On Tuesday afternoon, the results of the balloting of the Veterans Committee, which consists of all living Hall of Famers plus recipients of the Frick and Spink Awards did not elect anyone in its first elections in 2003 and 2005.
As a member of the new Veterans Committee, Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt once said it would be highly unlikely that anyone who didn't pass grade in 15 years on the writers' ballot would be elected by the new voting body.
"It would be hard for me to vote for anyone who didn't get in the first time," Schmidt said in March 2002.
Three years later, in the new committee's second election, Schmidt softened his stance and voted for two candidates - Jim Kaat and Joe Torre.
Now, Schmidt has eased up even more. He has recently spoken out in favor of Santo and Kaat. Seeing how much old rival Gary Carter cherished his election by the writers in 2003 helped relax Schmidt's once hard-line stance. Schmidt summed up his changed viewpoint in a article that he wrote for the Associated Press in December.
"It's amazing how your perception changes once you're in," he wrote. "What does 'Hall of Fame' mean?... Is it the best ever, is it all-time greats, is it the best from an era, is it great defensive players, is it great ambassadors, a few unique careers, strong leaders, great umpires, on and on?
"Yes, it has become all of that... . So this year, in keeping with that evolution, why not let a deserving few sip our wine? Picture the members' dinner with a few more faces, the smiles will do your heart good."
In my opinion, no one on the composite ballot (nonplayers), with the possible exception of Doug Harvey, has any chance of getting in. Marvin Miller and Walter O'Malley, two men who have influenced the economic aspects of baseball, and in turn, the game on the field, also have likely ticked off more than 25% of the voters. Also, there seems to be a hesitance among the players to vote for someone who didn't play. For a lot of players, the game of baseball is just one giant pickup game with no supporting personnel. Just like whichever film wins Best Picture at the Oscars tonight. I hear it won't have a director, script, editing, or any of the other things that go into filmmaking.
Hodges hit the 60% mark in three BBWAA elections and his totals went up after he passed away in 1972. Strangely, Hodges was at 60.1% in 1981, then went down to 49.4% in 1982, and then back up to 63.4% in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 1983. So what happened to Gil Hodges in 1982? Did his ghost give some HOF votes nightmares in 1982? Was there a "Vote for Gil Hodges" tax credit put in place by Congress for 1983?
Not many of the other former players are getting a big push from writers.
Salisbury's article mentions a man who is campaigning for Mickey Vernon who had a wildly erratic career.
Jim Kaat, despite working as a Yankee brodcaster, doesn't seem to gather a lot of support. And despite their New York connections, Sparky Lyle, Joe Gordon, and Thurman Munson aren't being talked about much at all.
Billy Martin remains on the outside looking in as no one quite knows what to make of his managerial career. Was he another Leo Durocher? Martin won only one World Series in his career (1977), but had a great track record of making every team he managed better. Until he wore out his welcome with his propensity for drinking, brawling, and being an all-around miscreant. If he only had settled down with a Laraine Day type.
I've met people who think Maury Wills deserves a spot in Cooperstown, but I don't agree. Wills had a stolen base percentage of 73.8%, thanks mostly to his career year of 1962 when he swiped 104 of 117. Some say he revolutionized the game with all those steals, although that ignores the fact that Luis Aparicio was stealing a lot of bases (21 in his rookie year of 1956 and 56 in 1959). And Maury Wills hit a lot of singles and made a lot of outs.
There are no shortage of places on the Internet where you can find discussions of the statistics of all the candidates on the ballot. I'm trying to handicap the decision subjectively, since I think that is how the voters are going to do it.
So, just who is going to be the champion for Carl Mays?