No announcement yet.

Check which of the Following Players, you feel were great.

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #46
    Originally posted by leecemark
    --be shaken off or have the pitches called from the dugout. Some managers perfer that control regardless of who is catching. Some pitchers also call their own games. Ultimately what pitch gets shown should be the pitchers call anyway. I'd rather see a pitcher throwing the "wrong" pitch with confidence than the "right" pitch that he doesn't think it best for the situation.

    I think it needs to be a team effort, with the Catcher suggesting and the pitcher deciding what to throw. A good catcher builds trust with his staff. For example, on Monday, Scott Eyre comes in for the Giants in the top of the 8th. He's throwing to Mike Matheny, who suggested a curve on a 3-2 count which Eyre threw for a strikeout. After the game he was giving all the praise to Matheny, stating that he'd have never thrown that pitch in that situation before, but he trusted Matheny (smart move!) and it worked!

    That's the type interaction that makes a good staff better. The Giants pichers can't stop talking about how great it has been for them to throw to Matheny instead of the catcher-who-shall-not-be named who is now on the south side of Chicago.

    “Well, I like to say I’m completely focused, right? I mean, the game’s on the line. It’s not like I’m thinking about what does barbecue Pop Chips and Cholula taste like. Because I already know that answer — it tastes friggin’ awesome!"--Brian Wilson


    • #47
      --It will be interesting to see if the switch from a catcher reviled for his lack of preparation to one regarded as amoung the best in the game will result in a significant (or any) improvement in results. I know Bill is a Giants fan so he will be able to match his theory being tested up close this summer.
      --I certainly wouldn't say a catcher can't help his staff by calling a better game, framing piches better and being able to get them back on track when things get off kilter. It seems impossible that a catcher with good skills in that area wouldn't be helping his teams pitching.
      --The question is how much can a player help his teams with those somewhat intangible skills and how much offense can you trade off to get that player in the lineup. 100 points of OPS maybe? I could see playing a guy with great defensive skills and a line of 250/300/350 over a mediocore defender with a line of 250/350/400. Probably not if the defender is more like 250/280/320 or the hitter is at 250/350/450. Unless we're talking the best defender ever vs the worst defender ever, 150 points is probably going to be more than you can make up defensively.


      • #48
        My original passion for this subject of offensive/defensive value in catchers is born out of my frustration that Buck Ewing is so under-rated by history.

        But my same passion carries over to Biz Mackey, I-Rod, Bench, Charlie Bennett. A long while ago, I asked the house if offense was how we rated our catchers, and the few who bothered to respond indicated that, "Yeah, that pretty much sums it up."

        I am only going to the barricades here on the very best catchers of history. I'm not going to make a crusade over all merely good catchers. With apologies to Del Crandall, Schalk, Fisk, Carter, and a lot of other really good defensive guys, whose hitting was marginal anyway, I'm focusing on the most elite, top end guys of history. I'll confine myself to those 5, for now.

        Ewing, Mackey, Bench, I-Rod. I'd love to include Kling, Archer, Bennett and Bergen, but their bats were just not there.

        I doubt if I can support my theory for these reasons.

        1. Calling a perfect game is initially the catchers value, but soon becomes part of the pitchers knowlege. So by sharing his art, it now becomes the pitchers art. And now the pitcher needs to receive his credit for becoming a better, more experienced pitcher. Now they must share the value as a good battery.

        2. Cutting off the running game. Now I fully realize that all of us know that the catcher's arm cannot be measured by assists, throwing out base-runners. It takes no time for the word to go out as to whose arm is not to be challenged, and whose arms are glass.

        3. Keeping the troops in fighting trim. Even as a fiery sparkplug, like Cochrane, once the directives are barked out, the troops catch fire, and soon, it's the team spirit, and now they fire up. So, catcher is hall monitor. Rides herd on his pride and keeps tabs on the ebb & flow of the game.

        4. Honors/Awards are a valid way to measure peers opinions. GGs/All-Star teams, MVP shares, Hall of Fame, salaries, peer's opinions are all good indications of relative value. Not definitive, I realize, but still carry some weight.

        If all of one's generation insist that one is the best, that means something. For example: All of Kling's contemporaries insisted he was the premier defensive cather of his era, not Bresnahan. Strickly defensively, mind you.
        Not even the excellent Jimmy Archer could keep their pennants intact in 1909, but with Kling back for '10, one more pennant! That kind of record talks more loudly than stats, in Burgessland.

