After a two-week hiatus, the Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame is back! All complaints regarding the delay may be directed toward my senior thesis. I would not expect a kind response though; the document is rather merciless.
On to business- the results from the center fielders to be inducted into the Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame:
Bernie Williams: 46/47, 97.9%
Bobby Murcer: 30/47, 63.4%
Rickey Henderson: 21/47, 44.7%
Although Bobby Murcer came close, the pride of San Juan, Puerto Rico was the only center fielder to join Earle Combs, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle in the Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame. Bernie Williams was a terrific player for a long time with the Yankees, and it speaks volumes about his popularity that he was a near-unanimous inductee. The fact that Rickey Henderson earned 44.7% of the vote despite his brief stint in the Bronx should really say something about how incredible he was in his prime, too.
That's enough about the men in center though. Now, we must move to right field and finish up the induction process for position players. Babe Ruth and Dave Winfield were previously chosen as automatics for the honor, and there are seven candidates that could join them- Willie Keeler, George Selkirk, Tommy Henrich, Hank Bauer, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, and Paul O'Neill. This list is one of the longest we have had yet, so let's get to it (to it).
(NYY: 1903-09) The Yankees have always seemed to be a team that would do what it takes to acquire great players. It was more than a century ago when an American League team called the New York Highlanders decided that they would make Brooklyn native and former Baltimore Orioles star Willie Keeler the first $10,000 player in baseball history. Keeler was already a very accomplished player, having hit .371 in his first 11 seasons in the league and establishing a major league record with a 44-game hitting streak to begin the 1897 season (counting the final game of the 1896 season, the streak actually lasted 45 games). His famous strategy for hitting was outlined in the simple phrase "Keep your eye clear and hit 'em where they ain't." He was their first great player, and in the Highlanders' first season in New York, Keeler helped the newly-located club establish some legitimacy by hitting .313/.368/.367 with a 118 wRC+. The team finished in fourth place, and Keeler finished among the AL top ten in batting average, on-base percentage, runs, and hits. In 1904, the new club experienced their first real pennant race, and Keeler was the heart of their offense. He hit .343/.390/.409 with a .381 wOBA and a 145 wRC+, and in a year of subpar offense, his .343 average and 186 hits were both second in the league. Though the Yankees sat in first place with four games left in the season, they lost three in a row to the Boston Americans and their chance at the American League pennant vanished.
That year was the closest Keeler's New York teams would come to winning the AL pennant, and save for a 15-game winning streak to storm back into the pennant race in September '06, they rarely found themselves playing competitive baseball late in the season. Keeler continued to play well--he hit .303/.355/.350 with a 115 wRC+ over the next two years (again finishing runner-up for the batting title in '05 with a .302 clip in a hitting-starved league), and though he only hit ten home runs during his time in New York, he became the first player in team history to hit a walk-off homer, which he accomplished on April 25, 1905 against the Washington Senators. At age 35 in '07, Keeler was shifted to a part-time role as his talent dwindled and he only averaged 99 games per year in his last three Highlander seasons, hitting .252/.307/.286. The team's first big star led them to their first successful seasons, and even 100 years later, Keeler remains a significant figure in Yankees history. (B-Ref) (FG) (SABR Bio)
(NYY: 1934-42) George Selkirk faced arguably the most difficult task ever assigned in sports history: replace Babe Ruth in right field. The Huntsville, Ontario native had to replace an American hero. Nevertheless, Selkirk, who had been a top prospect with AAA Newark (he hit .357 there in '34), stepped into the role and became a crucial number of the late-1930s Yankees dynasty. He hit .312/.372/.487 with greatly-improved defense in right field during his first full season, good for 4.5 fWAR. Selkirk's range was well-regarded throughout his career; he was among the best defensive outfielders in the league, regardless of whether he was playing right field or left field, and he never had a season of negative Total Zone. In 1936, the Yankees won their first of four consecutive World Series crowns, and Selkirk was an All-Star, hitting .308/.420/.511 with a .422 wOBA and a 131 wRC+. His efforts helped New York win the pennant by 19.5 games, and he hit two homers in the six-game World Series triumph over the crosstown Giants, batting 333/.429/.667. Selkirk was on his way to another stellar season in '37 until he was sidelined with a broken collarbone at the beginning of July. He played sparingly in August and did not return to form until September, although he still put up a .460 wOBA and a 159 wRC+ (he also hit the same amount of homers he hit in '36, 18, but in half of the plate appearances). The Yankees won the World Series over the Giants again, and Selkirk notched six RBIs in the victory.
