JoeBlogs Hall of Fame: The Fourth Class
And we go on with our JoeBlogs Hall of Fame — this is our fourth class.
You can find our first three classes here:
First Class: The best of the best of the best.
Second Class: Oscar Charleston, Bob Gibson, Roberto Clemente, uh, good group.
Third Class: Highlighted inductees include Yogi, Barry, Casey and Ueck.
As a reminder, for our first 10 classes, I’m picking a player at all eight positions (I am willing to replace a first baseman with a DH), three pitchers, and two wild-card spots that can go to anybody who has contributed to the game. I’ll admit that the wild-card spots are some of my favorite choices, at least in the early going.
After 10 classes — which will give us 130 players — the system will change. But we have a ways to go before we get there.
If you want to see the players as they might look in the field, you can go to my website and check out the excellent design work of brilliant reader Ray.
Oh, and if you’d like to sign up for JoeBlogs, we do have a cool little promo going right now where you can get a 30-day free trial to see how much you like it. If you don’t like it, you just cancel before the trial ends, and your card won’t be charged.
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Philadelphia—Chicago—St. Louis, 1911-30
“I know that boy ain’t cut out to be a farmer. He ain’t cut out to be anything but just what he is: A fella that wants to play!”
— Aimee’s father about Pete Alexander in “The Winning Team.”
His was a sad and even tragic life, alas, but wow, Pete Alexander could pitch. For three consecutive seasons, from 1915 through 1917, Alexander won the pitcher Triple Crown with most wins, most strikeouts and lowest ERA. Then he went to war, where he suffered injuries that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Then in 1920, he won the pitching Triple Crown again.
I can never reference Alexander without mentioning the unbelievably cool fact that he is the only athlete in American history — and surely the only one forever, unless, you know, The Rock decides to play Warren Spahn in a film — to be named for one president and played by another in a movie. Ronald Reagan played Pete in “The Winning Team.” It’s the only good thing to come out of that movie.
Campy was three and a half years older than his great catching counterpart Yogi Berra, but because of sorrowful circumstances, he got into the league two years later than Yogi and retired six years earlier after being paralyzed in an automobile accident.
Between 1949 and 1955, they each won three MVP awards. In those years:
Campy: .288/.370/.531, 200 homers, 525 runs, 676 RBIs, 134 OPS+, 32.2 WAR, 4 pennants, 1 WS win.
Berra: .293/.358/.495, 181 homers, 616 runs, 742 RBIs, 131 OPS+, 7 pennants, 5 WS wins.
I’m not trying to determine which one was better, but simply making the point that though they came into the game in entirely different ways — Berra was at Normandy on D-Day, Campy played eight years in the Negro Leagues and a couple more in Mexico and Venezuela — they were titanic players at the same time.