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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Darowski: Bill Nicholson: The Best Player I’d Never Heard Of

Ya know…I can’t even think of the best player I never heard of.

Bill Nicholson is the best player I had never heard of.

I recently came across Willis Hudlin and his Hall Rating of 49. That led me to wonder who the best players were that I had never heard of. By “never heard of”, I mean I couldn’t tell you either the general era they played in or their position just by looking at their name. For example, I don’t know much about Murry Dickson, but I knew he was a pitcher. So, he counts as “someone I’ve heard of”.

So, Nicholson was the best player I had never heard of. That kind of surprises me, as he was pretty valuable. With 39.9 WAR and a Hall Rating of 74, he had a pretty great career.

...Nicholson’s list of similar players starts with Hall of Famer Earle Combs and includes Dolph Camilli, Darryl Strawberry, David Justice, Ken Williams, and Kent Hrbek. That gives you an idea of the type of player he was.

So, why haven’t I heard of him? It’s probably because all of his accomplishments pointed out in the list above took place during World War II, when many stars were overseas. Nicholson was not—and he dominated.

I know I have seen Nicholson’s name before. But I think I subconsciously associated him with Dave Nicholson, the TTO (Three True Outcomes) legend. I think because I’m so familiar with Dave (relatively speaking, compared to his actual body of work), I assumed that he and Bill were the same person. I was wrong—and I’ve been missing out on a pretty good player.

Repoz Posted: January 23, 2013 at 07:35 PM | 122 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4353744)
Mailed away & got his autograph as a kid (ditto for Earle Combs, mentioned as a comparison), as it happens.
   2. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:22 PM (#4353753)
Bill Nicholson is the best player I had never heard of.


Meh, I'd heard of both of them

using WAR, the best player I cannot recall having heard of was:
Art Fletcher (I paused on Jimmy Sheckard but I thunk I'd heard the name...)

Fletcher was an SS, and BBREF WAR loves his defense, I think WAR fielding runs for Fletcher's era are quite speculative... so perhaps Larry Gardner, a 3B from the same era- as a hitter Gardner was pretty much Pie Traynor- in fact you could stick his post prime 1920-21 statlines into Traynor's and they would not look out of place- but Gardner spend the bulk of his carer and his prime in the teens when offense was VERY low
Traynor also had the great glove rep (I have no idea what Gardner's rep was, never heard of him before afterall)- but WAR likes Gardner's glove a bit better (but doesn't love or hate either man's dee)

WAR gives Gardner a 10 WAR advantage over Traynor, but neither man is close to the HOM's 60 WAR line
   3. Tim D Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:24 PM (#4353754)
Prime years were during the war when he was playing against watered-down competition. But a good player who I am guessing you would have heard of had you grown up a Cubs fan.
   4. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:26 PM (#4353755)
Looking more at Gardner- played in 4 WS and doesn't appear to have hit a lick- but did have 2 homers and 6 ribbies in the 1916 WS- Ruth was the pitching star...

   5. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:35 PM (#4353756)
Traynor also had the great glove rep (I have no idea what Gardner's rep was, never heard of him before afterall)-


Strat-O-Matic, which does a lot of research into its fielding ratings, rates him a "2" in 1911, and a "1" (the highest rating) in 1920.
   6. BDC Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:36 PM (#4353757)
By WAR, the first name I knew nothing about was Jack Stivetts, a 19th-century pitcher considerably above Fletcher or Gardner. But now I've heard of him. This is the original self-consuming party game :)

Nicholson I knew about, of course, because my father was a 13-year-old Cub fan in 1943. I also know about Lennie Merullo, and Lou Novikoff, the Mad Russian.

I'm actually just glad that the greatest player I'd never heard of isn't active. I probably know more ballplayers from the 1940s than I do from the 2010s. Certainly I know more from the 1960s and 70s.
   7. JJ1986 Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:43 PM (#4353759)
I think Charlie Buffinton is the highest by WAR that I don't recognize.
   8. Steve Treder Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4353761)
I probably know more ballplayers from the 1940s than I do from the 2010s. Certainly I know more from the 1960s and 70s.

That's me, too. I memorized the entire baseball encyclopedia through the mid-1970s. (And that's not much of an exaggeration.) Then I graduated from high school, and real life, school, marriage, kids, career etc. rudely made their presence known.
   9. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4353763)
Bradley (mentioned in the article) was the one guy I didn't know.
As for Roy Thomas, somebody buy him a first Ed. Bjhba
   10. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 23, 2013 at 08:57 PM (#4353765)
That's me, too. I memorized the entire baseball encyclopedia through the mid-1970s.

Please tell me you were like 12 years old? Because if you were around 16-17, I would have to assume you didn't get laid much...
   11. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 23, 2013 at 09:02 PM (#4353768)
Please tell me you were like 12 years old? Because if you were around 16-17, I would have to assume you didn't get laid much...

