Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Lefty Grove: What Were Some BBWA Members Thinking?

Harold FriendChief Writer IJanuary 3, 2012

Home of the Detroit Tigers for nearly a century, Tiger Stadium was home to many great players. Ty Cobb's plaque still adorned the wall in front of Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Leon Halip/WireImage)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Reading Joe Posnanski's blog today was a wonderful learning experience with respect to Hall of Fame voting.

Most fans know that Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson were the first players voted into the Hall of Fame. Posnasnki discovered that after the first 100 ballots had been counted, Cobb and Ruth were on every ballot. Then a strange thing happened.

The next ballot omitted Ruth. The counting committee actually stopped to question how anyone could leave Ruth off his ballot. When the tally was completed, 11 ballots lacked Ruth's name and four were missing Cobb.

In 1939, the voters decided that they had to prevent the Hall of Fame from being watered down. From 1940-46, Rogers Hornsby was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame.

Here is a list of players on the 1946 ballot, none of whom were elected by the BBWA that year.

Jimmie Foxx
Lefty Grove
Charlie Gehringer

Frank Chance
Frankie Frisch
Paul Waner

Home Run Baker
Carl Hubbell
Three Fingers Brown

Bill Terry
Bill Dickey
Kid Nichols

Dizzy Dean
Dazzy Vance
Eddie Plank

Wahoo Sam Crawford
Harry Heillmann
Al Simmons

Frank Chance received 57 percent of the vote. Lefty Grove, possibly the greatest left-handed pitcher ever who won 300 games, wasn't elected until 1947, six years after he retired.

Jim O'Rourke, who started his career with the Middletown Mansfields in 1872 and finished with the New York Giants in 1904, became a Hall of Famer, thanks to the Veteran's Committee, in 1945.

That same year, Carl Hubbell, Frankie Frisch, Three-Fingered Brown, Ed Walsh, Bill Terry, Dizzy Dean and Mickey Cochrane failed to garner enough votes from the BBWA.

Hank Greenberg was one of baseball's greatest players. He, Sandy Koufax and Ryan Braun are the only Jewish players to win the MVP award.

After Greenberg was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956, many writers felt that too many players were making it. The BBWA decided to vote every two years instead of yearly.

The pendulum swung the other way during the late 1960s and early 1970s when the following players were voted into the Hall: 

Lloyd Waner
Waite Hoyt
Earle Combs

Harry Hooper
Jesse Haines
Dave Bancroft

Chick Hafey
Rube Marquard
Lefty Gomez

High Pockets Kelly
Jim Bottomley
Freddie Lindstrom

Hall of Fame voting is flawed.

Commissioners Landis and Frick were racists that tried to stop Branch Rickey from bringing in Jackie Robinson.

Herb Pennock, one of the weaker pitchers in the Hall of Fame, was the 18th player ever elected. The writers loved Pennock, who was dying. He was elected.

Rogers Hornsby and Bill Mazeroski are in. Hank Aaron, who used amphetamines, is in.

Paul Molitor and Ferguson Jenkins admitted to using drugs.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are better than most Hall of Fame members. What will the BBWA do when they appear on the ballot?


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