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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Should we change eligibility for Negro Leaguers?

This comment from OCF inspired this thread:

“Too late now, but this is another case in which in might have been nice, when this project was set up in the first place, to have eligibility keyed to a certain fixed age (like 45) rather than five years after retirement. We are right now discussing outfielders of the aughts. We’ve elected Flick, we’re debating Sheckard, and Magee will be on the ballot soon. Hill’s career started in the same year as Crawford, and Crawford will be eligible before Hill is. These are Hill’s contemporaries.”

I don’t think it’s too late OCF. I think Negro Leaguers should be eligible either 5 years after they retire, or the election that would be for their age 45 season, whichever comes first.

Partially because the top-to-bottom quality of the Negro Leagues was not quite at major league level (though the stars were surely as great as their white counterparts), many Negro Leaguers played well into their 40s.

I think this is a very reasonable ‘tweak’ to the system. Thoughts?

Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: February 15, 2004 at 06:14 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. karlmagnus Posted: February 15, 2004 at 11:12 PM (#521863)
Sounds a good idea -- would be good to get some Negro League players into the '24-32 gap, so we can elect enough NL players from the early years before rushing to enshrine the 1939 Kansas City Monarchs.
   2. Chris Cobb Posted: February 16, 2004 at 02:15 AM (#521864)
I'm in favor of the change also, though I think 47 might give us a little more clearance between the last good seasons of some of the great negro leaguers and their first year of eligibility. Pop Lloyd may be the extreme case, but he had a great year in 1928 when he was 44, so I'd feel better about him becoming eligible in 1931 rather than 1929.

Also, if we make a rule change, there would need to be a decision about Grant "Home Run" Johnson's first year of eligibility. If he is eligible in his age 45 season, he would have reached eligibility in 1919: he's slated to reach the ballot under the current rules in 1922. If we go with the age 47 season, he'd come onto the ballot in 1921.

Pete Hill will be 45 in 1925.
   3. MattB Posted: February 16, 2004 at 03:04 AM (#521865)
Put my vote down for "No Change."

First, their longevity is part of the case for their greatness.

Second, I think that with eternal eligibility, flooding the ballots earlier would be as likely to crowd out the early guys (among the heavier timeliners) as it would help the later guys through early admission.

Finally, not really necessary. We're currently managing the Amos Rusie/ Joe McGinnity issue well enough (born the same year, eligible ten years apart), I don't think Crawford/ Hill will cause a bigger problem, or at least, won't be any more problematic because of the ballot timing.
   4. Jim Sp Posted: February 16, 2004 at 03:14 AM (#521866)
I'm in favor of this change. I don't think "baseball ages" were much of a problem in this era, were they?
   5. Chris Cobb Posted: February 16, 2004 at 02:04 PM (#521870)
The "as long as they are retired for at least one year" tweak effectively addresses my concerns and does a better job than my "eligible at 47" rule would have done. Am I applying the rule correctly, using the example of Pete Hill, if I say, "Pete Hill retired as a player after the 1925 season, when he was 45 years old, so he becomes eligible for the 1927 election"?

As for Grant Johnson, he will have been affected whether we implement the rule immediately or wait. It wouldn't be fair to him or us to declare him eligible for the 1920 election at this point, so I'd suggest making the rule change official for the 1921 election and declaring Johnson eligible at that point.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: February 16, 2004 at 02:29 PM (#521871)
I'll vote "against," without any rancor.
   7. Marc Posted: February 16, 2004 at 04:10 PM (#521872)
Yes. Not that I care about "cohorts." I have no active sense of who the Negro Leaguers white cohorts are. It is all new regardless. But let's just get 'em on the ballot sooner than later, get the discussion and the learning and ranking started. That alone will further our purpose and the cause of justice.
   8. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 16, 2004 at 05:38 PM (#521874)
Works for me. I'd support the change.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 16, 2004 at 06:09 PM (#521876)
I'm indifferent to any changes concerning eligibility. Since I don't work on a timeline for my HoM choices, it's irrelevant to me.
   10. Chris Cobb Posted: February 16, 2004 at 06:21 PM (#521878)
I guess I'm missing something here--what would we be avoiding by making this change?

Mark, basically we'd be ensuring that negro league players and their white major league contemporaries would be entering the ballot at more like the same time relative to their primes as players. This change would make for fairer rankings, at least from the perspective of those voters for whom a players' standing in relation to his immediate contemporaries is highly important.