So if he were 12 you'd assume he was getting laid all the time?
   12. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 23, 2013 at 09:32 PM (#4353774)
Maybe. Did he live in the Happy Valley?
   13. puck Posted: January 23, 2013 at 10:25 PM (#4353785)
As for Roy Thomas, somebody buy him a first Ed. Bjhba

Apparently you could have one and still not know.

I'm bad with pre 1920's baseball. I didn't have to get very far down on the WAR leader list. I couldn't tell you anything about Eddie Plank or Roger Connor.
   14. puck Posted: January 23, 2013 at 10:28 PM (#4353786)
Geez, evidently if your career ended before 1900 and you don't have a twitter account, I probably know nothing about you, if I've even heard of you.
   15. Harlond Posted: January 23, 2013 at 10:29 PM (#4353787)
Frank Dwyer is the one name on that list I don't recognize. Years of playing the Bill James Classic Game will do that.
   16. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 23, 2013 at 10:41 PM (#4353791)
My definition of having heard of somebody is that I know whether he was a pitcher or a hitter. And by that definition, the best player by BB-ref WAR that I've never heard of is Bobby Mathews, the Marvelous Moustache of the New York Mutuals.

20th century division, it's White Sox pitching great and 7-time All-Star Billy Pierce.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 23, 2013 at 10:56 PM (#4353796)
I remember reading the New Historical Abstract, the one with the Top 100 at each position, and feeling embarrassed that there were players on there I had never heard of. Oil Smith, Bruce Campbell, John Stone, John Anderson... there were probably eight or ten of those guys.

But I know them now.
   18. DanG Posted: January 23, 2013 at 11:28 PM (#4353803)
The last gaps in my awareness of obscure greats were eliminated in 1991 when I prepared a 500-player ballot for the Sabermetricians' Hall of Fame. Thanks to our friend Brock Hanke.
   19. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 23, 2013 at 11:42 PM (#4353809)
I knew about Bill Nicholson, but I never understood why he was called "Swish" and Dave Nicholson wasn't

(well actually, I do understand, but it's a shame that the nickname was used up on Bill)

"Swish II" just doesn't flow
   20. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: January 23, 2013 at 11:52 PM (#4353813)
My best player that I could tell you absolutely nothing about appears to be Dick McBride, who racked up 35 WAR and was out of baseball early in 1876.

Now, among good players that played in my lifetime, the one I was most uninformed about was Ralph Garr. I knew he was an outfielder and played for the Braves and hit for big averages a few times, but until he popped up near the top of Carl Crawford's comp list a couple years ago, I didn't know much about him. Hanging around very nerdy baseball guys, I don't think he's *ever* come up in a conversation I've been privy to.
   21. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:05 AM (#4353814)
Man, I'm nowhere close to an expert on baseball history, but I really do not know my 19th century greats. I figured I'd get further down the WAR list than Tim Keefe and Roger Connor before running into an unfamiliar name. The first player with post-1900 years I was unfamiliar with was Bobby Wallace, and his career started in 1894. First fully 20th century player I don't recognize is Stan Coveleski. Fun game.
   22. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4353815)
roadrunner! my first "old" card...
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:12 AM (#4353817)
Now, among good players that played in my lifetime, the one I was most uninformed about was Ralph Garr. I knew he was an outfielder and played for the Braves and hit for big averages a few times, but until he popped up near the top of Carl Crawford's comp list a couple years ago, I didn't know much about him. Hanging around very nerdy baseball guys, I don't think he's *ever* come up in a conversation I've been privy to.


Roadrunner. Hit an inside-the-park home run in the very first game I attended, when his fly ball resulted in a famously violent collision between Don Hahn and George Theodore.
   24. djrelays Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:19 AM (#4353820)
from the article: "Roy Thomas: He and Nicholson are each other’s #2 most similar player."

On what basis? Certainly not on similarity scores.

They were left-handed hitting outfielders?

What am I missing?
   25. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:37 AM (#4353822)
Going through the position player WAR list, I can say that I don't think I've seen the name "Bobby Wallace" before (69th place), and couldn't accurately say what position he played or which decade. He's listed as a HOF'er, but his name only makes me think of NASCAR for some reason.

On the pitching side, I am clueless about the gentleman named "Charlie Buffinton" (56th). He sounds like he might be from the 1800s, just because of that rich-sounding last name.
   26. Traderdave Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:48 AM (#4353825)

That's me, too. I memorized the entire baseball encyclopedia through the mid-1970s. (And that's not much of an exaggeration.) Then I graduated from high school, and real life, school, marriage, kids, career etc. rudely made their presence known.


