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John Gochnauer

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  • John Gochnauer

    Could he have possibly been the worst major leaguer of all time? This is brought up under Trivia (the 1900-03 infield) I have some questions posted there to for those who don't usually check the trivia section.

  • #2
    Originally posted by janduscframe
    Could he have possibly been the worst major leaguer of all time? This is brought up under Trivia (the 1900-03 infield) I have some questions posted there to for those who don't usually check the trivia section.
    He could have been, depending upon how you rate longevity (could have been Larry Littleton, or just among SS, you have Thevenow, LeMaster, Belliard, EHernandez)
    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

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    • #3
      Thought id bring this back up. I found an article about this very subject

      JOHN GOCHNAUR WORST PLAYER OF ALL TIME

      By Mike Attiyeh


      This 2003 Major League Baseball campaign marks the 100th year anniversary of celebrated events and feats such as the inaugural official World Series and Joe "Iron Man" McGinnity's complete game doubleheaders. But the 2003 campaign also marks the 100th year anniversary of the worst individual single-season performance ever, a nadir plunged onto by arguably the worst major league performer ever - John Gochnaur.

      Who? You know, John Gochnaur - the error-prone Cleveland Indians infielder who teamed up the middle in the early 1900s with keystone Hall of Fame partner Nap Lajoie. You still never heard of Gochnaur? Man, what does a guy have to do to get recognized? Surely baseball journalists and historians don't expect every subject of their work to make the contribution of a Babe Ruth and possess the skills of a Willie Mays or Barry Bonds. As a horrible fielding shortstop and anemic hitter, Gochnaur remains the antithesis of Honus Wagner after all these years. Gochnaur, an Altoona, PA native, was worse in a major league uniform than Alex Rodriguez is good.

      Gochnaur's extremely poor performance deserves some recognition. But poor Gochnaur remains obscure, even after a century-long residence in major league's "ebbhouse". Go to a gathering of baseball historians and ask about Gochnaur. Even history-savvy researchers will return a puzzled look. "Who?" They'll insist you entered the wrong meeting, "German studies is down the hall."

      Gochnaur's name is even misspelled in Total Baseball, the official encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. In researching for this feature, I got in touch with William Gochenour Jr., the editor/publisher of Trail Seekers, who recently told me John Peter Gochnaur is spelled without an "e" in his surname.

      "You'll see it spelled all different ways, but [Gochnaur] is correct," William wrote me from his trailseekers.com office. "There are over 64 variations of our surname." William also revealed that former major leaguer Jaime Cocanower, a Puerto Rico-born hurler who pitched for the Brewers from 1983-1986, is a distant cousin of Gochnaur as well.

      After scrutinizing the records of the worst of the worst - guys like Frank Emmer, Steve Kiefer, Fred Buelow, Bill Bergen, Jack Nabors and even brief horror shows such as Aloysius Travers - I came to the conclusion that Gochnaur is the worst major league performer ever. Few have been worse than Gochnaur with the bat, and fewer still might have been worse than Gochnaur in the field, but none combined the two-way futility quite the way Gochnaur did.

      After an 11-at-bat cup of coffee with Brooklyn as a 26-year-old rookie in 1901, the right-handed Gochnaur in 1902 was sent to the Indians, for whom he batted a paltry .185 over 459 at-bats with 48 errors. In 1903, Gochnauer again hit .185 (438 at-bats) and this time committed a dubious A.L. record of 98 errors for a porous fielding percentage of .869, undoubtedly the worst major league season ever. Thus was also born the most consistent batting ledger in history. Or as John Phillips, author of Who Was Who in Cleveland Baseball in 1901-1910, wrote, "sadly consistent."

      On cue, that 1903 campaign was Gochnaur's last major league season, ending a two-plus-year major league career that featured a .187 batting average, a .258 on-base percentage and a feeble .240 slugging mark in 908 at-bats. In 264 major league games - all at shortstop - Gochnaur committed 146 errors, an average of one official miscue every 1.8 games. For those who think everyone in those particular days committed such error totals, his career fielding percentage of .901 was well short of the league average (.921). And for those who think Gochnaur had great range, he averaged 5.05 chances per nine innings, well below the league average of 5.44.

