Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame’

The Old Ball Game Was Never Pure

June 21, 2012

John McGraw (in black) gets ready for his Giants to square off against the Athletics in Game One of the 1905 World Series. Muggsey already had $400 in even money down on his Giants.

The exoneration of Roger Clemens in his second perjury trial this week reminded me again of how much we hypocritically condemn those who have even had their reputations smeared for things that a hundred years ago would not have even caused a bug-eyed glare. Personally, I have no idea if Roger ever used steroids, but I do know that a jury found him innocent of lying to Congress by his denials of same – and I would love to believe him – and add to that: Don’t keep a worthy candidate out of the Hall of Fame for reasons that add up to little more than full character assassination.

There is no proof of anything else.

Besides, steroids don’t give a batter the ability to hit a baseball. They just supply the strength to hit it farther, converting ordinary homers to Ruthian clouts and, sometimes, lifting ordinary fly ball outs beyond the fence for home runs.For pitchers, steroids don’t cause a ball to curve more, but we are given to believe that they may help pitchers to work longer or heal faster from the normal wear and tear of pitching. Should quick healing be indicted as a crime against the record book. What if we come up with a medicine someday that would allow a starting pitcher to work more often without risk of permanent injury or contraindicative side effects? Should we ban the substance to save the continuity of our record books?

Or should we simply send out a warning to Cy Young? “Hey, Cy! Watch out! The robotic arms of 21st century pitchers are coming for you!”

Back in 1905, John McGraw bet $400 on his Giants to defeat the Athletics in the first official World Series that had been agreed upon as an annually automatic contest between the champions of the National and American leagues. Pete Rose apparently bet on his Reds club fairly regularly in the 1980s.

Nothing was said to McGraw about his betting. His club won the 1905 World Series behind three shutouts by ace Christy Mathewson and McGraw found his way quickly in later years to the Hall of Fame. – Rose, on the other hand, got creamed for betting on baseball and for lying about it for years. As a result of his actions, Pete Rose, the all time hit total leader was effectively excommunicated from baseball and banned from the Hall of Fame, a condition that continues to this day.

When you ban some people and overlook others, for essentially doing the same thing, but in different eras of permissiveness and prohibition, you essentially alter the record book by making that distinction. Either let everyone into the HOF whose playing records merit their mention, or else, go through the ranks of current members and kick out the ones whose behavior matches up with those who are now prohibited. And then just treat the thing as the “Good Boys’ Hall of Fame,” a place where career and character are both important to induction.

The baseball sub-culture, like society itself, has never been perfect nor is it likely to become so.

We will continue to chemically progress in the ways we treat injuries and illness to the body, and our ability to prolong the physical capacity of youth is likely to keep increasing as well.

The so-called war on drugs has become nothing more than a bee line for making some of the meanest people in the world nasty rich –  and it has provided a bureaucratic vested interest in many officials that serves to keep alive a war that will never be won – simply because it keeps alive the careers of the forever chasing good guys.

After a half century in my day job, and more than a little time back in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the administrative director of one of the earliest drug treatment programs in America, I say it’s time we stop the war and legalize the production and use of drugs in a way that takes their delivery out of criminal hands and places it in controlled production for sale to those who choose to use them in cheaper, safer form.

And while we are also disarming that one big chapter in societal hypocrisy, This is where I stand in 2012 and where I shall continue to stand: I favor attacking others too, including the steroid proven or tainted bunch with great career records. Let’s induct Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, and their earlier gambling sinning brothers, Rose and Shoe Joe.

The face of the Hall might not be as pretty, if we did, but it would sure be a lot more complete.

 

 

Santo Finally Makes It

December 6, 2011

Ron Santo Takes a Whack

Ron Santo and Billy Williams both played for the 1960 Houston Buffs before going on to careers as teammates with the Chicago Cubs as their teams’ defenders of the left field line at third base and left field. Now the guys are together again – in the Baseball Hall of Fame. All I wish to say is that I’m glad it finally happened and, like many others of you, I only wish it could have happened earlier than December 3, 2010, the date that the wonderful Ron Santo left this planet. Posthumous awards always ring the bell  a little too loudly on the empty side, as in “better now than never, but earlier would have been better, when Ron Santo was still here among the living to share and enjoy it with family and friends.”

