A 1912 advertisement for Lewis 66 Rye, featuring Honus Wagner:
“Hans Wagner–‘The Flying Dutchman’
“When the National League official averages for 1911 were issues, Hans Wagner ranked ‘King of Swat,’ with a batting credit of .334–for the eighth time the hitting premier of his league. Nobody ever approached the long record of the Pittsburgh Pirate–big, whole-souled and modest.”
Five years later, as Wagner’s career was drawing to a close, Grantland Rice of The New York Tribune said:
“Wagner stands to date, for team worth, as the most valuable ball player that ever lived.
“A great infielder is of more value than a great outfielder, so in this respect Wagner has even ranged beyond Ty Cobb.
“Hughey Jennings was a star–a great hitter, a brilliant infielder and a brainy workman.
“But even Hughey has to make way before Wagner a man who for twenty years could average .340 [sic 21 years, .328] at bat and cover all the ground in sight between third base and the right field bleachers.
“Wagner is the game’s main marvel…He was as marvelous in the field as at the bat. Floundering, awkward looking, bow-legged, with his vast hands dangling at his side, no one would ever have taken him for any action snapshot of grace.
“But when it came to killing base hits back of third and back of second, mopping up his side of the field with a deadly certainty, he had no equal.
“If Wagner had been a .240 hitter he would have been one of the most valuable man of all time through his great defensive value alone.”