Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Jack Morris

Claim to fame: Morris put together a solid career and was among the best pitchers of the 1980s, going 162-119 in the decade and winning at least 15 games all but two of its years. That said, everything Morris did was topped by the 1991 World Series and his epic, 10-inning shutout in Game Seven that gave the Minnesota Twins the title over the Atlanta Braves. Like Bill Mazeroski and his championship-winning home run in the 1960 World Series, I suspect one single, brilliant day of Morris’s career might be enough to get him enshrined.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Morris has made 11 appearances on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for Cooperstown and peaked at 52.3 percent in 2010. He has four more tries with the writers and then could be eligible with the Veterans Committee.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? It’s hard for me to go wild over Morris’s bid, from his 3.90 ERA — which would be the highest of any pitcher in Cooperstown — to his rather pedestrian 1.296 WHIP to his 39.3 career Wins Above Replacement ranking, well below many other non-enshrined pitchers. Simply on career stats, Morris is a fringe case, at best near the bottom of the pack for hurlers who’ve already been inducted.

Now of course, the argument can (and will) be made that Morris’s postseason accomplishments should be considered with his bid. Fair enough– I recently said the same about Joe Carter. Truth is, though, if Morris is enshrined primarily for what he did in 1991, then a few comparable pitchers belong in Cooperstown for their postseason heroics as well, from Orel Hershiser in 1988 to Mickey Lolich in 1968 to Ron Guidry in 1977, 1978, and again in 1981. Morris wasn’t markedly better than those men in the playoffs. He’s simply gotten better hype.

I’ll offer two charts. The first compares career stats for the four pitchers. Morris leads only in wins and All Star appearances and has the worst ERA, WHIP and WAR.

W L ERA CG SHO SO WHIP GG AS CYA WAR
Morris 254 186 3.90 175 28 2478 1.296 0 5 0 39.3
Hershiser 204 150 3.48 68 25 2014 1.261 1 3 1 51.5
Lolich 217 191 3.44 195 41 2832 1.227 0 3 0 45.6
Guidry 170 91 3.29 95 26 1778 1.184 5 4 1 44.4


And here’s a chart with their lifetime postseason records:

W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP ER SO WHIP
Morris 7 4 3.80 13 13 5 1 92.1 39 64 1.245
Hershiser 8 3 2.59 22 18 4 2 132.0 38 97 1.106
Lolich 3 1 1.57 5 5 3 0 46.0 8 31 0.978
Guidry 5 2 3.02 10 10 3 0 62.2 21 51 1.229


Some may argue we simply should consider Morris’s World Series record. Even there, he lags. Guidry and Lolich both have World Series ERAs a full run below Morris, and Hershiser would too if he hadn’t been bombed a couple times late in his career when he was a different pitcher than the ace of his early years.

Lolich also has a WHIP under 1.00 and three wins from the 1968 World Series. I included him, with Morris and Hershiser, in a recent list of the 10 best postseason pitching performances in baseball history. And while Guidry might not have been iconic in any single World Series, he went 3-1 lifetime with a 1.69 ERA over three Fall Classics. Hershiser, meanwhile, went 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA and a save for the Dodgers between the 1988 NLCS and World Series. Of course he was MVP for both stages of the postseason.

Interestingly, neither Guidry, Hershiser, nor Lolich ever had much chance of being enshrined by the writers. Lolich went the full 15 years of eligibility on the ballot but peaked at just 25.5 percent of the vote in 1988. Guidry hung near the bottom of the vote for nine years, never getting more than 10 percent. Hershiser lasted just two years with the writers.

