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Were They Remembered After They Were Forgotten?

Were They Remembered After They Were Forgotten?

By Paul Semendinger

February 20, 2022

***

I have a collection of older Baseball Digest magazines that I acquired over the years. Libraries used to subscribe to this great old monthly magazine, but they wouldn’t always keep the back issues. Sometimes, the librarians sent them my way knowing I’d love to have them rather than sending them to the recycling bin, or, before modern days, the trash.

Well, good news, I kept them all… except the ones I gave away. (I just can’t keep everything any longer.)

In November 1991, Baseball Digest ran a story by Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe titled “These Are 12 Good Men Hall of Fame Has Forgotten.”

I wondered how many of these players eventually found their way into the Hall.

Bob Ryan did a great job in predicting the future because many did make it! Let’s take a look:

The following players have since been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame:


Richie Ashburn – Inducted in 1995


Nellie Fox – Inducted in 1997


Ron Santo – Inducted in 2012


Vic Willis – Inducted in 1995


Leo Durocher – Inducted in 1994


Bill Mazeroski – Inducted in 2001


Minnie Minoso – Inducted in 2022


Orlando Cepeda – Inducted in 1999


Phil Rizzuto – Inducted in 1994

Ryan wasn’t perfect though. He named three players who have not yet been enshrined.

These are the three players are still on the outside looking in (along with a note from me on the likelihood of their eventual election):


Stuffy McInnis – Played for 19 seasons. Was a member of the $100,000 Infield with the Philadelphia A’s. 2,405 hits. .307 lifetime batting average. 34.6 lifetime WAR. He led the league in a ton of fielding stats as a first baseman.

By old measures, a case can be made. He was a very famous player. He played on four World Series champions. He was an amazing defensive first baseman. But, when one looks at the stats used to judge players today (WAR, Black Ink, Grey Ink, Hall of Fame Monitor, etc…) he falls way short.

Stuffy probably belongs in the Hall of Fame, but I don’t see this happening any time soon. At first base, he ranks 68th in JAWS, well below a host of bigger and better known names who also have Hall of Fame cases including Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Keith Hernandez, Steve Garvey, Todd Helton, and more.


Luis Tiant – A huge personality in the game – a legendary pitcher for some seasons, including 1975 when he showcased his skills in the World Series, Tiant won 229 games in his career. He led the league in ERA twice (both times with a season ERA under 2.00). He had four 20-win seasons.

He always seemed a little short, but WAR lists him as the 44th greatest starting pitcher of all-time. His 66.1 WAR is over the threshold (60.0) that many use as the standard for Hall of Fame consideration. His career matches similarly to Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning, and Don Drysdale. Only four retired pitchers have a higher WAR and are not in the Hall. Tiant’s WAR is better than a host of pitchers, some, like C.C. Sabathia, who seem a lock for enshrinement.

I see Tiant getting in one day soon.


Carl Mays – Ended his career with 207 wins against 126 losses with an ERA of 2.92. He won 20-games five times. He was on two World Series winners. Also a big personality, but not always for the best reasons. He also threw the pitch that killed Ray Chapman, though it seems unlikely that that was a purposeful beanball. While he ranks similarly to Waite Hoyt, Eppa Rixey, and Chief Bender, and other contemporaries already in the Hall, his lifetime WAR of 51.4 likely keeps him out.

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