wins Above Replacement-5.6 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (4th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Browns

89-65, 1st in AL, Lost WS to STL, 4-2

Manager Luke Sewell

Ballpark: Sportman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-88, 6th in league

ERA+-115, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Nels Potter, 5.6

2nd Time All-Star-The St. Louis Browns started as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901 and then became the Browns the very next season, a year in which they finished second. Led by George Sisler, St. Louis also finished second in 1922. Those were the only two seasons it got that close to winning a pennant until the Browns finally won the American League pennant this season, led by their pitching, including Potter, who had the best St. Louis pitching season since Bob Muncrief in 1941. The World Series featured two teams from the Gateway City, but alas the Browns lost to the Cards, 4-2.

                Wikipedia says, “In 1944, Potter won 19 games, leading the Browns’ staff, as St. Louis prevailed over the Detroit Tigers by a single game in the pennant chase. Potter finished ninth in voting for the 1944 American League MVP balloting, with a 19–7 won–lost record, 16 complete games, three shutouts, and a 2.83 ERA. In the all-St. Louis 1944 World Series that followed, he started two games (the second and sixth contests) against the Cardinals. He allowed only one earned run in 923 innings pitched for an ERA of 0.93, but poor defense (he allowed four unearned runs) did him in, and he lost his only decision. The Cardinals won the world championship in six games.

                “On July 21, 1944, he became the first player to be ejected from a game and suspended for allegedly throwing a spitball. Umpire Cal Hubbard, who claimed that he had already warned Potter about his habit of wetting his fingers on the mound, ejected Potter in the fifth inning of a game against the New York Yankees. American League President Will Harridge later suspended Potter for 10 games.”

P-Jack Kramer, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

257 IP, 17-13, 2.49 ERA, 124 K, 146 ERA+, 2.61 FIP, 1.198 WHIP

85 AB, .165, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .165,/.245/.259, 40 OPS+

WAR-5.3

WAR for Pitchers-5.2

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 16

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-John Henry “Jack” Kramer was born on January 5, 1918 in New Orleans. The six-foot-two, 190 pound righty pitcher started with the Browns in 1939 and then missed 1942 and most of 1943 due to military service. This year, he had his best season ever  and the only year he would pitch in the World Series. Kramer pitched in two games, starting one, going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, hurling 11 scoreless innings.

                Wikipedia says, “In 1944, Kramer led the Browns to their 8th straight Opening Day victory‚ beating Dizzy Trout and Detroit‚ 2–1, at Tiger Stadium. A week later, he extended the Browns season-opening winning streak to six games defeating the White Sox, 5–2, aiding his cause with a two-run home run. In his next start, he pitches the Browns to their American League record 9th straight win to start the season with a 3–1 victory over the Indians, which gave his team a solid 312 game lead in the AL standings. Kramer finished with a 17–13 record and a 2.49 ERA, including a brilliant one-hitter shutout over the White Sox in September that gave St. Louis a half-game lead in front of the Yankees. The Browns finished with an 89–65 record and faced the Cardinals in the historic All-St. Louis World Series. Kramer added a complete-game victory in Game Three, allowing just two unearned runs on seven hits and 10 strikeouts. This would be the last time the hapless Browns won a postseason game.

                “Kramer died in Metairie, Louisiana at age 77.”

P-Johnny Niggeling, Washington Senators, 40 Years Old

1942 1943

206 IP, 10-8, 2.32 ERA, 121 K, 141 ERA+, 3.02 FIP, 1.223 WHIP

69 AB, .130, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .130/.178/.159, -1 OPS+

WAR-4.8

WAR for Pitchers-5.0 (6th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Washington Senators

64-90, 8th in AL

Manager Ossie Bluege

Ballpark: Griffith Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-91, 5th in league

ERA+-94, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Stan Spence, 6.0

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000 (4th Time)

3rd Time All-Star-There was a common saying about Washington in the day that said it was “first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.” Yet it should be noted 1944 was the first time the Senators finished last since 1909. Maybe that saying was uttered in the Fifties because towards the end of that decade, they were awful.

                Niggeling, the 40-year-old wonder, did his best to keep his team out of the cellar, having the best Washington pitching season since Dutch Leonard in 1940. He was one of four knucklers on the team this year. Oh, that poor catcher!

                Unfortunately, Niggeling did not have a happy end, as Joan M. Thomas writes in SABR: “Johnny then resided in nearby Le Mars and worked at Don Curry’s barber shop there for about three years. After that, he barbered at the Grand Central Hotel in Le Mars, where he lived. Still distraught over his divorce, on September 16, 1963 he hanged himself in his hotel room. A hotel employee, noticing Johnny’s mail still in the hallway, discovered his body. Ruth had just moved to Marion, Iowa (more than 250 miles east of Le Mars) with their three youngest children, so that could conceivably have affected his mental state. Following funeral services in Remsen, Johnny was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in that town.”

                It’s a constant lesson for us to learn. Success doesn’t buy happiness. How many times have we seen famous celebrities end their own lives? Sad.

P-Bob Muncrief, St. Louis Browns, 28 Years Old

1941

219 1/3, 13-8, 3.08 ERA, 88 K, 118 ERA+, 3.11 FIP, 1.213 WHIP

78 AB, .231, 0 HR, 10 RBI, .231/.259/.256, 44 OPS+

WAR-4.5

WAR for Pitchers-4.2 (8th)

All-Star: Yes (1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 34

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1941, Muncrief had an off season in 1942 and then a pretty good season in 1943, just not good enough to make my All-Star team. That changed this year as he was part of a powerful Browns pitching staff that helped lead them to their first pennant ever. It was also the Browns’ last pennant ever, though the franchise would start winning more frequently when it became the Baltimore Orioles. But that’s still a ways down the road.

                Wrap it up for us, Wikipedia! “Then, in 1944, Muncrief was an integral part of the Browns’ only American League championship team. His 13 victories were tied for third on the pitching staff, he lost only eight, and his ERA was a solid 3.08 in 21913 innings pitched. He was selected to represent the American League in the 1944 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, played July 11 at Forbes FieldPittsburgh. Muncrief tossed 113 scoreless innings in relief and allowed only one hit, but the National League took the contest, 7–1. The Browns went on to win 89 games during the regular season, one better than the second-place Tigers, to earn their first World Series berth. Pitted against their National League rivals, the Cardinals, in the all-St. Louis 1944 World Series, Muncrief was relegated to a relief role in his two appearances, each time replacing starter Nels Potter. In Game 2, he relieved Potter in the seventh inning of a 2–2 tie and allowed only one run over the next 413 innings, but he was out-dueled by Cardinals’ relief pitcher Blix Donnelly and the Redbirds won 3–2, with Muncrief absorbing the loss. Then, in Game 6, he came in for Potter in the fourth inning. He quelled a Cardinal rally and threw two more shutout frames, but the NL champions had already forged an insurmountable 3–1 lead en route to the world championship.

                “He died in Duncanville, Texas, at the age of 80.”

P-Bobo Newsom, Philadelphia Athletics, 36 Years Old

1934 1938 1939 1940

265 IP, 13-15, 2.82 ERA, 142 K, 122 ERA+, 2.98 FIP, 1.226 WHIP

88 AB, .114, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .114/.114/.136, -28 OPS+

WAR-3.8

WAR for Pitchers-4.5 (7th)

All-Star: Yes (1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Philadelphia Athletics

72-82, 5th in AL

Manager Connie Mack

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Neutral)

OPS+-85, 7th in league

ERA+-106, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Bobo Newsom, 3.8

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000

5th Time All-Star-Oh, what a career Louis “Bobo” Newsom had! After making my list for Detroit in 1940, he was purchased by the Washington Senators from the Detroit Tigers for $40,000 before 1942. Then during the season, the Dodgers purchased him from Washington. During 1943, Newsom was traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the St. Louis Browns for Archie McKain and Fritz Ostermueller. Then a little over a month later, the Senators purchased him from the Browns. After the season, he was traded by the Washington Senators to the Philadelphia Athletics for Roger Wolff. That’s all from 1940-to-1944. Newsom must have hated to hear the phone ring.

                Back to this year, Newsom had the best A’s pitching season since, well, Jesse Flores in 1943.

                I wonder if part of the reason he got traded so often was his smart mouth. Look at this blurb from Wikipedia, “Newsom’s performance in 1941 was a disappointment, as he lost 20 games, winning only 12. When Tigers’ general manager Jack Zeller negotiated a contract with Newsom, he said, ‘You’ll have to take a salary cut, Newsom, since you lost 20 games last season.’ The plain-spoken Bobo, remembering what Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had done to release players on minor-league teams that were under major-league teams’ control, snapped, ‘[Y]ou lost ninety-one of Briggs‘ [the team owner] ball players last year, and I don’t see you taking no cut.’ Zeller was not amused and traded Newsom to the Washington Senators.

                Speaking before thinking is an affliction yours truly also battles.

P-Hank Borowy, New York Yankees, 28 Years Old

252 2/3, 17-12, 2.64 ERA, 107 K, 133 ERA+, 3.51 FIP, 1.235 WHIP

90 AB, .133, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .133/.161/.189, -1 OPS+

WAR-3.8

WAR for Pitchers-4.2 (9th)

All-Star: Yes (3 IP, 3 H, 0 R)

MVP Rank: 31

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Yankees

83-71. 3rd in AL

Manager Joe McCarthy

Ballpark: Yankee Stadium I (Hitter’s)

OPS+-103, 3rd in league

ERA+-104, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Stuffy Stirnweiss, 8.6

1st Time All-Star-Henry Ludwig “Hank” Borowy was born on May 12, 1916 in Bloomfield, New Jersey. The six-foot, 175 pound righty pitcher started with the Yankees in 1942 and pitched in the World Series in ’42 and ’43. In the 1942 Series the Yankees lost to the Cardinals, he started one game, giving up six runs in three innings. During the 1943 Fall Classic in which New York toppled the Cardinals, he won the one game he started, giving up two runs in eight innings. This year he had his best season ever which was good since the Yankees’ ace, Spud Chandler, went off to war.

                Lyle Spatz of SABR writes, “The Yankees stayed in the 1944 race all season before fading at the end and finishing third, six games behind St. Louis, who won their first and only American League pennant. Borowy lost his last three decisions, but in those three games the Yanks scored a total of two runs for him. In his final start of the season, he pitched a two-hitter against the Browns but lost 1-0 to Nelson Potter.

                “His record had been 11-4 at the All-Star break, but he’d slumped in the second half and finished with a 17-12 mark. Yet Borowy was clearly the Yankees’ best pitcher. He led the club in wins (17), winning percentage (.586), games (35), games started (30), complete games (19), innings pitched (252 2/3), strikeouts (107), shutouts (3) and earned run average (2.64). He was nevertheless dissatisfied with his season, believing that he should have won 25 games rather than just 17.”

P-Joe Berry, Philadelphia Athletics, 39 Years Old

111 1/3 IP, 10-8, 1.94 ERA, 44 K, 178 ERA+, 2.89 FIP, .0907 WHIP

25 AB, .120, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .120/.185/.120, -11 OPS+

WAR-3.6

WAR for Pitchers-3.7 (10th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 40 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Saves-12

Games Finished-47

1st Time All-Star-Jonas Arthur “Jittery Joe” Berry was born 52 years before my sister, Rose, on December 16, 1904 in Huntsville, Arkansas. The five-foot-10, 145 pound (?) lefty hitting, righty throwing pitcher started with the Cubs in 1942, pitching two games. With the war putting pitching at a premium, the A’s picked up Berry and he did something rare, making my list as a relief pitcher. There have been quite a few to make this list that combined starting and relieving, but very few have made it without starting even one game. 

                This project on which I’ve embarked is far from perfect. There are going to be some categories of players who are hindered by the way I pick my All-Star team. One group that will be hamstrung will be a very small group of players like Babe Ruth and Shohei Ohtani who are pitchers and hitters. Well, it didn’t hurt Ruth much, who ended up the greatest player of all time, but it could end up hurting Shohei.

                However, the bigger group affected by the way I pick my teams is relief pitchers. I just feel they don’t have as much value as the starters due to a lack of innings pitched. Using my crystal ball, I see even the great Mariano Rivera making just two of these lists, despite having a Career WAR of 56.3. I would be surprised if a relief pitcher ever made my Hall of Fame.

                One other group affected by the way I pick my Hall of Fame is those who have incredible careers for just a short stretch of time, which is why Rube Waddell, Dizzy Dean, and Sandy Koufax most likely won’t be in my Hall.

C-Hal Wagner, Philadelphia Athletics/Boston Red Sox, 28 Years Old

227 AB, .330, 1 HR, 38 RBI, .330/.415/.436, 145 OPS+

WAR-2.0

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 130 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Philadelphia Team Stats

Boston Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Harold Edward “Hal” Wagner was born on July 2, 1915 in East Riverton, New Jersey. The six-foot, 165 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher started with the A’s in 1937 and became their regular catcher in 1942, making the American League All-Star team. This year, he caught just five games as a backup before being traded by the Philadelphia Athletics to the Boston Red Sox for Ford Garrison. He’s the first Red Sox catcher to make this list since Rick Ferrell in 1936.

                Wikipedia says, “Arriving in trade from the Athletics, Wagner played his first game with Boston on May 10, 1944, and received steady playing time in a platoon with the right-handed hitting Roy Partee. During June, for example, Wagner caught 11 complete games and appeared in 3 others, while Partee caught 14 complete games and appeared in 1 other. Wagner hit especially well during July and August, raising his average from .274 on June 30, to .295 on July 30, to .330 on August 27. But with World War II still ongoing, Wagner was called to serve, and on August 28 he joined the US Army. He missed the remainder of the 1944 season, and all of the 1945 season, due to his military service. After the conclusion of the war, Wagner was released from the Army in October 1945.

                “Wagner spent most of 1949 with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Class AAA International League, appearing in 95 games and batting for a .260 average, and then spent 1950 with the Dallas Eagles of the Class AA Texas League, batting .212 in 89 games. After his career, he continue to live in his hometown – he died in 1979 at the age of 64, in nearby Riverside, New Jersey.”

C-Frankie Hayes, Philadelphia Athletics, 29 Years Old

1940

581 AB, .248, 13 HR, 78 RBI, .248/.315/.367, 97 OPS+

WAR-2.0

All-Star: Yes (0-1, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 14

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 28 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-155

Def. Games as C-155 (3rd Time)

Putouts as C-636

Assists as C-89

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-88 (6th Time)

Caught Stealing as C-48

2nd Time All-Star-Hayes last made my list in 1940, at which point I mentioned he set the record for most consecutive games caught with 312, which still holds to this day. That is incredible for a catcher, isn’t it? It’s again one of those records brought on during wartime when the lack of talent made those who could actually play the game even more valuable. Between these two times he’s made my All-Star team, he was with the Browns for a couple of years, but both times he’s appeared on the list, he’s been in the City of Brotherly Love.

                Bill Nowlin of SABR writes, “Before 1944 spring training began, the Browns traded him back to the Athletics for pitcher Sam Zoldak and minor leaguer outfielder Barney Lutz and an undisclosed amount of cash. Bad knees or not, Hayes played in every single game of the 1944 season – the 154 on the regular schedule and an additional one due to a tie. He missed out being on the pennant-winning Browns, but he drove in a club-leading 78 runs for Philadelphia while batting .248. Eight of the runs batted in came on grand slams on May 15 and May 24.

                “Despite another trade, on May 29 (to the Cleveland Indians for catcher Buddy Rosar), Hayes appeared in 151 games on the season – every game on the schedule in which he could have played, thus extending his consecutive games streak from the final two games of 1943 through all of 1944 and 1945. The major-league record for catching in consecutive games was held by Ray Mueller at 217 games. Hayes surpassed Mueller’s record in June 1945, and kept on catching.”

1B-Nick Etten, New York Yankees, 30 Years Old

573 AB, .293, 22 HR, 91 RBI, .293/.399/.466, 144 OPS+

WAR-4.8

WAR Position Players-4.8 (9th)

Offensive WAR-4.5 (9th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 23

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Home Runs-22

Bases on Balls-97

Intentional Bases on Balls-18

1st Time All-Star-Nicholas Raymond Thomas “Nick” Etten was born on September 19, 1913 in Spring Grove, Illinois. The six-foot-two, 198 pound lefty first baseman started with Philadelphia in 1938 and 1939 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1940. In 1941, he was back with the A’s and then after the 1942 season, Etten was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Yankees for Al GettelEd Levy and $10,000. Al Gettel and Ed Levy returned to original team on March 26, 1943. The New York Yankees sent Tom Padden (March 26, 1943) and Al Gerheauser (March 26, 1943) to the Philadelphia Phillies to complete the trade. He’s the first Yankee to be on my list at first base since Lou Gehrig in 1938.

                Wikipedia says, “Etten attended Villanova University and was drafted by the Athletics from the Oakland Oaks minor league team. He made his major league debut with the Athletics late in 1938, also playing part-time for them in 1939. After playing two seasons with the Phillies, he was traded to the Yankees in January 1943, and he responded by leading the American League with 22 home runs, and drawing 97 walks in 1944, and with 111 RBIs the following season, also best in the league. During his four-year stint with the Yankees, Etten also ranked among league leaders in most offensive categories, was a member of the 1943 World Champion team.”

                The Yankees were incredible during this time as they had the ability to find good players whether it was peace time or wartime. Etten’s one of those who wouldn’t have made my list during a regular year, but shined in the depleted American League.

2B-Snuffy Stirnweiss, New York Yankees, 25 Years Old

643 AB, .319, 8 HR, 43 RBI, .319/.389/.460, 139 OPS+

WAR-8.6

Wins Above Replacement-8.6 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-8.6 (1st)

Offensive WAR-7.0 (2nd)

Defensive WAR-2.5 (1st)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

WAR Position Players-8.6

Defensive WAR-2.5

Plate Appearances-723

Runs Scored-125

Hits-205

Triples-16

Stolen Bases-55

Singles-146

Runs Created-122

Times on Base-279

Power-Speed #-14.0

Def. Games as 2B-154

Putouts as 2B-433

Assists as 2B-481

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.94

Fielding % as 2B-.982

1st Time All-Star-George Henry “Snuffy” Stirnweiss was born on October 26, 1918 in New York. The five-foot-eight, 175 pound righty second baseman started with the Yankees in 1943 and had some impressive wartime years.  Stirnwess, of course, only got this opportunity because the great Joe Gordon was off to war. As for his nickname, Rob Edelman writes in SABR, “The Yankees assigned Stirnweiss to the Norfolk (Virginia) Tars in the Piedmont League. He appeared in eighty-six games and batted .307, earning him an end-of-the-season promotion to the International League Newark Bears. According to The Sporting News, it was here that Stirnweiss was first dubbed Snuffy. The paper reported that upon arriving in Newark he produced an array of tobacco products. After watching him stuff his mouth with chewing tobacco and light up a stogie, teammate Hank Majeski quipped, ‘What, no snuff?’ ‘Since then,’ the paper noted, ‘he has been “Snuffy the Bear”.’”

                More from SABR: “Stirnweiss played in 154 games in 1944 and his .319 batting average was fourth best in the American League. Additionally, he led the league in runs, hits, triples, and stolen bases. His sixteen triples tied teammate Johnny Lindell for the lead, and his 296 total bases were one behind Lindell, the league leader. He was fourth in the league’s Most Valuable Player voting. That September Time magazine described Stirnweiss as ‘the apple of [Joe] McCarthy’s managerial eye.’ In media reports, Stirnweiss was not merely the Yankees second baseman, he had become their star player.” Another great Yankee pickup.

2B-Bobby Doerr, Boston Red Sox, 26 Years Old

1942 1943

468 AB, .325, 15 HR, 81 RBI, .325/.399/.528, 165 OPS+

WAR-6.3

Wins Above Replacement-6.3 (5th)

WAR Position Players-6.3 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-6.8 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (0-3, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1986)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Slugging %-.528

3rd Time All-Star-It took until 1986 for Doerr to make the Hall of Fame and I can see the logic. He’s now made my list three times but all three have been during wartime, when the Majors had less talent. I don’t think that takes away from Doerr’s career, because so many things in life depend on circumstances. We are called to make the best with what we’re dealt and Doerr did that, having his best season ever in 1944.

                Doerr hit for the cycle on May 17 of this season, but he didn’t finish the year, according to Bill Nowlin of SABR, who writes, ”Doerr anchored the second base slot for Boston through the 1951 season, missing just one year (and one crucial month) during World War II. The month was September 1944. When the war broke out, Bobby was exempt because he and his wife Monica had a young son, Don. He’d also been rejected for a perforated eardrum. As the war rolled on, the military needed more and more men and the pressures on seemingly-healthy athletes intensified. After the 1943 season, Doerr took a wintertime defense job in Los Angeles, working at a sheet metal machine shop run by the man who had managed his old American Legion team. When he left the defense job to play the 1944 season, he received his draft orders and was told to report at the beginning of September. By the time September came around, the Red Sox were in the thick of the pennant race, just four games out of first place — and both Doerr (.325 at the time, his .528 slugging average led the league) and Hughson (18-5, 2.26 ERA) had to leave. The team couldn’t sustain those two losses and their hopes sputtered out.”

3B-Ken Keltner, Cleveland Indians, 27 Years Old

1941

573 AB, .295, 13 HR, 91 RBI, .295/.355/.466, 138 OPS+

WAR-5.5

Wins Above Replacement-5.5 (10th)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (6th)

Offensive WAR-4.5 (8th)

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 1 R, 1 GIDP)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as 3B-149 (3rd Time)

Assists as 3B-369 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 3B-37 (4th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.59 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.60 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Since making my list in 1941, Keltner had decent, but not All-Star worthy seasons, but he came back this season. In an era without a lot of star third basemen, Keltner shined. He was liked in his time, making the All-Star team year after year, but evaluated through the modern eye, he doesn’t look as good. I think Harlond Clift was the best third baseman of this time, but he doesn’t get nearly the acclaim.

                Jim Nitz of SABR writes, “In 1942 and 1943, the All Star’s power numbers slipped as he hit only ten homers and 117 RBIs over the two seasons. However, his batting averages remained solid at .287 and .260 and he led the AL in the same four fielding categories in 1942 as in 1941. An August 1943 spike slashing cut Keltner’s campaign to only 110 games. After spending time in a Cleveland hospital with a four- inch ankle gash (including a severed ligament), he returned home to recuperate. This provided the young star time with his growing family as he also frequented Borchert Field. By 1944, Keltner climbed back up to 13 homers, a .295 average, 91 RBIs, and a second place AL finish of 41 doubles. He again sparkled at the hot corner as his assists, double plays, and total chances per game were best in the circuit.”

                Keltner would miss all of 1945 as he went off to the military and then play for a bit after that. I figure he’s got one more of these lists left as he hasn’t yet had his best season ever.

3B-Pinky Higgins, Detroit Tigers, 35 Years Old

1933

543 AB, .297, 7 HR, 76 RBI, .297/.392/.409, 124 OPS+

WAR-3.9

WAR Position Players-3.9 (10th)

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

MVP Rank: 19

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as 3B-22 (4th Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Back in 1933, a 24-year-old third baseman had an outstanding season and certainly looked like he was off  to greatness with his team at the time, the Athletics. After 1936, Higgins was traded by the Philadelphia Athletics to the Boston Red Sox for Billy Werber. He played two seasons for the Bosox and then was traded by the Boston Red Sox with Archie McKain to the Detroit Tigers for Elden AukerChet Morgan and Jake Wade. With Detroit, he got to play in 1940 World Series against the Reds and was outstanding, hitting .333 (eight-for-24) with three doubles, a triple, and a homer. It wasn’t enough as Cincinnati beat the Tigers in seven games. This year, Higgins becomes the first Tiger to make my list as a third baseman since Marty McManus in 1930.

