Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » December 2005 » And speaking of Baseball Prospectus....

[« Because I can't resist this kind of thing....] [It's Christmas Eve, and in honor of the holiday.... »]

12/24/2005: And speaking of Baseball Prospectus....

As the hot stove league is in full swing, the BP authors are exercising a bit of creativity in finding things to write about. This month features a couple of (IMHO) inspired articles (unfortunately, BP is a subscription website, and unless you're a BP subscriber you may not be able to view these).

Back in early December, Jim Baker took a look at the pro careers of Heisman Trophy winners versus the pro careers of Golden Spikes winners:

They're giving out the Heisman Trophy tomorrow, as they are wont to do at this time of year. Not everyone is aware that baseball has an equivalent award for its collegiate stars. Obviously, it's one that suffers from being in the long shadow of the much older football award. The Heisman began life in 1935, while the Golden Spikes didn't come along until 1978.

Since everyone has Heisman fever, I thought it would be interesting to compare the winners of each award by year and see how they fared as professionals. While these awards were never meant to be predictors of professional performance, that doesn't mean we can't use them as such, what with free speech and all. Here, in chronological order, is my assessment of which of the collegiate winners won the post-award battle.


The final tally: Football 15, Baseball 11. We lose...but itís early yet.
And yesterday Baker put together what he calls The All-Cheated-on-Their-Birthday Gifts Team:
Someone had to do it and you had to figure it was going to be me. What is that, you ask? Why, line up the all-born-on-Christmas Team, of course! What follows are the best players at each position who were born on December 25, Christmas day. You have to figure that any day with three Hall of Famers to its credit has got itself a pretty good team regardless of who else fills out the roster. At the very least, they could certainly take on the All-Boxing Day team which features Ozzie Smith and Carlton Fisk.
In case you're wondering, the all-born-on-Christmas team is:
  • Catcher: Quincy Trouppe, a pretty damn good player, all told, who unfortunately spent most of his career outside of the Majors (i.e., in the Negro Leagues and the Mexican League), thanks to the color bar.
  • First Base: Walter Holke, a native St. Louisan who was unique in that he was one of the few ballplayers who was better offensively during the Dead Ball Era (i.e., pre-1920) than afterwards.
  • Second Base: Nellie Fox, the Hall of Famer who spent most of his career (1947-65) on the South Side of Chicago playing for the White Sox (1950-63).
  • Third Base: Jim Doyle. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of third basemen who were Christmas babies, and of them all Doyle is probably the best. Unfortunately, you can argue sample size anomalies, since Doyle had only a cup of coffee with the Reds in 1910 (7 games, 13 AB) before going to Chicago and the Northsiders (i.e., the Cubs for you non-baseball fans) for a full season (130 games, 472 AB) in 1911. Doyle died of appendicitis before he could play in 1912.
  • Shortstop: Joe Quinn. A dearth of shortstops born on Christmas forced Baker to reach back to Quinn (it's a pity that Ozzie Smith, who was born on Boxing Day, delayed his entry into the world for a day...), who in fact played second base for most of his career (his career includes 135 games at short, about half of which came with the 1889 Boston Beaneaters). At least Quinn (an Australian native) does have a St. Louis connection: he played a number of seasons for the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association (a very early major league)/National League and the St. Louis Cardinals, and he died in Creve Coeur (a St. Louis suburb) in 1940. Another dubious distinction: Quinn was the player/manager (and arguably the MVP) of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. If the '99 Spiders (season record: 20-134) weren't the worst team in the history of Major League Baseball, it's hard to come up with another candidate.
  • Outfielders: Jo-Jo Moore, Ben Chapman, and Rickey "the Man of Steal" Henderson (for some reason, the three best outfielders born on Christmas Day all played left field).
  • Pitcher: Pud Galvin. The interesting thing about Galvin's career (well, the thing that immediately leaps to my mind) is that he reached the big leagues (with the St. Louis Brown Stockings of the National Association) roughly a year before George Armstrong Custer got into that little disagreement with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Montana....

Len on 12.24.05 @ 11:51 AM CST

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