        I'd very much like to see catchers ERA (CERA) if figures exist for the old days. Seeing them for Ewing, Bennett, Bergen, Kling, Schalk would be a real delight. I wonder why they stopped being popular? How did they seperate out the value of better pitchers from the catcher's component?

        I also am prepared to recognize that ending up on winners is a little more acceptable in the case of catchers, than the hitting superstars, but feel real vulnerable if I open up this particular can of night crawlers.

        So after having said that, I'd love for someone to prove me wrong! So anyone else having good ideas, let's get going.

        Bill Burgess
        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-19-2006, 09:45 PM.


        • #49
          I went with my gut feelings. I voted for Yaz because I believe he was one of the most consistently very good players in history, and he had a historically great peak at a time when great hitting was at a premium. I went with Jackie Robinson because of his historical impact on the game, as well as the fact he helped change up the game a bit(in the 1940s and 1950s there weren't a great deal of speedsters, and I think people began to forget about using speed as a weapon. He changed that.) Also, he only played 9 seasons, so when you look at his statistics in that context, they're pretty impressive. I went with Oscar Charleston because, from what research I've done, I can safetly assume he was one of the greatest Negro League players of all time, and would've been one of the greatest players in the history of the Major Leagues(although it's difficult to gauge.) I went with Ralph Kiner because if he had played 20 seasons he could've very possibly hit 600 home runs, and I went with Joe Morgan because he was the leader of some of the greatest teams in history, and he is one of the best second basemen ever.


          • #50
            We're now up to 45 voters in this poll/survey. I'd like to thank everyone who took part. Of course it doesn't mean much, since we all defined "great" according to our own inner dictates. Which is proper. Looks like Jackie Robinson "won" it, with 38 out of 45 votes. 88% of Fever voters ain't bad.

            Top vote getters out of 45 voters were:

            Jackie Robinson-------38 (88%)
            Joe Morgan --------- 31
            Yaz -----------------28
            Pete Rose -------- 28
            Oscar Charleston - 26
            George Sisler ------26
            Harmon Killebrew -- 25
            Rod Carew ------ 23
            Charlie Gehringer - 21
            Willie Stargel ---- 20
            Ralph Kiner ------ 20
            Last edited by Bill Burgess; 04-09-2005, 04:40 PM.


            • #51
              Who's counting

              Mr. Burgess, I only got four catchers in your "Big 5", two without relative credentials as they played in a league below major league level in a variety (though not all) analyses, and neither of whom were named Josh Gibson. I understand Ewing was great, and that Mackey was 'the' teacher to many, but hey, most of that era agree that Josh was the Man. Then we have the "No Berra" moment, and I still am not sure about a 3-time MVP, Campy, not rating with you guys. IRod , multiple MVP? Remember, you all call the late 40s/esp. the 50s the most competitive era... Carter had a bat, by the by. It's really cool to learn more about some of these Negro League stars, but it seems that you might be overdoing the devotion a touch. As a kinda stupid parallel, it's like saying that George McGinniss was the greatest power forward ever 'cause he dominated the ABA, which had the horses, just not enough of them to compete with the NBA. What about Earl Manigault, or Rik Cobb the Elevator Man? Those guys ruled the Harlem Rucker Playground League, tougher than... heck, I could have been a 6-4" gaijin shortstop, Caucasian-type, living in Japan, not allowed to play for the Seibu Lions or the Orix Blue Wave 'cause I didn't fit the quota. But I was really really good...

              Think of it in era-increments. If Kling or Bresnahan were representative of their era's best, then maybe Dickey and Cochrane and Gibson, then Berra and Campanella, then Bench, then Ivan Rodriguez and Piazza, who have we left out that really needs to be there? Was Mackey, or Ewing, that much an offensive separator? 'Cause defensively, so hard to judge in retrospect, other than subjectively. Leadership a good indicator but heck, Varitek has that, is a good hitter, a fine receiver, game caller, one of the best today, he does not separate. Is he Cochrane, c. 2000? How about Pudge and the pretty distinct steroid face?

              Your knowledge of esoteric baseball history is delightful in that you are helping to render individuals, and moments, less esoteric. Beware the self-fulfilling prophecy bugaboo, that the grass must always be greener...


              • #52

                I haven't shown this for a couple of months, so I'll repost it for you. This post appears on the 1st page of Ty Cobb General Thread, as message 22. Do you have access to Sporting News online, via paperofrecord? For anyone here on Fever who has this, here is a must read article on Buck Ewing, by the amazing John B. Foster, one of the most knowlegeable men ever on BB. (The Sporting News, Feb.18, 1932, pp. 5, "Buck Ewing Called Greatest Catcher in Game's History, by John B. Foster)

                Introducing Buck Ewing: October 27, 1859 - October 20, 1906;
                NL catcher, IF, OF, 3B, 2B, P, 1880-97
                NL manager, 1890, 1895-1900

                Bill James; Nov. 5, 1949 - Still Alive;
                Prolific author of BB books, popularized new study of BB stats, called "sabermetrics", amazingly widely-read
                on BB subjects.