Ron Santo had a wonderful power stroke on offense and the kind of rocket arm on defense that defines the rare greats of third base history. Only fourteen others have received the call to the Hall as “hot corner” specialists prior to Santo, and three of those men played exclusively in the Negro Leagues, where statistical data was often poorly kept and not well documented – and  the game itself was played under the frequently far more adverse conditions of many ragged fields and unevenly officiated games. Santo has deserved his place in this rarefied company forever and I am grateful that the Veterans Committee finally made it happen on December 5, 2011.

Over the course of his fifteen season MLB career (1960-1974), Ron Santo batted .277 with 342 home runs, and 1,331 runs batted in. He played in nine all star games and won five gold gloves over the course of his career. Ron Santo had to battle the ravages of diabetes in the latter years of his life, but he hung in there, even under the loss of both legs to the disease, doing good, positive color reporting as an analyst on the Cubs’ radio game broadcasting team.

Love live the soul and spirit of Ron Santo. It bears upon its back the larger hope for an eventual Chicago Cubs redemption – and that’s no light load for any soul to carry.

Home Runs, Steroids, and The Hall of Fame

April 26, 2011

The HOF has shunned Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader for gambling. Should it do the same to HR-Leader Barry Bonds for steroids and lying?

If there’s a clearer scoreboard on how baseball aims to treat players smeared with the taint of steroids in years to come, the way the game treats its greatest home run leaders after they retire seems brighter as a guidepost than any other for the road-signing we are getting elsewhere. After all, home runs are the big power play in baseball. Steroids cannot give you fast wrists, or make contact between bat and ball, but they sure as hell can can make the balls fly farther that do run into a powerful wooden surface.

So, far, at least, none of the great home run hitters of recent years who’ve even been mentioned in the same breath with steroids have made it into the Hall of Fame, or even come close, after achieving voter eligibility. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and now Rafael Palmeiro are our main poster boys these days for that  reality.

Will it be this way forever? Who knows, but it is the way it is for now.

Of the twenty-five (25) players with 500 or more home runs in their careers, fifteen (15) are members of the Hall of Fame – and all made it there prior to the explosion of the steroid issue.

Of the ten (10) others, two (2) (Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome) are still active players.

Of the eight (8) others, three (3) (Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro) have been rejected for the HOF by low vote totals, so far.

The remaining five (5) men (Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, Jr., Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, and Gary Sheffield) remain at variable points through their five year periods of eligibility clearance for HOF consideration following retirement.

Among the members on this premier list of home run sluggers who are not in the Hall of Fame, only Ken Griffey, Jr. seems to me like a can’t-miss selection on the first ballot. Maybe Jim Thome will make it too, at some point, but all the others have received the sting of the “S” word interlaced into the narrative of their playing careers.

Hopefully, we will resolve our reactions to this mess someday. For now, the baseball world seems split apart by all the competing forces that have arisen from the “steroid era.”

Baseball people don’t want to reward cheaters so enough HOF voters simply ignore the accomplishments of players they either know or strongly suspect of cheating. On the other hand, a lot of us don’t much care for a Hall of Fame concept that ignores some of the game’s premier statistical  achievements because of either the scandal associated with their accomplishment (Pete Rose) or the unfair ways they achieved their totals (McGwire, Sosa, et al). The net effect is that we are left with a Hall of Fame that suddenly rejects candidates with major character defects as it coincidentally ignores their statistical impacts upon the game. How long can we ignore the issue in the hope that time will simply take all of this unfortunate ugliness away?