With better understanding of their accomplishments, one can only wonder if Guidry, Lolich, and Hershiser would have plaques now.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

Others in this series: Al Oliver, Albert Belle, Bert Blyleven, Cecil Travis, Chipper Jones, Dan Quisenberry, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, Don Newcombe, George Steinbrenner, Joe Carter, Keith Hernandez, Maury Wills, Mel Harder, Pete Browning, Rocky Colavito, Steve Garvey, Thurman Munson, Tim Raines

Will Tim Lincecum Be the 21st Century Bob Gibson? Time Will Tell

Here is the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi. On Friday, I offered a list of the 10 best postseason pitching performances of all-time. There were two glaring omissions: 1) Tim Lincecum, who put together one of the best performances in playoff history while I was writing my post Thursday evening; 2) Bob Gibson, who I simply didn’t review carefully enough. Joe’s post today tells of the postseason brilliance of both men.

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Tim Lincecum’s two hit, 14 strike out, 1-0 playoff opener against the overmatched Atlanta Braves was the most dominant pitching performance I’ve seen since Bob Gibson blew away the Detroit Tigers in the first 1968 World Series game.

Gibson mowed down the Tigers 4-0 and stuck out seventeen while walking only one in the process. The Tigers batting order included Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton and an aging but still dangerous Eddie Mathews. The only Tiger threat came in the first inning when Kaline doubled.

Watch Gibson strike out the side in the ninth inning here as broadcast by Harry Caray and Curt Gowdy:

Whether Lincecum will eventually join Gibson as one of baseball’s all-time great pitchers will not be known for some time. Even though the two-time Cy Young winner Lincecum is off to a good start, Gibson occupies rarefied air.

In the eight seasons from 1963 to 1970, Gibson won 156 games (of his eventual 251 total) and lost 81 for a .658 winning percentage. Gibson also won nine Gold Glove Awards, the World Series MVP in 1964 and 1967, Cy Young Awards in 1968 and 1970 as well as the league MVP in 1968.

Gibson reached his pitching apex in 1968 with his 22-9 record and 1.12 ERA, a live-ball era record. In a season that may never be matched, Gibson also pitched 28 complete games, 13 of them shut outs.

An outstanding money pitcher Gibson, in his three World Series, notched a 7-2 record with a 1.89 ERA in nine starts (eight complete games) against the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Tigers. Gibson struck out 92 batters during his 82 innings pitched.

Unlike today’s pitchers, Gibson lived on the inside of the plate.Dusty Baker received the following advice from Hank Aaron about facing Gibson:

“Don’t dig in against Bob Gibson, he’ll knock you down. He’d knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don’t stare at him, don’t smile at him, and don’t talk to him. He doesn’t like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.”

While Gibson had a reputation for being hostile to even his teammates, he was gracious (in retirement) to his opponents. Gibson has never taken any bows for his incredible achievements. When asked about them, Gibson defers to Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver who he says are the best pitchers he ever faced. Ryan and Seaver, in return, claim that they were never in Gibson’s league.

The Cardinals retired Gibson’s number 45 in 1975 and, in 1981, Gibson was a first ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. In 1999, Gibson ranked number 31 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

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Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com

The 10 best postseason pitching performances in baseball history

1. Don Larsen, 1956 World Series: Larsen is and may always be number one here, at least until another man throws a perfect game in the postseason.

2. Roy Halladay, 2010 National League Division Playoffs: This season, Halladay became the latest pitcher with 20 wins his first year in a new league, and on Wednesday, he threw the second no-hitter in the postseason history. Right now, Halladay looks like the National League Cy Young, and his Phillies look unstoppable.

3. Christy Matthewson, 1905 World Series: Aside from the individual efforts of Larsen and Halladay, this is perhaps the greatest overall postseason performance. Matthewson was the New York Giants in the 1905 Fall Classic, winning three of their four games, all by shutouts. More impressively, he did it in the span of six days.

4. Howard Ehmke, 1929 World Series: Ehmke was an aging junk baller who sat the A’s bench most of 1929. Years later in Ehmke’s obituary, Red Smith wrote how late that season, A’s manager Connie Mack summoned Ehmke to release him. Ehmke responded, “Mr. Mack, I have always wanted to to pitch in a World Series. Mr. Mack, there is one great game left in this old arm.” Mack ordered Ehmke to stay behind when Philadelphia went on a road trip and scout the Cubs. “Learn all you can about their hitters,” Mack told Ehmke. “Say nothing to anybody. You are my opening pitcher for the World Series.” Ehmke set a World Series record with 13 strikeouts, winning 3-1 in a complete game.

