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Ty Cobb General Thread

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  • well Bill on the 19th century catchers...1st it was a very hard protection...and even with that ball try taking a foul tip off the face.
    Another thing is Jim O'Rourke was the 1st C, plus he played until he was 56 in the high minors actually being called up in 1904 by John McGraw.

    There were not alot of games played int the 1880s, hence why they didn't play as many.

    Jack Clements and Deacon White were considered top catchers of the 19th century from all accounts. Charlie Bennett was the most consistent C and actually had one of the best F% among C's of his time. and the least amount of Passed Balls...a vital stat back then

    Do you realize that until the 20's even the best Catchers over 154 allowed 20 or more passed balls per game? The others allowed 30 or more?

    As for Criger, despite his .180 average he started for the Pilgrims and hung on until 40...almost un heard of for a C in those days.

    Bill Bergen, despite his .170 BA in 518 AB...hung on until 33...if that doesn't show how respected he is...I don't know what does.

    Kling, had nothing to do with Commie, he just loved Billards more than Baseball, and with the team mainly intact they couldn't get to the WS until Kling returned...shows even with a higher BA Jimmy Archer wasn't the C Kling was...because it's all about winning.

    The catcher of Frank Chance's great Cub teams of 1906-10, Kling was the NL's premier defensive catcher and a capable hitter. Batterymate Ed Reulbach called him "one of the greatest catchers who ever wore a mask." In the years 1902-08, Kling led the league in fielding four times, putouts six, assists twice, and double plays once. On June(e-h)h)h)21, 1907, he threw out all four Cardinal runners who attempted to steal second base. In the WS that fall, Kling nabbed seven Tigers in 14 tries, with Ty Cobb unable to steal a single base. In the winter of 1908-09, Kling won the world pocket billiard championship and decided to forsake the baseball diamond for the pool table. Defeated in his attempt to retain the title, he rejoined the Cubs in 1910 but was a part-timer thereafter.

    Dublin-born Archer took over as the Cubs' catcher in 1909 when star Johnny Kling was a season-long holdout. Archer, perhaps the best-throwing catcher of his time, made Kling expendable in 1911. Archer's right arm had been terribly burned by hot tar in an industrial accident. In healing, the muscles shortened but were left with a unique strength, enabling him to throw from the squat. This became his trademark. He led NL catchers in assists in 1912.
    Seems like teammate Mordecai Brown...Archer's 'talent' was because of an accident...makes me want to simulate his accident so I can make the Majors

    But Kling was older and rusty when he came back...

    As for your Lange argument...I still believe the best CF of the 19th century was Dummy Hoy

    Hoy was the reason umpires adopted hand signals to go along with the vocal calls of "out," "safe," and "strike." The 5'4" 148-lb outfielder was a deaf-mute, but he overcame adversity to have the greatest career of any seriously handicapped player, accumulating 2,054 hits. He hit .300 three times and scored 100 runs eight times. He also stole 30 or more bases in his first twelve ML seasons, and totaled 597 in an era when runners were credited with stolen bases for taking an "extra base" (going from first to third on a single, for example). Hoy led the NL with 82 steals in his first season and set NL rookie records for games, at-bats, hits, singles, and walks. He walked frequently, leading his league with 119 in 1891 and 86 in 1901. His on-base average topped .400 four times. In the field, the centerfielder led NL outfielders in putouts and total chances per game in 1897. On June 19, 1889, he threw out three runners at the plate in one game - one of only three players ever to do that.

    Dummy Hoy chose baseball as a career in 1885 because, as an amateur playing for his hometown Findlay, Ohio, team, he got four hits against a professional pitcher. He figured playing ball for a living would be easy money.

    Well, if you want to call $60 a month "easy money," it would have been. That is what the Northwestern League Milwaukee Brewers offered the barehanded catcher after he had impressed them in a try-out. Although Hoy had no pro experience, he had sufficient respect for his talents to consider the offer an insult.

    He heard nearby Oshkosh needed an outfielder, so he asked for a try-out there. Center field was his natural position, and the Oshkosh people quickly saw that he was a quality player. Nearly as quickly, the Brewers saw their error and dispatched a representative to counter-offer the $75 a month Oshkosh had agreed to pay Hoy with one of $85.