                First called my attention to Buck Ewing, in his 1st Hist. Abstract, pp. 33-35. Bill points out that many respected BB men considered Ewing to be the greatest all-around PLAYER ever, not simply the greatest catcher. John B. Foster, Mickey Welch and Monte Ward all thought Buck was the greatest ballplayer ever to play the game, until the day they died. That got my attention. Sadly, Bill now down-rates Buck as a catcher due to so few games caught.

                John P. McCarthy, Jr. also chooses Buck as his catcher on his A team, from his book, Baseball's All Time Dream Team, 1994.

                Connie Mack, Dec. 22, 1862 - Feb. 6, 1956;
                NL catcher (1886-96), Phil Athletics' manager (1901-50)
                Had Ewing as his catcher as late as Dec. 24, 1931, and John McGraw had Buck as his catcher until he died.

                John McGraw, April 7, 1873 - Feb. 25, 1934;
                ML 3B (1891-06); Baltimore Oriole man. (1899 , 01-02), NY Giants man. 1902-32)
                Had Buck as his catcher until he died.

                Grantland Rice, Nov. 1, 1880 - July 13, 1954;
                (Atlanta, Cle., Nashville, NY spwr. 1902-54) Most loved, and widely read sports writer of all time.
                Put him on a All Time team in 1918. (Sporting News, Jan. 10, 1918, pp. 5, column 2.)

                4. Clark Griffith, Nov. 20, 1898 - Oct. 27, 1955;
                (ML pitcher,1891-14), (Senators manager,1901-20), Senators owner,1920-55
                Chose Buck as his catcher of his scientific team in 1952, and Cochrane/Dickey for his "power" team. (Sporting News, July 23, 1952, pp. 12)

                A 3rd book describing Buck is The Greatest Giants of Them All by Arnold Hano, 1967. The section describing Buck is superb and too long to insert here. But one can read this cool fascinating stuff on Buck Ewing through inter-library loans, for almost free.

                Buck Ewing has been my catcher for about 17 years now. He was reputed to have been the best all-around PLAYER of the 1800's.

                John B. Foster, July 16, 1863-Sept. 29, 1941;
                NY spwr., 1888-1941, Editor-in-Chief of Official Spalding Baseball Guide(1908-41), NY Giants business manager/secretary, 1912-1919.
                In spring, 1938, John B. Foster, the long time editor of Spalding Official Baseball Guide, from 1908-41, finally chose his all-time team, and chose Ewing as his choice for the Greatest Ever Player. Foster had been watching players come and go since 1887.

                Here is John Foster's entry for Ewing, from that 1938 Guide.
                "The first to be picked, and the first who should be selected in this stretch of fifty years, is William Ewing, better known as Buck."

                "He is to be the catcher. He has been called the greatest all-round player ever connected with the game. I think that he was. He pitched, played every position on the infield and played the outfield. He did not play at them but played them. I was ready to laugh at his efforts when he essayed to pitch, but he quickly cured me of the inclination. Although he did not have the finesse of Tim Keefe, that great pitcher who was his contemporary, he showed that he had the art, was thoroughly conversant with the batter's weakness, and was doing his level best to pitch to it.

                The great speed of Keefe, the curves of Mickey Welsh and the cannonball service of ponderous Ed Crane were missing in Ewing, yet he had an effective style of his own and the batter was not slow in ascertaining it. He was a good adviser to his brother "Long John."

                As a thrower to bases Ewing never had a superior, and there are not to exceed ten men who could come anywhere near being equal to him. Ewing was the man of whom it was said, He handed the ball to the second baseman from the batter's box. George W. Howe, treasurer of the Cleveland club, once asked the manager of the team, Oliver Tebeau, why the runners of Cleveland, who were very good, did not steal bases more often when they play New York. Because they're out before they start, was the quick replay. "That man behind the bat for New York can't be fooled. He knows when a runner is going to start practically as soon as the runner decides to make the attempt, and he shoots the ball down to Richardson, who catches the best man we've got.