                Unfortunately in his later years, Higgins was known for his racism as he seemed to be part of the reason Boston was the last team to have a black player on its roster. Mark Armour of SABR has many of the details, writing, “[Pumpsie] Green says he never heard Higgins use a racial slur, but also, ‘You’d just get a feeling. He’d make his conversation as short as possible.’[Earl] Wilson was more certain, and believed that Higgins did not like black players. ‘It’s not very hard to tell if a guy likes you or dislikes you,’ says Wilson. ‘It’s like if a dog comes in a room, he can tell if a person likes him or dislikes him. It [Higgins’ supposed racism] was real, man.’”

                Higgins died of a heart attack on March 21, 1969 at the age of 59. As I’ve mentioned many times, being good at playing baseball doesn’t necessarily make you a good human being.

SS-Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians, 26 Years Old, Inducted into Ron’s HOF

1940 1941 1942 1943

584 AB, .327, 3 HR, 67 RBI, .327/.406/.437, 145 OPS+

WAR-8.1

Wins Above Replacement-8.1 (4th)

WAR Position Players-8.1 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-7.1 (1st)

Defensive WAR-2.1 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1970)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1944)

Cleveland Indians

72-82, 5th in AL

Manager Lou Boudreau

Ballpark: League Park II and Cleveland Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-104, 2nd in league

ERA+-91, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Lou Boudreau, 8.1

Led in:

1944 AL Batting Title

Offensive WAR-7.1

Batting Average-.327

Doubles-45 (3rd Time)

Assists-517

Def. Games as SS-149 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-339 (3rd Time)

Assists as SS-516 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-134 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.74

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.74

Fielding % as SS-.978 (5th Time)

5th Time All-Star-Well, it didn’t take long for Boudreau to enter my Hall of Fame as, after five outstanding seasons, he’s in. You can click on the link above to see my whole list, through 1944. Except for pitcher, shortstop has the most players in my Hall. As a reminder, my Hall of Fame is based solely on numbers. I multiply the number of my All-Star lists made by the player’s Career WAR and if that number is 300 or above, he makes it Boudreau now has five All-Star teams and a Career WAR of 62.9, so welcome to my Hall, Handsome Lou!

                Ryan of Covering the Corner writes, “In addition, just after Boudreau was as manager, the United States entered World War II. Star pitcher Bob Feller enlisted immediately, with others sure to follow before the beginning of the 1942 season. Boudreau, thanks to arthritic ankles (brought on by playing basketball), was declared 4-F, and thus ineligible for the draft, but several of the team’s star players would miss at least several years while serving in the armed forces. The Indians of the war years were generally .500 clubs, but never really threatened to win a pennant.“

                That same article is part of a series of articles ranking the top Cleveland Indians of all time and Boudreau finished fourth. That’s exactly where WAR would place him, behind Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, and Bob Feller.       Interestingly enough, the last time the Indians won a pennant in 1920, Speaker was their player-manager.

SS-Vern Stephens, St. Louis Browns, 23 Years Old

1943

559 AB, .293, 20 HR, 109 RBI, .293/.365/.462, 129 OPS+

WAR-5.5

WAR Position Players-5.5 (7th)

Offensive WAR-5.3 (6th)

Defensive WAR-1.2 (8th)

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 99 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Runs Batted In-109

2nd Time All-Star-While the American League champs had plenty of pitching, the Browns hitting lacked except for this one superstar, Vern Stephens. This would be his only World Series and he unfortunately was on the losing end of a 4-2 Fall Classic victory by the Cardinals. Stephens didn’t hit too well, going five-for-22 (.227) with a double. This would be the only time the Browns would win the pennant, though once the organization moved to Baltimore, it would have more success.

                Mark Armour of SABR writes, “In 1944 Stephens led his team to its first and only American League pennant, hitting .293 with 22 home runs and 109 RBI. He moved up to third in the MVP vote behind Detroit pitchers Hal Newhouser and Dizzy Trout, who combined to win 56 games. In both 1943 and 1944 Stephens played all nine innings and batted fourth for the American League in the All-Star game. He was the best player on the best team, and he was just turning 24.

                “In William Mead’s classic book on wartime baseball, Even the Browns, he quotes several Browns teammates who were seemingly in awe of Stephens. Mark Christman, the team’s third baseman, considered Stephens to be as good a shortstop as Cardinals’ star Marty Marion: ‘not as good hands, but he covered as much ground, and he had an arm like a shotgun.’ Christman also marveled at Stephens’ strength, noting that although he played at Sportsman’s Park, a tough park for a right-handed hitter, Stephens could hit the ball the other way onto the pavilion roof in right-center.”

LF-Bob Johnson, Boston Red Sox, 38 Years Old, Inducted into Ron’s HOF

1934 1937 1938 1939 1942

525 AB, .324, 17 HR, 106 RBI, .324/.431/.528, 174 OPS+

WAR-6.3

Wins Above Replacement-6.4 (6th)

WAR Position Players-6.4 (4th)

Offensive WAR-6.5 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (0-3, 1 BB, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1944)

Team Stats

Led in:

On-Base %-.431

On-Base Plus Slugging-.959

Adjusted OPS+-174

Adj. Batting Runs-56

Adj. Batting Wins-5.8

Offensive Win %-.789

Base-Out Runs Added-47.63

Situ. Wins Added-4.2

Base-Out Wins Added-5.0

Def. Games as LF-142

Putouts as LF-261 (5th Time)

Assists as LF-22 (5th Time)

Fielding % as LF-.976 (3rd Time)

6th Time All-Star-When I first wrote up Johnson in 1934, I wasn’t sure whether or not he would make my Hall of Fame. Some 10 years later, here he is, the 130th inductee and 12th leftfielder. Would he have made it if there wouldn’t have been a World War II and so many good players took time off from the Major Leagues? I don’t know, but as I’ve mentioned numerous times, many careers are based on circumstances. How many players from the Negro Leagues didn’t get their fair shot? (Hopefully, that will change, at least on my page. See the announcement at the top of this list.)

                Bill Nowlin of SABR writes, “Johnson played left field for the Red Sox and had a very good year. He hit .324, and his .431 on-base percentage led the American League. He hit for the cycle on June 6 in Detroit. Johnson drove in 106 runs, the eighth time he’d exceeded 100 RBIs. He was named to the All-Star team, and placed 10th for MVP. The Red Sox made a legitimate run for the pennant, but when September arrived (and Bobby Doerr and a couple of others left for military service), they slid back to fourth place, solidified by a 10-game losing streak.

                “Johnson’s last year in the majors was 1945, and his .280 average cost him the chance to finish with a career average over .300. He finished at .296. 

                “Bob Johnson was later named to the Pierce County Hall of Fame and the Washington State Hall of Fame. None other than Ted Williams once spoke, in 1975, about Bob’s accomplishment with the Philadelphia Athletics: ‘Bob drove in over one hundred runs in seven of his first nine seasons with that rag-tag outfit. There weren’t that many runners on base than that when he came to the plate in those years, let alone guys in scoring position.’

                “Bob Johnson died of heart failure on July 6, 1982, in Tacoma.”

LF-Dick Wakefield, Detroit Tigers, 23 Years Old

276 AB, .355, 12 HR, 53 RBI, .355/.464/.576, 190 OPS+

WAR-3.9

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 23 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Championship WPA-17.0

1st Time All-Star-Richard Cummings “Dick” Wakefield was born on May 6, 1921 in Chicago. The six-foot-four, 210 pound leftfielder started with Detroit in 1941, didn’t play in the Majors in 1942, came back to the Tigers in 1943, leading the American League in hits and doubles and then had an outstanding partial year this season. Unfortunately, Wakefield went off to war and when he returned, he was never the same. He’s the first Tiger leftfielder on my list since Hank Greenberg in 1940.

                Wikipedia says, “In October 1943, Wakefield entered the U.S. Navy as an aviation cadet and was discharged in July 1944, when the cadet program was discontinued. Upon his discharge from the Navy, Wakefield rejoined the Tigers in mid-July 1944 and went on a tear, hitting .355 in 78 games and collecting an OPS score of 1.040. Wakefield was recalled up for service to the Navy in November 1944 and remained in the service until January 1946. In all, Wakefield missed half of the 1944 season and the entire 1945 seasons to military service.

                “While in the service, Wakefield met Ted Williams in Hawaii and bet him that he would top him in home runs, RBIs, and batting average when the war ended. They bet $1,000 on each statistic, with Wakefield losing on all three bets, as his post-war performance never returned to its 1943–1944 levels.

                “After his baseball career, Wakefield worked in taxes, bankruptcy courts and the steel industry. In 1983, Wakefield was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.

                “Wakefield died in 1985 at age 64 in Redford, Michigan.”

CF-Stan Spence, Washington Senators, 29 Years Old

1942 1943

592 AB, .316, 18 HR, 100 RBI, .316/.391/.486, 155 OPS+

WAR-6.0

Wins Above Replacement-6.1 (7th)

WAR Position Players-6.1 (5th)

Offensive WAR-6.2 (5th)

All-Star: Yes (2-4)

MVP Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Stars seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as CF-150 (2nd Time)

Assists as CF-29

Double Plays Turned as CF-9

Assists as OF-29

Double Plays Turned as OF-9

3rd Time All-Star-It’s true the Senators were awful, but they still produced some good ballplayers, including Stanley Orville Spence. This is his third All-Star team with more to come and it’s also his best season ever. He set career highs in homers (18), RBIs (100), and on-base percentage (.391). Unfortunately, right after his good year, Spence, like many before him, was off to war. Don’t fret for him, he’ll be back.

                Mark Armour of SABR writes, “Stan rebounded in 1944 to hit .316 with 18 home runs and 100 RBIs, leading the league in RBIs for much of the summer before finishing fourth behind Vern Stephens. He also had an astonishing 29 outfield assists. Though the club finished in last place for the first time since 1909, Spence was held blameless. ‘The only player on the club who has played good ball,’ wrote Shirley Povich in The Sporting News, ‘aside from some of the pitchers, is Stan Spence.’ Povich called Spence the best outfielder in the league. (Ed. Note-According to WAR, Bob Johnson was the only one better.)

                “Spence stayed out of the military for most of the war because he was married with two children, and he was nearly 27 when the United States entered the war. Finally reclassified in early 1945, Stan spent the next several months in the Army, mainly playing baseball at a base on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle.”

                He also had a memorable day on June 1, 1944 when he went six-for-six against the pennant-winning St. Louis Browns. He had five singles and a dinger.

CF-Johnny Lindell, New York Yankees, 27 Years Old

594 AB, .300, 18 HR, 103 RBI, .300/.351/.500, 139 OPS+

WAR-5.3

WAR Position Players-5.4 (8th)

Offensive WAR-4.6 (7th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 17

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Total Bases-297

Triples-16 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-67

Win Probability Added-4.1

Putouts as CF-453

Putouts as OF-468

1st Time All-Star-John Harlan “Johnny” Lindell was born on August 30, 1916 in Greeley, Colorado. The six-foot-four, 217 pound righty outfielder actually started his career as a pitcher for the Yankees in 1942 before being moved to rightfield in 1943 and then to centerfield this season when he had his best year ever. He’s the first Yankee centerfielder to make my list since Joltin’ Joe in 1942. Needless to say, when DiMaggio returned, the Bronx Bombers no longer needed someone to man center.

                Wikipedia says, “Lindell played a pivotal role in Game 3 of the 1943 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. With the series tied at one game apiece and the Yankees trailing by a score of 2 to 1, Lindell hit a single to lead off the eighth inning and, reached second base when center fielder Harry Walker mishandled the ball. When Snuffy Stirnweiss hit a bunt to first baseman Ray Sanders, Lindell attempted to advance to third base. Sanders’ throw reached third baseman Whitey Kurowski in time as Lindell made a head-first slide. His head bounced up into Kurowki’s head forcing the third baseman to drop the ball. The Yankees then proceeded to score five runs to win the game 6 to 2. The play at third base was considered a turning point in the series as the Yankees went on to win the next two games and won the world championship.

                “Lindell had his most productive season in 1944 when he led the league in triples, extra base hitstotal bases, and had a .300 batting average with 18 home runs and 103 runs batted in. Also in 1944, Lindell tied a major league record by hitting four doubles in a game, and he recorded 468 putouts, the tenth best season total for an outfielder during the years he played.

                “Lindell died of lung cancer in Laguna Beach, California on August 27, 1985, just three days before his 69th birthday.”

CF-Thurman Tucker, Chicago White Sox, 26 Years Old

446 AB, .287, 2 HR, 46 RBI, .287/.368/.361, 110 OPS+

WAR-3.4

Defensive WAR-1.3 (7th)

All-Star: Yes (0-4)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 37 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago White Sox

71-83, 7th in AL

Manager Jimmy Dykes

Ballpark: Comiskey Park I (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-81, 8th in league

ERA+-95, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Thurman Tucker, 3.4

Led in:

Range Factor/Game as CF-3.48 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as OF-3.61 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-3.55 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as OF-.991

1st Time All-Star-Thurman Lowell “Joe E.” Tucker was born on September 26, 1917 in Gordon, Texas. The five-foot-10, 165 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing centerfielder started with the White Sox in 1942 and made my list this year as Chicago’s best player. He’s the first White Sock (?) player to make my list as a centerfielder since Mike Kreevich in 1937. He was a decent hitter, but he made this list because of his glove.

                Wikipedia says, “Tucker passed a physical examination for the United States Navy before the 1944 season began. Although expected to be called up to serve in the war that year, he was able to play the entire season for the White Sox. Tucker hit very well during the first month of 1944; he had a .403 batting average on May 16, which led the American League. His hitting and fielding abilities impressed critics: sportswriter Fred Lieb noted him as a breakout performer that year, and manager Jimmy Dykes called Tucker the finest defensive outfielder in the American League. Tucker and Dixie Walker led their respective leagues in batting average throughout June; at the end of the month, Tucker had an average of .369 in the American League while Walker had an average of .377 in the National League. Owing to his achievements, Tucker was added to the 1944 All-Star roster for the only time in his career. He was the leadoff hitter in the 1944 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but went hitless in four at-bats.

                “Tucker died on May 7, 1993, in Oklahoma City and is buried at Gordon Cemetery in his hometown of Gordon, Texas.”

RF-Roy Cullenbine, Cleveland Indians, 30 Years Old

1943

571 AB, .284, 16 HR, 80 RBI, .284/.380/.445, 139 OPS+

WAR-3.8

Offensive WAR-4.3 (10th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 23

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as RF-150

Assists as RF-18 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as RF-10

Double Plays Turned as RF-5 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as OF-151

2nd Time All-Star-Cullenbine continued to take advantage of the war-depleted American League and put up good stats. He hit for decent power and got on base quite a bit, along with playing a good rightfield so he’s back on my list. He’s not done making my All-Star teams. In 1945, he’s leaving Drew Carey’s favorite city. However, the team he’s going to is going to have quite a season. Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself! (By the way, it is going to be a long time before I write about the 1945 seasons of the National and American League. See the note above).

                Warren Corbett of SABR writes, “Roy Cullenbine’s greatest skill was unappreciated in his time. Cullenbine walked in 17.8 percent of his plate appearances, the seventh-highest rate in history.1 He set a record by drawing walks in 22 consecutive games. But his extraordinary ability to get on base didn’t impress the people who signed his paychecks. One general manager said he was too lazy to swing the bat.

                “[In 1944], he mastered a left-handed uppercut swing and clubbed 16 home runs with the deadened wartime ball, nearly twice as many as he had ever hit before. He was chosen for his second All-Star team, but did not play.”

                Cullenbine might have got on base a lot, but he wasn’t well loved, due to a reputation for laziness.

1944 National League All-Star Team

P-Rip Sewell, PIT

P-Bucky Walters, CIN-Inducted into Ron’s HOF

P-Jim Tobin, BSN

P-Fritz Ostermueller, BRO/PIT

P-Mort Cooper, STL

P-Claude Passeau, CHC-Inducted into Ron’s HOF

P-Ken Raffensberger, PHI

P-Nate Andrews, BSN

P-Ted Wilks, STL

P-Red Munger, STL

C-Ray Mueller, CIN

C-Walker Cooper, STL

1B-Frank McCormick, CIN

2B-Woody Williams, CIN

3B-Bob Elliott, PIT

SS-Marty Marion, STL

LF-Augie Galan, BRO

LF-Jim Russell, PIT

CF-Johnny Hopp, STL

CF-Buster Adams, PHI

CF-Tommy Holmes, BSN

RF-Stan Musial, STL, 2nd MVP-Inducted into Ron’s HOF

RF-Bill Nicholson, CHC

RF-Dixie Walker, BRO

RF-Mel Ott, NYG, 10th Greatest Player of All-Time (through 1944), Most AS as RF (14)

P-Rip Sewell, Pittsburgh Pirates, 37 Years Old

1940 1943

286 IP, 21-12, 3.18 ERA, 87 K, 117 ERA+, 3.68 FIP, 1.266 WHIP

112 AB, .223, 1 HR, 12 RBI, .223/.237/.304, 49 OPS+

WAR-6.3

Wins Above Replacement-6.3 (2nd)

WAR for Pitchers-6.0 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (3 IP, 0 R, 2 K)

MVP Rank: 11

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Pittsburgh Pirates

90-63, 2nd in NL

Manager Frankie Frisch

Ballpark: Forbes Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-98, 4th in league

ERA+-109, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Rip Sewell, 6.3

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-6.0

Putouts as P-21 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-While the nation continued to battle on the continent of Europe and in the Pacific, baseball went on. Many of the greats were gone, but there were still enough players to keep the two eight-team leagues going, so on they went and fans still filled the parks. No, they couldn’t watch pitchers like Bob Feller, but they could watch the anti-Feller, Rip Sewell, and his famous eephus pitch, a lob that reached 25 feet in height and puzzled many a batter. Using that pitch, Rip had his best season ever and the best season by a Pirate since Wilbur Cooper in 1922. He definitely should have finished higher than 11th in the National League Most Valuable Player voting.

                Sewell did make the All-Star game, however, and did well, according to Lyle Spatz of SABR, who wrote, “While the National League was adding to its lead, Pittsburgh’s Rip Sewell and Jim Tobin were completely shutting down the American League batters. Sewell faced only nine men in his three innings. Bob Johnson, whom he walked, was erased when Keltner hit into a double play. Tobin, a knuckleballer, pitched a perfect ninth. Sewell further entertained the home crowd by throwing three of his famous blooper pitches. Hubbard called one a ball and one a strike, while on the third, McQuinn, attempting to bunt for a hit, was thrown out on a fine play by catcher Cooper.”

                Sewell died at the age of 82 on September 3, 1989 in Plant City, FL. His most famous eephus pitch was against Ted Williams in the 1946 All-Star Game, but you can research that yourself.

P-Bucky Walters, Cincinnati Reds, 35 Years Old, Inducted into Ron’s HOF

1936 1939 19401941 1942

285 IP, 23-8, 2.40 ERA, 77 K, 146 ERA+, 3.41 FIP, 1.123 WHIP

107 AB, .280, 0 HR, 13 RBI, .280/.330/.318, 86 OPS+

WAR-6.2

Wins Above Replacement-6.2 (5th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.2 (5th)

All-Star-Yes (3 IP, 1 R, 1 K)

MVP Rank-5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1944)

Cincinnati Reds

89-65, 3rd in NL

Manager Bill McKechnie

Ballpark: Crosley Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-86, 7th in league

ERA+-118, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bucky Walters, 6.2

Led in:

Wins-23 (3rd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-7.358 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-35 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.9 (3rd Time)

Win Probability Added-6.3 (3rd Time)

Sit. Wins Saved-4.4 (3rd Time)

Championship WPA-8.9 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as P-1.000

6th Time All-Star-After making my list four straight times from 1939-42, Walters stumbled a bit in 1943, going 15-15 with a 3.54 ERA (94 ERA+). This year, he’s back and, with his sixth All-Star season and his career 53.2 WAR, I inducted him into my Hall of Fame. I’m also still ranting and raving he should be in the REAL Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He’s the 126th player and 45th pitcher inducted thus far. You can see the full list by clicking the link above. Walters’ 1944 season is the best Reds pitching season since Ray Starr in 1942.

                Sheldon Appleton of SABR writes about his comeback this season, noting, “After an appendectomy, he returned in 1944 and enjoyed another golden year reminiscent of his prewar years. He led the league in wins with 23, losing only 8 and trailing teammate Ed Heusser for the ERA lead by two hundreths of a run. (Heusser pitched 93 fewer innings and won 13 while losing 11.) In addition, he batted .280, fielded 1.000, was the starting pitcher in the All-Star game (a 7-1 NL win), and was chosen as the STATS retrospective Cy Young award winner for the third time as well as one of the four NL starters on their retrospective All-Star team. On May 14, in the first game of a doubleheader in Boston, he pitched a perfect game through 7 2/3 innings, until Connie Ryan singled, finishing with a one-hit shutout victory.”

                My guess is he’s going to make this list in 1945 and that will be it.

P-Jim Tobin, Boston Braves, 31 Years Old

1941

299 1/3 IP, 18-19, 3.01 ERA, 83 K, 127 ERA+, 3.77 FIP, 1.229 WHIP

116 AB, .190, 2 HR, 18 RBI, .190/.288/.302, 63 OPS+

WAR-6.2

Wins Above Replacement-6.2 (4th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.6 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (Save, 1 IP, 0 R)

MVP Rank: 17

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Braves

65-89, 6th in NL

Manager Bob Coleman

Ballpark: Braves Field (Neutral)

OPS+-83, 8th in league

ERA+-105, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Jim Tobin, 6.2

Led in:

Complete Games-28 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-93 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as P-2.47 (4th Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Tobin last made my list in 1941 and then in 1942, he led the National League in losses with 21 and then went 14-14 in 1943. This year, despite an 18-19 record, he pitched his best season ever, but it would be his last hurrah as he’ll pitch his last season in 1945. This was the best Boston pitching season since Jim Turner in 1937 when the NL squad still went by the Bees nickname. The problem for Tobin was that, except for Tommy Holmes, the Braves couldn’t hit.

                On April 27 of this season, Tobin had his best game ever, pitching a no-no and smacking a dinger. Gregory H. Wolf of SABR gives more details, writing, “During the war years (1942-1945), the fans of the Boston Braves didn’t have a whole lot to cheer about as the club averaged 87 losses per season. Only the dreadful Philadelphia Phillies lost more often. One exception was fan favorite, right-handed knuckleballer, Jim “Old Ironsides” Tobin who provided the Tribe faithful with some of the most memorable games of that era. He belted three home runs on May 13, 1942 against the Chicago Cubs to become the first big-league pitcher since Guy Hecker of the Louisville Colonels in the American Association in 1886 to connect for three long balls in one game. On April 27, 1944, Tobin hurled a sparkling no-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers, and also smashed a home run, to record Boston’s first no-hitter at Braves Field since Tom Hughes on June 16, 1916. It was a ‘brilliant pitching performance’ wrote Jack Malaney of the Boston Post about Tobin’s gem. ‘Seldom again even under hall of fame settings will a better game be pitched by anybody.’”

                He also pitched a five-inning no-hitter later in the season and you can read about that one here. Tobin died at the age of 56 on May 19, 1969 in Oakland, California.

P-Fritz Ostermueller, Brooklyn Dodgers/Pittsburgh Pirates, 36 Years Old

1934

246 1/3 IP, 13-8, 2.81 ERA, 97 K, 132 ERA+, 3.23 FIP, 1.315 WHIP

93 AB, .237, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .237/.260/.258, 44 OPS+

WAR-5.7

Wins Above Replacement-5.7 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.5 (3rd)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Brooklyn Dodgers

63-91, 7th in NL

Manager Leo Durocher

Ballpark: Ebbets Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-98, 2nd in league

ERA+-76, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Augie Galan, 6.3

Pirates Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-It’s very rare that a player goes a decade between appearances on my list, but that’s what Ostermueller did. He last made my team as a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in 1934. He never pitched at that level again for the Bosox and, after the 1940 season, he was purchased with Denny Galehouse by the St. Louis Browns from the Boston Red Sox. He lasted until 1943 for St. Louie and then in the middle of that year, he was traded by the St. Louis Browns with Archie McKain to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Bobo Newsom. This season, he started out 2-1 for Brooklyn as a starter/reliever before being traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers with Bill Lohrman and $18,000 to the Cincinnati Reds for Goody Rosen and then purchased by the Pirates from the Reds the next day. It ended up being a good pick up for the Bucs. He was the best pitcher on Brooklyn since Larry French in 1942.

