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Cap Anson and the BR Hall of Fame

There are many things that I’m picking up from this BR Hall of Fame voting — I’m sure I’ll have a 250-part series when the voting is done.

One thing is this: The more I see the voting, the more I believe the best baseball players should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Period. That’s all. I’ve wavered on this over the years, waffled on this, considered numerous other points about character and fair play and honor. I believe deeply in those things, and believe they should be considered when judging a players career (more to support a player’s candidacy than to detract from it). But as I look at the way people are voting, I realize more clearly than ever that I don’t want a white-washed Hall of Fame. I don’t want a Hall of Fame strained by the moral standards of the day. Baseball is a game played by human beings, some of them wonderful people, some of them rascals, some of them downright mean and spiteful. It is part of what makes the game.

In short: I don’t want a Baseball Hall of Fame without Cap Anson in it.

And I don’t want a Baseball Hall of Fame without Oscar Charleston in it.

Right now, neither man has 75% of the vote to get into the BR Hall of Fame.

Anson was one of the dominant players of the 1800s, perhaps the dominant player. He played 27 years, hit .334 for his career, led the league in RBIs eight times, in on-base percentage four, was the first to collect 3,000 hits and at the same time he served as manager and owner. He was a hugely popular figure at the time — he would travel the vaudeville circuits where he would sing and dance and tell stories. He, perhaps more than any player of his time, built the game of baseball into the National Pastime.

And: He was a virulent racist who refused to play even in exhibitions if there was an African American on the field. There is — and will continue to be — a lot of debate about how big a role Anson played in the “gentleman’s agreement” that kept black players out of baseball for more than a half century. But based on his actions you get the sense that Anson would happily accept any and all accountability for that agreement — he wanted black players out of the game. Even in an America that was deeply racist, Cap Anson stood out.

Oscar Charleston, surely, was one of the best players who ever lived. People who saw him play or faced him say there has never been a player who combined hitter, power, speed and defense the way Charleston did. Buck O’Neil (we’ll get back to him in a minute) would say: “The greatest major league player I ever saw was Willie Mays. But the greatest PLAYER I ever saw was Oscar Charleston. For those who couldn’t see Oscar Charleston, Willie Mays was the next-best thing.” In his time, Charleston was often compared with Ty Cobb, only with more power, Tris Speaker, only with even more speed. Bill James, in the New Historical Abstract, called Charleston the fourth-best player who ever lived, and told me that if we could have seen him in the big leagues, he might actually have been the best.

And: Charleston played in the Negro Leagues, so surviving statistics are meager. Stories about his greatness are scarce. There has never been an in-depth book written about Charleston because so little information about him exists. He was, by surviving accounts, a fiery man, violent, with a nearly uncontrollable temper. Truth is, many baseball fans have never heard of him.

So, I suspect people are not voting Anson because of his racism and they’re not voting Charleston because of their unfamiliarity … and I can’t help but think these are two sides of the same coin. You leave out one because he was a racist, you open the door for someone else to leave out the other because they don’t acknowledge the Negro Leagues. When you start relying too heavily on your own moral judgments, you leave open the door for others to impose their own code.

And, in the end, shouldn’t it be about the game? It’s baseball. A game. We lose that perspective so quickly. The vitriol people express toward Alex Rodriguez is astonishing — he took performance enhancing drugs so he could be a great baseball player, and he lied about it so that he wouldn’t get caught. It’s against the rules, and it offends sensibilities, but you would think based on some of the words people used — deranged, crook, pariah, fraud, bum and so on — that he blew up a planet and brought mayhem on Gotham City and sent flying monkeys after Dorothy and stole Christmas.

History isn’t better told when cleaned up. Libraries aren’t better when you keep out offensive books. Movies aren’t better when they are cleansed of challenging and difficult topics. Think how uninteresting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be if you kept out the drug users and criminals and lowlifes. I always loved the letter the Sex Pistols sent to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when learning they were elected: “Next to the SEX PISTOLS, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We’re not coming. We’re not your monkeys.”

The letter was read out loud as the Hall of Fame inducted them into the Hall.