5. Johnny Podres, 1955 World Series: It wasn’t so much Podres’ performance in that World Series that gets him here– not that he wasn’t  excellent, with two complete game wins. The key is that Podres helped the long-suffering Brooklyn Dodgers finally win a championship, ensuring their victory with his Game Seven shutout.

6. Orel Hershisher, 1988 postseason: Hershiser rode his record-setting scoreless inning streak into the playoffs and then went 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA between the NLCS and the World Series, recording the winning games in both stages of the postseason. He even had a save in the NLCS and went 3-3 at the plate in the World Series with two doubles and an RBI.

7. Jack Morris, 1991 World Series: If Morris is elected to the Hall of Fame, a television should be set up next to his plaque, keeping a constant loop of his masterful, 10-inning victory in Game Seven in 1991. His opponent that day, John Smoltz, was impressive too and could rate as an honorable mention here.

8. Curt Schilling, 2004 American League Championship Series: Like Podres, Schilling helped his team break a long spell of postseason futility. And he did so with panache, winning Game Six of the ALCS for Boston while pitching with a sock bloodied from an ankle injury. The image is the baseball equivalent of Willis Reed limping through the tunnel to the NBA Finals.

9. Mickey Lolich, 1968 World Series: How did the Detroit Tigers beat Bob Gibson, his 1.12 regular season ERA, and his St. Louis Cardinals in 1968? By getting three wins from Lolich, including a Game Seven victory over Gibson.

10. Sandy Koufax, 1965 World Series: Koufax and his Dodgers had a forgettable Fall Classic in his final season, 1966, getting swept by the Orioles. The year before, however, Koufax shut out the Twins twice in leading Los Angeles to a seven-game victory.

Related: A collection of lists

Any player/Any era: Roberto Clemente

What he did: In essence, Clemente transcended his era. Playing in a time when pitchers ruled, Clemente won four batting titles in a seven-year stretch in the 1960s and hit above .330 four times in the decade. He also won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1961 through 1972 and was known for his cannon arm in right field. Much as he thrived and put together a Hall of Fame career in his day, imagine if Clemente played in an age better suited to his abilities.

Era he might have thrived in: Assuming we suspend debate over whether Clemente’s skin complexion would keep him from playing before 1947, he might have excelled with the Philadelphia Athletics in the early 1900s.

Why: There are a number of reasons I could see this working.

First off, the Deadball Era in general offered huge ballparks that would have suited Clemente’s spray contact hitting abilities and not hampered his defense, given his arm. In fact, I think Clemente might have stood out defensively in the time. He wouldn’t have won Gold Gloves, since the award wasn’t given out prior to 1957, but he’d probably still be remembered for his defense today. After all, Deadball Era first baseman Hal Chase got included in a book on the 100 greatest players of all-time in 1981 primarily for his fielding work. Clemente’s 266 career assists are lower than many Deadball Era outfielders, but I still have a hunch he’d thrive.

I also see Clemente working well with longtime A’s manager Connie Mack, a low-key gentleman who asked nothing less from his players. Mack might have welcomed a man as fine as Clemente, who died in a plane crash in 1972, transporting relief supplies to earthquake victims. Their temperaments would have suited one another.

Clemente also might have significantly upped his batting average playing in the Deadball Era. Depending on when he debuted, Clemente might hit .400, something he never did during his career. In real life, Clemente peaked at .357 in 1967, winning his fourth and final batting title in a year where the National League ERA was 3.38. On the A’s in 1901, when the American League ERA was 3.66, the Baseball-Reference.com converter tool shows Clemente hitting .410 for his 1967 season. Playing every year of his career on a team like those A’s, Clemente would hit .352 lifetime, 35 points better than his actual career average and fourth best all-time.

