"Thomas McCarthy is now the regular scout for the Cincinnati Club and when not at work for that organization spends his time in Boston."
"McCarthy in the days of the old and decidedly famous St. Louis Browns, was one of the star outfielders of that organization. 'Little Mack' was the 'Kid' who took the place in the Browns outfield of dear old Hughie Nichol. McCarthy was as fast as lightning in the outfield, a pretty man standing up at the plate and taking him all in all he might be termed one of the wonderful outfielders of the early eighties."
From The National Game
McCarthy actually gives George Kelly competition as the worst HOFer there is.
McCarthy's selection, from various sources I have read, was a result of the Old-Timers Committee of the 1940s making large numbers of inductions, in part because the writers of that period didn't seem to want to induct ANYBODY. This is how the gray area of the HOF started. McCarthy was elected by guys who were his pals and peers who were still alive. I guarantee you that if the writers were inducting worthy candidates at that time, the Old-Timers Committee would have made fewer inductions, and McCarthy would NOT be a HOFer.
McCarthy is a guy who MIGHT have a case if he (A) played CENTER field, (B) won MULTIPLE GOLD GLOVES, (C) had a longer career, and (D) posted the same numbers in a tighter offensive context. McCarthy was a good player, but nothing more.
I understand that McCarthy had some "fame" in his day. This may have played a role in his selection, but I'm not sure as to the extent of his "fame" while active.