                He stands up an waits for him to come, and makes our runners look foolish."
                What was said by Tebeau voiced the sentiment of every other captain in the league. Even the famed Mike Kelly used to study Ewing for minutes at a time, trying to find out how he managed to get the ball to second so smoothly and quickly." (Spalding NL Official Base Ball Guide, 1938, pp. 14)

                Francis C. Richter, Jan. 26, 1854-Feb. 12, 1926;
                Philadelphia sportswriter (1876-1926), AL Reach Baseball Guide Editor-In-Chief (1901-1926, death)

                John B. Foster's counterpart, Francis C. Richter, who had been watching ballplayers since the 1868, chose Ewing as the Greatest Player Ever in 1919.
                Mr. Richter was a Phil. spwr. since 1872, and served as the Editor-In-Chief of the AL Official Base Ball Guide from 1902-1926. He had started sp. dept. at newspapers, and was of the most influential movers & shakers in baseball. Even though by 1925, Richter had evolved to Cobb, that only served to prove that he had never allowed himself to grow stale. Here is the quote from Richter, taken from the 1919 Reach AL Baseball Official Guide.

                "It is a difficult, not to say ungrateful, task to select any one player as superior to all the rest, though we have always been inclined to consider Catcher-Manager William (Buck) Ewing in his prime, from 1884 to 1890, as the greatest player of the game. From the standpoint of supreme excellence in all departments-batting, catching fielding, base running, throwing and base ball brains-a player without a weakness of any kind, physical, mental, or temperamental. . . ."

                I have seen all the players in the major leagues in action since 1868, and . . . Ty Cobb appears to me to be, with two exceptions, just a trifle superior to all the rest. . . these two exceptions are Buck Ewing, the greatest catcher that ever stood in shoe leather and Hans Wagner, the super-excellent shortstop of the Pittsburgh club." (Reach AL Baseball Official Guide, 1919)

                John McGraw, April 7, 1873 - Feb. 25, 1934;
                ML 3B (1891-06); Baltimore Oriole man. (1899 , 01-02), NY Giants man. 1902-32)
                In 1919, John McGraw had this to say about Buck. "Roger Bresnahan was the greatest catcher I ever saw, always excepting Buck Ewing."
                (Baseball Magazine, May, 1919, pp. 14)

                Four years later, In his autobiography in 1923, John J. McGraw, had this to say about Buck Ewing. He came as near to being a catcher without a single weakness as the game has ever known. In fact, Buck Ewing was a Ty Cobb behind the bat. He had a mental capacity equal to his playing ability. Ewing could handle a team perfectly. He had an uncanny knack of getting the jump on the pitchers.

                No player ever studied a rival pitcher's delivery closer and was so quick to take advantage of the slightest false move. As a thrower Buck excelled. He got the ball away from him with a quick round arm snap, no time being wasted. Buck threw what is known as a very "heavy" ball, one that dropped in the baseman's hand like a lump of lead. Ewing had so much confidence in his throwing that I have seen him deliberately roll the ball away from him just to tempt the base runner into a steal. He was hard hitter as well as a scientific place hitter. Roger Bresnahan was a close second to Ewing in all that goes to make a great catcher." (John J. McGraw, My Thirty Years in Baseball, by John J. McGraw, as told to Bozeman Bulger, 1923, pp. 214)

                In a truly wonderful article for The Sporting News, dated Feb.18, 1932, John B. Foster, gives a glowing description of Ewing. I've cherry-picked a few choice tid-bits from that article.

                "There are some who think Charley Bennett was a trifle superior to Ewing and some who incline to Mike Kelly. Of these two, Bennett was much the better. Kelly was popular with the crowd, but, as a technician, he was not the equal of Bennett, and the latter was not the equal of Ewing in brilliancy as well as in physical attainments.

                One day, he was talking about throwing and about his arm. "I can snap them just as easy as I can throw them." he said. What's the use of standing up every time you want to catch a man off the bases. You have got to lose two steps on the runner while you are straightening yourself out. You see, my forearm is pretty strong," extending his arm for inspection, as he said it.

                "I've got good muscles below the elbow and around it. I'll bet that I can throw into the outfield using my forearm only, nearly as far as some players can throw if they put all they have into an overhand motion." "But don't you think that some day you will hurt your arm by so much of this forearm snapping of the ball?" "I don't see why. It's there, and good. Tell me what difference it makes if you use the muscles of your lower arm, depend upon them, you might say, and don't use the muscles around your shoulder." It may not make any difference, but some baseball men, you know, have a hunch that your forearm will give out quicker than your upper arm."

                I'm still goin'," was the reply. Yet that was the very thing that happened. (Spring, 1892) His forearm did give out and he could no longer snap the ball as he had, but he could throw fairly well overhand and so he played in the outfield after he had finished catching.