Baseball is baseball. The game’s history has its embarrassments, its scandals, its disgraces. We might not like the racists and cheaters and chemical enhancers, but they played. Some of them played very well. But they are part of the game. The history of Cap Anson as a racist should absolutely be told. And it should be told in the Hall of Fame because he was one of the greatest players who ever lived. The history of Oscar Charleston should be told — in the Hall of Fame because he too was one of the greatest players who ever lived and too few people know his story.

In the end, I wonder if we hurt the Hall of Fame by thinking of it as a “reward” for the players. I’ve heard from many people who believe, unquestionably, that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in the Hall of Fame, but they simply cannot get over the image of them up on that stage, accepting the honor, that part really bothers them. “It would be like they got away with it,” one person close to the Hall of Fame told me.

I think that’s a little bit petty, but more to the point, I think it’s misguided. Were they or were they not two of the greatest baseball players who ever lived? I often think about what Buck O’Neil said about Enos Slaughter, a reputed racist who apparently led the racial taunting toward Jackie Robinson (and once spiked him on the field). O’Neil was one of the leading voices in getting Slaughter elected into the Hall of Fame, and when asked if it was because Slaughter in his later years expressed regret, Buck said: “No. It’s because he could play ball.”

It seems to me that a Hall of Fame without the detestable Cap Anson in it isn’t a Hall of Fame at all.

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65 Responses to Cap Anson and the BR Hall of Fame

  1. alcaniglia says:

    I think both players are not getting votes for the same reasons – people don’t know who they are. It’s not that people have a negative opinion, it’s that they don’t have an opinion.

  2. Joel Kallem says:

    As usual Joe, you show an uncommon amount of common sense. The Hall of Fame elections should be measured by on the field achievement. I can see taking some account of how much the player’s record is influenced by PEDs, but if the overall record would still support election it should happen. That would be the case for both Bonds and Clemens. Both are not nice people, but they were great ball players pre-PEDS and during the period they were “tainted”.

  3. B.E. Earl says:

    Not only does Anson deserve election as a player, he probably deserves it as a manager as well. Managed parts of 21 seasons to a .578 winning percentage. Whitey Herzog, the last manager elected to the Hall, managed a little over 100 games more than Anson. With a .532 winning percentage.

  4. Josh says:

    I think the Hall of Fame survives just fine once Tom Yawkey is removed. He could not, as Buck said, play ball. He was also a crappy owner. (In an eight-team league, he won a pennant less than every eight years. In a 10-team league, he won a pennant less than every 10 years. Etc.) He was also a racist. He also hired and covered up for a pedophile.

    So if anyone wants to talk about staining the legacy of the Hall of Fame, I’d like that person to first acknowledge that Tom Yawkey, who has no plausible case in his favor and several points against, is in.

    • Mark says:

      Well said Josh, but you left out the thing that actually got Yawkey into the Hall of Fame. He was a drunk and he drank with the writers and with the owners and with the players and told great stories FOREVER. Besides Bill Veeck, he was perhaps the most sociable owner in history. And that’s why he is in the Hall, not for any baseball accomplishments (he has very few).

    • Grover Jones says:

      Plus he has a street named after him.

      You think I’m kidding, but honestly that puts him in the back of people’s mind whenever they think of Fenway Park. It adds to the reputation.

  5. D Wintheiser says:

    My feeling is summed up by something Bill James wrote in “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?”

    Paraphrased, it’s roughly this: You don’t memorialize the worst parts of your history by bestowing your highest honor on them.

    That’s the difference between Cap Anson and Oscar Charleston: Charleston’s case for the Hall is murky and difficult to judge precisely because of players and managers like Anson. Enshrining Anson is bestowing your highest honor on someone who made it difficult if not impossible to accurately determine who the greatest players in baseball history actually are, and who represented a trend in society that, while accepted then, is rightly deplored now.

    To continue the analogy, if you can overlook Anson’s racism, why not overlook Hal Chase’s corruption? Each man in his way did his part to harm the game, and I don’t see that it makes much sense to reward Anson over Chase just because the outlook that considered Chase’s actions reprehensible existed while he lived, while the outlook that considered Anson’s actions reprehensible didn’t exist while he was alive and influential.

    • clashfan says:

      I think it’s all right to judge people by the standards of their era. I’d absolutely hate to be judged 100 years from now for my opinions on, say, nationalism.

