And now for something completely frivolous

Former major league pitcher Jim Kaat is providing the TV color commentary for MLB Network coverage of the Tigers-Athletics series. In an HHS reader discussion of that series (and others), a side discussion arose on Jim Kaat’s HOF credentials, during which I offered up the unusual factoid that Kaat’s “historical span” (for want of a better term) covers some 69 seasons of major-league baseball, from 1939 to 2007. This notion is based on the fact that Kaat pitched to both Ted Williams and Julio Franco.

HHS reader RJ thought this might make an interesting blog topic, so let’s find out.

The name of this game is Connect the HOFers. The way it works is to find players who played with or against different HOFers. Not a difficult task if the HOFers are contemporaries, but progressively more difficult for players playing in different eras.

Here’s an example to get you started.

Babe Ruth and Harmon Killebrew (total span of 62 seasons, 1914 to 1975)

Let’s see how many you can find – any span over 60 years will probably take a bit of effort and/or imagination to find a link. More interesting still if (as in the Kaat example) the link is a pitcher who faced both of the principals, or if the link is another HOFer.

If you’d like a bit of help, you may find the Oracle of Baseball tool to be useful.

Have fun!

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Al Yellon
Al Yellon
7 years ago

Brooks Robinson debuted on September 17, 1955

He and Eddie Murray were teammates on the 1977 Orioles

Murray played against Alex Rodriguez May 20, 1997

A-Rod is still active, a likely HoFer. That’s 58 seasons, and that should easily get to 60 or beyond.

nightfly
7 years ago
Reply to  Al Yellon

I hate to have to say it, but 1997-1955 is only 48.

nightfly
7 years ago
Reply to  nightfly

OH CRAP 42. Math fail².

nightfly
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Absolutely. I Merkle’d this whole exchange. Sorry Al!

David
David
7 years ago

Minnie Minoso (is that cheating?!) played against Luke Appling on May 13, 1949 and Frank Tanana on Oct. 4, 1980 for a span of 1930 – 1993.

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

It should be a Minnie Minoso for the HOF campaign. Just saying…

John Autin
Editor
7 years ago
Reply to  Luis Gomez

1951-60:

Runs Created – Mantle, Mathews, Mays, Minoso, Snyder.

Runs Scored – Mantle, Minoso, Mathews, Mays.

RBI – Mantle, Mathews, Minoso, Jensen, Snyder.

Total Bases – Mantle, Mathews, Mays, Minoso, Gus Bell, Snyder.

If he doesn’t make the Hall, there’s a starting spot for him on the Lou Whitaker All-Stars.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

And to think that Nelson Fox received more than twice the number of votes than Minoso for the Chisox Mount Rushmore.

David
David
7 years ago
Reply to  David

Minnie Minoso also played with Harold Baines in that Oct. 1980 game, so stretch it to 2001 for Appling/Minoso/Baines, 1930-2001.

David
David
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Oh!! I get it… link the HOFers. I conveniently missed that requirement and thought that was just a bonus given the examples of Franco and Kaat. Link the borderline HOFers, let’s call it. But let’s put Baines in while we’re at it. Franco and Kaat too.

David
David
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

How about Minoso played with Gossage on September 12, 1976. Better? Appling/Minoso/Gossage 1930-1994. Still feels like cheating with Minoso.

RJ
RJ
7 years ago
Reply to  David

I had a look at Minoso when the topic originally came up. I made the Tanana connection but couldn’t find a good one at the other end. Nice one.

Forrest
7 years ago

Pete Rose played in a game against Stan Musial on May 4, 1963, and also against Tim Raines many times (but if you need a date, let’s go with April 29, 1986. That gives Pete a historical span from 1941 – 2002 (61 years). There’s probably others guy who connect with Pete for something more than 69 years, but I don’t have time to look right now. I wondered about Maddux, Moyer, & Bonds, since they were all rookies in ’86, but none of them played in a game with Petey.

Max
Max
7 years ago
Reply to  Forrest

Gaylord Perry pitched in a game against Musial in 1962. He pitched against Raines on August 21, 1981. That gives 61 years (if Raines was in the Hall, as he should be).

MikeD
MikeD
7 years ago
Reply to  Max

I am confident he will be, but it doesn’t fit the qualifications just yet. He’ll be a good one if this question is asked again sometime in the next ten years.

Forrest
7 years ago

PS. I forgot we’re limiting this to HOFers, but I do think Raines will be in Cooperstown one day, and hey, whatever you think about Rose, you gotta admit that what he did on the field itself was Cooperstown worthy. I should’ve thought about connecting Nolan Ryan to others… he had a looooong career too.