      The five-foot-nine, 160-pound Gochnaur, who witnesses say had a rifle arm at short and from time to time made a sensational play, so disappointed with his fielding and especially his wild throws that some wondered whether first baseman Charlie "Piano Legs" Hickman might have been the cause. But a more probable reason for the erratic defense was an injury Gochnaur suffered in an August 5, 1902 game, during which he broke a finger vying to snare a line drive smashed by the vicious-hitting Ed Delahanty. More than a month later, on September 10, Gochnaur made five errors in a doubleheader for a dubious AL record that still stands.

      After compiling the league's worst range factor (total chances divided by games played) among regular shortstops in 1902, Gochnaur's awful 1903 performance dipped to a low no other major leaguer has ever sunk to. Phillips describes Gochnaur's performance this way, "…John's errors were almost a daily curse. No longer could his fielding hide his poor hitting."

      Gochnaur returned to Altoona to play in the Tri-Sate League in 1904 before moving on to the Pacific Coast League, in which circuit he played for an extended period as a member of the San Francisco ball club and the Los Angeles organization. After his playing days, "Goch" - as he was affectionately called - umpired in the Middle Atlantic League, the NY Pennsylvania League, the International League, the Central, Three I, and Kitty circuits.

      A popular man and a friend to many ball players, "Goch" was also helpful, assisting hundreds of Altoona players secure contracts with minor league teams.

      According to the Altoona Mirror, Gochnaur also held jobs as a bartender, city police officer and a Penn railroad policeman. At the age of 53, Gochnaur died of pneumonia on September 27, 1929 in Altoona Hospital. A life-long bachelor who spent 35 years around the game of baseball, Gochnaur left behind six siblings, a score of nephews and nieces, plenty of appreciative ball players and citizens, and a woeful major league ledger.

      So while you're enjoying another Bonds or Rodriguez home run, or another Randy Johnson shutout, just give a passing thought to another Gochnaur error from 100 years ago, if only for the sake of acknowledging both extremes.
      ( http://baseballguru.com/attiyeh/analysismikeattiyeh03.html)
      go sox.

      Pigskin-Fever

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      • #4
        For a ML player with an average length career, I always thought that distinction belonged to Bill Bergen, early century catcher. Hard to beat his hitting in terms of horrors.

        Bill
        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 07-14-2006, 08:17 AM.

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        • #5
          Well Bergen had his defense (much, MUCH more important in deadball then today)

          Bill Bergen knew who would bunt, how often and have great reactions to nail a guy trying to go to 3rd on the SAC. He had a good, accurate arm and was great at talking to Pitchers

          Goch however....wow.

          In my OOTP replay, no matter what I did....this guy was always dropped into AA ball by the CPU program...that's how bad he was LOL

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Imapotato
            Well Bergen had his defense (much, MUCH more important in deadball then today)

            Bill Bergen knew who would bunt, how often and have great reactions to nail a guy trying to go to 3rd on the SAC. He had a good, accurate arm and was great at talking to Pitchers

            Goch however....wow.

            In my OOTP replay, no matter what I did....this guy was always dropped into AA ball by the CPU program...that's how bad he was LOL
            That is very true, JT. As we have agreed on in the past, Bill Bergen's defense must have been out of this world. It saved him from the normal consequences of his non-hitting extravaganza.

            Wish you'd post more, JT. I miss your always sage 'inside baseball' commentary. Are outside activities taking up your time nowadays?

            Old buddy,
            Bill

            Comment


            • #7
              Trivia question for you all:

              What do John Gochnauer, Vinny Castilla, and Bob Bailey have in common?
              Now it is done. The story ends, and there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic can ever be plausible again.

              -Red Smith, New York Herald Tribune, October 4th, 1951

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by william_burgess@usa.net
                That is very true, JT. As we have agreed on in the past, Bill Bergen's defense must have been out of this world. It saved him from the normal consequences of his non-hitting extravaganza.

                Wish you'd post more, JT. I miss your always sage 'inside baseball' commentary. Are outside activities taking up your time nowadays?

                Old buddy,
                Bill

                Nah, just hard to find interesting topics

                I am not one for team ABCS or other trivial nonsense.

                Or the ad naseum of should Dick Allen/Ron Santo etc. be in the Hall

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