Last, but not least, here’s an interesting bit of trivia. On the 1901 A’s, assuming the converter is correct, Clemente and Nap Lajoie would be .400 hitting teammates. In all of baseball history, this has happened once, on the 1894 Philadelphia Phillies who boasted a .400-hitting outfield, hit .350 as a team, and still finished fourth. The A’s also finished fourth in 1901, employing a mostly forgettable outfield few modern fans would know. With Clemente in place, I’m guessing those A’s might have had a much more memorable year.

Any player/Any era is a Thursday feature here that looks at how a player might have done in an era besides his own.

Others in this series: Albert PujolsBarry Bonds, Bob CaruthersDom DiMaggioFritz MaiselGeorge CaseHarmon KillebrewHome Run BakerJohnny FrederickJosh HamiltonKen Griffey Jr.Nate ColbertPete Rose,Rickey HendersonSandy KoufaxShoeless Joe JacksonThe Meusel BrothersTy Cobb

Phil Rizzuto, Hall of Fame Shortstop and Off Season Retail Clothing Salesman

Here’s the latest from Joe Guzzardi, a regular Wednesday contributor here. Today, Joe provides some wonderful insight into Sal Maglie on the eve of his impressive, but losing, effort in Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

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Earlier this month while I was researching Sal Maglie for my post “Bring Back the High Hard One,” I came across the You Tube video from the television program What’s My Line? Maglie appears as the mystery guest.

I’ve since watched the video maybe a dozen times and noticed a few things that I missed the first time around. All provide interesting insights into that long ago baseball era and, specifically, to the famous 1956 Don Larsen-Maglie perfect game World Series match up.

The first thing I caught was Arlene Francis, in a reference to her fellow panelist Phil Rizzuto, ask Maglie if he would be worried about Scooter if he were still with the New York Yankees “where he belongs…”

This was a swipe at Yankee general manager George Weiss and Casey Stengel whose horrible treatment of Rizzuto angered the team’s fans.

On August 25, 1956, the Yankees in a most inglorious way released Rizzuto despite his outstanding career. The Yankees, having reacquired Enos Slaughter who had been with the team in 1954–55, summoned Rizzuto to the front office allegedly to discuss the postseason roster.

Weiss asked Rizzuto to review the current list of Yankee players and to suggest which ones might be cut to make room for Slaughter. For each name Rizzuto mentioned, Weiss offered a reason why that player had to be kept.

Finally, Rizzuto realized that he was the expendable player. For years, although Rizzuto never publicly complained, he harbored deep resentment toward the Yankees.

Back to What’s My Line?

When after very little time the panel identified Maglie, moderator John Daly suggested that the purpose for their blindfolds wasn’t because they would instantly recognize the famous Dodger pitcher but that Rizzuto would identify him by the suit he was wearing.

After a few more listens and more digging, I realized that Maglie bought his coat at All American Clothing, a men’s store in Bayonne, New Jersey where Rizzuto and other Yankees worked part time to make ends meet.

Can you imagine anyone in baseball today having a winter job in retail sales?

Finally, Bennett Cerf asked Maglie: “How about tomorrow, Sal?”

“Tomorrow,” I learned, was Monday, October 8, when Maglie pitched against Larsen in Game Five.

Interestingly, the Dodgers and Yankees had played a Sunday game. Maglie must have left the Dodger club house immediately after the fourth World Series game, gone to the CBS network (on a subway?) to participate in a prime time game show and then headed home to rest up before his start against the Yankees the next afternoon.

Maglie promised Cerf that he would “give ‘em all I’ve got,” and noted that the Yankees had “a great ball club” and “let the best team win.” In the series opener, Maglie had outpitched Whitey Ford, 6-3, tossing a complete game.

And Maglie certainly did give it his best. He held the Yankees to five hits, one a Mickey Mantle solo homer, and two earned runs. As we all know, it wasn’t enough.

But even some of the most avid Yankee rooters pulled for Sal. As Yankee fan Daly told Maglie at the end of the show, the only time he wants to see his team lose is when Sal pitches.

