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  #1  
Old 03-23-2006, 11:05 PM
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Default John Holway comments on new Negro League HOFers

Posted By: Paul

SCD has published an interview with Negro League historian John Holway about the 17 newly elected HOFers. I know Holway is a famous Negro League historian. I assume he is also a respected Negro League historian, but honestly don't know. Anyhow, here is what he had to say.

He agreed with the selections of Ray Brown, Willard Brown, Andy Cooper, Jud Wilson, Mule Suttles, Torriente, Mackey, Sol White, and JL Wilkinson. He seemed to be particularly impressed with Ray Brown and Andy Cooper (to my surprise). He felt Louis Santop and Effa Manley were borderline candidates. He felt that Jose Mendez did not belong. He also felt Alex Pompez and Ben Taylor did not belong. Most interesting to me for selfish reasons, he felt that Pete Hill didn't belong. He said he had a great reputation but "his statistics don't justify his reputation. I get him hitting .276 lifetime."

He thought John Beckwith and William Bell probably should have made it, and also said nice things about George Scales, Bill Byrd, Dick Lundy, Nip Winters, and Gus Greenly.

I guess Matt will be thankful Holway wasn't on the committee.

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Old 03-24-2006, 09:47 AM
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Default John Holway comments on new Negro League HOFers

Posted By: Chad

Andy Cooper was good!

--Chad

Is there anyway to link the article, or is it only print?

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Old 03-24-2006, 10:21 AM
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Default John Holway comments on new Negro League HOFers

Posted By: Matt Goebel

Thank you so much for your post, it is very refreshing to hear the actual merits of some of these guys being discussed. In fact, that's the best part of this whole thing is that some of these long forgotten players are being talked about and remembered.

Like most of us, I'm sure Holway has his favorites, but yes he is a knowledgable and respected historian. You will notice that the guys he agrees with are all the "Negro League" candidates that spent the majority of their careers in the organized leagues and have documented statistics from league play. It is harder to evaluate the "pre-Negro League" guys (i.e. - Hill, Mendez, Taylor, Santop, etc.) because of the lack of hard data. You have to take into account some anecdotal evidence, contemporary reviews, first-person accounts and other subjective data. This is a difficult task, but you have to do it to get the flavor of pre-1920 black baseball. Pete Hill was raved about by his peers and was clearly one of the best, if not THE best player of the era (besides, look what he did at an advanced age in the first couple years of the NNL). In my opinion, and I may be biased as well, he is a no-brainer pick for the HOF.

How great is it that we're talking about this!!!

BTW, I would also love to see the article if it is available online.

Matt

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Old 03-24-2006, 10:35 AM
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Default John Holway comments on new Negro League HOFers

Posted By: Chad

I agree with Matt that Holway does seem to favor the guys in organized leagues and I'd say his lukewarm endorsement of Santop is an implication of this. Santop seemed an absolute lock to me and I was happy the committee got it right with him. I'm not sure where Holway get .276 for Pete Hill. That doesn't seem right at all. Every opportunity he had against top flight competition, he hit the hell out of the ball. Rube Foster was not a stupid man--he built his team around Pete Hill with good reason. As for Mendez, I'd liken him to Sandy Koufax. A short but brilliant career. I hope there's still a chance for Home Run Johnson to get in. He's the one guy left that really should be in. I can make cases for other guys--Marcelle, Oms, Brewer, Trouppe, Scales--but Home Run is the only guy I'd characterize as a glaring omission. Which isn't too shabby, really.

--Chad

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Old 03-24-2006, 11:43 AM
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Default John Holway comments on new Negro League HOFers

Posted By: Paul

I'm not sure if there is an online version of the article or not. I still subscribe to the paper version, mostly for articles like this. I believe the website is simply www.sportscollectorsdigest.com.

I have to agree that there's a pretty clear pattern with Holway favoring the post-1920 players. But he did agree with the selections of Frank Grant and Sol White.

I'm still a little confused about White. His biography on the HOF website described his contributions as a player (and author), but when he was elected he was described as an executive. What did he do as an executive?

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Old 03-24-2006, 11:57 AM
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Default John Holway comments on new Negro League HOFers

Posted By: Chad

He created and operated teams as well as played and wrote a history of early black baseball.

--Chad

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Old 03-24-2006, 03:10 PM
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Default John Holway comments on new Negro League HOFers

Posted By: howard

What about the guys that didn't get elected? Did he give an opinion on Minoso and/or O'Neill?

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Old 03-24-2006, 06:05 PM
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Default John Holway comments on new Negro League HOFers

Posted By: Ryan Christoff

On Buck O'Neil:

"Sadly, one of the great gentlemen of baseball, Buck O'Neil, 94, fell one vote short, putting a damper on a big celebration already prepared for him. Buck didn't have the numbers for a Hall of Fame first baseman (though neither did Ben Taylor), but well-meaning fans, ignorant of the facts, raised his hopes cruelly.

If the Hall ever opens a wing for great citizens, O'Neil should be the first man in. He has been a great ambassador for the black leagues, and for all of baseball, and should be honored as such. As manager of the KC Monarchs, he sent 35 men to the majors, include Ernie Banks and Lou Brock."
-------------------

On Minoso:

"Gratefully, Minnie Minoso was not elected in a back-door attempt to get him into the Hall after only two years in the Negro Leagues. I'd be in favor of putting him in the Hall the right way, but this was the wrong way."
-------------------

I agree with most of Holway's opinions regarding the recent election, but Pete Hill and Louis Santop are legitimate HOFers. He didn't even mention Dick Redding, who is the biggest omission, in my opinion. This isn't a surprise to me since I know he feels about Redding the same way he feels about Pete Hill (his numbers don't justify his reputation).

Holway is great and his research has advanced our knowledge of the Negro Leagues tremendously, but I think he relies too much on the numbers and fails to see that sometimes the numbers don't tell the whole story. The lack of statistics for pre-Negro League players isn't reason enough to disregard their careers. It just makes it harder to compare them to others.

Even if there were stats, the same problem would exist because you'd be comparing players from the dead-ball era like Pete Hill or Grant Johnson, often playing in parks with no outfield fences, to players from the live-ball era like Gibson or Stearnes. Have you ever seen a picture of the kind of bat Pete Hill used? Let's see Cobb hit with that tree trunk!

-Ryan

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