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I have been trying to do my part to spread the word about a great gentleman that has been a part of baseball for over seven decades. His commitment to the game, even as it continually shunned him, is admirable. In his playing days, he was not allowed to play in the big leagues because of the color of his skin. As hard as that is to fathom, the decision to omit him from the HOF when the “special” committee reviewed the Negro Leagues may be even worse. I use the word special loosely because there was nothing special about their decision. Maybe his playing stats didn’t justify his admission. However, they know what Buck has done for baseball (the Negro Leagues in particular) for the past half century. Keeping Buck out was a slap in the face to a baseball icon. They can try and spin it any way, but they can’t justify their decision in my mind. Now that he’s passed, there is no way to make it right. They can choose to let him in now. I guess I’d have to be OK with it. I just wish they could have done it while he was alive so he could enjoy it. Robbing this man of the joy of playing in the big leagues wasn’t enough. They had to rob him of the joy of being recognized for his service to baseball. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I’ve posted this before on my Sporting News site, but I’ll do it here as well.

A heralded player stepped into the batter’s box. This two-time batting champ didn’t crowd the plate. He didn’t strike fear in the pitcher he faced. Respect yes, but not fear. Why, you say? Because the leadoff hitter in the Northern League All-Star Game this summmer was one Buck O’Neil. The 94 year old former Negro League player was signed by the Kansas City T-Bones to a one day contract. He became the oldest player to ever play in a professional league with his at bats. (Buck walked in the top of the first, got traded to the opposition, and walked in the bottom of the first). T-Bones GM Rick Muntean wanted to use this appearance to raise attention to the snubbing Buck O’Neill received from the committee reviewing Negro Leagues. The T-Bones were trying to formulate a grassroots movement to petition to get Buck O’Neill in the Hall of Fame. Click Here to vote to Induct Buck The 12-person panel reviewing the Negro Leagues for entries into the Baseball Hall of Fame has preserved the history of injustices experienced by the players of this generation. Failing to elect Buck O’Neil and Minnie Minoso is a slap in the face not only to these two great ballplayers, but also to the sanctity of the Hall of Fame. They were the only living members among the 39 candidates on the ballot. While they are not Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb, both of these players merit being in the Hall of Fame.

Minnie Minoso played 17 seasons in the major leagues and was a career .298 hitter. He was a seven-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove outfielder. He finished fourth in MVP voting four times. He had among the top ten batting averages eight times between 1951-1960. Nine times he had among the top ten on-base percentages during that timeframe. Six times he had a top ten slugging percentage. Nine times he was top ten in runs, eight times he was top ten in hits (including leading the league in 1960), nine times he was top ten in total bases (including leading the league in 1954). Eight times he was in the top ten in doubles (led the league in 1957), six times in triples (led the league in 1951, 1954, and 1956). Twice he was in the top ten in home runs, five times for RBIs, and four times for walks Nine times he was in top six in stolen bases (led the league1951-1953). He also led the league in hit by pitch ten times (was top four 12 times). He was 57 years old when he played his last game. Do those sound like Hall of Fame credentials to you?…it’s because they are.

Buck O’Neil’s stats aren’t as gaudy as Minoso’s, but his impact on the game is just as great. Buck led the Negro League in batting in 1940 and 1946. He finished his career as a .288 hitter. He managed the Kansas City Monarch from 1948-1955, guiding them to five pennants and two Black World Series. He helped launch the Major League careers of Ernie Banks, George Altman, Gene Baker, Francisco Herrera, Elston Howard, J.C. Hartman, Connie Johnson, Sweet Lou Johnson, Satchel Paige, Hank Thompson, and Bob Thurman. In 1962 he became the first black coach in the Major Leagues with the Cubs. He helped discover stars like Lou Brock and Joe Carter. He spent 33 years with the Cubs before joining the Kansas City Royals as a scout in 1988. Buck chaired the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Board of Directors, and served on the Veterans’ Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Perhaps the most important thing Buck O’Neil did for baseball was keep the memory of the Negro Leagues alive. He fought to make sure that the injustices of the black players were not forgotten. Unfortunately, he had to relive it when this panel made their ridiculous decision. He died at 94 years old. I said it would be a shame for him to have to die before being recognized for his contributions…and it is.

