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The following are capsule biographies, presented in alphabetical order, of candidates for the 1999 election to the Shrine of the Eternals. Biographies written by Terry Cannon, the Reliquary’s Executive Director, are denoted [TC]; those written by Albert Kilchesty, the Reliquary’s Archivist/Historian, are denoted [AK].


Played 15 years in the major leagues (1963-1977). Controversial and outspoken, Dick Allen symbolized the emerging independence of major league players of the 1960s and his complex personality mirrored America’s rampant individualism. "Who elects guys to the Hall of Fame? Sportswriters. You think they’re going to get behind Dick Allen? I don’t care about the Hall of Fame. I do care about getting into heaven. Given the choice, I’ll take heaven every time." — Dick Allen. Autobiography: Crash: The Life and Times of Dick Allen (1989). [TC]  [Candidate List]



Star player for four decades on the legendary House of David barnstorming baseball teams. During a 30-year career (1927-1957), Anderson played all positions and never hit under .300 in a season, playing against semi-pro teams, minor and major league clubs, and Negro League squads. He was a member of the three-man House of David "Pepper Team," whose celebrated sleight-of-hand routines entertained crowds at every game. Today, at the age of 89, Anderson is one of the last surviving members of the game’s most famous barnstorming team. [TC] [Candidate List]



Managed 26 years in the major leagues with Cincinnati (1970-1978) and Detroit (1979-1995). A tireless talker and a philosopher with no formal education, Sparky Anderson has been called a latter-day Casey Stengel. Pete Rose on Anderson: "He’s a street person. He can deal with gamblers, pimps, priests, and bank presidents. He’s never out of place with anyone he meets. That’s why he’s so successful. He’s got great common sense. He’s just like me. We never had no college. But we’ve got great street smarts." Autobiography: They Call Me Sparky (1998). [TC] [Candidate List]



Baseball reporter and essayist for The New Yorker magazine. The publication of Roger Angell’s The Summer Game (1972), a collection of 21 essays, set a new standard for baseball journalism, and was followed by such works as Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion (1977), Late Innings (1982), and Season Ticket (1988). Mike Shannon on Angell: "The wonder of reading Angell is akin to what it must have felt like to watch Ruth hit, for Angell, in his sphere, is as good as the Babe was in his." [TC] [Candidate List]



Walter Lanier "Red" Barber (1908-1992) was studying to be an English professor when he began broadcasting games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1934. For the next 33 years, the Ol’ Redhead used his dry humor and down-home Southern drawl (peppered with phrases like "the catbird seat" and "tearin’ up the pea patch") to underline the drama of the game and to personalize its players. Moving to Ebbets Field in 1939 and to Yankee Stadium in 1954, Barber brought eloquence to language, and his precise, rhythmic, and understated style set a standard for the profession. In 1939, he announced the first major league game broadcast on television. Curt Smith on Barber: "He introduced millions of Americans to the game of baseball, making listeners of fans, and fans of listeners, and became a synonym for baseball objectivity." [TC] [Candidate List]



One of the most enigmatic figures in baseball history, Moe Berg (1902-1972) was the original "good field, no hit" catcher, and he played for five major league teams between 1923 and 1939. Speaking as many as 12 languages and as conversant with medieval literature and experimental phonetics as with the trajectory of a screwball, Berg was a favorite of sportswriters. After retiring from baseball, he joined the Office of Strategic Services and became America’s premier atomic spy during World War II in Europe. Biography: The Catcher Was a Spy (1994) by Nicholas Dawidoff. [TC] [Candidate List]



The master of the malapropism, Yogi Berra played 19 seasons in the major leagues (1946-1965), all but four games of it with the New York Yankees, and later went on to both coach and manage. One of the game’s most quoted sages, Berra endeared himself to baseball fans with his mangled words and phrases, his ugly duckling appearance, and his ability to accept and absorb their affectionate teasing. He also acted in TV commercials and had his own one-minute TV spot reviewing movies. Autobiography: Yogi, It Ain’t Over … (1989). [TC]  [Candidate List]



A major league pitcher of some distinction (he won 21 and 18 games for the pennant-winning New York Yankees in 1963 and 1964, respectively), Jim Bouton’s greatest impact on the game came as the author of Ball Four (1970), arguably the most influential baseball book ever written and one which changed the face of sportswriting. Bouton’s expose outraged the baseball establishment for its candid depiction of the sex-obsessed lives of major league players, the stinginess and stupidity of ownership and management, and the intolerance to nonconformists such as Bouton himself. [TC] [Candidate List]



A bank teller, Alexander Cartwright (1820-1892) formally organized the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York in 1845 and was instrumental in drafting a set of rules and regulations that would be the foundation of the modern game. Among these rules were the laying out of baseball on a "diamond" rather than a square and the elimination of the rounders practice of retiring a runner by throwing the ball at him. The Knickerbockers, bedecked in white flannel shirts and blue woolen pantaloons, offered a challenge match to any team willing to test their mettle. [TC] [Candidate List]



A fixture in the Cleveland Indians lineup since 1913, shortstop Ray Chapman (1891-1920) gained tragic singularity on August 16, 1920 when a Carl Mays fastball made him the only beaning fatality in major league history. The 1921 Spalding Guide eulogized the immensely popular Chapman, stating that "his rare personality, in addition to his brilliant ability, had won him the friendship of all who knew him and millions who did not." Ironically, Chapman’s death made the game safer, as umpires began substituting a new ball whenever the one in play became scuffed or dirtied. [TC] [Candidate List]



Often referred to as baseball’s first superstar, Jim Creighton (1841-1862) was an outstanding pitcher for the Brooklyn Excelsiors, a famous amateur team. Also known for his hitting prowess, Creighton reportedly went through an entire season without being put out. On October 14, 1862, while hitting a home run, Creighton swung the bat with such force that he ruptured his bladder. It proved to be his final swing, as he died several days later from internal bleeding, just five months before his 22nd birthday. A towering granite monument was erected in Creighton’s memory at Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery, befitting the game’s first martyr. [TC] [Candidate List]



