Sports Outside the Beltway

Two picks for the Baseball Hall of Fame

The Veteran’s Committee will announce the latest entrants today.

NEW YORK – Gil Hodges and Ron Santo top the players’ ballot and Doug Harvey and Marvin Miller head the officials’ hopefuls in the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote to be announced Tuesday.

Since the Veterans Committee was revamped for the 2003 election, no one has been chosen by the voters — mostly living Hall of Famers.

Players appear on the ballot every two years, and officials go on a composite ballot every four years. Twenty-seven players are on this years ballot, along with among 15 managers, executives and umpires.

Two years ago, Hodges and Santo each fell eight votes shy of the necessary 75 percent. They both were picked on 52 of 80 ballots (65 percent), followed by Tony Oliva (45 votes), Jim Kaat (43), Joe Torre (36), Maury Wills (26), Vada Pinson (23), Luis Tiant (20) and Roger Maris (19).

Harvey, a former NL umpire, topped the 2003 composite ballot with 48 votes, 12 short of the needed 75 percent. Former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley had 38 votes, and Miller, the former head of the players’ association, had 35.

Lefty O’Doul, Al Oliver, Cecil Travis and Mickey Vernon were added to this year’s players’ ballot, and Elston Howard and Smoky Joe Wood were dropped.

Holdovers also include Dick Allen, Bobby Bonds, Ken Boyer, Rocky Colavito, Wes Ferrell, Curt Flood, Joe Gordon, Mickey Lolich, Sparky Lyle, Marty Marion, Carl Mays, Minnie Minoso, Thurman Munson and Don Newcombe.

The composite ballot also includes Buzzie Bavasi, August Busch Jr., Harry Dalton, Charles O. Finley, Whitey Herzog, Bowie Kuhn, Billy Martin, Gabe Paul, Paul Richards, Bill White, Dick Williams and Phil Wrigley.

The 84 eligible voters on the Veterans Committee include 61 living Hall of Famers, 14 Frick winners selected for major contributions to baseball broadcasting, eight members Spink winners picked for meritorious contributions to baseball writing and one holdover from the previous Veterans Committee.

The choices to me are pretty simple. The composite ballot has some good choices in Kuhn, Herzog, White, Williams and Wrigley. It also has Bravasi and gag…gag…Gabe Paul. Should I start re-telling 1970′s and 80′s Cleveland Indian jokes?

Like the little girl who is at a custody hearing. The judge asks her

Judge- “Do you want to live with your Mommy?”

Girl- “No Mommy beats me.”

Judge- “Do you want to live with your Daddy?”

Girl- “No, Daddy beats me worse than Mommy.”

Judge- “Who do you want to live with?”

Girl- “The Cleveland Indians.”

Judge- “Why the Cleveland Indians?”

Girl- “They don’t beat anyone.”

There’s more jokes but I’ll spare you the experience.

As to the players, it is an easy choice for me. I’m a Met fan and always have been. The Mets of 1969 were the luckiest team in baseball history and Hodges was the manager. He was a good not great ballplayer. I’m not letting sentimentality rule, but Gil Hodges is not a HOFer. If Gil had played in Philadelphia rather than Brooklyn, he may not have gotten this far.

So who are my choices? Ron Santo and Ken Boyer. Both of whom are are among the top 10 players at third base in baseball history. Up till World War II, 3B was a position for defensive players just like shortstop. Dominated by players like Willie Kamm, Pie Traynor, Ossie Bluege and others. The new era at 3rd base didn’t start till after the war, though Harland Clift, a member of the St. Louis Browns in the 1930′s and early 40′s, was a harbinger of what was to come.

Santo and Boyer were excellent glove men and good hitters. Both had long productive careers. They were also arguably the best third basemen at the time they played either in the National League or all of the majors.(Boyer faces the tougher argument there, he went up against Eddie Mathews for much of his career) Comparing these two players to the others on the ballot shows how clearly almost all the others are lacking.

After Boyer and Santo, the next best choics are Marty Marion(the premier glove man at SS in the 40′s), Joe Gordon(excellent 2B from the same era as Marion), Hodges, Jim Kaat who won 280+ games and Sparky Lyle. Relief pitchers are probably the most subjective position to rate in baseball, the standards are almost non-existent. Lyle was very good for 5-6 years and won a CY Young award. On the other hand, is the New York factor at play again?

Don’t make me laugh by mentioning Lefty O’Doul. He had a couple of good years in the inflated hitters years of the late 20′s and early 30′s. My father, who knew O’Doul slightly after his playing days were over, wouldn’t even be advocating him for the HOF. If we put O’Doul in who is next, Wally Berger? Babe Herman? There are already too many players in the HOF from that overrated era. If you count them up, there are like six or seven players at one postion(RF I think) in the HOF who were starters in 1929.

One last note- I have no objection to umpire Doug Harvey being voted in. He was probably the most respected umpire there was for much of his time in baseball.

Update- The votes are in. No one is being added to the HOF.

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