Here come the rest of the newcomers to the Hall of Fame ballot. Unless there are sentimental reasons or particular individual perversities at play, I can think of only one or two, maybe three, who aren’t likely to be one-and-done ballot entrants, even if they’ll never be Hall of Famers.
While we’re on the subject of the Strasburg Plan, it might be wise to hark back to past young guns whose careers—or, more accurately, the lack thereof, for most—may or may not have factored into the Washington Nationals’ thinking. (Manager Davey Johnson, who’s absolutely on board with the Strasburg Plan, happens to know about at least one of those guns directly.) They didn’t all have fractured comebacks from Tommy John surgery (though a few of them could have used it, if the procedure had been around), but they did have work use or other physical issues in one or another way that turned them from brilliant or burgeoning youth to gone, or at least nothing near what they first seemed they’d be, before they should have been in prime.
With the All-Star Game come and gone, you almost can’t help thinking of more once-upon-a-time comers, All-Stars and others, who didn’t—or couldn’t—quite live up to their earliest promise . . .
Pete Reiser—Pistol Pete (Reiser was hung with that nickname decades before it got hung on basketball legend Pete Maravich) won the National League batting title in his rookie season (1941) and damn near won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in his second season. He was a five-tool switch-hitter who had Brooklyn fans salivating, after Leo Durocher scotched an unscrupulous deal by which the Dodgers’ then-boss Larry MacPhail kept Reiser buried in their farm system before he could be returned to the St. Louis Cardinals, from whom he’d been liberated by commissioner’s edict.