This article was written by L. Robert Davids
This article was published in the 1974 Baseball Research Journal
Ever since the Society for American Baseball Research was formed in 1971, it has noted on an annual basis the baseball personality born 100 years before who made the greatest contribution to the “national game.”
In 1971 it was Joe McGinnity, born March 19, 1871
In 1972 it was Willie Keeler, born March 13, 1872
In 1973 it was John McGraw, born April 7, 1873
Now in 1974 it is Honus Wagner, born February 24, 1874. Wagner, of course, was among the first five players voted into the Hall of Fame in 1936, and he has gone unchallenged as baseball’s leading shortstop since he was in mid-career.
There were other great baseball figures born in 1874: Umpire Bill Klem on February 22; Jack Chesbro June 5, and Jack Powell on July 9. But Honus Wagner is this year’s centennial celebrity – one of the all-time great players.
On the back cover is a drawing of Sam Thompson when he was with Detroit in 1887. He won the NL batting title that year, and led his team to a World Series victory over St. Louis of the AA. When he was elected to the Hall of Fame in January 1974, some people said Sam . . .Who? But baseball historians across the country heaved a sigh of relief that baseball’s great power hitter of the 19th Century finally made it.