SABR selected retroactive Gold Glove fielders by league and decade in a survey of members reported in The Baseball Research Journal 1973. Members probably defined their own terms.
STATS, Inc., also selected retroactive "Gloves" by league and decade, in The All-Time Major League Baseball Sourcebook (1998). The selectors for all retroactive awards by STATS generally "didn't try to guess what the voting trends might have been in a particular era" but "concentrated on individual statistics".
Both SABR and STATS treated the outfield as one position with three players, following the official award from 1961. Each of the eight trios they honored for the 1900s and 1910s includes at least one regular centerfielder. One of the footnotes provides more information on outfield positions.
Limitations. Some players cannot be cleanly placed in one league or one decade. There was little movement between leagues in the Deadball Era, but the "decade problem" is universal. It appears that the SABRen place greater value on playing nearly the full decade; the STATSmen on playing best for a few years (five years make a decade). Relative to many retro selections of batters and pitchers by decade, however, the SABR members do recognize some short-time fielders (seven years make a decade).
Gold Glove Teams by League and DecadeAmerican League, 1900s AL, 1910s SABR STATS position SABR STATS Nick Altrock Ed Walsh P Walter Johnson Johnson Billy Sullivan Lou Criger C Ray Schalk Schalk Hal Chase Chase 1B Stuffy McInnis McInnis Nap Lajoie Lajoie 2B Eddie Collins Collins Bobby Wallace Wallace SS Donie Bush Everett Scott Jimmy Collins Collins 3B Frank Baker Jimmy Austin Elmer Flick Jimmy Barrett OF Harry Hooper Hooper Fielder Jones Jones OF Tris Speaker Speaker Sam Crawford Matty McIntyre OF Clyde Milan & Amos Strunk Duffy Lewis National League, 1900s NL, 1910s SABR STATS position SABR STATS Chr. Mathewson Mathewson P Slim Sallee G.C. Alexander Johnny Kling Kling C Jimmy Archer Archer Fred Tenney Tenney 1B Jake Daubert Ed Konetchy Claude Ritchey Johnny Evers 2B George Cutshaw Cutshaw Honus Wagner Joe Tinker SS Rab. Maranville Maranville Art Devlin & Devlin 3B Heine Groh Groh Tommy Leach Fred Clarke Clarke OF Max Carey Carey Jimmy Sheckard Sheckard OF Zack Wheat Hi Myers Roy Thomas Thomas OF Dode Paskert Paskert
Here the three best pitchers of the era are retroactively honored as fielders: Mathewson, Johnson, and Alexander. Perhaps they benefited as fielders from many bunts, intentional and unintentional, because of their supreme pitching. I am uneasy about the coincidence, but it matches what we see today, when the best batters win a large share of Gold Gloves. Defense is difficult enough for contemporaries to assess, without the distance of one century faced by SABR and STATS.
Outfield positions. Opinions differ concerning whether the outfield is one position or three. Every trio listed here includes at least one man who normally played centerfield during the decade: Jones, Barrett, Speaker, Milan, Thomas, Paskert, and Myers. Crawford, Strunk, and Carey played 3-4 seasons as regular CF during the decade. (Carey added eight seasons as a regular CF in the 1920s and is a famous career centerfielder, in the Hall of Fame partly for his fielding reputation.) Flick was regular CF for one season near the end of his career(!); the others, never. McIntyre, Lewis, Clarke, Sheckard, and Wheat played mainly or wholly leftfield; Crawford, Flick, and Hooper mainly right.
Glove of Two Decades? Neither SABR nor STATS selected anyone for a Gold Glove in both decades, the Oughts and Teens. Contrast the Decade All Stars selected by Bill James. There are several good candidates for repeat selection here: J.Collins, Tenney and Clarke for the 90s and 00s; Schalk, Speaker, Maranville and Carey for the 10s and 20s.
Glove Successors. Several pairs of "Gloves" played the same position on the same team for many years, roughly in succession: in the AL, Sullivan and Schalk; in the NL, Kling and Archer, Clarke and Carey. A three-year gap divided Thomas and Paskert as Philly CF, Sheckard and Wheat as Dodger LF.
Glove Teammates. Several pairs of "Gloves" were teammates for several years, which is inevitable given the number of teams and number of fielding positions. Three trios are notable because three is a big number in this context and because they played the infield or the outfield together: McInnis, Collins and Baker for the Athletics composed the "$100,000 infield" with shortstop Jack Barry, 1911-14; McIntyre, Barrett and Crawford composed the Tigers outfield in 1904; Lewis, Speaker and Hooper composed the Red Sox outfield for six seasons, 1910-15.
Acknowledgments. Bob Allen provided photocopies of the selections. See Bill Deane, "Awards and Honors", Total Baseball (any edition), for more history of the official award, including a complete list of winners and some analysis of correlation with fielding average.