Results tagged ‘ Ron Santo ’

Hey Hey!

Thank God.

A year too late for him to enjoy it, 30 years past the day he should’ve been selected, the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans’ Committee has finally elected the most deserving candidate not in Cooperstown, Ron Santo.

For those who doubt, here is my statistical analysis of the five leading playing candidates:

The simplest tool for judging a player against his contemporaries is, I think, the most overlooked one – exact comparisons, from a guy’s debut season through his final year.

Awards are useful, especially as an indicator of greatness – in Ron Santo’s case, the five straight NL Gold Gloves 1964-68 pretty much confirm his defensive prowess – consider the one from 1964, when Cardinals’ third baseman and defensive hero Ken Boyer was MVP, but Santo still won the Glove.

The hardware is nice. But statistics are better.

In short, in his era, from when he came up with the Cubs in 1960 through his last year with the White Sox in 1964, Ron Santo was one of the top ten hitters in all of baseball.

Santo was fifth in RBI in his era.

Santo was ninth in Runs in his era.

Santo was tenth in Homers in his era.

Santo was tenth in Hits in his era.

There are 17 players besides Santo on these four lists of the top ten offensive producers of the 1960’s. Only four men on all four lists: Aaron, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams – and Santo. Even the three men who are only on three lists, compared to Santo’s four, are all in Cooperstown already.

Needless to say, only one other full-time Third Baseman (Brooks Robinson) shows up on any of the four lists – and he, only twice. Part-timer Killebrew is on three of them: handily ahead of Santo in one (HR), behind Santo in another (R), and just two spots and only 74 RBI ahead of him in the third.

You can’t ask more of a man than to produce those kinds of numbers against his direct contemporaries: what he did while he played, compared to what everybody else did while he played, is all that he can be judged on. But it focuses exactly where a player stood against his peers.

By the way, if you want to be more generous to Santo, and judge him from his first full year as a regular (1961) through his last year as an everyday player (1973) he looks better still: he holds at fifth in RBI, but moves up one spot each in Runs (eighth), Homers (ninth), and Hits (9th).

I had Gil Hodges second.

Again, what he did in his time tells me what I need to know. Here is a list, updated through May 5, 1963 – the date Gil Hodges played his last game in the major leagues.

All-Time MLB Home Run Leaders (RH Batters):

1. Jimmie Foxx                     534

2. Willie Mays                      373

  3. Gil Hodges                  370

4. Ralph Kiner                     369

5. Joe DiMaggio                  361

6. Ernie Banks                    340

7. Hank Greenberg             331

8. Hank Aaron                    307

8. Al Simmons                    307

10. Rogers Hornsby             301

By the way, on the all-time homer list, lefties and righties both, Hodges had just been knocked out of 10th place, by Mays (373 to 370). The game changes. Still, it is extraordinary that Hodges’ home run performance measured against all his contemporaries and predecessors, is pretty much ignored.

Hodges’ career spanned 20 calendar years, but he only played regularly from 1948 to 1959. In “his” era, Hodges was second in MLB in homers (344, to Duke Snider’s 354), second in RBI (tied with Berra at 1136, behind Musial’s 1226), fourth in Runs, and seventh in Hits. Hodges is often dismissed as a “Home Park Homer Hitter.” In fact in his ten years at Ebbets Field he averaged only 4.60 homers a year more in Brooklyn than on the road. For comparison, Duke Snider, in the Hall since 1980, averaged 4.56 homers a year more in Brooklyn than on the road.

It is also of note that Hodges hit 27 or more homers in eight consecutive seasons, drove in 102 or more runs seven years in a row, and the first baseman on two World’s Champions and four more NL champs.

Haven’t even mentioned Hodges the manager (1969 Miracle Mets) nor Hodges the Man (I have never, ever talked to anyone who knew him who didn’t revere him.

Third on my list? Luis Tiant.  Bill James hit the nail on the head: Luis Tiant is Catfish Hunter with poorer marketing.

Statistical doppelgangers are often either coincidental, superficial, or irrelevant because the players are of different historical eras. Not Hunter and Tiant. They pitched side-by-side in the same league for fifteen seasons, in the same division for six, and were teammates for a year. And they look like twins in a dozen key stats:

 

Statistic                             Hunter            Tiant

Starts                                      476               489

Complete Games                  181                187

Shutouts                                  42                  49

Innings                                3449.1        3486.1

Home Runs                            374               346

Wins                                        224               229

Losses                                      166               172

ERA                                        3.26              3.30

Run Support                         4.30              4.46

20-Win Seasons                         5                   4

Sub 3.00 ERA Seasons            5                    6

‘Wins Above Team’               20.2            20.6

That’s right: Tiant made 13 more starts, won five and lost six more games, threw seven more shutouts, and finished with an ERA 0.04 higher, than Hunter. Otherwise, they share a virtually identical statistics.

