Major League Baseball has been in existence since the Ulysses S. Grant administration, but some of its earliest great players still wallow in anonymity. A 19th-century player has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame since Bid McPhee in 2000, and most players of the era have yet to even see a ballot.
Just because they haven't been elected doesn't mean they aren't worthy of the honor.
There were many players who played an important role in being quality producers for a sport that was still gaining in popularity and had yet to be firmly established. In a time when playing professional sports was looked down upon, these men endured low salaries and horrendous playing conditions to play the game they loved. Most of the time, they couldn't be sure the league they played in would even exist the following season.
There were five different "Major League" baseball leagues in the 19th century, only one of which survived to see 1900.
These men deserve at least a look from the BBWAA. Their numbers may not perfectly hold up in comparison with today's sluggers, but you might be surprised what you find when you look at some of the feats most 19th-century players considered commonplace.
Throughout this slideshow I will be referencing each player's Black Ink and Gray Ink scores. Both the Black Ink and Gray Ink tests can be used to evaluate a player's worthiness of Hall of Fame induction, but it is important to remember that these numbers are an examination tool, not the total determinant of a player's worth.
Here are 10 players who deserve a much more thorough examination by Major League Baseball.