Monday, August 31, 2009
The George Van Haltren Club
Who is George Van Haltren? I'm sure many of us who follow baseball have never heard of him. Quite honestly, I had never heard of him, until recently.
A quick bio: Van Haltren (l.) was an outfielder who played 17 seasons (1883-1903) in the Major Leagues. He began his career with the Chicago White Stockings (now known as the Chicago Cubs), then played a few seasons with several other teams before playing his final 10 seasons with the New York Giants.
I first learned of Van Haltren while looking up a milestone that Derek Jeter is approaching. Jeter needs 4 singles to become the 47th player in history to amass 2000 career singles. I recognized most of the 46 names on the list, except for Van Haltren and a few others. Out of curiosity, I decided to take a peek at his career and I noticed some very interesting things.
It just so happens that Van Haltren is a member of a very unique and exclusive club.
Van Haltren is 1 of 7 players in major league history with 2000 singles, 500 stolen bases, 1500 runs scored and 140 triples. The other members are: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, Fred Clarke, Max Carey and Lou Brock.
Now with legendary names like, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Lou Brock, you may ask, why would I call it the "George Van Haltren Club?" The answer is simple. He's the only member of the club who is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And we're talking about a player who had a .316 career batting average. Yet another player added to the list of players overlooked by the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee.
And this is one very difficult club to join, as you can judge by the members. The only modern-era player is Lou Brock (r.). The other six played in the dead-ball era. One would think this would be a perfect club for Rickey Henderson to be in, but Henderson only had 66 triples in his career. So I have to give Lou Brock some "props"--he's the only player in the last 80 years to join this club.
What's even more interesting and puzzling-- there are 4 active players who actually have a decent shot at joining this difficult club. Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes, Curtis Granderson and Carl Crawford are all on pace and have plenty of years ahead of them to do it.
How is it that during baseball's infancy 6 players were able to do it, then in the last 80 years only 1 has been able to do it, and all of a sudden-- we now have 4 who are on a decent pace to do it?
Is baseball evolving back to a dead-ball era? I guess this is one of those baseball oddities that makes you go--Hmmmm?
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com