      Anson’s racism *was* over the top, even for his day. If there’d been a Branch Rickey in that era, with as much charisma and energy as Anson, the history of baseball might look very different. Enough white players might have persuaded to integrate two generations earlier.

      Hal Chase is a different case entirely. His actions affected the integrity of the sport. Corruption such as his was a big part of why the game was viewed as shady, low-class, and certainly not family entertainment. Cleaning all that up allowed baseball to grow into the major sport it is today.

    • NYCD Online says:

      I think what Joe has been trying to get at with all these thousands of HOF posts is this: Is the Hall of Fame a museum of the history of baseball? Or is it a shrine to its greatest players? And really, what is “great” anyway? Can we deny that Barry Bonds was great? If we’re talking about the integrity clause, can we deny that Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry, to name just two, lacked it to a certain extent? And hell, was Rabbit Maranville really all that great?

      Everyone has his or her own idea of what the Hall of Fame is, or should be, and here’s mine: If a player stands out among the rest of the players of his generation so that you can’t discuss his era without him being mentioned, he needs to go in the Hall of Fame. Emphasis on FAME, not integrity or character or even necessarily statistical greatness, although those qualities certainly count as well. In that respect it’s not an honor, it’s a simple necessity. You can’t edit Barry Bonds out of the history of baseball from 1986-2007 — he was just too important in the context of the game and the time. Same with A-Rod, Greg Maddux, Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas… the list goes on.

      I’m guessing that a lot (most?) of the people who visit Cooperstown look at Ty Cobb’s plaque and know he was a racist and kind of an asshole in general. The fact that he’s in the Hall doesn’t make him a wonderful human being in anyone’s eyes. If Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or A-Rod or Pete Rose ever get in, people will know they lied and cheated and disseminated whether or not it’s mentioned on their plaques. This stuff is common knowledge. The black marks on their careers won’t be erased just because they’re immortalized in the HOF. It’s the Hall of Fame that is diminished if the greatness of these players — and the story of how they cheated — is not included within its walls.

    • @NYCD: I dont understand how most fans dont get this. Just because a player is banned or being held out of the Hall of Fame doesnt erase them from history. We still talk about Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose and they will forever be a part of baseball history if they have a plaque or not. The Hall is a museum and it needs to honor the history of the game. I would rather they all have plaques that mention their drug use then leave them out.
      I doubt to many of the drug users would stand on that podium holding a plaque saying they disgraced themselves so people shouldnt be to worried about them being at the ceremony.

  6. I specifically didn’t vote for Cap Anson for exactly the reasons you mentioned above. I voted for Charleston, and having heard Buck O’Neill’s opinion (among others) was the determining factor in that. If Anson is in, A-Rod and Pete Rose should be in as well. I did vote Ty Cobb when you had him on the ballot, but that’s pretty much the extreme limit on the scale of “reprehensible human being” I’d go…

  7. Actually, the real Baseball HOF should adopt the same rule as football’s HOF has – only on the field factors should be considered. All off the field stuff should be ignored in voting. I’d hold my nose and vote for Anson then (but not Rose or A-Rod, as their sins were relevant to on-the-field performance).

    • Steve Holtje says:

      A-Rod’s “sins” were in the name of performing BETTER. Rose’s, and Shoeless Joe Jackson’s, were on a different and more reprehensible level.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Concur on Rose and Joe Jackson. Baseball has to be hard on gambling because it goes to credibility of the game. If someone gets down $500K to Rocco the bookie and faces a choice of either throwing a game or getting his legs broken…. then what happens to baseball. Basketball now has a credibility problem because they have a ref that was throwing games & the perception that there are others…. if not for personal gain, at least to make sure the most lucrative markets and biggest stars advance to late playoff births. It hasn’t brought down basketball, but it does chip away at the credibility. David Stern was VERY concerned about this his last couple of years, though he wouldn’t come out and say it… and give credibility to the naysayers that said NBA games are fixed and the stars get special treatment.

    • clashfan says:

      Rob Smith–regards Jackson. It was a lifetime ban, not an eternal ban. I could see giving him a shot at the Hall.

    • denopac says:

      Clashfan – are you sure about that? The terminology in use since the time of Landis has been “permanently ineligible.” What makes you think it was different for Jackson?

