No. 139 Monte Irwin

I am putting Monte Irwin here as I think he belongs here. Irwin has only 32.1 WAR including the Negro Leagues. However, his career was hurt by World War II and not allowing blacks in the American and National League. I doubt there was anyone who was hurt any more He did play in the majors 7 years but started at age 30.  He didn’t play long enough in either league to get the career totals up to his worth as a player, through no fault of his own.

Irwin was well respected. The Negro League owners thought Monte Irwin would have been the best pick to be the first black player in what was then white baseball. Bobby Thomson said he never respected a teammate more.  After retirement he worked in the Commissionaire’s office.

The Negro League’s have just been recognized as MLB Leagues by the Major Leagues. Baseball Reference has done a super job getting their records on line. I have cruised through some of them.

One challenge was some seasons for the negro leagues were short. I think it was because they played a lot of exhibition games during the season. Also, I don’t think Baseball Reference has done all the games.

I looked at a lot of great players and they have Career WAR in the high 30s. I think it is too early to make too many assumptions from the data.  From what I saw I have no arguments about any of the hall of fame picks, except Buck O’ Neil belongs in the hall of fame. Not as a player, but as someone who has done so much for the game.

One of things I read were some people were surprised that Jackie Robinson was the first black player chosen to play in the “white” major league.  They said they didn’t think he was such a great player. However, I looked at his Negro League record. He played one season in 1945. He played shortstop and he batted .375 and lead the league in doubles, homeruns and on base percentage. That was in 34 games recorded. I think Jackie proved himself.

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