Al Yellon
Al Yellon
7 years ago
Reply to  Forrest

Since you mentioned Nolan Ryan, here’s one:

Ryan faced Eddie Mathews on September 11, 1966

Ryan and Jamie Moyer were teammates with the Rangers in 1989 and 1990

Moyer pitched through 2012

That’s 71 seasons, 1952-2012.

Al Yellon
Al Yellon
7 years ago
Reply to  Al Yellon

And, off by 10 years again! 61 seasons.

Owen
Owen
7 years ago
Reply to  Al Yellon

Ryan faced Willie Mays June 7, 1968 and Mays debuted in 51, so you can tack a 52nd year on there.

Also, Ryan faced Jim Thome in 93, and there’s still a chance (or at least a better chance than for Moyer) that he’ll play next year.

Owen
Owen
7 years ago
Reply to  Owen

And I’m off in the other direction. Make that *62nd

Nick Pain
Nick Pain
7 years ago

On May 1, 1964, Phil Niekro relieved Warren Spahn. On April 19, 1942, Spahn came in as a relief pitcher for the Braves who also had Paul Waner in the lineup. Waner to Niekro goes from 1926-1987, 61 years, with all 3 HOFers.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

On 7/19/24 Red Ruffing pitched to Ty Cobb. On 7/27/47 he pitched to Yogi Berra. The career span is from 1905 to 1965, 61 years.

Al Yellon
Al Yellon
7 years ago

To extend this one, Berra played against Pete Rose on May 1, 1965. That span would go from 1924-86, 62 years, if you consider Rose a Hall of Famer.

e pluribus munu
e pluribus munu
7 years ago

It’s not possible to be certain with very early players, since box scores aren’t available, but I think it’s a very strong probability that Honus Wagner faced Cap Anson in 1897 (Anson played in 114 of 138 games for the Colts, Wagner in 62 of 136 games for the Colonels) and he necessarily faced Rabbit Maranville in the period 1912-17. Anson played from 1871 and Maranville to 1935 (with a year out in ’34), for a stretch of 65 (or 63 consecutive) seasons spanning three HoF players.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
7 years ago

Darn, you beat me to it! Though if you sub Rogers Hornsby for the Rabbit, you can extend it out to 1937, or 67 years.

Hornsby played 139 G in 1916, 145 G in 1917. Wagner played 123 G in 1916, 74 G in 1917. I’d say that it’s almost certain that they played against each other.

HOFer Jim O’Rourke played from 1872 to 1904 (his “real” final year was 1893, but he caught one game for the 1904 Giants), so there’s another possibility.

e pluribus munu
e pluribus munu
7 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

I defer to your superior span, Lawrence.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

Hornsby and Wagner played together on 4-12-16.

Nick Pain
Nick Pain
7 years ago

On September 27, 1965, Steve Carlton and Warren Spahn pitched in respective halves of the 5th inning. On June 16, 1986, Jamie Moyer and Steve Carlton started against each other. Of course, Moyer’s not in the HOF, and may never be, but this goes from 1942-2012.

bstar
bstar
7 years ago

Ok, so the two end points are HOF’ers but the middle guy can be a non-Hall guy? Is that right before I give this a go?

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

Substitute Rabbit Maranville for Babe Ruth as cited above in the blog and the career span is 1912 to 1975 or 64 years (Maranville-Cavaretta-Killebrew).

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

Whoops, I forgot to mention that Maranville played against Cavaretta on 5-9-35.

GrandyMan
GrandyMan
7 years ago

On April 30th, 1942, Washington’s Early Wynn pitched a shutout against “Sunday” Ted Lyons and the White Sox. Twenty-one years later, on August 17th, 1963, Wynn pitched the eighth inning of a game against the Red Sox, getting Carl Yastrzemski to fly to left.

Lyons debuted in 1923; Yaz retired in 1983 – 60 seasons.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

A good thing to do is to search players whose careers span WWII (Wynn, Cavaretta, Slaughter, Lyons, et al.).

