Credit Grimm Reapers For Hack Wilson's 191St Rbi

At 5 feet 6, 190 pounds, Hack Wilson was never considered a great physical specimen, but give the squatty slugger his due. How many other 99-year-old men are still able to drive in a run - and from the grave, no less.

The decision to add a posthumous RBI to Wilson's record 1930 season, bringing his total to 191, was handed down last week by Commissioner Bud Selig after a committee chaired by baseball historian Jerome Holtzman studied the matter. But it was another historian, Cliff Kachline, and the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) that knocked Wilson into scoring position.

An assist should also go to a mystery man named James Braswell, who way back in 1977 researched Wilson's season with the Cubs and discovered the missing RBI from newspaper accounts.

Braswell wrote of his finding to Kachline, who at the time was the historian at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and later would become one of the co-founders of SABR. Kachline checked the official game reports and saw that there was indeed no RBI given for Wilson in the second game of a doubleheader against the Reds on July 28, 1930. He did his own research and verified Braswell's finding that an RBI credited to Charlie Grimm in that game should have gone to Wilson.

Kachline, now 77 and attending SABR's annual convention in Phoenix, said he notified baseball officials of the discrepancy "very shortly after I was informed," but added, "baseball moves slowly."

Indeed, justice for Wilson was painstaking. After having a friend in Chicago do further microfilm research that backed up Braswell's finding, Kachline "put the final report totally aside" until four years ago, when he mentioned it to Lyle Spatz, chairman of SABR's historical records committee. "His eyes and ears bulged and he said we've got to get involved," Kachline recalled.

About a year ago, Kachline relayed their findings to the Elias Sports Bureau, which regulates baseball statistics. SABR endeavored to further substantiate the missing RBI by obtaining play-by-play accounts for all games of the 1930 season with help from a research group called Retrosheet. According to Kachline, they were able to do so for all but about 15 games, and for those there were excellent newspaper accounts. Holtzman, a retired baseball writer, was named MLB's official historian last month and jumped on the Wilson matter, verifying the missing RBI from accounts in four different newspapers as well as the Associated Press box score.

"The first I knew about its acceptance came last Thursday when Jerome called me," said Kachline, who added he has "no doubt whatsoever" that Wilson drove in 191 runs in 1930.

As for Braswell, Kachline has no idea where he is - or even who he is. "He was just a fan," Kachline said. "He mentioned he was too busy to continue researching because of school. Was he a college professor, an eighth-grader or a college student? Very little is known about his background."


It's nearly the time of year when contending teams go out in search of that most elusive commodity, the No. 1 starter.

Cleveland would certainly love one, not to mention the Texas Rangers, who have managed to lead the American League West all year without a recognized ace. But when Texas GM Doug Melvin looks around, he sees a dwindling number of bona fide aces.

"At the start of the year, there were nine or 10 No. 1 starters," he said. "That number has been reduced if you say which pitchers are dominating. Kevin Brown, Pedro (Martinez) and Randy Johnson can still dominate. After that, everyone seems to fall into the same category."

The Yankees' David Cone and Baltimore's Mike Mussina are on the bubble. Atlanta's trio of Cy Young winners, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, have all been vulnerable this year, the first two with below-par performances and the latter because of an arm injury. Roger Clemens has an earned-run average over 5.00, while Curt Schilling recently lost three of four games.

Said Melvin, "I don't see a lot of clubs that have a dominant pitching staff. Every club in the game today has got some problem.

"The Diamondbacks have a No. 1 starter in Randy, but they're battling to get a closer. We have a pretty good pen and closer, but they say we don't have a No. 1 starter. Boston has a No. 1 starter, but they don't have a legitimate middle-of-the-order lineup. Even the Indians don't have a so-called No. 1 starter.

"Everyone is missing something to make them the '98 Yankees - and even the Yankees have some problems."