By Father Gabe Costa
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In a month or so, we will again revisit the question of who will be — and who will not be — enshrined into baseball’s Valhalla, the Hall of Fame. Questions like “Who should be admitted?” and “How can they deny admission to so-and-so?” fan the flames of the Hot Stove.
To be sure, when all is said and done, Cooperstown is the place of immortality for the greatest stars of the diamond. Arguably, they were all great players. In addition, some had colorful nicknames, while others had other “interesting tidbits” associated with them.
Can you identify the subject of these “quotes” which refer to Hall of Famers? Be careful — a few of them are tricky.
- I was known as “The Flying Dutchman” and was a charter member of the Hall of Fame, elected in 1936.
- I was the third baseman for Connie Mack’s famed “$100,000 Infield” of the early 1900s, and I had a very powerful nickname.
- I am actually in the Football Hall of Fame. However, in a certain sense, Babe Ruth replaced me as an outfielder when he came to the Yankees in 1920.
- I am also in the Football Hall of Fame (as a player) and in the Baseball Hall of Fame as an umpire.
- Yankee backstop Bill Dickey “learned me” how to catch.
- During the latter years of my life, I was known as “Baseball’s Greatest Living Player,” but, in fact, I was not elected to the Hall of Fame during my first few years of eligibility.
- I hit the first World Series home run at Yankee Stadium.
- Our first names are Robert, Vernon and Steve, but we were all known as “Lefty.”
- I was known as “The Mechanical Man” and played second base for some great Tigers teams.
- In 1910, New York columnist Franklin P. Adams wrote a famous poem which “immortalized” the three of us.
- I was known as “The Grey Eagle” when I roamed center field during the first quarter of the 20th century.
- I have the highest percentage of votes ever garnered for an elected member of the Hall of Fame.
- We played in different eras, but both of us suffered tragic and premature deaths, so any waiting periods before our admissions into Cooperstown were waived.
- I was known as “Little Napoleon.”
- I was honored to be called the “Grand Old Man of Baseball.”
- I was the last of the “legitimate” spitball pitchers and was known as “Ol’ Stubblebeard.”
- I hit a line drive which broke Dizzy Dean’s toe in the 1937 All-Star Game.
- I was the winning hurler in the last game pitched — and lost — by Cy Young.
- I was called “Slug” and won four American League batting titles in alternating years in the 1920s.
- I am the only player in the Hall of Fame to pitch 10 seasons in which I posted a winning record in each of those years. In fact, my lowest winning percentage was .643.
1. Honus Wagner
2. Frank “Home Run” Baker
3. George Halas
4. Cal Hubbard
5. Yogi Berra
6. Joe DiMaggio
7. Casey Stengel
8. Robert Moses (Lefty) Grove, Vernon (Lefty) Gomez and Steve (Lefty) Carlton
9. Charlie Gehringer
10. Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance
11. Tris Speaker
12. Tom Seaver
13. Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente
14. John McGraw
15. Connie Mack
16. Burleigh Grimes
17. Earl Averill
18. Grover Cleveland Alexander
19. Harry Heilmann
20. Babe Ruth
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