The ranks of Baseball Hall of Fame players who once played for Williamsport could go up by one if Bucky Walters is successful in his quest for Hall of Fame immortality.
Walters, who played third base for the Williamsport Grays in 1930 and 1931, is among 10 individuals on the ballot for consideration from the Pre-Integration Era (1850 to 1946) for 2013.
The Pre-Integration Era electorate will meet to discuss and review the candidacies of the 10 finalists as part of baseball's Winter Meetings, December 2-3 in Nashville.
Walters began his career as a third baseman and played several Major League seasons at that position before being switched to a pitcher.
With the Williamsport Grays in 1930, Walters played in 56 games, batting .297. His best year with the Grays was the next year - in 1931 - when he played in 130 games, batting .326, leading the team in hitting. He hit six home runs and clouted 14 triples and clubbed 31 doubles, with a slugging percentage of .472. As a fielder at third base, he had a .932 fielding percentage.
His outstanding 1931 season with Williamsport led him to be promoted to Nashville of the Southern Association and on September 18, 1931 he made his Major League debut with the Boston Braves. Interestingly, he would also end his big league career with the Braves in 1950.
Walters played 19 seasons in the major leagues, from 1931-1950, spending 16 of them as a pitcher, compiling a 198-160 lifetime record, with a 3.30 era in 428 games/398 starts. He was named the 1939 NL MVP, posting a 27-11 record, with a 2.29 ERA, winning the pitching Triple Crown with 137 strikeouts. He was named to six All-Star teams.
Converted from infielder following his first four seasons in the majors from 1931-34. His career was blighted somewhat by being on some awful Phillies teams during the mid-1930s. Despite that he turned in a credible 14-14 record for them in 1937.
His career really took off when he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds midway through the 1938 season. He became their pitching mainstay for their two World Series teams in 1939 and 1940.
Walters' two best seasons were 1939 and 1940. In 1939 he won pitching's Triple Crown by leading the National League in wins, strikeouts and, lowest earned run average. For this accomplishment he was named the National League's Most Valuable Player. He also led the National League in strikeouts in 1940.
He led the league in wins three times, 1939, 1940 and 1944. He was named to the NL All-Star team six times, 1937, 1939-1942 and 1944 and led the league in complete games for three years. He pitched 42 shutouts, which places him 38th on the all time list He also served a short stint as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 1948 and 1949.
During the period before, during and after World War II, Walters is considered by some baseball historians to be the National League's premier pitcher. Over the 15-year span from 1935 through 1949, he won more games, threw more complete games and shutouts than any other pitcher in the Major Leagues.
During his career he was involved in two interesting "firsts." He played for the Phillies against the Reds in the first night game ever in the Major Leagues on May 24, 1935 and as member of the Reds, he played in the first baseball game ever televised on August 26, 1939 against Brooklyn.
Another interesting factoid about Walters, he was the last manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, minor league team in 1952 and 1953. The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1954.
He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1958 in the first year of inductees to the Reds Hall of Fame.
In addition to Walters, the other players and executives under consideration on the Pre-Integration Era ballot are: Bill Dahlen, Deacon White, Wes Ferrell, Marty Marion, Tony Mullane, Jacob Ruppert, Sam Breadon, Alfred Reach and Umpire, Hank O'Day.
The 10 Pre-Integration Era finalists were selected by the BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee from all eligible candidates among Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players whose most significant career impact was realized from the origins of the game through 1946. Eligible candidates include players who appeared in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball's ineligible list, and have been retired for 21 or more seasons; and Managers, Umpires and Executives with 10 or more years in baseball.
Here's hoping that Bucky is one of people who earns induction.
This article first appeared in the November 21, 2012 edition of Webb Weekly.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.