                There’s more to this story as reported by Gary Bodingfield on the Baseball in Wartime website. He writes, “Ostermueller was used sparingly by the Dodgers and was assigned to Syracuse of the International League on May 31, 1944. He refused to report and protested to Commissioner Landis but the Pittsburgh Pirates purchased his contract on June 1.

                “The 36-year-old enjoyed a new lease of life with the Pirates. He was 11-7 with a 2.73 ERA for the remainder of the season.”

                He’ll enter the service for a brief time in 1945.

P-Mort Cooper, St. Louis Cardinals, 31 Years Old

1939 1940 1942 1943

252 1/3 IP, 22-7, 2.46 ERA, 97 K, 145 ERA+, 2.85 FIP, 1.137 WHIP

94 AB, .202, 0 HR, 13 RBI, .202/.257/.234, 37 OPS+

WAR-5.5

WAR for Pitchers-5.3 (4th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Cardinals

105-49, 1st in NL, Won WS 4-2 over SLB

Manager Billy Southworth

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Neutral)

OPS+-107, 1st in league

ERA+-134, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Stan Musial, 8.9

Led in:

Shutouts-7 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Saved-41.16 (3rd Time)

Base-Out Wins Saved-4.6 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as P-1.000

5th Time All-Star-While this era was a dismal time for the world, it was a great time for the Cardinals. Part of the reason St. Louis continued to fare well was it didn’t lose its best player, Stan Musial, nor its best pitcher, Mort Cooper. The Cardinals beat their hometown rivals, the Browns, in the World Series, four games-to-two, with Cooper starting two games, winning one and losing the other, allowing just two runs, both earned, in 16 innings.

                Gregory H. Wolf of SABR gives more details on this season, writing, “In 1944 Cooper matched his career high with 22 wins. He had a 2.46 ERA and led the league with seven shutouts. The Cardinals won 105 games, becoming the first NL team to win 100 games three seasons in a row and took the pennant by 14½ games. In his final start of the year, on September 24, Cooper pitched a career-high 16 innings, yielding 19 hits in a victory over the Phillies. [Ed. Note-Was this a smart thing to do with a pitcher who had perennial arm problems?] (The Phils’ Ken Raffensberger also went the distance, but surrendered a game-winning home run to Whitey Kurowski in the 16th.)

                “In the ‘Trolley World Series’ of 1944, the Cardinals faced the surprising St. Louis Browns. In Game One Cooper surrendered just two hits in seven innings, but one was a two-run homer by George McQuinn that gave the Browns a 2-1 victory. In Game Five, behind solo home runs by Danny Litwhiler and Ray Sanders, Cooper was dominant, striking out 12 in a seven-hit shutout. Victory in Game Six gave the Cardinals their second title in three years.”

P-Claude Passeau, Chicago Cubs, 35 Years Old, Inducted into Ron’s HOF

1936 1937 1939 1940 1941 1943

227 IP, 15-9, 2.89 ERA, 89 K, 121 ERA+, 2.89 FIP, 1.251 WHIP

80 AB, .163, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .163/.202/.200, 14 OPS+

WAR-5.1

WAR for Pitchers-5.2 (6th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1944)

Chicago Cubs

75-79, 4th in NL

Managers Jimmie Wilson (1-9), Ray Johnson (0-1), and Charlie Grimm (74-69)

Ballpark: Wrigley Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-94, 5th in league

ERA+-98, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Bill Nicholson, 6.0

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000 (4th Time)

7th Time All-Star-Like Bucky Walters above, Passeau entered my Hall of Fame this year, making his seventh All-Star team with a Career WAR of 45.1. He’s also going to make at least one more of these lists. I think pitching in the high-scoring Thirties hurt a lot of these pitchers and especially someone like Passeau, who pitched in the bandbox Baker Bowl for Philly at the beginning of his career. He’s the 127th player and 46th pitcher to enter my Hall of Fame.

                The prolific Gregory H. Wolf writes about Passeau’s 1944 season on SABR, noting, “During his playing days, Passeau was a successful farmer and business man in Lucedale, Mississippi, and was often counted among the few baseball players who did not need to play for the money. He owned a 600-acre farm on which he cultivated tung oil trees, and a John Deere farm-equipment dealership. In November 1938 he married Agnes Bernyce Spafford, with whom he had two children, Claude Jr. and Patricia. Passeau was classified 4-F because of his deformed hand, and was not required to serve in the military in World War II.

                “The Cubs were accustomed to Passeau’s annual late arrival at spring training in order to finish planting on the farm; however, they were surprised by his unexpected announcement that he would not return to the team in 1944. But the tug of pitching and the intervention of the Cubs’ otherwise aloof owner, Philip K. Wrigley, was too much for him to ignore. ‘Needless to say,’ wrote Irving Vaughan of the Chicago Daily Tribune, ‘[Passeau] was welcomed like a long lost uncle with a bank roll. Having missed all of spring training and the first week of the season, Passeau struggled in his return, and didn’t win his first game until June 2. The 35-year-old gradually rounded into shape to win his final seven decisions in the last four weeks of the campaign en route to a 15-9 record.”

P-Ken Raffensberger, Philadelphia Phillies, 26 Years Old

258 2/3, 13-20, 3.06 ERA, 136 K, 117 ERA+, 2.48 FIP, 1.168 WHIP

80 AB, .138, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .138/.169/.138, -12 OPS+

WAR-4.5

WAR for Pitchers-5.1 (7th)

All-Star: Yes (Win, 2 IP, 0 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. 33 percent chance)

Philadelphia Phillies (Blue Jays)

61-92, 8th in NL

Manager Freddie Fitzsimmons

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-87, 6th in league

ERA+-99, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Buster Adams, 5.0

Led in:

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.566

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-3.022

Losses-20

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.48

1st Time All-Star-Kenneth David “Ken” Raffensberger was born 38 years before my brother, Ernie, on August 8, 1917 in York, Pennsylvania. The six-foot-two-185 pound righty hitting, lefty pitching hurler started with the Cardinals in 1939, but pitched just one game. After the season, he was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Chicago Cubs for Gene LillardSteve Mesner and cash. Raffy then pitched for the Cubbies in 1940 and ’41 and then pitch in the Majors in 1942. With many off to war, he got a chance again with the Philies starting in 1943 and he would have a decent career.

                The squad had a mixed identity in 1944 and ’45, as they added a Blue Jays logo on top of the Phillies script. According to Baseball Reference, “Rather than being angry, Philadelphia’s fans were seemingly unsure about what to call their team, confused by the dual identities. The press mostly treated the name and logo change with apathy—after all, both home and road jerseys still said ‘Phillies.’

                “The blue jay sleeve patch was dropped when the club changed uniform designs in 1946, and the Phillies/Blue Jays experiment was formally abandoned by the club on January 10, 1950. That season the club would go on to win its first pennant in 35 years. The youthful 1950 ‘Whiz Kids’ captured the hearts of Philadelphia baseball fans, despite having been swept by the Yankees in the World Series. The Phillies won another pennant in 1993, this time dropping the World Series to the American League champions, Toronto—the Blue Jays.”

P-Nate Andrews, Boston Braves, 30 Years Old

1943

257 1/3, 16-15, 3.22 ERA, 76 K, 119 ERA+, 3.54 FIP, 1.310 WHIP

88 AB, .114, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .114/.188/.125, -12 OPS+

WAR-4.5

WAR for Pitchers-5.0 (8th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 34 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-After a tough luck season in 1943 in which Andrews led the National League in losses, he came back with a winning record this year. After this season, he would pitch just two more seasons as he would be out of the league once the stars came back from the war. Still, to have two All-Star seasons, even though it was during the war years, wasn’t easy to do and Andrews deserves some recognition for that. However, it seems inner demons were his undoing.

                David E. Skelton of SABR gives some insight into Andrews, writing, “An event in 1944 may help explain the challenges of loneliness that contributed largely to Andrews’ need to seek refuge in the bottle. His family had come to Boston from North Carolina for an extended visit. As the visit came to a close, Andrews had difficulty parting and was caught on the train when it began its journey south – an indication of his need to surround himself with his loved ones, and the challenges he faced when they were apart. The discord on the team ignited an already-volatile situation for Andrews. It wasn’t until the following spring that he would be prepared to take the mound again.

                “Andrews, 77, died on April 26, 1991, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to which he had moved for better employment opportunities in 1959. He was brought home to Rowland, where he was buried in the community cemetery. He was survived by three of his five children, seven grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.”

P-Ted Wilks, St. Louis Cardinals, 28 Years Old

207 2/3 IP, 17-4, 2.64 ERA, 70 K, 135 ERA+, 3.34 FIP, 1.069 WHIP

64 AB, .141, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .141/.203/.172, 5 OPS+

WAR-4.3

WAR for Pitchers-4.5 (9th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 24

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.810

Walks & Hits per IP-1.069

Fielding % as P-1.000

1st Time All-Star-Theodore “Ted” or “Cork” Wilks was born 89 years before my anniversary on November 13, 1915 in Fulton, New York. The five-foot-nine, 175 pound righty pitcher had a sensational rookie year giving the Cardinals yet another good player. In the World Series, Wilks pitched just six-and-one-third innings in two games, losing one and posting a 5.68 ERA. He has one more World Series left and will make at least one more of these lists.

                Gregory H. Wolf of SABR writes, “After pitching primarily out of the bullpen in May and June, Wilks got his chance when Red Munger, arguably the NL’s hottest pitcher at the time, was called to the military in July. In the last three months of the season, Wilks had the best stretch in his pitching career. He made 18 starts, relieved in five games, won 14 of 17 decisions, had 15 complete games, and posted a 2.67 ERA in 167 innings. As the Cardinals won 26 of 33 in July to take a commanding lead in the pennant race, Wilks won all six of his starts; all were complete games. On July 8 he blanked the Boston Braves on four hits for his first career shutout. Two starts later he pitched 11 innings to defeat the New York Giants.

                “Wilks got the scare of his life on August 6 in Cincinnati when Steve Mesner’s liner struck him above the right ear and bounced an estimated 40 feet in the air. As Wilks fell unconscious to the mound, third baseman (and roommate) Whitey Kurowski caught the ball. Wilks spent the night in a hospital for observation but was ready for his next start. (It happened again three years later. In Brooklyn, when rookie pitcher Harry Taylor smashed a liner that hit Wilks in the jaw and knocked him out.)”

P-Red Munger, St. Louis Cardinals, 25 Years Old

121 IP, 11-3, 1.34 ERA, 55 K, 268 ERA+, 2.91 FIP, 1.099 WHIP

44 AB, .114, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .114/.114/.136, -31 OPS+

WAR-3.9

WAR for Pitchers-4.3 (10th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-George David “Red” Munger was born on October 4, 1918 in Houston. The six-foot-two, 200 pound righty pitcher started with St. Louis in 1943 and was their best pitcher this year until having to go off to war. He didn’t lead in any categories because he didn’t pitch enough innings to qualify, but that 1.34 ERA and 268 ERA+ is very impressive. Unfortunately, Red wasn’t around to help the Cardinals in the World Series. Luckily, they didn’t need him.

                Gary Bedingfield writes in Baseball in Wartime, “[Munger] was selected for the all-star game but at the same time was selected for military service, entering on July 11, 1944. He was initially at Jefferson Barracks in St Louis, before moving to Camp Roberts, California, where he quickly rose to squad leader. After 17 weeks at Camp Roberts, Munger was shipped to Fort Benning, Georgia. On April 14, 1945, he was commissioned a second lieutenant after graduating from Officers Candidate School and served at the base prison camp.

                “Towards the end of 1945, Munger was sent overseas to Europe. He was stationed in Germany. ‘I spent my entire seven months in Germany in Heidelberg,’ Munger told The Sporting News on September 4, 1946. ‘I was … in charge of the athletic program of the Third Army. Nearly all the GIs over there are kids between 18 and 20, who never had it so good in their lives.’”

                Munger will be back in the Majors and even make another one of these lists, but he’ll never have another stretch like he did at the beginning of this season.

C-Ray Mueller, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1943

555 AB, .286, 10 HR, 73 RBI, .286/.353/.398, 115 OPS+

WAR-3.9

All-Star: Yes (0 AB)

MVP Rank: 7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as C-155 (2nd Time)

Assists as C-65 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-In the first year of baseball in 1871, Cal McVey, Charlie Mills, and Deacon White all caught 29 games in the National Association. The next season, Nat Hicks caught 54 games, breaking the record. From 1873-75, White broke the record for games caught in a season with 56, 58, and 75. Deacon then set the National League record in 1876 by catching 63 games and then Pop Snyder caught 80 games in 1879 to overtake White. That record didn’t last long as Emil Gross played backstop for 87 games in 1880. Then Doc Bushong of the American Association Browns caught 106 games in 1886 which was the record until Charlie Zimmer of the Cleveland Spiders caught 125 games in 1890. Another Deacon came along in 1895, this time McGuire, who caught 133 games. The Pirates’ George Gibson broke the record for games caught two years in a row, in 1908 and 1909 with 140 and 150 and that 150 held until 1920 when Ray Schalk was behind the plate 151 games for the Chicago White Sox. That mark wasn’t broken until this year when Mueller and Frankie Hayes of the Philadelphia Athletics both caught 155 games, a record that would hold until the season lengthened in the Sixties.

                Wikipedia speaks of this record, saying, “Nicknamed ‘Iron Man’, Mueller was the starting catcher in every game the Cincinnati Reds played — 155 — during the wartime 1944 season. Mueller caught a National League-record 233 consecutive games in 1943–1944 and 1946.”

                There were a lot of interesting occurrences during wartime.      

C-Walker Cooper, St. Louis Cardinals, 29 Years Old

1943

397 AB, .317, 13 HR, 72 RBI, .317/.352/.504, 136 OPS+

WAR-3.4

All-Star: Yes (2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. 10 percent chance)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Both Cooper brothers, Mort and Walker, made my list for the second consecutive year as the Cardinals continued to dominate the National League. Walker didn’t catch 155 games like Ray Mueller of the Reds, but when he was in the lineup, he had outstanding production for a catcher as can be seen by his slash numbers above. In what would be his final World Series, Cooper hit .318 (seven-for-22) with two doubles and a triple in helping the Cardinals defeat the Browns, four games to two.

                C. Paul Rogers III of the SABR has much to say about Coop’s 1944 campaign, writing, “Cooper, riding a 9-for-16 stretch, was selected to start his third straight All-Star game along with five of his teammates. The National League won the game 7-1 in Pittsburgh to break a three-game losing streak as Cooper, batting cleanup, went 2 for 5.

“The Cardinals continued their onslaught in the second half of the season and finished with 105 wins, 14½ games ahead of the Pirates. Cooper’s batting average got as high as .331 on August 23 after a five-game streak in which he went 15-for-19 (.789). During those five games he clubbed four home runs, three doubles, and drove in nine runs. For the season, Cooper batted .317 in 112 games with a career-high 13 home runs and 72 runs batted in.

                “In the decisive Game Six, Cooper had two hits and a walk in four trips to the plate. For the Series he hit .318, behind only Emil Verban’s team-leading .412.”

1B-Frank McCormick, Cincinnati Reds, 33 Years Old

1939 1940

581 AB, .305, 20 HR, 102 RBI, .305/.371/.482, 143 OPS+

WAR-5.7

Wins Above Replacement-5.7 (10th)

WAR Position Players-5.7 (6th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 13

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Putouts-1,508 (5th Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,508 (5th Time)

Assists as 1B-135

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-10.80

Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.74

3rd Time All-Star-McCormick last made my list in 1940, the year the writers voted him Most Valuable Player in the National League. Since then, his hitting fell off as shown by his OPS+ totals of 107, 111, and 119 from 1941-43 respectively. With much of the talent off to war, McCormick’s hitting improved and he’s back on my list. This is the only season the six-foot-four, 205 pound Buck hit 20 or more homers, hitting exactly 20.

                Sheldon Appleton of SABR wraps up McCormick’s career and life, writing, “During the 1941 season, notes Werber, McCormick injured his back attempting a one-and-a-half gainer in a hotel pool, and had to wear a back brace for the remainder of the year. This may well have exempted him from military service. He continued to perform very well, but approached his 1939-40 level of performance again only in 1944, during World War II. The Reds’ fortunes also declined. During McCormick’s last five years with the club, they never finished closer than 12 games behind the league leader. By 1945, the Reds were reduced to seventh place, 37 games in back of the Chicago Cubs. Through these lean years, McCormick usually batted cleanup for the Reds and wore number 10.

“McCormick stayed in the game after his playing days. In 1949 he managed the Quebec Braves in the Canadian-American League, and led them to a 90-win season — 34 more than the previous year — and to a playoff sweep and the league championship. Nevertheless, he found himself managing the Lima Phillies (Ohio-Indiana League) in 1950. That was his last stint as a manager, but he continued to be involved with baseball as a coach, scout, and television broadcaster for the Reds and as director of group and season ticket sales for the New York Yankees. He died of cancer in Manhasset, New York, on November 21, 1982.”

2B-Woody Williams, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

653 AB, .240, 1 HR, 35 RBI, .240/.290/.289, 66 OPS+

WAR-3.4

Defensive WAR-3.6

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 69 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-3.6

At Bats-653

Plate Appearances-707

Outs Made-520

Def. Games as 2B-155

Assists as 2B-542

Fielding % as 2B-.971

1st Time All-Star-Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Williams was born on August 21, 1912 in Pamplin, Virginia. The five-foot-11, 175 pound righty infielder started with Brooklyn as a backup shortstop in 1938 and then didn’t play in the Majors again until the World War II years. In 1943, he backed up the stellar Lonny Frey at second base for the Reds. However, when Frey became a private in the Army before this season, Williams got his chance and made the most of it, primarily with his fielding. As a matter of fact, his Defensive WAR of 3.6 is higher than his overall war of 3.4 which shows how limited he was with the bat.

                Williams would also be the Reds second baseman in 1945, but once the war ended, he was out of baseball. He was one of those many players who got their chance due to reduction of talent due to the war, but wouldn’t have gotten much playing time otherwise. He certainly would not have been the Reds regular second baseman if Frey was still around.

                Woody lived a long life, dying at the age of 82 on February 24, 1995 in Appomattox, Virginia. Yes, even in death, war was part of his story, as Appomattox was one of the most famous battles of the Civil War, the last major skirmish before the South’s Robert E. Lee surrendered to the North’s Ulysses S. Grant. While that surrender is the most widely known, it wasn’t until a surrender in Shreveport, Louisiana in June that the war officially ended.

                Learn your baseball and U.S. history right here!

3B-Bob Elliott, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1943

538 AB, .297, 10 HR, 108 RBI, .297/.383/.465, 134 OPS+

WAR-4.4

Offensive WAR-5.0 (8th)

All-Star: Yes (0-3)

MVP Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 88 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Assists as 3B-285 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as 3B-27 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 3B-22 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.24

2nd Time All-Star-There aren’t a lot of great third basemen in baseball history. In my ONEHOF, there are three – Deacon White, Home Run Baker, and Jimmy Collins – and in my Hall of Fame, there are six. Those include the three above along with Larry Gardner, Heinie Groh, and Stan Hack. It’s just a tough position to be great at because you need to have a balanced combination of hitting and fielding. That’s why Bob Elliott jumps out, because he’s got a shot at being the first third sacker to make my Hall of Fame since Hack.  (Click here for links to all the players above).

                John McMurray of SABR writes, “Elliott…looked the part of a hero. He was described by Kaese as ‘a rugged young man, blond, blue-eyed, and wearing a chin like a chisel,’ and was well regarded by his peers, fans, and the press. Boston Daily Record columnist Dave ‘The Colonel’ Egan, for one, noted in 1952 that ‘Bob Elliott has been a big-leaguer off the field and on it for 13 years’ and that he has been ‘a man of decency and integrity.’”

                Elliott had a phenomenal reputation, which would develop with the lowly Pirates and flourish with the Boston Braves. His nickname, Mr. Team, wasn’t given to him in Steel City, but only once he got to Beantown in 1947.

                Will Elliott make my Hall of Fame? Well, he’s going to make three of these lists for sure and then it’s going to come down to whether he makes it in one of his off years. You’ll have to wait and see just like me!

SS-Marty Marion, St. Louis Cardinals, 27 Years Old

1942 1943

506 AB, .267, 6 HR, 63 RBI, .267/.324/.362, 90 OPS+

WAR-4.6

Defensive WAR-3.6 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (0-3, 1 R, 2 K)

MVP Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 43 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

1944 Major League Player of the Year

1944 NL MVP

Defensive WAR-3.6 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.972

3rd Time All-Star-The baseball writers and I often disagree on the Most Valuable Player award and this year is no exception. I easily gave the MVP to Marion’s teammate, Stan Musial, while the writers gave it to this man. It definitely wasn’t because of his hitting, which was below the league average, so it had to be his glove. There’s no doubt Marion was a fantastic fielder, the Ozzie Smith of the Cardinals before there was an Ozzie Smith on the Cardinals, but I certainly don’t think his glove work was enough to earn him Major League Player of the Year.

                Mark Tomaski, who does a Cardinal’s history blog entitled “RetroSimba” wrote an article on Marion winning the MVP in 1944. He writes, “Marty Marion of the Cardinals was the first shortstop to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award _ and he did it by the narrowest of margins.

                “Marion received 190 points to Nicholson’s 189 in the MVP voting by 24 sports reporters.

                “Marion told Peter Golenbock, author of ‘The Spirit of St. Louis,’ that when he received a phone call informing him he had won the MVP Award ‘I didn’t know what … it was. I never was impressed with it at all. That’s right. I didn’t think about things like that too much. Now, after years passed, that’s pretty nice. But back then, it didn’t mean a thing to me.’”

                Musial, Tomaski’s favorite player, finished fourth despite leading the league in on-base percentage, slugging, and doubles with 51.

LF-Augie Galan, Brooklyn Dodgers, 32 Years Old

1935 1943

547 AB, .318, 12 HR, 93 RBI, .318/.426/.495, 161 OPS+

WAR-6.3

Wins Above Replacement-6.3 (2nd )

WAR Position Players-6.3 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-6.6 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 29

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 25 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Bases on Balls-101 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Added-64.00

Base-Out Wins Added-6.5

3rd Time All-Star-Galan moved from centerfield to leftfield this season and had his best season ever, unless you’re a baseball writer, who voted him 29th on the MVP ballot. Well, I’m not a baseball writer so I’m calling this his greatest year and that’s that. He’s the first Dodger to be on my list as a leftfielder since Joe Medwick in 1941. His ability to get on base was his greatest asset, but his .318 average wasn’t bad either.

                Blake Harris, writing for True Blue LA, designates Galan’s 1944 season as the 71st best season ever in Dodger history. He says, “Galan was a great hitter, as he hit .318 in 1944. He hit 12 homers and had 43 doubles, which was the second most in the league. However, Galan had arguably one of the best eyes in all of baseball. His on-base percentage was .426, which was the third best in the National League. Galan walked 101 times, which led all of baseball.

                “His season got off to a hot start and he closed his season on tear. Through May 6, Galan was hitting .360/.529/.420/.949. In 68 plate appearances, Galan reached base in 36 of them.

                “Over his final 35 games, he was even better. From August 20 through October 1, Galan hit .367/.469/.567/1.035. During that stretch, he had 44 hits, drove in 33 runs, walked 22 times and scored 25 runs.”