    One can imagine the young man from Ohio, sitting across the table from the Milwaukee representative pushing a note pad back and forth between them. "How about $85 a month?," the Brewers' man scribbled.

    Hoy, grabbing the pad and pencil, answered "I wouldn't play for you for a million a month!"

    The pad was necessary, you see, because Dummy Hoy got his nickname not because of his lack of intelligence. He had been profoundly deaf from, age 2, when he suffered spinal meningitis.

    That first season with Oshkosh, Dummy was everything his employers had hoped he would be - on defense. Like Tris Speaker, who came along 20 years later, and Jimmy Piersall 50 years after that, Hoy played a shallow center field. His lightning speed and strong arm turned many base hits and extra bases into outs.

    But at the plate he struggled. The man who retired in 1902 with a .288 lifetime batting average, dipped to a miserable .219 in '85, lowest of his career.

    The reason? Pitchers learned to quick pitch Hoy as he glanced back after every pitch to read the umpire's lips and get the call.

    Dummy may have been dumb in one sense but not in the other. The next season he told the third base coach to signal the call to him on each pitch. His BA zoomed to .367. The system worked out between coach and batter proved to be serendipitous. Umpires realized that here was a good way to let everybody know what was happening. From that time on the men in blue have been making obvious hand and arm gestures so that all players and fans can get each call.

    It would not be fair to a great ballplayer for him to be known only by this footnote to his career. And the recent movement to have the Veterans Committee elect him to the Hall of Fame indicates that among baseball historians he is more than just, "Oh, yeah, the deaf guy."

    One wonders what kind of a career William H. Hoy might have had if he had not lost his hearing to spinal meningitis in 1864. We are not talking about his baseball career. After he figured out a way to avoid the quick pitch, there is nothing to indicate that he was any less a player deaf than he would have been with normal hearing.

    No, we are referring to what a normal William Hoy might have done rather than being a shoemaker turned ballplayer. He had a son who became a judge and a grandson who was an attorney. After his playing days were over he became a successful dairy farmer in his native Ohio. In 1924 he sold the farm and became personnel director for the Goodyear Rubber Co.

    In 1961 the old ballplayer, then 99 years old, was asked to throw out the first ball before Game Three of the Yankees-Reds World Series. As it had been during his noteworthy career on the field, he could not hear the cheers of the crowd. Did they stand and wave their arms as fans of an earlier time had learned to do so that the swift outfielder who lived in a world of silence could know their appreciation?

    We hope so, for it was truly Dummy Hoy's last hurrah. He did not make it to his 100th birthday. He died five months short of that event on December l5, 1961

    And Bill
    Dummy Hoy when he retired was 2nd in walks behind Billy Hamilton, 4th in steals, top 10 in runs, hits and top 5 in OBP.

    He also had a range factor .50 better than league average during his prime...same as Lange
    Averaged .23 assists per game with a high of 29 (2x) and 9 double plays compared to Lange's .18
    Lange beats him in F% but since Hoy handled more chances thats a given

    Plus Hoy came in at 26..and lasted until 40...while Lange was right at his baseball prime

    Add the fact that Dummy Hoy overcame a handicap...and Bill Lange gave up baseball cause he was whooped...then Hoy is the CF

    Giving up Baseball for a woman...your kids I can see...HR Frank Baker did that when his wife died...but just a woman??

    I would never give up baseball for a woman
    I have my priorities straight!

    Plus he wound up w/o baseball or the woman...irony

    Oh btw...Bill here is a link to my historic replay I thought of you and put Bill Lange back in the game at 1901 on the Cubs...

