Sometimes things take you by surprise. One item which sure shocked me was seeing the ten names on the Pre-Integration Hall of Fame ballot who will be voted on by the committee at the winter meetings in December. Candidates for election can include managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players whose most significant career impact was realized during the time period from baseball’s origins through 1946.
The group on the 2016 Pre-Integration ballot includes Doc Adams, Sam Breadon, Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Garry Herrmann, Marty Marion, Frank McCormick, Harry Stovey, Chris von der Ahe and Bucky Walters.
Frankly, I was underwhelmed by some of the names on the list and wondered where Tony “The Count” Mullane and Sherry Magee were, among others. On the other hand, I was shocked to see McCormick in that group. In looking at his career, I never once even thought he was a viable HOF candidate. Let’s face facts, if McCormick gets elected then guys like Keith Hernandez and Bill White should be knocking on the door for their election.
Part of me hopes Wes Ferrell, the better of the two Ferrell major league brothers, is placed into the Hall of Fame. My late friend Dick Thompson wrote a terrific biography of and really crafted a great story about not only Rick and Wes but the entire family. Wes’ election would prove Dick, who was a great researcher in his own right, to be correct in his opinion.
Another important note about the upcoming election is because Ken Griffey Jr is new on the primary ballot and will be voted in easily, there is not the same pressure to have any old-timers inducted to prevent a total shutout in Cooperstown next summer.
What is really fascinating is how few accessible cards there are of the ten nominees. Now granted some of them were owners such as Von der Ahe and Breadon and there is even a note about Adams, who completed his career long before there were baseball cards. In addition, could you imagine how collectors who chase autographs of every Hall of Famer would be struggling to find signatures of some of these guys?
But let’s take a look at the players on the pre-1947 ballot who do have cards issued during their playing days (and later).
- Bill Dahlen started playing in 1891 and lasted long enough to be featured in the T206 set along with the Turkey Red, Fan Craze and some others.
- Wes Ferrell is featured in the 1933 Goudey set, the 1934 Batter-Up, National Chicle premiums and 1934-36 Diamond Stars sets, which were released during his prime seasons.
- Marty Marion lived a very long life, signing autographs up until just a few years ago. He played long enough after his 1944 MVP season to be in Bowman cards through 1953.
- McCormick was featured from the late 1930s to late 40s including Play Ball cards from the peak of his career when he won three batting titles. He’s got a 1949 Bowman card in the high number series.
- Bucky Walters had a few cards in the late 1930s and early 40s and also appeared on a couple of Johnston Cookies Milwaukee Braves cards as a coach in the 50s.
This all means half of the players on this ballot do have cards which are reasonably available to collectors while the others would be quite a struggle when it comes to autographs and cards.
It’s possible none of them make it. Either way, having some of the players from long ago sets in the news again always makes us feel pretty good regardless of the outcome.