                Galan is one of many players on my list who would never be acknowledged if so much talent hadn’t gone off to World War II.

LF-Jim Russell, Pittsburgh Pirates, 25 Years Old

580 AB, .312, 8 HR, 66 RBI, .312/.399/.460, 137 OPS+

WAR-5.0

WAR Position Players-5.0 (8th)

Offensive WAR-4.6 (10th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 29

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Caught Stealing-10 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as LF-140

Assists as LF-18 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as LF-5 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as OF-7

1st Time All-Star-James William “Jim” Russell was born on October 1, 1918 in Fayette City, Pennsylvania. The six-foot-one, 181 pound outfielder started with the Pirates in 1942 and had his best season ever this year. He’s the first Pirate to make my list at leftfield since Johnny Rizzo in 1938. He had enough speed to motor for 14 triples, but still got caught stealing 10 out of the 16 times he attempted it. His .312 batting average, .399 on-base percentage, and .460 slugging average were career highs.

                Wikipedia says, “After beginning his minor league career in 1937, his contract was bought by the Pittsburgh Pirates in September 1942. In 1944, Russell led the Pirates in hitting with a .312 batting average and 181 total hits, and hit the first pinch-hit home run in Pirates history on August 20.

                “Russell was traded in November 1947 to the Boston Braves in a five-player transaction that included Danny MurtaughJohnny Hopp and Bill Salkeld. He was the pennant-winning Braves’ regular center fielder in 1948, starting 80 of Boston’s 98 games played through early August. But then he was stricken with bacterial endocarditis brought on by the rheumatic fever he had as a child. It cost him the rest of the season and a chance to play in the 1948 World Series.

                “As a big-leaguer, Russell appeared in 1,035 games played over his ten-season career and batted .267 with 428 RBI. His 959 hits included 175 doubles, 51 triples and 67 home runs. Defensively, he recorded an overall .981 fielding percentage playing at all three outfield positions and first base.”

                Despite the fever, he did manage to live to the age of 69, dying in Orlando, Florida on November 24, 1987.

CF-Johnny Hopp, St. Louis Cardinals, 27 Years Old

527 AB, .336, 11 HR, 72 RBI, .336/.404/.499, 150 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (7th)

WAR Position Players-5.8 (4th)

Offensive WAR-5.6 (5th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 18

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Power-Speed #-12.7

Fielding % as CF-.997

Fielding % as OF-.997

1st Time All-Star-John Leonard “Johnny” or “Cotney” Hopp was born on July 18, 1916 in Hastings, Nebraska. The five-foot-10, 170 pound lefty outfielder and first baseman started with the Cardinals in 1939 and played in his third straight World Series this year. He’s the first Cardinal to make my list at centerfield since Terry Moore in 1940. This was his best season ever, though he didn’t make the All-Star game.

                Wikipedia agrees with me on this being his greatest campaign, saying “Then, in 1944, he had his best overall season. Playing as the Cardinals’ everyday center fielder (in the absence of Terry Moore, who was performing World War II military service, Hopp reached career highs in hits (177), runs scored (106), doubles (35), home runs (11) and runs batted in (72); his batting average (.336) was his second-best. The Redbirds won their third consecutive National League championship. In the all-St. Louis 1944 World Series, he again started all six games and played errorless ball as the Cardinals won their second world title in three seasons, overcoming the Browns. Hopp had a relatively quiet Series at the plate, collecting five singles in 17 at bats.

                “Hopp then left pro baseball and returned to Hastings, where he worked for Kansas-Nebraska Energy, conducted baseball schools and was a motivational speaker. He was elected to the Lincoln Journal’s Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame (1985) and the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame (1997). He died, aged 86, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and was interred in Hastings’ Parkview Cemetery.”

CF-Buster Adams, Philadelphia Phillies, 29 Years Old

584 AB, .283, 17 HR, 64 RBI, .283/.370/.440, 131 OPS+

WAR-5.0

WAR Position Players-5.0

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 34 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Putouts as CF-428

Errors Committed as CF-10

Putouts as OF-449

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.95

Range Factor/Game as OF-3.07

1st Time All-Star-Elvin Clark “Buster” Adams was born on June 24, 1915 in Trinidad, Colorado. The six-foot, 180 pound righty centerfielder started with the Cardinals in 1939, batting just once and then didn’t get a chance in the Majors again until the depletion of talent to war opened up some roster spots. He was on the Cardinals again in 1943 before being traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Dain Clay and Coaker Triplett to the Philadelphia Phillies for Danny Litwhiler and Earl Naylor. With Philadelphia this season, he had his best season ever. He’s the first Phillie to make my list at centerfield since Cy Williams in 1924.

                Wikipedia states, “Adams returned to the majors with the Cardinals in 1943, playing in eight games before being traded to the Phillies. He played the rest of that season, all of 1944, and the first 14 games of 1945 with the Phillies. Though Adams had been able to play through his stomach ailment, the illness rendered him ineligible to serve in the military in 1944.

                “In May 1945, Adams was traded back to the Cardinals for John Antonelli and Glenn Crawford. Adams played mostly in center field; a slot had opened up in the outfield because Stan Musial was serving in the military. Adams put together his best season with the Cardinals in 1945 and finished 18th in voting for the MVP Award. He finished the season with 109 runs batted in; his 101 RBI with the Cardinals was a record for a Cardinals center fielder until 1987.

                “Adams died of congestive heart failure in Rancho Mirage, California, in 1990.” He was 75.

CF-Tommy Holmes, Boston Braves, 27 Years Old

1942

631 AB, .309, 13 HR, 73 RBI, .309/.372/.456, 128 OPS+

WAR-5.0

WAR Position Players-5.0 (8th)

Offensive WAR-5.1 (7th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 23

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 29 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

AB per SO-57.4 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as CF-154

Double Plays Turned as CF-6

Double Plays Turned as OF-7

2nd Time All-Star-Tommy Holmes was the poor man’s Joe DiMaggio. He played centerfield and he hit for some power and didn’t strike out much. His power was hurt by the park in which he played. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t close to Joltin’ Joe as a player, but he did have some similarities, including a long hitting streak we’ll talk about down the line. He’s had a couple of decent years already, but he’s going to really light it up in 1945 and has a good shot at winning my Most Valuable Player. He didn’t get the writers’ vote.

                Saul Wisnia of SABR writes, “One of a dwindling number of strong young ballplayers left on big-league rosters, and fresh off a winter spent working in the Brooklyn shipyards, Holmes posted his first super season in 1944. Third in the NL with 195 hits, 93 runs scored, and 42 doubles, he also finished 10th in hitting at .309 after staying near the top (and above .330) into late summer. His power totals took a big leap as well: after hitting four and five homers in his first two years in the majors, he slugged 13 — ninth in the league. The introduction of the wartime ‘Balata ball’ had hampered slugging league-wide, but Holmes hit the heavier spheres better than most.

                “Making the feat more impressive was the ballpark Tommy called home. Braves Field was a cavernous park built during the inside baseball era of 1915, just before Babe Ruth ushered in the home run age. Its center-field fence was originally built 550 feet from home plate, and with the wind blowing in off the Charles River just beyond its walls, few on the club had ever managed even 20 homers. Now, seeing that Holmes had some pop in his bat, Braves management brought the 345-foot right-field fences in by 20 feet midway through the ’44 campaign to give him an easier target.”

RF-Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals, 23 Years Old, 2nd MVP, Inducted into Ron’s HOF

1942 1943

568 AB, .347, 12 HR, 94 RBI, .347/.440/.549, 174 OPS+

WAR-8.9

Wins Above Replacement-8.9 (1st)

WAR Position Players-8.9 (1st)

Offensive WAR-7.4 (1st)

Defensive WAR-0.9 (7th)

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1969)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1944)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-8.9 (2nd Time)

WAR Position Players-8.9 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-7.4 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.440 (2nd Time)

Slugging %-.549 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-.990 (2nd Time)

Hits-197 (2nd Time)

Doubles-51 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-174 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-134 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-61 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-6.2 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-77 (2nd Time)

Times On Base-292 (2nd Time)

Championship WPA-6.4

Range Factor/Game as RF-2.06

3rd Time All-Star-It only took three seasons for Stan the Man to make my Hall of Fame. Ron’s HOF is based solely on numbers. I take the number of All-Star lists made and multiply in by Career WAR and if the number is over 300, that player is in. Musial has a Career WAR of 128.3 and made his third list this season, so welcome to Ron’s Hall of Fame, Donora Greyhound! I also gave him his 2nd National League Most Valuable Player and consider it a travesty that Marty Marion, Bill Nicholson, and Dixie Walker were voted above him.

                Back to my Hall of Fame. It was tough finding a position for Musial, because he bounced all over the outfield along with playing first base. I put him in as a first baseman and he might end up being the greatest player of all-time at that position. Right now, I would put Cap Anson there.

                Wikipedia sums up his season, saying, “United States involvement in World War II began to impinge on Musial’s baseball career in 1944, as he underwent a physical examination in prelude to possible service in the armed forces. He ultimately remained with the Cardinals for the entire season, posting a .347 batting average with 197 hits. The Cardinals claimed the NL pennant for the third consecutive season, and faced St. Louis’s other major league team, the Browns, in the 1944 World Series. The Browns took a 2–1 lead, while Musial hit .250 with no RBI. He broke out in Game 4 with a two-run home run, single, double, and a walk as part of a 5–1 Cardinals win. The Cardinals went on to defeat the Browns in six games, and Musial posted a .304 batting average for the Series.”

RF-Bill Nicholson, Chicago Cubs, 29 Years Old

1942 1943

582 AB, .287, 33 HR, 122 RBI, .287/.391/.545, 162 OPS+

WAR-6.0

Wins Above Replacement-6.0 (6th)

WAR Position Players-6.0 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-6.4 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (1-1, 2B, RBI)

MVP Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 1 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Runs Scored-116

Total Bases-317

Home Runs-33 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-122 (2nd Time)

Win Probability Added-6.2

Def. Games as RF-156 (2nd Time)

Putouts as RF-288 (4th Time)

Assists as RF-18 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as OF-156

3rd Time All-Star-No one may have been helped by the stars going off to war more than Swish Nicholson. All three times he made my list were during the war years. He finished second in the Most Valuable Player voting this year, losing out by just one point. Yet after this year, he will almost certainly not make it onto my All-Star team again and though Nicholson will play another nine seasons, his salad days are over.

                We go to Eric Hanauer of SABR to wrap up Nicholson’s year and life. He writes, “Nicholson’s greatest day in baseball occurred on July 23, 1944, in a doubleheader against the Giants. New York manager Mel Ott paid him the ultimate tribute by ordering him intentionally walked with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of the second game. Until then, only Napoleon Lajoie and Del Bissonette had received intentional passes with the bases loaded. (Barry Bonds joined the club in 1998 and Josh Hamilton in 2008.) Nicholson had hit three home runs in the opener, one in the nightcap, and one in his last at-bat the day before. That set records with four consecutive home runs, and four in a doubleheader. Ott’s strategy backfired, because the Cubs scored three runs in the eighth to tie the game. But New York scored twice in the bottom of the inning to finally win, 12-10. An interesting sidelight was that Ott and Nicholson were tied at the time for the league lead with 21 home runs each.

                “Weakened by the effects of diabetes, he died of a heart attack on March 8, 1996, at the age of 81, and is buried outside Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in his hometown. Bill was the last survivor of his immediate family. Two wives and two children died before him.”

RF-Dixie Walker, Brooklyn Dodgers, 33 Years Old

1941

535 AB, .357, 13 HR, 91 RBI, .357/.434/.529, 172 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (8th)

WAR Position Players-5.8 (5th)

Offensive WAR-6.7 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (2-4, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 30 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

1944 NL Batting Title

Batting Average-.357

Offensive Win %-.813

Situ. Wins Added-5.2

Errors Committed as RF-9 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as OF-11

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1941, Walker faded a bit in 1942 and ’43, mainly due to being sidelined good stretches of those two seasons. He’s back this year and had a great year, though I think 1945 was better. As per the usual in these days, his flashy league-leading batting average of .357 helped him in the Most Valuable Player voting as he even finished ahead of fellow rightfielder Stan Musial. I could see him as high as second, but no way was anyone in the National League better than Stan the Man this season.

                Lyle Spatz of SABR writes of Walker’s 1944 season: “Meanwhile Walker, at the age of thirty-three, had the best season of his career, winning the National League batting championship, with a .357 average. In addition, he drove in ninety-one runs, finished in the top five in hits, doubles, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases, and was the starting right fielder in the All-Star Game. Walker, the father of three, also received a notable off-the-field honor. The National Father’s Day Committee voted him the ‘Sports Father of the Year.’

                “Walker’s outstanding season earned him a close third-place finish in balloting for the Most Valuable Player Award. The Sporting News placed him on its Major League All-Star team, and the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America honored him with the prestigious Sid Mercer Award as the Player of the Year.”

                Next year, I’m going to look at his role in the Jackie Robinson situation.

RF-Mel Ott, New York Giants, 35 Years Old, 10th Greatest Player of All-Time, Most AS as RF (14)

1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942

399 AB, .288, 26 HR, 82 RBI, .288/.423/.544, 172 OPS+

WAR-5.4

WAR Position Player-5.4 (7th)

Offensive WAR-5.4 (6th)

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

MVP Rank: 16

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1930)

New York Giants

67-87, 5th in NL

Manager Mel Ott

Ballpark: Polo Grounds V (Hitter’s)

OPS+-98, 3rd in league

ERA+-85, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Mel Ott, 5.4

Led in:

AB per HR-15.3 (10th Time)

Fielding % as RF-.985 (5th Time)

16th Time All-Star-I’m basically going to be copying and pasting my 1942 write-up of Ott, because in that blurb, I already have lists of top 10 players most lists made by position. First off, the top 10 players of all-time through 1944 are:

1. Babe Ruth, RF

2. Walter Johnson, P

3. Ty Cobb, CF

4. Cy Young, P

5. Tris Speaker, CF

6. Eddie Collins, 2B

7. Honus Wagner, SS

8. Rogers Hornsby, 2B

9. Pete Alexander, P

10. Ott, RF

                He will pass Alexander next year.

                Here’s the list of most times making my list by position:

P-Johnson, 18 lists

C-Bill Dickey, 12

1B-Anson, Lou Gehrig, 13

2B-Collins, 17

3B-Home Run Baker, 9

SS-Wagner, 13

LF-Fred Clarke, 10

CF- Speaker, 18

RF-Ott, 14

                I should mention Ott didn’t make the All-Star list in 1943, the first time he missed it since 1928. His average had dropped to .234, the lowest it had ever been. The lack of talent brought on by World War II helped Ott this season and he’s got one more of these lists left.               

                 I’m not very good at judging things like this, but I don’t think Master Melvin was a master manager. In his seven years of managing the Giants, they never finished higher than third and twice finished last. Since John McGraw retired, the New York skippers had been Bill Terry and Ott, both player-managers. That’s a difficult double job and not too many could do it well.

1943 American League All-Star Team

P-Spud Chandler, NYY, 1st MVP

P-Dizzy Trout, DET

P-Tex Hughson, BOS

P-Tommy Bridges, DET

P-Tiny Bonham, NYY

P-Jesse Flores, PHA

P-Denny Galehouse, SLB

P-Johnny Niggeling, SLB/WSH

P-Nels Potter, SLB

P-Virgil Trucks, DET

C-Bill Dickey, NYY, Most All-Star lists as C-12

C-Buddy Rosar, CLE

1B-Rudy York, DET

2B-Joe Gordon, NYY

2B-Bobby Doerr, BOS

2B-Jerry Priddy, WSH

3B-Billy Johnson, NYY

SS-Lou Boudreau, CLE

SS-Luke Appling, CHW

SS-Vern Stephens, SLB

LF-Charlie Keller, NYY

LF-Jeff Heath, CLE

CF-Stan Spence, WSH

RF-Roy Cullenbine, CLE

RF-George Case, WSH

P-Spud Chandler, New York Yankees, 35 Years Old, 1st MVP7

253 IP, 20-4, 1.64 ERA, 134 K, 198 ERA+, 2.30 FIP, 0.992 WHIP

97 AB, .258, 2 HR, 7 RBI, .258/.287/.371, 91 OPS+

WAR-7.3

Wins Above Replacement-7.3 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-6.4 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Yankees

98-56, 1st in AL, Won WS over STL, 4-1

Manager Joe McCarthy

Ballpark: Yankee Stadium I (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-108, 1st in league

ERA+-111, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Spud Chandler, 7.3

Led in:

1943 AL Pitching Title

1943 Major League Player of the Year

1943 AL MVP

WAR for Pitchers-6.4

Earned Run Average-1.64

Wins-20

Win-Loss %-.833

Walks & Hits per IP-0.992

Complete Games-20

Shutouts-5

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.482

Adjusted ERA+-198

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.30

Adj. Pitching Runs-42

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.1

Base-Out Runs Saved-46.16

Win Probability Added-5.5

Sit. Wins Saved-4.6

Championship WPA-8.9 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Wins Saved-5.7

1st Time All-Star-Spurgeon Ferdinand “Spud” Chandler was born on September 12, 1907 in Commerce, GA. The six-foot, 181 pound righty pitcher started with the Yankees in 1937. He pitched in the 1941 and ’42 World Series, losing two decisions despite giving up just three earned runs in 13 1/3 innings. This season, with the young arms going to war, he got his chance to shine and he did, winning the American League Most Valuable Player, my MVP, and having the best season by a Yankees pitcher since Red Ruffing in 1938. His 1.64 ERA remains a Yankees’ team record.

                Wikipedia gives other highlights of this MVP season from Spud, saying, “His greatest year came in 1943. In addition to his outstanding ERA, he led the league with 20 wins in 30 starts, as well as 20 complete games and five shutouts. In 253 innings pitched, he gave up 46 earned runs, allowing only five home runs. Chandler’s 134 strikeouts were third in the league, and equalled his combined total of the previous two seasons. He made the AL All-Star team for the second time. Chandler finally had a successful World Series, pitching two complete game victories, including a shutout in the final Game 5, as the Yankees defeated the St. Louis Cardinals. Winning the MVP award, he beat out Luke Appling of the Chicago White Sox. Chandler remains the only Yankee pitcher to win the Most Valuable Player award.”

                New York won its sixth championship in eight years, along with its seventh pennant. The Yankees are not going to win the AL crown for a few years, but then they’re going to come back with a vengeance!

P-Dizzy Trout, Detroit Tigers, 28 Years Old

1942

246 2/3 IP, 20-12, 2.48 ERA, 111 K, 141 ERA+, 3.05 FIP, 1.236 WHIP

91 AB, .220, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .220/.237/.308, 54 OPS+

WAR-5.4

Wins Above Replacement-5.4 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.0 (3rd)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 11

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 40 percent chance)

Detroit Tigers

78-76, 5th in AL

Manager Steve O’Neill

Ballpark: Briggs Stadium (Hitter’s)

OPS+-94, 4th in league

ERA+-117, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Rudy York, 6.0

Led in:

Wins-20

Shutouts-5

Assists as P-67

Errors Committed as P-4

Range Factor/9 Inn as P-3.17

2nd Time All-Star-During these WAR years, no American League club had better pitching than the Tigers. One of the reasons for that is Paul Howard Trout, better known by his moniker, Dizzy, who had a great year this season, and has a better one on the way. In 1942, Hal White was probably Detroit’s best hurler, but he struggled this season and would be off to war in 1944. That leaves Trout as the Tigers’ ace and he’d put together a good stretch during the mid-40s.

                Warren Corbett of SABR writes of this season: “Two developments in 1943 turned Trout’s career around. A large number of players went into military service – more than 200 present and former big leaguers, three times as many as the year before – and the Tigers got a new catcher, Paul Richards. Richards was a wartime replacement, a 34-year-old former minor league manager, who helped Trout get his temper under control. When the pitcher showed signs of blowing up, Richards held the ball between pitches, signaling Trout to slow down and take a breath. The improvement was dramatic. Trout’s 20 wins and five shutouts tied the Yankees’ Spud Chandler for the AL lead and his 2.48 ERA was fifth best. Trout did double duty as Detroit’s top reliever, finishing 14 games with six saves.”

                I always have questions of how much effect catchers can really have on a pitcher. I remember Bill James used to keep stats on a staff’s ERA with one catcher or the other. Still, getting a hot-headed pitcher like Trout to calm down would seem to be valuable.

P-Tex Hughson, Boston Red Sox, 26 Years Old

1942

266 IP, 12-15, 2.64 ERA, 114 K, 126 ERA+, 3.52 FIP, 1.184 WHIP

86 AB, .105, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .105/.181/.105, -16 OPS+

WAR-5.2

Wins Above Replacement-5.2 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (Save, 3 IP, 2 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Red Sox

68-84, 7th in AL

Manager Joe Cronin

Ballpark: Fenway Park (Hitter’s)

OPS+-86, 7th in league

ERA+-97, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Ted Hughson, 5.2

Led in:

Complete Games-20

Home Runs Allowed-23

2nd Time All-Star-After being arguably the American League’s best pitcher in 1942 with a 22-6 record, Hughson struggled this year, going only 12-15 as Boston fell apart. Well, that’s what happens when you lose the game’s greatest run producer to World War II and with the Splendid Splinter gone, Boston couldn’t score and it hurt Tex. Sure, he didn’t pitch as well as he did in ’42, but he still ranks among the elite in the Junior Circuit.

                Andrew Blume of SABR writes of this disappointing season for the Beantown crew: “The 1942 Red Sox finished second, nine games back of the Yankees. Their progress was dramatically affected from 1943 through 1945 by World War II and the military draft, probably more so than any other major-league team. According to Glenn Stout, only Bobby Doerr, Jim Tabor, and Hughson remained in 1943 and ’44 from the 1942 starting team (Tony Lupien was with the Sox in 1943 but was traded in 1944). By 1945, even Doerr, Tabor, and Hughson were in the service. No Red Sox regular player hit over .300 in 1943. Hughson led the pitching staff in wins with a 12-15, 2.64 record in 266 innings. His 20 complete games led the league. Hughson was felled by a Jimmy Bloodworth line drive in a game against the Tigers that broke his pitching thumb. His inability to grip the ball properly upon his return explains why he won only one of his last nine decisions in the year. It is thus no surprise that the Red Sox fell to 68-84, 29 games back of the Yankees.”

P-Tommy Bridges, Detroit Tigers, 36 Years Old

1932 1933 1934 1936 1937 1939 1940 1941

191 2/3 IP, 12-7, 2.39 ERA, 124 K, 146 ERA+, 2.68 FIP, 1.148 WHIP

64 AB, .219, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .219/.275/.266, 54 OPS+

WAR-5.1

Wins Above Replacement-5.1 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.9 (5th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000

9th Time All-Star-The diminutive Bridges didn’t make my list in 1942 despite a 9-7 record with a 2.74 ERA. He’s back this year, but it will be his last time as one of my All-Stars. That makes nine times he’s been here which gives him a good shot at making my ONEHOF, the One-A-Year Hall of Fame, made for the greatest players of all time in baseball history. For 12 seasons, from 1932-to-1943, Bridges went 181-119 with a 3.45 ERA (130 ERA+) while being one of the premier strikeout pitchers in the American League. This is despite being just 155 pounds.

                I’ll wrap up Bridges career with a bit from the Hall of Fame Debate page. If he makes the ONEHOF, and he has a good shot at it, I’ll be writing about him one more time. HOF Debate says, “Bridges was a six-time All-Star who topped his league in strikeouts on two occasions.  Both Red Ruffing and Carl Hubbell led their respective leagues in whiffs once while the Bayou Boy Ted Lyons never paced the league in strikeouts.  It was quite common for Tommy to punch out more batters than his opposing moundsman.  When scouring through newspaper archives, you’ll find numerous stories concerning batters bemoaning digging in against Tommy because they all feared him.  His curveball was far advanced from that of any other pitcher’s breaking offering.  It was once claimed that Tommy could bend his curve around a lightpost with the greatest of ease.”

