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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Legend of Baseball : Honus Wagner


Johannes Peter "Honus" Wagner ( February 24, 1874 – December 6, 1955 ), nicknamed "The Flying Dutchman" due to his superb speed and German heritage ("Dutch" in this instance being an alteration of "Deutsch"), was an American Major League Baseball shortstop. He played in the National League from 1897 to 1917, almost entirely for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wagner won eight batting titles, tied for the most in NL history with Tony Gwynn. He also led the league in slugging six times, and in stolen bases five times.

In 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Wagner as one of the first five members. He received the second-highest vote total, behind Ty Cobb and tied with Babe Ruth.

Although Cobb is frequently cited as the greatest player of the dead-ball era, some contemporaries regarded Wagner as the better all-around player, and most baseball historians consider Wagner to be the greatest shortstop ever. Cobb himself called Wagner "maybe the greatest star ever to take the diamond

The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is one of the rarest and most expensive baseball cards in the world.[citation needed] There are 57 known copies and there are many other cards that only have 1 or 2 known examples depicting Wagner.[clarification needed][20] The card was designed and issued by the American Tobacco Company (ATC) from 1909 to 1911 as part of its T206 series. Wagner refused to allow production of his baseball card to continue. The ATC ended production of the Wagner card and a total of only 57 to 200 cards were ever distributed to the public. In 1933, the card was first listed at a price value of US $50 in Jefferson Burdick's The American Card Catalog, making it the most expensive baseball card in the world at the time.



When the Baseball Hall of Fame held its first election in 1936, Wagner tied for second in the voting with Babe Ruth, trailing Cobb. A 1942 Sporting News poll of 100 former players and managers confirmed this opinion, with Wagner finishing 43 votes behind Cobb and six ahead of Ruth. In 1969, on the 100th anniversary of professional baseball, a vote was taken to honor the greatest players ever, and Wagner was selected as the all-time shortstop. In 1999, 82 years after his last game and 44 years since his death, Wagner was voted Number 13 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Players, where he was again the highest-ranking shortstop. That same year, he was selected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team by the oversight committee, after losing out in the popular vote to Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ernie Banks.

Christy Mathewson asserted that Wagner was the only player he faced that didn't have a weakness. Mathewson felt the only way to keep Wagner from hitting was to not pitch to him.

"A stirring march and two step," titled "Husky Hans", and "respectfully dedicated to Hans Wagner, Three time Champion Batsman of The National League" was written by William J. Hartz in 1904.

Bill James says that Wagner is easily the greatest shortstop of all time, noting that the difference between Wagner and the second greatest shortstop, in James's estimation Arky Vaughan, is roughly the same as the gulf between Vaughan and the 20th greatest shortstop.

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