Fellow Primates, this is no exaggeration whatsoever. Steve T has a downright chilling recall of every player in that era. September callups, benchwarmers on last place teams, one hit wonders, various cups of coffee -- the man knows em ALL.
   27. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:23 AM (#4353828)
Charlie Buffinton was on the ballot that I made for the Hall of 100 thing we did on ESPN, so hopefully I spread some Charlie Buffinton propaganda to a couple dozen writers.
   28. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:29 AM (#4353830)
I know Bobby Wallace because he was one of those guys that were sent from Cleveland to St. Louis after 1898 so the Spiders could have their legendary year. Charlie Buffinton has a memorable name. Bobby Mathews ... nope.

One of the more obscure guys near the top of the list is George Uhle. Part of that is because he has 11.5 batting WAR. Which is why I know about him, he's on all the lists of the best hitting pitchers.
   29. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:54 AM (#4353832)
Going through the position player WAR list, I can say that I don't think I've seen the name "Bobby Wallace" before (69th place)


I have only the vaguest memory of my running across his name before, and the same is true of Wilbur Cooper. Their names are so generic that I'm discounting them and calling Lonny Frey my first miss.
   30. eric Posted: January 24, 2013 at 03:32 AM (#4353844)
I've definitely seen the name bobby wallace before but couldn't have told you anything about him. First total miss on the hitters' side: billy herman, #137. Hell, I've probably looked him up before, but unremarkable name + not particularly noteworthy career (despite being a very good player) = forgotten. Jack Glasscock and Bid McPhee? Heard of 'em and remember it...couldn't tell you anything about them at all, but I do remember their names...

On the pitcher's side, Charlie Buffinton got me as well, #56 (not counting the fact that I read it a few times in this thread before perusing the WAR list).
   31. Greg K Posted: January 24, 2013 at 05:55 AM (#4353857)
The best post-war player I'd never heard of was Dick McAuliffe. Though now that I've heard of him I suppose I don't know who the best player I've never heard of is.
   32. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 24, 2013 at 06:20 AM (#4353859)
Bill Nicholson: The Best Player I’d Never Heard Of

Oh, you mean William Beck Nicholson.
   33. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: January 24, 2013 at 08:03 AM (#4353868)
Roadrunner. Hit an inside-the-park home run in the very first game I attended, when his fly ball resulted in a famously violent collision between Don Hahn and George "The Stork" Theodore.


interesting gaggle...
   34. bjhanke Posted: January 24, 2013 at 08:10 AM (#4353871)
Dan G (#15) - Good Grief! What did I do to you that made you do THAT? That's what we were trying to do in the old Baseball Maniacs, and it caused the group to fall apart due to burnout.

Nicholson is similar to Roy Thomas in that both were good outfielders who had little power, but who hit for average and took their walks. Actually, Thomas had NO power at all, even for the dead ball era. Nicholson did have a little power.

Bobby Wallace was a hot-glove Hall shortstop who could hit some, but whose memory is lost due to being an almost exact contemporary of Honus Wagner. Sort of like Bill Dahlen, except that Dahlen was probably a better hitter but a slightly weaker glove than Wallace, and not so exact a contemporary of Honus. Dahlen is not in the Hall, but could be. He has a pretty decent case.

Buffinton was at least a Hall of Very Good pitcher from the 19th century; you could make a case for the Hall of Fame, but it probably would not fly. Bobby Mathews is, essentially, Pud Galvin lite. Like Galvin, he pitched a huge number of innings for his time period (he goes back to the National Association in 1871), but didn't pitch at a high rate.

Billy Herman is in the Hall of Fame. He was a second baseman, a good singles hitter and a good glove. He was the kid that the Cubs found that led them to quit trying to get one more year out of Rogers Hornsby. According to reports, he hated Hornsby, and Hornsby hated him, although that's not unusual with Hornsby, particularly for some kid who is taking his job and forcing him to confront his mortality.

Jack Glasscock was a very good SS in the 19th century. Bid McPhee is possibly the best second baseman of the 19th century, and was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, the first player to get in whose career has lots of seasons in the American Association. He was not the best player in the AA, but he has better confirming stats in his years in the NL than any other AA player, even Harry Stovey.

Billy Pierce was a small lefty pitcher who threw very hard. I think he's in the Hall of Merit. I remember seeing him in All-Star games in the 1950s. Dick McAuliffe was a glove wizard who could not really hit, from about the same time period as Pierce. You should be able to find footage of them playing without too much effort.

- Brock Hanke (who has had to work up the 19th century three times: the Baseball Maniacs, a magazine called Gravengood's, and the Hall of Merit)
   35. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: January 24, 2013 at 08:38 AM (#4353881)
pre-induction (and maybe post?), mcphee might be best known for being the last guy to field w/o a glove...
   36. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:05 AM (#4353884)
There are very few AS-type players since 1893 that I haven't at least heard of. I had a copy of the 1988 Baseball Enc., and I studied that for hours. I also gleaned the rosters for the best players because I simulated a league with AS teams from each decade and league in Tony LaRussa baseball or some similar game that was available on PC in the early 90's. I overestimated everyone's defense in the OF, which I didn't realize until I ended up with somebody leading the league with 20-some doubles and most players landing in the single digits.

