In just over a month, we might have 10 new Hall of Famers!
Or we might have none. It's really hard to say.
The "Pre-Integration" ballot has been announced; anybody who gets at least 75 percent support from the electors will enter the hallowed Hall next summer. Below, the 10 candidates on the ballot, with my recommendations ...
Sam Breadon - Principal owner of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1920 through 1947. During that span the Cardinals won nine National League pennants and six World Series. Yes
Al Reach - He did a lot of things. He played in the early 1870s, worked as an executive with the Phillies for 20 years, and for decades owned the A.J. Reach Company, which produced sporting equipment (including, of course, baseballs and gloves and everything else a boy needed). The Reach Company also published the Reach Official Baseball Guide for many years. Who knows?
Jacob Ruppert - Owner or co-owner of the New York Yankees from 1915 through 1939. During that span the Yankees won nine American League pennant and six World Series. Yes
Hank O'Day - from the Hall of Fame's website:
Spent 30 years as a major league umpire during a period from 1888-1927, officiating 10 World Series, tied for second most in history. Was selected to umpire the first World Series in 1903. Also played and managed in the majors, as a pitcher from 1884-1890. Managed the 1912 Reds and the 1914 Cubs.
I haven't taken the time to figure out what the standards are for a Hall of Fame umpire. It does seem strange that O'Day, if he were highly regarded, wouldn't have already been elected.
Bill Dahlen - According to the modern methodology, he's one of the best eligible players who hasn't been enshrined. A decent hitter and an outstanding defensive shortstop, Dahlen scores 71 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball-Reference.com, which places him in the top five, all-time. Even if you discount his accomplishments because he played his entire career before the Great War, he still seems well-deserving. Yes
Wes Ferrell - Ferrell's best known as perhaps the best-hitting pitcher in major-league history. In his best five-year stretch, he batted .294/.361/.493, which was less impressive than you might think, since that was a hitter's era. But he was also an outstanding pitcher. From 1929 through '36, Ferrell went 161-94. Alas, in the rest of his career (mostly after '36) he went 32-34, was basically washed up before he turned 30. He was really good for a while, but I'm not sure how to separate him from, say, Ron Guidry and Dave Stieb. No
Marty Marion - Frankly, Marion's got no business on this ballot. He was an outstanding fielder but a lousy hitter, and finished his career with only 1,448 hits. His best seasons came during World War II, when he was one of the few good players who didn't have to serve in the military. Case is similar to Phil Rizzuto's, except Rizzuto did miss three war years ... which means Marion, even with all those great nicknames -- Slats and The Octopus and Mr. Shortstop -- has no good case at all. No
Tony Mullane - Went 284-220, all in the 19th century. But his big years, early in his career, came in the American Association, which is classified as a "major" league but almost certainly wasn't as strong as the National League. No
Bucky Walters - Made the rare third-base-to-pitcher switch in the majors, and brilliantly. In 1939 and '40, he was a truly great pitcher, the best in the National League in both seasons. But he just didn't have any other great seasons, or enough good ones. Among his 198 career wins -- against 160 losses -- were 53 from 1942 through '45, when most of the good hitters were in the U.S. Army or Navy or Marine Corps. No
Deacon White - 19th-century catcher, and it's always hard to know what to do with 19th-century catchers, because the demands of the position at that time -- no real mitt, no shin guards, no mask -- meant that catchers didn't play many games, or last many seasons. In fact, White shifted to other positions (mostly third base) in the latter half of his career. At 42, he was still playing every day, which probably says as much about baseball at that time than about his talents. No