I have struggled with the “Negro League Issue” from the get-go. My original premise three years ago was not who SHOULD be in the Hall, but who WOULD be in the Hall if it had started in 1885. A fine-line distinction, I know. But I realized that since none of them were selected prior to 1970, obviously they wouldn’t have been elected in their time and place if the Hall was to do a do-over. So, originally, I had separate elections for Negro Leaguers starting in 1970. When we first started the GOR, I had in mind that we would still elect who WOULD have been elected, and most of my early ballots reflected this philosophy. Within a very few elections, I realized that most of you were voting for who SHOULD be elected. And that changed the scope of what to do with Negro Leaguers.

Still, I was on the fence on whether to include or exclude them, and I still am, which is why I brought up the topic again and added a poll. I was hopeful that a consensus would be obvious, but as I write this, the poll vote is 4 to 4. A couple of people have weighed in on it with comments either in the thread or via Private Messages. And I realize that since this is my baby, I have to cast the deciding vote.

Personally, I think it would be fun, interesting and educational to be inclusive. I know I’d learn a lot. And being a democrat (notice the small d, as opposed to a capital D), it seems only right to include them. They were excluded from the majors for no good reason, other than apathy and ignorance. And yet….

Ultimately, I am choosing to exclude them. Let me give you my reasons, in no particular order:
1. The original premise was a time and place thing. In many ways, this is what I’m most interested in. Not so much the WHO as the WHY people would have been elected.
2. The lack of stats. Altho I’m fairly knowledgeable about these guys, putting them in the “right” order on my ballots would be based on anecdotal evidence more so than statistical evidence. The white players have numbers; the black players have stories. And since this is a Bill James site, I would guess that a lot of us are more comfortable comparing numbers.
3. The lack of reference materials. I collect books, so I have a number of them to look at. I have 5 to 8 books that rank and rate Negro Leaguers (I put 5-8 because a couple of the books are less unbiased than some others; they are agenda driven, so I weigh them considerably less than the others). But I’m not sure how many of us have as much source material as I do. For many, researching the players will be work, as opposed to fun, which is what the GOR should be. I’m guessing that a number of people haven’t joined in the voting yet because they are not that familiar with 19th century players. For those who haven’t, I would guess that they have real lives to attend to, and didn’t have the time to research Bobby Mathews and Mike Tiernan and Fred Dunlap. And so it probably is with Negro Leaguers. I’d rather have more voters as we move away from the 19th century players. And yes, I see the irony: To be more inclusive of VOTERS, I am being exclusive with PLAYERS.

Hopefully, I will not alienate anybody, to the point that they will no longer cast their ballots, with this decision. It truly was a difficult one for me. And by no means, am I sure that I might the right choice.

The ballot this year adds a lot of lesser names. I can’t imagine too many of them receiving votes. We did lose one long-time candidate, Jerry Denny, from lack of votes. And there are quite a few viable candidates who are about to run out of time. This year’s choices:

1 Jesse Burkett
14 Fred Carroll
13 Bob Caruthers 5th
5 Cupid Childs 10th
1 Boileryard Clarke
6 Jack Clements
1 Duff Cooley
1 Jack Doyle
1 Duke Farrell
10 Dave Foutz
1 Danny Green
8 Mike Griffin
1 Ducky Holmes
4 Dummy Hoy
8 Bill Joyce
1 Candy LaChance
2 Herman Long 9th
9 Denny Lyons
7 Ed McKean
12 Tony Mullane 6th
8 Billy Nash
14 Tip O’Neill
1 Dick Padden
14 Hardy Richardson 8th
4 Wilbert Robinson
3 Jimmy Ryan 4th
5 Elmer Smith
1 Joe Sudgen
6 Mike Tiernan 7th
14 Mickey Welch 3rd
3 Chief Zimmer

Bob’s ballot:

1. Mullane
2. Welch
3. Burkett
4. Richardson
5. Ryan
6. Tiernan
7. Griffin
8. Long
9. McKean
10. Caruthers

Terry’s ballot:

1. Jesse Burkett
2. Bob Caruthers
3. Tony Mullane
4. Hardy Richardson
5. Mike Tiernan
6. Jimmy Ryan
7. Mickey Welch
8. Cupid Childs
9. Tip O’Neill
10. Chief Zimmer

Honorable Mention
Jack Clements
Herman Long


Results from 8 ballots:

89 Jesse Burkett
59 Mickey Welch
51 Bob Caruthers
49 Jimmy Ryan
36 Tony Mullane
32 Mike Tiernan
29 Cupid Childs
29 Hardy Richardson
27 Herman Long
26 Tip O’Neill
10 Elmer Smith
6 Jack Clements
6 Dave Foutz
6 Mike Griffin
6 Dummy Hoy
6 Chief Zimmer
5 Ed McKean
4 Fred Carroll
4 Bill Joyce
4 Billy Nash
2 Denny Lyons
2 Wilbert Robinson


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