As the class in 1945, the Hall of Fame class of 1946 is another loaded one, with a total of ten players getting enshrined. Obviously, Cooperstown made for the lost time during WWII. There are a couple of familiar names in this year’s class, but more unfamiliar ones. Let’s get into it.
Jesse Burkett: Left Fielder, Cleveland Spiders
.342 average, 1,708 runs scored, 2,872 hits, 75 home runs, 952 RBI, 392 stolen bases
During his 16-year career that was mostly spent with the Cleveland Spiders, Burkett was known for what he could do with a bat in his hands. He hit over .300 on eleven different occasions, surpassing the .400 mark twice. He led the league in hits three times, batting average three times, and runs scored twice. Burkett collected 200 or more hits in six seasons, while being the second player in MLB history to hit .400, the first being 1945 Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty. An interesting fact is that Burkett actually came up as a pitcher originally and notched 30 wins in a season while in the Minors.
Frank Chance: First Baseman, Chicago Cubs:
.298 average, 796 runs, 1,273 hits, 20 home runs, 596 RBI, 405 stolen bases
Although playing 17 seasons in the Major Leagues and 15 of those years coming with the Chicago Cubs, Chance is more known for his managerial resume than as a player. He first started to manage in 1905, when he took over a talented Cubs team; Chance proceeded to lead Chicago to four NL Pennants between 1906 and 1910, while winning back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, which unfortunately is the last time the Cubs were able to celebrate something of that magnitude. He also won a league championship in the Pacific Coast League in 1916 with the Los Angeles Angels, and finished his managerial career with a 946-648 record.
Jack Chesbro: Pitcher, New York Yankees:
198-132 record, 2.68 ERA, 2,898 innings pitched, 1,265 strikeouts
Even though Jack Chesbro only pitched for 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, he made the most of them, as you can see in his stat line. He is most well-known for the year that he had in 1904, when he started 51 games, throwing 48 complete games, and compiled a 41-12 record, while posting a 1.82 ERA. All of these games pitched led to 454.2 innings pitched. He led the league in shutouts, wins, and games started twice, and winning percentage three times. He was a known spit baller, which was OK since it was legal until 1920; during the five year span between 1901-1906, he collected 154 out of his 198 wins. Probably the best of all, he threw the first game ever for the Yankees, who where known as the Highlanders when they were established in 1903.
Johnny Evers: Second Baseman, Chicago Cubs:
.270 average, 919 runs scored, 1,659 hits, 12 home runs, 538 RBI, 324 stolen bases
These numbers don’t seem Hall of Fame worthy, but he was inducted by the Veteran’s Committee and was known for being an intelligent and scrappy infielder that was in the middle of the famous Tinker-to-Evans-to-Chance double play combination. He was also tied to winning, celebrating six league pennants and three World Series titles. Evers is unique because he is known as one of the smallest players to play the game, usually weighing in at less than 130 lbs. The pride of Troy, New York also was awarded the MVP award in 1914 when he posted a .279 batting average, .390 on base percentage, one home run, 40 RBI, and 81 runs scored.
Tommy McCarthy: Right Fielder, Boston Beaneaters:
.294 average, 1,050 runs scored, 1,485 hits, 44 home runs, 732 RBI, 506 stolen bases
In his 13-year career in the 19th century, McCarthy was known for his speed and approach at the plate. He scored more than 100 runs in a season seven times (which all happened consecutively), topped 40 stolen bases six times, while stealing more than 100 in 1888 to help win a pennant for the St. Louis Browns. What is remarkable is that he earned 20% of his career stolen bases in just one year!
Joe McGinnity: Pitcher, New York Giants:
246-141 record, 2.66 ERA, 3,459 innings pitched, 1,068 strikeouts.
While only playing 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, it pretty safe to say that Joe McGinnity was a dominant pitcher, averaging 24 wins per season. The legendary pitching topped the 20-win plateau eight times, 30 wins twice, and led the league in ERA once, wins five times, innings pitched four times, and complete games twice. McGinnity was known for his toughness, which was summed up in the fact that he would pitch both games of a double header. In 1903, he did so three times, winning each of the six games. Once he was done in the Majors at the age of 37, he continued pitching until he as 54 in the Minor Leagues.
Eddie Plank: Pitcher, Philadelphia Athletics:
326-194 record, 2.35 ERA, 4,502 innings pitched, 2,246 strikeouts
Eddie Plank is considered one of the best left-handed pitchers to ever toe the rubber, compiling the third-highest win total and recording the most shutouts and complete games by any southpaws. Even though he didn’t play baseball until he got to high school, he ended up playing in the Majors for 17 years and helped the Athletics dominate in the newly formed American League by winning six pennants and two world titles. Plank eclipsed the 20-win plateau on eight different occasions and did so with finesse and a big, sweeping curveball. He was honored as the 68th greatest MLB player by The Sporting News in 1999.
Joe Tinker: Shortstop, Chicago Cubs:
.263 average, 773 runs scored, 1,695 hits, 31 home runs, 783 RBI, 337 stolen bases
The final piece of the famous double play trio that also included fellow 1946 inductees Frank Chance and Johnny Evers, Joe Tinker developed the reputation as a clutch performer that was aggressive and fast on the field. He led all National League shortstops in fielding while helping the Cubs become the most successful team in the early 1900s. Tinker average 28 stolen bases per year for his career and stole home twice in one game in 1910, which has been done less than a dozen times in MLB history.
Rube Waddell: Pitcher, Philadelphia Athletics:
193-143 record, 2.16 ERA, 2,962 innings pitched, 2,316 strikeouts
Another legendary lefty, Rube Waddell was a colorful player during his 13-year career; he possessed pinpoint control of his above average fastball and curveball. His manager, Connie Mack, saw the talent that Waddell had and helped mold him into the successful pitcher that he became; he topped the 20-win plateau on four different occasions (while doing so consecutively) and won the pitcher’s Triple Crown in 1905 by leading the league with 27 wins, a 1.48 ERA, and 287 strikeouts. A pitcher that was known for his ability to strike out opposing hitters, Waddell led the AL in strikeouts six years in a row.
Ed Walsh: Pitcher, Chicago White Sox:
195-126 record, 2.54 ERA, 2,962 innings pitched, 1,736 strikeouts
MLB’s all-time ERA leader enjoyed a wonderful career over his 14 seasons, with all but one being with the Chicago White Sox. His most impressive year came in 1908, when he posted a 40-15 record, 1.42 ERA, 42 complete games, and 464 innings pitched. He led the league in innings pitched four times, shutouts three times, complete games twice, and games played in five times. Walsh also has the second-best WHIP in MLB history, and enjoyed six seasons with a sub-2.00 ERA and four 20-win seasons. An interesting thing to note is that he put together the lowest ERA for a pitcher with a losing record when he posted a 1.27 ERA in 1910 while having a record of 18-20.
With two back-to-back classes loaded with players that had an ever lasting impact on the game of baseball, next week we look at the class of 1947, with only four inductees.