The inspiration for wild fastball pitcher Nuke LaLoosh in the movie Bull Durham, Steve Dalkowski etched his name in minor league lore during nine highly erratic seasons from 1957-1965. The 5’10," 170-pound left-hander threw fastballs at times estimated at 105 mph, amassing 1,396 strikeouts in only 995 innings pitched. On the other side of the coin, he walked 1,354 batters. "He could pierce a brick wall," one writer said of the bespectacled hurler, "but they never knew which brick wall." No less a hitting authority than Ted Williams claimed Dalkowski was the fastest pitcher who ever lived. Unfortunately, he blew his arm out at the age of 26 and never pitched in the major leagues. [TC] [Candidate List]



Fact frequently inspires fiction, but the reverse applied in the case of Pearl du Monville, who, ten years later, was recreated in the personage of Eddie Gaedel. Du Monville was the midget from James Thurber’s short story "You Could Look It Up," which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in 1941. In the story, the midget is hired by a slumping baseball team desperate to end a losing streak. Du Monville comes to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and the game on the line. Though told not to swing the bat, he swings and hits a dribbler that miraculously scores the tying and winning runs. [TC] [Candidate List]



In a playing and managing career that spanned nearly five decades, from 1925 to 1973, Leo Durocher (1905-1991) was one of the game’s fiercest competitors and hardest losers. Combative, explosive, outspoken, fanatical, insolent, ruthless — these are just a few adjectives that could describe the man whose credo was "Nice guys finish last." He was the scourge of National League umpires for his relentless heckling and obscenity-laden tirades. Umpire Bill Stewart on Durocher: "From the bench, his rasping voice out of the side of his mouth and his gestures made you want to cleave him with an axe." Biography: The Lip (1993) by Gerald Eskenazi. [TC] [Candidate List]



Often called the Muhammad Ali of baseball, Dock Ellis was outspoken and controversial during his 12-year major league career (1968-1979). He was a passionate critic of what he perceived as racial prejudice in baseball, particularly of bigotry by ownership and management. Ellis was also flamboyant and outrageous, appearing on the ballfield with his hair in curlers and driving a fancy Cadillac called the Dockmobile. While with the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 12, 1970, he pitched arguably one of the great games of the 20th century, tossing a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while under the influence of LSD. Biography: Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball (1976) by Donald Hall. [TC] [Candidate List]



Truly a baseball phenomenon, Mark "The Bird" Fidrych was a right-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers (1976-1980). In his spectacular rookie season in 1976, Fidrych captured the fancy of the nation by talking to the ball, shaking hands with his infielders after good plays, getting down on his hands and knees to landscape the pitching mound, and cavorting with the uninhibited enthusiasm of a Little Leaguer. Sadly, injuries brought a premature end to Fidrych’s career. Referring to the public’s affection for "The Bird," Tom Clark wrote in 1977, "Knee-deep in lawsuits and lawyers. . . baseball at least had one positive symbol left, one chunk of mythology that still lived and breathed and by virtue of its singularity shone out above the ambient bullshit." [TC] [Candidate List]



Charles O. Finley (1918-1996) was the flamboyant and controversial owner of the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics from 1960 through 1981. In two decades he managed to alienate virtually everyone in and out of baseball, from his players and managers, to fellow owners and commissioners, to fans and politicians. Along the way, he was credited with suggesting or implementing a number of innovations, including nighttime World Series games, multi-colored uniforms, the designated hitter, and orange baseballs. Among his outrageous promotions was using a mule (appropriately named "Charlie O") as the team’s mascot. David Q. Voigt on Finley: "Indeed, any search for a counterpart to this half-genius, half-buffoon must look back to the 1880s at Chris von der Ahe, the ‘boss president’ of the old Browns." [TC] [Candidate List]



Curt Flood (1938-1997) was as crucial to the economic rights of ballplayers as Jackie Robinson was to breaking the color barrier. Flood single-handedly took on the baseball establishment from 1970 to 1972 by challenging the reserve clause in court. "A well-paid slave is nonetheless a slave," Flood argued. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Flood, upholding baseball’s exemption from antitrust statutes, his case set the stage for the advent of free agency. The financial and emotional costs to Flood were enormous. The legal action effectively ended his 15-year major league career (1956-1971) and he would never benefit personally from his pioneering efforts. The subject of death threats, Flood even moved out of the country at one point to get away from the immense pressures he faced. [TC] [Candidate List]



Often called "The Father of Black Baseball," Andrew "Rube" Foster (1879-1930) was already a renowned pitcher when he founded the Chicago American Giants in 1911. As owner and player-manager, Foster established the Giants as the greatest sporting institution that black America had ever seen. But perhaps his most significant contribution to baseball was founding the Negro National League in Kansas City in 1920, the first organized black professional league. John Holway on Foster: "White baseball has never seen anyone quite like Rube Foster. He was Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Connie Mack, Al Spalding, and Kenesaw Mountain Landis — great pitcher, manager, owner, league organizer, czar — all rolled into one." [TC] [Candidate List]



The most famous pinch-hitter in baseball history, Eddie Gaedel (1925-1961) was the midget who came to bat for Bill Veeck’s St. Louis Browns on August 19, 1951. After his solitary at-bat, the 43-inch Gaedel had his contract nullified by American League president Will Harridge, who claimed midgets were not in the best interests of baseball. Veeck paid Gaedel $100 for the stunt, but it lead to more lucrative appearances on the Ed Sullivan and Bing Crosby shows. A heavy drinker, Gaedel was once arrested in Cincinnati for screaming obscenities and trying to convince a policeman that he was a "big league" ballplayer. He died in 1961 after being brutally mugged and beaten for eleven dollars on a Chicago street corner. [TC] [Candidate List]



Josh Gibson (1911-1947) was often called "the black Babe Ruth," but Ruth might just as easily have been termed "the white Josh Gibson." During a 17-year career with the Negro League Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, the right-handed hitting catcher was credited with slugging over 900 home runs (although many came against nonleague teams). Along with Satchel Paige, Gibson was the biggest drawing card in the history of the Negro Leagues. His life also had shades of epic tragedy, as he was vulnerable to self-destruction and demonized by alcohol and drug addiction. He was felled by a brain hemorrhage in 1947, just three months before Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Biography: The Power and the Darkness (1996) by Mark Ribowsky. [TC] [Candidate List]