    Bill Lange won the CF Gold Glove in 1901...but only hit .256 and he's been shipped around
    Year G         AB   H  2B 3B  HR RBI R BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS Teams 
    1893 117     469 132  8   7   8 88 92 52 20 47 13 .281 .353 .380 .733 CHN 
    1894 111     442 145 16  9   6 90 84 56 18 65 17 .328 .404 .446 .849 CHN 
    1895 123     478 186 27 16 10 98 120 55 24 67 15 .389 .452 .575 1.027 CHN 
    1896 122     469 153 21 16  4 92 114 65 24 84 18 .326 .408 .465 .873 CHN 
    1897 118     479 163 24 14  5 83 119 48 32 73 16 .340 .400 .480 .881 CHN 
    1898 113     442 141 16 11  5 69 79 36 30 22 8 .319 .370 .439 .809 CHN 
    1899 107     416 135 21  7  1 58 81 38 26 41 12 .325 .381 .416 .797 CHN 
    1901 136     571 146 15  9  3 70 57 28 89 21 12 .256 .290 .329 .620 CHN WS1 
    1902 34        38    6   1  0  0 1  9 2 11 5 3 .158 .200 .184 .384 WS1 BRO 
    1903 38      100   21  0   1  0 11 12 3 27 1 0 .210 .231 .230 .461 BRO NYA 
    Total 1019 3904 1228 149 90 42 660 767 383 301 426 114 .315 .376 .431 .807
    His stats thus far...
    Last edited by Imapotato; 07-18-2004, 11:28 PM.


    • Re catchers. Most of the all time greats seemed to both hit and have very good or better defensive abilities. I would put Berra in the first tier defensively and he and Bench were perhaps the best at handling pitching staffs--the # of post season trips with Yogi behind the plate almost defy belief. He was truly the heart of the 1949-1964 Yankees dynasty.

      As for good defense no hit. Bill are you advocating defense!? That is a switch for you as far as I can tell

      I could make a case for great defense, but given our respective stands re Mazeroski I'm floored by your comments.


      • The question of why others didn't follow Ruth right away may be the wrong question. Let's try this. Why did Ruth go against conventional wisdom and go for the "fences" in a pitcher's park? No one was hitting HRs in Fenway in those days--e.g. 1919 total HR all teams 13 9 were hit by George Herman.

        Also, reinventing a batting stance is hard--look at the troubles most players have when they move into new home parks for any reason. Fred Lynn comes to mind, no6 to mention the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers of the late 1950s.

        Those who adjust and keep up their average or power or both are truly great hitters. And even on bill's list of notable hitters from the 20s, how many were truly great?


        • I think we might need to consider the possibility that Ruth didn't change his batting stance to go to the fences.

          He had hit 11 home runs, all on the road, in 1918, and hit 20 on the road in 1919 (in 35% more at bats). In 1917, his SLG of .472 and OPS+ of 162, if obtained by a full-time player, would have been good enough for third in the AL, which isn't bad for a 22-year-old; he led the league in slugging in in 1918 at 23 years old. His 1919 performance could very well be a result of getting better at what he was already doing, instead of the result of a change in batting style.

          So this might be what happened:

          1) Ruth is in the minor leagues. Everyone "knows" that if you hit the way he does, you might pick up a few more home runs, but get a lot more fly balls and outs. If you're a position player batting that way, the coaches are going to work hard to change your batting style so you get on base more often. But Ruth's a pitcher, so coaches decide that changing his style isn't worth it.

          2) Ruth arrives in Boston as a pitcher. Since he's a pitcher, the Red Sox staff don't try to change his hitting style, either.

          3) After the 1917 season, Boston trades Tilly Walker and some other players to Philadelphia for Stuffy McInnis, while Duffy Lewis enters the military. Boston has now lost two outfielders, and needs to replace them.

          4) The Red Sox struggle to fill their open outfield positions. Ruth bats well enough, even though they think his swing is terrible, so they move him to the outfield. There's no time to adjust his swing, so it stays as it is.

          5) Ruth is getting more extra-base hits and home runs in 1918. His batting average of .300 is good for eighth in the league. It turns out that what everybody "knew" was actually wrong; you actually don't lose that many outs with Ruth's batting style, and those extra outs are balanced by the extra bases you get.

          My guess is Ruth never did bat "properly" according to the conventional wisdom of the 1910s, and thus never changed his style in order to swing for the fences at Fenway.


          • Here's a very interesting speculation about how Ty Cobb's career would have progressed if he'd been born 80 years later...



            • Charlie Bennett, of course had the singular honor of having Bennett Park in Detroit named in his honor...


              • Originally posted by baclightning
                Here's a very interesting speculation about how Ty Cobb's career would have progressed if he'd been born 80 years later...