    • A-Rods’s “sins” were in the name of creating an uneven palying field in violation of the rules. Just as reprehensible as Shoeless Joe, probably more than Rose (whose actions had the *potential* to create an uneven playing field – nobody’s ever accused him of throwing or shaving games AFAIK).

    • LargeBill says:

      Section 405,

      We have no idea whether Rose threw games, or whether he over used the bullpen to win a game he had a lot on, or if he intentionally managed worse at the direction of bookies, etc, etc, etc. Rose claims he never bet against the Reds (or Expos & Phillies when with them). However, after more than a decade of lying to us about never betting on baseball at all we now know he was lying all along. Anyone who still believes Rose would never bet against the Reds is probably are still sending money to Bernie Madoff to invest.

  8. rogers alley says:

    The Frankie Frisch mafia may deserve getting kicked out

    • Wilbur says:

      Amen to that. The George Kelly, Travis Jackson, Chick Hafey, Fred Lindstrom et alia crowd shoulda’ never got in, even under a Big Hall theory of admission.

      It wasn’t how well you played, it was who you knew, or who knew you.

  9. Frank says:

    I agree with Joel that it’s the on-field performance that is the issue. If we are going to have off-field moral issues taken into consideration, then who will cast the first stone?

    On the other hand, there are some issues that affect the fundamental on-field integrity of the game that do have to be considered. I’m not talking about penny-ante Gaylord Perry ball-doctoring. Gambling / throwing games is one of those items. It took the throwing of a World Series and Commissioner Landis to bring the game out of near racketeering status and set the stage for Babe Ruth. This is why Pete Rose should not be in – his actions harkened back to the pre-Black Sox days.

    But PED users also fall into that category. They threatened the integrity of the game, taking it to the point where the playing field was not level. It created a forced culture of risking health and even life itself (e.g. Steve Bechler) in order to compete. Players who remained clean saw their stats diminished by comparison. For every MVP and Cy Young award that went to a PED-infused player, there was a clean player who didn’t get an award. For every PED enhanced utility player that barely made an MLB roster, there was a clean AAA player who never saw the show. I, for one, am glad to hear some of the clean players starting to speak up in the Biogenesis scandal. At the very least, it has been money out of their pocket. Maybe that’s changing.

    So even if we can carve out a part of Clemens’ or Bonds’ careers that was not fed by PED’s – as if they are going to admit when they were / were not using – they damaged the game to the point that they should not be honored at its highest level. No one is going to take away their MVP’s or Cy Young’s – I guess they can have them. But I will be happy to see Cooperstown closed to them.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Frank, it absolutely kills me when people essentially say that “we all make mistakes, don’t be judgemental…. Pete Rose/Roger Clemens/Barry Bonds should be in the HOF”. Yeah, we all make mistakes. Players get DUIs, give the finger to the fans, get in bar fights…. etc. We all mess up too. But when you mess with the integrity of the game by either gambling on baseball or using PEDs, you’ve crossed the line. You’ve impacted the game’s credibility. None of these clowns should be in…. and you can’t necessarily assume you know when these guys started using. All we have, in most cases, is the word of a confirmed liar.

  10. Great post, as always.

    I agree; you should not bring morals to the HOF vote. Rose should be in, for example, despite his being a terrible person, a felon, and a person who bet on baseball.

    HOWEVER, the steroids thing is different. And not because of steroids are “wrong” or “bad” or “immoral” but because they are “performance enhancing.” I agree that the best players should be in, but I feel like (with Bonds and Clemens excepted) I am not sure I know who the best players were/are. I suspect ARod, for example, was always on steroids. I can’t vote for him because I don’t know how good he was.

    • clashfan says:

      Huh? How can you say Rose should be in when he broke the best-known rule in baseball? He bet on the sport, on games involving his own team, while he was managing. It calls the integrity of the game into question. Tax-related felonies and general ickiness aside, he is banned for good reason.

      You want to talk about PEDs? Fine; let’s start with amphetamines and animal testosterone.

    • No, actually, I don’t want to talk about PEDs.

      “How can you say that Rose should be in when he broke the best-known rule in baseball?”

      That is what I am trying to say — I don’t care, because the only appropriate criterium, I am arguing, is that he was a Hall-of-Fame caliber player. If you think he (or anybody else) got that way because of greenies or whatever, that is an argument I understand.