                Bridges died at the age of 61 on April 19, 1968 in Nashville, TN.

P-Tiny Bonham, New York Yankees, 29 Years Old

1942

225 2/3 IP, 15-8, 2.27 ERA, 71 K, 142 ERA+, 3.23 FIP, 1.103 WHIP

76 AB, .197, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .197/.238/.211, 31 OPS+

WAR-4.9

WAR for Pitchers-4.9  (4th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Tommy Bridges, at 155 pounds, should have been the one nicknamed “Tiny,” but instead it was this 215-pound behemoth, who made my list for the second straight year. Bonham had his best season ever, but will probably not make any more of my All-Star teams. He again struggled in the World Series, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA thanks to giving up homers to Marty Marion and Ray Sanders.

                I mentioned last year I’d write up Bonham’s tragic death and to do that, I’ll be quoting Warren Corbett’s article for SABR. Corbett writes, “He told teammates he planned to retire to his California farm after the 1949 season. His record was 7-4 after his complete-game win over the Phillies on August 27, but he had been complaining of abdominal pain and told Meyer he felt tired all the time. He entered Pittsburgh Presbyterian Hospital on September 8 for an appendectomy. According to news reports, the surgeons discovered intestinal cancer.

                “Bonham died a week later at age 36. The death certificate listed the cause as ‘irreversible shock [and] cardiovascular failure.’

                “He was survived by his wife, Ruth, six-year-old daughter Donna Marie and son Ernie Jr., 4. Ruth Bonham was the first baseball widow to collect a death benefit under the new player pension plan. She was awarded $90 a month for the next 10 years.

                “Chet Smith of the Pittsburgh Press wrote, ‘No more loveable guy than Ernie Bonham ever pitched a baseball and you can put that in the official score.’”

P-Jesse Flores, Philadelphia Athletics, 28 Years Old

231 1/3, 12-14, 3.11 ERA, 113 K, 109 ERA+, 3.14 FIP, 1.202 WHIP

80 AB, .175, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .175/.205/.238, 30 OPS+

WAR-4.7

WAR for Pitchers: 4.6 (6th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 27

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Philadelphia Athletics

49-105, 8th in AL

Manager Connie Mack

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Hitter’s)

OPS+-74, 8th in league

ERA+-84, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Jesse Flores, 4.7

1st Time All-Star-Jesse Sandoval Flores was born on November 2, 1914 in Guadalajara, Mexico. The five-foot-10, 175 pound righty pitcher started with the Cubs in 1942 and then after the season was purchased by the A’s. He would have his best year ever in 1943 for Philadelphia and the Athletics’ best pitching year since George Caster in 1938. Flores is again one of those players no one would have ever heard of if it wasn’t for all of the talent that went off to the military.

                Jim Sandoval of SABR writes, “He rose out of the citrus fields of Southern California to become the first Mexican-born pitcher and the third Mexican-born player in the major leagues.  From picking citrus in the fields he went to picking players from the fields and became one of the greatest baseball scouts in major-league history.  Jesse Flores overcame hometown discrimination to almost singlehandedly build ballclubs for the Minnesota Twins.  He was inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.  In 1985 Flores was selected as the West Coast Scout of the Year.  He spent 50 years in professional baseball.

                “That offseason Flores played in the California Winter League. In September the Cubs sold him to the Philadelphia Athletics.  Flores started the A’s 1943 home opener, giving up just two hits to the Boston Red Sox but losing 1-0.  He went on to appear in 31 games, winning 12 games and losing 14 for the last-place Athletics. After the season Flores played winter ball for the Long Beach Western Pipe and Steel Boilermakers.  He and many others came under investigation for violating a rule prohibiting major leaguers from playing exhibition games after 10 days from season’s end.”

                Flores died on December 17, 1991 in Orange, CA.

P-Denny Galehouse, St. Louis Browns, 31 Years Old

1941

224 IP, 11-11, 2.77 ERA, 114 K, 121 ERA+, 2.86 FIP, 1.299 WHIP

72 AB, .125, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .125/.160/.139, -13 OPS+

WAR-4.0

WAR for Pitchers-4.5 (7th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Browns

72-80, 6th in AL

Manager Luke Sewell

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-94, 5th in league

ERA+-99, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Denny Galehouse, 4.0

2nd Time All-Star-Galehouse last made my list in 1941 for the Browns and then had an off season in 1942, before coming back this year and having his best season ever. It wasn’t as good as Johnny Niggeling’s in 1942, but he did end up being the best player on the Browns, a team that had more than their share of good arms. What no one could anticipate is the kind of year this sixth-place team would have in 1944.

                Glenn Stout of SABR writes, “In St. Louis, Galehouse put together the best seasons of his career. In 1942, pitching against rosters depleted by the war, he picked up a career-high 12 victories and 24 decisions. In 1943, Galehouse had a career-low 2.77 ERA, going 11-11 for manager Luke Sewell.

                “After the 1943 season, Galehouse went to work six days a week at the Goodyear Aircraft plant in Akron, Ohio, earning a deferment from the draft because he was over the age of 26, married with a child, and his job was classified as essential to the war effort. He kept in shape by serving as pitching coach for the Cuyahoga High School baseball team and made an occasional appearance pitching for a local semipro team. As he told author William Mead in Baseball Goes to War, in addition to his work on the assembly line, Galehouse worked with the Selective Service ‘trying to get draft deferments for employees. It was my job to determine who was essential and who was not.’

                “Galehouse passed away from heart disease on October 14, 1998. The San Diego Padres, for whom he worked for the final 18 years of his career, still honor their top scout each year with the Denny Galehouse Award.”

P-Johnny Niggeling, St. Louis Browns/Washington Senators, 39 Years Old

1942

201 1/3 IP, 10-10, 2.59 ERA, 97 K, 129 ERA+ 3.09 FIP, 1.108 WHIP

67 AB, .119, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .119/.157/.134, -15 OPS+

WAR-3.9

WAR for Pitchers-4.4 (8th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Browns Team Stats

Washington Senators

84-69, 2nd in AL

Manager Ossie Bluege

Ballpark: Griffith Stadium (Neutral)

OPS+-103, 3rd in league

ERA+-101, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Stan Spence, 4.3

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000 (3rd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Niggeling made my list for the second straight year, again pitching effectively for the Browns, going 6-8 with a 3.17 ERA. However, during the season, he was traded by the St. Louis Browns with Harlond Clift to the Washington Senators for Ellis ClaryOx Miller and cash. What he did in his six games for the Senators was incredible as Niggeling went 4-2 with a 0.88 ERA, giving up just five earned runs in 51 innings. He was the best Senators’ pitchers since Dutch Leonard in 1940.

                Joan M. Thomas of SABR writes about this incredible streak during this season, writing, “Regardless of Johnny’s health or personal habits, his 6-8 won-loss record with St. Louis in 1943 does not reflect his skill. A look at his 3.17 ERA, and the low scores of the games he lost shows a lack of support on the field. Late in August, the Browns made a deal with the Washington Senators: third baseman Harlond Clift, and for good measure, Johnny Niggeling in exchange for infielder Ellis Clary, pitcher John Miller and $30,000 cash. Accustomed to being traded, the knuckleball hurler finished out the ‘43 season with Washington, winning four and losing only two with a superb 0.88 ERA. In late September Shirley Povich wrote‘Niggeling has allowed less than one run per game, earned or unearned, in his five outings. He is the best pitcher on the club.’ During that period, Johnny actually had a streak that stretched across two seasons. Playing for the Browns, and then the Senators, he pitched 13 straight games with 7 innings pitched and 2 or fewer earned runs. Of course, that was during World War II, when a lot of great batters, such as Ted Williams, were in the service. Nonetheless, the next pitcher to achieve such a 13-game streak was Tom Seaver, who joined the majors more than 20 years later.”

P-Nels Potter, St. Louis Browns, 31 Years Old

168 1/3 IP, 10-5, 2.78 ERA, 80 K, 121 ERA+, 3.32 FIP, 1.188 WHIP

55 AB, .145, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .145/.203/.164, 7 OPS+

WAR-3.9

WAR for Pitchers-3.9 (9th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Nelson Thomas “Nels” or “Nellie” Potter was born on August 23, 1911 in Mount Morris, IL. The five-foot-11, 180 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing pitcher started his Major League career by pitching one game for the Cardinals in 1936. He then played again in the Majors for the Athletics starting in 1938 and was, well, pretty terrible. During the 1941 season, he was purchased by the Boston Red Sox from the Philadelphia Athletics. He was out of the Majors after that year and then came the war.

                With Major League clubs desperate for talent, Potter got a chance in 1943 for the Browns and would end up having three decent seasons during the remaining World War II years.

                Sidney Davis of SABR writes about his time with the Browns, saying, “Attributing his mound turnaround to developing a slider to go with his already effective screwball, Potter said he made the move to compensate for his sore arm and knee problems. At the end of the season, the hapless St. Louis Browns selected him in the major league draft for $7,500, an investment that would help result in the long-suffering franchise’s first and only pennant.

“The 1943 season was Potter’s first winning campaign in the big leagues. He pitched in 33 games, both as a starter and reliever, and ended the year with a record of 10-5. He pitched eight complete games and had an ERA of 2.78, good for 10th in the American League. The Browns, however, were not much better than the A’s had been a few years before, going 72-80 and finishing sixth in the American League.”

P-Virgil Trucks, Detroit Tigers, 26 Years Old

1942

202 2/3 IP, 16-10, 2.84 ERA, 118 K, 123 ERA+, 2.74 FIP, 1.095 WHIP

72 AB, .181, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .181/.203/.194, 13 OPS+

WAR-3.6

WAR for Pitchers-3.8 (10th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 75 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000

2nd Time All-Star-If you remember way back to the time you read the 1942 AL All-Star team write ups, you’ll recall five Detroit pitchers made the list, which might have been the first time that ever happened. I don’t know, because that would require research, something I just don’t have time for. This year, three of those five pitchers are back on my list – Dizzy Trout, Tommy Bridges, and Trucks. Actually, to be more accurate, just Trout and Trucks were part of those five; Bridges just missed.

                Gregory H. Wolf of SABR writes of Trucks’ 1943 season, “Because of wartime travel restrictions, the Tigers conducted spring training in Evansville, Indiana in 1943, and new manager Steve O’Neill had big aspirations. However, the Tigers duplicated their fifth-place finish from the year before. In establishing himself as a big-league starter, Trucks put up even better numbers in his second full season, including 16 wins.

                “Trucks’ will to succeed and ability to navigate through unwritten rules of baseball etiquette helped ease his transition to the major leagues. The Tigers had an older staff in 1941 and ‘rookie pitchers were teased and aggravated,’ he said. Furthermore, Trucks was a Southerner with an accent. ‘Some of the players didn’t like Southern ballplayers,’ he recalled, ‘and they stayed away from us.’”

                Of the six pitchers who have made this list for the Tigers over the last two seasons – Hal White, Al Benton, Trout, Hal Newhouser, Trucks, and Bridges —   only Newhouser made Cooperstown. He will also make mine. Bridges is already in my Hall of Fame and I believe he belongs in the real Hall of Fame.

C-Bill Dickey, New York Yankees, 36 Years Old, Most AS lists as C-12

1929 1930 1931 1933 1934 1936 1937 1938 1939 1941 1942

242 AB, .351, 4 HR, 33 RBI, .351/.445/.492, 173 OPS+

WAR-4.0

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 8

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1942)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1954)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1936)

12th Time All-Star-As you can see by his 242 at-bats, Dickey’s playing time dipped this season, but it didn’t stop him from making his 12th All-Star list. I didn’t know The Man Nobody Knows was this good. Among the all-time greats, I would say Dickey was the 30th best player of all time, right behind Frankie Frisch. Of course, he was helped this year by a lack of talent in the American League due to those who went off to war, but still, to hit .351 with a 173 OPS+ at the age of 36 after catching over 1,600 games is pretty phenomenal.

                This season, Dickey played in his eight World Series, hitting .278 (five-for-18) with a homer and four RBI. In those eight Series’, Dickey and the Yankees won seven of them. Altogether, Dickey hit .255 (37-for-145) with a double, a triple, and five home runs in his Fall Classic career.

                Dickey also has made more of these lists at catcher than any other player thus far. Here are the leaders at all of the positions:

                P-Walter Johnson, 18 All-Star lists

                C-Dickey, 12

                1B-Cap Anson, Lou Gehrig, 13

                2B-Eddie Collins, 17

                3B-Home Run Baker, 9

                SS-Honus Wagner, 13

                LF-Fred Clarke, 10

                CF-Tris Speaker, 18

                RF-Mel Ott, 13

                When I first started writing up Dickey, he was always behind Mickey Cochrane as the league’s top catcher. However, he passed up Black Mike many years ago as the best catcher and Cochrane has now been retired for six seasons, while Dickey just keeps going.

C-Buddy Rosar, Cleveland Indians, 28 Years Old

382 AB, .283, 1 HR, 41 RBI, .283/.340/.340, 105 OPS+

WAR-3.5

Defensive WAR-1.8 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Assists as C-91

Caught Stealing %-60.3

1st Time All-Star-Warren Vincent “Buddy” Rosar was born on July 3, 1914 in Buffalo, NY. The five-foot-nine, 190 pound righty catcher started catching with the Yankees in 1939 and got to enter a game as a defensive replacement in their championship year of 1941 and in New York’s World Series loss of 1942, went one-for-one. Of course, when you back up Bill Dickey, you’re not going to get much playing time so after ’42, Rosar was  traded by the New York Yankees with Roy Cullenbine to the Cleveland Indians for Oscar Grimes and Roy Weatherly. He’s the first Cleveland catcher to make this list since Frankie Pytlak in 1937.

                Why was the up-and-coming catcher traded? Wikipedia says, “With the outbreak of World War II creating doubts as to whether Major League Baseball would continue to operate during wartime, Rosar asked Yankees manager, Joe McCarthy, for permission to travel to Buffalo in July 1942 to take examinations to join the Buffalo police force and, to be with his wife who was about to have a baby. McCarthy refused to allow him to leave because Dickey was sidelined with an injury leaving only unseasoned rookie catcher Eddie Kearse available but, Rosar decided to leave without permission. When he returned to the club three days later, he found that McCarthy had replaced him with Rollie Hemsley and sent Kearse to the minor leagues, relegating Rosar to third-string catcher. Rosar had been seen as a successor to the aging Dickey but, after flouting the authority of the Yankees management, he would be traded to the Cleveland Indians by the end of the season.”

1B-Rudy York, Detroit Tigers, 29 Years Old

1938 1939 1940

571 AB, .271, 34 HR, 118 RBI, .271/.366/.527, 153 OPS+

WAR-6.0

Wins Above Replacement-6.0 (6th)

WAR Position Players-6.0 (5th)

Offensive WAR-4.8

All-Star: Yes (1-3, 2 K)

MVP Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Slugging %-.527

Games Played-155 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-301

Home Runs-34

Runs Batted In-118

Runs Created-109

Extra Base Hits-67

Def. Games as 1B-155 (3rd Time)

Assists as 1B-149 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Despite being on the American League All-Star team in 1941 and ’42, York didn’t really have York-type seasons. Yes, he hit over 20 homers, but his average dropped to .259 and .260 respectively in those seasons. He didn’t make my list. This year, he came back and had his best season ever, but it’s his last shining moment and there’s a good chance Yorkie will never make my list again.

                I mentioned he slumped in ’41 and ’42 and the fans realized it also, according to Wikipedia, which says, “York slumped badly at the plate for the first half of the 1943 season, drawing boos from the fans. Detroit sport writer H. G. Salsinger wrote at the time:

                “’York got away to a bad start and soon found himself in a severe slump. He went from bad to worse . . . His fielding became as bad as his batting and he appeared to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown . . . The crowds at Briggs Stadium were ‘riding’ Rudy. Few players in history have ever been ‘ridden’ harder. They booed him from the time his name was announced in the starting lineup until the last man was out. They booed him every time he came to bat, every time he went after a batted ball, every time he took a throw. The razzing didn’t start this year. The fans were “aboard” York last season. He took an unmerciful booing all through 1942, and the booing increased with the start of the present season.’

                “York rebounded in the second half of the 1943 season, hitting 17 home runs in August, and ended up leading the American League with 34 home runs, 118 RBIs, a .527 slugging percentage, 67 extra-base hits, and 301 total bases. He was selected to his fifth All-Star team and finished third in the voting for the American League Most Valuable Player award.

                “He died in February 1970 at Floyd County Hospital in Rome, Georgia, at age 56. The cause of death was reported to be bacterial pneumonia.”

2B-Joe Gordon, New York Yankees, 28 Years Old

1939 1940 1941 1942

543 AB, .249, 17 HR, 69 RBI, .249/.365/.413, 126 OPS+

WAR-6.4

Wins Above Replacement-6.4 (5th)

WAR Position Players-6.4 (4th)

Offensive WAR-4.4 (7th)

Defensive WAR-2.8 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 25

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2009
Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Intentional Bases on Balls-15

Assists as 2B-490 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as 2B-29 (4th Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-5.83 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.90 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-During this incredible stretch of dominating seasons by the Yankees, they’ve had some all-time greats on their team, players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. Yet for a stretch of time, there weren’t too many players in the American League better than Flash Gordon. He won the writers’ MVP in 1942 and took over as the offensive spark of the Bronx Bombers now that DiMaggio was off to war. That explains him being intentionally walked 15 times this year. In the World Series, in which New York defeated the Cardinals, 4-1, Gordon hit .235 with a double and a homer.

                Wikipedia says of this season, “By his own lofty standards, he had a subpar yet productive season in 1943, batting .249 with 17 home runs (5th in the AL), 69 RBI and 82 runs, and leading the AL in assists; despite his low batting mark, he was still among the league’s top ten players in both slugging (.413) and on-base percentage (.365), thanks to a career-best 98 walks (second in the AL).

                “In the World Series rematch with the Cardinals, he gave New York a 2–1 lead in the fourth inning of Game 1 – a 4–2 win – with a solo homer, and scored the first run in a 2–1 win in Game 4. He threw out the final batter of the Series with the tying runs on base in the 2–0 Game 5 victory, with the Yankees taking home another title. He again fielded brilliantly, setting still-standing records for a five-game Series of 20 putouts, 23 assists, 43 total chances, and a 1.000 fielding average; his 8 assists in Game 1 and 3 assists in the eighth inning of Game 5 are also records.”

2B-Bobby Doerr, Boston Red Sox, 25 Years Old

1942

604 AB, .270, 16 HR, 75 RBI, .270/.339/.412, 117 OPS+

WAR-5.0

WAR Position Players-5.0 (7th)

Offensive WAR-4.1 (9th)

Defensive WAR-1.8 (5th)

All-Star: Yes (2-4, HR, 3 RBI)

MVP Rank: 14

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1986)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-155

Def. Games as 2B-155

Putouts as 2B-415 (2nd Time)

Assists as 2B-490

Double Plays Turned as 2B-132 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.990 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-With Ted Williams off to war, Doerr had to lead the Red Sox and judging by Boston finishing seventh, that didn’t work out too well. Of course, Doerr was no Splendid Splinter and neither was anyone else. Still, Doerr had a very good season and a sparkling All-Star game, hitting a dinger with three RBIs. While many of his peers were already out of the league and into the war theatre, Doerr would only miss 1945.

                From the Baseball Hall of Fame page: “In 2012, Doerr a sat down with then-Hall of Fame Vice President and Communications and Education Brad Horn to discuss his career, his family and a nine-decade life in baseball.

                “HOF: So in 1935, Eddie Collins was general manager of the Boston Red Sox, and you had a chance to meet him while playing for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League.

“BD: Well, that was something, that Eddie Collins came out to see me. He went back to the owner of the club in San Diego and said the Red Sox would like to buy my contract. They said they wanted to see me play another year before they brought me to Boston, though. They shook hands on it, and the Red Sox had the first chance to buy my contract. They did for the 1937 season.

                “HOF: In 1943, you really had a nice year and had a very special moment in the All-Star Game, a 3-run home run off Mort Cooper to set the American League on the road to victory.

“I can still remember that pitch. It was a hanging curve ball that I fell back on. It just seemed that it wasn’t a real hard pitch to hit, and it was one of the real great thrills I’ve had in baseball.”

2B-Jerry Priddy, Washington Senators, 23 Years Old

560 AB, .271, 4 HR, 62 RBI, .271/.350/.359, 111 OPS+

WAR-3.2

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 16

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Gerald Edward “Jerry” Priddy was born on November 9, 1919 in Los Angeles, CA. The five-foot-11, 180 pound righty second and third baseman started with the Yankees in 1941 and ’42. After that season, he was traded by the New York Yankees with Milo Candini to the Washington Senators for Bill Zuber and cash. Priddy is going to be around a few of these lists, but with the Browns and Tigers, not DC.

                Wikipedia has a great story about Priddy meeting a future great. It says, “While playing for the Senators in 1943, Priddy met an 11-year-old Maury Wills. Wills later recalled that the Senators had sent Priddy to help with a playground baseball clinic in the African-American section of Washington. Wills recalled, ‘It was the very first time I had ever looked a white guy in the eyes.’ Wills was impressed that Priddy didn’t just stay for 15 minutes and leave. ‘The man talked to us for at least two hours, and I just couldn’t believe it. Priddy even singled me out. He told the other kids to move back and said, “Watch this kid.” He bounced a grounder to me, and I got my little feet in place, grabbed the ball, and I took a little hop – just like the guys I’d seen playing on Sundays. I threw it overhand to him, and the ball made a loud pop in his mitt. I still remember what he said: “Wow!”’ Priddy looked down at Wills’ feet and said, ‘Hey, kid, you’ve got a chance to be a good baseball player one day. Where’s your shoes?’ Wills recalled he was barefoot.”

3B-Billy Johnson, New York Yankees, 24 Years Old

592 AB, .280, 5 HR, 94 RBI, .280/.344/.367, 107 OPS+

WAR-3.5

Defensive WAR-1.3 (8th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-155

Def. Games as 3B-155

Putouts as 3B-183

Assists as 3B-326

Double Plays Turned as 3B-32

1st Time All-Star-William Russell “Billy” or “Bull” Johnson was born on August 30, 1918 in Montclair, NJ. The five-foot-10, 180 pound righty third baseman started his Major League career with this good season in which he finished fourth in American League Most Valuable Player race. Then he helped the Yankees win the World Series over the Cardinals by hitting .300 (six-for-20) with a double and a triple. It certainly looked like he was off to a good career, but he’d be off to war after this year. Johnson is the first Yankee third baseman to make my list since Red Rolfe in 1939.

                Cort Vitty of SABR writes of this season, “As a Minor League prospect, Johnson was invited to train with the parent club, but he was not expected to make the team. This lack of stature meant he was not listed for daily training assignments. One cold, damp day, Johnson sought out veteran shortstop Frank Crosetti and asked him to hit ground balls outside in the light snow. Johnson flawlessly fielded each sharp grounder hit in his direction. Manager Joe McCarthy walked out to the empty stands and silently watched the workout. McCarthy called the rookie over and asked: ‘Do you think you can play third base in the majors?’ Johnson responded: ‘Give me a chance.’ McCarthy said: ‘You’re getting one. Make the most of it. Starting today you’re my third baseman.’

                “With Red Rolfe’s retirement and several key players in the military, the Yankees, like most teams in 1943, had holes in their lineup. McCarthy, an infielder in his playing days, took it upon himself to teach Johnson the intricacies of third base. McCarthy also helped him as a hitter.”

