OK, so I’m hoping you noticed at the top of this page there’s a BR Hall of Fame link where I will include all the players who make it into the Brilliant Readers Hall of Fame, and I’ll try to put a few words of praise next to each player.
So far, all 30 players nominated made it into the Hall of Fame. Eddie Collins just barely made it -- well, he dominated the game a long, long time ago (mostly during Deadball) and I suspect that the only thing many people know about him was in Bill Irwin’s short but memorable portrayal in “Eight Men Out.”*
*As an aside, Bill Irwin is awesome. He is Mr. Noodle in Elmo’s World. he had a small but fabulous role in the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” video. And he has popped up in a million other places. I often say that I don’t like clowns, and I don’t, but I guess technically Bill Irwin made much of his career as a circus clown. All I know is that whenever he pops into my viewing life, I am just a little bit happier.
The other player who struggled to make it was Pete Alexander, but that was my fault. I probably should have listed him as Grover Cleveland Alexander, even though he went by Pete and most people these days call him Pete. The Great Alexander, as he was sometimes called, won 373 games with a 2.56 career ERA. He led the league in wins six times, in ERA five out of six years, in strikeouts six times, and probably would have won six or seven Cy Youngs, if the award had existed then. He is one of five or six pitchers who I think has a legitimate argument as the best ever. Anyway, as Grover Cleveland Alexander he probably would have gotten a higher percentage, but it doesn’t matter: Old Pete is in.
The polls for the next 15 are up and it will be interesting to see how many of them get in. It is possible that all 15 will get in. As I look at the list right now, three are on the outside looking in. They are:
-- Barry Bonds. There’s nothing that needs to be said here -- we will see how the voting shakes out.
-- Pete Rose. There’s not much that needs to be said here either except for this: A couple of people have written in to say that they do not think Rose was a Hall of Fame player even if you ignore the gambling part. They say he was more of a compiler and not a legendary player at his peak.
I don’t see this. Rose was a truly great player from 1968 to 1976 or so, with some very good play in the years around that. In those nine years, he hit .319/.395/.444, averaged more than 100 runs a year, led the league in doubles three times, in times on base six times, and he played three different positions with a sort of blunt effectiveness. Bill James estimated that 30 win shares is about an MVP caliber season -- Rose had five of those seasons. He was a great player.
AND he was also a compiler the likes the game has never known. I mean he got hit 3,000th hit when he was 38 years old and he played SEVEN more seasons. It’s strange: Rose was probably wildly overrated when he was playing. That’s because he was everywhere -- on commercials, on talk shows, on the cover of magazines, in every other story. Now, after all these years, my guess is that he has become underrated as a player.
-- Carl Hubbell. They called him King Carl and he was by far the best pitcher in the National League in the 1930s. He did not get to the big leagues until he was 25, and that screwball wrenched his arm enough that he wasn’t a great pitcher after he was 35. But in between he was remarkable. He led the league in wins three times, in ERA three times, in strikeouts once. Bill James in the New Historical Abstract ranked him the 13th best pitcher all time. If he’s not good enough to get into the BR Hall of Fame, hey, that’s your call, but let’s just say we are talking about a very, very high standard.