Meet the October Misters

Monday, October 25 2004 @ 07:09 AM EDT

Contributed by: Mick Doherty

October, that's when they pay off for playing ball.
-- Reggie "Mr. October" Jackson

That's right, it's that time again ... with today's off-day for October World Series travel, we're pleased to introduce the Batter's Box All-October team ...

... a squad made up entirely of players born in the month of the Fall Classic, the month that gave birth to the legend of Brian Doyle and the hip-hop dance moves of Carlton Fisk. Of course, the original Pudge was born in June, while Denny's little brother came along in May, so neither is even eligible for this team.

And unfortunately, unlike players honored in and by other recent months, there is no September equivalent to Don August, June Greene or Lee May in the annals of baseball history -- the closest we get is the inimitable Athletics closer Ocavio Dotel, who, alas, was born in November. But the team names itself, with a nod to the man who inspired the Reggie Bar; it's the October Misters, of course.

In case you missed previous editions:

All-February || All-June || All-July || All-August || All-September

October's All-Hall Team
We'll start by using a precedent established with the February team and look at the Hall of Famers born in September. You thought September had a load of Hall talent, with 26 Cooperstown enchrinees? Welcome to October, which introduced thirty-five such individuals. if we make room for three likely future enshrinees who are still active. We've pieced together some pretty nice months for this exercise, but so far, it seems pretty clear that October is the greatest month for baseball greatness. And that's only appropriate, one supposes.

Let's start around the All-September Hall of Fame infield ... shall we say, 1B Mark McGwire, 2B Rod Carew, SS Joe Sewell and 3B Eddie Matthews? What, you don't like that infield at all? Okay, let's go with 1B Bill Terry, 2B Ed Delahanty (mostly an OF, true, but about a season's worth of games at second), SS Joe Cronin and Negro League legendary 3B Judy Johnson. A shout-out to 1B Fred McGriff for a nice career, but for our purposes it pretty much doesn't matter if he makes the Hall or not.

Speaking of first base, how about Buck Ewing, who also caught plenty of games. This early-century stalwart actually played every position, including nine games as a pitcher, even getting four starts. According to, Ewing was tied with Cap Anson for receiving the most votes inthe original 1936 Hall of Fame election.

Behind the plate, do you sacrifice offense for defense and go with Rick Ferrell, or sacrifice defense for offense and move 1B/3B Jimmie Foxx back to his original position?

In outfield, the multitude of choices includes Mickey Mantle and Oscar Charleston in CF, while Ralph Kiner, Dave Winfield, Goose Goslin, Chuck Klein and borderliner Juan Gonzalez battling it out for the corner positions.

Need a manager? With Cronin around, we might be all set, but there's also Fred Clarke, who won four pennants and one championship, with the 1909 Pirates at 109-42, and Frank Selee, who won six pennants and two titles while managing the Cubs and in Boston. These days, that'd make him a candidate for canonization.

Need some front office help with this team? How about Hall of Famers like William Hulbert,who helped found the National League, and two former AL presidents in Will Harridge and Lee MacPhail, who with his pop Larry make up the first and so far only father/son combo in Cooperstown. This team even has its own umpire, as if it'd need it, in Cal Hubbard. Oh, and the official scorer is the guy who invented the box score, Henry Chadwick.

Ah, but any Hall-worthy team needs pitching, correct? Okay, then, let's start with a couple of left-handed Rubes ... Marquard and Waddell, that is. Also on the left side is The Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford. The staff is balanced on the right side by Jim Palmer, Negro League legend Leon Day, Juan Marichal, Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown, Jim Bunnin -- the only man to win 100 games and throw a no-hitter in each league -- and likely future inductee Pedro Martinez.

The long man is the clever little righty who proved a ball could curve, Candy Cummings -- in a testament to workload burnout, Cummings had 134 wins at age 26 and only 24 after that; could his average of 445 innings pitched in the four years leading up to his age 26 season have anything to do with that?

If one of those pansy new-age five-man rotation "pitch count" guys can't manage to go nine, we're left with a closer by the name of Eckersly. Do you think this team might win a game or two?

