Baseball Hall of Fame: A voting mess
Next summer, in the lovely hills of upstate NewYork, the baseball world will congregate in Cooperstown and celebrate its sport with the Hall of Fame inductions of Jacob Ruppert, Hank O’Day and Deacon White.
The Yankee owner of from 1915 to 1939, an umpire from 1895 to 1927 and a barehanded catcher from the 1880s. Men born in 1867, 1862 and 1847.
You can’t make this stuff up.
The Baseball Writers Association of America announced its ballot results Wednesday, and the BBWAA essentially passed. The writers voted in no players to Cooperstown this year.
Craig Biggio, who had 3,060 hits, none of them in the 19th century, received 68.2 percent of the vote. But you need 75 percent to get voted in by the writer. By the way, you read that right. Biggio had 3,060 hits. If he had played in New York, Biggio would have received 88.2 percent of the vote. Alas, he Biggio played in Houston. Want to know what kind of player was Craig Biggio? Derek Jeter. He was a second base version of Derek Jeter.
The steroid scandal brought voting dilemmas. It’s easy to vote against Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. But the scent of steroids also cost players who haven’t even been legitimately accused. Guys like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell.
But even without the steroids, the Baseball Hall of Fame voting is absurd. Here are the reasons why:
* Too many voters. WAY too many voters, 569 in all. Doesn’t matter if you’re voting for Congress or the Heisman Trophy or Neighborhood Association board. The more voters, the less educated the electorate. Any 10-year member of the BBWAA gets a vote.
Far better is the Pro Football Hall of Fame voting, which consists of a 46-person board. One media representative from the market of each franchise, plus 14 at-large voters. That’s probably too many, too, but it’s manageable.
It’s time the Baseball Hall of Fame adopted something similar to pro football’s selection process.
* The steroid scandal is not the only problem. Cooperstown voting was bogus long before Jose Canseco stuck a needle in someone’s butt.
This is the eighth time the basebal writers failed to vote in an inductee. Let’s look at the years.
1945: Mickey Cochrane received 50.6 percent of the vote. Frankie Frisch received 40.9 percent. Bill Terry received 13.0 percent. Lefty Grove — whose career record was 300-141 and is as good a pick as any as the greatest pitcher of all time — received 11.3 percent of the vote. When Lefty Grove received 11.3 percent of the vote, the system should have been abolished on the spot. Instead, it’s been festering for 67 years.
1946: Carl Hubbell received 50 percent of the votes. A guy who went 253-154 with a 2.98 earned run average and pitched in a ton of big games, got 50 percent of the vote. Which is downright good considering Lefty Grove got only 35.1 percent of the vote. Frisch was up to 51.5 percent, and his fellow second base stud, Charlie Gehringer, got 21.3 percent. Jimmie Foxx, who hit 534 home runs and upon retirement was the No. 2 home run hitter of all time, got 12.9 percent. Clearly, the voters were intent on making guys wait. Just as clearly, whoever was in charge should have stepped in and tossed every voter into Lake Otsego.
1950: Maybe there was a glut of great candidates early in the Hall’s history (first induction, 1939). So maybe the voting was diluted in the early years. But by 1950, surely there was room at the top. Mel Ott got 68.5 percent. Bill Terry got 62.5 percent. Foxx got 61.3 percent. Paul Waner got 56.5 percent. Al Simmons got 53.6 percent. Hank Greenberg 38.1 percent.
1958: I’ll cut the voters a little slack. The top five vote-getters were Max Carey (51.1 percent), Edd Roush (42.1), Red Ruffing (37.2), Hack Wilson (35.3) and Sam Rice (33.8). All eventually made it to Cooperstown, but none were legendary superstars. Of course, Joe Gordon got 4.1 percent of the vote, and Gordon was a legitimately great player. The people who didn’t vote for Gordon didn’t have a clue. He eventually made it, too, but had to wait until the 21st century, by which time he was long dead.
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