Life expectancy of a Hall of Famer

In response to a question I was asked on Twitter, I figured out the age at death for all of MLB’s Hall of Famers. Click through for the info.

I really just subtracted birth year from death year, so in some cases the number might be high by a year if the player hadn’t yet reached his birthday in the year he died. You can see a list of all the data at the end, but for fun, here’s a graph.

 HOFdeath

Player	        Died	Born	
Ross Youngs	1927	1897	30
Addie Joss	1911	1880	31
Ed Delahanty	1903	1867	36
Ro Clemente	1972	1934	38
Lou Gehrig	1941	1903	38
Rube Waddell	1914	1876	38
Arky Vaughan	1952	1912	40
Tony Lazzeri	1946	1903	43
Ch Mathewson	1925	1880	45
Kirby Puckett	2006	1960	46
Nellie Fox	1975	1927	48
Hack Wilson	1948	1900	48
Frank Chance	1924	1876	48
Mel Ott	        1958	1909	49
Eddie Plank	1926	1875	51
Willie Keeler	1923	1872	51
Jake Beckley	1918	1867	51
Kiki Cuyler	1950	1898	52
Catfish Hunter	1999	1946	53
Jackie Robinson	1972	1919	53
Babe Ruth	1948	1895	53
Chuck Klein	1958	1904	54
Al Simmons	1956	1902	54
Herb Pennock	1948	1894	54
Don Drysdale	1993	1936	57
Harry Heilmann	1951	1894	57
Jack Chesbro	1931	1874	57
Gary Carter	2012	1954	58
Joe McGinnity	1929	1871	58
Mickey Cochrane	1962	1903	59
Jim Bottomley	1959	1900	59
Walter Johnson	1946	1887	59
Hughie Jennings	1928	1869	59
Jimmie Foxx	1967	1907	60
Willie Stargell	2001	1940	61
Paul Waner	1965	1903	62
Sam Thompson	1922	1860	62
Joe Gordon	1978	1915	63
Ra Maranville	1954	1891	63
Pete Alexander	1950	1887	63
Mickey Mantle	1995	1931	64
Joe Medwick	1975	1911	64
Dizzy Dean	1974	1910	64
Eddie Collins	1951	1887	64
Roger Bresnahan	1944	1879	65
Johnny Evers	1947	1881	66
Rogers Hornsby	1963	1896	67
Joe Tinker	1948	1880	68
Ernie Lombardi	1977	1908	69
Jim ORourke	1919	1850	69
Ron Santo	2010	1940	70
Eddie Mathews	2001	1931	70
Richie Ashburn	1997	1927	70
Chick Hafey	1973	1903	70
Heinie Manush	1971	1901	70
Dazzy Vance	1961	1891	70
Tris Speaker	1958	1888	70
Chief Bender	1954	1884	70
George Davis	1940	1870	70
Goose Goslin	1971	1900	71
Vic Willis	1947	1876	71
Amos Rusie	1942	1871	71
Roy Campanella	1993	1921	72
Gabby Hartnett	1972	1900	72
Eppa Rixey	1963	1891	72
Mordecai Brown	1948	1876	72
Joe Kelley	1943	1871	72
Jimmy Collins	1943	1870	73
Pie Traynor	1972	1898	74
Billy Hamilton	1940	1866	74
Dan Brouthers	1932	1858	74
Ha Killebrew	2011	1936	75
Hank Greenberg	1986	1911	75
Lefty Grove	1975	1900	75
Frankie Frisch	1973	1898	75
Ty Cobb  	1961	1886	75
Lloyd Waner	1982	1906	76
Fr Lindstrom	1981	1905	76
Hal Newhouser	1998	1921	77
Earle Combs	1976	1899	77
Home Run Baker	1963	1886	77
Joe Cronin	1984	1906	78
Ray Schalk	1970	1892	78
Ed Walsh	1959	1881	78
Early Wynn	1999	1920	79
Larry Doby	2003	1923	80
Hoyt Wilhelm	2002	1922	80
Bob Lemon	2000	1920	80
Johnny Mize	1993	1913	80
George Sisler	1973	1893	80
Pee Wee Reese	1999	1918	81
Lefty Gomez	1989	1908	81
Red Ruffing	1986	1905	81
Earl Averill	1983	1902	81
Dave Bancroft	1972	1891	81
Honus Wagner	1955	1874	81
Warren Spahn	2003	1921	82
Billy Herman	1992	1909	83
Robin Roberts	2010	1926	84
Ted Williams	2002	1918	84
Lou Boudreau	2001	1917	84
Luke Appling	1991	1907	84
Travis Jackson	1987	1903	84
Sam Rice	1974	1890	84
Zack Wheat	1972	1888	84
Kid Nichols	1953	1869	84
Duke Snider	2011	1926	85
Joe DiMaggio	1999	1914	85
Carl Hubbell	1988	1903	85
Waite Hoyt	1984	1899	85
Jesse Haines	1978	1893	85
Nap Lajoie	1959	1874	85
Jesse Burkett	1953	1868	85
Enos Slaughter	2002	1916	86
Bill Dickey	1993	1907	86
Ted Lyons	1986	1900	86
Max Carey	1976	1890	86
George Kell	2009	1922	87
Harry Hooper	1974	1887	87
Bobby Wallace	1960	1873	87
Red Faber	1976	1888	88
Sam Crawford	1968	1880	88
Fred Clarke	1960	1872	88
Cy Young	1955	1867	88
Hugh Duffy	1954	1866	88
H Pockets Kelly	1984	1895	89
Phil Rizzuto	2007	1917	90
Rick Ferrell	1995	1905	90
Ch Gehringer	1993	1903	90
Bill Terry	1989	1898	91
Bob Feller	2010	1918	92
Joe Sewell	1990	1898	92
Burleigh Grimes	1985	1893	92
Stan Musial	2013	1920	93
Rube Marquard	1980	1886	94
Edd Roush	1988	1893	95
Stan Coveleski	1984	1889	95
Elmer Flick	1971	1876	95
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Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Andy