I also have several baseball trivia books. Without consulting PI or Google, can anyone tell me who holds the rookie record for doubles in a season? Its one that very few people know, and the player is somewhat obscure.
   37. Publius Publicola Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:06 AM (#4353885)
Dick McAuliffe was a glove wizard who could not really hit


?? McAuliffe was a fine hitter. He has a career OPS of 109 and one year went as high as 148. He had power for a 2nd baseman and excellent strikezone judgement, walking over 100 times twice.

One thing about McAuliffe is he had perhaps the weirdest batting stance I had ever seen. His stance was way open, sort of like Brian Downing, and he leaned way back on his rear foot, so far that his front foot was barely touching the ground. And his bat was nearly parallel to the ground. Really strange stance.
   38. bjhanke Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:08 AM (#4353886)
I remembered that I might have had Dick McAuliffe confused with Aurelio Rodriguez, although I don't know why I'd confuse the two names. In any case. I checked McAuliffe out and found out that 1) he was a hot glove, but a second baseman, not a shortstop, and 2) he was a better hitter than I remembered - low averages, but good power for the time at 2B.

I think that 3B Jerry Denny was, technically, the last man to play the field without wearing a glove, although Denny might have become a benchwarmer before McPhee put on a glove. McPhee was the last 2B to play barehanded, but not the last player at any position. - Brock
   39. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:14 AM (#4353887)
Brock, I think you must have McAuliffe confused with someone else. His career started at the tail end of Pierce's, and as Publius said, McAuliffe could really hit. He had 197 homers and 71 triples in addition to the walks, despite player the bulk of his career in the second deadball era.

Edit: Coke
   40. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:15 AM (#4353888)
You might be thinking about Dick Schofield - he played for 19 years, starting in 1953, despite a .614 career OPS.
   41. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:25 AM (#4353894)
Or McAuliffe's double-play partner Ed Brinkman. Or McAuliffe's earlier double-play partner Ray Oyler.
   42. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:41 AM (#4353900)
I think you also have Bill Nicholson confused with someone else. He wasn't a good outfielder who had little power; he led the league in homers twice.
   43. Publius Publicola Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:55 AM (#4353910)
I think Brock's just having one of those days.
   44. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 09:55 AM (#4353911)
I certainly get Bill Nicholson confused with Michael Bourn sometimes, with all those Hot Topics articles about them.
   45. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: January 24, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4353925)
thanks brock, didn't know that about denny (obviously)
   46. Tom T Posted: January 24, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4353935)
There are very few AS-type players since 1893 that I haven't at least heard of. I had a copy of the 1988 Baseball Enc., and I studied that for hours.


Yeah, when I was about 9, I got Ethan Allen's "All-Star Baseball" for a birthday and played it relentlessly with my friends (truly...I think some stopped coming over to the house because it was all I would do). Ended up coding it onto our first computer (a 6800-based system) as my first program. Because it had no defense/pitching elements, I spent many, many hours coming the various Encyclopedias I could borrow from the library to find the best "times on base" players (MacMillan didn't have OBP, so I had been hand-calculating it without knowing it had a name). Led me to know many, many players (e.g., Erv Brame, Jack Stivetts, etc.) that are otherwise quite obscure to people.

Anyway, means that the first few players about whom I couldn't tell you more than their position are pitchers from the 1880s and '90s --- the aforementioned Buffinton and Ted Breitenstein --- and the first player I am unfamiliar with *by name* is Larry Gardner...someone of whom I have heard, but not linked the player with the name. (Almost thought Mike Smith was next, but his .398 OBP led to him being one of the bench options in the version of my game I wrote as a capstone project as an undergrad --- got to update it for the 6809!)

So, first guy I know nothing about and don't recall anything even after seeing his page is Sadie McMahon... Yep, seems I need to go read up on the pitching staffs of the 1880s and 1890s!
   47. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 24, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4353969)
Sadie McMahon (probably) once murdered a peanut vendor. Seriously.