Because the economics and the level of competition in the negro leagues were different from the majors, the top players tended to play at the highest level of competition available well into their forties. Pete Hill played until he was 45, Pop Lloyd played until he was 47 or 48, and so on. If we wait until five years after they retire, they will tend to enter the ballot at least five years after their true contemporaries -- white ballplayers of the same age -- have reached the ballot. Pete Hill, for example, is the same age as Sam Crawford and four years older than Sherry Magee. Hill and Crawford broke in at the same time, but Crawford retired at a pretty typical major-league age: 37, so he hits the ballot in 1923. Magee was four years younger but retired fairly young (and died young, too, come to that), so he will reach the ballot in 1925. Hill won't reach the ballot according to our current system until 1931. With major-leaguers, we typically adjust for these types of disparities (which do exist) by noting who the still-active contemporaries are (when we assess Walsh & McGinnity we remember Mathewson and Plank) . Since the Negro-League players tend to be off our radar until they near eligibility, this sort of adjustment is harder to make, and since those players tended to have longer careers at the highest level of competition available, this sort of adjustment will be consistently needed. Changing the formula for eligibility for negro-league players seems a simple, effective way of building this adjustment into the system.
   11. MattB Posted: February 16, 2004 at 07:13 PM (#521879)
I don't object strongly, but now I'm thinking it won't make a difference much either way.

A Negro League candidate is going to fall into two categories:

1. Top Candidate. Rube Foster or Oscar Charleston will come onto the ballot in the Top 5 (or, sometimes Top 1) no matter who else is on the ballot that year.

2. Everyone else. I remember debating when Sam Thompson would be eligible. It turns out it hardly mattered, since he's been bouncing around everyone's mid-ballot for going-on a generation now. These players who don't come in with "Top Candidate" status (running the gamut from Frank Grant to Jake Beckley, say) have to both wait their turn among those who they start out below and fight off all the newcomers.

I guess my point is that if a candiate is borderline, it hardly matters if he gets on the ballot in 1925 or 1930, because if he gets on in 1925, he'll still be on the ballot in 1930 anway.
   12. RobC Posted: February 16, 2004 at 07:49 PM (#521880)
I dont really care, I think MattB is right. But just to clarify, Negro leaguers with a significant MLB career would still follow the 5 year rule, correct?
   13. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: February 16, 2004 at 08:20 PM (#521883)
Rube Foster or Oscar Charleston will come onto the ballot in the Top 5 (or, sometimes Top 1) no matter who else is on the ballot that year.

I doubt it. Foster, in particular, probably won't make it on (or even near) most ballots. Evidence of his greatness is no better established than Monroe or Grant, both of whom are ignored by a very large number of voters.

I think Foster was a great player, but the type of hard-core statistical evidence a lot of voters demand is absent in his case, as it is for other pre-NNL players.
   14. Marc Posted: February 16, 2004 at 09:59 PM (#521884)
MattB wrote:

>I guess my point is that if a candiate is borderline, it hardly matters if he gets on the ballot in 1925 or 1930,
   15. OCF Posted: February 16, 2004 at 10:33 PM (#521886)
I guess I started this ruckus. I don't feel all that strongly either way, and can live with whatever is decided. I was responding to a post of Chris Cobb's in which Chris said he had a strong case for Pete Hill and gave a preview of that case - but not really the whole case. I just wanted to see the rest of that case sooner rather than later.

I also thought we gave Amos Rusie an unfair advantage by considering him as early as we did. Looking back, it is now clear that Rusie does belong in the HoM, but the order we consider players may have had some hard-to-decipher effects in the years without dominant candidates.
   16. Steve Posted: February 16, 2004 at 10:49 PM (#521887)
Everyone knows that Joe completely sucks and that I was by far the superior host of Blue's Clues.

Then I starting losing my hair and had the world's earliest mid-life crisis, causing me to think I was a rock star, because it was the only logical way to explain why I chose to shave my head.

Besides, Joe should know by now that he never finds the Clues until AFTER the kids at home point them out to him.
   17. EricC Posted: February 16, 2004 at 11:48 PM (#521888)
One more vote for "don't care either way". I agree with MattB on this one- I don't see it making much difference. (By the way, when putting "Foster" on your ballot, be sure to indicate which one. :-) )
   18. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 17, 2004 at 05:27 AM (#521891)
I'm even more confused by this than I am by the need to make special rules for Negro Leaguers...

LOL

I take it you don't get the pleasure of watching Nickelodeon in the morning?
   19. MattB Posted: February 17, 2004 at 02:47 PM (#521892)
"I'm even more confused by this than I am by the need to make special rules for Negro Leaguers..."

I guess we can tell who doesn't have any pre-school-aged children.

My daughter believes that the television has three networks, "PBS Kids," "Nick Jr." and the channel you can watch videos on.
   20. Carl Goetz Posted: February 17, 2004 at 04:17 PM (#521894)
Count me as a vote for the change(including Joe's Tweaks), but leaving Johnson until 1921.
   21. ronw Posted: February 17, 2004 at 05:18 PM (#521895)
So Steve and Joe were born the same year, but Steve is eligible 13 years earlier? Wow, I'm going to need the thinking chair for this one.

On the main question I'm in favor of the change.
   22. Blue Posted: February 17, 2004 at 06:48 PM (#521896)
Ba-bop-ba-ba!
   23. MattB Posted: February 17, 2004 at 07:36 PM (#521897)
Any chance that my son will think that the TV's only three networks are: 1) the one that plays Buckeye football, 2) the one that shows baseball games, and 3) ESPN Classic?

My daughter during the Superbowl: "No daddy! I don't like baseball!"

Me: "Good. This isn't baseball. This is football."

My daughter: "I want to watch Dora [the Explorer]!"

Me: "Dora's not on now. The Superbowl is on."

My daughter: "But I don't like baseball!"

Me: "Do you like bedtime?"

My daughter: sulks.

Sometimes it's good to be the father.
   24. Marc Posted: February 17, 2004 at 10:30 PM (#521898)
>(By the way, when putting "Foster" on your ballot, be sure to indicate which one. :-) )

Seriously, I just realized there are two old-time pitchers to choose from. Rube is the Harry Wright of the Negro Leagues and a "good" pitcher. Willie or Bill or Big Bill Foster is the one we want to be voting for, one of the top 4 or 6 or 10 black pitchers pre-Gibson.
   25. Mike Posted: February 21, 2004 at 03:27 AM (#521899)
Willie Foster is definately one of the five best pitchers in Negro League history.
   26. DanG Posted: February 26, 2004 at 08:49 PM (#521900)
Assuming we're now using this rule:

Negro Leaguers are eligible either 5 years after they retire, or the election that would be for their age 45 season (as long as they are retired for at least one year), whichever comes first.

It makes the candidate gap 1924-32 a bit more interesting, with Pete Hill coming on in 1927.

What it really does is set up the 1934 election as the strongest crop of newbies ever, by far. MLB stars Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins and Stan Coveleski are joined by 1932 retirees Pop Lloyd (age 49) and Smokey Joe Williams (age 47), 1929 retiree Ben Taylor in his age-45 season and 1928 retiree Cristobal Torriente. Wow.
   27. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 26, 2004 at 09:04 PM (#521901)
What it really does is set up the 1934 election as the strongest crop of newbies ever, by far. MLB stars Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins and Stan Coveleski are joined by 1932 retirees Pop Lloyd (age 49) and Smokey Joe Williams (age 47), 1929 retiree Ben Taylor in his age-45 season and 1928 retiree Cristobal Torriente. Wow.

Boy, that's going to be a tough one!
   28. Marc Posted: February 26, 2004 at 10:38 PM (#521903)
Sorry, even in that company, if we're electing two, it ain't hard.

1. Cobb, 2. Speaker, 3. Collins, 4. Lloyd, 5. Williams, 6. Torriente, 7. Dickey Pearce (hopefully Charlie Bennett will have "rolled" into the HoM by then or else I might have to put him at #1.)

How'm I doin'?
   29. DanG Posted: February 27, 2004 at 03:40 PM (#521905)
Sure, 1934 should not be that hard. But 1933 could very well be the last good chance for some of the 19th century left-outs to make it. As new voters come in and our attention turns more to Negro leaguers and recent, familiar candidates, the old-timers may never be able to muster enough support for election.
   30. DanG Posted: April 18, 2004 at 05:14 AM (#521907)
Getting this thread back on the board, since it has come up a couple times recently in the New Eligibles thread.

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