SS-Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians, 25 Years Old

1940 1941 1942

539 AB, .286, 3 HR, 67 RBI, .286/.388/.388, 134 OPS+

WAR-8.1

Wins Above Replacement-8.1 (1st)

WAR Position Players-8.1 (1st)

Offensive WAR-5.9 (2nd)

Defensive WAR-3.3 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 10

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1970)

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Cleveland Indians

82-71, 3rd in AL

Manager Lou Boudreau

Ballpark: League Park II and Cleveland Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-105, 2nd in league

ERA+-99, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Lou Boudreau, 8.1

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-8.1

WAR Position Players-8.1

Defensive WAR-3.3 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-328 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-122 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as SS-.970 (4th Time)

4th Time All-Star-There’s always so much to write about Boudreau now that he’s doing double duty at shortstop and skipper. Focusing on his playing, he had a great year, leading the American League in Wins Above Replacement. It wasn’t enough to win my MVP; I gave it to Spud Chandler, as did the baseball writers. However, I would have put him no lower than second while the writers put him 10th. His hitting stats, like all of them this year, didn’t look as impressive because the AL’s hitting was down significantly, averaging its least amount of runs since the Deadball Era year of 1918 (also another war year).

                As I’ve confessed many times on this page, I don’t understand WAR, but according to Defensive WAR, no one wielded a better glove than Handsome Lou. His 3.3 dWAR was one of the highest recorded as he played high caliber at the toughest defensive position. It’s why his overall WAR was the highest in the league.

                It also explains why he ranked 10th in the MVP vote. There weren’t all those fancy defensive stats back in 1943 so no one knew how good Boudreau was in the field. Oh, there are many comments about his slickness in the field, but there wasn’t really a way to quantify what he did with the glove.

                By the way, if you’re wondering why Boudreau didn’t go into the military, it’s because of bad ankles received from playing basketball. The Good Kid was declared ineligible and got to stay playing ball.

Posed action of Chicago White Sox Luke Appling

SS-Luke Appling, Chicago White Sox, 36 Years Old

1933 1935 1936 1937 1939 1940 1941

585 AB, .328, 3 HR, 80 RBI, .328/.419/.407, 143 OPS+

WAR-7.3

Wins Above Replacement-7.3 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-7.3 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-6.9 (1st)

Defensive WAR-1.6 (6th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (inducted in 1964)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1937)

Chicago White Sox

82-72, 4th in AL

Manager Jimmy Dykes

Ballpark: Comiskey Park I (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-89, 6th in league

ERA+-103, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Luke Appling, 7.3

Led in:

1943 AL Batting Title (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-6.9

Batting Average-.328 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.419

Games Played-155

Times On Base-283

Assists-500 (5th Time)

Def. Games as SS-155 (3rd Time)

Assists as SS-500 (6th Time)

8th Time All-Star-Appling had an off year in 1942, hitting below .300 for the first time since 1932, when he batted .274. He came back this year, hitting .328 and leading the American League for the second time. He was a legitimate MVP candidate and I regard this year as his best season ever. The high batting average in a year in which runs were at a premium gave him the highest Offensive WAR in the AL. Of course, it helped there weren’t names like Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams playing in 1943.

                Craig Muder writes on the Baseball Hall of Fame website, “Luke Appling was three months shy of his 37th birthday when he reported for Army training at Camp Lee on Jan. 3, 1944.

                “Appling had toiled for 13 big league seasons when he joined the United States’ effort in World War II, and he was coming off one of his best. In 1943, Appling topped the American League with a .328 batting average and appeared in 155 games for the White Sox, the most of his career. The durable shortstop amassed 192 hits, 80 RBI and a career-best 27 stolen bases in his age-36 season, finishing second in the AL Most Valuable Player voting.

                “But as his military career began, the Associated Press reported that Appling “said he already had had trouble with his legs and felt they wouldn’t stand up under a major league season by the time he got out of the Army.”

                He’ll be back and still hitting singles all over the field.

SS-Vern Stephens, St. Louis Browns, 22 Years Old

512 AB, .289, 22 HR, 91 RBI, .289/.357/.482, 141 OPS+

WAR-3.5

Offensive WAR-5.2 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (1-3, 1 K, 1 Sac)

MVP Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 99 percent chance)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Vernon Decatur “Vern” or “Junior” or “Buster” or “Little Slug” Stephens was born on October 23, 1920 in McAlister, NM. The five-foot-10, 185 pound righty shortstop and third baseman started his career with the Browns in 1941, playing just three games. This year, he hit well and was the most powerful of all of the American League shortstops. He’s right on the edge of being a shoo-in for my Hall of Fame. Stephens is the first Brown to be a shortstop on my list since Bobby Wallace in 1910.

                Mark Armour of SABR writes, “A strong man with a powerful upper body, Stephens did not look like a shortstop. If he had less range than some of his slighter contemporaries, he could play deeper because of his great throwing arm. A right-handed hitter, he had a spread stance, slightly open, and stood deep in the batter’s box.

                “In early 1943, Stephens re-aggravated a knee he had hurt in the minor leagues, causing him to flunk his army physical. The injury caused the Browns to consider moving him to the outfield, where they used him eleven times. At the plate he turned in another fine year -22 home runs, 91 RBI and a .289 average. The Browns slipped from third to seventh place, but Stephens still finished ninth in the MVP balloting. Later reclassified as 1-A, he failed the exam again in 1944 and became one of the better players to remain in the major leagues through the entire war. During off-seasons he worked at a shipyard in Long Beach.”

LF-Charlie Keller, New York Yankees, 26 Years Old

1940 1941 1942

512 AB, .271, 31 HR, 86 RBI, .271/.396/.525, 168 OPS+

WAR-6.6

Wins Above Replacement-6.6 (4th)

WAR Position Players-6.6 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-5.8 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 13

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. 33 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

On-Base Plus Slugging-.922

Bases on Balls-106 (2nd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-168

Adj. Batting Runs-45

Adj. Batting Wins-4.9

Offensive Win %-.775

Power-Speed #-11.4 (2nd Time)

AB per HR-16.5

Base-Out Runs Added-49.77

Win Probability Added-6.2

Situ. Wins Added-4.2

Base-Out Wins Added-5.3

Def. Games as LF-140 (3rd Time)

Putouts as LF-286 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as LF-.993 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-It’s amazing a man with the nickname “King Kong” weighed just 185 pounds, but he put every ounce he had into punishing baseballs and Keller has now made my list four times in a row. He helped lead the Yankees to another World Series victory, this one over the Cardinals, 4-1. In the Series, King Kong hit just .222 (four-for-18) with a triple and two walks.  It would be his last Fall Classic as once he gets back from war his career will decline. My guess is he’s making one more of these lists.

                Gary Bedingfield of Seamheads writes, “In 1940, Keller was an American League all-star, the first of three all-star selections before he entered service in December 1943. He was commissioned an ensign with the Merchant Marine on December 30, 1943, and began training at St. Petersburg Maritime Training Station in Florida on January 21, 1944, where he was in charge of the physical fitness program. He was assigned to Maritime Training Station at Sheepshead Bay, New York in the spring of 1944, where he trained as a purser-pharmacist’s mate. Of all the sports stars stationed at Sheepshead Bay, officers said Keller was the most serious, the most conscientious, and the most eager to get about the task of ending the war quickly.

                “While stationed at Sheepshead Bay, Keller sought to play with the Yankees on a part-time basis. However, that was vetoed because Ed Barrow (general manager of the Yankees) and other club owners contended that professional clubs could not carry part-time employees and remain within the player limit.”

LF-Jeff Heath, Cleveland Indians, 28 Years Old

1938 1941

424 AB, .274, 18 HR, 79 RBI, .274/.369/.481, 156 OPS+

WAR-4.2

WAR Position Players-4.2 (9th)

Offensive WAR-3.9 (10th)

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 10 percent chance)

Team Stats

3rd Time All-Star-After making the list as a Cleveland rightfielder in 1941, Heath was moved back to leftfield and hiitting fell quite a bit in 1942. He came back this year despite playing in just 118 games.

His home parks of League Park and Cleveland Stadium hurt him as a power hitter but he was still good enough to make the All-Star Game and pinch hit. Heath has a chance of making this list once more, but he’s far from being a Hall of Famer.

                Heath was part of the group that complained about Ossie Vitt as a manager as C. Paul Rogers III mentions in SABR: “As the reputed leader of the so-called Cleveland Cry Babies, Heath took a lot of abuse on the road. It was tough to predict his reactions to such taunts or to figure out if and when they were even bothering him. Once, a fan in Griffith Stadium in Washington threw a teddy bear at Jeff on the field. Heath laughed, picked it up, and hugged it. He didn’t even punch the guy.

                “Heath never again approached those numbers and thus superstardom eluded him. In the very next season, 1942, for example, he slipped to a .278 batting average with only 10 home runs and 76 runs batted in. In 1943 he hit .274 with 18 homers, good enough to be named to the American League All-Star team in that war-depleted year but still a far cry from ’41.”

                SABR doesn’t mention why Heath missed so many games.

CF-Stan Spence, Washington Senators, 28 Years Old

1942

570 AB, .267, 12 HR, 88 RBI, .267/.366/.405, 129 OPS+

WAR-4.3

WAR Position Players-4.3 (8th)

Offensive WAR-4.4 (7th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as CF-148

Putouts as CF-331

2nd Time All-Star-What’s it take to be the best centerfielder in the American League? Well, it helps that Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away, hey, hey, hey. DiMaggio, like so many stellar AL players, was off to war and since Spence remained behind, he was the tops at his position. The lack of quality players will help the Washington centerfielder make this list again in the future. I’m not downplaying what players like Spence did. They took advantage of the situation they were in and were able to shine.

                Mark Armour of SABR writes, “Stan struggled to start the 1943 season, hovering near .200 over the first two months, and not striking his first home run until July 3. In late July he was benched briefly, but he finished strong — hitting .267 with 12 home runs and 88 RBIs, while continuing to shine in center field. He batted in the middle of the order during all his years with the Senators, usually hitting third, fourth, or fifth. The left-handed hitter was hurt by his home park, hitting just two home runs in Griffith Stadium all year, and only 12 during his five years there.”

                Because Spence was married with two children, he was able to stay home for quite a bit. He’d eventually go off to the Army, but for right now, he played centerfield in the nation’s capital and helped keep the spirits up of the people back home. That’s an important job for an athlete and one I wish the modern athlete did more of.

RF-Roy Cullenbine, Cleveland Indians, 29 Years Old

488 AB, .289, 8 HR, 56 RBI, .289/.407/.404, 145 OPS+

WAR-5.1

Wins Above Replacement-5.1 (10th)

WAR Position Players-5.1 (6th)

Offensive WAR-4.7 (6th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Assists as RF-14

Double Plays Turned as RF-6

Double Plays Turned as OF-6

1st Time All-Star-Roy Joseph Cullenbine was born on October 18, 1913 in Nashville, TN. The six-foot-one, 190 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing rightfielder and first baseman started with Detroit as a leftfielder in 1938 and 1939. He then played for Brooklyn for part of 1940 before being  traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the St. Louis Browns for Joe Gallagher. He stayed with the Browns in 1941 and then during the 1942 season, he was traded by the St. Louis Browns with Bill Trotter to the Washington Senators for Mike Chartak and Steve Sundra. They ended up releasing Cullenbine and the Yankees picked him up towards the end of the summer of ’42. After the season, he was traded by the New York Yankees with Buddy Rosar to the Cleveland Indians for Oscar Grimes and Roy Weatherly.  He’s the first Cleveland rightfielder to make my list since Jeff Heath in 1941.

                I should mention he played in the 1942 World Series for the Bronx Bombers, hitting .263 (five-for-19) with a double as the Yankees lost the Series to the Cardinals, 4-1.

                Cullenbine had a reputation as a man who didn’t work hard at his craft. Warren Corbett of SABR writes, “Cullenbine’s reputation preceded him in Cleveland. Plain Dealer writer Gordon Cobbledick introduced him to Indians fans as ‘a fellow who likes the bright lights and dislikes severe training rules. With Bob Feller in the navy, the Indians were a middling club. Cullenbine’s .289 average led the team in 1943.” He’ll be back.

RF-George Case, Washington Senators, 27 Years Old

613 AB, .294, 1 HR, 52 RBI, .294/.341/.374, 113 OPS+

WAR-4.1

WAR Position Players-4.1 (10th)

All-Star: Yes (0-2, R, HBP)

MVP Rank: 12

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Runs Scored-102

Stolen Bases-61 (5th Time)

Fielding % as RF-.987

1st Time All-Star-George Washington Case was born on November 11, 1915 in Trenton, NJ. The six-foot, 183 pound righty outfielder started with Washington in 1937 and every year from 1939-through-1943, led the American League in stolen bases. His 61 steals this year were the most in the AL since Ben Chapman’s 61 for the Yankees in 1931. He’s the first Senator to make my list as a rightfielder since John Stone in 1937.

                Gary Livacari of SABR writes, “A natural athlete in his youth, George Case had one remarkable talent that separated him from his peers: his blazing speed. He wasn’t just fast. George Case could run like the wind. This extraordinary ability became his ticket into professional baseball; and once he made it to the majors, he fine-tuned his skills and emerged as the premier basestealer of his generation. According to author Mark Stang: ‘His raw speed and ability to read pitchers and catchers made him the most feared basestealer in either league.’

                “He died on January 23, 1989, in Trenton at the age of 74 following complications from emphysema. He was a resident of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife, Helen (who died in 1996); son George Washington Case III; daughter Robin Davis; and five grandchildren. He was buried in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery of Ewing in Trenton. Over the years his immediate descendants have grown to six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, including grandson and family namesake, George Washington Case IV.”

1943 National League All-Star Team

ONEHOF-Gabby Hartnett

P-Schoolboy Rowe, PHI

P-Rip Sewell, PIT

P-Mort Cooper, STL

P-Hi Bithorn, CHC

P-Nate Andrews, BSN

P-Whit Wyatt, BRO

P-Max Lanier, STL

P-Claude Passeau, CHC

P-Dick Barrett, CHC/PHI

P-Ace Adams, NYG

C-Ray Mueller, CIN

C-Walker Cooper, STL

1B-Elbie Fletcher, PIT

2B-Lou Klein, STL

2B-Lonny Frey, CIN

2B-Billy Herman, BRO

3B-Bob Elliott, PIT

3B-Stan Hack, CHC

SS-Arky Vaughan, BRO

SS-Marty Marion, STL

LF-Eric Tipton, CIN

CF-Augie Galan, BRO

CF-Peanuts Lowrey, CHC

RF-Stan Musial, STL, 1st MVP

RF-Bill Nicholson, CHC

1943 ONEHOF Inductee

Gabby Hartnett, C

1924 1925 1927 1928 1930 1933 1934 1935 1937 1938

6432 AB, .297, 236 HR, 1179 RBI, .297/.370/.489, 126 OPS+

Career WAR-56.9

With Hartnett being my 1943 ONEHOF (One-a-Year Hall of Fame) inductee this season, catchers have now received that honor the last two years, with Bill Dickey inducted in 1942. Ol’ Tomato Face becomes the fifth catcher inducted, joining Dickey, Charlie Bennett, Buck Ewing, and Roger Bresnahan. Click on the link above for the entire list. Next year’s ONEHOF nominees are Bill Terry, Mickey Cochrane, Ted Lyons, Tommy Bridges, Hardy Richardson, Elmer Flick, Johnny Evers, Larry Doyle, Art Fletcher, Wally Schang, Joe Sewell, Kiki Cuyler, Earl Averill, Ernie Lombardi, Luke Appling, and Stan Hack.

                I have a list I haven’t posted that includes the all-time greats at their positions. Before the 1942 season, my two catchers were Deacon White and Buck Ewing, because in order to be on my all-time list, you have to be in the ONEHOF. Now the two backstops on that list are Dickey and Hartnett. My guess is they’re going to be there for quite a while. This was certainly a good time for catchers as Mickey Cochrane and Ernie Lombardi still have a chance to make the ONEHOF.

                If judged only by WAR, Hartnett is the seventh greatest Cub of all. He played for them for 19 years and, though he never won any championships (like so many from this franchise), he did make it into four World Series where he hit .241 (13-for54) overall with two doubles, a triple, and two dingers.

P-Schoolboy Rowe, Philadelphia Phillies, 33 Years Old

1934 1936 1940

199 IP, 14-8, 2.94 ERA, 52 K, 114 ERA+, 2.83 FIP, 1.131 WHIP

120 AB, .300, 4 HR, 18 RBI, .300/.382/.458, 147 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (5th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.0 (9th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 14

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 25 percent chance)

Philadelphia Phillies

64-90, 7th in NL

Managers Bucky Harris (39-53) and Freddie Fitzsimmons (25-37)

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-92, 5th in league

ERA+-89, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Schoolboy Rowe, 5.8

Led in:

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.312

4th Time All-Star-After his great season in 1940, Rowe started to struggle and during the 1942 season, he was purchased from Detroit by Brooklyn. Before this season, he was purchased by the Phillies from the Dodgers. It was a good move for Philly as he had a great year in the City of Brotherly Love. However, the good season didn’t just come from his arm, but his bat. Along with pitching in 27 games, Rowe also pinch-hit in 56 games and you can see why if you look at his hitting stats above. This was his best season ever and maybe the best overall season by a Philly pitcher since Hal Carlson in 1926.

                SABR wraps up this comeback season, saying, “Rowe had thrown the knuckler occasionally as a rookie, but he learned to master the dastardly pitch during his short stint in Brooklyn, under the tutelage of knuckleball wizard Freddie Fitzsimmons. Rowe won seven of his first ten decisions, including two shutouts (a four-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates and a three-hitter versus the Boston Braves), and sported a sparkling 2.03 ERA on July 1. Phillies beat reporter Stan Baumgartner called Schoolboy the ‘most popular player’ on the team.  Rowe finished the season with a team-high 14 victories (eight losses), a stellar 2.94 ERA in 199 innings, and the best control in the NL (he walked a league-low 1.3 batters per nine innings).  Schoolboy was arguably the Phillies’ best hitter, too, and led the league in pinch hits (15) and pinch-hit at-bats with (51). He finished with a team-high .300 average (36-for-120), four home runs and 18 runs batted in.”

P-Rip Sewell, Pittsburgh Pirates, 36 Years Old

1940

265 1/3 IP, 21-9, 2.54 ERA, 65 K, 137 ERA+, 3.08 FIP, 1.289 WHIP

105 AB, .286, 0 HR, 17 RBI, .286/.299/.343, 82 OPS+

WAR-5.7

Wins Above Replacement-5.7 (6th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.0 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R)

MVP Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Pittsburgh Pirates

80-74, 4th in NL

Managers Frankie Frisch (80-74)

Ballpark: Forbes Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-97, 4th in league

ERA+-114, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Rip Sewell, 5.7

Led in:

Wins-21

Complete Games-25

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1940, Rip had decent seasons in 1941 and 1942, but was not close to being one of the National League’s best. With the depletion of the league’s best players due to World War II, Sewell is on this All-Star team once again and is going to have very good back-to-back seasons. This is the best Pirate year at pitcher since Burleigh Grimes in 1929.

                Wikipedia has info on Sewell’s most famous pitch, stating, “In December 1941, Sewell was injured in a hunting accident, as he was shot with two loads of buckshot. The injury permanently damaged the big toe that Sewell pitched off, and he was required to re-engineer his pitching motion and delivery. The re-engineered pitching motion is what gave rise to Sewell’s famous ‘blooper pitch.’

                “Sewell threw the blooper pitch by holding onto the seam and flipping it off three fingers to get backspin. Sewell’s blooper reached an arc of 25 feet. The first time Sewell threw the blooper in a game was in an exhibition match against the Detroit Tigers. Sewell described the reaction of the Detroit batter, Dick Wakefield: ‘He started to swing, he stopped, he started again, he stopped, and then he swung and missed it by a mile. I thought everybody was going to fall off the bench, they were laughing so hard.’ (Donald Honig, “Baseball When the Grass Was Real” (1975), p. 254)

                “Pittsburgh outfielder Maurice Van Robays named Sewell’s blooper pitch the ‘Eephus pitch’, saying, ‘Eephus ain’t nothin’ and that’s what that ball is.’”

P-Mort Cooper, St. Louis Cardinals, 30 Years Old

1939 1940 1942

274 IP, 21-8, 2.30 ERA, 141 K, 147 ERA+, 2.54 FIP, 1.120 WHIP

100 AB, .170, 1 HR, 11 RBI, .170/.186/.230, 17 OPS+

WAR-5.5

Wins Above Replacement-5.5 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (L, 2 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R)

MVP Rank: 5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Cardinals

105-49, 1st in NL, Lost WS 4-1 to NYY

Managers Billy Southworth

Ballpark: Sportsman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-104, 1st in league

ERA+-132, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Stan Musial, 9.5

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (2nd Time)

Wins-21 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-33 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.8 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Runs Saved-43.04 (2nd Time)

Win Probability Added-5.0 (2nd Time)

Sit. Wins Saved-5.1 (2nd Time)

Base-Out Wins Saved-5.0 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-St. Louis continued to dominate the National League during the World War II years, winning their second straight NL pennant and once again facing the Yankees in the World Series. After defeating the Bronx Bombers, 4-1, in 1942, this time is was its turn to lose in five games. One of the reasons they won the NL crown again was Cooper, who, like in the previous year, was the NL’s best pitcher if judged by WAR for Pitchers.

                On May 31 and June 4, Cooper pitched two straight one-hit shutouts. Here’s what SABR says about the first of those: “Cooper was pitching on borrowed time. In late June 1941 he underwent what was then potentially career-ending surgery to remove bone spurs in his right elbow. Defying expectations, he returned six weeks later and made 13 starts in August and September. Pain-free for most of 1942, Cooper supposedly chewed aspirin by the dozen to numb the pain in 1943. The 30-year-old hurler with a career record of 65-38, including 5-3 thus far in the season, showed no signs of discomfort on the mound. In his previous start, four days earlier at Sportsman’s Park, he tossed his first career one-hitter, defeating Brooklyn, 7-0, in the first game of a doubleheader on May 31. The only hit was Billy Herman’s double to lead off the fifth inning. Cooper’s gem got scant coverage in the sports pages, which focused on Brooklyn’s 41-year-old emergency starter, Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons, who tossed seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball to beat the Cardinals, 1-0, in the second game.”

                Read the whole thing for details on the second one.

P-Hi Bithorn, Chicago Cubs, 27 Years Old

249 2/3 IP, 18-12, 2.60 ERA, 86 K, 128 ERA+, 2.94 FIP, 1.170 WHIP

92 AB, .174, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .174/.216/.207, 23 OPS+

WAR-5.5

Wins Above Replacement-5.5 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.5 (2nd)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 32

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 61 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago Cubs

74-79, 5th in NL

Managers Jimmie Wilson

Ballpark: Wrigley Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-100, 3rd in league

ERA+-102, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Bill Nicholson, 6.5

Led in:

Shutouts-7

1st Time All-Star-Hiram (pronounced ee-rum) Gabriel “Hi” Bithorn  was born on March 18, 1916 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He’s the first Major League player from Puerto Rico. The six-foot-one, 200 pound righty pitcher started with the Cubs in 1942 and then had a fluke outstanding season this year. For the next two years, he’d join the Navy and by the time Bithorn got back, he wasn’t the same as he was this magical season. It was the best Cubs’ pitching season since Claude Passeau and Larry French in 1940.

                SABR says, “Bithorn pitched 171 1/3 innings in 38 games in 1942 with 9 wins and 14 losses, achieving a 3.68 ERA. The next year he pitched his career high of 249 2/3 innings, allowing only 227 hits in 39 games, 19 of which were complete games. He ended the season with 18 wins and 12 losses, and a 2.60 ERA. With seven shutouts to his credit, he led the 1943 National League, making him the second Latino to do so, the first being none other than Adolfo Luque in 1921 (3), 1923 (6), and 1925 (4). Today Bithorn continues to hold the record for highest number of shutout games by a major-league pitcher from Puerto Rico.

                “[In May 1951], driving a 1947 Buick, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and traveled to the extreme southern part of the state of Tamaulipas to the town of El Mante along Federal Highway 85. Here he met his untimely death by a policeman’s bullet to his stomach. Exactly what happened that night remains a mystery.”

