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The "Gallery" Gets Some "Renown" Of Its Own

February 11, 2023
If you’re like me, you have several bookmarked web sites that you regularly check out. One of mine, of course, is Another is And, another one is Joe Posnanski’s blog site. The other day, I pulled up Joe’s article on a new project he’s calling The Joe Blogs Hall of Fame, and I saw the following from the opening of his post:

"Here’s a Hall of Fame thing I had never really thought about before: The Hall of Fame is shaped the way it is in large part because it was founded in 1936.
If the Hall had been founded in 1986 or 1901 or 2022, it would look very different. The thing that made me start thinking about this is the Gallery of Renown, which is available over at Bill James Online. The Gallery was invented by the late Bob Gregory, and the conceit is that the Hall of Fame was founded in 1885.
I’ve been studying The Gallery as I prepare to bring you, yes, The JoeBlogs Hall of Fame! (trumpets play)."
I did a double-take. Did Joe really reference our little member project? 
Wow. Very cool. 
I felt a strong feeling of pride, and the Gallery isn’t even mine, although I’m certainly proud to help carry on the tradition. I wasn’t around on the site when it was initially conceived. I’m just one of its caretakers….me, Terry Vent (who I team up with annually to coordinate on the kickoff, discussions, and voting), and, of course, all of you who participate in it each year to keep it going.
Another excerpt from Posnanski:
"Because the whole point of the Gallery is that it started 50 years before the Hall, there are a LOT of old-timey players in there who are not and never will be in the Hall of Fame. Like, really, a LOT.
The 19th Century Gallery includes: Doc Adams (who should, and I assume will, get elected soon); Ross Barnes; Charlie Bennett; Tommy Bond; Pete Browning; Bob Caruthers; Jim Creighton; Bob Ferguson, Eric Stangel’s favorite player Jack Glasscock; George Gore; Paul Hines; Dick McBride (who I kept calling Duck McBride for some reason); Jim McCormick; Cal McVey; Jim Mutrie (manager); Dickie Pearce; Jimmy Ryan; Charley Smith (I cannot find a Charley Smith who played in the 19th century —maybe they mean Charley JONES, who led the National League in home runs in 1879?); Joe Start; Harry Stovey; George Van Haltren and Ned Williamson."
Yes, that’s one of the interesting contrasts between the Hall of Fame and the Gallery of Renown, the fact that it starts inductions 50 years prior. And in particular, who is this mysterious Charley Smith that we inducted in our 1894 election? Is it Charley, or Charlie? Did we really mean Charley Jones? (spoiler alert: no, we didn’t) 
Well, I’ll get back to Charley/Charlie Smith later, and we’ll clear that up. But, in light of all this, I thought I’d post a quick article that dives a little deeper into the genesis of the Gallery of Renown ("GOR" for short), and talk a little bit more about the Dr. Frankenstein behind it all (Bob Gregory) and how it came to be. 
Now, I may stumble a little along the way as I sift through the historical bread crumbs, because, as I mentioned earlier, I was not around when the conception and the early heavy lifting on this BJOL project took place. I joined the site in 2014, and most of the legwork of the GOR was done in 2012 and 2013, although its roots trace back even earlier. So, any of the "old-timer" members on the site should feel free to correct me below in the comments section if I misstep (as if I needed to encourage them!).
What about Bob?
Every year when we kick off the GOR season, we always make mention of Bob Gregory. Bob ("rgregory1956") passed away in late 2016 after a battle with cancer, which he openly shared with us in an extended Reader Post Thread called "The Journey". Bob was a well-respected and prolific poster on Bill James Online. I did not get to know Bob as well as many of the other old-time members on this site. As I mentioned before, I didn’t join until 2014, but the site dates back to, apparently, 2008 (the earliest "join dates" I see on any member is 2011, but there are Reader Posts threads that date back as far as early 2008), and I can find posts from Bob going back to 2009. Bob posted over 6,000 times between 2009 and 2016. Even though he passed away more than 6 years ago, he’s still #13 on the "all time post" list. 
Bob was a resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and he was a true expert on 19th century baseball, and I don’t say that lightly. Bob founded the Fort Wayne (IN) Kekionga chapter of SABR, and there’s an In Memoriam for Bob on the SABR site. There's also a monument in Ft. Wayne on the site of the location of the first professional baseball game between the Fort Wayne Kekiongas and Cleveland Forest Citys on Thursday, May 4, 1871. The monument was donated in the memory of Bob the year after he passed away on the 146th anniversary of that inaugural game, and Bob’s name is mentioned on the marker.
He was a driving force behind a couple of significant SABR efforts - the Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legends Project and the 19th Century Baseball Grave Marker Project.  It’s my understanding that, through the Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legends Project, Bob and others played a big part in Deacon White getting elected to the Hall of Fame in 2013, and Bob was in attendance at the induction.