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Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Keith Hernandez

Claim to fame: Hernandez was a five-time All Star, 11-time Gold Glove winner, and ranks among the best first basemen not in the Hall of Fame. He has the most Gold Gloves of any first baseman all-time, ranks third in career Wins Above Replacement for non-enshrined players at his position, and in his prime, was perhaps the best first baseman in the National League, if not the majors. In 17 seasons, Hernandez had 2,182 hits and a .296 lifetime batting average.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Hernandez spent nine years lingering near the bottom of the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for Cooperstown, consistently receiving about 5-10 percent of the vote. First eligible with the writers in 1996, Hernandez peaked at 10.8 percent of the vote in 1998 and finally got less than 5 percent in 2004, which removed him from future ballots. He is now eligible for enshrinement through the Veterans Committee.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? This one’s for Rory Paap of www.PaapFly.com who left a comment last week on my starting lineup of players not in Cooperstown. I picked Don Mattingly to man first, and Rory said:

I’d go with Keith Hernandez over Mattingly. He happens to be a distant cousin of mine, but still!! Check his career numbers…he was better than most people realize and an astounding defender.

Hernandez is definitely better than I realized. I had no idea he had so many Gold Gloves or such a high WAR ranking, 61.0, which is worse only than Dick Allen and Mark McGwire for eligible first basemen not in Cooperstown. Hernandez also had the All Star nods, defensive accolades, and 1979 National League MVP award, and in his prime regularly hit .300, boasted a .400 on-base percentage, and helped two teams win World Series. His appearances on Seinfeld can’t hurt either.

But the negatives here might outweigh the positives. Hernandez was involved in a cocaine scandal during his prime, declined dramatically in his mid-30s, and finished short of 3,000 hits, when with normal production from age 33 on, he might have attained it. Hernandez also never offered much for power, ranking significantly below Mattingly and (my all-time favorite player) Will Clark.

Here’s 162-game averages for the three men:

R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
Hernandez 87 169 33 5 13 83 .296 .384 .436 .821
Clark 97 178 36 4 23 99 .303 .384 .497 .880
Mattingly 91 195 40 2 20 100 .307 .358 .471 .830


I’m not even that wild over Hernandez’s Gold Glove record, considering that the award wasn’t given before 1957, which might have kept players like Gil Hodges and Hal Chase from challenging.

But the biggest deterrent to enshrining Hernandez is that there are so many other good first basemen not in the Hall of Fame. In fact, besides catcher, relief pitcher, or stolen base specialist, I think playing first might be the hardest way to earn a plaque. I count a couple dozen first baseman at least worthy of debate for Cooperstown, and if Hernandez gets enshrined, so should McGwire, Allen, Clark, Mattingly, Hodges, Jake Daubert, Steve Garvey, Mark Grace, Fred McGriff, and Hal Trosky, for varying reasons I won’t get into (I’ll list the reasons in the comments section here, if anyone cares.)

Things could get even more interesting over the next couple of years as other good first basemen like Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, and Frank Thomas become eligible. While I’m curious how the Veterans Committee will regard Hernandez, I suspect he might become even more of a forgotten man to Cooperstown.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

Others in this series: Al Oliver, Albert Belle, Bert Blyleven, Cecil Travis, Chipper Jones, Dan Quisenberry, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, Don Newcombe, George Steinbrenner, Joe Carter, Maury Wills, Mel Harder, Pete Browning, Rocky Colavito, Steve Garvey, Thurman Munson, Tim Raines

Thoughts on the Giants winning the NL West

When I was in seventh grade, I participated for the first time in an event called the 24 Hour Relay. Held at the track of a high school I later attended, the event had teams of ten students take turns running a mile. I was a fairly decent miler, as were a few of my friends on the team, and we wound up winning. Our victory was not without controversy, though, as a few of our teammates were accused of skipping laps in the dead of night. We protested vociferously, and our victory was upheld, but the teammates admitted privately a year or two later that they cheated. No one ever found out, so far as I know, but it tainted the achievement, at least for me.