                I suggest you read the whole SABR article about Bithorn’s tragic death. There is a lot of dispute involved.

P-Nate Andrews, Boston Braves, 29 Years Old

283 2/3 IP, 14-20, 2.57 ERA, 80 K, 131 ERA+, 3.21 FIP, 1.156 WHIP

90 AB, .156, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .156/.232/.189, 23 OPS+

WAR-5.1

WAR for Pitchers-5.1 (3rd)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 35 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Braves

68-85, 6th in NL

Managers Bob Coleman (21-25) and Casey Stengel (47-60)

Ballpark: Braves Field (Hitter’s)

OPS+-77, 8th in league

ERA+-105, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Nate Andrews, 5.1

Led in:

Losses-20

Hit By Pitch-6

Assists as P-71

1st Time All-Star-Nathan Hardy “Nate” Andrews was born on September 30, 1913 in Pembroke, NC. The six-foot, 195 pound righty pitcher started with the Cardinals in 1937, didn’t play in the Majors in 1938, came back to the Cards in 1939 and then after the season was picked up by the Indians. He pitched for Cleveland in 1940 and ’41 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1942. This season, Andrews woke up and had a great rookie year for the Braves. It was the best Boston pitching year since Jim Turner in 1937.

                This was a tough-luck season for Andrews as the Braves had the National League’s worst offense. SABR recaps this year, saying, “Perhaps nothing epitomizes Andrews’ season-long struggles more than an outing on May 23, when he pitched nine shutout innings only to surrender a tenth-inning run in a 1-0 loss. In all, the Braves managed two or fewer runs scored in nearly half (16 of 34) of Andrews’ starts, easily explaining his 20-loss season.

                “Since 1920 there have been 97 seasons of 20 or more losses for a pitcher. (Bobo Newsom did it three times.) Andrews may be the least deserving among this fraternity, as his 2.57 ERA remains by far the lowest such mark. (His closest competitor, Hall of Famer Jesse Haines, was 13-20 in 1920 despite a 2.98 ERA.) As the season drew to a close, one observer acknowledged that ‘the guy [c]ould have had 20 victories easily. … How could any one man have so much bad luck as Nate has had all year?’”

P-Whit Wyatt, Brooklyn Dodgers, 35 Years Old

1939 1940 1941

180 2/3 IP, 14-5, 2.49 ERA, 80 K, 134 ERA+, 2.60 FIP, 1.007 WHIP

60 AB, .283, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .283/.295/.367, 90 OPS+

WAR-4.8

WAR for Pitchers-4.3 (6th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 15

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Brooklyn Dodgers

81-72, 3rd in NL

Managers Leo Durocher

Ballpark: Ebbets Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-102, 2nd in league

ERA+-86, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Augie Galan, 5.9

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.737

Walks & Hits per IP-1.007 (2nd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-6.924

4th Time All-Star-Even though Wyatt didn’t make my list in 1942, he still had a good year, going 19-7 with a 2.73 ERA. Hey, I have tough standards! This season, he’s back as the club’s ace after the retirement of Ron’s Hall of Famer, Larry French. This would be Wyatt’s last decent season.

                SABR will wrap up his year and career, stating, “The Dodgers won even more games in 1942 than they had in ’41 but slipped to second place. Wyatt contributed a 19-7 record in 30 starts and was once again steady against wartime opposition at 14-5 in 1943. By 1944, Wyatt was 36 and problems with his well-traveled arm limited him to 37 2/3 innings as Brooklyn tumbled to seventh place. Although he would later be named to Marty Adler’s Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame, he was excess baggage in the spring of 1945, even for a second-division club. His contract was sold to league rival Philadelphia, where he failed to win in ten starts, the last one on July 18, and finished 0-7. He retired following the season.

                “Wyatt, of whom Dodger teammate Pete Reiser once said, ‘If I could sculpt a statue of what a pitcher should look like, for form and grace and style, it would look like Whitlow Wyatt, died from pneumonia complications on July 16, 1999, in Carrollton, Georgia. He was 91 and a widower, Edna having died in 1976.”

                If only Wyatt would have gotten the chance earlier, he might have made the Hall of Fame.

P-Max Lanier, St. Louis Cardinals, 27 Years Old

1942

213 1/3 IP, 15-7, 1.90 ERA, 123 K, 178 ERA+, 2.52 FIP, 1.266 WHIP

73 AB, .164, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .164/.176/.164, -4 OPS+

WAR-4.5

WAR for Pitchers-4.8 (5th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 13 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Earned Run Average-1.90

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.127

Adjusted ERA+-178

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.52

2nd Time All-Star-Lanier helped the Cardinals to the National League crown by having his best season ever. In the Series against the Yankees, he started two games, going 0-1 despite allowing just five runs (three earned) in 15 1/3 innings. It’s shocking to me Lanier didn’t get any Most Valuable Player votes.

 SABR has much to say about this season. Here’s just a bit: “

“A victim of poor run support to start the 1943 season, Lanier lost two consecutive hard-luck complete games in May, a 13 1/3-inning effort against the Cubs (2-1) and a 9 2/3-inning outing against the Braves (4-3) by surrendering walk-off hits. After receiving extra time between starts to ensure that his elbow remained healthy, Lanier hurled his third extra-inning complete game of the month on May 28. He limited the Braves to five hits and scored the winning run himself in the bottom of the tenth on Lou Klein’s triple in a 2-1 victory. Boasting a 5-4 record and a 2.56 ERA, Lanier was named to the NL All-Star team for the first of two times in his career. Other Cardinals on the squad managed by Billy Southworth were Marty MarionStan Musial, Mort Cooper, and Howie Pollet. Lanier did not see action in the game.

“After the All-Star Game, Lanier (10-3 with a 1.51 ERA) was arguably the best pitcher in the major leagues, and with Mort Cooper (10-3, 2.68 in the second half) formed the most formidable lefty-righty combo in baseball. Lanier ended the season by tossing four consecutive complete-game victories and saving a game in relief. At season’s end he had a career-low and NL-leading 1.90 ERA. He surrendered just three home runs all season.”

P-Claude Passeau, Chicago Cubs, 34 Years Old

1936 1937 1939 1940 1941

257 IP, 15-12, 2.91 ERA, 93 K, 114 ERA+, 3.01 FIP, 1.210 WHIP

96 AB, .198, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .198/.198/.281, 39 OPS+

WAR-4.2

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (7th)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000 (3rd Time)

6th Time All-Star-Passeau had a great 1942 season but it wasn’t reflected in his WAR, so he didn’t make my list. Still, he won 19 games with a 2.68 ERA while pitching 278 1/3 innings and that’s something any team would’ve taken. His problem in ’42 was giving up 33 unearned runs, much more than anyone else on the team.

                He’s back this season in the depleted National League and had a good season. Passeau would also have All-Star years the next two seasons and, thus, will make my Hall of Fame. I can see why he’s not in Cooperstown since three of his best seasons came during the war years when many of the league’s best players weren’t playing. However, I do believe he deserved a look and he never got one vote for the Hall of Fame.

                SABR says of this season: “Slugging outfielder Bill Nicholson, second-year pitcher Hi Bithorn, and Passeau were among the few highlights on an underachieving Cubs squad in 1943 that had been widely expected to compete for the pennant largely because of an expected potent offense that never materialized. Passeau won 15 games, highlighted by two early-season extra-inning affairs. On May 5 he held the St. Louis Cardinals to just one run in a 14-inning complete game at Wrigley Field to earn his first victory of the season; in his last start of the month, he hurled a 13-inning complete game and drove home Lou Novikoff with two outs in the ninth to defeat the Boston Braves, 4-3.”

P-Dick Barrett, Chicago Cubs/Philadelphia Phillies, 36 Years Old

214 1/3 IP, 10-13, 2.90 ERA, 85 K, 115 ERA+, 3.19 FIP, 1.250 WHIP

58 AB, .138, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .138/.231/.138, 10 OPS+

WAR-4.0

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (8th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 73 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats (CHC)Team Stats (PHI)

1st Time All-Star-Tracy Souter “Kewpie Dick” Barrett was born on September 28, 1906 in Montoursville, PA. The five-foot-nine, 175 pound righty pitcher started with the Athletics in 1933 and then picked up by the Braves in 1934. That was the last time he pitched in the Majors until this season. He never would have gotten the chance if it wasn’t for a scarcity of arms due to so many players going off to war. This was his best season ever.

                David E. Skelton of SABR has a great write-up of Barrett, stating, “Barrett is generously listed at 5-feet-9 and 175 pounds. Various hints indicate that he was perhaps shorter and certainly much stouter, a presence that earned him the nickname Kewpie.

                “…At that point, perhaps because of Barrett’s fine mid-May outing against the Phillies, Philadelphia manager Bucky Harris stepped into the fray. He engineered a trade for Barrett by way of Seattle, sending catcher Tom Padden to the Rainiers, and, when Padden refused the assignment, replacing the player with cash. Barrett drove 27 hours from Chicago to Philadelphia to take on his recent teammates on Independence Day in Shibe Park. Eight innings of five-hit ball resulted in yet another agonizing loss, but served as a springboard for a profitable second-half campaign. Excluding two bad outings against St. Louis, Barrett made 20 appearances (15 starts) and compiled a 9-7, 2.03 record for the 90-loss club.

                “On November 7, 1966, Tracy Souter Barrett (a.k.a. Dick (Kewpie) Barrett, Dick Oliver, and Richard Oliver Barrett) died in Seattle at the age of 60 after a prolonged illness. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and their four children. Dorothy died in 1989 and was buried next to her husband of 33 years in Seattle’s Holyrood Catholic Cemetery.”

P-Ace Adams, New York Giants, 33 Years Old

140 1/3 IP, 11-7, 2.82 ERA, 46 K, 121 ERA+, 3.41 FIP, 1.254 WHIP

32 AB, .125, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .125/.176/.125, -12 OPS+

WAR-3.0

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 21

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 45 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Giants

55-98, 8th in NL

Manager Mel Ott

Ballpark: Polo Grounds V (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-87, 7th in league

ERA+-84, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Ace Adams, 3.0

Led in:

Games Pitched-70 (2nd Time)

Games Finished-52 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as P-70 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Ace Townsend Adams was born on March 2, 1910 in Willows, CA. The five-foot-10, 182 pound righty pitcher started with the Giants in 1941 and for a few years was one of the best relief pitchers in the National League. I can’t believe Ace is his real name and not a nickname. Adams had the best pitching season for New York since Hal Schumacher and Cliff Melton in 1941.

                Warren Corbett of SABR wraps up his career and life, saying, “After a third-place finish in 1942, the Giants collapsed the next year. The military took three of their leading hitters, Johnny MizeHarry Danning, and Willard Marshall. Player-manager Ott showed his age at 34 and hit only 18 home runs, about half his usual production. The club’s best pitcher, Hal Schumacher, also went into the service. Carl Hubbell was finished at 40, and the rest of the pitchers stunk up the Polo Grounds, except for Adams and his pal Cliff Melton. The Giants lost 98 games and finished last for the first time since 1915.

                “The league’s worst pitching staff completed only 35 starts, leaving plenty of work for the bullpen. Ott tested how far Adams’ rubber arm would stretch. Adams pitched in 30 of the club’s first 57 games. He was beginning to show the strain, blowing three of his last four save opportunities.

                “Adams died at 95 on February 26, 2006. In addition to the children and grandchildren from his second marriage, his family included a son, grandson, great-grandson, and great-great-grandson, all named Ace.”

C-Ray Mueller, Cincinnati Reds, 31 Years Old

427 AB, .260, 8 HR, 52 RBI, .260/.347/.379, 111 OPS+

WAR-3.7

Defensive WAR-1.6 (6th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank-17

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cincinnati Reds

87-67, 2nd in NL

Manager Bill McKechnie

Ballpark: Crosley Field (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-90, 6th in league

ERA+-107, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Lonny Frey, 5.2

Led in:

Def. Games as C-140

Putouts as C-579

Assists as C-100

Double Plays Turned as C-17

Stolen Bases Allowed as C-32

Caught Stealing as C-42

1st Time All-Star-Ray Coleman “Iron Man” Mueller was born on March 8, 1912 in Pittsburg, KS. The five-foot-nine, 175 pound righty catcher started with the Braves as a backup catcher in 1935. After the 1938 season, he was traded by the Boston Bees to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Johnny DickshotAl Todd and cash. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1941 or ’42, before the war made catchers at a premium and the Reds picked him up. He’s the first Cincinnati catcher on this list since Ernie Lombardi in 1941.

                Mueller would be known for how many games he caught in 1943 and ’44. This season, Mueller caught in 140 games, the most since Frankie Hayes of the Athletics in 1936. However, this is nothing like 1944 when he is going to catch every game for the Reds. I believe he’s going to make this list next year and I’ll have more details on it then, but I do want to note what an incredible feat it is for catchers to be out there every day, much more so than other positions.

                There were some incredible feats in Major League baseball during the war years, since good players, or even decent players weren’t available during this time. So next year, Mueller will catch every game, but so will an American League catcher. I’ll be writing about many players like Mueller over the next few years, players who had good years from 1942-45, but would never have shown up on my list otherwise.

C-Walker Cooper, St. Louis Cardinals, 28 Years Old

449 AB, .318, 9 HR, 81 RBI, .318/.349/.463, 128 OPS+

WAR-3.2

All-Star: Yes (1-2)

MVP Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. 9 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as C-14 (2nd Time)

Passed Balls-9

Range Factor/Game as C-4.94 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-William Walker “Walk” Cooper was born on January 8, 1915 in Atherton, MO. The six-foot-three, 210 pound righty catcher was the brother of Mort Cooper and started with St. Louis in 1940. He’s going to have many decent seasons and get a lot of Hall of Fame interest, but he’s not in as of yet. He’s the first Cardinal catcher to make my list since Bill DeLancey in 1934. I think he’s got one better season to come, but he did finish second in the National League Most Valuable Player voting this year.

                Some terrible news came to the Cooper brothers during the World Series, according to C. Paul Rogers III of SABR. He wrote, “Mort Cooper was scheduled to start Game Two the following afternoon. Before the game, the Coopers’ older brother Robert called the Cardinals’ hotel in New York and managed to get ahold of their manager, Billy Southworth. Robert told Southworth that the Coopers’ father had died suddenly that morning of a heart attack while putting on his shoes. Southworth broke the news to Walker and the two of them decided to tell Mort before the game. The brothers then had to decide whether to catch the first plane back to St. Louis or stay and play the game. They decided to stay because they knew that is what their father would want. Mort pitched and won the game 4-3 with his brother behind the plate as usual. Walker caught the last out of the game, a foul pop-up toward third off the bat of Joe Gordon that ‘jiggled in his glove a little, he squeezed it so hard.’”

                That would be the only game the Cards won as they were defeated in five games by the Yankees.

1B-Elbie Fletcher, Pittsburgh Pirates, 27 Years Old

1938 1940 1941 1942

544 AB, .283, 9 HR, 70 RBI, .283/.395/.395, 125 OPS+

WAR-4.0

All-Star: Yes (0-2)

MVP Rank: 21

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Putouts-1,541 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-154

Putouts as 1B-1,541 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-108 (5th Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.996

5th Time All-Star-Last season, I gave Fletcher his “final” write-up as it didn’t look like he would make this list again. Yet here he is as the National League’s best first baseman. He’s declining as his power dropped and his on-base percentage, that has been .400 or over the last three years, was “only” .395.

                Warren Corbett of SABR writes, “At home in Massachusetts, Fletcher refereed basketball games and worked as a salesman at Gilchrist’s department store in the offseasons. When the military draft began taking married fathers in 1943, he was inducted into the navy on November 30. His main job was playing ball at the Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, Maryland. The base fielded a powerful team including big leaguers Dick BartellBob ScheffingDick Sisler, and Bud Blattner. Fletcher joined a navy all-star team that went to Hawaii in the final months of the war and played in front of troops on 16 Pacific islands before and after the Japanese surrender.

                “Fletcher was discharged just in time for spring training in 1946. He came home to meet his new son, Elburt Jr., born while he was in the service. Although he was preparing for his 10th major-league season, Fletcher was only 30. Overjoyed to be back in his natural habitat, he frolicked like a kid in spring training in San Bernardino, California, pelting teammates with oranges. Spotting an old man shuffling past the team bus, he told Frisch, ‘Hey Frank, here’s a guy used to play shortstop with you and wants to have a chat.’”

2B-Lou Klein, St. Louis Cardinals, 24 Years Old

627 AB, .287, 7 HR, 62 RBI, .287/.342/.410, 111 OPS+

WAR-6.4

Wins Above Replacement-6.4 (3rd)

WAR Position Players-6.4 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-4.5 (7th)

Defensive WAR-2.9 (3rd)

MVP Rank-23

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 37 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Louis Frank “Lou” Klein was born on October 22, 1918 in New Orleans, LA. The five-foot-11, 167 pound righty infielder had this incredible rookie year, would go off to war afterwards, and then come back and never be the same. It’s one of the flukiest years of which I’ve written. He’s the first Cardinal to make my list at second base since Frankie Frisch in 1931.

                Wikipedia says, “In his rookie season in the Majors, with the reigning world champion 1943 Cardinals, Klein was a strong contributor to the Redbirds’ successful defense of the National League pennant. He appeared in 154 of the club’s 157 official games, started 32 games at shortstop, and then succeeded Jimmy Brown as St. Louis’ regular second baseman (119 starts) when Brown entered World War II military service. Klein hit a career-high .287 and was second on the Cardinals in hits (180), runs scored (91) and triples (14)—behind only Stan Musial, an eventual Baseball Hall of Famer. During the 1943 World Series against the New York Yankees, he started all five games at second base but he collected only three hits, all singles, in 22 at bats and the Cardinals fell to the Yankees, four games to one. Klein then joined the United States Coast Guard, serving in Maryland and Florida, and missed all of 1944 and most of the 1945 season.

                “Klein died in Metairie, Louisiana, at age 57 after suffering a stroke.”

                These are the kinds of players who would only make this list during wartime.

2B-Lonny Frey, Cincinnati Reds, 32 Years Old

1935 1939 1940 1941 1942

586 AB, .263, 2 HR, 43 RBI, .263/.347/.334, 98 OPS+

WAR-5.2

Wins Above Replacement-5.2 (10th)

WAR Position Players-5.2 (6th)

Defensive WAR-2.6 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

MVP Rank: 32

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. 1 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as 2B-112 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.97

Fielding % as 2B-.985 (2nd Time)

6th Time All-Star-When you think of great Cincinnati Reds second basemen, the first name that comes to mind might be Joe Morgan or if you’re of a younger age, it might be Brandon Phillips. The Redlegs have actually had their share of good players at this position. Here’s the list of top second basemen for Cincinnati by WAR:

1. Joe Morgan, 57.9

2. Bid McPhee, 52.5

3. Lonny Frey, 34.1

                That’s right, by WAR, Frey is the third greatest Reds’ second baseman of all time. He didn’t have the power of Morgan or the batting stroke of McPhee, but he hit well for his position and was one of the best fielding second sackers in baseball history.

                James Forr of SABR wraps up Frey’s life, writing, “As an old man, Frey relished the constant stream of autograph requests that came his way, and enjoyed attending both college and professional ballgames. On his ninetieth birthday, the Seattle Mariners invited him to throw out the opening pitch at a game at Safeco Field. ‘He was a warm, very down-to-earth guy,’ said Pacific Coast League historian Dave Eskenazi. ‘He shared a number of entertaining baseball anecdotes, mainly about his old teams and teammates. I remember him telling me that Ernie Lombardi hit the ball harder than anyone else he’d seen, and he’d seen them all.’

                “A stroke finally slowed Frey down and forced him into an assisted living facility. When he died, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on September 13, 2009, at the age of ninety-nine, he was the second oldest living major leaguer; the oldest was his good friend Billy Weber. Frey and his wife are buried in Bellevue, Washington. Asked a few years before his death to name the one highlight of his career, he couldn’t do it. ‘Every day was a highlight.’”

2B-Billy Herman, Brooklyn Dodgers, 33 Years Old

1934193519361937 1938

585 AB, .330, 2 HR, 100 RBI, .330/.398/.417, 134 OPS+

WAR-4.2

WAR Position Players-4.2 (9th)

Offensive WAR-5.2 (4th)

All-Star: Yes (2-5)

MVP Rank: 4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1975)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1943)

Team Stats

6th Time All-Star-When Herman last made my list, he was a second baseman for the pennant-winning Cubs in 1938. He’d stay on the Cubs until 1941 when, during the season, he was traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Charlie GilbertJohnny Hudson and $65,000. Herman then played in his fourth World Series, when the 1941 Dodgers lost to the Yankees, four games to one. Herman struggled, playing in four of the five games and going one-for-eight (.125). This year, he becomes the first Dodger to make my list at second base since Tony Cuccinello in 1932.

                Yet the most important accomplishment for Herman this year was making my Hall of Fame, becoming the 125th player and 11th second baseman to receive that great honor. We’ll be having the ceremony at the old site of Ebbets Field. To see my full Hall of Fame list, go here.

                Joseph Wancho of SABR writes, “On August 8, 1942, the Dodgers held a nine game lead over the Cardinals. The Bums seemed to be on cruise control. Incredibly, the Cards went 43-8 to surpass Brooklyn and win the N.L. pennant. ‘I’ll never forget,’ said Herman, ‘we were breezing in 1942, leading by about 10 games in August when Larry MacPhail, who ran the Dodgers, came into the clubhouse and chewed out all of us, including Leo Durocher, about our drinking, card-playing, etc., and told us we wouldn’t win the pennant, that St. Louis would. We won 104 games, 104 out of 154 in those days, but Larry was right. The Cardinals went right by us and won the pennant with 106.’

“If there was ever a concern that Herman was slowing down, those thoughts were put to rest in 1943. Herman batted .330 and incredibly drove in 100 runs, a career high, while hitting only two home runs.”

3B-Bob Elliott, Pittsburgh Pirates, 26 Years Old

581 AB, .315, 7 HR, 101 RBI, .315/.376/.444, 132 OPS+

WAR-4.7

WAR Position Players-4.7 (7th)

Offensive WAR-5.0 (6th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 80 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as 3B-151

Assists as 3B-294 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as 3B-24 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 3B-34

1st Time All-Star-Robert Irving “Bob” or “Mr. Team” Elliott was born on November 26, 1916 in San Francisco, CA. The six-foot, 185 pound righty third baseman started with Pittsburgh in 1939 as a centerfielder, moved to rightfield for the Pirates in 1940 and ’41, and then finally moved to third in 1942. It was at the hot corner Elliott had his most success and he definitely has a chance at making my Hall of Fame. It’s going to be close. He’s the first Pirate to make my list at third base since Pie Traynor in 1931.

                John McMurray of SABR writes of his switch to third base, saying, “As recounted by Arthur Daley of the New York Times, Frisch hit some grounders toward Elliott to give the young player some practice at third base: ‘Elliott gave the first couple of grounders the Pie Traynor treatment, beautiful pick-ups and throws. But the next one struck a pebble and smacked him squarely between the eyes. Down he went — out cold. The frantic Flash poured a bucket of water over him. Bob blinked and sat up.

                “’”Hey, Frank,” he said weakly. “Remember what you told me about third base adding five years to my career?”

                “’”Yes, yes,” said Frisch.

                “’”I think I lost three of those five extra years already,” said Elliott.’

                “Bob experienced a similar moment at third base during a Pirates-Chicago Cubs game on June 22, 1943, at Wrigley Field, when he was decked by a ball hit by Cubs outfielder Harry ‘Peanuts’ Lowrey. According to a contemporary account, ‘The ball, hitting him on the head after a bad hop, struck with such force that it caromed close to the mound.’”