Andy – I think it’s Gehrig. He was put in via special election in 1939 and died in 1941.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago

Roush died abut 48 days short of his 95th birthday, Coveleskie about 4 months short and Flick 2 days short. Thus Flick is the longest living HOFer. As of today HOFer Bobby Doerr is 14 days short of his 95th birthday so he will soon be the longest lived HOFer. Monte Irvin just turned 94 last month. Ralph Kiner and Red Schoendienst are both 90.

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago

Abut should be about.

Brendan Bingham
Brendan Bingham
8 years ago

Two obvious questions: How does this distribution compare to MLB non-HOF players? And to the American population in general?

no statistician but
no statistician but
8 years ago

These are two of my questions, but I have a third:

Do professional athletes suffer a larger proportion of untimely ends due to accident, misfortune, and severe life-shortening diseases and conditions, or does it just seem so? The first ten names on the list certainly make one pause to consider.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Andy

There was a study recently showing that professional football players tend to live longer than professional baseball players. The finding was a bit surprising given the greater physical punishment involved with football. One of the explanations from the article is that baseball players tend to have higher rates of cancer, due to the extensive use of chewing tobacco.

basesetcalling
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

I was a little surprised to read Ed’s comment. My understanding was that football players lost a lot of life expectancy, like on the order of 1 ~ 2 decades. Tobacco use is almost gone in baseball, but football is only slowly reducing concussion risks.

Perhaps I am thinking of more position specific data for football. Baseball would be more similar regardless of starting position I would think, but linemen in football are probably the group I am thinking of, having shorter lives.

Hartvig
Hartvig
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

I was told by an oral surgeon about a decade ago that the largest ever study of it’s kind with smokeless tobacco products found no link to any type of malignant oral cancers. There was a higher rate of one type of benign oral polyp only. The elevated risks for the more serious stuff seemed to be limited to smokers only. There are other problems associated with chewing tobacco of course- gingival recession, tooth loss. terminal halitosis and such- but the guy was faculty at a Big 10 college of dentistry so I assume that he knew what he was… Read more »

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Following up re: Football and Baseball player mortality. Here is the original article: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8274392/comparing-mortality-rates-football-baseball Note that I was wrong. The original article didn’t mention anything about chewing tobacco. That idea came from this follow-up article: http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2012/08/football_mortality_rate_is_baseball_really_more_hazardous_to_players_health_than_football_.single.html And since the article looked at the time period 1959-1988, we would expect baseball players to still be using chew at a high rate. (I don’t have time to research whether or not there’s a link between chewing tobacco and cancer). Meanwhile, note the absurdly low rate of cigarette smoking among football players – 0.2%. Finally, this follow-up article notes that simple controlling for… Read more »

Hank G.
Hank G.
8 years ago

The non-HOF players would include most of the players who died while active or left due to ill-health and died shortly after, so I’d guess that the HOF players would live slightly longer.

Brendan Bingham
Brendan Bingham
8 years ago
Reply to  Hank G.

Hank, you’re correct in identifying an inherent bias. Nonetheless, I can’t think of anyone who died young after having shown obvious promise toward an Hall-worthy career. Maybe Lyman Bostock? I’m sure other readers can name some other players who might be in Cooperstown if not for untimely illness or death.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
8 years ago

Ray Chapman? Don Wilson?

