Before Joe D., Wee Willie, there was Dahlen

December 1st, 2021

On Dec. 5, the Hall of Fame’s Early Baseball Era Committee (pre-1950) and Golden Days Era Committee (1950-69) will meet to vote on 10-player ballots, with the results announced live on MLB Network that night at 6 p.m. ET. We're here to offer a primer on the 20 players who are up for consideration. Click here to view the other posts.

Player: Bill Dahlen

Years: 1891-1911

Career stats .272/.358/.382, 2,461 hits, 84 HR, 1,234 RBIs, 548 SB

Bio: Born on Jan. 5, 1870, in Nelliston, N.Y. -- a town just 25 miles north of Cooperstown -- Dahlen was one of the star players of the Deadball Era. The speedy shortstop dazzled not only with his bat, but also his glove -- at one of the game's premier positions, no less.

Dahlen had a 21-year big league career, starting with the Chicago Cubs (1891-98) before later spending time with the Brooklyn Superbas (1899-1903), New York Giants (1904-07) and Boston Doves (1908-09). His stint with the Giants included a 1905 World Series title, with Dahlen serving as the club's starting shortstop.

He returned to the Superbas in 1910 as a player/manager, though he appeared in only three games. Dahlen played in one game as a player/manager the following year (when the team became the Brooklyn Dodgers) before moving strictly to a managerial role in '12.

Dahlen, however, managed only four years before calling it a career, making his Hall of Fame candidacy entirely about his playing days. In 2012, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) named Dahlen its Overlooked 19th Century Base Ball Legend. One year later, he received 10 of the 16 possible votes from the Pre-Integration Era Committee -- two shy of the threshold for induction to the Hall of Fame. When that committee met again in 2016, Dahlen received eight of 16 votes in a year when the committee did not elect any new members.

Best moment: Dahlen's best moment may actually be a series of moments from the 1894 season -- 42 of them to be exact. Dahlen put together a 42-game hitting streak from June 20-Aug. 6, surpassing the previous record of 33 games (George Davis, 1893). Dahlen's 42-game run remains the fourth-longest in MLB history, and he went on to finish that '94 season with career highs in hits (182), batting average (.359), homers (15), runs (150) and RBIs (108).

Notable number(s): Dahlen finished his career with 75.2 bWAR. To put that in perspective, 41 players had a bWAR of at least 65 over the 100-year speak from 1871-1970. Of those 41, Dahlen is the only one not already enshrined in Cooperstown.

He also stood out on both sides of the ball, racking up 28.5 defensive WAR and a 110 OPS+. Dahlen is one of two shortstops in MLB history with at least 25 dWAR and a 110 OPS+. The other? Cal Ripken Jr., a first-ballot Hall of Famer who received an astonishing 98.5% of the votes in his debut on the ballot in 2007.

Dahlen is also one of just 10 players in AL/NL history with at least 2,000 hits, 1,000 RBIs and 500 stolen bases. Of those 10, only Dahlen and Barry Bonds are not in the Hall of Fame. The others: Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Honus Wagner, Joe Morgan, George Davis, Fred Clarke and Paul Molitor.