Hall of Fame Reactions

January 12, 2010

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On January 6th, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that the Baseball Writers of America (BBWA) had selected Andre Dawson as their sole choice for 2010 induction into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

I was a Cubs fan when Dawson won the MVP in 1987 – his 49 homers nabbing the award despite a last place finish by Chicago.  Dawson is one of just three players in major league history with at least 400 homers and 300 steals (Barry Bonds and Willie Mays being the others).

Dawson was a victim of collusion by MLB owners when he became a free agent after the 1986 season (read all about it here – the owners were found guilty) and ended up signing a contract for “just” $500,000 for the 1987 season.  (Yep, that’s still a lot of money, but far below the market value).

Bert Blyleven, in his thirteenth year on the ballot, got tantalizingly close to election, garnering 400 votes – falling just 5 votes shorts of the 75% required for election.  Players tend to pick up a bit of momentum in the last couple of years on the ballot (they are on the ballot for 15 years), so it is an almost certainty that Blyleven will make it in 2011.  (Read my case for Blyleven).

In his first year on the ballot, Roberto Alomar fell just 8 votes short of induction.  Alomar likely would have had the necessary votes if not for an ugly incident on September 27, 1996.  During a heated argument, Alomar spit in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck.  Alomar’s version of events was that the umpire had used an ethnic slur, and some viewers contended that Hirschbeck called the player a “faggot” as he walked away.

Should this incident have kept Alomar out of the Hall?  I’m going to say no.  Why not?  Because John Hirschbeck long ago forgave Alomar, and Alomar has become a fund raiser for the fight against adrenoleukodystrophy, a rare disease which afflicted two of Hirschbeck’s sons.  If Hirschbeck forgave Alomar of his sins, should we not due the same?

Other notable players on the ballot:

In his first year on the ballot, former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin picked up 51.6% of the vote. Larkin will – and should – eventually be elected.  He was a player I loved to hate.

Jack Morris – the winningest pitcher of the 1980s and a three time World Series champion – had the fourth highest vote total, with 52.3%.  However, in his 11th year on the ballot, he might not be able to push above 75% before he falls off the ballot.

All time saves leader Lee Smith continues his long journey.  Smith picked up 478 career saves to go along with a 3.03 ERA.  There was the thought that Bruce Sutter’s election in 2006 might open the door a crack for Smith, but this hasn’t been the case.

Edgar Martinez got 36.2% of the vote in his first year on the ballot.  Martinez was primarily a DH during his career, playing in the field in only 561 of his 2055 career games.  I’m on record as hating the designated hitter.  Having said that, if we are to allow DHs into the Hall of Fame, Martinez should be welcomed in with open arms.

As for the five voters who returned blank ballots – seriously, none of the players on the ballot deserved your vote?  Did you even watch baseball in the 1980s?

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