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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Mickey Cochrane

I love the picture on the cover of The New Bill James Historical Absract of Black Mike trying to tag Pepper Martin during the ‘34 World Series.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 11, 2005 at 02:44 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 11, 2005 at 02:54 AM (#1071125)
hot topics
   2. Flynn Posted: January 11, 2005 at 06:57 AM (#1071648)
That's in Yankee Stadium, and it wasn't during the Series, John.
   3. Flynn Posted: January 11, 2005 at 07:03 AM (#1071668)
I just realized that makes me sound like an anal, pedantic prat.

Sorry. I'm just sayin', that's not where it was photographed.
   4. Buddha Posted: January 11, 2005 at 02:28 PM (#1072052)
one of my favorite Tigers of all time. I was crushed when he was chosen one pick ahead of mine in my DMB draft... : (
   5. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 11, 2005 at 04:25 PM (#1072209)
Sorry. I'm just sayin', that's not where it was photographed.

No problem, Dock. If I screwed up, I screwed up.

That runner sure looks like Pepper, though.
   6. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: January 11, 2005 at 07:17 PM (#1072671)
I was just looking at his b-r page, and I saw that all his games were at catcher, except for 1 game in LF for the A's in 1932. Just curious, does anyone know if there's a story there?
   7. Andrew M Posted: January 12, 2005 at 01:58 AM (#1073681)
SABR's bio project entry on Cochrane says the famous photo was taken during a 1933 exhibition game. Perhaps that explains why there appears to be about 75 people in the grandstand. No idea though who the baserunner is, but that could well be a Cardinals cap.
   8. Brent Posted: January 19, 2005 at 04:02 AM (#1087889)
Two or three comments on the ballot thread have justified low votes for Mickey Cochrane on the grounds that his career was “too short.” I think this idea represents a misunderstanding of baseball history. Although Cochrane's career was unfortunately cut short by a beaning, it is important to understand that for a pre-war catcher, Cochrane's career was not short.

At the end of 1937 when Cochrane retired, he ranked 6th in career games caught, 276 games behind Ray Schalk, the leader:

1.  Schalk Ray      1727
2.  McGuire Deacon  1611
3.  Hartnett Gabby  1568
4.  O'Neill Steve   1532
5.  Sewell Luke     1476
6.  Cochrane Mickey 1451
7.  Schang Wally    1435
8.  Ruel Muddy      1410
9.  O'Farrell Bob   1338
10. Wilson Jimmie   1333


It's true that since World War II the standard for career games caught has increased somewhat. But the conditions and equipment of pre-war catching did not permit catching 2000 games. Almost all of us agree that deadball-era batting statistics shouldn't be directly compared to 1920s statistics without adjusting for the differences in the batting environment. The same principle ought to apply to catching--career length of catchers needs to be compared relative to the standards of the time. Cochrane should be recognized as a great catcher who had a long career by the standards of his time.
   9. Howie Menckel Posted: January 19, 2005 at 04:56 AM (#1087951)
This is interesting......


» February 2, 1936: The baseball writers vote for the first players to be named to the new Baseball Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson each receive the requisite 75 percent of ballots cast. Active players also are eligible in this first election, with Rogers Hornsby finishing 9th, Mickey Cochrane 10th, Lou Gehrig 15th, and Foxx 19th. Tainted former star Hal Chase receives 11 votes for 25th place, and Joe Jackson has two votes to tie for 36th place.
   10. TomH Posted: January 19, 2005 at 03:05 PM (#1088283)
top 8 finishers in the original HoF election among 20th century players

T Cobb 98%
H Wagner 95%
B Ruth 95%
C Mathewson 91%
W Johnson 84%
N Lajoie 65%
T Speaker 59%
C Young 41%

Among 19th century players, none received the required 3/4ths majority vote. Top finishers were:

Buck Ewing 50%
Cap Anson 50%
Willie Keeler 42%
Cy Young 41%

Poor Cy had to wait a year since his vote totals split across the centuries (like Pedro or Bonds would for 1900s/2000s)
   11. jonesy Posted: January 23, 2005 at 02:34 PM (#1096310)
Here are a couple of observations I made about Cochrane during my Ferrell research. Not that they mean a lot.