The lasting symbol of baseball and World War II was one-armed outfielder Pete Gray, who played in 77 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1945. Playing for Memphis in the Southern Association in 1944, Gray earned MVP honors by batting .333 with 68 stolen bases. Even in the watered-down wartime competition, this was a good season; for a one-armed man, it was nothing less than astonishing. Although he hit only .218 with the Browns, his one year in the majors was surely an inspirational triumph of will. Shirley Povich on Gray: "What Gray might have accomplished in the big leagues if blessed with two arms is something for the imagination to play with. Surely he would have been one of the greatest big leaguers of all time." Biography: One-Armed Wonder: Pete Gray, Wartime Baseball and the American Dream (1995) by William C. Kashatus. [TC] [Candidate List]



A literary descendant of Ring Lardner and Mark Twain, Mark Harris is the author of four novels which are widely considered the greatest achievement in the canon of baseball fiction. Harris’ tetralogy — The Southpaw (1953), Bang the Drum Slowly (1956), A Ticket For a Seamstitch (1957), and It Looked Like For Ever (1979) — follows the 19-year career of Henry Wiggen, a left-handed pitcher for the New York Mammoths. Peter Bjarkman on Harris: "Harris’ stories, like those of Hemingway and Faulkner, are clearly tales of initiation through blood and violence into manhood. But the symbolic violence here is the game action of the major league diamond, and the initiation comes to us in the form of the now time-tested baseball tale involving the talented young prospect who must realize life’s inevitable lessons of aging and failure, lessons only earned through the epic cycles of the single summer’s seemingly endless baseball season." [TC] [Candidate List]



Undeniably one of the game’s greatest natural talents (a .356 lifetime batting average), Shoeless Joe Jackson (1889-1951) fell from public grace as a result of his implication in the fixing of the 1919 World Series. Jackson, who maintained his innocence until his death, and seven of his teammates on the Chicago White Sox (forever after known as the Black Sox) were banned from professional baseball for life. Donald Honig on Jackson: "He has been drawn as the game’s Noble Savage. Baseball’s ‘most natural hitter’ ever could neither read nor write. Joe’s response to his ragtag intellectual image was: ‘I ain’t afraid to tell the world that it don’t take school stuff to help a fella play ball.’ Ironically, it is the soiled image of the compromised man from the 1919 World Series that accompanies the legend of the game’s purest swing. Joe and his fellow conspirators were drummed out of baseball in 1921 and consigned to a twilight beyond its universe." [TC] [Candidate List]



W.P. (Bill) Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe (1982), widely acclaimed as one of the greatest works of baseball fiction, established a cult following for this Canadian-born writer. An allegorical fantasy about the ghosts of the ill-fated 1919 Chicago Black Sox magically appearing to play ball on a homemade diamond carved out of an Iowa cornfield, the novel was brought to life on the screen in Field of Dreams. Kinsella’s second baseball novel, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1986), concerns time travel and a 2,614-inning ballgame and further develops what the author calls "magical realism." Kinsella’s The Thrill of the Grass (1984) and The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt (1988) have been hailed by some as the best collections of baseball short stories since Ring Lardner’s. [TC] [Candidate List]



Bill Klem’s earlier jobs as a steelworker and a bartender toughened him up for becoming a baseball umpire, and for 37 years from 1905-1941, he held sway over National League games with an autocratic bearing and encyclopedic knowledge of the rules. He usually avoided arguments with his tactic of drawing a line in the dirt and warning an adversarial player or manager not to cross it. Klem (1874-1951) was called "The Old Arbitrator" and holds the record for umpiring the most World Series games (108). He was also, at the age of 68, the oldest umpire to work a major league game. Klem popularized the inside chest protector and the over-the-shoulder stance for calling balls and strikes. He could dish out expletives and even had choice words for spectators who questioned his umpiring abilities. Once, when he made an unpopular decision that went against the home team, a woman shouted out of the bleachers, "Bill Klem, if you were my husband, I’d put poison in your coffee." Klem loudly replied, "Lady, if I was your husband, I’d drink it." [TC] [Candidate List]



Ring Lardner (1885-1933) was the first major writer to use baseball as a subject for serious fiction. His You Know Me Al, originally published as a series of short stories in The Saturday Evening Post in 1914, introduced realism into baseball literature and provided an alternative to the then-prevalent dime-novel romanticizations of ballplayers’ lives. The stories are cast as letters from pitcher Jack Keefe to Al, his friend back home, and owe much to the folk and vernacular tradition that Mark Twain exploited with such genius. Keefe is an uneducated, barely literate rube whose pitching talents cannot overcome his big-time foibles; the American critic Maxwell Geismar called Keefe "a remarkable figure of folk poetry." Cynical and iconoclastic, Lardner was one of the most merciless satirists and social critics of his time and a popular sportswriter who traveled for a number of years with the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs as a baseball correspondent. David Q. Voigt on Lardner: "A Voltaire among sportswriters, Lardner’s devotion to baseball writing rested on his faint hope that the sport might offer a refuge from life’s phoniness. The Black Sox scandal disillusioned him forever and prompted him to seek broader literary fields. This was a gain for American letters, but baseball fans were poorer for it." [TC] [Candidate List]



For 14 years as a left-handed pitcher (1969-1982), ten with Boston and four with Montreal, Bill Lee was anything but a conventional major league ballplayer. His career record was a respectable 119-90, but it was his rebellious spirit and opposition to the conservative baseball establishment that usually rated more attention than his performance on the field. Lee was one of the game’s few counterculture symbols: he talked to animals, appreciated trees, practiced yoga, ate health foods, sprinkled marijuana on his buckwheat pancakes (an indiscretion for which he was fined $250 by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn), pondered Einstein and Vonnegut, quoted from Mao, and studied Eastern philosophers and mystics. It was in this context that former Red Sox teammate John Kennedy first dubbed him "Spaceman," a nickname writers thereafter used as shorthand to describe his free spirit. A folk hero to fans, Lee was a voice of sanity in a game corrupted by "planet-polluting owners." In hindsight, he was a "purist" who opposed the designated hitter, artificial turf, stadiums made of concrete and devoid of personality, and the corporate mindset that dominates baseball’s management. Autobiography: The Wrong Stuff (1984). [TC] [Candidate List]