      But I probably wouldn’t advocate for, say, Sammy Sosa, not because he “broke the rules” but because, absent steroids, I doubt he would have been a HOF caliber player.

  11. Part of being a big Hall guy is that the 75% requirement is tough and un-American. What would the Hall look like at 50%, as it should be? In or out, majority rules. You should do a post on that — who would be in the Hall at 50%.

    • Frank says:

      There are lots of votes taken in the public arena that require more than a simple majority. It takes a vote of 75% of the states to pass a constitutional amendment. It takes a 2/3 vote in the Senant to remove an impeached president. There are just some things where we want to make sure that we get it right, knowing that there are times when a simple majority of people can get carried away.

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

    • We are not exactly talking about firing the leader of the free world or amending the US Constitution, though, are we?

  12. Devon Young says:

    Now, if you’re talkin’ purely about a HOF that’s only about telling the story of the history of the game, then he should be in it. But I don’t see why anyone would need to vote for that kind of group of people anymore than voting to see which kings and presidents are listed in history annals. It would be silly. So, I don’t think that’s the kind of HOF we’re talkin’ about here. We’re clearly talkin’ about a HOF that’s about glorifying the best in the history of baseball.

    So, from my view Joe, I think you’re missing a point that nobody ever seems to mention but I think is clear as a bell. It’s like this… even if we dismiss Cap Anson’s bigotry as just a moral issue unrelated to the game, we still can’t ignore the fact that his bigotry affected the game so badly that it can be argued that it ruined the integrity of the game for decades to come. How can we glorify somebody as a Hall of Famer, who destroyed/diluted the game he’s being glorified for playing in? His on-the-field skills don’t outweigh his skills to help weaken/dilute the talent level in the majors.

    It even makes me question if he would’ve had HOF numbers if he had played with & against dark skinned players. Personally, I don’t want a baseball HOF that includes a man who, whatever his talent, pushed to keep a huge percentage of the best players out of the major leagues. That was one of the worst things for baseball ever, and I can’t see how someone in that position should be glorified.

    • invitro says:

      Just out of curiosity… what number are you thinking of for “huge percentage”?

    • Wilbur says:

      “we still can’t ignore the fact that his bigotry affected the game so badly that it can be argued that it ruined the integrity of the game for decades to come.”
      You’re giving far too much, ahem, credit to Adrian Anson’s influence. If Anson had never been born or never played baseball, do you think the history of baseball and race would have been one bit different? Anson was no pioneer in racial prejudices. He merely reflected the prevailing view of white society at the time, loathsome as it may be.

    • Wilbur says:

      Almost seventy years ago, and sixty years removed from Anson’s prime, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Dan Bankhead to minor league contracts as a followup to their signing of Jack Robinson the year before.

      The plan was to send them to Danville, Illinois to play for the Dodger farm team there in the Three-I League. The Dodgers at some point realized that was, at the least, asking for trouble, so they ended up going to Nashua, New Hampshire instead.

      America was a different place, not that many years ago.

  13. clashfan says:

    What does Arky Vaughn have to do to get in the BR Hall of Fame?

    • kehnn13 says:

      Be from a more recent era so people know who he is? I’ve definitely noticed a tendency to discount old time players who were not the biggest stars of the time.

    • KHAZAD says:

      That is the crux of it. While there may be some people who didn’t vote for Anson because of the racism issue, I think it is mostly because many voters who are not as steeped in baseball history just had no idea who he was. Charlie Gehringer is not going to make it for a similar reason. It’s a cute idea and all to have the readers vote, but the result is the same as is in politics. People vote for the name they know, and as a result, the HOF that comes from this will be players in the latter half of the century, even some marginal ones, and older players that are hallowed enough that there names bring immediate recognition.

      Gehringer was as good, or perhaps better, than Ernie Banks. Ernie played 30 years later and is famous for being Mr. Cub and saying “let’s play two”. I imagine a large percentage of the 92% that voted for Banks know little about him other than that. Or at least the nearly 600 people who voted for Banks and not Gehringer.

  14. Kent says:

    The Hall of Fame is a museum. Part of that museum honors particular players. The rest of the museum tells a lot of other stories to chronicle the history of the game.