                Ewing could handle the delivery of any pitcher. He was as remarkable in that respect as he was in others. Ed Crane, who was called Hercules in his day--and he was the model of a Hercules--had more speed than any other pitcher in the National League, but did not know how to control the ball, and to try to catch him was a task and something of a physical feat, for he had the reputation of tearing up the hands of a catcher because of his speed. Ewing could handle him and escape the punishment that other catchers seemed to receive and he could get winning games out of him where others failed to keep him steady.

                As a field general, Buck brought the Giants into the championship class. John Ward had tried it and failed. Ward was a good leader, but not of the type of Ewing, and not qualified to handle a team like the Giants as successfully as Ewing could handle them. Buck knew the plays and the players of other teams. I doubt whether any catcher ever knew opposing batters more thoroughly than he did and that helped to make him great.

                One day, I told him I thought he led all the catchers in baseball history . . ."I'm glad you think so," said Buck. "I tried to do the best I could and oh, man, but I did love to play with the old Giants. I used to think that if I could catch as well as Charley Bennett was catching for Boston, we could win the championship. We only beat 'em a game in 1889, so there couldn't have been much difference between me and Charley." (The Sporting News, Feb.18, 1932, pp. 5, "Buck Ewing Called Greatest Catcher in Game's History, by John B. Foster)

                John M. Ward - "There will never be another Ewing. He is on top. He was a great hitter and a brilliant man back of the plate."

                Ward was being quoted by Granny Rice. (The History of Baseball, by Allison Danzig and Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 255, column 1)

                Tim Keefe - Upon Buck's death on Oct. 21, 1906, his former pitcher, Tim Keefe had these comments. "The other players on the team would go through fire and water for Buck, and I believe no better captain ever stepped upon a ball field. The game has not in its ranks to-day any one who can approach him. I say most unhesitatingly that I never knew his equal as an all-around ball player.

                "He was a fine fellow both on and off the field. While the greatest catcher of ancient or modern times, he could do a smart trick in the box, and once almost killed Roger Conner with one of his fast ones. He could play any infield position skillfully. I never saw any one play a deeper short than he. He was a great man for his pitcher, for he knew how to steady him, and no one ever made a deeper study of the weaknesses of opposing batsman." (Washington Post, Oct. 28, 1906, pp. S4)

                Cap Anson, April 11, 1852 - April 14, 1922;
                (ML 1B, 1871-97), (ML man., 1875, '79-98)
                The best catcher I ever saw was Buck Ewing, who caught for the Giants when they won the world's championship in 1888 and 1889. I have never to this day seen his equal, but little Walters, of the New York Yankees, reminds me of Ewing's throwing on bases. "Ewing was a quick thinker and a natural born leader. (Washington Post, June 3, 1917, pp. S18)

                Sam Crane, Jan. 2, 1854-June 26, 1925;
                ML 2B, 1880-90. NY sportswriter, 1990-25
                "Buck Ewing was the best catcher I ever saw," says Crane. "He had everything." (Baseball Magazine, April, 1918, pp. 475)

                4. Clark Griffith, Nov. 20, 1898 - Oct. 27, 1955;
                (ML pitcher,1891-14), (Senators manager,1901-20), Senators owner,1920-55
                "In the catching line, the stars of the present day, are not as good as those of the other days. Buck Ewing never has known an equal as a catcher. I call him the best ball player the world ever has known. The only man who ever approached him was Mike Kelly, of the old Chicago White Sox. Kelly, too, was a wonder, but not quite equal to Ewing." (Washington Post, April 26, 1914, pp. S2.)

                Ned Hanlon, Aug. 22, 1857-April 14, 1937;
                ML OF 1880-92, NL man. 1889-1907, exc. 1890 player's L. manager.
                "No man ever had anything on Buck Ewing as a catcher. He had a wonderful arm, a great head, and was, in my opinion, the best all-round player that ever lived." (Washington Post, Oct. 28, 1906, pp. S4) By 1909, Ned had evolved to Ty Cobb, as his number one ranked player, all time.