I don’t believe in asterisks. When Roger Maris broke Ruth’s single season home run record in 1961 by hitting 61, the record was his. Period. The fact it took him a 162-game schedule to do it wasn’t his fault. Baseball added those extra games, not Roger Maris, and I accepted him as the new home run king in spite of the fact that he broke the previous record of my still all-time greatest hero, Babe Ruth. Tacking a blooming asterisk onto Roger’s 61 HR in 1961 made as much sense as tacking an asterisk on to the 755 career homers of Hank Aaron would have made. After all, Hank did his thing in the era of extended game seasons too, but nobody put any asterisks on his accomplishment.

As baseball, we need to find a better way of recognizing great record accomplishments under one roof. We do not need “juiced” and “non-juiced” versions of the Hall of Fame or asterisks that denote special circumstances attendant to some records and record-holders. A record is either a record or it isn’t. And a certain player either did it or he didn’t.

The Hall of Fame was never a choir boys’ society. Never was. Never will be. The problem is, our game’s public relations wishes always seem to reach out to the great achievers in the hope that they will all will themselves into the greatest role models of all time. Unfortunately, these great achievers cannot, or will not, always come out smelling like roses or Hank Aarons. We’re much more likely to find great things being done by players with certain flaws of character.

If perfect character is the prerequisite for the Hall of Fame, then we may as well shut the place down or rename the Hall of Fame into something like the “St. Abner Doubleday of Cooperstown Baseball Choir Boy Society.”

At any rate, here’s our 500 HR Club list. Look it over and tell us what you think too:

The 25 Members of the 500 HR Club & Their HOF Status

(1) Barry Bonds (L) – 762

(2) Hank Aaron (R) – 755 – HOF

(3) Babe Ruth (L) – 714 – HOF

(4) Willie Mays (R) – 660 – HOF

(5) Ken Griffey, Jr.  (L) – 630

(6) Alex Rodriguez (R) – 618

(7) Sammy Sosa (R) – 609

(8) Jim Thome (L) – 591 

(9) Frank Robinson (R) – 586 – HOF

(10) Mark McGwire (R) – 583

(11) Harmon Killebrew (R) 573 – HOF

(12) Rafel Palmeiro (L) – 569

(13) Reggie Jackson (L) – 563 – HOF

(14) Manny Ramirez (R) – 555

(15) Mike Schmidt (R) – 548 – HOF

(16) Mickey Mantle (B) – 536 – HOF

(17) Jimmie Foxx (R) – 534 – HOF

(18t) Willie McCovey (L) – 521 – HOF

(18t) Frank Thomas (R) – 521

(18t) Ted Williams (L) – 521 – HOF

(21t) Ernie Banks (R) – 512 – HOF

(21t) Eddie Mathews (L) – 512 – HOF

(23) Mel Ott (L) – 511 – HOF

(24) Gary Sheffield (R) – 509

(25) Eddie Murray (B) – 504 – HOF

(Bold-type used above for players who are still active.)

Ron Santo for the Hall of Fame!

December 8, 2010

Ron Santo Deserves Hall of Fame Induction.

Back in 1960, when the Houston Buffs were playing out their minor league days as a farm club of the Chicago Cubs, a couple of future Hall of Fame quality players passed through here as the team’s left fielder and third baseman,. Their names were Billy Williams and Ron Santo, but only one of them would go on to receive the Hall of Fame induction that both deserved. That one, as you well know, was Billy Williams, who went into the Hall in 1987 after an 18-season career in the big league (1959-1976) in which he batted .290 and collected 426 home runs as a left fielder and first baseman. Williams did not become eligible for consideration until 1982 and then made it in with enough support on the sixth annual ballot in which his name appeared.

In the meanwhile, that other former Buff, third baseman Ron Santo, has been shut out from the honor continuously ever since his own retirement from a 15-season big league career (1960-1974) as a .276 hitter who also bashed 342 home runs in his career. As a fielder, few have ranked with Mr. Santo at third base. As a five-times Gold Glove winner and a nine-times All Star, organized baseball did about all they could do to honor an active player for his prowess on the field. Then he retired and the voters apparently could not see beyond their addictions to the ideas that a player, especially a corner infielder, should have either a near .300 batting average or pulverizing power stats to merit Hall of Fame consideration.

Bunk. Ron Santo handled third base like few before or after him, and that’s especially important when we are talking about the difficult third base spot and its unique requirements for players with rabbit-like foot speed, cat-like reflexes, eagle-like vision, and bear-like arm strength. Throw in the exceptional agility of a ballet dancer with those first-mentioned qualities and you had a third baseman named Ron Santo.The blindness of the voters simply would not let them see in his lifetime beyond that .276 batting average. After all these years of wonderment over his HOF denial, that’s all I can figure.

Now Ron Santo is dead. After years of courageous battle against diabetes and the loss of both legs, we lost the man last week. He died on Thursday, December 2, 2010, at the age of 70.

Whenever it happens, Ron Santo’s posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame will ring a lot more hollow now that’s he’s gone. These kinds of recognition always do when we make some deserving person wait until they die before we honor them properly for what they did in life, but that that’s the way the world seems to operate in many instances and Ron Santo is definitely one of those cases.

C’mon, Baseball, put Ron Santo in the Hall of Fame now. “Better late than never” still holds – and it’s all we’ve got to lean on now in the matter of unfinished business with the late Ron Santo.

Will Jeff Bagwell Reach The Hall of Fame in 2011?

December 1, 2010

A bad shoulder stopped Jeff Bagwell at 449 HR through 2005.

I thought of five different ways to ask the question that needs to be asked about Jeff Bagwell’s chances for the Baseball Hall of Fame. All are important – and all will remain in play – even if we don’t get to them sufficiently in one column. I would also very much like to know what you guys think as comments upon this article and subject.

Here’s my fairly quick dance through the questions:

(1) Does Jeff Bagwell belong in the Hall of Fame? Based upon his hitting and slugging accomplishments, relative to others, plus his prowess in the field at first base,  he would get my vote, if I had one.

(2) Will Jeff Bagwell make it into the Hall of Fame on his first 2011 ballot listing as an eligible candidate? It’s hard to say. There are thirty-three candidates on that list and a couple of those names fell only a handful of votes short of the 75% support-level needed for election in 2010. Long-time candidate Bert Blyleven and second year man Roberto Alomar are expected by many, including yours truly, to have the best two shots of becoming the Class of 2011.

If no one fans the fires of “guilt by association” in the direction of Jeff Bagwell as a slugging member of the steroids era, Bagwell could make it into the Hall too on his first try as a third 2011 inductee choice above all the other candidates. I really don’t see any of the other candidates making it next year.

(3) How big is the steroids cloud over the Hall of Fame elections of this decade? From what I see, it’s pretty big for now and the foreseeable near years to come, whether it’s talked about or not. It’s already kept the late and reluctant steroid-use confessor Mark McGwire out of the Hall through 2010 when all of his HR-hitting accomplishments alone should have put him into the Hall on the first ballot; and, it isn’t likely that demonstrated steroids-use liar and first ballot candidate Rafael Palmiero is going to fare any better.

Jeff Bagwell has consistently denied any steroids use during his career, or ever, but he still happened to have bulked up his body during an era in which it turns out that many of his contemporaries were also doing so with considerable chemical assistance. Only yesterday I was talking with another writer from Boston who independently brought up that quiet suspicion about Baggy.

As one who trusts the word and character of Jeff Bagwell, I don’t believe, or want to believe, that he ever used steroids for purposes of healing or performance enhancement. He says he didn’t and I am willing to go with that statement as the truth.

The problem is – not everyone is gong to give Jeff Bagwell the benefit of trust in this matter and here’s why that’s important. A Hall of Fame candidate doesn’t have to admit to steroids use, or be caught lying about it, to  get hurt by the voters. All he has to do is to be splashed by the fall-out from that era. The 1990’s were also a decade in which a number of players started pushing iron in the gym for the main sake of becoming stronger hitters. It isn’t fair that those guys who accomplished that aim honestly should be lumped into the same cloud with the steroids abusers, but that’s the way life often goes. It isn’t always fair.