    There’s no reason on earth the stories of people unworthy of having a bust in a certain room can’t be told in another room. The “Hall of Fame” isn’t just a list of players. Keeping someone off the list does not, in any way, remove the opportunity or obligation to tell their part of the story.

    The argument to include certain players on the list because, “all that matters is what happened on the field,” has never made much sense. Keeping someone off the list does not wipe them from history. That can’t be done, and there’s nothing to suggest that’s the intent.

    • kkurt23 says:

      Kent maybe onto something. Have a section of the Hall of Fame discussing the disgraced players, Rose, A-Rod, Bonds, Anson etc… Without giving them the honor of being elected to the Hall of Fame, and without hearing them give a speech.

    • Mark Coale says:

      Thats what i always said about Rose. I saw him represented plenty in the Hall’s exhibits. He wasnot redacted from history, he was just not enshrined personally.

    • I like this too, because I am a guy who likes the fame part of HOF, namely Bo Jackson. Clearly he has no place in the HOF as a numbers person, but he was the biggest thing in baseball when I was kid. If I pay to go into a museum about baseball with my kid I want to see Bo. And like Joe said, I want to see all the crazy characters. But I don’t want to have to care about factoring in ballparks into OBP to decide if a player was worthy. I just want to say, yeah, that guy was really famous as a baseball player, why was that? And then the expanded hall gives me the answer.

    • Ross Holden says:

      That’s what I thought about Maris’s 61

    • Chip S. says:

      The physical set-up of the HoF is like a shrine, not an archive. Clearly, it’s meant to bestow a special kind of recognition, not simply to tell the True Story of Baseball. For one thing, the True Story of Baseball wouldn’t have provided any reason to locate the Hall in Cooperstown. The Hall is perceived by fans and players alike as mythic because that’s how it was intended.

      By all means have a display about Cap Anson in the Museum part of the Hall & Museum. Put him right where he belongs, with Hal Chase and Pete Rose and the Black Sox, in the Cheaters and Besmirchers Wing.

      The BR’s have it got this one right. If you didn’t want their opinions, Joe, you shouldn’t have asked for them.

  15. Stephen says:

    Funny, I was checked in on Larkin and Murray late yesterday. Murray was going to need 48 consecutive yes’s to put him over while Larkin needed something like 12. Then later, Larkin was over 75% and Murray somewhere-in-the-teens of consecutive yes’s.

    Now Larkin needs 37 consecutive yes’s and Murray needs 101. Maybe Joe’s call to vote brought out those inclined to decline.

  16. Mike says:

    Joe, I think you give us too much credit. My feeling is that Anson fell off less because of his racism than that because enough people don’t know who he is. I’ve noticed a tendency for older players to fall off not necessarily because of their worth but because they’re not particularly well known. It’s probably not a huge fraction of your readership but it’s enough for that very high 75% bar to be difficult to reach.

    • anon says:

      I tend to agree with that assessment and ironically one of the lessons here is to understand why a veterans committee was set up in the first place. Of course that doesn’t explain the struggles of Larkin, Murray, and Molitor.

  17. Jamie says:

    Voting here is brutal. Roberts and Niekro seem like obvious choices. Niekro got over 3000 Is, 300 wins,and averaged 4 WAR per season, over a 24 year career. So, while an obvious compiler, while staying in the league for nearly a quarter century his average season was deserving of, at least, an All-Star selection. That guy seems like he should be in the HOF, by almost any standard.

  18. Grover Jones says:

    Joe, I love you, but it’s a bit disingenuous to put up a public vote and then complain about the results.

    • BobDD says:

      huh? Why wouldn’t he comment (complain) about it? That’s what we are doing? There is no reason why Joe has to check his opinions and just listen to the rest of us. I’ve always wished he’d show more in the comments section – and I love it when he follows up on a topic.

      Maybe it’s disingenuous for you to read this free blog and then complain about the results.

    • Grover Jones says:

      My point is merely this. Joe wanted a BR HOF. He opened the voting up to his BR. Then when the BRs don’t include Cap Anson, he writes, “It seems to me that a Hall of Fame without the detestable Cap Anson in it isn’t a Hall of Fame at all.”

      Then don’t let BRs vote on your HOF!

  19. Busted flush says:

    It will be interesting how many people complain one hundred years from now about a Hall of Fame that includes so many meat eaters.