                John B. Sheridan, Jan. 22, 1870-April 14, 1930;
                St. Louis spwr. (1888-1929), Sporting News column, "Back of Home Plate", 1917-29

                (Joe) Vila questions the equality of Roger Bresnahan as a catcher to Buck Ewing, Mike Kelly or Charley Bennett. I have had doubts between Breshahan and Ewing, but none about Bresnahan or Ewing's superiority to Kelly or Bennett. To my mind, Kelly was a great personality rather than a great ball player. He was, when fit, a good hitter, a clever base runner or entertaining player, but he never appealed to me as a great technician behind the bat. Charley Bennett was slow, and a good mark to pitch to, a good thrower. Ewing could receive, plan, throw, hit and run bases. I have always agreed Buck was one of the three greatest catchers, Bresnahan and Kling being the other two. I believe that Ewing and Kling had technically, better hands, were better receivers and takers of throws than Bresnahan . . . (Sporting News, February 11, 1926, pp. 4, column 6)

                William B. Hanna, Oct., 1956? - Nov. 20, 1930;
                NY sportswriter, 1888-1930
                "Buck Ewing, more than any other catcher, combined the four cardinal qualities of physical greatness as a backstop. He was A1 as a batter, fielder, base runner and in head work. If you'll think over the other catchers you will find few, if any, who had all of these virtues.

                Roger Breshahan came nearest, or Wally Schang, or Wilber Robinson. They were faster afoot than most catchers. A number of receivers could hit and catch and throw as well as Ewing, possibly Bennett was great as a backstop. So were Johnny Kling, Lou Criger, Martin Bergen, Jimmy Archer, Billy Sullivan and Bill Killefer, and Doe Bushong. So are Schalk, Severeid, Bassler and O'Farrell, the last named one of the best of the day for all around excellence. None has made the intaglio-like impress of Ewing. (Baseball Magazine, June, 1924, pp. 300, "Did you ever stop to realize that Roger Bresnahan is the second Buck Ewing of Baseball?" I hadn't, having created a sacred pedestal for Ewing. They broke the Ewing mould. (NY Herald Tribune, Dec. 31, 1926, From an Oldtimer's Notebook, by W. B. Hanna)

                Joe Vila, Dec.16, 1886 - April 27, 1934;
                NYC sports writer, 1893-1934
                "A six footer, weighing 180 pounds, Ewing was noted for his all-around skill. He was a smart backstop, possessing a complete knowledge of the weak points of enemy hitters, a magnificent thrower to bases, always a .300 hitter and rated among the fastest base runners. Ewing not only was superb catcher, but he played every infield position capably and on several occasions showed that he would pitch with more than ordinary skill. "The History of Baseball: Its great Players, Teams and Managers, ed. By Allison Danzig & Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 256) Joe Vila wrote the above quote in the NY Sun in 1934.

                Lee Allen, (Jan. 12, 1915 - May 20, 1969);
                (Cincinnati spwr. 1945 - 1958), (Hall of Fame Historian, 1959-69);
                "But Detroit also had Charlie Bennett, considered the greatest catcher in the game except for Buck Ewing;" (The National League Story, by Lee Allen, 1961, pp. 61)

                On more than one occasion he caught a brilliant game on one day, and on the following afternoon put in Bill Brown behind the bat and went into the box himself. In the fall of 1888 Ewing went to California as one of the star attractions of the Championship Giants, assisted by Mike Kelly, Jerry Denny, and Tom Brown. Ewing performed the remarkable feat of pitching every game played on that trip, sometimes two in a day, and winning all except one. The following year he caught eighty championship contests for the Giants without missing a game.

                As aggressive a player as Buck was, he was never a rowdy in an age of unruly players. He didn't verbally abuse anyone and hence was extremely popular with all. One day in the spring of 1892, when he went to Connecticut to play an exhibition game with the New York's. It was snowing and the wind was cold and raw. Ewing made a quick throw to second base and something snapped in this shoulder. He never fully recovered the use of his throwing arm afterward.

                During his career, he accumulated a small fortune that allowed him to live in comfort after he retired from the game. In the 7 yrs. After he retired from baseball until his death, he lived well-to-do, owning considerable property throughout the West. He had always had the good common sense to put away a good part of each year's stipend.

                Bill James, in his 1st Historical Abstract, 1985, said that while he wasn't including players from pre-1900 and the Negro leagues in his top 100 All-Time list, he considered players Buck Ewing, Satchel Paige, and Oscar Charleston, not beneath his list, but in the top 10 in some other invisible theoretical list, alongside of it. Sadly, in his 2nd Historical Abstract, 2001, he doesn't include Ewing in his top 100 list, due to his catching only 636 games in 13 yrs. He rates Buck only 17 among catchers all-time. I first discovered Buck Ewing in Bill's 1st Historical Abstract. And I've seen no reason to down-rate him since. Buck stopped catching at age 32, because he threw his famous forearm out in spring, 1892.