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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Three hundred wins is the magic number for a pitcher to join the Hall of Fame.  If you go slightly below that mark you’ll find Tommy John.

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Most young fans know his name for the surgery that has he made famous, but Tommy John was a heck of a pitcher too. He won 288 games (5th most among lefties) at a .555 winning percentage and a 3.34 ERA over a career that spanned 26 years. He also had a 6-3 record with a 2.65 ERA in postseason play. Tommy was a four-time All-Star and won the Hutch Award and the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. He was in the top 10 in ERA and wins six times, Win-Loss % 10 times (led the league in ’74), Walks/9 innings pitched 12 times, Complete Games 4 times, and Shutouts 7 times (led the league three times). He injured the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm in 1974, and after a revolutionary surgical operation he was able to pitch until he was 46. For the amount of victories, the brilliant control he exhibited over his lengthy career, as well as his lasting mark on the game with the surgery he helped coin I believe Tommy John is overdue induction into baseball’s hallowed Hall.

UPDATE:  Upon further review I just don’t think Tommy John cuts it.  He was solid, but never one of the very best.  His win total is impressive, but not quite enough to merit induction.

References
http://www.baseball-reference.com/j/johnto01.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_John

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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There hasn’t been a starting pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame since Nolan Ryan in 1999.  I’m going to go way back for one that I feel is deserving.

Bobby Matthews pitched from 1871-1887 and compiled 297 wins for the Fort Wayne Kekiongas, the Baltimore Canaries, the New York Mutuals, the Cincinnati Reds, the Providence Grays, the Boston Red Caps, and the Philadelphia Athletics. His career ERA was 2.89. If he had three more wins, 1 more win every five years of his career, he would have been a lock for the Hall of Fame. He had a three year stretch where he went 96-63. He has another three year stretch where he was 90-48. He was in the top 10 ten times in ERA (including leading the league in 1874), twelve times in Wins (2nd in 1874 with 42), twelve times in Winning Percentage, nine times in Strikeouts (led the league twice). He won 25 or more games seven times in his career. He was the first to develop the spit ball. He also was one of the first pitchers to master the curve and sinking fastball. He’s the only pitcher to win 50 games in three different major leagues (National Association, National League, and American Association). He was the winning pitcher in baseball’s first professional league. In 1878 and 1880 he pitched in non-sanctioned leagues for more money, so he is not credited with as many wins as he could have been. Judging by his record, his innovation in the art of pitching, his excellence, and his longevity, I think he should be in the Hall of Fame.

References:
http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/M/Mathews_Bobby.stm
http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/mathebo01.shtml

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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Does Mark McGwire deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? Yes, he hit a ton of home runs (583 to be exact), but he’s a career .263 hitter. You know he used steroids. Would he have reached the 500 mark without juicing? I don’t know. While I don’t think he should be the scapegoat for the whole Steroid Era, I really don’t know if I’d punch his ballot. I’m kinda glad I don’t have to make that decision.  Here are the numbers.

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Stats
583 Home Runs – (7th All-time)
1167 Runs
1414 RBI – (60th All-time)
1626 Hits
.263 BA
1317 BBs – (34th All-time

Awards
Rookie of the Year
12 All-Star Games
1 Gold Glove
3 Silver Sluggers
3 Top 5 MVP finishes

Top Ten Finishes
Runs – Twice (’98 & ’99 when he was juicing)
Home Runs – Ten Times (spanned his career)
RBI – Six Times (Never really impressive until ’98 & ’99)
BBs – 6 Times

So the $25,000 question. Do I elect Mark McGwire into the Hall of Fame. My answer….No. He was pretty much a one trick pony. 1626 hits. That’s not enough for me. Sure, he busted out all of those home runs, but how many were steroid aided? Was his career extended because of steroids after all of those injuries? Did he start juicing early in his career like Canseco making him even more of a fraud? Sorry Big Mac fans. If he did more than launch steroid home runs into the stands, I’d probably vote for him. I don’t think the HOF needs a one-trick pony with strong steroid ties.

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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Dale Murphy was a great player. Arguably the best in the league from ’82-’85. He was not only a great hitter, but an excellent fielder as well. I think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.  Here are his credentials.

