Hall of Famers by Final Year in the Majors

208 players have been inducted into the Hall Fame based on their playing careers in the major leagues. The following is a breakdown of how many of those played their final year in the majors in each decade:

2000 through 2009: 5 players
1990 through 1999: 16 players
1980 through 1989: 19 players
1970 through 1979: 19 players
1960 through 1969: 15 players
1950 through 1959: 17 players
1940 through 1949: 23 players
1930 through 1939: 34 players
1920 through 1929: 13 players
1910 through 1919: 19 players
1900 through 1909: 15 players
1890 through 1899: 13 players

The 2008 and 2009 final year guys have not even been eligible yet (the 2008 guys are just being voted on for the first time now, results to be announced in January). But this breakdown might provide a sense of what might be expected to ultimately be the number of guys that will be inducted whose careers ended between 2000 and 2009.

14 thoughts on “Hall of Famers by Final Year in the Majors

  1. 1
    birtelcom says:

    As of now, it’s been 20 years since a Hall of Fame pitcher started a game in the major leagues: the last such game was September 22, 1993, started by Nolan Ryan. Ryan didn’t get an out in that game: in the bottom of the first he gave up a single, three walks and a grand slam, then came out, in the middle of the next batter’s plate appearance, with an arm injury.

    Surely we will soon have at least Greg Maddux in the Hall, and the HOF starting pitcher drought will be over.

    • 2
      Lawrence Azrin says:


      That’s really odd; since 1999, three relief pitchers (Eck, Sutter, Goose) have been inducted, but only one starter, Burt Blyleven (who retired the year before Ryan).

      • 4
        birtelcom says:

        Of starters who have been eligible and pitched after Ryan retired, Clemens of course would have been a complete slam dunk absent PEDs and personality issues, and Curt Schilling, Kevin Brown and David Cone have good cases for induction but haven’t been popular choices (Schilling did get substantial support in his first try and may well still get there at some point).

  2. 3
    Doug says:

    1940 through 1949: 23 players
    1930 through 1939: 34 players

    Frankie Frisch sure had a lot of friends.

    • 5
      Lawrence Azrin says:


      It’s not entirely due to ole’ Frankie; even if you removed _all_ of the dubious FOFF choices, the 1930s/40s finishers have more HOFers than any other two decades put together.

      We all know why that is; the 1930s/40s finishers played mainly in the 20’s/30’s, with .300+ BA’s and 100+ RBI totals commonplace. Plus, their cases have been picked over very thoroughly, first by the BBWAA and then the various iterations of the Veterans’ Committee.

  3. 6
    John Autin says:

    Well done, birtelcom — a timely reminder of an ongoing disparity. Some of it may be balanced down the road by veterans’ committees. But I still think that some voters don’t make enough adjustment for two enormous changes in MLB since WWII:

    — The number of teams has almost doubled, so you’d expect eventually to see more HOFers per decade in the 24- to 30-team era than in pre-expansion decades.

    — The talent pool has grown even more than the number of teams, so (I believe) the tail end of the MLB talent spectrum has risen considerably, making individual dominance more difficult.

    • 7
      birtelcom says:

      Maybe, but:
      –Just because you have more teams doesn’t necessarily mean you get more of the greatest players. If there are four great tennis players in a generation, it probably doesn’t matter if you let the top 32 into the best tournaments or the top 64 of the top 128, you’re just letting more inferior players in, not expanding the number of greats.
      –On the other hand, you are right that if you expand the entire population pool that contributes potentially great players, you will likely get more great players. The question then is whether the talent pool has actually expanded. It unquestionably did when baseball integrated, but since then other sports have probably siphoned off some talent while Latino and Asian participation in the majors has clearly grown. You are probably right that on balance the talent pool has grown, but it’s not without at least some room for doubt.

      • 8
        John Autin says:

        I think there are a lot of ways to show that the bottom of the MLB talent spectrum is significantly higher now than before integration.

        To avoid the complications of WWII, I’ll compare 1931-40 to 2004-13.

        — In 1931-40, for seasons of 300+ PAs, the 10th percentile in OPS+ was 69. The 20th percentile was 81. (1,386 seasons)

        — In 2004-13, for seasons of 315+ PAs (raising the threshold to match the longer schedule), the 10th percentile in OPS+ was 75. The 20th percentile was 84. (2,500 seasons)

        (I can’t think of a similar way to measure the pitchers. I would have compared ERA+ for those with, say, 15 starts in a year — but the modern use of relievers has a big effect on the ERA+ of starters. In 1940, the ERA split was 4.04 for SPs, 4.38 for RPs. In 2013, it was 4.01 for SPs, 3.59 for RPs. The 1940 SPs as a group had an ERA+ over 100; the 2013 SPs had an ERA+ under 100.)

      • 9
        Dr. Doom says:

        The question of whether or not other sports actually siphon off major league talent is an intriguing one to me. How many players can you name who were MAJOR prospects in baseball who chose another sport? I can think of one – John Elway. But the list of those who chose to play baseball (perhaps alongside another sport, but chose baseball nonetheless) is long, indeed: Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, Jim Thorpe, Dave Winfield, Drew Henson, Brian Jordan, Danny Ainge, Jeff Samardzija… the list is pretty endless. Point being, the argument you’d have to make is that kids are specializing in other sports earlier… but on the other hand, how many guys who become NBA players have MLB bodies? None, I would venture. How many guys in the NFL have MLB bodies? Basically just the QBs. So I’m not sure there’s any truth to the idea that anyone would actually “choose” another sport over baseball. That’s my thought, anyway.

        • 10
          Voomo Zanzibar says:

          Here’s a stat:

          African-Americans as % of MLB rosters

          1974 27%
          2013 9%

          The influx of international talent certainly has something to do with this. That and the virtual disappearance of places to play baseball in the inner cities.

          As for how many basketball and football players have MLB bodies?
          Not all hoopers are 6’10”.
          And not all pigskinners are 300 pounds.
          Apart from Centers and Offensive Linemen, I’d say that almost everyone athletic enough to play either of those sports could certainly manage the half a dozen wind sprints that a baseball player rips off over three hours.

          • 11
            Ed says:

            Meanwhile, there’s been corresponding dropoff among white players in basketball and football. The last white american basketball player to win the MVP was Larry Bird in 85-86. Since then, Steve Nash of Canada and Dirk Nowitzki of Germany have won the award. So it can’t be a pure talent/athleticism issue.

            And in football, there are virtually no white running backs, wide receivers or defensive backs.

          • 12
            Dr. Doom says:

            Not all hoopers are 6’10”, no, but they’re almost all 6’3″. How many non pitchers are 6’3″ or more? Likewise, there’s a fairly normal distribution of African Americans as a relative percentage of the US population, especially when you remove the international players. And as far as football bodies, speed and muscle are integral. In baseball, hand-eye coordination is of paramount importance. It’s a different skill set. And again, elite athletes TEND to choose baseball. I just don’t think baseball is actually losing players to the NFL or NBA.

        • 13
          donburgh says:

          Here’s a 2009 Yahoo article about how the Braves were interested in Troy Polamalu in high school. but he sensed his future was in football.


  4. 14

    […] across decades, both Hall of Famers and others. The seed was birtelcom’s recent “Hall of Famers by Final Year in the Majors,” and more precisely, from an exchange we had in those comments, which I’ll summarize […]

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