In '38, Selkirk batting average dipped dramatically to .254 and he missed time due to injury again, only playing in 99 games as the Yankees won another AL pennant and World Series title. He rebounded with his second All-Star campaign in '39, as he slugged a career-high 21 homers while hitting .306/.452/.517 with a .444 wOBA and a 152 wRC+. Unfortunately, this season was the apex of his career, as though he was still productive in '40 (.269/.406/.491, 133 wRC+), young left fielder Charlie Keller and right fielder Tommy Henrich both began to further cut into his playing time. Selkirk stayed with the team and played part-time for the next few seasons, appearing in two more World Series and winning his fifth ring in '41. Following the '42 season, he joined the Navy in World War II, and he never played a game again, although he managed in the minor leagues for 11 years and was the general manager for the expansion-era Washington Senators. In his career, his patience rewarded him with an on-base percentage of exactly .400, and he accumulated 28.3 fWAR (almost entirely in a mere seven seasons) with a .402 wOBA and a 128 wRC+. He was enshrined in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame; is he also good enough for the Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame? (B-Ref) (FG)
(NYY: 1937-42, '46-'50) Tommy Henrich's nickname, "Ol' Reliable," was coined by famed broadcaster Mel Allen, and the moniker fit Henrich well, as he homered at least once in every World Series that he appeared in. He was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians, but their refusal to call him up to the majors despite his minor league success led to him being ruled a free agent by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis after they tried to sell him to an American Association team. He signed with the Yankees, and after a brief stint with the 1937 Newark Bears, he made his major league debut that season, impressing manager Joe McCarthy with a .553 slugging percentage in just 67 games. Henrich supplanted Myril Hoag in the outfield in '38, and he hit .270/.391/.490 with 22 homers and a 123 wRC+ in his first full season. Henrich homered in Game 4 of the World Series sweep of the Cubs and won his second World Series ring. Though talented, Henrich struggled to fully establish himself as a regular in the outfield since there were so many talented players on the team. He only averaged 94 games per year over the next seasons, but he hit .291/.388/.480 with a 126 wRC+, and in '41, McCarthy tabbed him as the starting right fielder.
Henrich rewarded McCarthy with one of his finest seasons, hitting a career-high 31 homers with a 138 wRC+, notching 6.1 fWAR thanks to his offense and above-average defense. The Yankees were helped by Henrich's hustle in Game 4 of the World Series, as he saved the Yankees' hopes of victory by running to first base on a strikeout missed by Dodgers catcher Mickey Owen. They rallied to win the game, and they won the series the next day. In '42, Henrich hit .267/.352/.431 and was named an All-Star for the first time, although he left the team for the military in September and did not return until '46. He was 33 by then, but he arguably had a better career after the war than before it. Henrich hit .283/.382/.492 and averaged 21 homers per year, notching 20.7 fWAR, a .402 wOBA and a 137 wRC+ during this time. He was an All-Star three more times and finished sixth in the AL MVP voting in '48 and '49. "Ol' Reliable" also became the first player to hit a walk-off home run in the World Series, ending the scoreless tie in Game 1 of the '49 Series against the Dodgers with a shot in the tenth inning against Don Newcombe. Though he was named an All-Star again in '50, he only played part-time at first base, and he retired after the World Series win over the Phillies. Henrich's career ended with a .282/.382/.491 triple slash, 183 homers, a .401 wOBA, a 133 wRC+, and 44.6 fWAR. At age 96 in 2005, Henrich was the oldest living Yankee before he passed away. (B-Ref) (FG)
(NYY: 1948-59): Before Hank Bauer was a World Series-winning manager with the 1966 Baltimore Orioles, he was a seven-time World Series champion right fielder with the Yankees. Bauer hit 51 homers over three years in the minors from 1946-48 before earning a late-season call-up that year. Though he consistently played over 100 games per year throughout the rest of his Yankees career, he was often victimized by manager Casey Stengel's platoon system. Bauer averaged 111 games per year from '49-'51, and he performed well in limited time, putting up a .299/.370/.451 triple slash and a 118 wRC+. Stengel liked what he saw from Bauer, and his playing time jumped to 141 games in '52. Bauer was in the prime of his career from '52-'55, and he hit .281/.367/.458 with a 129 wRC+ over this four-year period. He was named an All-Star for three consecutive seasons from '52-'54, and finished eigth in the AL MVP voting in '55. He was also able to shake his previous World Series doldrums (.123 batting average in 57 at bats) in the '53 matchup with the Dodgers, hitting .261/.346/.348 in the team's seven-game triumph.
