Baseball Hall of Fame: hallowed ground for America’s national pastime. Within the Cooperstown Pantheon 296 of the Diamond Royalty are honored. some are gods; some many have never heard of. a few do not truly belong; others, having received the ultimate reward in the sport, remain underappreciated.
each of them was immortalized by voting, a process vulnerable to a variety of human frailties. while most hall of famers fully deserve their honor, many waited for consecration long after their accomplishments warranted such recognition (sometimes for decades) or sometimes, in the case of the veterans committee, they made their way through the cronyism, the inflated reputation. or voter incompetence.
Reading: Bill buckner hall of fame
because (since 1958) the ballot allows, but does not require, voting for up to 10 selections, some very mediocre players get votes. this safeguard often prohibits too many candidates from making the cut, lest the room overlap even more than it already is, though it occasionally subtracts votes from worthy players who should get in but wait many unnecessary years, or never get at all. .
why the electorate felt compelled to cast ballots for pedestrians like mike jorgensen, terry puhl and eddie miksis is a wonder. maybe those responsible also pulled the lever for harold stassen…
in 1981, gates brown received a vote. A talented hitter who, when he retired, ranked third all-time in pinch hits, Gates enjoyed a superlative year as a backup during the Detroit Tigers’ 1968 championship season.
Coming off the bench and delivering key hits over and over again, Brown contributed mightily to Detroit’s pennant win. however, a career total of 582 hits is as far from legendary as the 2003 Tigers with 119 losses were out of first place. however, brown shared 27th place in the voting with five other unremarkable players.
this means that some voters marked with brown pencil as a selection of 17 players much more worthy of the hall. If the top nine vote-getters are excluded, which any sane person, including, presumably, the voter in question, would do in making Gates one of the choices on the ballot, then Brown received one vote instead of those hind limbs luis aparicio, bill mazeroski, orlando cepeda and richie ashburn, as well as roger maris and maury wills.
remember, electors are chosen for their expert knowledge of the game.
poor wallet. Never mind that he won a batting crown, hit .300 seven times, and was a season and a half away from the elite 3,000-hit club — his remarkable career is lost forever in the glare of a single error not sent by the Boston Red Sox. to another damn world series loss (he just allowed the boston red sox to drop out of the series the next night).
Buckner isn’t Hall of Fame material, but his numbers, which include, ironically, a strong fielding record (and the penultimate assists mark in a season by a first baseman), surpass those of many members of the Hall of Fame. However, he qualified for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) ballot only once, earning a measly 10 votes, which left him out of eligibility permanently.
Considering the ballot parasites who compile comparable numbers in multiple elections, it’s obvious that voters ignored all 22 seasons of buckner due to an unfortunate fact.
case in point: one trick pony don larsen. yes, that one trick, a perfect game in the 1956 world series, amounted to one of the most fantastic feats in baseball history. but the hall is not allowed to consecrate players for a single event.
yet larsen received no fewer than 22 votes for 15 consecutive years. not huge numbers, but much more generous than his career totals: an 81-91 record (including a 3-21 season), a solitary 100-strikeout year, and an era that often tops 4.00. /p>
even so, larsen’s relatively sizable vote totals (entirely attributable to a spectacular moment in a lackluster 14-year career) left pitchers as fantastic, if not parlor-caliber, in the dust as jim perry, billy pierce and dave mcnally.
A voter is more wrong to reward a player for a winning effort than to punish a player for a catastrophic incident.
See also: Self is a proven winner, cheater at KU
Such misleading voting extends to Johnny Vander Meer, who was just as likely to walk a batter as he was to strike him out. Vandy’s savagery culminated in a career record of 119-121; Yet thanks to his consecutive no-hitters, he got twice as many votes in 1966 as Arky Vaughan, one of the greatest shortstops in history (not to mention further outscoring Ernie Lombardi, Hal Newhouser, Billy Herman, and Bob Lemon— each eminently more deserving than he).
In fact, Vander Meer, who consistently finished higher than at least a half-dozen future Hall of Famers during their eligibility years, outranked Newhouser during the eight years they appeared on the ballot together.
Whether or not one views newhouser as a bona fide hall of famer, he won consecutive mvps, and nearly a third, while vander meer never finished higher than 18th in mvp polls ( by the way, the same season he won). he threw his no-nos in, so how could the writers rank vander meer so high for his career when they didn’t even rank him high for his glory season?)
With an average of 72 votes a year, some writers took vander meer’s fame too literally.
It’s debatable whether the bbwaa has always known what she’s doing when it comes to voting in the hall of fame (she’s done an admirable job over the last few decades). however, one can peruse the vote totals for virtually any year and be amazed at who scored higher than who.
As in 1949, for example, when Pepper Martin—a rudimentary hitter and, for the time, terror on the bases—participated in a pair of heroic World Series performances that made him a legend in the down-and-out Midwest with more votes than 25 future hall of famers. and though many of those eventual entrants probably did not deserve the consecration, they certainly enjoyed careers more laudable than pepper. (certainly goose goslin, sam rice, and zack wheat, absolutely worthy, should have scored higher than martin).
but that’s the human element of the hall of fame, and it’s still preferable to some stats-based program like college bcs—god forbid, some intellectual idea of something similar for cooperstown…
The 2012 election is likely to bring several big players out of 27 candidates to Cooperstown. And if Barry Larkin and Jack Morris, the two favorites, ascend to baseball heaven, or even Tim Raines and several iffy candidates, then the bbwaa will surely have done her job.
but i’ll check the bottom of the ballot to see how many misguided votes went to terry mulholland, brad radke and tony womack.