The All-October All-Hall team, then:
MGR Joe Cronin
C Jimmie Foxx
1B Bill Terry
2B Rod Carew
SS Joe Sewell
3B Eddie Matthews
LF Oscar Charleston
CF Mickey Mantle
RF Dave Winfield
DH Mark McGwire

C Rick Ferrell
IF Joe Cronin (player-manager)
OF Goose Goslin
UTIL Ed Delahanty
PH Buck Ewing

RHSP Juan Marichal
LHSP Whitey Ford
RHSP Jim Palmer
LHSP Rube Waddell
RHSP Mordecai Brown
CL Dennis Eckersly
SET Leon Day
SET Pedro Martinez
LOOGY Rube Marquard
LONG-L Candy Cummings
LONG-R Jim Bunning

Sidebar: October's All-in-the-Family Notes
Okay, as much as we'd like to include former Ranger and Pirate Jim Bibby, while nephew Mike is a fine point guard, that doesn't really fit the spirit of what we're doing here.

However, if not Jim Bibby, then Jim Bagby -- the elder Bagby was 127-88, mostly with the Indians, while son Jim Jr. couldn't hold out an extra week and rode his Sept. 25 birthdate to just a 97-96 career mark, also primarily for the Tribe.

Other family connections with the opal birthstone: John "father of Dusty" Wathan, Brett "son of Bill" Laxton, Chris "brother of Tony" Gwynn, Lew "brother of Heinie" Groh; Sandy (father of Sandy Jr.and Roberto) Alomar, Wilton "brother of Vladimir" Guerrero. Roy "son of Roy Jr." Smalley III, and Kirk "brother of Jim" Bullinger. Not a bumper crop, but maybe Gwynn, Groh and Guerrero can form an "I have a Hall of Fame brother but I just kinda suck" support group outfield.

Sidebar: Ocotber's Jays
Looking for some Jay connections? Sure, plenty of ex-and current Jays have been born in October; and since there hasn't been meaningful October baseball in Toronto in more than a decade, it's not a bad idea to focus instead on how October has been meaningful to the Jays, from their very first manager to one of their latest phenoms. Let these names roll off the tongue as you contemplate October-born Blue Jays:

Roy Hartsfield ... Alfredo Griffin ... Tim Crabtree ... Willie Mays Aikens ... Chad Mottola
George Bell ... Jerry Garvin ... Pedro Swann ... Jesse Barfield ... Simon Pond.

Willie Mays Aikens? Yes, the Anti-Delgado spent parts of two season with Toronto, and believe it or not, that's not the only (or even most direct) relation we have to the Say Hey Kid this month, even given Willie's May(s) birthdate.

October Relief?
Once upon a time,there was a New York Mets relief pitcher named Charlie Williams. He was born in October, but never played then with the Mets, coming to them just a little too late for the Miracle and leaving before they cobbled together the '73 NL East crown; he left in a trade for an aging outfielder named... you guessed it, Willie Mays.

Williams will not make this team, even as we look for actual relievers to supplement the dozen or so HOF starters in front of Eckersly.

From the left side, pretty much all we have is John Rocker, Arthur Rhodes and Scott Schoeneweis setting up Everyday Eddie Guardado; that's not bad, but consider our oprtions from the right side: Keith Foulke, Jeff Reardon, Trevor Hoffman (another guy who might end up in Cooperstown, by the way), Dave Veres, and the tragically short career of Steve Olin ... and that's before you get to Eckersly, remember!

Filling Out October's Rotation
Let's he honest; with the load of October pitching talent already in the Hall, it's going to take someone like Pedro, mentioned above, to crack the staff,and there's only one Pedro -- though, to be honest, Ewell Blackwell might be an awfully nice weapon out of the 'pen, even though he only had one really above-average season in his entire career.

