My personal Hall of Fame: The inaugural class

Months ago, a friend asked me to make a personal Hall of Fame for a project he’s doing. It sounded like a fun idea. The Hall of Fame has been a topic of frequent discussion here in the past, and I annually do a project on the 50 best players not in Cooperstown. Off the top of my head, I can name 100-200 surefire Hall of Famers and another 50-100 who aren’t currently enshrined but make my list. It’s fun to make these kinds of lists. I guess it’s how my mind works, and I assume others who frequent this site think similarly.

An interesting thing happened when I started to write down names, though. After exhausting the obvious picks for me, I turned to and found a number of long-ago players I knew little about beyond stats. This threw me. Being into baseball history, I rely on statistics and basic sabermetrics to have a more complete understanding of the game, but I don’t like being utterly beholden to numbers, particularly when it comes to making a personal Hall of Fame. It kind of takes the fun out of it for me.

Faced with this dilemma months ago, I set my list aside and put off coming back to it. Recently, though, I had an epiphany that I’d rather share my personal Hall of Fame, imperfect though it may be than stay quiet. I talk myself out of writing posts to often for fear of being wrong or mediocre. I’m calling bullshit on this. I’d like to start writing more about baseball history again because I enjoy the process and it adds something to my life.

I will present the following names without comment besides to say a few things. One, I only considered players who’d been retired at least five years, though I’ve included a few guys who wouldn’t meet Cooperstown’s eligibility requirements. I also favor a big Hall of Fame; it wasn’t this way for me when I started this website a few years ago, though the more I’ve written about players not in Cooperstown, the more I’ve found guys worth celebrating. It doesn’t water down the institution to me to tell more of their stories. That being said, I imagine I neglected to include a few players here. If there’s one thing I know about Hall of Fame voting, it’s that it’s very easy to forget players. Even Babe Ruth only got 95 percent of the vote.

All this being said, here are the players for my personal Hall of Fame. Let me know who else belongs here:

  • Hank Aaron
  • Grover Cleveland Alexander
  • Dick Allen
  • Roberto Alomar
  • Cap Anson
  • Luis Aparicio
  • Richie Ashburn
  • Earl Averill
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Ernie Banks
  • Cool Papa Bell
  • Johnny Bench
  • Chief Bender
  • Yogi Berra
  • Craig Biggio
  • Bert Blyleven
  • Wade Boggs
  • Barry Bonds
  • Bobby Bonds
  • Ken Boyer
  • George Brett
  • Lou Brock
  • Dan Brouthers
  • Kevin Brown
  • Mordecai Brown
  • Roy Campanella
  • Rod Carew
  • Steve Carlton
  • Gary Carter
  • Bob Caruthers
  • Cesar Cedeno
  • Orlando Cepeda
  • Frank Chance
  • Ray Chapman
  • Oscar Charleston
  • Will Clark
  • John Clarkson
  • Roger Clemens
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Ty Cobb
  • Mickey Cochrane
  • Rocky Colavito
  • Eddie Collins
  • David Cone
  • Roger Connor
  • Sam Crawford
  • Jim Creighton
  • Joe Cronin
  • Bill Dahlen
  • Ray Dandridge
  • George Davis
  • Andre Dawson
  • Dizzy Dean
  • Ed Delahanty
  • Bill Dickey
  • Dom DiMaggio
  • Joe DiMaggio
  • Larry Doby
  • John Donaldson
  • Don Drysdale
  • Hugh Duffy
  • Dennis Eckersley
  • Darrell Evans
  • Dwight Evans
  • Johnny Evers
  • Bob Feller
  • Wes Ferrell
  • Rollie Fingers
  • Carlton Fisk
  • Curt Flood
  • Whitey Ford
  • Nellie Fox
  • Jimmie Foxx
  • Frankie Frisch
  • Pud Galvin
  • Lou Gehrig
  • Charlie Gehringer
  • Bob Gibson
  • Josh Gibson
  • Lefty Gomez
  • Dwight Gooden
  • Goose Goslin
  • Goose Gossage
  • Hank Greenberg
  • Bobby Grich
  • Lefty Grove
  • Ron Guidry
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Billy Hamilton
  • Isao Harimoto
  • Gabby Hartnett
  • Harry Heilmann
  • Rickey Henderson
  • Keith Hernandez
  • Orel Hershiser
  • Gil Hodges
  • Rogers Hornsby
  • Frank Howard
  • Dummy Hoy
  • Waite Hoyt
  • Carl Hubbell
  • Monte Irvin
  • Joe Jackson
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Ferguson Jenkins
  • Tommy John
  • Judy Johnson
  • Walter Johnson
  • Addie Joss
  • Al Kaline
  • Tim Keefe
  • Wee Willie Keeler
  • King Kelly
  • Harmon Killebrew
  • Ralph Kiner
  • Ted Kluszewski
  • Sandy Koufax
  • Nap Lajoie
  • Barry Larkin
  • Tony Lazzeri
  • Buck Leonard
  • Pop Lloyd
  • Kenny Lofton
  • Mickey Lolich
  • Ernie Lombardi
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Rabbit Maranville
  • Juan Marichal
  • Roger Maris
  • Dennis Martinez
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Eddie Mathews
  • Christy Mathewson
  • Don Mattingly
  • Willie Mays
  • Willie McCovey
  • Joe McGinnity
  • John McGraw (as a player)
  • Fred McGriff
  • Mark McGwire
  • Minnie Minoso
  • Johnny Mize
  • Paul Molitor
  • Joe Morgan
  • Jack Morris
  • Tony Mullane
  • Thurman Munson
  • Dale Murphy
  • Eddie Murray
  • Stan Musial
  • Don Newcombe
  • Kid Nichols
  • Phil Niekro
  • Lefty O’Doul
  • Buck O’Neil
  • Sadaharu Oh
  • Tony Oliva
  • Al Oliver
  • Mel Ott
  • Satchel Paige
  • Jim Palmer
  • Dave Parker
  • Gaylord Perry
  • Mike Piazza
  • Lip Pike
  • Vada Pinson
  • Eddie Plank
  • Spottswood Poles
  • Kirby Puckett
  • Dan Quisenberry
  • Old Hoss Radbourn
  • Tim Raines
  • Pee Wee Reese
  • Rick Reuschel
  • Sam Rice
  • Cal Ripken Jr.
  • Phil Rizzuto
  • Robin Roberts
  • Brooks Robinson
  • Frank Robinson
  • Jackie Robinson
  • Bullet Rogan
  • Pete Rose
  • Red Ruffing
  • Amos Rusie
  • Babe Ruth
  • Jimmy Ryan
  • Nolan Ryan
  • Ryne Sandberg
  • Ron Santo
  • Eiji Sawamura
  • Curt Schilling
  • Mike Schmidt
  • Tom Seaver
  • Al Simmons
  • Ted Simmons
  • George Sisler
  • Ozzie Smith
  • Duke Snider
  • Warren Spahn
  • Al Spalding
  • Tris Speaker
  • Victor Starffin
  • Willie Stargell
  • Vern Stephens
  • Dave Stieb
  • Harry Stovey
  • Don Sutton
  • Sam Thompson
  • Luis Tiant
  • Joe Torre
  • Alan Trammell
  • Cecil Travis
  • Fernando Valenzuela
  • George Van Haltren
  • Dazzy Vance
  • Arky Vaughan
  • Rube Waddell
  • Honus Wagner
  • Larry Walker
  • Ed Walsh
  • Paul Waner
  • Monte Ward
  • Willie Wells
  • Lou Whitaker
  • Deacon White
  • Hoyt Wilhelm
  • Billy Williams
  • Smokey Joe Williams
  • Ted Williams
  • Maury Wills
  • Dave Winfield
  • Smoky Joe Wood
  • Early Wynn
  • Carl Yastrzemski
  • Cy Young
  • Robin Yount

9 Replies to “My personal Hall of Fame: The inaugural class”

  1. Graham:

    I cannot agree enough with some of your choices, and my Cardinal allegiance will show through on some: Ted Simmons, Larry Walker, Curt Schilling, Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker. The one I want to ask about, because he has become controversial sabermetrically, is Lou Brock. Sure, Lou had 3,000 hits and all the steals but he also struck out all the time, never seemed to walk and didn’t seem to steal for a high percentage. I’m not meaning to be a whiner — without Lou the Cards wouldn’t have won pennants in ’64, ’67 and ’68, and he was an absolute postseason monster. I just want to know, in the modern context, how he makes your Hall.

  2. This is great, Graham. So, I see you didn’t assign any roles for how these players are “in”. Some are obvious (for their Negro or foreign careers, for example). Can you touch upon the following though, as for my project I’d like to know who you have in as a player?

    Monte Irvin: Do you have him in as a Negro Leaguer (as the HOF does) or do you have him as worthy for MLB?

    Ditto with Satchel Paige.

    How about Lefty O’Doul? As a player or for his combined contributions?

    And what about Lip Pike?

