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Monday, September 22, 2003

1910 Ballot

This is a very important election, as one of our backlogged candidates will finally get the keys to the exectutive washroom.

So let’s try to be very observant of our ‘best practices’ this week, including explaining votes that deviate wildly from the consensus, especially when you don’t vote for a returning top 10 guy. That would be: Joe Start, Pud Galvin, Bid McPhee, Cal McVey, Charlie Bennett, Harry Stovey, Jimmy Ryan, Frank Grant, Hugh Duffy and Sam Thompson. I know it sounds like a formality, but more than once I’ve been in the middle of explaining my ballot when I’ve realized I really don’t have a great justification for putting a guy in this particular spot, and I’ve adjusted. Kind of like the practice of forcing sports franchises to interview minority coaches. Sometimes, once you get the guy in there, you realize he’s a damn good candidate and you might not have otherwise even bothered to interview him.

Big vote this week, if you are in the middle of any relevant research, or haven’t reviewed your ballot in awhile, this is the week to take a second look. In 1906 a similar ballot was decided by 8.5 points. The following year, one of the two people that left the runner-up off moved him to #6 after reconsidering the evidence. Let’s avoid having that happen again, this time let’s all take an extra minute to review the arguments for an against the top candidates.

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: September 22, 2003 at 02:26 PM | 122 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. OCF Posted: September 29, 2003 at 03:45 PM (#517914)
Joe, I've got a comment written up and ready to go on the 1911 ballot discussion. Since it doesn't mention anyone who was eligible in 1910, it wouldn't be affected by the identity of the 1910 winner. There are some things we could get started on.
   102. jimd Posted: September 30, 2003 at 12:16 AM (#517918)
As a FOJW, I'm curious, Jason. Do you know the reason for this switch? Was it due to injury? Or something else? Whitney's ERA+ is essentially identical from 1883 to 1884, as is his DERA (from BProspectus), but he was sup-par in 1885. Buffinton took a big leap forward in 1884; Charlie's 1884 ERA+ is competitive with Whitney, and his DERA would appear to justify the switch.

After the 1885 season, Providence went under, and Boston acquired its old nemesis, Radbourn. Whitney would be the odd man out after his sub-par 1885, but I bet Boston immediately regretted losing him because Buffinton appears to have been hurt in 1886. Meanwhile, BP is of the opinion that Whitney turned in fine seasons in 1886 and 1887 playing for some really bad teams.
   103. Jeff M Posted: September 30, 2003 at 12:48 PM (#517919)
Does anyone recall whether we had a discussion somewhere on these boards about Lip Pike getting kicked out of the NL for throwing ballgames? Just curious, because he's hanging around the ballot (including #15 on mine) but I don't remember any discussions about it.
   104. DanG Posted: September 30, 2003 at 01:35 PM (#517920)
The incident happened after Pike's career was already effectively over. It seems founded mainly on suspicions of Pike and reputation. From the SABR Bioproject:

"Pike opened the [1881] season playing second base for his old Atlantic team in a minor league and working in the mercantile business. However, in late August he was called up by the National League Worchester Ruby Legs when Arthur Irwin was disabled. He joined Worchester on August 27th, played center field and batted second. In six games he went 3-for-25, a mere .120 batting average."

Pike's miserable play for the Worchester club led to controversy, as noted in The Baseball Chronology's account of events as the season of 1881 drew to a close:

September 3rd:
   105. Marc Posted: September 30, 2003 at 02:17 PM (#517921)
As to Pike's 3 errors, he had been a 2B-SS as a young man in the '60s but never played regularly in a ML IF. We know more about Frank Grant in the '90s than we know about Lip Pike's state of mind in '81.
   106. dan b Posted: September 30, 2003 at 03:04 PM (#517922)
3 errors in the 9th while playing CF! If Lip really needed to lose that game, he is lucky he got the opportunity.
   107. DanG Posted: September 30, 2003 at 03:14 PM (#517923)
As to Pike's 3 errors, he had been a 2B-SS as a young man in the '60s but never played regularly in a ML IF. We know more about Frank Grant in the '90s than we know about Lip Pike's state of mind in '81.

FWIW, Pike played from 2 to 24 games at second base every year 1871-77. CF was his primary position in his career, and where he played all 5 of his games in 1881. The fact that he was 36 and out of MLB since 1878 may have had something to do with his inept play.

