Monday, November 8, 2021

Hall of Fame? Rookie Card - Billy Pierce

I did a search on my blog for Billy Pierce and came up with nothing. I was familiar with him, but it appears that I've never posted about him before. That changes today.

A couple of days ago the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the candidates for the Early Baseball Era and Golden Days Era voting which will take place in December. Today I want to take a closer look at one of the players on the Golden Days Era ballot. 

Here is a list of all the candidates.

Dick Allen
Ken Boyer
Gil Hodges
Jim Kaat
Roger Maris
Minnie Minoso
Danny Murtaugh
Tony Oliva
Billy Pierce
Maury Wills

To get in, candidates need 75%+ of votes from a panel of 16 voters. The last Golden Days Era voting did not result in anyone getting into the Hall. Dick Allen and Tony Oliva came close with 68.8% of the votes. Jim Kaat got 62.5%, Maury Wills got 56.3% and Minnie Minoso got 50%. Boyer, Hodges, and Pierce each got 3 or fewer votes last time around.

Roger Maris and Danny Murtaugh are new to the ballot this time.

It will be interesting to see who gets in, if anyone. Based on the percentages from the last time, I would guess Allen and Oliva make it. It will be interesting to see how many votes Maris gets.

I want to focus on someone who I don't think will make it, but I think deserves more attention from votes and, as I mentioned above, myself.

Billy Pierce played in briefly in 1945 with the Tigers before graduating high school. He would spend 1946 and 1947 in the minors before making it back to the Tigers in 1948. The Tigers would trade Pierce to the White Sox in November of 1948 for catcher Aaron Robinson and $10,000. The Tigers instantly regretted the trade and tried to get him back the next day, even offering the White Sox $50,000 to undo the trade. Pierce would become the ace of the White Sox staff between 1949 - 1961. He would spend the last three years of his career with the San Fransisco Giants. 

Let's take a look at his Win-Loss record, ERA and Strikeout totals over his 17 year career.

Win-Loss Record: 211-169
ERA: 3.27
Strikeouts: 1,999

His 211 wins is more than Don Drysdale, Lefty Gomez, Roy Halladay, Sandy Koufax, Bob Lemon,  Rube Marquard, Hal Newhouser, Dazzy Vance, Rube Waddell, Ed Walsh among others who are all in the Hall of Fame.

His 3.27 ERS is better than Bert Blyleven, Tom Glavine, Lefty Gomez, Burleigh Grimes, Jessie Haines, Roy Halladay, Waite Hoyt, Fergie Jenkins, Randy Johnson, Jack Morris, Mike Mussina, Phil Niekro, Herb Pennock, Robin Roberts, John Smoltz, and Early Winn among others who are all in the Hall of Fame.

His 1,999 strikeouts are more than Whitey Ford, Lefty Gomez, Carl Hubbell, Bob Lemon, Hal Newhouser, Herb Pennock, Red Ruffing, and Ed Walsh all who are in the Hall of Fame.

I realize it's hard to compare stats of players from different eras. So let's compare Pierce to just one Hall of Famer from his same era. Whitey Ford played in 1950 and then from 1953 - 1967 and he was elected to the Hall of Fame on his second year of eligibility.

Here is Whitey's Win-Loss record, ERA and Strikeouts.

Win-Loss Record: 236-106
ERA: 2.75
Strikeouts: 1,956

Ford pitched his entire 16 year career for the New York Yankees and won 6 World Series titles with them. He won just 25 more games than Pierce. Ford has Pierce soundly beat in the ERA category, but Pierce bested Ford in strikeouts, by 43. The two would routinely match up against each other as the Yankees and White Sox would battle each other throughout the latter half of the 1950's.

Should Billy Pierce get into the Hall of Fame. I don't think so. Will he get in. No. But was he a great player. Yes. He was a great baseball player who I believe deserves more respect among baseball fans and card collectors.

Speaking of cards, I picked up a couple of "Bill" Pierce 1951 Bowman rookie cards from The Batter's Box card shop the other day. Neither are in great shape, but I love them.

Who do you think makes it in from the Golden Days Era vote?


  1. Stengel often pitched Ford once a week, or saved him for certain tough opponents, so he generally pitched a few less games a season than others of his era. Made up for it in the World Series, though.

  2. Pierce is a borderline guy. Not the best choice on the ballot, but he has a case. Ford was a little better, but he was probably significantly overrated in his day. (It probably helps that the Yankees have never had a true super-duper-star starting pitcher.)

    I'm rooting hard for Allen and MiƱoso to get the call. Pierce and Kaat would probably be next on my list.