One of the most remarkable women in the history of baseball was Effa Manley (1900-1981), who in the 1930s and 1940s ran the daily operations of the Newark Eagles, a Negro National League club owned by her husband, Abe Manley. Although often referred to as a light-skinned black, Effa was actually white but grew up with a black stepfather and mulatto siblings, and she identified strongly with black Americans. In fact, she was active in civil rights work with the New Jersey branch of the NAACP and the Citizens’ League for Fair Play, which conducted boycotts of white-owned stores that refused to hire blacks. Operating a baseball club in what was essentially an all-male domain, Effa met much resistance but ultimately created a stronger environment for black baseball by improving the business and public relations aspects of the Negro Leagues. Mark Ribowsky on Manley: "In Effa Manley, the men of the Negro leagues had on their hands a prefeminist terror who broached not only racial but sexual barriers without the slightest tremor. Long before there was a Marge Schott in baseball, Effa Manley created much more of a fuss in black baseball, the difference being that Effa made sense when she spoke." Biography: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles (1993) by James Overmyer. [TC] [Candidate List]



The baseball world’s near canonization of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during their 1998 pursuit of the single-season home run record made even sadder the circumstances surrounding a similar pursuit by Roger Maris 37 years earlier. In 1961, Roger Maris (1934-1985), an outfielder for the New York Yankees, broke Babe Ruth’s record by hitting 61 home runs. Quiet and introverted by nature, Maris was generally disliked by the baseball establishment and the media, which portrayed him as moody, sullen, selfish, and an imperfect heir to the beloved Babe. He was typecast as a villain by New York sportswriters, who claimed Maris was jealous of Mickey Mantle’s popularity, and they goaded him in search of ill-tempered quotes. The fans followed suit by shouting obscenities and throwing things at Maris from the grandstands. The final indignity came courtesy of Commissioner Ford Frick, who suggested asterisking Maris’ record, a symbolic "mark" which would taint his achievement and follow Maris for the rest of his life. Maris, whose hair was widely reported to have fallen out in clumps from the pressure of his home run pursuit, later said that baseball was no longer fun for him after breaking Ruth’s record: "They acted as though I was doing something wrong, poisoning the record books or something…. Do you know what I have to show for 61 home runs? Nothing, exactly nothing." [TC] [Candidate List]



Aptly nicknamed "Little Napoleon," 5’7" John McGraw (1873-1934) was a combative third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s and the brilliant and dictatorial manager of the New York Giants from 1902 to 1932. During his 31 years at the helm of the Giants, McGraw established them as the most consistently successful and prosperous club in baseball. But above his playing and managerial success, McGraw imbued the game with a personality — tough and brawling, innovative and relentless — that defined the contours of the National Pastime for generations. His players loved him or despised him, but never questioned his baseball acumen. He bullied and belittled anyone and everyone who stood in his way of winning and was the incarnation of the attitude expressed in Leo Durocher’s sentiment, "Nice guys finish last." Although former coach Arlie Latham summarized the feeling of many of his contemporaries when he said that McGraw "eats gunpowder for breakfast and washes it down with warm blood," McGraw displayed a more generous side off the field. He contributed financially to help out needy ex-ballplayers and was one of the first to attempt to bring black players into the game. [TC] [Candidate List]



During Mario Mendoza’s nine-year career as a shortstop for the Pirates, Mariners, and Royals from 1974 through 1982, he usually batted around .200, though his lifetime average was .215. It became a running joke in the major leagues that a player batting below .200 was "under the Mendoza line," or that a struggling player who pulled his average above .200 had "crossed the Mendoza line." The term was supposedly coined by George Brett, who, of course, spent little time anywhere near the Mendoza line. After retiring as a player, Mendoza, who currently resides in Mexico, managed in the minor leagues and, in one of the game’s many great ironies, was hired by the California Angels in 1992 as a batting instructor! [TC] [Candidate List]



Arguably the most powerful figure in major league baseball during the last four decades was neither a player, a manager, or an owner; rather, it was the executive director of the Major League Players Association (MLPA) between 1966 and 1983, Marvin Miller. Formerly an assistant to the president of the United Steelworkers, Miller was a masterful negotiator who revolutionized the game’s labor-management relations and turned a moribund company union into a powerful bargaining agency. During Miller’s tenure, the owners’ stranglehold on the players was eliminated with the abolition of the reserve clause, and he guided the players through five labor contracts which solidified their ranks, improved working conditions, and raised pension benefits to unprecedented levels. When he retired in 1983 (and was replaced by his assistant, Donald Fehr), he was hailed by the players as their "Commissioner," and indeed he had left behind the greatest financial gains by any American union for such a short period of time in the country’s history. Autobiography: A Whole Different Ball Game — The Sport and Business of Baseball (1991). [TC] [Candidate List]