After a career-high 26 homers in '56, Bauer's performance fell to league-average, and his playing time gradually decreased. Despite his decline from '56-'59, Bauer became a better hitter in postseason play. His triple slash for these four years (.252/.316/.429) was lower than the previous four-year period, but in his final three World Series, he hit a combined .287/.295/.553 with seven home runs. This offensive flourish was highlighted in '58 by four homers in the seven-game series victory over the Milwaukee Braves. He was considered one of the team's leaders, but by the end of the '59 season, he was 37 years old and had fallen to replacement-level. Thus, like many Yankees of the time, he was dealt to the Kansas City Athletics along with a few other players in exchange for a package highlighted by the next player on the list. Regardless, Bauer's contributions to the Yankees' dynasty teams of the 1950s were valuable, and he was always a respected figure on Old Timer's Day until his death in 2007. (B-Ref) (FG)
(NYY: 1960-66) Roger Maris is remembered now as the former regular-season home run king, but he was a much better player than that title credits him. Maris was a star at his North Dakota high school, and he did not spend much time in the Cleveland Indians' minor league system before joining the big club in 1957. He was traded to the Athletics in June '58 and hit 28 homers that year, a sign of greatness to come. After his first All-Star campaign in '59 (.273/.359/.464 with a 121 wRC+), Maris was sent from quiet Kansas City to the bustling Bronx in an off-season trade, and though it took awhile for the small-town boy to adjust to life in New York, he immediately made an impact. Maris won consecutive AL MVP awards in '60 and '61, as he hit .275/.372/.602 with 15.9 fWAR, a .419 wOBA, and a 159 wRC+. He also, of course, hit a combined 100 home runs--39 in '60, and an MLB-record 61 in '61. The Yankees also profited from Maris's incredible right field defense; he had great range, an incredible arm, and he won the Gold Glove in '60. The Yankees lost the World Series in '60 despite Maris's two homers, but they won their matchup with the Cincinnati Reds in '61, as Maris hit his 62nd homer of the season.
Maris followed up his incredible '61 season with another good season in '62 (.256/.356/.485, 4.7 fWAR), although his 33 homers were unfortunately considered a disappointment to the New York media. His right field defense saved the Yankees in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series, as he cut off a Willie Mays double, preventing the Giants from tying the game at 1-1. The Yankees escaped the inning and won the series, Maris's second title. Maris suffered an injury-plagued '63 season, but he did have a 148 wRC+ in 90 games as the Yankees won their third straight pennant. Maris rebounded with his last great season in '64--he hit .281/.364/.464 with a 135 wRC+ in 141 games. Unfortunately, Maris struggled with injuries during his last two seasons in New York and after a '66 season in which he only hit 13 homers, he was traded to the Cardinals, with whom he spent his final two seasons. He was only with the Yankees for seven years, but he still hit over 200 home runs and slugged .515, serving as the perfect complement to Mickey Mantle. Maris was a central figure to the success of the early-sixties Yankees teams, and the Yankees both retired his number 9 and honored him with a Monument Park plaque in 1984. (B-Ref) (FG) (SABR Bio)
(NYY: 1977-81) Reginald Martinez Jackson became "Mr. October" for a reason, and though he achieved success with the Oakland Athletics before he was a Yankee, it was New York where he became an all-time great. Jackson was the second overall pick of the 1966 draft by the A's and he was one of their first big stars in Oakland following their move there in '68. He hit 254 homers and he was a perennial All-Star and AL MVP candidate, winning the award in '73. He also won the World Series MVP that year, the second of three consecutive World Series titles with the A's from '72-'74. Owner Charlie Finley realized that Jackson would be pricey in the new free agent market after '76, so he traded him to the Orioles. Following the '76 season, Jackson entered the New York spotlight, agreeing with new Yankees owner George Steinbrenner on a five-year, $2.96 million contract. Though Jackson often feuded with both his manager, Billy Martin, and his new teammates, there was no denying that he was the slugger the Yankees were seeking; he finished eighth in MVP voting, and hit .286/.375/.550 with 32 homers, 5.0 fWAR, a .406 wOBA, and a 157 wRC+ in his first season. He struggled in the ALCS, but cemented his Yankees legacy with his World Series against the Dodgers. Jackson hit .450/.542/1.250 in the six-game victory with a record-setting five home runs, and a record-tying three in the clinching Game 6, earning World Series MVP honors.