Charlie Bevis is the real Cochrane expert. He wrote the SABR bio project and the McFarland bio on Black Mike.

Charlie and I both have connections to the area that Cochrane grew up in. MIckey's father outlived him by about five years and Mickey's on, who was killed in WW II, are buried in the local family plot.

1. Cochrane never faced lefthanded pitching during his Detroit years. He also was platooned early in career, Bevis telling me that in 1928 he platooned with right-handed hitting catcher Jimmy Foxx.

2. Cochrane was an outfielder until turning pro and Mack said he was a horrible catcher when he arrived in the majors. Mack was unable to strictly platoon Cochrane in 1925 because he and Grove were such a horrible combination. Cochrane couldn't catch and Grove had no control. Cy Perkins started catching Grove.

3. Cochrane soon turned himself into a good defensive catcher but his arm was always suspect. Note that Cochrane, despite having maybe his best year in 1932, drew zero MVP votes while Bill Dickey and Rick Ferrell receuved votes. Bevis feels that was residual from the '31 Series when the Cards ran over his arm.

4. I found a number of years in the '31-'36 period when Rick Ferrell actually outhit both Cochrane and Dickey (based strictly on batting average) for the first half to three quarters of the season. Cochrane usually hit (for average) much better in the second half of the season. Likely this accounts for Ferrell's many All-Star appearances.

5. Cochrane batted in two of the greatest lineups of all time, the A's and the Tigers of the 30s, and Dickey for the great Yankee teams. Cochrane, with his OBP scored a lot of runs, and Dickey drove in a lot. Both were often platooned. Rick Ferrell was never platooned in the '31-'38 period, missing his time due to injury. Dickey off course took advantage of right field in NY. Ferrell was a powerful line drive hitter who played in parks (STL, WA, BOS) not compatible to his swing (for homers) and in lineups with a lot less scoring to derive his share from. I never have gotten a true sense of Cochrane's power. His HR numbers seem inconsistent.

None of this means much accept that Rick Ferrell was considered much closer to Cochrane and Dickey by the observers of the day than he is remembered for today.
   12. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 23, 2005 at 03:50 PM (#1096334)
None of this means much accept that Rick Ferrell was considered much closer to Cochrane and Dickey by the observers of the day than he is remembered for today.

But we know better today. :-)

With that said, he's not a horrible HOF selection like Kelly or Haines.
   13. Paul Wendt Posted: January 23, 2005 at 05:04 PM (#1096383)
Here is some illustration, without narrow HOM illumination, drawn from chapter one of Mickey Cochrane, Baseball: The Fan's Game (1939, SABR reprint 1992).

"I started out at B.U. something of a football sensation and played four years of varsity ball. I couldn't make the baseball team until my junior year" [1922?].

"I had experienced little trouble with football. But baseball was a sport of another order. I tried the outfield. I tried the infield. I pitched a couple of games; and once I caught, against Tufts. It was not versatility which shifted me around the diamond. The managers and coaches were anxious to find a place where I would be less likely to get hurt--where I could remain with the least damage to the team until it came my turn to bat."

Evidently 1923, Cochrane played in the Eastern Shore League under MLB catcher Jiggs Donahue. He once overheard Donahue say to one of the owners,
"He may not be a catcher, but he's a hitter. And as a hitter he stays. He'll learn to catch if I have to beat it into him, and you will not be sorry you kept him."
At the end of the season, "I was toying with the notion that I was a born outfielder."

Connie Mack purchased him from Portland PCL after the 1924 season. . . . "I did learn how to catch under Mr. Mack."
   14. jonesy Posted: January 23, 2005 at 07:57 PM (#1096563)
"With that said, he's not a horrible HOF selection like Kelly or Haines."

Indeed, Baseball-Reference's HOF Monitor shows Rick Ferrell at 109, over the required 100 threshold, and 129th best of all-time (if I am interpreting that correctly).
   15. OCF Posted: January 23, 2005 at 08:52 PM (#1096655)
I found a number of years in the '31-'36 period when Rick Ferrell actually outhit both Cochrane and Dickey (based strictly on batting average) for the first half to three quarters of the season.

What Paul LoDuca would have been had LoDuca become a regular at age 23?

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