Link: http://tinyurl.com/azbg488 (Not hyperlinked because that's a giant pain from my tablet.)
   48. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 24, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4353990)
I knew about Bill Nicholson, but I never understood why he was called "Swish" and Dave Nicholson wasn't

(well actually, I do understand, but it's a shame that the nickname was used up on Bill)

"Swish II" just doesn't flow


When I first saw the name "Bill Nicholson" my first three thoughts were: nicknamed "Swish", played for the White Sox in the '60s, struck out a ridiculous amount. Of course, the latter two are DAVE Nicholson, not Bill. And to add to the confusion, I confused Bill Melton and Dave Nicholson and thought that Bill "Swish" Nicholson was a thirdbaseman for the 1960s-era White Sox who struck out crazy amounts with pretty good HR power. So, I guess technically, the best player I'd never heard of was probably the same as the author here: the real Bill Nicholson.
   49. AROM Posted: January 24, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4353996)
Yeah, McAuliffe looked like a left handed Brian Downing to me in the 1968 world series. BTW, has anyone else spent a lot of time this winter watching classic games through MLB? I've got the iPhone app, which I can send to Apple TV and watch on the big screen. Earliest is the 1952 series, but a good selection from each decade after that.
   50. BDC Posted: January 24, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4354002)
The best post-war player I'd never heard of

That's an interesting limitation to try. I headed down the position-player WAR list and though I initially hesitated over a few, I seemed to summon up subliminal knowledge that is actually a bit distressing. E.g. I got to John Romano and blanked, and then a little voice said to me "American League catcher of the 1960s" and damn if it wasn't right.

I do confess to getting the Valentins mixed up, not to mention the Alex Gonzalezes, but at least I know there are two of each and roughly what the two of them did, if not immediately who was who.

The first postwar position player I drew nothing at all on was Bob Nieman, a journeyman slugger who was a little before my time (played mostly in the 1950s). On the pitching side, it's Gerry Staley, who pitched for the Cardinals in the early 50s while Nieman was playing crosstown for the Browns. Come to find that Staley became a top reliever for the 1959 White Sox, but I was in my infancy, listening to the air-raid sirens, when they won the pennant.
   51. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4354005)
roadrunner! my first "old" card...


And yet another guy whose autograph I sent off for & received (albeit on a photo) way back when, though he was active then, unlike Nicholson & Combs (& Stan Coveleski, who gets mentioned in the thread, too) ... & I think even Bob Nieman.
   52. The District Attorney Posted: January 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4354007)
I knew Nicholson was a '40s Cub who struck out a lot by the standards of the time (I forget if I learned this from James or from the inclusion of the '45 Cubs in Micro League Baseball -- might well be both).

I didn't realize a) that he struck out so little by the standards of our time (a guy takes crap for 80 K per 162 games?? definitely a different era), or b) that he could be placed on a level with Strawberry, Justice, or (according to B-R) J.D. Drew and Larry Doby. Although of course there's a huge wartime adjustment that needs to be made here, that is nonetheless interesting.

Although I'm extremely reluctant to think that players should be elected to the Hall of Fame on the basis of "fame" per se, I still gotta think that this discussion is damning to the HOF case of Bobby Wallace. I mean, jeez.

I'm going to say that my best hitter I never heard of by WAR is Ed Konetchy. I have heard the name, but I could not tell you a single thing about him. And yup, the immortal Buffinton on the pitcher side.
   53. bjhanke Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4354024)
Publius - I want to make note of an oddity. My comment #38 is right after Publius' comment #37. Normally, I'd give him credit, but his comment wasn't there when I was writing mine. Looking at the times, he appears to have submitted his comment 2 minutes before mine. I didn't see his until I came back here just now. At any rate, he gets credit for catching me with my hand in the cookie jar, even if I was catching the same hand in the same jar at the same time.

Rants - Yeah. It was confusion with Aurelio Rodriguez. I don't know why that happens, but I've gotten the two names confused more than once over several decades. You'd think I'd have a flag in my head whenever I see either name, telling me to stop and look the guy up before I ran my mouth, but not so far. I do tend to merge the 1950s and the 1960s together in my head, because that's when I was growing up and getting started following the game. In my memory, McAuliffe and Pierce were more or less contemporaries, although in any detail that's wrong. At least, I have no chance of confusing Dick Schofield with anyone other than his father or his son, depending on which Dick Schofield you're talking about.

On Nicholson, I'm going to stand my ground. Yes, he led the league in homers two years: 1943 and 1944. In Wrigley Field. He did have a few good (20+) homer seasons aside from those, but he also had seasons in the single digits, although they tend to not have as many PAs as the 20+ years do. Still, his 29 and 33 during the war were his best power seasons, and he spent his career in a good homer park. Remember, I was speculating on how he could come up in a list of comps to Roy Thomas, who was a dead ball era CF pretty similar to Billy Hamilton, although not nearly as good. Thomas had no power at all, but hit for average, fueled by bunts, and took walks. Nicholson, aside from the war years, had more weak power years than strong power years. I think you can have a good debate over whether Bill was a middle-order guy or a leadoff man. As a leadoff man, he's, I guess, as similar to Thomas as anyone other than guys like Dode Paskert, Billy Hamilton, and Richie Ashburn. But I wasn't trying to put Bill in a comp list for Roy; I was trying to speculate on why anyone would. Me? I'd put the three guys I listed in a list of comps to Thomas, rather than Bill. But if Bill is in there, I was trying to think through why.