Pike was what I believe they called a "revolver", frequently changing teams. I infer that he was quite the mercenary, having no loyalty but to himself. Whether this affected his worth to his teams is up to the voter to decide.
   108. Marc Posted: September 30, 2003 at 03:22 PM (#517924)
Dan, if Pike was a revolver it reflects more on the teams and the system than on Pike himself. There are a lot of revolvers in MLB today by the same logic.
   109. DanG Posted: September 30, 2003 at 04:05 PM (#517925)
Marc, would you read anything into the fact that Pike spent his career playing for also-rans? Why didn't Boston or the Philly A's ever sign him? He never played more than two years for anyone.
   110. Marc Posted: September 30, 2003 at 05:19 PM (#517926)
Dan, I wouldn't know what to read into that. This board is going to elect Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, and already has elected Cap Anson. What we *know* about Lip Pike's character defects is zilch. Even whatever we might care to *infer* about Lip Pike's character defects hardly stacks up to what we do *know* about others.'

Ernie Banks spent his career playing for also-rans.
   111. sean gilman Posted: September 30, 2003 at 08:54 PM (#517928)
I thought we were specifically instructed to ignore character issues. . .
   112. Carl Goetz Posted: September 30, 2003 at 09:13 PM (#517929)
Allegations of game throwing are definitely relevant to a player's on-field play and are rightly allowed consideration in these elections. The 'character issues' that are not supposed to be considered are things like Ty Cobb being a jerk or Cap Anson being a racist ***hole.
   113. Marc Posted: September 30, 2003 at 09:51 PM (#517930)
You guys are now officially a lynch mob.

Carl, allegations are one thing. Allegations. There's a story and it offers no conclusion. The simple fact of the allegation seems to be plenty for you. Well, there are allegations that Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker either threw a game or knowingly looked the other way when a game was being thrown. Do you have any intention of applying the same standard of fairness to all players or only to this one?

As to his being a "revolver," what are you guys all CEOs or what? You don't work for a living? He took the highest offer? String him up! How do you plan to judge players post-1972 for being revolvers, or again, is this standard just for Lip Pike? As a Twins fan, I guess I'll refuse to vote for Rod Carew. He went out west for more money, the bum.

We don't know s*** about Lip Pike's character. We heard a story.
   114. Marc Posted: September 30, 2003 at 09:54 PM (#517931)
PS. Cap Anson WAS a racist ***hole. That is not an allegation.
   115. Marc Posted: September 30, 2003 at 10:41 PM (#517933)
Jason, I just don't get sentences like "He had a rep of going wherever the money was best and leaving everyone else high and dry." What is this "high and dry" besides somewhere between melodrama and hysteria? I mean I understand the first part. He worked for a living and he accepted the best offer--you know, the money that the team owner put on the table in competition with the other team owner? How a player can have bad character in this tale of woe and the teams and owners and league and system be all rosy smelling, I don't know. The whole Boston Red Stockings crew did exactly the same thing at various times. Most of them went to Chicago with Al Spalding and left poor old Harry Wright (cue the violins) "high and dry."

So 1) this just sounds to me like a special standard for Lip Pike and nobody else, both then and now. (You didn't say how you will treat the modern revolvers since Curt Flood and Andy Messersmith and Catfish Hunter.)

But 2) even if it were just Lip Pike who "revolved," I just can't raise this to a character defect.....like I said, Jason, you work for a living or what?

As for the game throwing, that is a separate issue but there are several stories of players who were blackballed for no good reason, Charlie Jones for one. The team owners/robber barons who brought the charges to the league were the same people who then sat in judgement of those charges. There may have been no more than one guy who was out to get Lip Pike. So with nothing better than this story, I just can't attach too much significance to any of this. We don't know s*** about Lip Pike's character.
   116. jimd Posted: October 01, 2003 at 01:15 AM (#517935)
I don't know where Pike played before 1870, but he's listed with the Brooklyn Atlantics that season. The Atlantics stayed on the sidelines when the NA started in 1871, so a number of them signed with other clubs, Pike with Troy. Troy would go under midseason 1872; Pike may or may not have have sensed that, but in any case Pike (and York and Craver) "revolved" to the well-financed new team, the Lord Baltimores that would finish second in 1872 and 3rd in 1873. Just about everybody left that team after 1873; Pike would manage the new Hartford team in 1874. Replaced by old Atlantic teammate Bob Ferguson as manager, Pike would go to the new St. Louis team for 1875 and 1876 that was managed by another old Atlantic teammate, Dickey Pearce in 1875. In 1877 he moved to Cincinnati as player-manager again, though the manager part didn't last long; the team finished last. McVey was brought in to manage and had the team in contention in 1878 (bringing along Deacon White with brother/pitcher Will didn't hurt). Pike didn't last the season, though his offensive stats still look good (but slipping); BP has his defense as below replacement in both 1877 and 78. The new Providence team gave him a tryout at 2B (York is now playing there) and that was it (until the Worcester callup in 1881).

