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Honus Wagner

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Pittsburgh
  • Team: Pirates
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Johannes Peter Wagner (1874-1955) was, simply, the greatest shortstop who ever played the game. The Pittsburgh icon was among the first five selections to Cooperstown in 1936 in recognition of overall prowess afield, at bat and on base unparalleled in baseball. Even his closest rival for “All-Time Best” honors, Ty Cobb, said Honus was “maybe the greatest star ever to take the diamond.” Badgered mercilessly by ‘Nuf Ced’ McGreevy’s Royal Rooters in the ’07 Series with Boston, Wagner was deeply wounded by his mediocre performance. He achieved some vindication 2 years later, leading the Pirates over Cobb’s Tigers.

  • Space doesn’t allow a fair summary of Wagner’s hitting records. A marvel at the plate.
  • A Pirates’ coach for 39 years, Hans mentored several future Hall of Famers
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1936

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Joe Tinker

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Chicago
  • Team: Chi-Feds
  • League: Federal League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Joseph Bert Tinker (1880-1948) sparkled at short, helping the Cubs to 4 pennants and 2 Series wins. He and fellow rookie Johnny Evers turned their first double-play to Frank Chance on Sep 13, 1902. A fight over a cab ride left Tinker and Evers estranged for years, but didn’t prevent them from playing 2nd “like one man, not two.” Tinker was widely held to be second only to Honus Wagner at SS, leading the league in many fielding categories. As skilled as he was afield, Tinker was also one of the great clutch hitters. Christy Mathewson deemed him the NL player he least wanted to see.

  • On June 28, 1910 Tinker became one of a handful to steal home twice in a game
  • Asked to leave the Cubs when Evers was made manager in 1913 but filled that role himself after a hiatus with the Federal League
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1946

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Rabbit Maranville

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Boston
  • Team: Braves
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Walter James Vincent Maranville (1891-1954) played 23 ML seasons as a madcap shortstop, catching pop-ups like a circus performer and hitting in the clutch often enough to make the Hall of Fame with a .258 lifetime average. Along the way, “Rabbit” became the smallest 20th Century inductee and the only one to be demoted to the minors mid-career. His endurance and eventual recognition among the pantheon of the sport are tributes to his effervescent spirit and dogged work habits. He partied as hard as he worked, witnessed by his pivotal HR on 8/6/14 that sparked the Boston Braves’ “miracle” comeback to take the pennant and Series — he never saw Babe Adams’ pitch. He was way too hung over. A broken ankle in an exhibition game with the Yankees effectively ended his long career in 1934.

  • In retirement, Rabbit mentored many young players in NY, including Whitey Ford & Billy Loes
  • His record of most MLB seasons wasn’t eclipsed until Pete Rose in 1986
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1954

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Kid Elberfeld

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Brooklyn
  • Team: Robins
  • League: National League

Norman Arthur Elberfeld (1875-1944), nicknamed the “Tabasco Kid” for his fiery temper and violent outbursts against umpires, covered 2nd base with a ferocity that daunted even Ty Cobb – who never slid head-first again after losing an encounter with Elberfeld’s spikes. Played mostly SS for 7 teams, 1898-1914 and was a solid hitter (.271 lifetime).

  • Never afraid to take a spike, a punch or a pitch, he still ranks 13th on hit-batter list
  • Career stats suffered from frequent suspensions and injuries
  • Had a knack for mentoring young players, including rookie Casey Stengel

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Ray Chapman

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Cleveland
  • Team: Naps
  • League: American League

Raymond Johnson Chapman (1891-1920) is the only big leaguer to be killed by a baseball. He was beaned on a late Cleveland afternoon, probably blinded by the setting sun and the earth-colored ball so carefully doctored by the pitchers of that era. Indeed, MLB responded to Chapman’s tragic death with rules against spitters and all manner of doctored balls. Chapman had played only for Cleveland, anchoring the infield at short and setting some team and league records that still stand. And he was truly loved, a cheerful bundle of energy befriended by the greats of his day (Al Jolson, Will Rogers) and by the nearly friendless Ty Cobb. The newlywed Chapman had wanted to retire before the 1920 season but stayed on out of loyalty to new manager Tris Speaker, his best man.

  • Averaging a solid .278 for his nine year career, Chapman was hitting .304 at his death
  • Led the AL in walks and runs (84 each) in the war-shortened ’18 season
  • Still ranks sixth all-time in sacrifices

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