Top seed Frank Robinson finds himself in a league with Harry Stovey, Dave Orr, Harry Davis, Charlie Comiskey, Dolph Camilli, fellow Hall-of-Famer Gabby Hartnett, and recent star Torii Hunter.
I can’t say enough about the great Frank Robinson. He pinged my baseball imagination as few other players had. He came to Cleveland in 1974, which was in my early years as a rabid baseball fan. He became the first “Black” manager in major league history – a fact I found absolutely astounding. He was the first “real” player-manager in decades – How cool was that? Diving into his player bona fides he was clearly an all-time great: The only player to be named MVP in both leagues, over 500 home runs, almost 3000 hits, a batting average approaching .300, and he won a Triple Crown! On top of that, I was listening to the game on opening day 1975 when he hit his historic home run. There was no choice but for him to become one of my favorites. I suspect that when a “good” system emerges for evaluating player value across eras, Frank Robinson will be considered among the top few players in history.
A 19th-century standout, Harry Stovey, must have been fast: he stole a great many bases and hit almost 200 triples in a 14-year career.
Dave Orr had a comet-like career that was cut short by a stroke after only seven full years. Orr managed to blaze across the baseball world of the 1880s with 108 triples, a .342 batting average, and a slugging average of .502 where the league average was in the .320s. A contemporary of fellow league member, Charlie Comiskey, his is a true tale of “what might have been.”
Harry Davis was born in Philadelphia, died in Philadelphia, and for the most part played in Philadelphia. In the Pre-Ruth era, he led the league in home runs four years in a row. His 145 triples are just one of the reasons he made the tournament.
Sure, Charlie Comiskey made his name (and was elected to the Hall-of-Fame) because of his prominent stature as the owner of the Chicago White Sox, but he was also a ballplayer prior to that. In fact, his 416 (credited – record keeping in the 19th century wasn’t as accurate as it is now) stolen bases qualified him for the tournament.
Dolph Camilli has long been one of my “secret” favorites. He was twice an All-Star for the Brooklyn Dodgers and I think I had a strat card of him that performed particularly well. In any event, his 947 career bases on balls earned him a slot in the tournament. I hope his power serves him as well.
Gabby Hartnett was a Hall-of-Fame catcher for the Chicago Cubs. HOF status would have been enough to get him into the tournament but he also is amont the all-time leaders in WAR. Let’s see if that pays off for him.
If you look up consistency in the dictionary, don’t be surprised if you find Torii Hunter’s picture next to the definition. Seventeen full years in the big leagues and he managed a .277 batting average, 353 home runs, and 1391 RBI. I will not be surprised if he does well in the tournament.
It took 14 innings, but Frank Robinson won on the last day of the season. That pulled him into a tie with 19th-century standout, Dave Orr. Orr’s .282 team average crushed the rest of the league, which came in at a paltry .194. The various Orrs dominated the leader boards in average, hits, doubles, and triples, while Robinson99 tied Dolph Camilli for the home run lead with 26. One Harry Stovey suffered 11 HBPs.
- In one game, Robinson shutout Gabby Hartnett 15 – 0.
- Additionally, Orr had a 22-hit game vs. Harry Davis.
- A Camilli had a 3-HR game (10-innings) and
- There were 7 no-hitters, including perfect games by 2 different Roger Clemens’ and a game in which Tom Seaver had a perfect game until he walked the 27th batter before striking out the 28th – So close!
- On the season, Comiskey was no-hit 4 times.
Robinson, Orr, Stovey, Hartnett, and Camilli all finished above .500, so they go on to the Third Round. The rest try their luck in Round 2.