                Run Producer
                No player in baseball history drove in more teammates than did Cobb. When you subtract home runs from RBI, you have the number of teammates batted in (TBI), Cobb leads all-time with 1,843.

                To put it another way, Ty Cobb produced more runs for his team than anyone in baseball history. The list is in Total Baseball (2001), but is stargely omitted in the 2004 edition. In any case, Cobb is way ahead of everyone else.


                • ESPN today had a little blurb about each of the people voted onto the All Century team... Ty Cobb's blurb was particularly... interesting.

                  Ty Cobb: Hall of Fame Jerk
                  Irritating, vile and racist, Cobb was the Georgia Peach who was anything but. He didn't fully appreciate his on-field success unless his opponents were either humiliated or injured in the process. Good thing Pete Rose broke Cobb's all-time hits record, so that a louse doesn't have his name attached to that hallowed mark.

                  They spoke of Ted Williams as the greatest player to never win a ring... Cobb didn't even get mentioned in that conversation. Apparently, Paul Katcher, the article's author, wasn't too big a fan of Tyrus.
                  "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                  Sean McAdam,


                  • []It's always depressing to see reputable news outlets allowing amateurs to write pieces on subjects that are such a closed mystery to them.

                    I've seen more and better BB erudition here on The Fever than I've EVER seen in Sports Illustrated, ESPN, any BB announcer, or almost anywhere else, and that includes all the other BB websites I've visited.

                    Most BB books are a click better, but not much.

                    I'll tell you a great writer, John Kuenster, at BB Digest. The best writers I know of still alive are: Al Thoney, Herman L. Masin, Bob Broeg, Ernie Harwell,
                    Furman Bisher, Jesse Outlar, Jerome Holtzman & Joe Falls. Sports Writers are a special interest of mine.
                    I'd add Barras to the best current sportswriters, especially for his one on one comparisons like Clement/Grove and Gary Cooper/John Wayne--aka Jolting Joe and Teddy Ballgame


                    • Bill,

                      One of these days I'm going to have to get your files. I apologize for my flippant refusal to entertain the notions contained therein when I first joined up with the Fever... very juvenile of me.

                      I'm glad JoeD picked Traynor... it's always hard being the only person alive who believes that a particular individual was the best person at a position (though technically JoeD isn't alive, and I suppose you might know the feeling with Ewing at C).
                      "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                      Sean McAdam,


                      • Originally posted by
                        since Pie outhit him by a lot, Pie is much to be prefered to Brooks overall.
                        Brooks Robinson, 105 OPS+; Pie Traynor, 107 OPS+ so I guess it depends upon how you define "a lot"
                        Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
                        Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge


                        • RMB, this issue was discussed in considerably more depth in a side trail on the Honus Wagner 4th best SS thread. If your interest extends beyond a quick one liner, you might weigh in there. Personally I can see it either way between Robinson and Traynor, but neither is near the top of the heap at 3B for me.


                          • Originally posted by leecemark
                            RMB, this issue was discussed in considerably more depth in a side trail on the Honus Wagner 4th best SS thread. If your interest extends beyond a quick one liner, you might weigh in there. Personally I can see it either way between Robinson and Traynor, but neither is near the top of the heap at 3B for me.
                            I've seen it, and the guy who ranks Schmidt out of AT LEAST the top three 3B is a joke
                            Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
                            Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge


                            • --I think Schmidt is so much better than every other thirdbaseman who ever lived that its difficult to even come up with a reasonable arguement for anybody else. Sure I'd prefer it if he hit for higher average. If he'd hit .300 for his career we could be arguing about him as one of the greatest PLAYERS who ever lived (top 5 or 6) instead of the best 3B. As it is, I see him as one of the 15 best ever. Its one thing to have a preference for high average players. Its unfortunate if your bias is so strong that it blinds you to the greatness of a player who does EVERYTHING else well and has that one shortcoming in his resume. Even in BA Schmidt finsished right at league avaerage in spite of some terrible BA years to start and finish.


                              • Eddie Mathews really doesn't take a back seat to Schmidt in my opinion. There numbers for their careers are very close. I would have no problem taking Mathews.
                                "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -