Roderick John Wallace
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 170 lb.
- Debut September 15, 1894
- Final Game September 2, 1918
- Born November 4, 1873 in Pittsburgh, PA USA
- Died November 3, 1960 in Torrance, CA USA
Hall of Famer Bobby Wallace played an impressive 25 years in the majors, primarily as a shortstop. He started when Cap Anson was still a good hitter, and ended up a teammate of Rogers Hornsby when Hornsby had already become a star. One of the most similar players, according to the similarity scores method, is a much more recent player, Dave Concepcion.
He had an unusual career. He first came up as a pitcher and posted an ERA+ over 120 in 400 innings. His bat was so good, the Cleveland Spiders moved him to third base where he provided excellent defense along with solid offense. In fact, of the 300 third basemen listed in the back of Bill James' "Win Shares" book, Wallace had the best WS per 1000 rate of all. While only playing around 3,600 innings at the position, he racked up more fielding win shares than anyone under 4,700 innings.
He then moved to short where he continued to provide excellent defense for a few years before declining. Ultimately Bill James's Win Shares system lists him as a C at shortstop, but he had a tremendous defensive prime that was split between two positions. His career defensive value in terms of win shares places him among the best 10-20 players ever when his time at 3B and SS are combined.
He was a player/manager for the St. Louis Browns for a season and a half towards the end of his playing career, after the Browns had become a very bad team. He did not really want the job, but had little choice but to accept. After Jack O'Connor was fired as a result of the shenanigans on the last day of the 1911 season that were meant to deprive Ty Cobb of a batting title. American League President forced the Browns to name Wallace as manager, as he was respected by everyone, but he hated the job and did poorly during his stint. In 1915, he served as an American League umpire for a full season, working 111 games; he had earlier worked one game as a fill-in umpire in the National League in 1895.
Wallace managed the 1917 Wichita Witches and 1921 Muskogee Mets and was a member of the Cincinnati Reds coaching staff in 1926. He then became a scout for the Reds until his passing, and was called back to the field to complete the 1937 season as manager after Chuck Dressen was fired. He was named to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1953 in recognition of the fact he was the best shortstop of the early days of the American League, something that has been largely forgotten today and makes many visitors to Cooperstown wonder how he ever got inducted. One of his main backers on the Veterans Committee was Branch Rickey, who had him as a player-coach when he was managing the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1910s.
- 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1897 & 1899)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1895)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1953
|St. Louis Browns Manager
|Cincinnati Reds Manager
Year-By-Year Managerial Record
|1911||St. Louis Browns||American League||45-107||8th||St. Louis Browns|
|1912||St. Louis Browns||American League||12-27||St. Louis Browns||Replaced by George Stovall on June 2|
|1917||Wichita Witches||Western League||–||none||Replaced Frank Isbell /|
Replaced by Joe Berger
|1921||Muskogee Mets||Southwestern League||93-56||2nd||none|
|1937||Cincinnati Reds||National League||5-20||8th||Cincinnati Reds||Replaced Chuck Dressen (51-78) on September 14|
- David L. Fleitz: "Bobby Wallace", in Ghosts in the Gallery at Cooperstown: Sixteen Little-Known Members of the Hall of Fame, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2004, pp. 95-107. ISBN 978-0-7864-1749-0