Tag Archives: Baseball Hall of Fame

Here’s a great take on the Hall of Fame washout from one of my favorite bloggers.

The On Deck Circle

Honestly, I was not going to comment on yesterday’s Hall of Fame voting results.

Too many keyboards have suffered enough over that topic the past couple of days.  But I read a comment by a member of the BBWAA today that I have to admit irked me a great deal  (I won’t name him; there’s no reason to give him greater exposure.)

This writer said (and I’m paraphrasing) that he was very glad that no one was elected in this year’s HOF voting because it teaches our children a lesson that cheaters and cheating will not be tolerated.  Otherwise, he claimed, our children would come away with the opposite lesson, that cheating can and will be rewarded.

Fine, but here are some other lessons our children can take away from yesterday’s HOF voting:

1)  In our culture, you are now guilty until proven innocent.  Moreover, the court of public opinion…

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What cap will Manny Ramirez wear on his Hall of Fame plaque?

That’s a question that’s likely to remain hypothetical.

Manny Ramirez slipped away quietly into retirement Friday after it was revealed he flunked a drug screening. Unless some future commissioner grants a pardon for the stars of the Steroid Era, I doubt Manny will ever make the Baseball Hall of Fame. He has the stats to justify entry into Cooperstown, but with his tainted record I doubt the Baseball Writers of America will vote him in.

I can’t disagree with them, but what a shame. Manny was a fearsome hitter through most of his 19 big league seasons, the last cut short after just five games with the Tampa Bay Rays. And his free-spirited, dreadlocked persona was always a fun story, much more compelling than the surly moodiness of media-hating Barry Bonds.

If Manny somehow were to make it to Cooperstown, the question would be whether he’d wear the Indians’ Chief Wahoo or the Boston “B.” He spent eight years with each club, taking the Tribe to the World Series twice and the Red Sox to its curse-breaking championship in 2004.

With the exceptions of triples and stolen bases, Manny’s numbers in Boston were just a shade better than the great numbers he posted in Cleveland. And the Bosox winning it all is the clincher.

So Manny would go in wearing a bronze Red Sox cap. But he won’t.

These are no “average Joes” in the Baseball Hall of Fame

At the risk of getting a little too religious by running two Catholic-themed posts in the same week, I write today – on the feast of St. Joseph – to note all the “Joes” in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It’s an impressive roster, headed by “Joltin’ Joe” DiMaggio, “Smokey Joe” Wood and plain old Joe Morgan. Those were the first three Joes who came to mind.

Then I took a look at the Hall of Fame roster and found a bunch more, slapping myself on the side of the head for not immediately remembering these obvious inductees with whom I’m well familiar : Joe Cronin, Joe Gordon, Joe Tinker (as in “Evers to Chance”), Joe Sewell and “Ducky Joe” Medwick.

There are some old-timers with whom I’m only partly acquainted – Kelley, McCarthy and McGinnity – and one Jose; Mendez, a Cuban who played in the Negro Leagues.

And there was one surprise, in that I never knew his first name was Joseph: “Arky” Vaughan.

Interestingly, the only two true “Joes” in the Hall are Wood and Morgan. All the others entered with the full name “Joseph” or “Jose,” in the case of Mendez.

There’s one painfully obvious omission from the list, “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, banned from the Hall for his alleged involvement in the Black Sox Scandal. I hope some day baseball will reconsider.

 

 

A tip of the cap to Paul Waner, in memory of my father


Paul Waner

Originally uploaded by doug.goodman

Had cancer not claimed him years ago, my father would have celebrated his 90th birthday today. Dad handed down to me many values, not the least of which was his lifelong love of baseball.

Dad was born in western Pennsylvania in 1920, which meant he grew up a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. He was 5 when Paul Waner joined the Pirates at the start of the 1926 season. Waner, destined for Cooperstown, was the favorite player of my father, a coal miner’s son who years later would point out to me all the fields that were ball diamonds in his childhood. Dad liked to play the “hot corner,” as he called third base, and I shared his passion for the left side of the infield, playing a lot at third and even more at my favorite position, shortstop.

