Normally, annually, I give a run down on the Hall of Fame ballot newcomers and holdovers separately, but it isn’t every year Vladimir Guerrero makes his debut on the ballot. But it isn’t every year that a newcomer looks like an obvious, no-questions-asked Hall of Famer in spite of his flaws. And, despite the likelihood that he may not make it first ballot because what’s with or ahead of him looks just that good.
Before he developed a reputation as a serial fiance/father in the 1980s, Steve Garvey had one as a gentleman. In case anyone forgot about it, Garvey showed it after Game One of the 1984 National League Championship Series, following his Padres being smothered by the Cubs, 13-0.
This weekend began with the publication of a remarkable interview Minnie Minoso gave to ESPN’s Christina Kahrl, in which he admitted his disappointment that the Golden Era Committee didn’t elect him or any of its other candidates to the Hall of Fame in December.
“Don’t tell me that maybe I’ll get in after I pass away,” Minoso told Kahrl. “I don’t want it to happen after I pass. I want it while I’m here, because I want to enjoy it.” Two days after that interview appeared, Minoso died at 90, apparently due to issues with his heart. The physical organ, that is. When it came to heart as in heart, there were few endowed better.
Since I wrote purely from an observer’s position, I was content to let my previous writings on this season’s Hall of Fame voting stand for themselves. But in the interim I was made a life member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, which conducts its own Hall of Fame ballot every year. My membership came just in time to have such a vote myself.
This vote, of course, is purely symbolic outside the IBWAA itself. Even if there are those in the mainstream press who actually pay attention to the balloting, sometimes using those results as one barometer toward gauging how the Baseball Writers Association of America vote might result. The day may come when the IBWAA vote is included in the ultimate tally that elects Hall of Famers. May.
Gil Hodges is getting another crack at the Hall of Fame. So are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant, and Maury Wills. So is Bob Howsam, who built the Big Red Machine. Thank the Golden Era Committee, one of the three committees mandated to replace the former Veterans Committee to review the Hall of Fame credentials of those who didn’t quite make the Baseball Writers Association of America cuts in the past.
When George F. Will took the plunge from interrupting his customary sociopolitical columns with periodic (and frequent) mash notes to the game he loves to a complete book, the impeccable Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball, he sectioned it into studies of the pitcher, the manager, the batter, and the defender. “The Batter” was subtitled “Tony Gwynn’s Muscle Memory.” Will had in mind Gwynn’s mind as well as his arms, wrists, hands, and body.
Like Herb Score who preceded him to the Elysian Fields a little over five years ago, Jerry Coleman in the broadcast booth probably thanked God that Yogi Berra never sought a post-playing career as a baseball announcer. Upon Score’s death in 2008, Coleman stood supreme as the master malapropper of the microphones from his loft as the San Diego Padres’ broadcaster, even if the former second baseman scaled his working time back until this past season.
Furman Bisher was one of the writers beaten out by Roger Angell for the next J.G. Taylor Spink Award. The late Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist has received his defense from colleague and friend Jeff Schultz. And while you can hardly fault Schultz for standing by his man, there are little perspectives to be considered.
Well, now. A Baseball Writers Association of America member with Hall of Fame voting privileges elected to sell this year’s privilege to Deadspin.com. Meaning that said writer’s going to fill out his ballot based on the tally from Deadspin respondents.
The theory behind the curious move, of course, is to show up what seems an increasingly absurd vote process in which the ten-name limit hamstrings the voting writers. And, in last year’s case, leaves no player elected to the Hall of Fame despite several who deserved to be.
Prior to an All-Star Game, a group of American League pitchers held a strategy meeting at which the main topic was how to pitch to Stan Musial. Yogi Berra happened to be walking past the open door while the pitchers talked. As if on cue, Berra broke in: “Forget it. You guys are trying to figure out in fifteen minutes what nobody’s figured out in fifteen years.”