Lon Warneke is worthy !
Posted by athomeatfenway on May 5, 2009
Lon Warneke vs. Lefty Gomez
By Don Loveless
The National Baseball Hall of Fame is the pinnacle accomplishment for baseball players. Less than one percent of the ball players reach this plateau. The elections almost always lead to huge debates. An example this year is the election of Jim Rice. Rice was elected on his fifteenth and last chance with the baseball writers. His election now has everyone asking about players like Andre Dawson and Richie Allen.
Many old players seem to be forgotten and need to be revaluated. One such player is former pitching great Lon Warneke. The pitcher I want to compare Warneke with is former Yankee great Vernon “Lefty” Gomez. Gomez was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 by the “Old Timers” committee. Warneke has never even come close in all these years.
Lon “The Arkansas Hummingbird “came up with the Cubs in 1930 as did Lefty Gomez. Both would become dominant pitchers for their teams. Their career numbers would almost mirror each other. But, for some reason Warneke was never considered for the Hall while Gomez always received a fair amount of votes. Below is a comparison of their records.
- Warneke 192-121 3.18 1140 30
- Gomez 189-102 3.34 1468 28
Gomez was on 7 American League All-Star teams while Warneke was on 5 National League teams. Gomez won 20 games or more 4 times while Warneke accomplished the feat 3 times. Warneke played for the Cubs from 1930-1937, then played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1937 to 1942 before returning to the Cubs to finish out his career. Both had success in the World Series with Gomez going 6-0 with a 2.86 ERA and Warneke going 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA.
Warneke continued his success with the Cardinals with a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds on August 30th 1941. Upon his return to the Cubs, Warneke went into the military for almost 2 years. Arm injuries took their toll on both Gomez and Warneke with them retiring in 1943 and 1945 respectively. Gomez attempted a comeback with the Washington Senators in 1943 but soon realized it was over.
Vernon “Lefty” Gomez died in 1989 of Congestive Heart failure. Typical of his lack of respect, Lon Warneke died of a heart attack at home after the initial ambulance was totaled in a crash on way to his house.
During their careers, both pitchers were among the best in their respective leagues. They were both the aces of their staffs. I believe that if these 2 pitchers had switched cities, Warneke would be in the Hall of Fame and Gomez might be on the outside looking in.
(Don Loveless lives on the East Coast but is a Chicago native. An expert on the Cubs and White Sox, Don would be granted a Masters in Charlie Grimmology, if one existed.)