Bob led many group projects on Reader Posts but the one that has had the greatest staying power is the "Gallery of Renown" (GOR).  Here's one of the threads where Bob teed up the idea in early 2012, although it’s my understanding that there were even earlier threads alluding to alternative Halls of Fames and 19th Century Hall of Fame, things like that, that were early seeds that eventually grew into the final project. 
Early Results
The first Gallery of Renown vote was for the year 1885. The link to that voting thread is here. For posterity, here are the 9 BJOL members who participated in that first vote, and I hope they don’t mind me identifying them (and many of them are still actively posting):
Rgregory1956 (Bob)
Patrick (who’s our current BBWAA prediction contest winner)
Ventboys (aka "Terry")
A little bit of GOR trivia – member RonMock shows as having posted only one time on Bill James Online….and it happened to be in the inaugural GOR vote. Pretty mind boggling…..
Also for the record, here is Bob’s ballot from the 1885 GOR, the first official ballot cast in Gallery of Renown history (remembering that it is an MVP-type ballot, in order from 1 to 10):
1. Jim Creighton
2. Joe Leggett
3. Dick McBride
4. Dickey Pearce
5. Al Spalding
6. Cal McVey
7. Charley Smith
8. Jimmy Wood
9. Wes Fisler
10. Jack Chapman
Also for the record, here is the result of that first vote, showing the total points before each name. Also, this just goes to show that, as influential as Bob was, didn’t always get his way, as Al Spalding rather than Jim Creighton became the first member of the Gallery of Renown:
100 Al Spalding
68 Jim Creighton
67 Cal McVey
60 Dickey Pearce
51 Harry Wright
45 Dick McBride
30 Candy Cummings
20 Asa Brainard
17 Wes Fisler
14 Joe Leggett
11 Jimmy Wood
10 George Hall
8 Jim Devlin
7 Charley Smith
5 Charley Gould
4 Fred Waterman & George Zettlein
2 Bob Addy, Tom Carey, Jack Chapman, Bill Craver & Al Reach
And it proceeded from there. In the 1886 election, member rstattler1 joined in to replace RonMock’s lone vote, and the number of voters stayed at 9. 
Over the next year or so (from Feb 2012 to March 2013), the hearty group of members (with various members flowing in and out along the way) simulated nearly 130 seasons of player elections (1885 through 2013), not to mention another 26 special elections at the designated times (13 contributor elections, one in each year ending in a "5", and 13 managerial elections in the years ending with a "0"). 
The BJOL member community did yeoman’s work over this time, displaying unusual determination and diligence. Basically, they were doing about 12 elections a month, or about one every 2-3 days on average.   For more than a year. Impressive!
As I spot checked several of the elections, participation was generally in the range of 10-15 voters, bringing to mind (to my mind, at least) of some general similarity to a Veterans’ type committee, at least in terms of size and in terms of magnifying the impact of an individual voter’s perspective, as well as the power of discussion, persuasion, and influence. Of course, the GOR is set up to ensure new inductees every year, whereas the Vet Committees make no such guarantee. 
Still, must have been a blast participating in those, seeing the progression. It’s definitely a different dynamic now, where we have many more people participating in the process (our 2023 election had a record 76 (!) voters). I think Bob would have liked that, although he certainly enjoyed the discussion and the shared learnings.
The Ballad of Charlie/Charley Smith
OK, so Joe was wondering about Charley/Charlie Smith, who was inducted to the Gallery of Renown in the 1894 vote. Joe wondered if we meant Charley Jones, a pretty good outfielder from the 1870’s and 1880’s who had a lot of "Black Ink" in his record. Alas, no it wasn’t him. It was this guy. (regarding the spelling, I believe Bob always spelled it "Charley" rather than "Charley", and that’s why he’s listed that way in our register, but most references that I’ve seen actually imply "Charlie").
Now, if his record doesn’t look impressive to you, you’re not alone.  Official data records that we’re used to referencing basically start with 1871, but, as Bob so eloquently posted in one of the GOR threads, Smith’s "only weakness that I see is that his prime was pre-1866". Well, yeah, I have to agree, that’s pretty early for a player’s "prime" to occur, all things considered….😊
In any case, Smith was an important player in the "pre-professional" for the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, also known as the "Brooklyn Atlantics", and they are often referred to as baseball’s first champions and first dynasty, as they were an 8-time National Amateur Association champion (1857, 1859, 1860, 1861, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1869).
Here are some nuggets from Bob in some of the early GOR threads regarding our mystery man. 
·         In the 1886 GOR thread, Bob proposed who he thought the MVP’s would be from 1857 through 1870. He identified Smith as the MVP for 1864 and possibly 1861. In the same thread, he picked an 1857-1870 All Star team, and selected Smith as his third baseman.
·         In the 1891 GOR thread, Bob posted this rather lengthy and entertaining synopsis of Smith, filled with information that I think would be hard to glean from most popular sources:

"Charley Smith: Probably the most forgotten superstar of the 1860s, Smith is in my Top 15. SABR published two volumes of books about 19th century stars. His bio is in neither of them. SABR's BioProject has bios of over 1500 people. His isn't one of them.