Tom - Are you aware that there's a Yahoo group about All-Star Baseball? Like you, I got introduced to the game when I was a kid, but in my case, it was by an older kid who was always willing to play. Over the years, I've managed to accumulate all the discs Cadaco ever issued, except for the 1952B set. A lot of the guys in the group do things like you do - make computer simulations with pitcher rankings and such. I still play the game like I did when I was 10 or so, because when I was 19, that friend who intro'd me to the game died in a car accident, on the way home from his honeymoon. I've kept up with the game ever since, and play his team in a league, as my way of honoring his memory. There's even an annual magazine about the game, with lots of computer-generated discs, articles and disc photocopies, published by a man named John Rose. If you weren't aware of the group, you should check it out.

When you're looking up 19th c. pitchers, it's very helpful to keep in mind that the 1880s are sort of the adolescence of professional baseball. Players at the time had no idea how many league IP their arms could handle, so you get guys pitching a great 500+ IP season, followed by a 300 IP season of no great quality, and then back to 500 good IP, Worse, they also did not know that the IP limit was decreasing steadily, as overhand pitching and multiple pitches became the norm. So, you've got guys ending up with a 10-12 year career with as many IP as a modern starter gets in 18 years, and zero consistency. The 1870s aren't like that, because the schedules aren't long enough to overpower a pitcher's arm at the time. The 1890s, at least after 1892, are a completely different game for pitchers. But when dealing with the 1880s, it's usually best to deal with career totals, rather than trying to figure out how to compare Hoss Radbourne's 1884 to any season after about 1889.

And Tom, you finally got me. I have no idea who Erv Brame is, and am pretty sure I've never run across the name, except maybe in the Baseball Maniacs' Big Project. - Brock
   54. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4354039)
Reposting:

Without consulting PI or Google, can anyone tell me who holds the rookie record for doubles in a season? Its one that very few people know, and the player is somewhat obscure.
   55. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4354050)
Ah, crap, is it the second baseman who hit 40 doubles for the '42 White Sox? I cannot, for the life of me, remember his name.
   56. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4354053)
My guess is one of those Negro League guys. Sam Jethroe springs to mind for some reason.
   57. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4354055)
I was thinking of Don Kolloway, but it isn't him. I looked it up.

Oddly, both the NL and AL records for doubles in a season by a rookie are held by guys with two first names. (Noted the guy with two first names.)
   58. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4354060)
Sam Jethroe has two first names.
   59. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 24, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4354061)
He does/did, but it isn't him.
   60. salvomania Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4354070)
Well, Pujols hit 47 as a rookie and I assume it's not him, so someone had a hell of a rookie season...
   61. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4354073)
Well, Pujols hit 47 as a rookie

so did Fred Lynn
   62. salvomania Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4354075)
On that ratings list, interesting to see Joe Torre and Ted Simmons both at 111.6, just ahead of Harmon Killebrew....
   63. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4354083)
In their 1973 The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading & Bubble Gum Book, Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris note that "Nicholson was named 'Swish' somewhat cruelly", and then add "and not for the reason you're probably thinking". AFAIK this was the only time his nickname was ever immortalized on a baseball card.
   64. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4354093)
The doubles total was over 50, and the record has stood since well before integration, if that's any help.
   65. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4354097)
Given that his face on that card is red as a beet, I'm thinking he must have kept a swish barrel in the clubhouse his whole career.
   66. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4354110)
"Nicholson was named 'Swish' somewhat cruelly", and then add "and not for the reason you're probably thinking".

So he wasn't a flamboyant homosexual?
   67. DanG Posted: January 24, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4354115)
Dan G (#15) - Good Grief! What did I do to you that made you do THAT? That's what we were trying to do in the old Baseball Maniacs, and it caused the group to fall apart due to burnout.
Actually, I (mostly) enjoyed going through the exercise. I was one of the few people who sent in a ballot for your project. I have a copy of each one of your annual baseball books, from "The Baseball Abstract" successor, through "The Big Bad Baseball" annuals.

Eventually improving on your effort, four years ago I led an online project where we ranked the top 500 players: The Collaboration Game.
   68. bjhanke Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4354134)
Dan - Thanks for the info. I'm glad you decided to do your own project, rather than thinking that something I'd said implied that you should try to rank the top 500 players. I tried doing that, or something close, for the Baseball Maniacs, and we just burnt out trying to get hold of that many players. Oh! I just remembered what project you were talking about. It was the one I tried to do with the BBBA, but got so few replies that the sample size was too small. THANK YOU for putting in all that work. I have a VERY warm feeling for anyone who actually submitted a ballot on that project.

