The 1889 election is going to be a close one. I thought I’d give a little information, besides what you can find in BBR, about the three who ran neck and neck and neck for second in this election. Having more knowledge about the three might help clarify how you rank them. In no order:
Cal McVey: A slugger, who played all 9 positions at one time or another, was a member of the famous Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 and 1870. He was by no means THE star of that team (George Wright had that distinction), but he held his own, as the only teenager on that team. A mediocre fielder, tho he had a decent arm as he pitched quite a number of times (albeit, not overly successfully), he played right field with the Red Stockings, right field being at the time (like Little League today) where you stick your weakest fielder. A point in his favor, in my mind, is why he left after the 1979 season. That winter, the owners instituted the reserve clause. McVey refused, along with a few others, notably Bobby Mathews, to be bound by it, so he moved to California to play. And there he stayed until he passed away in 1926. I’m trying to think of a present day comp for McVey. Like many of this era, it’s tough. Eddie Murray without the longevity? Don Mattingly but more consistent? Not many players leave after turning 29.
Dickey Pearce: In a very real sense, Pearce invented the shortstop position. In the earliest days of baseball, the first-, second- and third basemen almost literally played on the bag. The shortstop position was not fixed in one place, more of a short fielder like you might see in softball today. In the 1850s, the shortstop was not a skilled defensive position. Pearce changed all that. He started playing where we now think a shortstop should play. It’s hard to tell from BBR, but Pearce was a decent hitter. No power, even for that time. Singles hitting defensive whiz. Today’s player comp: Omar Vizquel, perhaps?
Dick McBride: I’ve already championed him elsewhere, so I’ll keep it to a minimum. 19th century pitchers don’t really have comps with 21st century pitchers – the game is too different. But I can compare McBride to two other guys who are getting some votes, Cummings and Brainard. Brainard played from 1860 to 1874. He probably won a little over 200 games in his career, but other than his famous 2 year run with the Red Stockings in 1869 and 1870, he wasn’t much more than a .500 pitcher. If I were going to comp him, Denny McLain might be a good one. Decent pitcher who suddenly blossomed and then fell apart. Cummings played from 1866 to 1877. Cummings likely won between 250 and 275 games. Oddity: Brainard and Cummings played for the same team in 1866. I’ve guessed that Brainard might have won the Pitcher of the Year Award in 1869; Cummings would not have ever won one, tho for his career, he was much better than Brainard. McBride played from 1864 to 1876, and generally speaking he played for better teams and played against tougher competition than Brainard and Cummings during the Amateur Era. While I have Brainard pegged around (conservative estimates) 210 wins and Cummings around 265 wins, McBride likely won in excess of 450 games. Remember how BJames once said that if you add Koufax and Drysdale together, you’d have Warren Spahn? Adding Cummings and Brainard together you’d get McBride, but with a lot fewer losses.
All three are extremely viable candidates. In fact I’m hoping that all three get in.