Where they deviate leaves open the question of which was the better pitcher. Tiant had 404 more strikeouts, but 150 more walks. Hunter twice led the AL in wins, which Tiant never did. Tiant twice led it in shutouts, which Hunter never did. Tiant twice led it in ERA, which Hunter did once.

Hunter’s big advantage? He made 22 ALCS and World Series starts to Tiant’s five. He was seen on the biggest stage, by fans and reporters alike, for seven of eight Octobers. Tiant had only one shot at such impact.

Beyond the Hunter comparisons, in the match-him-against his era numbers, Tiant was ninth in wins, tenth in K’s, twelfth in ERA, 1964-80 (even though in five of those seasons he did not make even 20 starts).

And there is one more remarkable and overlooked statistic. Two of Tiant’s six sub-3.00 ERA seasons were actually sub-2.00 ERA seasons. Since 1920, only 29 pitchers have had a seasonal ERA under 2.00. Koufax did it three times, and the other four did it twice: Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez – and Tiant.

Fourth – and he’s right below Tiant – is Minnie Minoso. He’s kind of damned by the overall quality of his play: superb at a lot of contradictory things, not extraordinary at any one of them:

Who were the top five hitters during Minnie Minoso’s 13 seasons as a Major League regular, 1951-63? Keep it to the guys who averaged at least 475 at bats a year and here’s the headline: one of them was Minnie Minoso.

Highest Batting Average 1951-1963 (Minimum 6175 AB)

1. Stan Musial                                .319

2. Willie Mays                                .315

3. Richie Ashburn                         .309

4. Harvey Kuenn                           .307

5. Minnie Minoso                   .299

Note please, that performance included eight .300 seasons. It’s impressive stuff, but below is my favorite Minoso stat:

Highest Slugging Percentage 1951-1963 (Minimum 6175 AB)

1. Willie Mays                               .588

2. Stan Musial                               .543

3. Eddie Mathews                        .535

4. Minnie Minoso                  .461

5. Harvey Kuenn                           .417

The slugging number is especially astounding given that Minoso only hit 184 homers in those 13 years (28th in the era). Without being a real longball threat, he still places 8th in total bases in the span, and 9th in RBI.

Most Runs Scored, 1951-1963

1. Mickey Mantle                        1381

2. Willie Mays                             1258

3. Eddie Mathews                      1220

4. Nellie Fox                                1142

5. Minnie Minoso                 1130

Seeing my point here? Pick a category, and Minoso shows up on it:

Most Stolen Bases, 1951-1963

1. Luis Aparicio                          309

2. Willie Mays                            248

3. Maury Wills                           236

4. Minnie Minoso                205

5. Billy Bruton                            193

Minoso is also fifth in hits in the era, second in doubles (behind Musial, ahead of Mays), fourth in triples, led the A.L. in hit-by-pitch ten times, won three Gold Gloves – and all this even the color line and circumstance kept him from becoming a major league regular until he was at least 28 years old.

My fifth guy out of the group is just a notch below. I love Jim Kaat and I think he belongs (as does Tommy John). I mentioned contemporaries Hunter and Tiant looking separated-at-birth. Jim Kaat and Robin Roberts are unlikely statistical twins who overlapped by only seven full seasons:

Statistic                                     Kaat                                    Roberts

Starts                                           625                                      609

Innings                                    4530.1                                    4688.2

Wins                                             283                                     286

Losses                                           237                                     245

Strikeouts                                  2461                                     2357

Walks                                         1083                                      902

ERA                                             3.45                                      3.41

10+ Win Season Streak          15/15                                    16/17

Roberts got to Cooperstown quickly because of the fact he reeled off six consecutive brilliant seasons, and despite of the fact that after the age of 28, only once did he finish more than three games above .500 in his final eleven seasons.