Also, I'm about to retract just about everything I've said about Bill Nicholson. Thank you all for giving me enough grief to make me do this. I'd never thought about Nicholson much before. I checked BB-Ref, and Nicholson and Roy Thomas have COMPLETELY different similar player lists. Comment #24 says that the claim that they are similar comes from the article, so I read that and it's true. I have no idea what the article writer was smoking.

As I said, I've never looked seriously at Nicholson before, but I checked the New Historical Abstract entry, only to find out that Nicholson claimed that Wrigley Field was hard to hit in because of all the white shirts on the fans in the center field seats. James notes that Bill hit significantly more homers on the road than at home, and that his WWII stats should be treated as legit, because the balata ball just about counters the lack of stars who were in the army. I yield to the evidence. Bill Nicholson was at least a guy with mid-range power. I was making a Wrigley deduction that was, in Nicholson's time, completely undeserved. Nicholson is also not comparable in any way that I can see to Roy Thomas. This started with me trying to think what there might be about Bill that was similar to Roy, and I didn't do a good job, because the answer is "nothing." I should also shamefacedly admit that most of what I thought I knew about Nicholson comes from one Cadaco All-Star Baseball disc that he had. The disc gives him mid-range power. I should have listened to it.

Sorry, Brock
   69. Publius Publicola Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4354142)
Sorry, Brock


No need to apologize to yourself, Brock.
   70. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4354143)
I think he's apologizing to former MLB OF Brock Davis, though I have no idea why.
   71. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4354145)
Erv Brame


Now there's a guy I'd never heard of. And I know a lot of old players, because I have a Strat-O-Matic solitaire league with about 8,000 players in it (MLB, NPB, Negro Leagues, AAGBL, etc.), all of them hand picked, so I've gone through the encyclopedias with a fine-toothed comb. But this guy escaped me. And looking at BR, that lifetime .306/.326/.429 batting line has to be one of the all-time best for a pitcher, doesn't it?
   72. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:28 PM (#4354163)
having been around since baseball began in the states i am familiar with pretty much all the players and their playing histories

//self-deprecating age joke
   73. bjhanke Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4354169)
I was apologizing to Brock Peters and Brock Pemberton. They are the first two guys I ever heard of who shared my first name. Funny thing was, they were both black and seriously involved in theater. Peters was a star actor, and Pemberton was the first black theater critic to write for a non-race paper. BTW, "Brock" is Anglo-Saxon for "badger." "Hanke" is German for "haunch." So my name translates to - sigh - "Badger Butt." - Butt
   74. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4354173)
brock

badgers are mean, cranky sumb8tches.

you should be proud
   75. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4354178)
I demand that you change your BTF handle to "Badger Butt" right this minute.
   76. Publius Publicola Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4354185)
Funny thing was, they were both black and seriously involved in theater.


Brock Landers is another Brock who was seriously involved in theater. And a lot of other ####.
   77. esseff Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4354194)
Bobby Wallace should be recognized as, I believe, one of only two Hall of Famers to play most of their games with the St. Louis Browns, Sisler being the other. Paige played most of his major-league games with the Browns, but his late-career MLB years aren't the primary reason he's in the Hall. Rick Ferrell is next closest; he played more for the Browns than any other team but not a majority of his career.
   78. esseff Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4354200)
Brock Davis debuted in the majors at age 19.
   79. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4354206)
Brock Lesnar is another.
   80. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 24, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4354208)
I demand that you change your BTF handle to "Badger Butt" right this minute.
Seconded. So much more fun than "God Is My Judge Meadow", which is how my name translates.
   81. Publius Publicola Posted: January 24, 2013 at 03:01 PM (#4354230)
I think "ass badger" has a springier ring to it.
   82. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 03:01 PM (#4354233)
Seconded. So much more fun than "God Is My Judge Meadow", which is how my name translates.


And mine would be "God is My Judge Bailiff." How ... not very interesting.
   83. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4354238)
I think "ass badger" has a springier ring to it.


Yes. Even better.
   84. Publius Publicola Posted: January 24, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4354244)
Think of the opportunities. You go to a singles bar with a buddy and approach a couple honeys. Your buddy introduces: "Hi, I'm Steve and this is my buddy Ass Badger. What're your names?"

How could you possibly whiff?
   85. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 24, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4354257)
Since nobody has gotten yet, the rookie doubles record is 52 and belongs to 27 year-old Johnny Frederick of the 1929 Dodgers. He also had 127 runs, 206 hits, 24 homers and a .328/.372/.545 line, which was only good for a 126 OPS+ that year.
   86. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 24, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4354288)
Since the year of my birth, the player that has accumulated the most WAR (positional player) that I have no recollection of or knowledge about is #250 on my list, Bill North (24.9 WAR).

For pitchers, it's much higher on that list, as it's #59 John Matlack (36.3 WAR).