    Okay, next I wanted to look at the top players by Hall Rating that you didn’t include:
    – Luke Appling (146) – I’m guessing this is an error
    – Bobby Wallace (145) – Also an error?
    – Kevin Brown (138)
    – Lou Boudreau (132) – Guessing this is another error
    – Jack Glasscock (131) – Apparently I’m not working hard enough
    – Fred Clarke (129) – it’s Fred Clarke!
    – Hal Newhouser (128) – That’d be a pretty big WWII adjustment
    – Ted Lyons (126)
    – Graig Nettles (126)
    – Rafael Palmeiro (125)
    – Reggie Smith (125)
    – Vic Willis (125)

    Some others I was surprised to see left out:
    Home Run Baker
    Buck Ewing
    Clark Griffith (though maybe in with a combined role)
    Jesse Burkett
    Jake Beckley
    Bill Terry
    Jim O’Rourke
    Joe Medwick
    Elmer Flick
    Jimmy Collins
    Billy Herman
    Bobby Doerr

    I could go on. Lemme know if you want to see a complete Hall Rating list. 🙂

  3. @Adam — I included Lou Brock because it would’ve seemed weird to not have him in here. 3,000 hits, 938 steals and 118 in 1974 seems like more than enough for Cooperstown.

    @Adam Darowski — Yeah, I definitely forgot some guys. I’d love to see the Hall Rating list if you want to send something my way. Have you talked to Sean Forman about getting it included on Baseball-Reference?

  4. I sent the list over. Once you remove the guys not in for their MLB careers, your Hall even comes out smaller than mine. I’m sure you’ll add a bunch more, though. 🙂

    Interesting you have Sam Thompson in and Chuck Klein out. I kinda seem as the same version of each other from a different century.

  5. I appreciate the addition of some of the non-traditional players, e.g. Japanese/negro/historic. I was intrigued to read about Jim Creighton after not recognizing his name. Fascinating stuff.

  6. @Nick — Creighton’s got a fascinating story. My favorite thing about him is that he’s Mr. Burns’ right fielder who’s been dead for 130 years in the Simpson’s episode, “Homer at the Bat.”

    @Adam — Wouldn’t be surprised if my Hall of Fame grows by another 50-100 players in the next few months. This was just the inaugural class.

  7. Graham,
    Thanks for sharing this list. I too tend toward a large hall, and I am pleased to see that some of my favorite outsiders have made your list. I am a strong supporter of Dick Allen and Tony Oliva, and I believe that Kenny Lofton, Darrell Evans, Mickey Lolich, and Keith Hernandez among others deserve serious consideration for the Hall.
    Anyone who has a sincere interest in the Hall of Fame should go through the exercise of choosing their own HOF, if only to learn first hand how difficult some of the inclusion/exclusion decisions are. So, I applaud your efforts. That said, I hope you don’t mind if I challenge a few of your choices. Here’s a little exercise in “if X, why not Y?”
    1) If Roger Maris, why not Norm Cash?
    Yes, Maris won two MVP awards while Cash did not win any, but Cash’s best year (1961) just happened to coincide with Maris’. A look at WAR/162 games has Maris ahead by a narrow margin, but Cash had a substantially longer career. On balance, didn’t Cash deliver considerably more value than Maris?
    2) If Dom DiMaggio, why not Tim Salmon?
    DiMaggio’s best seasons were 1942 and 1946. In between, he missed three years to military service, so giving credit for his lost time, let’s say that he could have had a solid five-year peak. In a 14-year career, Salmon had at least eight and maybe ten seasons that offensively exceeded DiMaggio’s best. Granted, DiMaggio – being a DiMaggio – was better defensively, but by a large enough margin to offset Salmon’s better productivity with the bat?
    3) If Maury Wills, why not Dick Groat?
    I have commented on this site about the similarity between Wills and Groat. Their careers were of similar length (8306 PA for Wills; 8179 for Groat). The biggest difference between them is that Wills stole more bases, 572 more (586, versus Groat’s 14). But Wills hit only 177 doubles, while Groat hit 352. That’s a difference of 175 bases that Groat did not need to steal, because he was already on second base. The down side of attempting to steal bases is getting caught stealing. Wills was caught 208 times, versus 27 for Groat. Wills had a few more walks; Groat had a few more home runs. Wills earned more WAR (39.8 to Groat’s 36.8), but is he really worthy of enshrinement? With all due respect to Groat, the multi-sport Duke graduate, can a compelling HOF case really include the phrase, “he was marginally better than Dick Groat”?

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