By contrast, Kaat won 18 as a 22-year old, slumped for a year, then starting in 1964 reeled off 17, 18, and then 25. Eight and nine years later he would produce consecutive seasons of 20 and 21 wins. As Bill James pointed out, if like Roberts, Kaat had bunched his great years instead of scattering them, he might’ve been elected in the ‘90s. As it is, he is still 31st all-time in victories — eighth all-time among lefties:

Wins, Lefthanded Pitchers:

1. Warren Spahn                        363

  2. Steve Carlton                        329

3. Eddie Plank                          326

4. Tom Glavine                         305

5. Randy Johnson                    303

6. Lefty Grove                           300

7. Tommy John                        288

  8. Jim Kaat                          283

9. Jamie Moyer                         267

10. Eppa Rixey                            266

11. Carl Hubbell                          253

12. Herb Pennock                       241

There are only eight active lefties with more than 100 wins, and of them, only CC Sabathia (176) is younger than 32. Kaat is also 10th in strikeouts by lefties. Kaat’s victory total has been criticized as “padded” by his five years as a reliever and spot starter. But subtract those seasons and his career won-lost improves to 261-217, he remains in the top 10 among lefties, and still has better won-losts than Ted Lyons and Eppa Rixey (and is just behind Red Faber).

Lastly, the 16 consecutive Gold Gloves are almost a cliché. We don’t stop to think that the first of them was won when Kitty was 23, and the last when he was 38 – and that the streak stretched through five presidential administrations and three expansion drafts.

Just to show my math, here are the Homer, Runs Scored, RBI, and Hit lists from ’60-’74 that back-up Santo’s greatness:

Most RBI, Majors, 1960-74:

1 Hank Aaron, 1585

2 Frank Robinson, 1412

3 Harmon Killebrew, 1405

4 Billy Williams, 1351

  5 Ron Santo, 1331

6 Brooks Robinson, 1217

7 Willie Mays, 1194

8 Willie McCovey, 1190

9 Carl Yastrzemski, 1181

10 Orlando Cepeda, 1164

 

Most Runs Scored, Majors, 1960-74:

1 Hank Aaron, 1495

2 Frank Robinson, 1390

3 Billy Williams, 1306

4 Lou Brock, 1303

5 Willie Mays, 1285

6 Carl Yastrzemski, 1240

7 Pete Rose, 1217

8 Vada Pinson, 1177

9 Ron Santo, 1138

10 Harmon Killebrew, 1131

 

Most Homers, Majors, 1960-74:

1 Hank Aaron, 554

2 Harmon Killebrew, 506

3 Frank Robinson, 440

4 Willie McCovey, 422

5 Willie Mays, 410

6 Billy Williams, 392

7 Frank Howard, 380

8 Norm Cash, 373

9 Willie Stargell, 346

10 Ron Santo, 342

(Note: 11th was Orlando Cepeda, 327)

 

Most Hits, Majors, 1960-74:

1 Billy Williams, 2505

2 Hank Aaron, 2463

3 Brooks Robinson, 2459

4 Vada Pinson, 2455

5 Lou Brock, 2388

6 Pete Rose, 2337

7 Roberto Clemente, 2318

8 Willie Davis, 2271

9 Carl Yastrzemski, 2267

10 Ron Santo, 2254

(Note: 11th was Frank Robinson, 2220)

I’ll Come Back From 1894 In A Moment. But First…

…just mentioning in passing. Nothing against Pat Gillick, but he was the General Manager most deserving of election to the Hall of Fame? Hogwash. Charlie Finley served as his own GM and built three straight A’s World Champions of the ’70s himself, lost them all to Free Agency, then rebuilt a contender by 1980. How about John Schuerholz? General Manager of the Royals, 1981-90 (that would include a World Series win in 1985 and the AL West in 1984), General Manager of the Braves, 1991-2007 (something about 14 straight division titles?). What about Al Rosen with the Yankees?

Buzzie Bavasi, perhaps? Seven NL pennants as General Manager of the Dodgers. Got the Padres started from scratch. Two division titles with the Angels (and a third with basically the same team, two years after he retired). 
Gillick’s selection – combined with the embarrassing ignoring of George Steinbrenner and Marvin Miller, to say nothing of Ron Santo, to say nothing of the BBWAA’s incompetent annual voting – proves the voting has devolved into a popularity contest. It also underscores the necessity of scrapping the Hall of Fame election process in its entirety. I’d sooner have Bill James individually pick the members of the Hall than stick with the current system.

LAST ABOUT 1894:
Until something new pops up, of course. If you’ve been following Baseball Nerd’s Crack Coverage of the 1894 Temple Cup (2nd Place New York Giants upend Pennant-Winning Baltimore Orioles, 4-0, for NL Crown), you might enjoy this:1894GIANTS.jpg
Back Row: C Parke Wilson, C Duke Farrell, CF George Van Haltren, 1B Roger Connor (HOF), P Jouett Meekin, P Huyler Westervelt, P Amos Rusie (HOF). Middle Row: P Dad Clark, P Les German, IF Jack Doyle, 2B-MGR John Montgomery Ward (HOF), OF Mike Tiernan, 3B George Stacey Davis (HOF), SS Shorty Fuller, LF Eddie Burke. In Front: IF-OF General Stafford, IF Yale Murphy
The copyright is attributed to “Prince, Fotographer” – yep, spelled that way.

Ron Santo And Baseball’s Shame

It should go without saying that the true tragedy is the death of Ron Santo at the age of 70 after a brave and inspirational fight against diabetes and the amputations of both legs it necessitated.

But beyond the mourning of this day, is the shame of this day. The Cubs’ great third baseman is not in the Hall of Fame, and symbolizes that all-too-large group of players ranging from 19th Century stars to Gil Hodges to Buck O’Neil to Dale Murphy who are, by any means, considerably better than a huge percentage of those already in Cooperstown, but who are still excluded due to the enduringly searing reality that the Hall has never gone more than two years without one of its groups of electors screwing something up.
In “his” era, from his debut in June of 1960 through his rump year with the White Sox in 1974, Ron Santo led all major leaguers who didn’t play first base or the outfield with 342 Homers and 1331 RBI. The RBI total is by itself fifth among all players in that fifteen-year stretch. Santo also won five Gold Gloves in just thirteen full seasons as a third baseman, and he did so despite facing the formidable opposition of the brilliant Boyer brothers. Ken was at his peak with the Cardinals when Santo broke in with the Cubs, and as he faded, Clete arrived in Atlanta in 1967 to challenge Santo for four more seasons.
Santo isn’t just qualified for the Hall, he’s a shoo-in at one of the most underrepresented positions in Cooperstown. Yet when he was first eligible on the Writers’ ballot in 1980, he was named on less than four percent of ballots cast. Frankly, the 96 percent who did not vote for him should have been barred from voting for life, so obvious was their ignorance of the game. He dropped off the ballot, but was restored in 1985 in one of the constant corrections of the writers’ laziness and incompetence. These writers eventually achieved a kind of dim understanding, and, by 1998, he was up to 43 percent.
This underscores the fatal flaw of the BBWAA participation in the vote, especially in the days before inter-league play. Something approaching 50 percent of those who voted on Santo, and all his peers, would never have seen him play except on television or at All-Star Games. After 1998, Santo was placed in the tender hands of the Veterans’ Committee, which has only had to be reconstituted three times since then, including late last summer in order to give Marvin Miller and the late George Steinbrenner a chance. Things were shuffled so that the “Expansion Era” will be considered this winter, which naturally leaves Santo out.
The BBWAA system doesn’t work, the Special Negro Leagues Committee didn’t work, and any of the Veterans’ Committees hasn’t worked. It’s time for baseball to take back control of the election process and model it on something the NFL has long done: convene a miniature college of experts to advocate and debate the merits of each candidate and then announce its consensus. The current system, in which voters simply send in their opinions without any indication that they’ve done any research, has all the validity of mailing in box tops from cornflakes.
I mean, seriously: The statistic I quoted above – that between 1960 and 1974 Ron Santo led all major leaguers who didn’t play first base or the outfield with 342 Homers and 1331 RBI – how many people who ever voted for or against him, even knew that?

Cooperstown Path Cleared For Steinbrenner, Miller

George Steinbrenner is now eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame as early as this December.

Since this is the first time any of my suggestions to modify Cooperstown voting procedures have come to pass, I tend to doubt my campaign to hasten Steinbrenner’s eligibility had anything to do with it. I’m happy enough about the coincidence.
The late Yankee owner is hardly the first man deserving of election to the Hall, but he is among the first 25 or 50, and anything that hastens the chances of any of them is, in short, fine by me. The entire Hall of Fame press release is attached below; translated, it means we’ve gone from votes conducted by job, to votes conducted by era. 
Miraculously, the eras have been divided into “Pre-Integration,” “Golden,” and “Expansion.” Miraculously, the players, umpires, and executives of the “Expansion” era will be voted upon first, this December. Miraculously, the eras have been defined in such a way that the “Expansion” era begins in 1973 (even though the expansions were in 1961, 1962, 1969, 1977, 1993, and 1998).
Guess what else began in 1973?
George Steinbrenner’s ownership of the Yankees.
It is an obvious ploy, but an ingenious one. And it has the added plus of making actual sense in terms of the grim realities of the actuarial table. Marvin Miller did not expect to make it to his next eligibility (2012). He too could be voted in by December, given that most of the changes he brought to baseball were post-1973. 
And it may even do something for Ron Santo, Gil Hodges, Curt Flood, Ken Boyer, Roger Maris, and so many others who have suffered in generalized votes that have forced voters to consider them outside of their own eras. Hodges the home run hitter looks like an after-thought in the whole spectrum of swat, but in his own time, his success (he retired in 1963 with the second most homers by any right handed batter to that point) may finally stand out sufficiently to get him elected.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    
July 26, 2010 
 

Hall of Fame Board of Directors Restructures 
Procedures for Consideration of

Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players 

 

 

(COOPERSTOWNNY) – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors has restructured the procedures to consider managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players for election to the Hall of Fame.

 

The changes, effective immediately, maintain the high standards for earning election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The voting process will now focus on three eras, as opposed to four categories, with three separate electorates to consider a single composite ballot of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players.  

 

“The procedures to consider the candidacies of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players have continually evolved since the first Hall of Fame election in 1936,” said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  “Our continual challenge is to provide a structure to ensure that all candidates who are worthy of consideration have a fair system of evaluation. In identifying candidates by era, as opposed to by category, the Board feels this change will allow for an equal review of all eligible candidates, while maintaining the high standards of earning election.”

 

The Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors includes:

 

Jane Forbes Clark (chairman)

Robert A. DuPuy

Jerry Reinsdorf

Allan H. “Bud” Selig

Joe Morgan (vice chairman)

William L. Gladstone

Brooks C. Robinson

Edward W. Stack

Kevin S. Moore (treasurer)

David D. Glass

Frank Robinson

 

Paul Beeston

Leland S. MacPhail Jr.

Dr. Harvey W. Schiller

 

William O. DeWitt Jr.

Phil Niekro

G. Thomas Seaver

 

 

         Eras: Candidates will be considered in three eras — Pre-Integration (1871-1946), Golden (1947-1972) and Expansion (1973-1989 for players; 1973-present for managers, umpires and executives).

 

         Candidates: One composite ballot of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players will be considered in each era. The Expansion Era ballot will feature 12 candidates, while the Golden and Pre-Integration era ballots will feature 10 candidates. Candidates will be classified by the eras in which their greatest contributions were recorded.

 

         Electorates A Voting Committee of 16 members for each era will be appointed by the Board of Directors annually. Each committee will be comprised of Hall of Fame members, major league executives, and historians/veteran media members. Any candidate who receives at least 75% of ballots cast will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

 

         Frequency of Elections: An election will be held annually at the Winter Meetings. The Eras will rotate, with the Expansion Era Committee to vote onDecember 5, 2010 at the Winter Meetings in OrlandoFla. The Golden Era committee will meet at the Winter Meetings in 2011 and the Pre-Integration Era Committee will vote on candidates at the 2012 Winter Meetings.

 

         Screening Process: The BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee will devise the ballots for each era. The Historical Overview Committee currently consists of 10 veteran members: Dave Van Dyck(Chicago Tribune)Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun)Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (New York Daily News)Ken Nigro (formerly Baltimore Sun)Jack O’Connell (BBWAA secretary/treasurer); Nick Peters (formerly Sacramento Bee)Tracy Ringolsby (FSN Rocky Mountain); and Mark Whicker (Orange County Register).

 

         Eligible candidates:

      &n
bsp;  
Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and have been retired for 21 or more seasons;

         Managers and umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years. Candidates who are 65 years or older are eligible six months following retirement;

         Executives retired for at least five years. Active executives 65 years or older are eligible.

 

 

 

 

Timetable for Upcoming Elections

 

 

DATE

 

ACTIVITY

WHO

October 2010

The Expansion Era (1973-1989) ballot is devised and released.

 

The BBWAA Historical Overview Committee.

 

December 2010

 

Meeting and Vote on Expansion Era (1973-1989) ballot at the Winter Meetings. 

 

 

A Committee of 16 individuals comprised of Hall of Fame members, veteran writers and historians, appointed by the Board of Directors. 

July 24, 2011

Induction of Expansion Era Committee selections, if anyone elected.

 

 

October 2011

The Golden Era (1947-1972) ballot is devised and released.

 

The BBWAA Historical Overview Committee.

 

December 2011

 

Meeting and Vote on Golden Era (1947-1972) ballot at the Winter Meetings. 

 

 

A Committee of 16 individuals comprised of Hall of Fame members, veteran writers and historians, appointed by the Board of Directors. 

July 29, 2012

Induction of Golden Era Committee selections, if anyone elected.

 

 

October 2012

The Pre-Integration Era (1871-1946) ballot is devised and released.

 

The BBWAA Historical Overview Committee.

 

October 2012

 

Meeting and Vote on Pre-Integration Era (1871-1946) ballot at the Winter Meetings. 

 

 

A Committee of 16 individuals comprised of Hall of Fame members, veteran writers and historians, appointed by the Board of Directors. 