GrandyMan
GrandyMan
7 years ago

I use the Baseball Oracle’s “Most Linkable Players” tool. Early Wynn ranks second or third.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
7 years ago

Dennis Eckersley and Killebrew played in the same game on 8-9-75. That gives Cavaretta-Killebrew-Eckersley from 1935 to 1998, 64 years.

bstar
bstar
7 years ago

I found another good tool. Go to a specific league’s or MLB’s yearly page. Under the “Other” tab, click “Retirements” and it will give you a list of retirees from that year and whether or not they are HOF’ers. I missed this connection by one game, one game!! Stan Musial played in the same game with Pete Rose several times in 1963 and Rose played til 1986. Gabby Hartnett (who debuted in 1922) was playing for the NYG in 1941 and on Sept. 16 of that year the Giants played the Cardinals in the last game of their series. The… Read more »

Al Yellon
Al Yellon
7 years ago

Here’s another 63-season span: Stan Musial-Gaylord Perry-Rickey Henderson, 1941-2003.

Musial faced Perry several times in 1962 and 1963; Perry faced Henderson on multiple occasions in 1980, 1982 and 1983.

Al Yellon
Al Yellon
7 years ago

69 seasons, 1954-2012, Harmon Killebrew-Rick Dempsey-Jim Thome (assuming Thome is retiring at the end of this year, and he will go into the Hall)

Dempsey played against Thome October 1, 1991.

Dempsey and Killebrew were teammates on the Twins from 1969-72.

Al Yellon
Al Yellon
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Sheesh. Thanks. I was told there would be no math. 🙂

Howard
Howard
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

And Rick Dempsey is not in the HOF.

Al Yellon
Al Yellon
7 years ago
Reply to  Howard

Note that the rules allow a non-HOFer to be the connector.

Howard
Howard
7 years ago
Reply to  Al Yellon

Doh! always forget to read the rules. Sorry Al!

RJ
RJ
7 years ago

“HHS reader RJ thought this might make an interesting blog topic, so let’s find out.” Uh, no pressure guys…

Looks good so far though!

David
David
7 years ago

Three HOFers: Wynn/Yaz (7/4/63, among others), Yaz/Rickey (7/26/1979) = 1939-2003 = 65 seasons!

PP
PP
7 years ago
Reply to  David

Wynn/Yaz/Ripken at 62 but dang I missed Rickey

PP
PP
7 years ago
Reply to  PP

actually I think it’s 63 ’39 to ’01

David
David
7 years ago

Looking at Tim McCarver as a bridge between two HOFers, Tim McCarver just barely missed playing against Enos Slaughter in 1959. McCarver’s 1959 cup-of-coffee started on September 10 against the Milwaukee Braves. Slaughter did not play for 10 days between September 3 and September 13 when he left the Yankees and joined the Braves (picked up off waivers on Sep. 11) for the last few games of his career with Milwaukee. They missed each other by 3 days.

Doug
Doug
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Substitute Willie Mays for Hoyt Wilhelm to extend this one another year to 62 (1912-1973).

Howard
Howard
7 years ago

Satchel Paige faced Yaz in his last start in 1965. Yaz played against Cal Ripken in 1983. Ripken played against Roger Clemens over several seasons. That’s a span of 59 years. If you count Paige’s negro league career it’s probably 80 years. Add future hall of famers that played against Clemens and it would currently be about 85 years.

Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre
7 years ago

Using Tommy John as a bridge, you can get back to 1939 at least by using Early Wynn as a comparison( both played for the 1963 Indians). John pitched last in 1989 for the Yankees where he was in uniform to play the Mariners, who had a young Ken Griffey Jr. and Omar Vizquel. This gives a range of: 72 seasons(1939-2010) if KG Jr is only considered a HOF’er or 74 seasons (1939-2012) if Omar Vizquel is borderline enough. It may be cheating because John did not pitch against them, but this series was placed in between his penultimate and… Read more »

bstar
bstar
7 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Beltre

After a fine season this year I do believe, sir, that you are Hall-of-Fame bound.

Larry
Larry
7 years ago

I’ve got Warren Spahn (1942) to Joe Morgan (1963-1984) where he played with Ricky Henderson with Oakland and Ricky played to 2003. A 61 year span.

James Smyth
7 years ago

Carl Yastrzemski/Rickey Henderson/Miguel Cabrera
1961 to ???

Bells
Bells
7 years ago

One thing similar to this that I did as a thought experiment when I was a kid (except with hockey, as that is my number one love) is try to figure out how few players I could get back to the beginning of the league with. I didn’t do it as precisely as with this exercise, they just had to play in the same league in the same year, not the same game against (or with) each other. But I wonder how few links we could take back to the start of MLB itself in 1876? I’d imagine a backwards… Read more »

Bells
Bells
7 years ago
Reply to  Bells

yeesh, of course I meant Minoso, not Mimoso. I think it’s been a long day and I’m thinking of alcoholic beverages too much…

Doug
Doug
7 years ago
Reply to  Bells

Here’s a chain of 141 years (1871-2012) in 7 players.