  20. Busted flush says:

    It will be interesting how many people complain one hundred years from now about a Hall of Fame that includes so many meat eaters.

  21. Jamie says:

    All of the players who have fallen short to this point were deserving statistically, but there were significant ethical questions about them to explain away their falling short. Maybe a couple of guys fell short without it, but voting so far has been at least somewhat reasonable. This vote ruins the BRHOF though. A HOF without Niekro, Vaughn, Gehringer, Murray, Larkin, Vaughn, Molitor or Roberts makes it nearly impossible to get in. Those are some memorably great players, who seem to clear the bar easily, for what at least the BBWAA has set as the standard. For guys like Murray and Niekro (semi recent players who many people still remember playing) it seems like the memories of them hanging on too long have ruined what should be remembered as great careers. But everyone plays too long Ruth, Mays, Banks in this vote is an obvious one. Most players will play as long as possible, it is human nature, and it is crazy the amount to which we are holding that against some of these obvious greats.

  22. I voted for Charleston and not for Anson specifically for what they did on a baseball field. Anson worked to limit his competition. Charleston excelled against all those he was able to play against. Anson’s play could in no way compensate for his actions that harmed the game immeasurably; Charleston’s play celebrated all that is best in baseball in spite of the terrible limitations that were placed on him by small minded people like Anson.

  23. I voted for Charleston and not for Anson specifically for what they did on a baseball field. Anson worked to limit his competition. Charleston excelled against all those he was able to play against. Anson’s play could in no way compensate for his actions that harmed the game immeasurably; Charleston’s play celebrated all that is best in baseball in spite of the terrible limitations that were placed on him by small minded people like Anson.

  24. paul says:

    Anson, in my view, harmed the game. Can I vote against him , not as a moral grandstanding gesture, but because I think the game would have been better off without him? Entertaining Broadway performances aside, this “beloved” and, admittedly talented man made the game LESS great by ensuring that many of the most talented players never made it to the national stage in any meaningful way. I don’t have to cast moral judgement in order to feel that the guy was a net negative for the sport.

    On the other hand, can I NOT vote for a guy that I have no OBJECTIVE way of evaluating without bearing some moral stigma? I’m talking about Charleston, of course. Maybe he WAS the fourth greatest player of all time. How can we REALLY know this, though, when there is little more than folklore to inform us? If we decided baseball awards based on hearsay, Derek Jeter would be a multiple Gold Glover. Oh wait . . .

    Seriously, though, if we based Hall of Fame decisions on purely subjective criteria, Jack Morris, Joe Carter, and Your Favorite Player Here would all be in on the first ballot,at least for some of us, right? I understand the impulse to give the benefit of the doubt to those who suffered great injustice, as all of the negro leaguers certainly did, but isn’t it OK to make decisions based on that which we can know, rather than that which we’ve been told?

  25. shaggy says:

    Clemens and Bonds don’t belong in the hall. I like them both, but they weren’t racists. They cheated on the field. And cheating keeps you out of the Hall of Fane as surely as betting.

  26. shaggy says:

    Clemens and Bonds don’t belong in the hall. I like them both, but they weren’t racists. They cheated on the field. And cheating keeps you out of the Hall of Fane as surely as betting.

  27. Ron Mock says:

    I wasn’t aware that the Hall of Fame was prohibited from providing rich, nuanced, in-depth permanent displays on non-members. I had always thought that Clemens and Bonds and the others who cheated to get their numbers could be part of the historical record without winning another, post-retirement competitive honor by cheating.

  28. TEX says:

    Cap was the best.Destestable? Why,cause he couldn’t stand darkies ? Cap was the best !

  29. […] or not you want to count Cap Anson, one of the greats from back in the day, and also, apparently, an incredibly racist jerk. Some people count him, some people don’t, but we’ll be sure to mention him when […]

  30. […] or not we wish to count Cap Anson, one of a greats from behind in a day, and also, apparently, an impossibly extremist jerk. Some people count him, some people don’t, though we’ll be certain to discuss him when it’s […]

  31. […] has always been at the forefront. Despite its racist past, including the absurdly named “Gentleman’s Agreement,” baseball was the first major sport to integrate whwn Jackie Robinson began his […]

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