Baseball Hall of Fame Thoughts from Former Major Leaguer
As baseball people know, the newest Baseball Hall of Fame class comes out soon. A friend is having an unofficial poll of his baseball acquaintances to see whom they would vote for this year. Below is my list of players I feel are Baseball Hall of Fame worthy.
First, though, a couple of points worth mentioning:
1. I have not done any homework to analyze the numbers for the possible inductees. I do not have an official vote, so I have not done any research. I simply vote on the “awe factor” of the players I played against.
2. As for the players on the ballot since I retired in 1987, I have yet to come to grips with my thoughts on the steroid era. As of now, I could not vote for any of them and voting for anyone else in that era would be difficult. Guessing as to whether a player did it clean is crazy and outsiders’ assumptions of yes, or no, as to each players’ steroid use seems equally unfair. As we know, a player’s word is not an accurate judge, nor is the “HE’s a good guy, so he would never have done it,” philosophy. Furthermore, what happens the day that a steroid player, who was thought to be clean, gets in, only to be found out he was a user. Does that open the door for others, or are the “Outed” then dismissed from the hall? It is just so hard figuring out how to vote on that era.
The integrity and sportsmanship clause is in the hall criteria and there is no getting around it for me. I am a huge believer in sportsmanship and how things affect the younger generation. When there is acceptance of wrongdoing by saying, “Everyone was doing it,” and “They were great players before they used,” does that warrant rewarding people, knowing they did wrong?
It is important to note that I have not come around to feeling as though Pete Rose belongs in yet, either. I cannot justify betting on games, as it was the one “No No” posted on every major league door. Even though he bet on his own team, his betting and managerial decisions could easily have shaped future game’s outcomes and that was wrong on all levels.
Back to the steroid players, they did something to improve and were caught up in a craze that was tough to avoid. I have empathy for that, but ultimately, wrong is wrong, and consequences go with that. Therefore, I could not vote for them at this time in my life, but part of me hopes my view changes someday, as I believe in forgiveness and realize good people make mistakes.
Don Mattingly – I was definitely honored and awed to be on the same field as Mattingly. One game, we were losing nine to zero late in the game, when I hit a shot towards first base. Mattingly dives all out, catches the ball, and flips to the pitcher for the out. Playing all out, every play, no matter the score, that’s what the game is about. Seemed to play the game with integrity and has carried that into his managerial career, from what I can tell. He was one tough out at the plate.
Jack Morris – In my mind this is a no brainer, case closed, deserves the Baseball Hall of Fame. He could flat out pitch and compete, despite the fact that I hit two little league home runs off him, which you can read about here.
Alan Trammel – Could do it all on the ball diamond and made it look easy – just a pleasure to watch and play against.
Edgar Martinez – Anyone considered the best at anything, (Best DH) deserves the Hall of Fame. The DH has been around long enough to compare many others, many consider him the best, and the best deserve to be with the best.
**** Important Note – After writing this article, I now realize that Edgar played smack in the middle of the era I said I could not decide upon. My bad on that, I will stick with my vote and pray that nothing ever comes about that changes my mind.
Lee Smith – I never felt fear on a ball diamond in my life, even though I played without much, if any, confidence. However, Lee Smith was intimidating with his size and fastball. Closing games is not easy to do over the long haul and he did it well.
Finally, I was not in the National League long enough to have the awe factor against some deserving players over there.