This is something of a random post that was born as a comment on a Grant Brisbee SB Nation column. The original story was yet another article on lightning-rod HOF candidate Jack Morris. I rather enjoyed the piece. Spoiler alert: Brisbee ultimately decides that's he'd be okay if Morris made it into the Hall. But he does throw this zinger into the story:
If [Brisbee] had a vote, Morris wouldn't even get in to the Hall of Really Neat Players Named Jack.
Well, that got me thinking, who is in the HRNPNJ? Rather than just put together an all-time Jacks list, I decided to go a different route as I embarked on a journey through baseball history. I assembled a team of all-time players named Jack. To give the team more panache, I decided to let Jackie's onto the squad as well (#42 on the infield helps the group quite a lot). Doing this position by position also helped me sneak a couple former A's into the mix.
All told, there are four players who spent significant parts of their career with the Athletics. Ha! Linked this ridiculously irrelevant exercise back to the A's. Hope it's a fun read for y'all over the long offseason. You should easily be able to guess two of our former Jacks. Much respect upon you if you can name three and if you get all four then I mean just wow! You would be king of A's trivia forever.
So without further ado, here's Team Jack Attack:
C Jack Clements: Played at age 19 all the way back in one of the defuct, but official MLB Leagues: The 1884 Union League. He's the only left-handed throwing catcher in the game to have played more than 300 games in the bigs. He topped 1,000 games played an could hit a little as well, slugging .612 one year for the Phil's in 1895.
1B(tie) Jack Fournier: was a star hitter of the early 1920s. He posted a career 142 OPS+ (good for 63rd all-time) in that odd time when the deadball era faded but just before the late 20’s offensive explosion. Had a reputation as a bad defender.
1B(tie) "Dirty" Jack Doyle: One of the best Irishman to ever play in the MLB. An above average hitter with some speed (31st all-time with 516 SB). Earned his nickname as a member of the famously nasty 1890’s Baltimore Orioles. Here’s a quote (maybe stretches the truth) from Honus Wagner on the subject. "The 1890’s were a tough time. I remember when we played the Baltimore Orioles. I hit a ball that should have been a home run, but when I got to first base, Dirty Jack Doyle tripped me. I got up, ran to second, and shortstop Hughie Jennings slugged me and knocked me cold. I managed to get up again, and ran to third, and there was John McGraw holding a gun, saying "You stop right here!"
2B Jackie Robinson: Shouldn’t need to spell this one out.
SS "Pebbly" Jack Glasscock: A huge star of early 19th century baseball, he was considered one of the best defenders in his time. The name pebbly came from him always clearing the infield dirt of rocks to prevent bad bounces. Played most of his long, illustrious career without a glove. Also handy with a bat, sporting a career 111 OPS+.
3B Jack Hannanah: Slim pickings (as always with historical third-baseman). So we’ll go modern and take the defensive whiz who just finished off a nice season with the Indians.
RF Jack "the Ripper" Clark: A star of the 80’s who had some pop in his bat. Had some great seasons late in his career bouncing around the league after transitioning to a 1B/DH. Ever patient at the plate, the career .379 OBP looks better now that we all appreciate the value of a walk.
CF: Jackie Brandt: A dependable gold-glove center fielder for the 60’s Orioles with a league-average bat (career 101 OPS+). Have to post this quote from Brandt describing his career: "I had over 1,000 base hits and 100 home runs in the majors, but my greatest thrills and memories are of the people I was around. Willie Mays and Brooks Robinson were my teammates. When I first came up my locker was right next to Stan Musial’s and when Ted Williams homered in his last at-bat , he hit it over my head."
LF Jackie Jensen: Okay, he’s a right fielder, but I reckon he’ll handle left fine. Jensen was an All-Star from baseball’s Golden Age. An SF native (yay Bay Area!) he pitched on Cal’s ’47 College World Series winner. Went on to be an all-star OF in the majors. Won a somewhat undeserved MVP in 1958. Were voters tired of always giving it to Mantle? Jensen retired in 1960, reportedly because of a fear of flying.
DH Jack Cust: Okay, I mostly threw him in here because GO A’s! But Cust is third all-time among Jacks in single season HR total with 33 in ’08 (behind Jensen and Clark, who each once hit 35 dingers).
SP "Happy" Jack Chesbro: The only HOFer on the team leads the starting rotation. Known mostly for his 41 win (yowza!) 1904 season, a record that stands to this day.
SP "Colby" Jack Coombs: Part of the devastating early century Philadelphia A’s rotation that led the squad to three WS victories. Coombs had a 30 win season in which he went 350IP without allowing a single HR. Even for the deadball era that’s still impressive.
SP Jack "the Giant Killer" Pfiester: Another deadball hero, Pfiester only pitched four full seasons. But wow, what a four seasons. He played for the Cubs during their last reign of dominance (more than a century ago!) when they were always battling the Giants (hence the nickname). Posted ERA’s of 1.51 and 1.15 in ’06 and ’07, ridiculous even by deadball standards. His short, sustained excellence meant he finished with 1000+ innings and a career 2.02 ERA, third all-time on the career ERA leaderboard.
SP: ??? Jack Morris is probably the best choice for the number 4 slot, but it's a tough call. The longevity is a bonus over some deadballers who didn’t pitch many seasons (Brewery Jack Taylor, Happy Jack Stivetts). Jack Billingham was a post-season star with Cincy’s Big Red Machine (2-0 and a 0.36 ERA in three WS starts). Also needing a mention is Jack McDowell, the only Cy Young winner ever named Jack.
Closer – Jack Aker: Part of the first wave of "firemen" (relief pitchers) of baseball during the sixties, helped usher in the new position of relief pitcher. Won Fireman of the Year in ’66 after posting a then-record 32 saves. With which team? That's right, the very-soon-to-be-Oakland-but-still-Kansas-City Oakland A's. Aker was taken from the A's in '68 expansion draft, which is shame because he was a native Californian and probably would have fit right in with the early 70's WS squads.
Honorable Mention: Jack Quinn is a name to be noted for sheer longevity. He debuted at age 25 in 1905 and was still playing in 1933 at age 49! Holds several records as oldest player to have achieved a whole assortment of feats (pitched in a WS, hit a HR, ect.)