Their careers were just starting, so they had a long way to go:
Harry Agginis?
Austin McHenry

Chapman is probably the only one above with serious HOF credentials.

bells
bells
8 years ago

Just a note that both HoF and non-HoF player distributions will be a bit skewed towards younger deaths due to the fact that, well, people still alive have obviously not died yet. So while Kirby Puckett is counted amongst this sample, very many of his contemporaries (whether they go to the HoF or not) still have decades left, so he’s included as a data point whereas they are not.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor
8 years ago

Interesting that no Hall of Famer has ever lived past 95. Seems like a random sample of ~140 Americans would have to include one or two who lived to 100 and a few more who reached their late nineties.

If this is true, something like 5% of Americans live past 98. I suppose the above sample is biased by the age of the players, many of whom were born when life expectancy was under 50.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Bryan O'Connor

My second paragraph isn’t right. If STDEV is really 15 years and life expectancy is 78, 2 STDEVs gets us to 108, which can’t be right.

Can anyone find a more reliable source for standard deviation of US life expectancy?

Nick Pain
Nick Pain
8 years ago
Reply to  Bryan O'Connor

That standard deviation is reasonable. Life expectancy is not a normal distribution, it is negatively skewed, with people dying in infancy or early childhood, yet noboby reaching 140 or 150 years. Check out the link: http://people.hofstra.edu/Stefan_Waner/RealWorld/cprob/cprob4.html

Bryan O'Connor
Editor
8 years ago
Reply to  Nick Pain

Thanks, Nick. What I neglected is that a standard deviation of 15 doesn’t necessarily mean that 93 is as likely as 63 and 108 is as likely as 48. The median is over 80 and the data points to the left are spread much farther. According to this, only .0173% of Americans alive in 2010 will live to 100, which is .2 of every 140 people. With an older data set, it’s not at all surprising that no one made 100. Maybe Bobby Doerr will be the first Hall of Fame centenarian. Of course, people on this site will chalk… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
8 years ago
Reply to  Bryan O'Connor

And yet 7 of the 16 players, still living or dead, who made it past 90 were born before 1900.

Hank G.
Hank G.
8 years ago

Biased sample. No one born after 1923 could possibly have reached 90 yet.

birtelcom
Editor
8 years ago

An American male who has reached the age of 25 years old can on average expect to live to live to about 77 or 78. Of course that’s just an overall average; differentiating factors such as the level of access to quality health care will affect the expectation for different groups. And future developments in health care and society may affect the expectation for those who are hitting that age 25 level today.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago

Andy – Interesting article. But I’m a bit confused. How exactly does this effect the calculation of Larry Walker’s WAR??? 🙂

topper009
topper009
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

You beat me to it, I was going to say that according to WAR Larry Walker is projected to live to age 150.

Ed
Ed
8 years ago
Reply to  topper009

Yeah I really feel this website should be renamed “Larry Walker’s WAR”.

Jeff Hill
Jeff Hill
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

More like Larry Walker and his overrated WAR.

bells
bells
8 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Wait, wait wait. This is an article about Hall of Famers. Why are we talking about Larry Walker? He’s not a Hall of Famer.

Also, Topper if you think his WAR says he should live until 150, does that mean if he lived in Coors his raw age would be 220?

GrandyMan
GrandyMan
8 years ago

If Bobby Doerr makes it to January 1st of next year, he’ll become the first HOFer to live to 96, using this method (he was born 4/17/1918). If Doerr can’t do it, Monte Irvin (2/25/1919) has a shot.

GrandyMan
GrandyMan
8 years ago
Reply to  GrandyMan

Whoops. Didn’t see Richard Chester’s #4.

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
8 years ago
Reply to  GrandyMan

Yeah, and saying “if Doerr can’t do it” is pretty brutal.
Almost as brutal as Richard putting the jinx on by saying “he will soon be.”

Voomo Zanzibar
Voomo Zanzibar
8 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

Not that I’m superstatious.

GrandyMan
GrandyMan
8 years ago
Reply to  Voomo Zanzibar

No, but some people are superstatious. They feel the need to read HHS at the same time each day, right after reading their e-mail and exactly one hour before drinking their morning coffee ;).

deal
8 years ago

The Twitter discussion this AM started out with Kirby Puckett. The 1995 Card below has always freaked me out a little since it focuses on the eyes, which eventually failed Kirby Puckett

http://phungo.blogspot.com/2013/03/for-your-consideration-1995-score-559.html