Hello, or welcome back, as the case may be. My name is Paul Drye, and if you’ve heard of me (I’m not holding my breath over that, but anything’s possible) it’s because of my blogs/books False Steps and Passing Strangeness. Or possibly it’s because of the two Traveller RPG books I co-wrote before that, in which case hello to you too. It seems I’m about to start a new project, about another passion of mine, and this is it.
As I write this in February of 2017, Baseball Reference’s home page states that there have been 18,918 players in the history of major league baseball. Of that list, maybe a hundred are absolute, no-doubt-about-it greats. You might point to the 223 former major-league players in the Hall of Fame, but then I’m going to make you state the case for High Pockets Kelly and Ray Schalk. The inner circle is smaller than that.
To get there you have to be both great and great for a long time. The HOF has at times had a soft spot for players who were more long-lived than great (Luis Aparicio, for one, or old-timer Rabbit Maranville), but a specific rule barring those who play for less than ten years in the majors means that those whose strength was all on the other side of the equation get forgotten. But is there really anything more fascinating than a player who’s obviously something special, but who nevertheless never lives up to it? It happens for a variety of reasons, often injury, but in a few case it’s because of the intercession of war, or too much of a taste for the high life, or sometimes even being not all that good after all. Point is, after a very short period of time when they streaked across the sky, most fans have never heard of them.
This blog is about them, and what they might have been.