Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Almost Universal High Estimate of Dunlap's Skill

...(Seeking) facts from the old sports who have seen the rise and fall of baseball players for nearly fifty years, it is surprising upon how few points these old experienced men agree. But his difference of opinion serves to show that these old fans have formed opinions of their own and have not blindly followed the lead of others.

Hence, when a very large majority of those ardent followers of the game, who live as fully on the bleachers today as they ever did in the days of their youth, who watch the fine points of the game as keenly and as critically as ever, and who give their judgment of the relative merits of players of this year impartially and justly-when these men agree that any individual was the one greatest player that the game has ever known, the historian of the game must give great weight to their opinions.

If this is to be one's guide in deciding what second baseman was the greatest in the history of the game, one is forced to say that the honor belongs to Fred Dunlap. And as one seeks to verify this almost universal high estimate of Dunlap's skill and searches the professional record of this idol of the old fans, there is much to justify the enthusiastic praise, even in the cold-blooded official records.

...If ever there was a scientific baseball player it was Fred Dunlap.

In fact, he knew nothing else but the game for which he had neglected everything, himself included, and his quickness of action and the sureness of his throwing were surpassed only by the alertness of his mind and the accuracy of his judgment. He caught equally well with both hands and could put the ball on a player sliding to second as well with his left as with his right hand. The great suppleness of his splendidly developed body and his prodigious and unsuspected strength enabled Dunlap to cover an area around second that, in the opinion of men who have seen them all, has never been equaled.
-Los Angeles Times, January 22, 1911

Sadly, both the versions of this article that I was able to find were in rough shape and I wasn't able to read the entire thing. While the author writes of all the old-timers who believed Dunlap was the greatest second baseman of all-time, I was unable to decipher the basis for his assertion. To say the least, this was rather frustrating.

However, looking on the bright side, here is more evidence (as if any more is needed at this point) that Dunlap was not only considered a star player but was in fact considered one of the greatest second basemen who ever played the game. There were many of his contemporaries who considered Dunlap the greatest second baseman who ever lived and several who believed he was the greatest player of all-time.

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