If not for the joyless dunderheads who now control the game, Minnie Minoso may have become the only player ever to appear in a big league game in six different decades. As it stands, Minoso is the only player to appear in five different decades, a testament to his charm, skill, and fifty-year love affair with the game and its fans (particularly those on Chicago’s South Side). Born Saturnino Orestes Arrieta Armas Minoso in Cuba in 1922, Minnie debuted with the Cleveland Indians in 1949, but gained his greatest fame with the Chicago White Sox to whom he was traded in 1951, thus becoming the first black man to wear a White Sox uniform. Minoso’s infectious enthusiasm, batting prowess, daring (he was hit by a pitched ball 189 times in his career) and speed (he led the AL in steals in 1951-1953 and tied for the league lead in 1956) ushered in the era of the "Go-Go Sox." Spurred on by the presence of Minoso, the Sox of this era evolved from perennial doormats to perennial contenders, although they were never quite able to overthrow Casey Stengel’s Yankees for the American League flag. Traded back to the Indians before the 1958 season, Minoso missed out on the fun when the Sox finally won the pennant in 1959, but Chicago owner Bill Veeck awarded Minoso an honorary championship ring anyway. Minoso retired after the 1964 season but was activated again as a DH for the White Sox in 1976 and as a pinch-hitter in 1980. A plan to reactivate Minoso for a cameo appearance with the Sox in the ‘90s was scotched by baseball’s ruling elite who, in one of their most ironic rulings ever, opined that such a plan would make a mockery of the game. As if.  [AK] [Candidate List]



A much better pitcher than his lifetime totals indicate (45-89, 4.49 ERA), Hugh Mulcahy had the misfortune of toiling for the putrid Phillies teams of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Between 1935 and 1940 the Phillies averaged a 53-99 record (.348), finishing last four times and stunning the baseball world by finishing seventh in two other years. The Phils and Mulcahy lost so frequently during this period (Mulcahy would lose 20 games in 1938 and 22 games in 1940) that sportswriters tagged him with the sobriquet "Losing Pitcher" after seeing the initials L.P. appear with stunning regularity next to his name in boxscores. The sole highlight of Mulcahy’s career came in 1940 when, on his way to leading the league in losses, he was named to the NL All-Star squad. In 1941 Mulcahy finally played for a winning team when he was the first big leaguer drafted by Uncle Sam. He returned for a brief stint with the Phils and Pirates between 1945-1947, but was never able to recapture the magic which made him one of baseball’s most star-crossed hurlers. Despite his sub-par major league record, Mulcahy retains a sense of humor and perspective on his career. "I never liked the nickname," he writes, "but it never bothered me. I’ve been a very fortunate individual. What was it Shakespeare said? ‘Tis better to have pitched and lost, than never to have pitched at all.’" Had the Bard ever watched the Phillies play, he may not have agreed. [AK] [Candidate List]



Folk-philosopher and self-proclaimed "World’s Greatest Pitcher," the irrepressible Satchel Paige delighted both black and white baseball fans throughout North America with his pitching artistry and fancy phraseology during a career that spanned over thirty years. Paige inked his first professional contract with the Negro League Chattanooga Lookouts in 1925. Over the next twenty-three seasons Paige became one of the top-drawing cards in Negro League baseball, pitching for powerhouse squads such as the Birmingham Black Barons, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Kansas City Monarchs. His wide array of pitches (each bearing a distinctive Paige nickname: the "bat dodger pitch," the "two-hump blooper," the "hurry-up ball") and mound artistry baffled opposing batsmen. Paige also plied his craft against white major leaguers during various barnstorming stints with the Satchel Paige All-Stars. Nearly all major leaguers agreed that, were it not for segregation, Paige would be a perennial all-star in the majors. In 1948 maverick owner Bill Veeck (see entry) signed Paige to a contract with the Cleveland Indians. Paige’s 6-1 record, attained largely in relief, helped propel the Indians to a World Series Championship, their last so far in this century. Paige pitched briefly in the majors—culminating in a cameo appearance with the Kansas City A’s in 1965—compiling a lifetime 28-31 record and a 3.29 ERA. He was the first Negro League player voted into the Hall of Fame by the Negro League Committee in 1971. Of the several books written by and about Paige, the most entertaining is his second autobiography, written with David Lipman, Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever (1962). Satch almost did. [AK] [Candidate List]



"Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was going nuts. Whoever heard of Jimmy Piersall , until that happened?" (The Truth Hurts, Jimmy Piersall)

Thanks to Anthony Perkins’ portrayal of Jimmy Piersall in the film Fear Strikes Out (1957) quite a few people, many of them not baseball fans, came to know of Piersall. The brash, high-strung rookie outfielder made a splash with the Boston Red Sox in the early 1950s, but was sent down to the minors after a suffering a mental breakdown. Americans during the Eisenhower era weren’t very sympathetic to fellow citizens suffering from mental disorders and, after Piersall’s recovery and return to the Red Sox, baseball fans in opposing cities made his life hell. Largely unfazed by their jibes and taunts, Piersall went six-for-six in his first game back, and subsequently fashioned a very respectable 17-year big league career, ending up with career marks of .272 and 104 HR’s (he celebrated his 100th by trotting around the bases backwards, much to the dismay of his manager). He was cited by no less an authority than Casey Stengel as a better defensive outfielder than the incomparable DiMaggio. But perhaps Piersall’s greatest contribution to the game of baseball lay in his insistence that the game should be fun to play. After his recovery, Piersall consistently displayed a keen wit, a (questionable) sense of humor, and a zany joie de vivre that some writers and fans loved, but which weren’t always appreciated in the clubhouse and front office. After his retirement in 1967 Piersall worked at a number of baseball-related jobs, most notably as a radio broadcaster with the White Sox. However, Jimmy’s broadcasting career was short-circuited after repeated on-air criticisms of players, the manager and the team-owner’s wife. [AK] [Candidate List]


Many writers have gushed profusely about baseball’s role as a social mirror, reflecting all that is noble and wholesome about American life. Baseball is a mirror of American life, but it reflects more frequently all that is wrong with America, not what is right. America’s struggle with issues of "difference"—race, class, gender, sexual orientation—are all reflected glaringly in the great American pastime. While one could cite any number of instances in which baseball has responded to perceived "threats" to its purity by blackballing alleged "offenders," the case of Pam Postema, an umpire, is especially appalling. During a career that began in 1979, Postema progressed steadily through the ranks of minor league umpiring, eventually being named crew chief in AAA ball in 1988. She was an excellent arbiter and a hard worker, extremely dedicated to her profession. After watching many of her male counterparts, often possessing less experience than she, promoted to the big leagues, Postema at last seemed assured of a big league umpiring slot in 1989. She never made it. Why not, you ask? Postema lacked (to paraphrase Al Campanis) two important "necessities": testicles. She was released from her contract in late 1989 and filed a sexual discrimination suit against Major league Baseball in 1991 which was settled out of court. At the time her autobiography was published in 1992, Postema was working for Federal Express. Despite her failure to crack the glass ceiling, Postema holds the distinction of having progressed the farthest of any woman in professional umpiring. (Autobiography: You’ve Got to Have Balls to Make It in This League, with Gene Wojciechowski, 1992). [AK] [Candidate List]