Please comment on Jeff Bagwell’s candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame – or any other issue raised by this column, or in your own mind, about the impact of the steroids era on Jeff’s chances.

The main question is: Do you think Jeff Bagwell belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

For a list of all the candidates and a little more detail about the voting, check out this link:

http://www.canada.com/sports/newcomers+eligible+hall/3904485/story.html

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Pitching and the Hall of Fame

July 14, 2010

Cy Young's Pre-Modern Media Era & Physique Didn't Help Him Build His Case Much for the First Hall of Fame Class, But Those 511 Career Wins Spoke Loud & Clear Enough!

Cy Young

Charlie Sheen

Which of these Cleveland pitchers looks more like a Hall of Fame candidate? The guy on the right with the fit-looking body and the”Wild Thing” nickname? Or the guy on the left with the big waist and the 511 big league wins?

You guessed it. The Baseball Hall of Famer in the above photos is the one and only Cy Young. Charlie Sheen may earn one in the Hall of Fame for OC/Addictive Disorders someday, but that’s neither here nor there for our purposes in this discussion. Charlie’s image is just here to show again how you can’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  If they expelled all members who got to Cooperstown with something less than an Adonis-like body this afternoon, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Yogi Berra, Honus Wagner, and Ernie Lombardi, among so many others, will be on the street by nightfall.

I want to talk about pitchers and Cooperstown today? What s the benchmark for greatness that gets some people in the door while keeping other, perhaps, even more deserving members out? Has it changed over the years? Or does it simply hang on the thin air of popular spin, a candidate’s personality dominance, or a political pull with veterans committee members, or simply a guy’s eternal association with some great moment in baseball history?

With pitchers, “300 wins” seems to have become the standard for serious Hall of Fame consideration of starting pitchers, although, if you look at all pitchers in the Hall of Fame, it’s easy to see that the “300” club line has not always been the standard. Just look at the career records for all pitchers in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York (Graph Courtesy of Baseball Almanac.Com):

