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Old 03-13-2018, 01:47 PM
SAllen2556's Avatar
SAllen2556 SAllen2556 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Detroit
Posts: 360
Default Charlie Bennett should be in the Hall of Fame

I've been enjoying my subscription to the Detroit Free Press archives. While reading about the 1887 Detroit Wolverines and Charlie Bennett himself, it's pretty clear that if the baseball hall of fame had opened in the 1910's Bennett would have been a founding member. He might just be the most beloved baseball player in the entire history of Detroit professional baseball. Here's some snippets from various articles:

• Best defensive catcher of the 19th century according to most of his contemporaries. According to a 1913 Free Press article, “Even to this day where the question arises as to who is, or was the greatest catcher the game ever had, seven out of ten will answer Charlie Bennett.”

According to James Hart, “Year after year Bennett led the league in catching averages and there, for once, the figures gave him the glory that was his. Never was there a better catcher than Charlie Bennett. He was the wonder of them all, and Boston has never recovered from his loss.”

• Invented the chest protector
• Always among the highest paid in all of baseball
• Ranked 17th best catcher of all time by Weighted WAR (wWAR) -if you believe in such stats
• Led the Detroit Wolverines in hitting before his hands turned to mush, but remained a good hitter throughout his career, especially compared to other catchers
• Cited as main reason for the Wolverines winning the 1887 "World Series" against the St. Louis Browns:

According to Bennett, "In 1887 when we won the pennant and were to play a series with the St. Louis Browns, the Sporting Life dissected the two teams and their style of game at length. It said ‘that the Browns would be easy winners. They would out field us and would steal bases on me at will. That I was not accustomed to their dash and style, and I would be badly rattled.’ When the series was finished we found that we had not only outbatted but had out-fielded them, and had stolen more bases than they had. I caught four games and in those games they were credited with but four bases stolen; two of them were the fault of Dunlap in not touching the runner. He had the ball in ample time.”

What Charlie failed to mention in the interview was that a doctor, before the ‘87 series began, proclaimed that “if Bennett caught another game his thumb would be in danger of amputation.” Of course, he played anyway, and was largely credited for “stopping the great base stealing Browns from running away with games from the start.”

Charles Comiskey, at that time a player on the opposing Browns team said, “What hurt the Browns’ chances of success was Bennett’s great throwing to the bases.”

• Had a damned stadium named in his honor!

Just on toughness alone he should be in:
James Hart, Charlie’s manager from his later playing days in Boston, once told this remarkable tale of Bennett: “He had more grit than any catcher I ever knew. A score of times when his hands were badly injured he would continue to catch, and the only way we would find out that he was hurt was to discover blood on the ball. I remember a game in Pittsburgh, the last one of the season in 1889 for the Boston club, when he refused to go out of the game until I simply refused to let him play any longer. Clarkson was pitching, and in the third inning he showed me the ball covered with blood. I called Bennett to the bench and asked to see his hands, and he refused to show them. Mike Kelly was playing right field, and I called him in to catch. Bennett wanted to catch the game out so much that he wouldn’t give Kelly the mask nor the pad. I sent him home after the game, and two weeks later Bennett’s hands were still so sore that he could hardly feed himself. He was the best player to handle I ever dealt with, and I don’t know of one who was a greater credit to the profession.”

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