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Online database - player stats: 1876-1999

 

   "Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel.  Not just to be as good as someone else but to be better.  That is the nature of man and the name of the game."

- Ted Williams

 

"Baseball isn't statistics, it's Joe DiMaggio rounding second base."

- Jimmy Breslin

 

   Breslin has this much right: there's more to baseball than mere numbers. But for those of us who never saw DiMag on the basepaths, statistics form the essential foundation and context for understanding baseball. And understanding baseball is a truly noble endeavor - it is the first introduction for most American children to an activity that values victory, honors achievement, rewards teamwork and promotes heterodoxy, excellence and professionalism. Through baseball, America learned to honor men of diverse backgrounds like Babe Ruth (who came from an orphanage), Joe DiMaggio (the son of Italian immigrants) and Willie Mays (who grew up in the Jim Crow South) for their deeds and actions.

   It is a great disservice to the game, and to the heroes it has spawned, to rely on anecdotes alone in sifting through the game's rich legacy; but it is also misleading to rely on numbers alone in evaluating the game's greatest players. For that reason, even though I have tried to make this site one of the most factually comprehensive website on the Internet, I have also included as much opinion and analysis as possible.

   In that spirit, here is a story about a pitcher whose talent is evident from the numbers he posted, which are available on this website, but whose true greatness requires a deeper understanding of the game.  I urge you to take this example to peruse this site, but to be humble about the conclusions to be drawn from it:

 

   When he was seven years old, Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown lost the tip of his index finger in his uncle's corn shredder.  A few weeks later he broke his third and fourth fingers while chasing a hog (no rest for the weary, I suppose), and they healed into a gnarled, unnatural shape.

 

   Despite his handicap, Brown became a semipro infielder. One day, the team's star pitcher broke his arm and Brown took over; in five innings, he struck out fourteen, using a devastating curve ball that broke unusually because of the shape of his hand.  Brown became a big league pitcher, and was perhaps the National League's premier hurler between 1905 and 1910.  His 1906 season may be the best ever, and he still has the third-lowest career ERA of all time.

- Aman Verjee

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