Remembering two honest MLB players

By Anthony Rhoads

If you talk about the 1919 Chicago White Sox, the first thing that comes to mind is the infamous ?Black Sox' scandal.

That year, the Chicago White Sox easily won the American League pennant to face the Cincinnati Reds.

But several White Sox players led by Chick Gandil, conspired to throw the World Series, which Chicago lost 5 games to 3.

After investigations, eight players (Eddie Cicotte, Happy Felsch, Chick Gandil, ?Shoeless' Joe Jackson, Fred McMullin, Swede Risburg, Buck Weaver and Lefty Williams) were brought to trial and were eventually found not guilty.

After the trial was over, Major League Baseball's first commissioner Kenesaw ?Mountain' Landis banned the eight players for life and the 1919 ?Black Sox' became one of the worst blemishes in the history of the game.

But what many folks don't realize is there were two players off the 1919 Chicago White Sox who eventually made the Baseball Hall of Fame, second baseman Eddie Collins and catcher Ray Schalk.

Collins, a Columbia University graduate, played for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1906-14. After winning the MVP award in 1914, he came to the Chicago White Sox in 1915.

He played for the White Sox from 1915-26 before going back to Philadelphia from 1927-30.

He finished with a .333 lifetime batting average, hitting over .340 10 times and recorded 3,315 hits. Collins was a superb hitter and rarely struck out, striking out only 286 times in his career.

He played 25 seasons, a 20th century record for position players and he also holds many fielding records for second basemen, including most assists and total chances.

Philadelphia A's owner-manager Connie Mack once stated that Collins was the best second baseman he ever saw and New York Giants' John McGraw also praised Collins, saying he was the best ballplayer he'd ever seen.

While Collins was a solid all-around baseball player, Schalk specialized in defense.

Schalk's offensive numbers are some of the worst among Hall of Famers. His career batting average is .253, the lowest of any position player in the Hall, and he hit only 11 home runs and 594 RBIs.

I read once on-line that the only reason Schalk is in the Hall is because he wasn't in on the 1919 World Series fix. That's just not true; Schalk was inducted into the Hall based more on his defense and longevity rather than offensive skills.

He caught more than 100 or more games for 11 straight seasons, a Major League record at the time.

He led the league in fielding percentage eight times and putouts nine times. He also was considered an excellent handler of pitchers and was the first to catch four no-hit games.

Even though he didn't have a high batting average, he could do some damage when he got on base as he was one of the fastest catchers in his day. He stole 30 bases in 1916 and 24 in 1914.

His 30 stolen bases were a record for catchers and it stood for 66 years.

In the 1919 World Series, Schalk confronted several of the players who were throwing the Series and nearly came to blows with Cicotte and Williams.

Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for the Daily. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com and sports@news-daily.com.