He played one year, 1871, in the NA, so he has no Win Shares; his WAR is 0.1; and his Linear Weights is 0.0. We still don't know whether he threw right- or left-handed. I've got my work cut out for me explaining why he is so worthy.

He joined the Atlantics in 1858 as a 17-year old. They went 7-0 or 8-0, depending on the source. He was not the star of the team: Dickie Pearce, Matty O'Brien and John Price were, but he more than held his own.

In 1859, the champion Atlantics went 11-1, but Smith only played half the games due to injury; still he had the best percentages, both offensively and defensively in his limited role.

In 1860, the Atlantics, again champions, went 12-2-2, and again Smith was the best player on the team.

The team didn't fare as well in '61, '62 and '63, but Smith was the best player on his team all three years.

In 1864, the Atlantics reclaimed the championship, going 20-0-1, and by now Smith was THE star on the team. I have him as the MVP that season.

And again, in 1865, they were champions, going 18-0, but I have Smith as only the second best player that year, behind Joe Start.

So with 7 years under his belt, he's been on 4 champions, had a MVP and a runner-up MVP season. Did I mention that he was the captain/manager in '64 and '65?

And then in 1866, he was gone, and I have no idea why or where he went. Not a single one of my resources says a thing about it. Did he play for another club? I doubt it. My guess, if you push me, is that business got in the way. Smith often missed a game here and there because of his work. He was often late to games as well, due to his job, not that i know what that job was.

 Anyway, he's back with the Atlantics in 1867, but he only played in 11 of the 25 games. More of the same in 1868, playing only 38 of the 54 contests. He also was slowing down as he was no longer the 3rd baseman, but rather the 2nd baseman, and he was no longer the dominant hitter on his team, just merely one of the better ones.

And 1869 continued the pattern, 33 of the 48 games, tho he was back at third and holding his own with the bat. In 1870, the Atlantics were little better than a .500 club (against the other professional teams; they still went 21-1 against the amateurs), and Smith was just an average hitter on an average team, but at least he played in 56 of the 58 games, including all 36 of the professional games.

In his prime, he was often the best hitter and the best fielder on the best team. Without much doubt, he was the All-Star third baseman of the decade; he doesn't really have any competition. And remember, either first or third was the most important defensive position at that time.

To me, that sounds like a HOFer"

·         In the 1893 GOR thread, Bob tried a fresh persuasion (the bold text is my emphasis, not Bob’s):

"I'm going to take one more shot at trying to convince you that Charley Smith is a strong, viable candidate for your support.

I think I've figured out who is comp his. It's not a perfect comp (what comp is), but it's really close. As I have said many times, I spend a lot of time pouring over newspapers from the 1860s and 1870s. I spend a lot of time pouring over what few stats we have from the Amateur Era. I have spent hundreds of hours manipulating these stats, trying to figure out what they mean. I have many different formulas I use to get a handle on this era. I don't claim to being absolutely right, but I do think I have a "feel" for them.

Smith's comp is Frank "Home Run" Baker. Baker played from 1909-1914 (6 years) on a team that won 4 pennants. Smith played from 1858-1865 (8 years) for a team that won 4 or 5 (depending on the source) champions. Their production rates were extremely similar. Baker had an OPS+ of 153 for these years, where Smith's Amateur Era Production Value (my formula that is very close to OPS+) is 143.

Then they both took a year off, Baker in 1915, Smith in 1866. When they came back, both had lost some of their skills. For 4 years, 1916-1919, Baker's OPS+ was 118. For 5 years, 1867-1871, Smith's AEPV was 116. Both Baker and Smith retired. However, Baker came back for two more years, 1921-1922, but with an OPS+ of 98, tho the Yankees won the pennant both those years.

Baker ended with a 136 OPS+ for his career of 13 seasons; Smith had a AEPV of 131 for his 13-year career. Both were significant offensive forces on multiple great teams. Baker was better, but not by much.

I don't have a lot of defensive stats for the Amateur Era. At least not collected well enough to compare with any sense of accuracy. But....the sportswriters of that time were generally impressed with Smith's defense, and likely would have won the Amateur Era's version of the Gold Glove a few times, I'd guess in the range of 2 to 6 times. it's really hard to know for sure. Just a best guess. Plus, remember that back then, third base was an extremely important defensive position. I haven't got a firm handle on the exact Defensive Spectrum of that era, but the three most important positions were Catcher, First and Third, but I am not positive how to rank them.