July 28, 2013

Induction of Pre-Integration Era Committee selections, if anyone elected.

 

 

 

 

Hall of Famers and Numbers Without Wings

They don’t give me a vote.
I was once gratified to read somebody argue that they should, but if I remember correctly this was written by somebody else who also didn’t get a vote, but probably should. 
The logic behind that assertion will presumably decrease as time goes by. But it is staggering to consider that for decades, writers elected – or prevented the election of – dozens of players who they literally never saw play in a game that mattered. By the time Ron Santo was first seen by future Hall of Fame voters working in Baltimore, Boston, and all the other American League cities save for Chicago, L.A., and New York, he was a worn-out 34-year old part-time second baseman who had already hit 337 of the 342 homers he would ever hit. Seeing them on television has been the actual qualification for some large number of voter-nominee interactions since television began.
But I digress. Capsule summaries of the candidacies of those on the new ballot just released Friday:
Roberto Alomar: No, just barely. I don’t think he was as good as Sandberg and I always said Sandberg shouldn’t go in before Joe Gordon. I’m not judging Alomar on the spitting incident, I’m judging him on the fact that for whatever reason, at age 34 he not only turned from a superstar into a fringe major leaguer, but he also turned into a millstone around the neck of a franchise. The bad taste may fade with time, but right now I couldn’t vote for him.
Harold Baines: Yes, just barely. He’s hurt by the 2,866 hits – he’s in that Buckner zone. Everybody else who got to Buckner’s level of hits (2,763) has gotten in, or will, or is Pete Rose.
Bert Blyleven: Definitely. Fifth all-time in strikeouts now (passed by Clemens), by any measure one of the game’s great curveballers, and 287 wins. And by the way, those 3,701 strikeouts? They came with only 1,322 walks. 

Andre Dawson: Yes. Farcical he has had to wait.
Andres Galarraga: I just don’t see it. 399 homers in the power era just doesn’t get there.

Barry Larkin: A great player and one of my favorites, but I don’t recall ever during his playing career having had even that Alomarian sense that this could be a Hall-of-Famer. If we’re looking to put a Reds shortstop in Cooperstown, it should be David Concepcion.
Edgar Martinez: The first test of how the DH-as-position will resonate through history. I can see electing pure DH’s but to me the batting bar is a little higher for them than other batsmen who field. Two batting championships and a RBI title is not sufficient. Ferris Fain won two batting championships, too, and I don’t see a big argument for him in Cooperstown (and he did it in consecutive years, too).
Don Mattingly: Sigh, no. I wish. The back injury killed his chances – he dropped from superior to slightly-above-average. For competitive fire, diligence, class, yes. But we don’t do it that way.
Fred McGriff: Amazingly, yes. Here is the silver lining to the steroid era. Suddenly his 493 homers and ten 30-home run seasons look surprising, even refreshing, considering the worst thing he was ever accused of taking were Boring Pills. No offense, but when the Yankees had to bribe Toronto to take Dave Collins off their hands in the winter of 1982-83 and the Jays said “OK, but you have to take Dale Murray off our hands – and we want this kid McGriff,” the Yanks would have been better off saying “take Mattingly.”
Mark McGwire: Hall of Fame? For what? For pretending to Congress that nothing happened before that steroid hearing? Fine. You got your wish. Nothing happened. Your lifetime numbers are 0-0-.000. And by the way, why is it ok for him to just waltz back in as batting coach of the Cardinals? Would we let Bonds come back in? This is unacceptable, and it gives credence to the very disturbing claim that race is at play when it comes to the punishment of steroid cheats. Mark McGwire is a steroid cheater.
Jack Morris: Another beneficiary of a little perspective. I used to flinch at that 3.90 ERA. There seems very little doubt that Tom Glavine will go in on the first ballot at 3.54. I’m looking more at the 254 wins and the clutch performances. Aye.
Dale Murphy: Yes. Preposterous that he’s had to wait. Two-time MVP, thought he was tailing off at the end of one season so he went to the Instructional League that fall to work on his hitting, turned himself from a defensive disaster to a star centerfielder, and was cooperative with every fan, reporter, and vendor. During his era as an every-day starter, 1978 through 1991, he was baseball’s leading home-run hitter, and he’s not in because he hit 398 homers and not 400? And we’re seriously considering Edgar Martinez before him?
Dave Parker: To be fair, something of a victim of expectations. But when he came up he was thought to have been the best all-around talent to ascend to the majors perhaps since Mays. 339-1493-.290 with 147 steals, two batting titles, and no homer crowns, isn’t very much, I’m afraid.
Tim Raines: No. It is very close. Maybe the steals should earn him a spot. The rest of the offensive production just doesn’t.
Lee Smith: Here’s a startling question: who led his league in saves more often during his career? Lee Smith, Mariano Rivera, or Trevor Hoffman? The answer is Smith (four), though Rivera (three), and Hoffman (two) can still do something about it. But doesn’t it at least suggest Smith’s 478 saves should be taken seriously, too? I vote yes.
Alan Trammell: No. I wish it were otherwise.
I do want to see how many guys vote for Shayne Reynolds.
THE UNEXPECTED BENEFIT OF WATCHING MLB NET’S ‘ALL-TIME GAMES':
There are at least two big heavy fascinating books devoted to no less a topic than the attempt to record all of the uniform numbers worn by big leaguers. It may not fascinate you, but it fascinated two guys, including the eminent researcher Mark Stang, to take the time to do the research, and two publishers to pay the costs.
That’s why an odd vigne
tte from an odd MLB Network choice for one of its “All-Time Games” is fascinating – to a few, anyway. It’s a black-and-white video of the Montreal Expos outlasting the Pittsburgh Pirates at Jarry Park in Montreal on September 2, 1970. And at mid-game, rookie announcer Don Drysdale starts commenting to his partner Hal Kelly about the odd spectacle he’s seeing in the visitors’ bullpen. 
This – and forgive the photographed screen grab – is the spectacle:
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COURTESY MLB NETWORK

The righthander in mid-pitch is John Lamb (of the Pirates’ odd Lamb/Moose/Veale pitching staff). The lefty awaiting the throw is George Brunet, and he is not an outfielder loosening up his arm to replace Roberto Clemente. He’s a lefthanded pitcher – one who pitched fifteen seasons for nine different teams, plus thirteen more in the American minors, plus teams in Mexico up until nearly the day he died in 1991 – whom the Bucs had obtained from the Washington Senators three days earlier.
And he is wearing uniform number 4. Drysdale says to Kelly that Brunet is going to change the number as soon as possible because: a) pitchers just don’t wear “low numbers” like that, and b) Brunet has told him so. Left unspoken is the fact that Brunet, listed at 6’1″, 195, was probably closer to 220 by the time he got to Pittsburgh, and they probably gave him number 4 because, in that first year in which double-knit unis were ever used in the majors, it was likely the only shirt they had that fit him.
Both those big heavy uniform books show Brunet wearing only 22 for Pittsburgh. Yet, there he is, a few moments later, years ahead of Toronto’s Number 7 Josh Towers, actually getting into his second game as a Pirate, wearing the number they would eventually get around to retiring in honor of Ralph Kiner.
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COURTESY MLB NETWORK

As an utter sidebar, I loved watching this game until I realized that the second of my two trips to Montreal as a kid to explore unbeatable, electric (and frigid in August with aluminum seats)  Parc Jarry, was exactly one week before this game was played. Alors! This game is newer than the last time I actually saw that old field!

The Pete And The President And The Hall of Famer Shortage

It wasn’t the first time, and it doesn’t mean they said anything more than ‘howdy,’ but Pete Rose met with MLB President and Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy here in Cooperstown over the weekend.

Perhaps just importantly, when Rose said his former teammate (and Hall of Fame Vice Chairman) Joe Morgan was “here,” he was slightly underselling reality. Morgan’s visit to Rose, in the same venue as DuPuy’s, lasted closer to an hour.
While the rest of us were all distracted by the official big doings down Main Street, the action at the memorabilia shop where Rose hawked his autographs all weekend, must have felt heavy enough to merit a revolving door. Besides the emotional visit from (and fractional forgiveness by) Rose’s old manager Sparky Anderson, witnesses say DuPuy also stopped by the shop, and Morgan did not spend his hour there just reminiscing.
All of this continues to feed the extrapolation that MLB is seriously considering reinstating Rose – at least for eligibility for the Hall – and that Commissioner Bud Selig is being heavily lobbied by people he greatly respects, to pardon Rose, or give him clemency of some sort. As Bill Madden of The New York Daily News reported, Hank Aaron told a couple of reporters (ironically including one who works for the Hall of Fame) “I would like to see Pete in. He belongs there.”
Madden has since updated the story with a detail that really turns up the volume:

It was also learned by the Daily News that in a meeting of the Hall of Fame’s board of directors at the Otesaga later on Saturday, two of Rose’s former teammates on the board, vice chairman Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson, also expressed their hope that Selig would see fit to reinstate Rose.