                Most people today don't remember that in 1936, there were supposed to originally be 5 pre- 1900 players elected along with the Original 5. It didn't work out that way. Needing 59 votes to get in, the leading vote getters were Buck Ewing with 40, Cap Anson 40, Keeler 33, Young 32 Ed Delahanty 22, McGraw 17, Herman Long 16, Charlie Radbourn 16, Mike Kelly 16, Amos Rusie 12. So none got elected.

                So, in 1939, Judge Landis, Ford Frick and William Harridge selected Buck Ewing, Cap Anson, Al Spalding, Candy Cummings, Comiskey, Radbourne for inclusion in the Hall. Less desirous way to get in. Apparently, the post 1930 world has forgotten why 40 original voters thought Buck Ewing was fully the equal of Anson, as a player. I plan to remind them.

                Most well-informed baseball fans now consider Buck Ewing the best all-around player who played pre-1900.

                Bill James once considered Buck Ewing to be among the top 10 all-around position players of a theoretical All-Time list.

                Author John P. McCarthy, Jr., who wrote Baseball's All-Time Dream Team, 1994, considers Buck Ewing the greatest catcher of all time.

                I contend that the immortal Buck Ewing was the greatest catcher of all time, and until 1892, among the Top 10 All-Around Position Players of All Time, and the greatest All-Around Player of the 1800's.

                (I consider Ewing, Mackey and Bennett to be the 3 great catchers of history, who are presently not acknowleged by fans, experts in general. And I'm trying to nudge things along. If that is possible. I also consider Sporting News and Proquest to be essential and critical resources for any serious analyst to have access to. Can't get the work done without them.)

                Bill Burgess
                Last edited by Bill Burgess; 04-10-2005, 01:46 AM.


                • #53
                  --Bill, Ewing was the greatest catcher and arguably the greatest player of his time. However, his time was the 1880s. There has been alot of baseball played since. Being an all time great in the first 20 years of MLB and being an all time great after 130 years of MLB aren't quite the same thing.
                  --The game Ewing dominated was not really baseball as we know it. I've joined you in campaigning for Buck for the BBF Hof. I agree he deserves recognition for being a great player and the first great catcher. That said, dominating the semi-pro fast pitch softball game of his era doesn't vault him over the greats of real baseball from the 30s, such as Cochrane, Hartnett and Dickey or integrated ball of the 50s, such as Berra and Campanella or fully evolved ball, such as Bench, Fisk and Carter or the current game, such as Rodriguez and Piazza.
                  --Even with all the questions about quality of play in the Negro Leagues, that league in the the 1930s was almost certainly a better game than MLB in the 1880s. Gibson was a different type of player than Ewing, but he too was widely regarded as the premier catcher and arguably best player of his league and time.
                  --I've not no problem mentioning Ewing in the same category as the men mentioned above. If you want to call Ewing the best of his time and one of the top dozen of all time I'm with you. It takes ignoring the existence of 100 years of greatly improved baseball to call him the best of all time and I'm not willing to do that.
                  --As to ranking Mackey over Gibson, very few people who saw them play would agree with that assessment. What stats we have say picking Mackey over Gibson would be akin to picking Mike Matheny over Mike Piazza. That is way more value than I can give to defensive play.


                  • #54

                    I agree and acknowlege that you have been very supportive and appreciative of Buck Ewing's case and for that I am very, very grateful.

                    There is a reason why I appear to be such a gadfly on this particular issue and player. I apologize if I appear annoying in the face of many good and sensible and logical arguments as to Ewing's ancient level of competition. I agree with you on that by the way. Why do I persist in pushing his case to the front of the line?

                    I think one would have to read about him and the kind of player he was. It wasn't merely his mechanical gifts, though his arm was a Bench-like cannon, only faster, since he fired from his haunches, never rose from his crouch.

                    It was his mind, Mark. And his degree of competitive fire. He was an insatiable student of the game. The type who would be the first to study any innovation, grow with anything and everything.

                    So, yes, his time/league seeks to keep him forever imprisoned in a quagmire of incompetence, the man shines like a lighthouse for me. Guys the level of Mike Kelly would study Buck to see how he mastered every nuance. His mastery of batter weakness/strengths. Ewing even took a few turns on the mound, and his peers took note of how he tried to pitch to batter weaknesses.

                    One needs sporting news/proquest to access how a player is perceived even after he leaves the scene. And in this one particular case, Mr. Ewing's case requires an appeal. His former enslavement to his times deserves to be over-turned and given a new trial. Good evidence, Your Honor.

                    And don't think I haven't appreciated you as a sincere Buck ally, Mark. I don't forget my friends here. So thanks for the open mind.