So what we have is a very good hitter, a very good fielder, at a key defensive position, on a perennial champion-caliber team, for over a decade. I don't know if Baker is the best comp, I think he is, but I'm not 100 percent sure. [Nomar] Garciaparra might be another decent comp, tho he lacks the championships. Garciaparra on the low end; Baker on the high end, perhaps.

Have I mentioned he was the manager/captain of the best or second best team of the decade, either his Atlantics or McBride's Athletics? He does have two glaring weaknesses: his prime was before all the Civil War hostilities were over, and no one has ever heard of him.

There are only three elections left for these guys to get into the GOR. Starting in 1896, no one on the current ballot as a chance of getting in. There are 5 guys who I think warrant serious consideration: Mathews, McCormick, Ferguson, Leggett, and the guy I think I'll be voting #1 on my ballot the next two years, Charley Smith."

Wow, quite the persuader….
By the way, my reaction to reading all of the above in 2019 (about 7 years after Bob had originally posted it), was "I love the fact that Bob came up with something called "Amateur Era Production Value" and that he also was able to arrive at an opinion that Home Run Baker and Nomar Garciaparra are Smith's best comps. Now, if I find some scouting report of Nomar when he was at Georgia Tech describing him as a "young Charlie Smith", I'm going to really be creeped out"

Anyway, Smith finished 7th in the 1893 voting. But then some "magic" happened in 1894, as Smith leapfrogged several players who had finished ahead of him in 1893 (Tommy Bond, Bobby Mathews, Levi Meyerle, and Bob Ferguson) to finish first in the voting, edging Tommy Bond by a point. 
Here are the results of the 1894 vote:
62 Charley Smith
61 Tommy Bond
53 Ezra Sutton
51 Charley Jones
44 Bobby Mathews
43 Bob Ferguson
41 Lip Pike
39 Levi Meyerle
31 Joe Leggett
23 Larry Corcoran
18 Will White
17 Tom York
15 John Clapp
13 Candy Cummings
8 Wes Fisler
7 Jimmy Wood
2 Davy Force, Bill Phillips
1 George Bradley
Notice that "Charley Jones" was a strong 4th place in the same voting. Could Charlie Brown have been far behind?   With his yellow and black zig zag shirts and his consistent "losing pitcher" results, maybe there’s a place in the Gallery for Chuck, Linus, and Pigpen as well…..
In any case, I hope that solves some of the mystery around Charley/Charlie Smith, and I hope you enjoyed this slightly deeper dive into the background on our annual BJOL tradition, as well as the man who started it all, Bob Gregory. I think he would be very proud to know the staying power behind his pet project.
Thanks for reading,


COMMENTS (9 Comments, most recent shown first)

Great article. Thanks for sharing, Dan.
3:01 PM Mar 5th
Great article! I didn't participate back in 2021, but I was around. And I think about Bob and his graceful exit from this mortal coil quite a bit.

So... takeaway....I think it is remarkable to assign a WAR of 0.1 to 1871, when the rules were Australian Rules Football, more or less.
3:42 AM Feb 26th
Dan -- Indeed that's a big feather not just in Bob's well deserved cap (pardon the misplaced modifier) but yours too.

And, nice job on the Charlies!
Very interesting and very tender piece.
5:35 PM Feb 20th
I meant 1857 1864 etc.
1:24 PM Feb 12th
.....there was enough of a league for an MVP (Retconned or not) to exit?! Interesting. I joined up here March 2017 so I missed Bob Gregory by just a few.
1:23 PM Feb 12th
The GOR elections from the past preceded my arrival on the site, but I am deeply impressed by the work that went into them.
9:11 AM Feb 12th
I had been lurking around the site, rarely posting, and I think the GOR was what really roped me in. I am a 19th century guy, so I regret missing the historic 1885 vote. Looks like I joined for 1886, though.
6:44 PM Feb 11th
I had just discovered this site and had been on it a little while when these elections came out. I was catching up on the articles and hadn't posted much at the time but wanted to be involved with a project like this. Bob was always a gentleman and gave me encouragement by recognizing as another voter.

I missed a few elections, because I couldn't get to the site because I was traveling. Wow, computers were great in those days.

Let me say I was impressed with the readers post and wondered whether I was worthy to vote. I did a lot of research in those early days. I did a search on the internet of every new player on the ballot.

I agree, Bob could be awfully persuasive. I miss him.
4:39 PM Feb 11th
I'll have to check the site to see when Bob posted the pre-GOR stuff, but the GOR sort of came into being in its future form rather quickly, on January 13, 2012. I have a series of email backs and forths, and it went from "are you really doing this?" to most of the specifics locked in over a few hours.

It started that day as "The Bob Hall" without any specific parameters other than "2 per year, starting in 1885" and ended as "The Gallery of Renown" in a form that would be recognizable even to the most recent voters.
4:06 PM Feb 11th
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