PitchersBOLD Indicates Statistical Leader For HOF Pitchers
Name [Link To Full Stats] Games Starts Wins Losses ERA K BB
Grover Alexander (bio) 696 600 373 208 2.56 2,198 951
Chief Bender 459 334 212 127 2.46 1,711 712
Mordecai Brown 481 332 239 130 2.06 1,375 673
Jim Bunning 591 519 224 184 3.27 2,855 1,000
Steve Carlton 741 709 329 244 3.22 4,136 1,833
Jack Chesbro 392 332 198 132 2.68 1,265 690
John Clarkson 531 518 328 178 2.81 1,978 1,191
Stan Covelski 450 385 215 142 2.89 981 802
Dizzy Dean 317 230 150 83 3.02 1,163 453
Don Drysdale 518 465 209 166 2.95 2,486 855
Dennis Eckersley 1,071 361 197 171 3.50 2,401 738
Red Faber 669 483 254 213 3.15 1,471 1,213
Bob Feller 570 484 266 162 3.25 2,581 1,764
Rollie Fingers 944 37 114 118 2.90 1,299 492
Whitey Ford 498 438 236 106 2.75 1,956 1,086
Pud Galvin 697 682 360 308 2.87 1,799 744
Bob Gibson 528 482 251 174 2.91 3,117 1,336
Lefty Gomez 368 320 189 102 3.34 1,468 1,095
Burleigh Grimes 616 497 270 212 3.53 1,512 1,295
Lefty Grove 616 457 300 141 3.06 2,266 1,187
Jesse Haines 555 388 210 158 3.64 981 871
Waite Hoyt 674 423 237 182 3.59 1,206 1,003
Carl Hubbell 535 431 253 154 2.98 1,677 725
Catfish Hunter 500 476 224 166 3.26 2,012 954
Fergie Jenkins 664 594 284 226 3.34 3,192 997
Walter Johnson 802 666 417 279 2.17 3,509 1,363
Addie Joss 286 260 160 97 1.89 920 364
Tim Keefe 599 593 342 225 2.62 2,543 1,234
Sandy Koufax 397 314 165 87 2.76 2,396 817
Bob Lemon 460 350 207 128 3.23 1,277 1,251
Ted Lyons 594 484 260 230 3.67 1,073 1,121
Juan Marichal 471 457 243 142 2.89 2,303 709
Rube Marquard 536 404 201 177 3.08 1,593 858
Christy Mathewson 635 551 373 188 2.13 2,502 844
Joe McGinnity 465 381 246 142 2.66 1,068 812
Hal Newhouser 488 374 207 150 3.06 1,796 1,249
Kid Nichols 620 561 361 208 2.95 1,868 1,268
Phil Niekro 864 716 318 274 3.35 3,342 1,809
Jim Palmer 558 521 268 152 2.86 2,212 1,311
Herb Pennock 617 420 240 162 3.60 1,227 916
Gaylord Perry 777 690 314 265 3.11 3,534 1,379
Eddie Plank 623 529 326 194 2.35 2,246 1,072
Old Hoss Radbourn 528 503 309 195 2.67 1,830 875
Eppa Rixey 692 553 266 251 3.15 1,350 1,082
Robin Roberts 676 609 286 245 3.41 2,357 902
Red Ruffing 624 536 273 225 3.80 1,987 1,541
Amos Rusie 462 427 245 174 3.07 1,934 1,704
Nolan Ryan 807 773 324 292 3.19 5,714 2,795
Tom Seaver 656 647 311 205 2.86 3,640 1,390
Warren Spahn 750 665 363 245 3.09 2,583 1,434
Don Sutton 774 756 324 256 3.26 3,574 1,343
Dazzy Vance 442 347 197 140 3.24 2,045 840
Rube Waddell 407 340 193 143 2.16 2,316 803
Ed Walsh 430 315 195 126 1.82 1,736 617
Mickey Welch 564 549 307 210 2.71 1,850 1,297
Hoyt Wilhelm 1,070 52 143 122 2.52 1,610 778
Vic Willis 513 471 249 205 2.63 1,651 1,212
Early Wynn 691 612 300 244 3.54 2,334 1,775
Cy Young 906 815 511 316 2.63 2,803 1,217
Name [Link To Full Stats] Games Starts Wins Losses ERA

Yesterday I made the point that Joe Niekro’s 221 career wins places him above fifteen predominantly starting pitchers who are members of the Hall of fame. I might add that Gaylord Perry’s brother, Jim Perry, had a similar experience to Joe Niekro. Both these brothers of Hall of Fame pitchers Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry were excellent in their own rights, but neither ever earned serious Hall of Fame consideration. And what did Joe Niekro and Jim Perry share in common in this comparison? Both came up about 79 to 85 wins short of the “300” win mark.

The 22-year career of the great Bert Blyleven (287-250, 3.31) is our greatest example of how foreboding that “300 win” gate on the Hall really is. People who oppose Blyleven point to his 250 losses as a barrier to his consideration, but these critics fail to take into account that Bert played for a lot of mediocre teams from 1970 to 1992. He’s lucky to have won 287 games, playing under those circumstances,

The relievers in the Hall of Fame are evaluated more on the basis of “save” totals, but where does that leave the middle relief guys who pick up far fewer wins than starters and virtually no “saves” in this era of increasing specialization?  Other than “out in the cold” from the Hall of Fame, I have no idea.

It’s also going to be interesting to see how things shift on the “300 win” door as time goes by from here. With starters going fewer innings, starters are losing wins to relief staffs that cannot hold leads. (See Roy Oswalt of the Astros, for example.) Where does that leave people like Oswalt who do have the ability to put up Hall of fame numbers, but do not get their wins over time? It most likely leaves them on the same bench with people like Bert Blyleven – on the outside, looking in.