Both of them are before I really started watching baseball, or made a name for themselves in the NL (and I usually only saw AL games).
   87. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 04:07 PM (#4354298)
Since the year of my birth, the player that has accumulated the most WAR (positional player) that I have no recollection of or knowledge about is #250 on my list, Bill North (24.9 WAR).

For pitchers, it's much higher on that list, as it's #59 John Matlack (36.3 WAR).


For this my answers are Bill Doran and Steve Farr.

In fact Bill Doran really stands out with 30.6 WAR. Above Jack Clark, BJ Surhoff, Keith Hernandez, Edgar Renteria. Who the hell is Bill Doran?

The next highest unknown player is Johnny Ray with 21.6. Apparently I need to read up more on second basemen taken by the Astros in the 1979 draft.
   88. GregD Posted: January 24, 2013 at 04:22 PM (#4354311)
Funny how precise these things are. I remember Johnny Ray vividly just killing the Reds when I was an adolescent. In my memory he had an extra-inning game where he got at least 6 hits.
   89. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4354321)
And I remember him mainly because he attended the U. of Arkansas. Pretty decent hitter for a 2B, IIRC.
   90. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 24, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4354324)
Who is this "George T. Seaver"?
   91. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 24, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4354335)
I remember Johnny Ray vividly just killing the Reds when I was an adolescent. In my memory he had an extra-inning game where he got at least 6 hits.

The best match I found was this game, which Ray won with his third hit in the 15th inning.
   92. GregD Posted: January 24, 2013 at 05:09 PM (#4354347)
The best match I found was this game, which Ray won with his third hit in the 15th inning.
And funny how imprecise my memory is!
   93. salvomania Posted: January 24, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4354382)
#250 on my list, Bill North (24.9 WAR).


I remember Bill North mostly for his 1973 Topps baseball card showing him with an airbrushed A's hat while wearing a Cubs jersey.
   94. Moeball Posted: January 24, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4354387)
One thing about McAuliffe is he had perhaps the weirdest batting stance I had ever seen. His stance was way open, sort of like Brian Downing, and he leaned way back on his rear foot, so far that his front foot was barely touching the ground. And his bat was nearly parallel to the ground. Really strange stance.


My parents had one of the most bitter arguments I've ever heard - over Dick McAuliffe's batting stance ("He holds his bat like this." "No he doesn't, you moron, he holds it this way"). I was 9 years old at the time and it was the first time that I was aware that there was apparently trouble in paradise and that Happily Ever After...wasn't. Not surprising they split up not too long after that.

At least my wife and I don't argue over silly things like a player's batting stance. We find much more reasonable things to have arguments about, like the DH.
   95. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 06:08 PM (#4354396)
Everyone chimes in to remember Bill North and Johnny Ray, but still nobody mentions Bill Doran. Did he ever exist? Maybe the Bill Doran page is like those imaginary towns that mapmakers include to ward off plagiarism. The mid-80s Astros didn't have a second baseman. It would do no good to station someone there, because all the grounders went so fast on the Astroturf.
   96. salvomania Posted: January 24, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4354403)
Doran: scrappy little doubles machine, sort of a Biggio light---did he directly precede Biggio at 2b??? I think he fell off the 2b cliff earlier than usual, but he was pretty good early on. I recall him having kind of big lips...
   97. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 24, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4354409)
And the so-called pictures of this "Bill Doran" don't prove anything. He looked exactly like Craig Biggio, and he played 2B until Biggio supposedly took over? Pull the other one.

Doran
Biggio

Doran
Biggio

I don't buy it.
   98. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 24, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4354418)
BTW, has anyone else spent a lot of time this winter watching classic games through MLB? I've got the iPhone app,


Which app is that?
   99. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 24, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4354421)
Doran: scrappy little doubles machine, sort of a Biggio light---did he directly precede Biggio at 2b???
Not quite - the immortal Casey Candaele held down the fort in 1991.

Candaele, by the way, is one of my all-time favorite ballplayers. I'm fully aware of his shortcomings (of which there were many), but I can't help but love a guy who went undrafted, made his MiLB debut at 22, scratched and clawed his way to the majors, played seven positions, fought back from a .170/.228/.238 age 27 season and a full year in the minors at age 28 to be part of a pennant-winner at age 36, and played in the minors until he was nearly 40.

I know the term "scrappy" is generally only used for white utility infielders, but Candaele deserved the title. By sheer force of will, he spent nearly 20 years in pro ball.
   100. salvomania Posted: January 24, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4354429)
Doran: scrappy little doubles machine, sort of a Biggio light---did he directly precede Biggio at 2b??? I think he fell off the 2b cliff earlier than usual, but he was pretty good early on. I recall him having kind of big lips...


OK, that's what I get for posting before looking anything up. He was NOT a doubles machine (only hit as many as 30 once) but I still maintain he was scrappy. And then he put up his career-best OPS+ (135) at age 32, and then had two middling seasons as a more-or-less regular after that...
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