Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hall of Fame Spotlight - Luke Appling

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Plaque photo borrowed from

White Sox great Luke Appling (b. 1907 - d. 1991) played in the majors from 1930 to 1943 and 1945 to 1950 (all for the White Sox). He was a very talented shortstop and is widely considered one of the best of all time. When he retired, he had career numbers of: 2,749 hits, 45 home runs and a .310 batting average. As a shortstop, especially in that era, he was a great hitter. He was a 2-time batting champion. He wasn't the best fielding shortstop around, each season he was around the top 3 in errors committed. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the writers' association in 1964 on 94% of the run-off ballot.

What makes him a Hall of Famer?

  • 2-time batting champ (1936 - .388 and 1943 - .328)
  • His .388 batting average in 1936 was the highest ever for a shortstop in the 20th century and the first time an American League shortstop won a batting crown
  • Had 13 full seasons where he batted over .300
  • At the time of his retirement, he was the all-time leader in games played and double plays by a shortstop. Both records would end up being broken by Luis Aparicio.
  • Was a 7-time All Star (1936, 39, 40, 41, 43, 46 and 47)
Should he be a Hall of Famer?
  • Never won a World Series
  • Never won an MVP award, but came close twice by finishing second in 1936 and 1943
  • Did not reach 3,000 hits. Could have reached it had he not missed half of the 1938 season with a broken leg or missing the 1944 and most of the 1945 seasons because of World War II.
  • He has the worst fielding percentage of any player since 1910 with at least 1,900 games played
  • He was known to complain constantly about numerous nagging injuries, earning the nickname 'Old Aches and Pains'
  • Appeared on 8 Hall of Fame ballots (including the winning run-off ballot in 1964) and averaged 32.45% of the vote

The Verdict?

YES, Appling is a Hall of Famer. He is considered one of the best-hitting shortstops of all time. His defensive numbers are suspect, but as a hitter, he was very good, especially for his position. He shouldn't be penalized too much for not winning a World Series, he played on some light-hitting White Sox teams during his tenure there. Sadly, he never reached the postseason at all in his time there.

Baseballs autographed by Appling average around $80 each, while an autographed photo would possibly cost you around $20.

1 comment:

Drew said...

I would say he's in too, but my argument is this- most shortstops play that position because they are great with the glove, examples being Ozzie Smith, Derek Jeter, and now most recently Elvis Andrus. The fielding percentage is not impressive, but i guess it's the bat that normally counts.