Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Hall of Famer Tommy Herr

Today is a very important day in baseball history. It was on this day 55 years ago that the legendary secondbaseman Tommy Herr was born.

When discussing the greatest second basemen of all-time, it's pretty easy to rattle off those who were elite: Morgan, Hornsby, Herr, Lajoie, Collins. Yet for some reason, Herr has yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. At least not yet.

While we're thinking of things, think of the best single seasons by a hitter. For most of you, Tommy Herr's 1985 season probably comes to mind. Yankee fans will make a case for Babe Ruth's 1927 season. Red Sox fans will put forward the 1941 season of Ted Williams. Barry Bonds' 2001 season will enter the minds of the young whippersnappers.

Herr's 1985 season is clearly the best, though. Only six players have had seasons where the player knocked in 100 runs and stole 30 bases while hitting fewer than ten home runs. Perhaps you've heard of them: Honus Wagner, Sam Mertes, Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, George Sisler and Sherry Magee. All of the other guys accomplished the feat in or around the Deadball Era when no one hit home runs. From 1922, when Sisler had his season, until Herr's season, no one else was able to pull it off and no one has since.

But one season does not a Hall of Fame career make, you may say. Very true. Did you know that Tommy Herr is the only player to ever lead his league in sacrifice flies twice while hitting more sac flies than home runs? Amazing. He did that in both 1985 and 1987.

Herr was quietly a great player. He was one of the better defensive second basemen of his era. Outside of sacrifice flies, he never led his league in any stats. To look at his seasons independently, you may begin to think to yourself "Hmmmmm.....I think Herr is a marginal candidate, at best, for the Hall of Fame".

Ah, but when you aggregate those stats, those quiet run-of-the-mill seasons, you begin to see that Tommy Herr rightly belongs aside Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Christy Mathewson.

Only one dozen second basemen in the history of the game have amassed 1400 games played at second base, 250 doubles, 150 stolen bases, a .270 career batting
average, and had at least twenty percent of their hits go for extra bases. It reads like a who's who of the game:

Eddie Collins, Hall of Fame
Frank Frisch, Hall of Fame
Charlie Gehringer, Hall of Fame
Nap Lajoie, Hall of Fame
Bid McPhee, Hall of Fame
Joe Morgan, Hall of Fame
Ryne Sandberg, Hall of Fame
Roberto Alomar, Hall of Fame
Craig Biggio, Future Hall of Famer
Larry Doyle, guy who probably should be in the Hall of Fame
Del Pratt, fluke

The final name on the list? Tommy Herr. Not Rogers Hornsby. Not Bobby Doerr. Not Nellie Fox. Not Johnny Evers. Tommy Herr.

It's time for the Hall of Fame to right the wrong and put Tommy Herr where he belongs, on a plaque in Cooperstown. In the meantime, happy birthday, Tommy. Some of us appreciate your greatness.

Training update: Today was a met-con day; power over time. I warmed up with a row and then did the rowing workout. Eight intervals of 20 seconds with ten seconds rest in between. Let me tell you, ten seconds feels like zero seconds. Historically, I fall apart with this workout, usually turning the fifth interval into a leisurely stroll to get my wind back. Not today. I powered through all the intervals and set a "speed/power record" for myself. On the first interval, I touched 1:25 for a 500m pace. That's the fastest I've ever rowed. Granted it was for a heartbeat but still, it was a nice accomplishment.

My distances for the intervals were 110, 103, 101, 99, 98, 98, 98 and 97. Can easily see that I was crushing the first one and then fatigue set in but you'll also see that the fifth interval, usually my recovery interval, was no such thing. I was quite proud of my row.

It was out to the barn then for the remainder of the workout. I was supposed to do as many rounds as possible in five minutes of five reps of 155 pound clean and jerk followed by ten pushups. After a minute rest it was as many rounds in five minutes of 5 kettle bell snatches with each hand followed by five burpee pullups. I could only manage two rounds of each in each five minute span. My weight lifting ability has vanished. I was beat and really breathing hard. But since it was so pretty out this morning I jumped rope for a few minutes before I went back inside. I like jumping rope.

No moral today. I'm glad tomorrow is a day without rowing.

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