Joss, MacPhail elected to Class of ’78

Written by: Craig Muder

One defined pitching excellence in the first decade of the 20th century, and the other helped revitalize the century’s greatest dynasty.

Together, Addie Joss and Larry MacPhail changed the game – and together they were posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame.

The Veterans Committee elected Joss and MacPhail on Jan. 30, 1978, finalizing the Class of 1978 that had begun with the election of Eddie Mathews by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

For MacPhail, who passed away on Oct. 1, 1975, it was the culmination of a career that saw him rise from minor league owner to the general manager of the Reds and Dodgers and eventually owner of the Yankees.

In Cincinnati, MacPhail introduced night baseball into the big leagues with the Reds game against the Phillies on May 24, 1935 at Crosley Field. He also introduced regular airline travel to games and insisted on radio broadcast coverage.

With the Dodgers, MacPhail laid the groundwork for the dominant Brooklyn teams of the late 1940s and 1950s before becoming part owner of the Yankees in 1945. By 1947, MacPhail had led the Bronx Bombers back to the World Series after three-year hiatus during World War II.

“The promoter nonpareil,” wrote columnist Red Smith of MacPhail. “Imaginative, aggressive…”

MacPhail’s son Lee MacPhail was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998, making the MacPhails the only father/son combination enshrined in Cooperstown.

Joss threw a one-hitter in his big league debut in 1902 and quickly established himself as one of the game’s top control pitchers. In nine seasons – all with the Cleveland Indians – Joss was 160-97 with a 1.89 earned-run average, second only to Ed Walsh’s 1.82 figure in baseball history. Joss also posted a WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) of 0.968, still the top figure of all-time and making him one of only three pitchers (along with Mariano Rivera and Walsh) with a WHIP under 1.00.

Joss tragically died on April 14, 1911 – just two days after his 31st birthday – following a bout with tubercular meningitis. Though he only pitched nine big league seasons, the Hall of Fame Board of Directors passed a special resolution in 1977 allowing Joss to be considered despite the Hall of Fame rule that requires 10 seasons for election consideration.

“With Addie Joss, baseball was a profession, as (important) as that of any other, for it gave recreation to the masses, brought them out of the factories and the counting room into the open air and the sunlight and made them forget the petty annoyances in life,” wrote the Toledo Blade the day after Joss passed away. “In taking his vocation seriously, he was, in return, taken seriously by the people, who recognized in him a man of more than usual intelligence and one who would have adorned any profession in which he had elected to engage.”

An “all-star” game – one of the first of its kind – was played on July 24, 1911 for the benefit of Joss’ family. Future Hall of Famers Home Run Baker, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Sam Crawford, Walter Johnson and Tris Speaker were among the players who participated, and more than 15,000 fans raised $13,000 for the cause.

“I’ll do anything they want for Addie Joss’ family,” Johnson said.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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