Other starters who might bear mentioning, but who would be strictly AAA for this team, include perennial Andujar candidate righty John Thomson; Earl Wilson, the only righty -- actually, the only guy not named "Lolich" -- to win a World Series game for the '68 Tigers; righty Mike Morgan, one of the few guys in major league history to win games as both a teenager and in his 40's; lefty Charlie Leibrandt, who was 140-119 and appeared in postseason games for three teams; Doc Crandall, who fashioned a career mark of 102-62, mostly for the New York Baseball Giants before jumping to the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League; lefty Harry "The Cat" Brecheen, ace of the Cardinals powerhouse teams of the late 1940's; Paul Derringer, who amassed 232 wins,mostly for Cincinnati from 1931-1945; and Tim Belcher, who never quite lived up to the hype but still racked up 146 career wins. Oh, and then there's former Expo legend Steve "Captain Canada" Rogers.

Speaking of former Expo hurlers, David Palmer had the one five-inning perfecto, then fell off the MLB map, while another October one-hit wonder, Tom Cheney, holds the all-time single-game strikeout record with 21 in a 16-ining complete game effort.

Several current front-of-the-rotation hurlers (none of whom have any chance at making this team, of course) were also opal infants -- John Lackey has already started and won Game 7 of a World Series; Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez is still going strong at age 57; lefty Al Leiter has somehow rung up 155 career wins despite reaching a single-season total of at least 17 just once; and Brad Radke is pulling down $10.5M for his annual 11 or 12 wins.

The Rest of the Guys
There's plenty of additional non-Hall talent with October birthdays; just at shortstop, you have former All-Stars Maury Wills, Roger Metzger, Bill Russell, Toby Harrah, Freddie Patek, Vern Stephens and Mike Young, with Kaz Matsui waiting in the wings after the Mets send Jose Reyes to Texas; Donie Bush was another star shortstop who never made an All-Star team because they didn't have those back around 1905. Ditto Frankie Crosetti, whose play preceded All-Star Games and preceded his 823 years as a Yankee base coach.

A number of guys who at one time seemed destined for Cooperstown but fell well short are October Misters, including 1B Keith Hernandez, OF/DH Ruben Sierra; 1B Joe Pepitone never quite lived up to the hype of being the Yankee first base bridge from Mize and Skowron to Chambliss. Al Oliver won a batting title and amased 2,742 career hits; RHSP Dave DeBusschere actually made the Hall of Fame in '83 but given it was the one in Springfield, Mass., not Cooperstown, NY, he only makes this team if we switch from the five-man rotation to a match-up zone defense.

Don't mention Bobby Thomson's name in Brooklyn, but the Staten Island Scot was far more than a one-swing wonder; Gene Tenace built an All-Star career, mostly as a catcher, out of a base built on the 1972 World Series MVP trophy. Eddie Yost and Ossie Bleuge were both All-Star caliber third basemen, while Willie Horton (1992 hits, 325 homers) and George Hendrick (1980 hits, 267 homers) were pretty much the same guy. Kevin McReynolds and Brian Downing were both fine hitters and not much else on the diamond, while Tommy Harper, an original Seattle Pilot, built a 15-year career almost entirely on his ability to run fast.

Jose Cardenal was the position-player equivalent of Joaquin Andujar, while Enos Cabell was an All-Star third-sacker while Andujar's Houston teammate. Utilityman Bip Roberts did everything but pitch (though he could certainly bitch), and before anyone dreamed of handing Tim McCarver a microphone, he was an All-Star catcher who once finished second in the NL MVP voting. Current Phillie OF Pat Burrell is still searching for the swing he apparently left behind somewhere in 2002.

Does this non-Hall team need a manager? Well, we'd better hurry and nominate Tony LaRussa before he's inducted and we're stuck with Jimy Williams. Seattle baseball fans can catch October babies coming (Mike Hargrove) and going (Bob Melvin). Maybe an old-schooler like Danny Murtauch or Bobby Bragan? If this team has Harry "the Cat" Brecheen pitching, maybe Harry "the Hat" Walker should manage? After all,he made it through managing Bouton in theBall Four season. Remember former San Francisco and Montreal skipper Charlie Fox? Another Charlie trumps him -- getting a stadium named for you will do that! -- in former Brooklyn Bridegrooms chief Charlie Ebbets.