                    Bill Burgess

                    PS. I used to have Buck Ewing as my 3rd greatest overall position player of all time, after Ty/Hans. I've since downrated him to around 10-12.
                    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 04-10-2005, 09:12 AM.


                    • #55
                      A quagire, forsooth, o knight

                      Cor an' stone th' crows, but we've tied on to a dilly here, mates. Let's go with the obvious, that Buck Ewing was his era's Ruthian equivalent from the multi-dimensional standpoint, and that contemporary accounts put him in the same league as Wagner, and Cobb. Whoa. Yet this is a catcher with the arrogance to suggest that his throwing motion need not change, some short years before throwing his arm out with that selfsame motion? Not impressed. However, Mr. Burgess makes an intriguing and convincing case for, well, listening to his reasoning. Well-researched and written, and difficult to take umbrage with, and... do let's go back to era dominance. Ewing is ceded, and your references are overwhelming in that regard. FOR HIS ERA. Kling, Bresnahan, then, well, no reason to be repetitive, it goes by era, the perception of greatness is our only legacy. Else, no history books.

                      My absolute best baseball nightmare involves Ewing (it used to be Bresnahan) trying to catch Randy Johnson, and the confrontations that would ensue... who would call the pitches? who would know what had just been called? dead/live ball, small/big field, glove size for fielders, attention span, media attention... I mean, let's have this lineup:

                      P: RJ, angry
                      C: Ewing, confused at all the questioned calls
                      1B:Anson, thinking he owned the place
                      2B: LaJoie, give me a hit or else
                      SS: Maranville, all glove, baby
                      3B: Baker, I'm the Home Run King
                      LF: Szymanski or Keeler
                      CF: Cobb
                      RF: Ruth

                      vs. almost any team that was not as... well, angry.

                      I diverge, but nonetheless, Mr. Burgess, your admirable research into, and defense of, the Ancient Ballplayer remains the stuff of enticement and not conviction. Thanks, though, for the education. Those quotes, those real-time refs, you are an instructor of reference yourself.


                      • #56
                        They were ALL great....maybe not all Hall of Fame great, but great nonetheless.
                        Rooting the Reds home.


                        • #57
                          Anyone else?


                          • #58
                            My votes are in.


                            • #59
                              Well, I checked off only about 6...then was amazed when I saw how many had actually voted for so many players.

                              If these guys were 'great'....what does that make Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, May, and the rest? Immortals? Even Greater Greats? Greatest Greats? Greater Than Great? Beyond Great?

                              I guess I look at tiered level of ranking players. Ruth and company were great. These guys were very good or good. Some {very} good enough to make the HOF....but on a lower level than Ruth and his buddies.

                              Just for the record, here are 'my' Great players:

                              1B > Gehrig, Foxx, and Greenberg (with service time)
                              2B > Hornsby, Collins, Lajoie, Morgan, Jackie Robinson
                              3B > Schmidt, Matthews, and Brett (jury out on the latter two)
                              SS > Wagner
                              LF > Williams, Bonds, Musial, and {maybe} Henderson
                              CF > Mays, Cobb, Speaker, Mantle, DiMaggio
                              RF > Ruth, Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Ott
                              C > Bench, Berra, and likely Piazza
                              P > Johnson, Grove, Alexander, Young, Mathewson, Feller (with service time), Spahn, Maddux, Clemens, and prehaps Randy Johnson.

                              That's it....all the rest are not 'great' in my book.

                              Yankees Fan Since 1957


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Metal Ed
                                Allen Barra did an interesting study on the effects of being caught by Yogi Berra on the performances of pitchers. Don't have it in front of me, but it was enough to convince me that more so than for any other position, the contributions of a catcher to his team go far beyond his stat line. Compounding the problem is the fact that the defenisve stats on catchers are almost unworkable.

                                More so than with any other position, rep and peer evaluations should be used to temper the stats of catchers.
                                I believe you are talking about his piece in his book brushback and knockdowns. I wouldn't take anything from that research. He basically said hey look at all these guys and all the games they won, and how when they played for inferior non yankee teams they didn't win as much. Lets ignore that a lot of them had injury problems or that playing on teams that are not as good offensively and defensively as the greatest team in history tends to make your stats look slightly less better then when you are a yankee. He even states in his summary that the pitching staffs of the Yankees during that time were "one- or two-year wonders, faded veterans who discovered a little gas left in their tank, and also-rans who had a good season or two squeezed out of them and moved on to obscurity."

                                If Yogi was so great at handling the pitching then why was the staff full of these guys?


                                Ad Widget