The Hall Of Interesting

Jim McIsaac

What if we had some kind of museum that honored players who weren't great enough for the Hall of Fame, nor even close, but had careers of interest that should be remembered?

This article was inspired by this comment made in yesterday's post about Jamie Moyer's retirement:

Now, if there were a Hall of Interesting, he would be a lock for that.

"The Hall of Interesting." Well, that's... interesting. So I decided to run with this concept. What sorts of players would qualify for such a Hall? First, I think we'd eliminate everyone already in the Hall of Fame, because they already have their fame. You've probably seen me talk about players who should be in the "Hall of Very Good," players just below HoF level. (In fact, a number of baseball writers put together an ebook on this very topic a couple of years ago.)

Some of the Hall of Very Good players would likely go into the Hall of Interesting, too. I'm still working out the criteria for inclusion in the Hall of Interesting, but the very first one has to be: the player did something "interesting" in his career, something that got everyone's attention, whether or not the player is of Hall of Fame quality. It can be someone who did something remarkable just once and had a mediocre career otherwise, or it can be someone who had a very long career that wasn't quite good enough for the Hall of Fame, or someone who did something interesting after his major-league career.

With that, I think our first two nominees have to be the ones mentioned in the comments just below the one linked above: Jamie Moyer, of course, the subject of the article, and Julio Franco, whose hitting career was very much like Moyer's pitching career: long, occasionally excellent, overall just "very good," but definitely interesting for sticking around well into his late 40s as an effective bench player.

I'm going to nominate eight other players, for an initial 10, into the Hall of Interesting. You might disagree with my selections, but that's part of the fun of this. There are literally hundreds of players who could qualify, and for all kinds of reasons. These are in no particular order.

Don Larsen is nominated because of his World Series perfect game, still the only no-hitter in World Series history. Larsen pitched for 14 seasons -- including three games at age 37 for the 1967 Cubs -- and that was by far the best thing he did in baseball. In fact, Larsen started two games in the 1956 World Series, when he threw that perfect game. The other one wasn't nearly as good. His career was pretty middling -- a career OPS+ of 99. But the World Series perfect game is enough for the Hall of Interesting.

Johnny Berardino played 11 years for the Browns, Indians and Pirates in the 1940s and 1950s, and put together mediocre numbers: .249/.316/.355, low even by the standards of the time. Dropping the second "r" from his name, as John Beradino he spent more than three decades playing Dr. Steve Hardy on the ABC soap opera "General Hospital." For that, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Interesting!

Larry Jackson was a righthander who had his best years for the Cardinals, but also won 24 games for the Cubs in 1964. He was, along with Bob Buhl, sent to the Phillies for Fergie Jenkins and Adolfo Phillips, so wound up contributing to the Cubs long after he was traded. His 193 career wins make him a Hall of Very Good candidate, but what puts him into the Hall of Interesting is that he served four terms in the Idaho House of Representatives after he retired from baseball.

Jophrey Brown is little-known even among Cubs fans. He pitched in just one game (two innings) for the team in 1968. But after that, he became a well-known Hollywood stunt man:

His natural athleticism helped him rise in the industry as one of the first African-American stunt men in Hollywood. In addition to serving as stunt coordinator for legendary films such as Scarface and Action Jackson, he has performed memorable stunts like driving a bus over a gap in the freeway in Speed and crashing cars in the television show A-Team. His work navigating a big rig through a high speed chase in Bad Boys II even garnered him a Taurus Award in 2004 for Best Work with a Vehicle. In his long career, Jophery has doubled Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Bill Cosby, and Sidney Poiter.

His name is spelled differently in baseball-reference and the IMDB -- I can't account for the difference, though his IMDB profile says "Jophery." Oh, one more thing about Brown -- remember the worker who got eaten by the raptor in "Jurassic Park"? That was Jophery Brown.

Heading back to careers that were interesting baseball-wise, I nominate Roger Maris. Maris, of course, was the first to break Babe Ruth's mark of 60 home runs in a season. Maris was a very good player, but his career numbers don't really even get him into the Hall of Very Good. But his record-breaking season in 1961 -- and his 1960 season, which was almost as good -- and his back-to-back MVP awards definitely qualify him for this Hall.

Jesse Orosco, who made his major-league debut in Wrigley Field as a 22-year-old in 1979, went on to pitch in 24 seasons without ever really being more than "good." From 1984-86 he was a decent closer for the Mets and was on the mound when the Mets won the World Series in 1986. After losing his closer's spot, though, he went on for 16 more years with seven other teams, finally retiring as a lefty specialist at age 46 in 2003. He still holds the career record for most games pitched, 1,252. Interesting, no?

As you likely know, Ernie Banks holds the dubious record of most games played without ever appearing in a World Series (2,528). But what you probably did not know is that Mickey Vernon managed to play one more season -- 20 compared to Banks' 19 -- without getting into the Series, and Vernon's 1939-60 career was all within the era when it was World Series or nothing for postseason play. Vernon, who missed two years during World War II, played for a lot of bad Washington Senators teams, but overall was a pretty good player: .286/.359/.428, a 116 OPS+ and 2,495 career hits. Irony: Vernon's final nine games, in 1960, were spent with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that eventually won that year's World Series. But Vernon, who was signed in September, wasn't eligible for the postseason.

My final first-time nominee is another player who had a long career: Charlie Hough, who stuck around for 25 seasons, until he was 46, largely because of an effective knuckleball. He pitched in three World Series for the Dodgers, but had his best seasons in the 1980s for the Texas Rangers. When Hough took his physical for the expansion Marlins in 1993 at age 45, he joked: "The doctor said I was in decent shape -- if I was 50." Interesting, right?

As noted, all of those are just off the top of my head. I'm sure you have some ideas. Let's populate the Hall of Interesting!

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