October's All Non-Hall Team

MGR Tony LaRussa
C Tim McCarver
1B Keith Hernandez
2B Kaz Matsui
SS Maury Wills
3B Eddie Yost
LF Al Oliver
CF Bobby Thomson
RF Ichiro Suzuki
DH Brian Downing

C Gene Tenace
IF Toby Harrah
OF Tommy Harper
UTIL Bip Roberts
PH Ruben Sierra

RHSP Brad Radke
LHSP Harry Brecheen
RHSP Steve Rogers
LHSP Al Leiter
RHSP Tim Belcher
CL Trevor Hoffman
SET-R Jeff Reardon
SET-L Eddie Guardado
LOOGY Arthur Rhodes
LONG-L Charlie Leibrandt
LONG-R Earl Wilson

Before we move on to consolidating one single overarching All-October team, let's pause for this:

Final Sidebar: October Names
Every month has provided us with an expanding list of names that draw smiles or snickers, ranging in category from "Why doesn't baseball have those great nicknames any more" (October's mascots: Pickles Dillhoefer, Snuffy Stirnweiss and Buttercup Dickerson) to "Probably not the one your're thinking of" (Meet October Misters Davey Crockett and Joe Frazier as well as Buddy Ryan, Bernie Williams) and this month's leader in the clubhouse, Carlisle Littlejohn, about whom his sponsor, some guy named Burley, writes, "It's not the size of the john in the man, but the size of the man in the john. Charles Carlisle may have been a Little John, but he was a short ballplayer. With a short career." Following that same lawyerly train of thought, I am thoroughly ashamed to point out that October is also the birth month of the immortal Dick Pole.

Gosh, the October names just keep on coming. Ty Van Burkleo. Xavier Rescigno. Malachi Jeddidah Kittridge. Italo Chelini. And let's go back to Buttercup Dickerson, who spent seven seasons playing second, short, third and the outfield for these teams: both the original Cincinnati Red Stockings and the original Baltimore Orioles (the ones that became the New York Highlanders nee Yankees) as well as the Troy Trojans, Worcester Ruby Legs, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, St. Louis Maroons, Louisville Eclipse and the Buffalo Bisons. Quite a ride!

Last but not least, three important historical figures came along in October: catcher Moses Fleetwood "Fleet" Walker, who caught 40+ games for the 1884 Toledo Mud Hens, pre-dating Jackie Robinson by 63 years in breaking baseball's color barrier; Pumpsie Green, who broke that same color barrier for the Red Sox a mere 12 years after Jackie did it for the Dodgers;and Louis Francis "Chief" Sockalexis, who played three seasons for Cleveland's N.L. entry, the Spiders (including their record-smashing 20-134 season in 1899 -- and who, though I could never figure this out -- is often credited with inspiring the nickname of the city's A.L. squad, the Indians.

Now,finally ...

The All-October Team
Except in the bullpen, it's damn near a clean sweep for the Hall guys.

MGR Joe Cronin
Bench Coach: Tony LaRussa
Coaches: Harry Walker, Danny Murtaugh, Fred Clarke, Frank Selee

C Jimmie Foxx
1B Bill Terry
2B Rod Carew
SS Joe Sewell
3B Eddie Matthews
LF Oscar Charleston
CF Mickey Mantle
RF Dave Winfield
DH Mark McGwire

C Rick Ferrell
IF Maury Wills (Cronin retires to focus on managing)
OF Goose Goslin
UTIL Buck Ewing
PH Bill Terry

RHSP Juan Marichal
LHSP Whitey Ford
RHSP Jim Palmer
LHSP Rube Waddell
RHSP Mordecai Brown
CL Dennis Eckersly
SET-R Trevor Hoffman
SET-L Eddie Guardado
LOOGY Candy Cummings
LONG-L Harry Brecheen
LONG-R Pedro Martinez

Okay, Boxers, you know the drill ... fire away!