One of baseball’s greatest entertainers was Jackie Price (1912-1967), who was given his big break when Bill Veeck purchased his contract from the Oakland Oaks and placed him on the Cleveland Indians roster in 1946. Although he played in only seven games as a backup shortstop in his major league career, Price’s ability to lure fans through the turnstiles with his miraculous stunts would pay his bills for many years. Among the 142 tricks in his repertoire were catching and throwing baseballs while standing on his head; simultaneously throwing three balls to three different players; taking batting practice for over 15 minutes at a time while being suspended upside-down from his ankles; and catching balls shot 700 to 800 feet in the air by a bazooka. Another stunt, which particularly displeased groundskeepers, was shagging fly balls in the outfield while driving a jeep. Price would later say that he never got a scratch playing baseball, but as a stunt man, using the diamond as his stage, he broke every finger at least once, broke 16 knuckles, broke his nose twice, suffered four broken ribs, and had five teeth knocked out. [TC] [Candidate List]



As the first African-American to play officially in the Major leagues in the 20th century, Jackie Robinson is widely regarded as the most important professional baseball player in post-war America. A track star at UCLA, Robinson played baseball with the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs. Dodger general manager Branch Rickey, recognizing in Robinson a player who possessed the talent, courage and intelligence necessary for the successful integration of the majors, signed Robinson to a minor league contract with the Montreal Royals in 1946. After successfully integrating the International League, Robinson did the same in the National League, debuting at first base with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. After a series of well-publicized early-season confrontations with bigoted white players and managers (including a particularly nasty episode with Ben Chapman, manager of the rival Phillies), Robinson began to dazzle white America with his superlative and exciting play. He soon became one of the greatest stars of the National League and the object of adulation in black communities throughout the country. Named Rookie of the Year in 1947 and Most Valuable Player in 1949 (the first black player to win either honors), Robinson’s presence, soon augmented by other black players such as Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, turned the Dodgers into a perennial powerhouse. Rather than accept a trade to the New York Giants after the 1956 season, Robinson opted for retirement. During his ten seasons with the Dodgers Robinson compiled a .311 bating average and played in six World Series. He held a variety of business positions after retirement and became a very visible and outspoken civil rights advocate. Many believe that his death of a heart attack at the young age of 53 was brought on in part by the years of stress and tribulation associated with his pioneering role as the integrator of professional baseball.  Jackie Robinson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962. [AK] [Candidate List]



One of baseball’s most colorful and oft-quoted personalities, Charles Dillon Stengel enjoyed a legendary fifty-year career in professional baseball. Acclaimed equally for his keen baseball insight and his fractured, stream-of-consciousness speech ("Stengelese"), the Kansas City-born Stengel abandoned a career in dentistry to become an outfielder with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1912. An above-average batter and fielder, Stengel appeared in three World Series, with Brooklyn in 1916 and with the New York Giants in 1921 and 1923, hitting a dramatic ninth inning two-out inside the park home run to win the first game of the 1923 Series. After his career ended he began coaching and subsequently served two managerial stints with the equally dreadful Dodgers and Boston Braves, before moving on to manage in the American Association and Pacific Coast League. Although possessing a brilliant baseball mind, Casey undeservedly gained a reputation as a clown and a flake, largely because he never lost sight of the fact that baseball is a game and as such should be fun for both participants and observers. So, when Casey was named manager of the no-nonsense Yankees in 1949, many thought that Yankee GM George Weiss had lost his mind. After Casey nursed and wheedled the Yankees to a world’s championship in 1949, both Stengel and Weiss were hailed as geniuses. Stengel’s reputation was further augmented by a string of success unmatched in professional baseball: the Yankees reeled off five consecutive championships between 1949 and 1953 and added a few more for good measure before Casey was fired after the 1960 season. With the Yankees Casey re-introduced the moribund concept of platooning batters and is widely credited with creating the modern bullpen, thereby initiating a chain of evolutionary growth still affecting professional baseball. Moving effortlessly from the sublime to the ridiculous, Casey was named manager of the National League expansion New York Mets in 1962, a team so hopelessly inept that their 40-120 record still stands as the 20th century’s worst. The Mets were awful, but with Casey at the helm at least they were awfully entertaining. In 1965 a broken hip forced Casey to retire for good at the youthful age of 75. He died in 1975 in Glendale, California. "There comes a time in every man’s life and I’ve had plenty of them." (Casey "The Old Perfessor" Stengel). [AK] [Candidate List]



"Love has its sonnets galore; war has its epics in heroic verse; tragedy its sombre story in measured lines and baseball has its ‘Casey at the Bat.’" (A.G. Spalding) While no one will ever mistake "Casey at the Bat" for the work of John Donne, a great deal of controversy did swirl around the originator of baseball’s most popular and oft-quoted poem. "Casey" first appeared in the 3 June, 1888 edition of the San Francisco Examiner. Its author, Ernest Lawrence Thayer, a Harvard graduate and former editor of the Harvard Lampoon, made little effort to identify himself with the poem (perhaps out of mild embarrassment), and the question of authorship was in dispute until 1900. "Casey" may have languished in obscurity forever if not for the efforts of actor DeWolf Hooper, who began reciting the poem on stage in 1889 and continued to recite it an estimated 10,000 times (always clocking in exactly at 5 minutes, 40 seconds). By the time "Casey" was first recited, however, Thayer had left journalism to operate his family’s textile business in Massachusetts. The legend of the failed muscle-bound slugger and his "joy"-less Mudville nine teammates swiftly captured the hearts of minds of the American public, spawning sequels, plays, operas, motion pictures, books, cartoons, and many other imitators. While the inspiration for the character of Casey was open to argument (was Casey based on the exploits of Mike "King" Kelly, former pitcher Dan Casey, minor league slugger Dan Cahill, or a schoolyard bully from Thayer’s childhood?), there is no disputing the fact that "Casey at the Bat" is the most famous bit of baseball verse ever written. [AK] [Candidate List]