At roughly the same hour, as I first reported late Saturday night, Sparky Anderson marched into the “Safe At Home” shop as if he were going to the mound at Riverfront to pull Jack Billingham, and, tears welling in his eyes, told Rose, “You made some mistakes 20 years ago, Pete, but that shouldn’t detract from your contributions to the game.”


There was a rather petulant piece at ESPN pooh-poohing the story, and another less dyspeptic one from the solid reporter Phil Rogers of The Chicago Tribune claiming Selig was angry enough about the Daily News report that he nearly issued a rare formal denial.

But the Commissioner did not do that, and the reasons are not hard to gather. Aaron is not only his close friend but someone whom Bud has always held on a pedestal. Morgan’s power within baseball, and particularly the Hall, has been steadily growing. Frank Robinson is perhaps the game’s elder statesman. Rogers’ conclusion that “there has been no movement by Rose’s peers to have him take a seat among the greats in Cooperstown” might be numerically correct, but it does not take into account the relative influence of these three larger-than-life figures.

Perhaps just as importantly is the upcoming trauma of the 20th anniversary of Rose’s banishment, and, a week later, the 20th anniversary of Commissioner Bart Giamatti’s stunning, and to so many of us, heartbreaking, death. Selig and baseball can completely co-opt the story and turn it into one of redemption (whether or not it really is). The Veterans’ Committee vote on Rose can finish with only Aaron, Morgan, and Robinson voting “aye” and everybody else shouting obscenities, and Selig will have still redirected the coverage at the end of next month. It’s the scene from “Catch-22″ where the General, Orson Welles, wants to court-martial the Captain, Alan Arkin, for dropping his bombs in the Mediterranean. “We thought of that,” says the Major, played by Martin Balsam, “but then we considered the inevitable publicity.” Welles sighs. “You don’t have to say another word, Major.”

And lastly there is the drum beat growing louder and louder about the Hall of Fame and steroids – and Rose. It’s not just the issue of relative immorality. There is a looming Hall of Famer shortage. Exactly who are we to think are the lead-pipe, no-controversy, no-rumor, no-speculation first-ballot cinches among the recently-retired? Fred McGriff next winter? Larry Walker for the ceremonies of July, 2011? Bernie Williams of the class of 2012? Craig Biggio the year after that? There are, to me, literally two certainties out there and only one of them is certainly retired – Greg Maddux will be here five summers hence, and, if he doesn’t try to pitch again, so will Tom Glavine.

And in the interim? Robby Alomar? 

I mean – and I intend to go into this in depth in a future blog – I think this is great news for Andre Dawson, Dale Murphy, and maybe even Roger Maris, Gil Hodges, and Ron Santo. But the next few years are not going to be remembered for serene and joyous election revelations and inductions. It ain’t gonna be Jim-Ed fans buying out the postcards of their Red Sox hero by late on the day of the ceremony, as they just did this weekend.

Good grief, the Hall might – gasp – need Pete Rose for his star power.

MEANWHILE, IN THE BASEMENT:

I am spending two extra days here researching the obscure stuff I can’t find out about anywhere other than the Hall’s incredible library. The entire staff (particularly librarian Jim Gates and Collections Senior Director Erik Strohl) has already passed several camels through the eyes of needles and before you say they’re just sucking up to a guy with a tv show, their long-ago predecessors Cliff Kachline and the late Jack Redding treated me with the exact same level of respect the last time I darkened the library’s doors – when I was fourteen years old.

Anyway, the research later. For now, here is one of the things we stumbled over, buried in a box in the Scorebooks and Scorecards Collections, while – of course – looking for something else:

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This is a nondescript, hand-drawn scorebook – in an otherwise ordinary composition notebook – with no markings or identification. Maybe the same name will jump out at you, that jumped out at me.

Batting second and playing centerfield for Shelbyville, Kentucky, of the Blue Grass States League, is Stengel. Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel. It’s July, 1910, and he’s just been saved from having to go back to dental school in Kansas City after his first professional season as a player came to an abrupt halt when the Kankakee team went out of business! Stengel latched on with Shelbyville (the franchise moved in mid-season so some records show him with Maysville), opened up with a 1-for-3 day in a 3-2 win, and would remain in baseball until his death in 1975.

And this is a scorebook, apparently belonging to a fan, who saw him play 20 or so times, in the lowest of the minors, 99 years ago. And the Hall of Fame has so much stuff that this not only isn’t on display, but nobody had yet had the time to look long enough at the book to figure out that that’s what it was.

And finally I have some ideas of what I want my house to look like!

Since you’ve read so long, just to say thanks, I give you something you never see – what the non-baseball part of Cooperstown looks like – here’s Lake Otsego, which is about a four-minute walk from the Hall’s front door:

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