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398 Home Runs (45th All-time)
1266 RBI (110th All-time)
1197 Runs (160th All-time)
2111 Hits (197th All-time)
7 All-Star games
2 MVPs (Back-to-back)
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
Roberto Clemente Award
5 straight Gold Gloves
1 30-30 season
4 Silver Sluggers
Led the league in Slugging % in ’83 & ’84
Led the league in Runs in ’85
Led the league in Total Bases in ’84
Led the league in Home Runs in ’84 & ’85
Led the league in RBIs in ’82 & ’83
Led the league in Walks in ’85

Although his case is not as strong as Andre Dawson’s, I still feel he was dominant enough to earn a spot in Cooperstown.  Like The Hawk, The Murph played on crappy teams most of his career, playing in only one postseason.  Yet, he was able to put up solid numbers every year.  If I had a ballot, I’d punch Dale Murphy’s name.

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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Andre Dawson was a five-tool player (Hit for Power, Hit for Average, Field, Throw, Run). He was one of the best players in the game for over a decade. I think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, especially before we get knee deep in the steroids era.

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438 Home Runs (35th All-time)
1591 RBI (32nd All-time)
1373 Runs (88th All-time)
2774 Hits (45th All-time)
8 All-Star Games
Rookie of the Year
1 MVP
8 Gold Gloves
4 Silver Sluggers
Led the league in Hits in ’83
Led the league in Total Bases in ’83 & ’87
Led the league in Home Runs in ’87
Led the league in RBIs in ’87
3 25-25 seasons

The Hawk played on crappy teams most of his career, playing in only two postseasons. The fact that he put up great numbers consistenly on bad teams shows how steady he was. His numbers would likely be even better if he had a better supporting cast. Andre Dawson was an all-around great player who should be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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Before I get started, I want to congratulate Goose Gossage on his election in the Hall of Fame.

Circle Me Bert…right into the Hall of Fame
How long does Bert Blyleven have to wait until the Hall comes knocking on his door. He has 287 wins…287 wins. He pitched 22 seasons. Do the math and you see that if he won about .5 more wins per game in his career he would have the magical 300 wins and I wouldn’t be typing this post. The fact that he pitched on some pretty bad teams should factor into the equation. I understand he never won the Cy Young awards, but neither did a lot of pitchers…including Nolan Ryan. I’m not saying he’s on the same level as Nolan, but they do have some similarities. They both pitched on some pretty bad teams and shared success despite that circumstance. The fact is Bert is the 5th all-time leading strikeout pitcher in the history of MLB. He was third when he retired, but has since been passed by The Rocket and The Big Unit. He is 9th on the all-time shutout list with 60. Most pitchers in today’s generation won’t have 60 complete games, yet alone shutouts. He won a World Series in 1987 so he’s won the big one. Critics will say that he hung around to accumulate the stats, but he had some impressive single-season accomplishments as well. He was twice name as an All-star. He finished 13th in 1989 in MVP voting. Not bad for a pitcher in the beginning of the Steroid Era. He finished third in Cy Young voting twice and fourth once so at least he was invited to that party. Ten times he was in the top ten in ERA. Six times for wins. Eleven times (including first in 1977) he was in the top ten in WHIP. Fifteen times (including first in 1985) he was in the top ten in strikeouts. Eleven times for innings pitched. Twelve times he was in the top ten in complete games (including a league high 24 in 1985). Ten times for shutouts (tops in ’73, ’85 and ’89). I realize he lost a lot of games and gave up a ton of homers, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. After all, how many of todays coddled pitchers are going to even approach the 300 win total? Tom Glavine could be the last one in a long time to reach that plateau. I’m not comparing him to Randy Johnson in dominance, but he only has 284 wins. Mike Mussina Mussina…250. David Wells…239 (which is more that I would have expected), Jaime Moyer…230.  Schilling….216.  Kenny Rogers…210. Pedro…209. There are thirty nine pitchers in the HOF with less wins than Bert (take a look for yourself ). Now Bert is a good broadcaster for the Twins. Given his past success and his continued involvement in baseball, I believe it’s time to let him in.


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