Marvin Eugene Throneberry. Did his parents know that their son was destined to become the ironic hero of New York baseball fans? Throneberry was signed originally by the Yankees and assigned to their Denver minor league affiliate where he powered 82 longballs through the thin Colorado air in 1956-1957. While writers compared his batting stance to that of Mickey Mantle, Marv’s numbers never quite lived up to the Mick’s and , after brief appearances with the Yankees, Kansas City Athletics, and Orioles Throneberry was picked up by the fledgling New York Mets in the 1962 expansion draft. Thus a legend was born. Joining a motley crew of cast-offs, misfits and has-beens, Marvelous Marv quickly secured his position as a paragon of futility on the most inept baseball club in major league history. Aided and abetted by his teammates, Throneberry’s Keystone Kops antics and easy-going manner quickly endeared him to New York NL fans hungry for big league baseball heroes, even questionable heroes, after the bitter departures of the Dodgers and Giants to the West Coast. Throneberry’s most celebrated gaffe occurred on June 17 against the Cubs. After hitting a triple, Marv was called out for not touching first base. When Mets manager Casey Stengel came out to argue the call, the umpire told Casey that Throneberry failed to touch second base also. Emboldened by his 1962 performance (.244, 16 HRs, 49 RBIs in116 games), Marv petitioned Mets management for a salary increase. The Mets responded by giving Marv his unconditional release. Throneberry re-entered the public sphere in the early ‘80s as a star of Miller Lite beer commercials. His line, "Why am I in this commercial?," sums up the serendipitous career of this quintessential Met. [AK] [Candidate List]



A visionary baseball owner best know for his creative promotional stunts, the charismatic Bill Veeck, Jr. infuriated his fellow owners but delighted fans in his fifty-year baseball career. The son of former Chicago Cubs owner, Bill Veeck, Sr., young Bill got his start with the Cubs, working in their promotion department until 1941. After a short stint as owner of the Milwaukee franchise in the American Association, Veeck entered military service and received a leg wound which would plague him the remainder of his life, ultimately requiring amputation. He bought the Cleveland Indians franchise in 1946 and quickly whipped the team into World Championship condition, largely through shrewd deals and player signings. With the Indians, Veeck was the first owner to integrate the American League when he signed Larry Doby, and later Satchel Paige (see entry) to major league contracts. Forced to sell the team due to financial problems, Veeck purchased the lowly St. Louis Browns franchise, with whom he conducted his most famous stunt, sending midget Eddie Gaedel to pinch-hit. Forced to sell out in 1953, Veeck purchased the Chicago White Sox in 1959 (the team won the American League pennant that year), but was forced out in 1961 by poor health. After a long absence from the game, Veeck purchased the White Sox again in 1975, finally retiring from active ownership in 1981. Considered by many the most influential baseball man of the 1950s, Veeck’s promotional genius and baseball acumen, coupled with his color-blindness and humane treatment of players, made him one of the most well-loved and respected figures in the game by all but his fellow owners. The fun-loving Veeck had a very difficult time with the starched, button-down fraternity of baseball owners, but his influence lingers today in ballparks around the country. Among Veeck’s most famous stunts, in addition to the Gaedel ploy, was "Good Ol’ Joe Earley Night" (a night which honored the average fan), "Princess Aloha Orchid Night" (in which Veeck gave out $30,000 worth of flowers), and the infamous "Disco Demolition Night,", aka "The Promotion which Backfired" (Veeck invited disco-hating fans to bring their disco records to Comiskey Park where a rock dj would then blow them up between games of a doubleheader; the fans went berserk and stormed the field, forcing the White Sox to forfeit the second game). Veeck died in 1987 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. [AK] [Candidate List]


Baseball annals are stuffed with tales of flakes and fruitcakes, but George Edward "Rube" Waddell is widely acknowledged as the most eccentric player of all. In a thirteen-year major league career the southpaw Waddell fashioned a 191-142 record, winning twenty or more games four consecutive years for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, and leading the American league in strikeouts for six consecutive years (1903-1907). His mark of 349 k’s in 1904 still stands as the best ever for an American League lefthander. But as great as his on-field exploits were, he will always be remembered as early 20th century baseball’s most devil-may-care and best loved man-child. Rube’s on- and off-field antics are legion: he wrestled alligators, played marbles with neighborhood kids before pitching a game, reportedly left the mound to chase a fire engine, dove fully-clothed from a boat to rescue a drowning woman, and brought his outfielders in to sit on the grass as he calmly whiffed three batters in succession. While his exploits delighted fans, they also often infuriated his teammates and his employer, the stately Mr. Mack. No teammate was more annoyed by Rube’s behavior than A’s catcher Ossee Schreckengost: exasperated by Rube’s habit of eating crackers in bed (in a less homophobic America, ballplayers often shared a bed on the road), Schreckengost had Mack insert a clause in Waddell’s contract banning Rube from indulging his cracker habit in bed. Unlike other famous baseball eccentrics who met pathetic ends, usually at the bottom of a bottle, Rube perished a hero. In the spring of 1912, while helping sandbag a river swollen by floodwaters, Rube worked too long in the cold water. The incident badly affected his health and he died in a San Antonio, Texas sanatorium on, appropriately, April Fools’ Day, 1914. Waddell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946. [AK] [Candidate List]



