And baseball fans whose turn of mind leads them to look back in time cannot/should not be without what is arguably David Nemec's magnum opus, Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900, recently published by the University of Nebraska Press.
Nemec and his team of writers/researchers have created a two-volume extravaganza of nineteenth century baseball biography that will be the definitive work for the foreseeable future and beyond.
Naturally, we are interested in the "should be in Hall" list, even though we're on record (previously) as being more than a bit tired of the ongoing Hall of Fame contretemps. With players from so long ago, however, there's something less fraught about such discussions (though we know that this isn't the way the die-hard nineteenth-century aficionados feel about it!).
We don't think that reprinting the list will prevent anyone from buying the book, as it's the biographical contents that matter most--and believe us when we say that this is some of the very best work of this type to be found anywhere. What we'll do here is cross-reference Nemec and Co.'s list with the work of the Hall of Merit, whose effort in constructing a more rigorous set of enshrinees began with an exhaustive examination of nineteenth-century players.
As the chart shows, the Hall of Merit folks selected nine of the names from those appearing on Nemec's list, and added four of their own who aren't in the Hall and aren't on the "twenty for the Hall" list. For those who aren't familiar with all that many of the individuals on the list, you are cordially invited to examine their player pages at Forman et fil, where many have SABR biography links that can be easily accessed. And, of course, all two dozen of these players, founders ("Doc" Adams) and executives (A.G. Mills) have biographical entries in Volume 2 of Nemec's Profiles.
The Nemec list seems to us to favor players from the left side of the defensive spectrum (catchers, middle infielders, center fielders)--which is by no means a bad thing, but we think that the Hall of Merit did an especially fine job in selecting the four "unique" players--Jones, McVey, Pike and Sutton--whose presence on Nemec and Co.'s list would arguably make it definitive.
|Daniel "Doc" Adams, credited with|
inventing the SS position...
|"Parisian" Bob Caruthers, the American|
Association's great "double threat..."
A nineteenth-century Veterans' Committee needs to be reactivated, and every other year two nineteenth century players should be enshrined. Our votes for the first two would go to Daniel "Doc" Adams (as John Thorn so forcefully argues, the man who really invented baseball as we know it today) and Bob Caruthers (the early game's greatest two-way player).