I was reminded of this on Sunday as I listened on the radio as the San Francisco Giants clinched the National League West with a 3-0 win over the San Diego Padres. I grew up in Northern California and have been a Giants fan since I was old enough to cheer for them. I started going to Giants games just after the Battle of the Bay, had my young hopes crushed when they lost the NL West on the last day of the 1993 season, and then watched them soar to greater heights by the end of the decade. Their rise culminated with a trip to the 2002 World Series, but this wasn’t without controversy either, as several members of the team were implicated for using performance enhancing drugs, most notably megastar Barry Bonds. It tainted the achievement, at least for me.

Several years have passed now, the Giants have a completely different team. There is no Bonds on this team, no ragtag squad united a steroid-addled hulk. The feeling’s different with these guys, and their playoff berth doesn’t feel like a bogus, non-achievement. It feels honorable, decent. I don’t know what the Giants will do in the playoffs (Atlanta? Philadelphia after? yikes) but if they don’t go any further, I’m proud of what they have done.

Now if only I can reunite my friends for another rendition of the 24 Hour Relay.

Big Ed Reulbach Leads ’08 Cubs to the Pennant; Shuts Down Brooklyn Twice

Here’s the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi, a regular contributor here. Every Saturday for the past few months, Joe has been offering “Double the fun,” looking at one memorable doubleheader each week. This will be the final edition of the column until next baseball season.

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Pitch count fanatics take note.

On September 26, 1908 the Chicago Cubs’ “Big” Ed Reulbach pitched two complete game shut outs, allowing only eight hits, in both ends of a double header against the arch rival Brooklyn Supurbas. Reulbach prevailed 5-0 and 3-0. The nightcap took 1:12.

For good measure, Reulbach followed up with a 6-0 October 1 shut out at Cincinnati before ending his season with another win over the Reds on October 3, 16-2.

The Cubs along with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Giants were locked in a tight pennant race. With the Chicago pitching staff worn out, Reulbach stepped up to help the Cubs finish first and go on to its last winning World Series appearance by knocking off the Detroit Tigers, 4-1.

By the time the Cubs got to the series, Reulbach was worn out, too. The Tigers knocked him out in the seventh inning of the first game which the Cubs eventually won in a 10-6 slugfest. In game three, Reulbach pitched one scoreless inning in relief in the Cubs only loss, 8-3.

Cut from the same cloth as Christy Mathewson, Reulbach was an outstanding dead ball era hurler on the field. Off it, like Mathewson, Reulbach promoted clean living and followed his own advice.

Although he never received a single Hall of Fame vote, Reulbach’s career statistics are imposing. Over Reulbach’s 13-year career, he posted a 182-106 record with a 2.28 ERA

Reulbach hurled two one-hitters, six two-hitters, and 13 three-hitters. In 1906, his best year (24-7; 2.03), Reulbach yielded 5.33 hits per nine innings, still the third-lowest ratio of all time. Reulbach also gave up fewer hits than innings pitched in each of his 13 seasons.

Reulbach’s post-baseball years were a mix of professional success and personal tragedy. Reulbach earned a Columbia University law degree and became one of the founding directors of the Baseball Fraternity, the forerunner of the Player’s Union. In 1945, Reulbach copyrighted the “Leadership Development Plan” that rotated a team’s captain among all nine players, one inning at a time, to encourage team effort.

According to Cubs’ teammate Johnny Evers, Reulbach was always “five years ahead of his time in baseball thought.”

In 1976, 14 years after Reulbach’s death, Esquire Magazine published baseball writer Harry Stein’s “All Time, All Star Argument Starter” that consisted of five ethnic teams. Stein named Reulbach the Jewish right handed starting pitcher.

Unfortunately for Stein and in what serves as a glowing example to journalists everywhere to research carefully and completely, Reulbach was not Jewish but a Roman Catholic who pitched at University of Notre Dame and is buried in Immaculate Conception Cemetery.

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Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com