I’m not sure Roy Oswalt is a Hall of Fame candidate, although I once thought he might be. Roy cannot get his wins unless he ends up playing for a club with a strong pen. Plus, we’re not even sure he wants to play long enough to qualify for consideration with enough wins. Players today make so much money that even the really durable ones may choose to walk away from shorter careers as big leaguers for the sake of some other new career or retirement direction. If that happens enough, the “300 win club ” shrinks even  further and the HOF has to either shut the door on new candidates, or else, start looking at pitchers and their qualifications for greatness far differently than their win totals.

What do you think? Please record your own thoughts on what qualifies a pitcher for the Hall of Fame as a reply to this column on the subject.

Also, speaking of greatness locally, please check out the column I wrote yesterday in support of the Astros retiring Joe Niekro’s number 36 this season or asap. If you agree, please weigh in there by leaving a comment on that subject with that column. That link is as follows:

http://bill37mccurdy.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/its-time-to-retire-joe-niekros-astros-36/

Dawson, Blyleven, & The Hall of Fame.

January 7, 2010

Andre Dawson Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame.

It took him nine ballots over nine years to finally get there, but former Montreal Expo/Chicago Cub slugger Andre Dawson finally arrived as a selection for the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, He collected 420 votes from the 539 eligible voters of the Baseball Writers’ Association for 77.9%, or just over the 75% a candidate needs for selection according to the rules in place.

Coming close with no cigar in 2010 were 13-time nominee and former pitcher Bert Blyleven (400 votes/ 74.3%) and first time candidate and second baseman Robbie Alomar (397 votes/73.7%).

Dawson finished 15 votes over the minimum number of 405 votes he needed this year after falling 44 votes short of the mark in 2009. Blyleven fell 5 votes short of election after picking up 62 new votes this year over his 438 vote total in 2009.

What happened to bump these changes? Did the BWA electoral group  suddenly go through a wholesale change of actual voters who feel that much more positively about Dawson and Blyleven in 2010? Did the passage of another year’s time simply soften certain hearts in the wake of all the other bad news in the world about terrorism, bailouts, Ponzis, and health care? In a way, I can see that happening with some writers. “You know,” I can see some writer saying to himself or herself, “I can’t do much about all the lousy things that are going on in this crummy world, but I can sure do something about Andre Dawson out there twisting in the wind of the Hall of Fame vote all these years! I’m changing my vote in 2010 from no to yes!”

Could happen. There’s a certain “he’s suffered long enough” factor at play with candidates like Andre Dawson. It’s so big, in fact, that it almost dragenetted Bert “When do I get in?” Blyleven into the mix for 2010 as well.

Add to the voting climate the impact of last week’s Veterans’ Committee selection of manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey to the Hall of Fame as a factor affecting the BWA vote of Tuesday. After the Herzog/Harvey announcement, there had to have been some writers who thought: “Well, if they’re going to let those two bozos in the front door this year, there’s no way I can keep passing on Andre Dawson or Bert Blyleven!”

Andre Dawson subscribes to the old “cream rises” theory about his selection. Said Sir Andre, only one day ago: “If you’re a Hall of Famer, eventually you’re going to go in, no matter how long it takes.”

Dawson’s accomplishments as a hard-hitting right-handed outfielder may have entered into the mix of his selection somewhere too. In his twenty-one year career (1976-1996), Dawson had 438 home runs and 1,591 runs batted in. “The Hawk”, as he came to be known, earned the National League Rookie of the Year honors during his first full 1977 season at Montreal. Ten years later in Chicago, Dawson was picked as the NL Most Valuable Player, becoming the first member of a last place club to have earned such an honor. Along with Barry Bonds and Willie Mays, Andre Dawson is one of only three players to have combined 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases into a single career. He also played for Boston and Florida during his career, but he never made it with a club that qualified for the World Series.

Personally speaking, I’m happy to see that Andre Dawson finally satisfied the gauntlet runners who have been postponing his date with Hall of Fame destiny. Don’t bet on Bert Blyleven missing the cut again next year either. His time is finally nearing. Barring the sudden appearance of some Tiger Woods-like event in his personal life, Bert Blyleven will be selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011 by a comfortable margin.


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