Jacob Rupert

The Veteran’s Committee Hall of Fame nominees are out

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If you’ll recall, the Veteran’s Committee for the Hall of Fame now votes on nominees on a rotating basis, with each year covering a different era. This year it’s the “pre-Integration” era, consisting of players, managers, umpires and executives whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from the 1876-1946.

This year’s nominees have been announced. There are ten:

  • Marty Marion: Played from 1940-50, took a break for the Korean War and then played in 1952-53, batting .263 with 36 home runs. A slick fielding shortstop. His best years where during WWII when all of the best players were gone. Seems like a poor candidate.
  • Bucky Walters: Pitched from 1934-1950 compiling a 198-160 lifetime record, with a 3.30 era. Three FANTASTIC seasons in 1939, 1940 and 1944 (though that was a war year) with a lot of filler surrounding. Won the 1939 MVP.
  • Jacob Ruppert: Owner of the New York Yankees from 1915 through 1939 which, if you weren’t aware, was when they became THE NEW YORK YANKEES. I’m rather shocked he’s not already in the Hall.
  • Bill Dahlen: Played from 1891-1911, mostly as a shortstop. He retired in 1911 as the active home run leader with 84. Some old timer probably called him “the REAL home run king” for a long damn time after Home Run Baker and Babe Ruth and those guys came along.
  • Wes Ferrell: A 193-128 record with a 4.04 career ERA (116 ERA+) from 1927-1941. He won 20 games four times to kick of his career and did it two more times later, which gives him some curiosity points, but he flamed out young and was quite ordinary for much of his career. A nice career, but really, if this guy gets in, do we really have standards for pitchers anymore? How is he different from any number of very good but not necessarily great pitchers like Dennis Martinez and the like?
  • Tony Mullane: Won 284 games in 13 major league seasons from 1881-1894. 468 of his 504 games were complete games. Old Hoss Radbourn used to mock his stamina.
  • Deacon White: Played from 1871-1890. The Hall of Fame website calls him “one of the finest barehanded catchers of his time.” Ouch.
  • Samuel Breadon: Long time owner of the Cardinals, who hired Branch Rickey and helped form the modern minor league system. The Cardinals won nine pennants and six World Series on his watch.
  • Alfred Reach: Player, sporting goods mogul and the publisher of the Reach Guides, which published statistics and stories and things and which now serve as great historical documents from the deadball era.
  • Hank O’Day: An umpire from 1888 through 1927. He also played and managed, often in some of the years covering that umpire stretch. I have no idea how that worked. I also have no idea what the standards are for a Hall of Fame umpire. Pioneers notwithstanding, the best ones should be the ones you don’t hear about, right?

The inductees will be announced on December 3 during the Winter Meetings.

It’s spring training for groundskeepers too

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Or, I should say, it’s spring training for whatever automated timer thingie turns the sprinklers on and off.

This was the scene at Goodyear on Saturday as the Indians and Reds played in the bottom of the eighth in their spring training opener. Reds manager Bryan Price says that this was probably the second or third time this has happened in the middle of a game there.

Maybe investigate manually operating that bad boy? Just a suggestion!

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.