Cap Anson played against Bobby Wallace (1894-97)
Bobby Wallace played with Rogers Hornsby (1917-18)
Rogers Hornsby played against Bob Feller (1937)
Bob Feller played against Al Kaline (1954-56)
Al Kaline played against Robin Yount (1974)
Robin Yount played against Jim Thome (1991-93)

No doubt there are other chains of 7 players (for example, George Brett could easily be substituted for Robin Yount in above chain), but 6 players would be tough to find.

e pluribus munu
e pluribus munu
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Doug (and Stuart @58), Good substitution of Wallace for Wagner – the link’s more certain. I was working on the same thread otherwise, except that I had Kaline vs. Ryan (’74) vs. Thome (’93).

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
7 years ago
Reply to  Doug

I did it with seven players, but I kinda cheated, since Orator Jim’s “real” career ended in 1893 (see my #17 above) and Minoso’s in 1964 – courtesy of B-R’s Oracle: Jim O’Rourke (debut NL 1876) played with Roger Bresnahan for the 1904 New York Giants Roger Bresnahan played with Bob O’Farrell for the 1915 Chicago Cubs Bob O’Farrell played with Phil Cavarretta for the 1934 Chicago Cubs Phil Cavarretta played with Minnie Minoso for the 1954 Chicago White Sox Minnie Minoso played with Harold Baines for the 1980 Chicago White Sox Harold Baines played with Omar Vizquel for the… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
7 years ago
Reply to  Bells

Here’s a chain of just 7 players who are linked by appearing in the same game together:
Cap Anson, who debuted in 1871, played against Honus Wagner (probably) in 1897.
Honus Wagner played against Rogers Hornsby 4/12/1916.
Rogers Hornsby batted against Bob Feller 4/24/1937.
Bob Feller pitched to Al Kaline 9/27/1953.
Al Kaline batted against Goose Gossage 5/9/1972.
Goose Gossage appeared in the same game with Alex Rodriguez 7/8/1994.

Doug
Doug
7 years ago
Reply to  Bells

Here’s a somewhat harder chain, avoiding HOFers. Couldn’t find a chain of 7 non-HOFers, but here’s one with 8 players from 1872-2012.

Paul Hines played with Bobby Lowe (1890)
Bobby Lowe (probably) played against Clyde Milan (1907)
Clyde Milan played with Ossie Bluege (1922)
Ossie Bluege played with Mickey Vernon (1939)
Mickey Vernon played against Willie Davis (1960)
Willie Davis played against Dale Murphy (1976)
Dale Murphy played against Miguel Batista (1992)

Owen
Owen
7 years ago
Reply to  Bells

On a somewhat similar note, with a nine player chain of teammates, you can have at least one representative from each of the Tigers’ 112 seasons.

Jimmy Barrett 1901-05
Ty Cobb 1905-26
Charlie Gehringer 1924-42
Hal Newhouser 1939-53
Al Kaline 1953-74
John Hiller 1965-80
Alan Trammell 1977-96
Bobby Higginson 1995-05
Brandon Inge 2001-12

David
David
7 years ago

3 HOFers: Hoyt/Slaughter (5/8/38), Slaughter/McCovey (9/17/59) = 1918-1980 = 63 seasons

David
David
7 years ago
Reply to  David

Dang, I missed where Doug already got this one.

David
David
7 years ago

Bobby Wallace (HOFer 1894-1918) unfortunately did not play in the July 24, 1918 STL/NYG game where Waite Hoyt (1918-1938) got in his first MLB inning (and only inning of 1918). Had Wallace played in that game, three HOFers Wallace/Hoyt/Slaughter (see above on Hoyt/Slaughter) would span 1894-1959 or 66 seasons.

Larry
Larry
7 years ago

Now to find a link where one of the players was in a movie with Kevin Bacon.. I’m sure the Bad News Bears Breaking Training (where they played in the Astrodome with cameos by Bob Watson and Cesar Cedeno) would eventually link up with Kevin Bacon.

David
David
7 years ago

3 HOFers: Slaughter/Aaron/Eckersley 1938-1998 = 61 seasons. Slaughter and Aaron played together on the Braves at the end of the 1959 season, such as 9/13/59. Aaron faced Eckersley on 6/26/75.