Moses Fleetwood Walker appeared to have it all: talent, intelligence, good looks. If he had been fortunate enough to play ball in the late 20th century he could have become one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. But in late-19th century America, assets such as Walker possessed didn’t count for much if the bearer was not white. While the college-educated Walker wasn’t the first African-American to play baseball professionally (Bud Fowler bears that distinction), he was the first known black major leaguer, appearing for the American Association Toledo Mud Hens in 1884. A catcher, Fleet Walker batted .263 in forty-two games for the Mud Hens, not eye-popping numbers to be sure, but twenty-three points above the league average. His thirty-seven passed balls as a catcher were less an indication of his fielding ability, but more the result of battery mate Tony Mullane’s racism. "[Walker] was the best catcher I ever worked with, but I disliked a Negro and whenever I pitched to him I used to pitch anything I wanted without looking at his signals." Incidents of racism plagued Walker throughout the season. Finally, prior to an exhibition game with the visiting Chicago White Stockings, Chicago manager Cap Anson refused to allow his team to take the field against the black Walker, uttering his now famous ultimatum, "Get that nigger off the field." Shortly thereafter league officials banned blacks from professional play, a situation that would not be rectified until Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Fleet Walker played minor league ball for several years after his big league banishment. In his later life Walker owned and managed a theater and opera house and published the black newspaper The Equator. He died at the age of 67 in 1924. David Zang’s fine book, Fleet Walker’s Divided Heart: The Life of Baseball’s First Black Major Leaguer, appeared in 1995, generating renewed interest in Walker’s career. His brother, Welday, also appeared briefly for the Mud Hens in 1884. [AK] [Candidate List]



For many enthusiasts, the game of baseball as played on the field is often secondary in importance to the game played in the imagination. This phenomenon separates baseball from other team sports (the same can not be said of hockey, for example) and is the subject explored with devastating comic insight in Robert Coover’s 1968 novel, The Universal Baseball Association Inc. J. Henry Waugh Prop. The book’s protagonist, J. Henry Waugh, spends almost all of his leisure time playing a table-top baseball game of his own devising. Unlike other similar games which use the names and statistics of real players, the Universal Baseball Association is populated by completely fictional players, all endowed with particular skills and sensibilities by Waugh, the prime mover (Yahweh) of the cosmos. Waugh patiently and faithfully records game and player statistics, decides when to phase in new players and retire veterans, and maintains an exhaustive history of the league. A harmless pastime? Hardly. When Waugh’s favorite young player, a pitcher who shows exceptional promise, is killed by a line drive, Waugh’s universe—his own and his league’s—spins wildly out of control. Reduced to a state of hallucinatory grief by the accident, Waugh begins increasingly to neglect the real world, immersing himself deeper and deeper into the world of the UBA. J. Henry Waugh is one of the most complex protagonists in modern American fiction. With the explosion in popularity of fantasy baseball leagues, his name is evoked with increasing frequency among rotisserie baseball nerds. Yet, many seemingly fail to realize that lurking beneath Waugh’s hapless comic enterprise is a searing, tragic depiction of the human condition.  [AK] [Candidate List]



Among the most acclaimed infielders of the deadball era, the slick gloveman Weaver appeared in two World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 1917 and 1919. Unfortunately, he will always be remembered unjustly as one of the notorious Black Sox, a group of eight players who, motivated in large part by the miserly practices of White Sox owner, Charles Comiskey, conspired to throw the 1919 series. Weaver never took a bribe, nor did he receive any payola for his alleged role in the fix, but he was well aware that seven of his teammates were playing to lose and this guilty knowledge was all the imperious Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis needed to banish Weaver from professional baseball for life in 1920. Weaver’s sterling performance in the 1919 Series certainly seems to bear out his innocent plea: in eight games he batted .324 with four doubles, a triple and four runs scored. Both Weaver and White Sox fans petitioned the Commissioner’s office regularly for Weaver’s reinstatement, but he was never pardoned by Landis or his successors. Weaver’s adherence to the golden rule of the streets, "Never rat on your friends," caused him untold agony for the remainder of his life. He died in 1956, professing his innocence to the very end. [AK] [Candidate List]



The putative "author" of four marvelous works of baseball literature, Henry Wiggen—with assistance from Mark Harris (see entry)—has presented the reading public with a bird’s-eye-view of life in the big leagues. While not busy pitching for the New York Mammoths or selling life insurance to other ballplayers, Wiggen has been writing extensively about the culture of baseball. His novels—The Southpaw (1953), A Ticket for a Seamstitch (1956), Bang the Drum Slowly (1957), and It Looked Like Forever (1979)—document the coming-of-age and maturity of a major league player, from a cocky rookie to a world-weary veteran. While the baseball scenes always ring with verisimilitude, it is Wiggen’s depiction of the off-field life of a player that readers have found so entertaining. The mysteries of the clubhouse, the front office, the hotel room lobby, the off-season life of the ball player—all are revealed with unstinting honesty and in refreshing language. While many critics have boldly suggested that Wiggen’s collaborator, Mark Harris, is the one who should receive credit for these books, an equal number are adamant in their defense of Wiggen as the primary author. Recognizing this debate, we’ve named both men to the ballot. Whether Wiggen or Harris is elected is ultimately up to you, the reader. Visit the library, check out the books and then cast your vote. [AK] [Candidate List]



Harry Wright was one of professional baseball’s founding fathers. The British-born Wright began his baseball career as a player for the fabled New York Knickerbockers in 1858, but gained everlasting fame as the manager of the undefeated 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first openly all-professional team. He added the role of baseball ambassador to his resume in 1874 when he and Albert Goodwill Spalding led a team of all-stars on a tour of England, thus spreading the gospel of baseball abroad (although the English reception was less than enthusiastic). During the course of his long managerial career he piloted the National Association Boston Red Stockings to championships in 1872 and 1873, the National League Boston Red Stocking to pennants in 1877 and 1878, and capably shepherded the NL’s Providence Grays and Philadelphia Phillies until his retirement at the conclusion of the 1893 campaign. Despite his influence and reputation, Wright was inexplicably excluded from the Hall of Fame until 1953, nearly fifteen years after the Hall opened its doors.

"It was Harry Wright who truly dramatized the business potential of baseball by lifting the game from the shaded area of pseudo-professionalism at the close of the Civil War and elevating it to a commercial venture providing a high-quality product played by professionals." (Ralph Andreano) [AK] [Candidate List]

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