Jackson followed up his '77 performance with another tumultuous season in '78, but he still hit 27 homers with a 136 wRC+. The Yankee came from 14 games behind in mid-July to win the AL East in a one-game playoff against the Red Sox, and Jackson's eighth inning solo homer gave them insurance with a 5-2 lead that was not relinquished. He was terrific throughout the ALCS and World Series against the Royals and Dodgers, hitting a combined .417/.511/.806 with four homers in ten games as the Yankees won another World Series title. The next year was the only one during Jackson's Yankees career that they missed the playoffs, but Jackson still hit .297/.382/.544 with a 148 wRC+. 1980 was definitely Jackson's best season in New York, as he was runner-up for AL MVP, and hit .300/.398/.597 with 5.6 fWAR, a 169 wRC+, and a .428 wOBA, leading the league with 41 homers. The Yankees won 103 games and the AL East crown, but they fell to the Royals in a three-game ALCS sweep. His last year in New York was bizarre; he hit .237/.330/.428 with a 121 wRC+, and the Yankees earned a postseason spot from being in first place when the '81 Player's Strike hit. Although they played poorly in the second half, they made quick work of the Brewers and A's in playoffs before falling to the Dodgers in the World Series. Jackson hit well in the playoffs again (.278/.350/.556), but the Yankees let the 35-year-old leave in free agency after the season. However brief his time in New York might have been, he still hit 144 homers in only five years, and his contributions to those late-seventies championship teams led to the retirement of his number 44 in 1993, the same year he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also given a Monument Park plaque in 2002. (B-Ref) (FG)
(NYY: 1993-2001) Some fans were displeased when the Yankees acquired Paul O'Neill from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for All-Star Roberto Kelly, but O'Neill quickly won them over with his masterful hitting and intense play. He was drafted by his hometown Reds in 1981, and spent eight years there with a 110 wRC+, winning a World Series in 1990 (showing signs of future postseason success by hitting .471 against the Pirates in the NLCS). By the end of his tenure though, O'Neill was frequently clashing with manager Lou Piniella, which led to his trade to the Yankees in November '92. The Yankees allowed him to focus more on hitting for contact than for power, and he was off and running after a 4-for-4 debut in the '93 home opener. He hit .311/.367/.504 with a .378 wOBA and a 132 wRC+, helping the Yankees make a 12-game improvement and finish over .500 for the first time in five years. In '94, the Yankees showed that they were ready to return to the playoffs, as they had the best record in the AL (70-43) when the Player's Strike hit, prematurely ending the season. At the time of the strike, O'Neill, who had earned an All-Star berth, was leading the league in hitting and was thus awarded the batting crown with his .359/.460/.603 triple slash. He also had 21 homers, a .448 wOBA, and a 170 wRC+, finishing fifth in the AL MVP voting. The Yankees returned to the playoffs in '95, and O'Neill hit .333/.458/.833 with three homers in the five-game ALDS loss to the Mariners. He would never leave the October spotlight for the remainder of his career.
O'Neill was one of the team's most consistent players from '95-'98; he hit .311/.392/.505 with 86 homers, a .388 wOBA, and a 133 wRC+ during this four-year period. He was an All-Star three more times, and the Yankees won several World Series titles after the franchise's return to the Fall Classic in '96. O'Neill's aggressive play often led to him being hobbled by October, which often affected his postseason performance. He struggled throughout the '96 playoffs, but he hit .421 in a five-game ALDS loss to the Indians in '97. After the Yankees' 114-game romp through the regular season in '98 (which, thanks to improved range in the outfield, was O'Neill's best in New York in terms of fWAR, 5.8), O'Neill helped the Yankees go 11-2 in the playoffs by hitting .272/.333/.473. He began to decline in '99, but he remained a steady hitter during his final three seasons, notching a .279/.340/.447 triple slash with a 101 wRC+. He was also still capable of hot streaks like his attack on the Mets in the 2000 World Series (his best overall series), when he hit .474/.545/.789, including two triples for the 37-year-old at Shea Stadium. In '01, O'Neill became the oldest player in history to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases, but after a season that saw his defensive play fall precipitously, O'Neill chose to retire after the World Series loss to Arizona. The fans gave him a memorable sendoff in Game 5, as they chanted his name throughout the ninth inning. In his Yankees career, O'Neill hit .303/.377/.492 with 28.6 fWAR, 185 homers, a .375 wOBA, and a 125 wRC+. His number 21 has been scarcely issued since his retirement. O'Neill now spends his time with his family and he occasionally appears in the YES booth to mock Michael Kay, a life I think we all wish we could have. (B-Ref) (FG) (SABR Bio)
So those are your candidates:
Willie Keeler, George Selkirk, Tommy Henrich, Hank Bauer, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, and Paul O'Neill.
Here's a quick recap of the rules:
- Anyone who is a member of Pinstripe Alley can vote! Vote in the comment section!
- There are no limits as to how many players can be on your ballot- zero is even an option.
- A player needs to appear on 75% of the commented ballots to make it to the PSA Hall of Fame.
- Don't assume that a player you think is definitely deserving will make it in! Vote for him, we could see some surprises.
- Please participate! There's not going to be much of a point to getting the community's input on this series if we're only getting ten ballots per position post.
How many of these guys are Pinstripe Alley Hall of Famers? Sound off with your ballots below! Comments will close Tuesday night at midnight. We will examine the starting pitchers next. Vote for how we should handle the starting pitchers' ballot in the poll below!
The Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame
Catchers | First Basemen | Second Basemen | Third Basemen | Shortstops
Left Fielders | Center Fielders | Right Fielders
Starting Pitchers | Relief Pitchers