I can’t remember not talking baseball with Dad. Even as a toddler I knew about Waner —  “Big Poison” — and Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner, who joined his older brother on the Pirates in 1927. Lloyd would also be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dad always wanted to take me to Forbes Field to see a Pirates game, but we never made it. That was a minor disappointment, as Dad took me to scores of Cleveland Indians games over the years and we listened to or watched hundreds of games together.

From my father I inherited a trait that amuses and sometimes worries my own family: I yell at the TV during ballgames, either in elation or more often in anger and disappointment, appropriate for someone who grew up an Indians fan.

On weekday evenings or on weekend afternoons, Dad would listen to the Tribe broadcasts on radio as he did yard work. That’s in my genes, too. I can’t sweep up grass clippings or trim the hedges without having a ballgame on.

So on the 90th anniversary of his birth, I salute my father — and “Big Poison” — for instilling in me the love of the game. I am forever grateful.

The Big Hurt hangs up the spikes

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Frank Thomas announced his retirement Friday after an outstanding career with the Chicago White Sox. He split his last few seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics, but in the public eye he was and always will be a member of the White Sox.

The Big Hurt was one of the most feared sluggers in the game for many years. His power numbers were awesome – 521 home runs, 1,704 runs batted in – and had a .301 career batting average.

As far as I know, he’s never been associated with the steroid scandal that has tarnished so many players of his era. Methinks Cooperstown will come calling for Mr. Thomas in five years.

Rickey Henderson enters the Baseball Hall of Fame

The only question about Rickey Henderson entering the Baseball Hall of Fame is whether the engraver can catch him to record his image on his bronze enshrinement plaque. Henderson was the ultimate leadoff hitter in his brilliant career, stealing more bases than anyone in the history of the game.

I was lucky enough to be at County Stadium in Milwaukee during the summer of 1982 on the night he tied Lou Brock’s single-season stolen base record. I was running film for the Associated Press photo crew that night. Henderson wasn’t able to break the record that evening, and I was all charged up to go back the next night, which happened to be my 26th birthday. But the boss said no, they had enough help. I was crushed, and left the bureau in a foul mood. When I arrived home, I walked into a surprise birthday party that my wife and the bureau chief had arranged. All was forgiven, and it wasn’t long before the stadium darkroom called to tell me that Rickey had swiped another base and broke Brock’s record.

Late in Henderson’s career, I saw him play for the Newark Bears in the Atlantic League. In a game against the Somerset Patriots in Bridgewater, N.J., we were near the Bears’ dugout when an ump threw Henderson out of the game for mouthing off about a call he didn’t like. That competitive fire always burned in Henderson.

I saw Jim Rice play many times against the Indians in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium and a couple times at Fenway Park in Boston while I was in college nearby. Rice only played for the Sox, so he’ll have a Boston cap on his plaque. I don’t know for certain how Henderson will be depicted, but for me, there’s no question: He goes with an Athletics cap.

Cooperstown Ball Cap’s awesome collection

1910 Alameda ball capAs one might expect of someone who blogs about baseball caps, I spend a little bit of time every now and then scouting the Internet for information on the subject. In a serendipitous search last night, I wound up on ballcap.com, which is the site for the Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. The company is in Cherry Valley, N.Y., not far from Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The firm makes authentic replicas of old-time ballcaps. I was familiar with their major league and Federal League caps, having ogled them in many a catalog and Web site. But I had no idea of the depth of caps the company recreates. There are caps from Negro Leagues teams, railroad teams, military schools, Native American tribes, even night clubs!

The caps come in a variety of styles, including those 19th Century ones with the band-like crowns and short brims. With only a few photograph exceptions, the Cooperstown site offers only artist renderings of its caps, such as the 1910 model above from the Alameda, Calif., professional team. Having lived on that wonderful San Francisco Bay island town for several years, I’ve put that cap on my wish list along with a few others. (Hint to any relatives with $48 to spend – the 1920 Cleveland Indians cap looks mighty fine.)

A baseball fan could spend a lot of time — and probably money — on the site. I recommend it.