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Hack Wilson is not the only player who has been ignored by the Hall of Fame. There are plenty of others who should be in and aren't. These lineups—for an imaginary game between a team composed of players now in Cooperstown and another of some of the players who have been passed over—dramatize that injustice.
Obviously, any man who plays well enough to get into the Hall is a superior athlete. Just as obviously, the Outs are a better team. Here is a position-by-position comparison:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
FIRST BASE: Johnny Mize lost three seasons because of military service in World War II. But when he retired in 1953, only five men had hit more home runs. Mize batted better than .300 in each of his first nine seasons and led his league in homers four times, in RBIs three times, in batting once. Frank Chance is a hallowed name, mostly because of the famous "Tinker to Evers to Chance" verse that helped carry that trio into Cooperstown as a unit. He was one of the best managers ever, but as a player he was above average—and that's about all. He played more than 100 games in only six seasons, and he ended up with 1,272 hits. Mize had 2,011. Other totals: Mize, 1,118 runs, Chance, 797; Mize, 1,337 RBIs, Chance, 596; Mize, .312 lifetime average, Chance, .296.
SECOND BASE: Red Schoendienst was as good a fielding second baseman as anyone who has ever played, and he could hit (.289 lifetime, 2,449 hits), score runs and win ballgames. Johnny Evers, another of those famous old Cubs, was a winning ballplayer, too, a driving man who lasted a long time in the majors despite his fragile build (5'9", 125 pounds). But it is impossible to believe he could field better than Schoendienst, and he couldn't hit with Red. Evers batted .270 lifetime with 1,658 hits.
SHORTSTOP: Herman Long, whose major league career ended in 1903, played on five pennant winners, was the finest fielding shortstop for a dozen years, and in some old baseball accounts is called the best shortstop ever except for Honus Wagner. He handled more chances per game than any other shortstop in history, was a useful hitter and an outstanding baserunner who stole more than 500 bases. Bobby Wallace, a contemporary of Long's, was a fine shortstop who hung around the majors for 25 years, 16 of them as a regular. But experts of his day did not rate him in Long's class. Long was a better fielder and in nine fewer seasons had almost as many hits as Wallace and scored 402 more runs.
THIRD BASE: HOW could they have ignored Ed Mathews in this year's Hall voting? Only Brooks Robinson has played more games at third, and while Mathews was no Robinson in the field, he was solid there. And he was a damaging hitter who drove in runs and scored them in abundance. His 512 homers put him among the top 10 of all time. Fred Lindstrom broke into the majors at 18 and played seven games in the World Series that season, but he was finished as a player when he was 30. He was never truly a star. He batted .311 lifetime, with 895 runs scored, 779 batted in. Mathews hit only .271, but scored 1,509 runs and drove in 1,453.
LEFT FIELD: Hack Wilson's short, turbulent career is similar statistically to Ralph Kiner's. Unlike Wilson, Kiner was a dependable citizen, but even so, his career lasted only 10 years. Although he hit 369 homers to Wilson's 244, he had 10 fewer hits. 47 fewer RBIs and a lifetime average of .279 to Wilson's .307.
CENTER FIELD: Duke Snider was a breathtaking outfielder and one of the top hitters in the game. At various times he led the National League in hits, runs, home runs, RBIs, total bases and slugging average. Max Carey, an excellent fielder, too, with a strong throwing arm, is in the Hall because he was a renowned base stealer (738 in all). He was only an above-average hitter (.285 lifetime).
RIGHT FIELD: Chuck Klein led the National League in home runs four times, in RBIs twice, in runs scored three times, in slugging average three times and in total bases four straight seasons. From 1929 through 1933 he had 219, 250, 200, 226 and 223 hits. He won the Triple Crown in 1933 with a .368 average, 28 homers and 120 RBIs. His lifetime average was .320. Why isn't Klein in Cooperstown? An even bigger mystery: Why is Tommy McCarthy there? A pre-1900 player, McCarthy was a first-rate fielder and a fine base runner, but only a .292 hitter.