I find it difficult to really question any of the individual moves in either the sense of "Why didn't he stay?" or "Why did the team let him go?" The overall pattern may seem excessive but that could just be circumstance.
   117. jimd Posted: October 01, 2003 at 01:27 AM (#517936)
Forgot to mention that as manager with Hartford in 1874, his team was 7th out of 8 teams, finishing ahead of a bad Baltimore team that had retained NONE of its 1873 starters, presumably due to financial problems. Pike wasn't much as a manager, but that's not what we're evaluating here.
   118. Chris Cobb Posted: October 01, 2003 at 01:49 AM (#517937)
Thanks, jimd, for posting the links to your previous posts! They were exactly what I was looking for!
   119. jimd Posted: October 01, 2003 at 02:21 AM (#517938)
for posting the links to your previous posts!

If you're looking for them here, they were posted on another thread, there.
   120. Marc Posted: October 01, 2003 at 02:32 AM (#517939)
Let me try again. What is wrong with the above exchange re. Lip Pike? I guess that SABRites are about as skeptical as anybody, and of course anybody dealing with history should be skeptical, knowing that historical records are often subjective, partial, etc. But where is the skepticism in this case? Let's just pretend we were talking about Joe Jackson and we read something like this. What would the response be?

>September 3rd: "Center fielder Lip Pike makes 3 errors in the 9th inning to give Boston 2 runs and a 3-2 victory over Worchester. The losing club immediately accuses Pike of throwing the game and suspends him."

I would have thought that maybe we would want to know:

1. Is this accurate? Has anybody seen a box score? Did he make 3 errors? Even these kinds of details often turn out to be wrong.

2. If he did, what happened? Were they tough plays? Throwing or catching errors? All on one play, two plays, three plays? Did he go hard or dog it? What happened?

3. Who representing the losing club accused him of throwing the game? His teammates? The manager, the owner? What basis, other than the events on the field, did they give? Was he seen consorting with gamblers? Was there any other basis?

4. Did anyone come to his defense? Did Lip say anything? Is there a contrary version of events?

Then:

>September 29th: "At a National League meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the league adopts a blacklist of players who are barred from playing for or against any NL team until they are removed by the unanimous vote of the league clubs. These men are: Sadie Houck, Lip Pike, Lou Dickerson, Mike Dorgan, Bill Crowley, John Fox, Lew Brown, Emil Gross, and Ed Caskins."

1. Who initiated the idea of this blacklist? Who put Pike's name on it? Why? Was it based on the September 3 incident? What evidence was offered against Pike? Was there other evidence? Was there an account of the events of September 3? If so, was it identical to the one above or was there other information? What was it? What else did the NL know (or think it knew) that we don't know when it voted to blacklist Lip Pike? Were there discrepancies between the account of September 3 and the one the league heard?

2. Was Pike allowed to defend himself, or was anyone allowed to speak on his behalf? If not, why not? If so, what did they say?

3. Was there a unanimous vote? Was there a split vote? Was there any dispute about the action taken? Was the action ever rescinded? On what basis?

OK you get the point.

And thanks to jimd for putting that other even more spurious black mark against Pike's character to bed and saving me from posting all the obvious questions about his alleged "revolving"--i.e. c'mon, what were the circumstances? Were his decisions evidence of bad faith? (No, they weren't.)

>That sure as hell tells me a a lot more than S**T about his character and puts some hard context on some of the more vague accusations from earlier in his career.

So in sum, your hard context is a particular set of "facts" that have not been subjected to any scrutiny or skepticism or further research or curiosity at all, even knowing that their proponents later took action to welcome him back into the game! Until substantiated these are bad facts. And the inference from revolving to throwing games is a bad inference from bad facts, all of which would have been tempered a lot by even a little bit of the healthy skepticism and curiosity that we usually express here.

Now, I don't know, maybe Lip Pike was a bum. I don't know. But neither does any of us.
   121. Marc Posted: October 01, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#517940)
And just one other question: Wouldn't a normal curiosity lead one to ask whether Pike was unpopular with his team and/or some teammates or whether his alleged "revolving" (which jimd has shown not to be excessive BTW), but whether any of this or maybe ALL of this was simply because he was Jewish and he met with anti-Semitism in the MLs. It seems very likely that he did meet with anti-Semitism. Maybe all of the allegations of "bad character" were motivated by same. It seems that a normal curiosity would say, gosh, I wonder!?

I just can't believe the conclusions that have been jumped to and the inferences drawn on one version of one event that happened 122 years ago (and was rescinded by the NL)!
   122. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 13, 2003 at 05:45 PM (#517941)
Uh, Joe...? :-)
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