Michael Pressner and Co. (New York) Stan Hack, from the series Baseball Stars (R302-1), 1943 American, Commercial lithograph; Sheet: 2 5/16 x 2 3/4 in. (5.8 x 7 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick (Burdick 324, R302-1.13) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/707444

3B-Stan Hack, Chicago Cubs, 33 Years Old

1934 1935 1936 1938 1940 1941 1942

533 AB, .289, 3 HR, 35 RBI, .289/.384/.366, 119 OPS+

WAR-3.7

Offensive WAR-4.0 (10th)

All-Star-Yes (3-5, 1 R)

MVP Rank: 19

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1941)

Team Stats

8th Time All-Star-During this time in his career, Smilin’ Stan Hack wasn’t doing much grinning. Though he still continued to be one of the best third basemen in the league, the losing was starting to get to him. This was a man who went to three World Series between 1932 and 1938, but hadn’t made it since. So he would quit at the end of the season. What happened to him? I’ll write about it later because, spoiler alert!, he’s making at least one more of these lists.

                Where will Hack rank among the all-time greats at his positions? Well, let’s use some calculations. Going by amount of All-Star lists made at third base, Home Run Baker has nine while Hack and Jimmy Collins have eight. Hack will end up with at least nine, so he’s got a good shot at tying for the top of that list.

                Will Hack make the One-A-Year Hall of Fame (ONEHOF)? Possibly. So far, all but four of the players who made nine of these lists have made it into the ONEHOF, so he’s definitely got a shot. He would join Baker and Collins, along with Deacon White. It should be noted White played more games at third than any other position, but he had his best years as a catcher.

                So if Hack makes the ONEHOF and ends up on nine of these lists, will I consider Smilin’ Stan the greatest third baseman of all time? No, because Home Run Baker wasn’t just the best third basemen of his day, but one of the best players period. He made the top 10 in WAR six times while Hack made it five. Baker also had three seasons of 7.0 or higher WAR while Hack will never be above 6.5.

SS-Arky Vaughan, Brooklyn Dodgers, 31 Years Old

1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941

.305, 5 HR, 66 RBI, .305/.370/.413, 125 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (9th)

WAR Position Players-5.3 (5th)

Offensive WAR-5.8 (3rd)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 15

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1941)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1985)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1935)

Team Stats

Led in:

Runs Scored-112 (3rd Time)

Stolen Bases-20

Caught Stealing-11

AB per SO-46.9

11th Time All-Star-After the 1941 season, Vaughan was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Pete CoscarartLuke HamlinBabe Phelps and Jimmy Wasdell. He didn’t make this list his first year with the Dodgers, but he’s back this year, most likely for the last time. At this point in his career, I have Arky Arky rated  as the 26th best player of all time, right behind longtime teammate Paul Waner. The only reason he was at shortstop for Brooklyn was because Pee Wee Reese was away for military service.

                Wikipedia tells us about the conclusion of his career and the tragic end of his life, saying, “However, the [1943] season was marred by an incident that would nearly lead to the end of Vaughan’s career. During the season, temperamental manager Leo Durocher got into a confrontation with pitcher Bobo Newsom after Newsom complained about catcher Bobby Bragan dropping a third strike. On July 10, after Newsom had been suspended for three games, Vaughan threatened to leave the team, handing his uniform to Durocher for disposal. After Vaughan’s display, only two players were willing to play for Durocher that day, but upper management intervened. After the season, he left the team, retiring to his ranch. He went on to sit out the next three years.

                “After Durocher was suspended before the 1947 season, Vaughan decided to try a comeback. Serving as something of a utility player, Vaughan played in 64 games and batted .325. He played in his only World Series that season, which the Dodgers lost to the New York Yankees. Vaughan appeared in three games in the 1947 World Series, all as a pinch hitter, reaching base twice on a walk and a double.

                “After leaving the Seals, Vaughan bought a ranch in Eagleville, California, where he retired to fish, hunt and tend cattle. On August 30, 1952, Vaughan was fishing in nearby Lost Lake, with his friend Bill Wimer. According to a witness, Wimer stood up in the boat, causing it to capsize, and both men drowned. Their bodies were recovered the next day. Vaughan was 40.”

SS-Marty Marion, St. Louis Cardinals, 26 Years Old

1942

.280, 1 HR, 52 RBI, .280/.334/.337, 89 OPS+

WAR-4.1

WAR Position Players-4.1 (10th)

Defensive WAR-3.4 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (0-2)

MVP Rank: 13

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 44 percent chance)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Marion had a couple of advantages at this point in his life. For one, he didn’t have to leave for the war due to a childhood leg injury. So while many of the National League’s best players weren’t playing during this time, Marion got to play against watered-down competition. The second advantage for Marion is he was on the dominant Cardinals. This got him more recognition than might otherwise been offered his way. In the World Series this year that the Cards lost to the Yanks, 4-1, he hit .357 (five-for-14) with two doubles and a homer. By the way, I believe this was his best season ever, but the baseball writers disagree since they give him the Most Valuable Player next year.

                Bill Francis wrote an article for the Hall of Fame that was part of a series of stories about possible Hall of Fame inductees. He writes, “Tall and skinny, Marty Marion did not fit the look of the prototypical shortstop from the mid-20th century. But the player once described as ‘built like a floor lamp’ was such an agile fielder that he was considered by many to be the most vital cog of the 1940s St. Louis Cardinals dynasty.

                “’Maybe I’m prejudiced because I see him every day,’ said Cardinals manager Billy Southworth, who would bestow the nickname Mr. Shortstop on Marion. ‘But he’s the best ever. Yes, he’s Mr. Shortstop in person. He anticipates plays perfectly, can go to his right or left equally well and has a truly great arm. Some of the things he does have to be seen to be believed. And he’s just as grand a person, too, as he is a ballplayer.’”

LF-Eric Tipton, Cincinnati Reds, 28 Years Old

493 AB, .288, 9 HR, 49 RBI, .288/.395/.424, 137 OPS+

WAR-4.3

WAR Position Players-4.3 (8th)

Offensive WAR-4.1 (9th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 39 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-139

Putouts as LF-298

Double Plays Turned as LF-3

Range Factor/Game as LF-2.21

1st Time All-Star-Eric Gordon “Dukie” or “Blue Devil” Tipton was born on April 20, 1915 in Petersburg, VA. The five-foot-11, 190 pound righty leftfielder started with the Athletics in 1939 and then was traded by Philadelphia to the Yankees and then by the Yankees to the Reds between the 1941 and ’42 seasons. This year was his best year ever and he’s the first Red to make my list at leftfield since Bob Bescher in 1912.

Mike Huber of SABR writes, “A newspaper story from the May 19, 1943, wires tells that ‘Tipton was thrice turned down by the Navy, because of color blindness, and later flunked by Army draft doctors because a childhood case of measles left him with punctured eardrums. A typical “4F” in the Army but 1A in a major league manager’s “heart,” Tipton seems to have filled one of the game’s greatest chasms in the last five years-Cincy’s left field spot.’ In 1943, Tipton had his finest Major League season and was in the top ten in the National League in on-base percentage (.395, 5th), slugging percentage (.424, 10th), runs (82, 10th), and bases on balls (85, 5th). Further, his OPS for that year was .819 (which ranked 4th in the NL), and he only played in 140 games. Stan Musial led in most offensive categories that year, with Tipton not far behind. In 1943, Eric also hit .288 in 140 games and led his team in home runs.

                “Eric Gordon Tipton died of heart failure on August 29, 2001, in Newport News, Virginia, at the age of 86. His 234 victories as Army skipper are still a record.”

CF-Augie Galan, Brooklyn Dodgers, 31 Years Old

1935

495 AB, .287, 9 HR, 67 RBI, .287/.412/.406, 135 OPS+

WAR-5.9

Wins Above Replacement-5.9 (4th)

WAR Position Players-5.9 (4th)

Offensive WAR-5.0 (5th)

All-Star: Yes (0-1, BB)

MVP Rank: 24

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 40 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Bases on Balls-103

Win Probability Added-5.3

Championship WPA-12.3

Range Factor/Game as CF-3.05

2nd Time All-Star-Galan last mad my list in 1935 when he was a leftfielder for the Cubs. He had a great hitting year in his sophomore season, but it would be a while before he stroked at that level again. In the middle of the 1941 season, he was traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Mace Brown and cash. Brooklyn put him in centerfielder to replace Pete Reiser who was now in the Army. Galan is going to have an incredible three-season stretch.

                Greg King of SABR writes, “On the heels of his tremendous 1935 season, Galan was named to start the All-Star Game in 1936 at Boston’s Braves Field. In the fifth inning, he hit the first All-Star home run ever by a Cub, driving a pitch from Detroit’s Schoolboy Rowe off the right-field foul pole. But the 1936 and ’37 seasons proved disappointing to Galan, who saw his batting average dip to .264 and .252, respectively, though in 1937 the outfielder did hit 18 home runs and his 23 stolen bases led the league. One game in this period stands out. On June 25, 1937, against the Dodgers, Galan accomplished a feat never before witnessed in the National League, and only once before in baseball. He launched home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game: from the left side against Freddie Fitzsimmons and from the right side off Ralph Birkofer; only Wally Schang of the Philadelphia Athletics had accomplished it previously, in 1916.

                “Slated to become a regular in 1942, Galan was stricken with typhoid fever and saw action in only 69 games. He became an everyday player again with the Dodgers in 1943, and over a four-season span hit between .307 and .318.”

CF-Peanuts Lowrey, Chicago Cubs, 25 Years Old

480 AB, .292, 1 HR, 63 RBI, .292/.340/.400, 115 OPS+

WAR-3.4

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 22 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as CF-4

1st Time All-Star-Harry Lee “Peanuts” Lowrey was born on August 27, 1917 in Culver City, CA. The five-foot-eight, 170 pound righty outfielder and third baseman started with the Cubs in 1942, hitting .190 in 58 AB. This season was his best ever as he became the first Cubbie to make my list at centerfielder since Jim Gleeson in 1940.

                Dick Rosen of SABR wraps up his life, writing, “Harry’s maternal grandfather owned a nearby ranch where the youngster lived during much of his childhood. Many of the popular Our Gang comedies were filmed there, and “Peanuts” occasionally appeared as an extra in them. His unusual nickname came either from the fact that his grandfather described him as ‘no bigger than a peanut, or because actress Thelma Todd reportedly gained his good behavior by promising to buy him some peanuts.

                “Lowrey became a Cubs regular in 1943, appearing in 130 games and batting .292. His 12 triples were third in the league, and 13 stolen bases placed him second.

                “Part of the lure of Southern California for Lowrey was his home in Culver City and its proximity to Hollywood. During his extensive baseball career, he appeared in five motion pictures, beginning with Pride of the Yankees (1942), the biopic about the life of Lou Gehrig. He later appeared in The Monty Stratton Story (1949) and The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) as ballplayers but had no speaking roles.

                “Lowrey’s final movie role was in 1955, when he was an extra in Strategic Air Command, starring Jimmy Stewart. The movie was based very loosely on the military life of Ted Williams.

                “Peanuts Lowrey died on July 2, 1986, at the age of 68, of congestive heart failure in Inglewood, California. According to Lowrey’s obituary, he had been hospitalized at the Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital after he had undergone open-heart surgery the previous month.”

RF-Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals, 22 Years Old, 1st MVP

1942

617 AB, .357, 13 HR, 81 RBI, .357/.425/.562, 177 OPS+

WAR-9.5

Wins Above Replacement-9.5 (1st)

WAR Position Players-9.5 (1st)

Offensive WAR-8.1 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (1-4, 2B, RBI)

MVP Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1969)

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

1943 NL Batting Title

1943 NL MVP

Wins Above Replacement-9.5

WAR Position Players-9.5

Offensive WAR-8.1

Batting Average-.357

On-Base %-.425

Slugging %-.562

On-Base Plus Slugging-.988

Games Played-157

Plate Appearances-701

Hits-220

Total Bases-347

Doubles-48

Triples-20

Adjusted OPS+-177

Runs Created-146

Adj. Batting Runs-62

Adj. Batting Wins-6.5

Extra Base Hits-81

Times On Base-294

Offensive Win %-.826

Situ. Wins Added-4.7

Fielding % as RF-.988

2nd Time All-Star-It didn’t take long for Stan the Man to put the National League on notice that no one would match him as a ballplayer. The writers and I both agreed Musial was the Senior Circuit’s best player and he won his first real MVP along with mine. He’s going to be adding many of those to his resume.

                In 1942, Musial played mainly in left, but he moved to right this year, becoming St. Louis’ first rightfielder to make this list since, well, Enos Slaughter last season. However, with Country off to military service, Stash took over.   

Here’s Wikipedia on Musial’s incredible season: “Musial’s 1943 season started with a brief contract holdout in spring training. He made the National League All-Star team for the first time as a starting left fielder and got a double in the All-Star Game on July 13. He finished the season leading the major leagues in hitting with a .357 batting average and led the NL in hits (220), doubles (48), triples (20), total bases (347), on-base percentage (.425), and slugging percentage (.562). This performance earned him his first NL Most Valuable Player Award, ahead of teammate and catcher Walker Cooper (.318 batting average). After romping to another NL pennant by 18 games, the Cardinals again faced the Yankees in the 1943 World Series. Musial had a single in the Cardinals’ Game 1 loss, and scored a run in a Game 2 win. The Cardinals did not win another game in the Series, but the loser’s bonus share paid to each Cardinals player ($4,321.99, equivalent to $63,900 in 2019) still amounted to nearly two-thirds of Musial’s regular season salary.”

RF-Bill Nicholson, Chicago Cubs, 28 Years Old

1942

608 AB, .309, 29 HR, 128 RBI, .309/.386/.531, 166 OPS+

WAR-6.5

Wins Above Replacement-6.5 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-6.5 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-6.3 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (0-2)

MVP Rank: 3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 17 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Home Runs-29

Runs Batted In-128

AB per HR-21.0

Base-Out Runs Added-57.35

Base-Out Wins Added-6.1

Def. Games as RF-154

Putouts as RF-285 (3rd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-If judged purely by WAR, the two best players in the National League this season were both rightfielders – Nicholson, who led the league in the power numbers and Stan “The Man” Musial, who led the NL in everything else. This was Swish’s best season ever and the first of two consecutive seasons in which he’d lead the league in homers.

                Eric Hanauer of SABR writes of his stellar season, “In ’43 he hit .309 and led the league with 29 homers and 128 RBIs.

                “Big Bill provided Cubs fans with some unforgettable moments during those dismal years. The Cubs went 32 games in 1943 before hitting their first home run. (Part of the blame was assigned to the infamous balata ball, used early that season due to rubber shortages.) Nicholson ended the drought with two homers on May 30. Two months later, on July 30, Phil Cavarretta hit a home run off Wrigley Field‘s foul pole against the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Johnny Allen. The ball was retrieved (due to wartime shortages), put back in play, and Nicholson hit it out of the park. It was probably the only time that two consecutive home runs were hit with the same ball.”

                I haven’t mentioned the drop in production during this time, but in 1942, the National League’s runs scored were its lowest since the Deadball Era in 1919. It was only a smidge higher this season. That’s why the stats don’t look too great.

1942 American League All-Star Team

P-Tex Hughson, BOS

P-Hal White, DET

P-Ted Lyons, CHW

P-Al Benton, DET

P-Johnny Niggeling, SLB

P-Johnny Humphries, CHW

P-Dizzy Trout, DET

P-Hal Newhouser, DET

P-Tiny Bonham, NYY

P-Virgil Trucks, DET

C-Bill Dickey, NYY, 1942 ONEHOF Inductee, Most All-Star lists as C-11

C-Birdie Tebbetts, DET

1B-Les Fleming, CLE

2B-Joe Gordon, NYY

2B-Bobby Doerr, BOS

3B-Harlond Clift, SLB

SS-Johnny Pesky, BOS

SS-Phil Rizzuto, NYY

SS-Lou Boudreau, CLE

LF-Ted Williams, BOS, 1st MVP

LF-Charlie Keller, NYY

LF-Bob Johnson, PHA

CF-Joe DiMaggio, NYY

CF-Wally Judnich, SLB

CF-Stan Spence, WSH

P-Tex Hughson, Boston Red Sox, 26 Years Old

281 IP, 22-6, 2.59 ERA, 113 K, 144 ERA+, 2.89 FIP, 1.185 WHIP

102 AB, .176, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .176/.236/.206, 23 OPS+

WAR-6.3

Wins Above Replacement-6.3 (5th)

WAR for Pitchers-6.2 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Red Sox

93-59, 2nd in AL

Manager Joe Cronin

Ballpark: Fenway Park (Hitter’s)

OPS+-109, 2nd in league

ERA+-109, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Ted Williams, 10.4

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-6.2

Wins-22

Innings Pitched-281

Strikeouts-113

Complete Games-22

Batters Faced-1,150

Adj. Pitching Runs-36

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.9

1st Time All-Star-Cecil Carlton “Tex” Hughson was born on February 9, 1916 in Buda, (you guessed it) TX. The six-foot-three, 198 pound righty pitcher started with the Red Sox in 1941 and became their workhorse this season. The last time Boston had the best pitcher in the league was Lefty Grove in 1937. Of course, it helped Tex that Bob Feller was off fighting for his country. This was Hughson’s best season ever.

                SABR gives a good breakdown of his 1942 season, saying, “Hughson emerged as the ace of the Red Sox in his breakout 1942 season (the ‘pitching sensation of the league this season,’ according to Jack Malaney of the Boston Post), in which the Red Sox won 93 games, their most since 1915. Tex completed 22 of his 30 starts, his first start not having come until May 16 (after he again experienced arm troubles in the spring), an amazing number considering his final win total. His career-best 22 wins, against only six losses, led the American League and tied the Cardinals’ Mort Cooper for the major league lead. Hughson also led the league in complete games, innings (a career-high 281), and strikeouts (113). His ERA was an exceptional 2.59. Tex was 5-1 against the World Series-bound Yankees. According to Oren Renick, Tex relished the opportunity to face the Yankees throughout his career. ‘I would rather beat the Yankees once than any other team twice,’ he told Renick. ‘They were the best, and they were cocky, particularly in New York with those Yankee pinstripes on. It was as if you ought not to beat them. You ought to just go out there and rather politely lose.’”

P-Hal White, Detroit Tigers, 23 Years Old

216 2/3 IP, 12-12, 2.91 ERA, 93 K, 136 ERA+, 3.12 FIP, 1.357

77 AB, .169, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .169/.200/.182, 4 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.5 (3rd)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 29 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Detroit Tigers

73-81, 5th in AL

Manager Del Baker

Ballpark: Briggs Stadium (Hitter’s)

OPS+-79, 7th in league

ERA+-127, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Hal White, 5.3

1st Time All-Star-Harold George “Hal” White was born on March 18, 1919 in Utica, NY. The five-foot-10, 165 pound righty pitcher was the ace of a loaded Detroit staff. He started with the Tigers in 1941, was a starting pitcher in 1942 and ’43, and would be a relief pitcher after the war. He had the best Detroit pitching season since Bobo Newsom in 1940 and also his best year ever.

                Baseball in Wartime wraps up his career and life, stating, “White was 16-4 with Buffalo in 1940 and made his major league debut with the Tigers on April 22, 1941. He made four relief appearances in Detroit before returning to Buffalo where he again won 16 games. In 1942 he was back with the Tigers and had his best season in the majors with a 12-12 record and 2.91 ERA in 34 appearances, including 25 starts. He also threw shutouts in his first two starts. In 1943 – his last season before entering military service with the Navy – White was 7-12.

                “He entered military service on January 3, 1944 and was based at Sampson Naval Training Station in New York, where he played on the same service team as Del Ennis and Johnny Vander Meer. He later went to the Pacific as part of the Navy’s Western Pacific Tour. Following the tour, White was appointed recreation director on Guam. ‘I was assigned on the island with Pee Wee Reese,’ he later recalled. ‘Mickey Vernon was assigned to Ulithi, which is a tiny island all by itself.’

                “White remained in baseball for many years as a minor league coach and scout. In 1975, he managed Batavia in the New York-Penn League. He was one of 90 veterans who attended the closing of Tiger Stadium in 1999. Hal White passed away at the age of 82, in Venice, Florida on April 21, 2001.”

P-Ted Lyons, Chicago White Sox, 41 Years Old

1925 1926 1927 1930 1932 1935 1938 1939

180 1/3 IP, 14-6, 2.10 ERA, 50 K, 171 ERA+, 3.12 FIP, 1.070 WHIP

67 AB, .239, 0 HR, 10 RBI, .239/.282/.299, 65 OPS+

WAR-5.2

WAR for Pitchers-4.8 (4th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 12

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1955)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1930)

Chicago White Sox

66-82, 6th in AL

Manager Jimmy Dykes

Ballpark: Comiskey Park I (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-81, 6th in league

ERA+-100, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Ted Lyons, 5.2

Led in:

1942 AL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.10

Adjusted ERA+-171

9th Time All-Star-After he made this list in 1939 — the first year Lyons started pitching exclusively on Sundays — he had good, but not great seasons in 1940 and ’41. When Thornton Lee, the best pitcher in the American League in 1941, stumbled this season, it was up to Ol’ Teddy to be the staff ace once again. Surprisingly, after this year, the 41-year-old veteran will miss the next three seasons due to the war.

                SABR wraps up this season and his career, saying, “Theodore Amar Lyons had reached the age of 41 when he began the season of 1942, his 20th and last full year as a pitcher. As usual the Sunday schedule could not be established early in the year because of postponements, and the Sox started miserably, winning just four of their first 22 games. Then Lyons ran off a string of seven wins in a row, all complete games.

                “But Lyons had an excellent year; he won 14 and lost 6; he walked only 26 batters in 180 innings while striking out 50; and his earned run average of 2.10 led the league. These were startling statistics. Above all, consider one more element, that of completions. Lyons started 20 games and completed 20 games, a feat that had not been achieved since Walter Johnson started and completed 26 games for Washington in 1918.”

                Most likely, I’ll be writing up Lyons one more time, for his ONEHOF induction which could come as early as 1944. Lyons died on July 25, 1986 at the age of 85 as the best White Sox pitcher of all time.

P-Al Benton, Detroit Tigers, 31 Years Old

1941

226 2/3, 7-13, 2.90 ERA, 110 K, 136 ERA+, 3.08 FIP, 1.297 WHIP

67 AB, .075, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .075/.075/.090, -55 OPS+

WAR-4.7

WAR for Pitchers-5.6 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (S, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Despite his won-loss record, Benton had a great season. It wasn’t his fault that the Tiger offense was so terrible. He’s the second of five Detroit pitchers who are going to make this list. It was Benton’s best season ever.

                SABR says of this time of his career, “Benton was an All-Star in both 1941 and 1942, putting together back-to-back years of considerable success mixing starting and relieving. He was 15-9 with a 2.97 ERA in 1941, and improved his ERA to 2.90 in 1942, though his won/loss record was 7-13. He didn’t appear in the 1941 All-Star Game, held at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium, but he pitched the final five innings of the 1942 game, in relief of Spud Chandler, giving up just one run on the way to an AL 3-1 win. Benton was credited with a save and not the win.

                “After the 1942 season concluded, Benton joined the United States Navy. He missed the full seasons of 1943 and 1944, but was discharged (due to migraine headaches) in time to rejoin the Tigers in April. He’d played baseball in the Navy and reportedly won 39 games in his two years.”

                This is going to be a familiar statement throughout the next few years. Such and such player had a great year and then would join the armed forces. I have a lot of respect for this greatest generation. I don’t have blinders on, I realize these players had their faults. Still, I admire these players fighting for their country, heck, my country!

P-Johnny Niggeling, St. Louis Browns, 38 Years Old

206 1/3, 15-11, 2.66 ERA, 107 K, 140 ERA+, 3.52 FIP, 1.289 WHIP

72 AB, .139, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .139/.184/.139, -9 OPS+

WAR-4.4

WAR for Pitchers-4.7 (5th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Brow