With the Major League All-Star Game being played this year in Minnesota, we recognize as the July Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month one of the best hitters of the last half a century who was named to 18 straight All-Star teams, including in each of his 12 seasons with the Twins.
After no modern candidates were selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, Cooperstown should have a slew of new additions in 2014.
They are already guaranteed of three quality inductees as former major league managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre have already been announced as members of the Class of 2014.
Now on Wednesday we should see at least two, and likely more, modern era players earn baseball immortality.
If the baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame weren’t so self-righteous, the Class of 2014 might include the first unanimous selection in Hall of Fame history.
Any writer who believes he can legitimately justify leaving Greg Maddux off his Hall of Fame ballot should be immediately awarded a Pulitzer Prize, though it would be more a work of fiction than of fact.
During his 20 year career, Maddux won 355 games, including 17 straight seasons with at least 15 wins, four Cy Young Awards and posted a career ERA of 3.16 despite playing primarily during an era when many hitters were using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).
If that isn’t enough to justify Hall of Fame induction, consider that Maddux won 18 Gold Glove awards as the top fielding pitcher. His total eclipsed the previous record of 16 Gold Gloves set by third baseman Brooks Robinson and matched by pitcher Jim Kaat.
While Maddux is a Hall of Fame lock, his longtime teammate Tom Glavine might have a little tougher time getting in during his first year of eligibility.
Interestingly, Glavine had more 20+ win seasons (5) than Maddux (2), but finished with fewer wins (305) and a higher ERA (3.54). Glavine was a two-time Cy Young winner and teamed with Maddux and John Smoltz to form one of the greatest starting pitching trios in baseball history. Read the rest of this entry →
In a year in which baseball’s all-time leader in home runs, a member of the prestigious 3,000 hit club and the winner of 354 games on the mound are all eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time, not a single modern-era player will receive baseball’s greatest honor during the annual induction ceremony on Sunday.
To honor this auspicious occasion, Sports Then and Now is recognizing five baseball players that we believe have legitimate claims to being in the Hall of Fame and who very likely might have received the “call to the Hall” years ago had not a generation of players totally changed the perception of offensive production.
398 HR, 1,266 RBI, .265 Batting Average, 161 stolen bases, 1,197 runs, 350 doubles
When Dale Murphy retired from baseball in 1993 the PED era in baseball was just getting started. By the time he became eligible for the HOF ballot in 1999, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had made a mockery of the single season home run record and Murphy’s career total of 398 home runs and top season of 44 dingers were no longer particularly impressive.
As a result, Murphy was included on 19.3% of the ballots in his first year and 23.2% the next year, but as the home run totals of current players escalated, his vote totals steadily declined. He was included on only 8.5% of ballots by 2004 and never legitimately had a chance for induction. His run through the HOF gauntlet mercifully ended earlier this year as he received 18.1% of the votes (75% needed for induction) in his final year on the ballot. Read the rest of this entry →
When it comes to electing the upcoming class into the baseball Hall of Fame, we are going to either change the record books or let in everybody that cheated.
Watching Clemens when he was in New Britain, CT in 1983, there was talent on the mound, that had Cooperstown in my mind instantaneously.
That day when he threw a shutout to win the Eastern League Championship, I said “someday I will see him win the World Series for Boston.” When I went to Game Six in 1986, my dream was close to coming true.
He won 192 games in a Red Sox uniform and nobody has worn his number 21 since he left for Toronto in 1997.
The greatest pitcher in Red Sox history, and he threw it all away for a syringe a decade later
How could using PED’s in the 1995-2007 era be any different than those that used greenies from the 50′s until 2011?
We let Gaylord Perry in the HOF and he admits he cheated from day one.
Craig Nettles even had super balls come out of his bat, and how many times has cork been found inside one?
Cap Anson might have been the biggest bigot of his era, and he kept color out of baseball for 64 years, but baseball let him into Cooperstown.
Tom Yawkey did not have a man with color on his team until Pumpsie Green a decade after Jackie Robinson, but he too is enshrined.
The July Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month hit .462 while starting the first three All-Star Games during a stellar 20-year career that ended with his induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
One of the premier outfielders of his generation, Al Simmons was not as well known as Babe Ruth, but he was a steady run producer who helped the Philadelphia Athletics edge the New York Yankees for three straight American League titles from 1929-1931 while claiming two World Series titles. Read the rest of this entry →
It was 70 years ago today that one of the magical careers in Major League baseball history had its genesis during the second game of a doubleheader between the Boston Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. A rail-thin 20-year-old left-handed hitter named Stan Musial gave a hint of what was to come by two hits, including a double, and driving home two runs in a 3-2 Cardinals victory.
In hindsight, it is fitting that one of the greatest players in baseball history made his debut during the magical 1941 season.
In the months before Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into World War II, the country was fixated on baseball and captivated by a pair of stars who were doing magical things with a bat.
Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees parlayed a record 56-game hitting streak into the MVP season. Ted Williams “The Splendid Splinter” ran away with baseball’s batting crown with a .406 average. No one could have predicted that 70 years later both records would remain unmatched across the annals of baseball.
Musial’s major league debut came barely a year after it was feared his career might be over before it started. Originally signed from his hometown of Denora, Pennsylvania as a pitcher and outfielder, Musial was playing for Daytona in the Florida State League when he jammed his left shoulder diving for a ball and was no longer able to pitch. However, little more than a year later he was thrust into a playoff race as a late-season call-up of the Cardinals.
When Musial made his debut, the Cardinals were on their way to an impressive 97-56 record, but were a game behind the first place Brooklyn Dodgers. They went 7-5 in the final 12 games, with Musial playing in all 12, and ended the season 2.5 games behind the Dodgers and their 100-54 record.
But it certainly wasn’t Musial’s fault that the Cardinals couldn’t catch the Dodgers. The young outfielder showed glimpses of what was to come over the next 20+ years by hitting .426 with four doubles, a home run and seven RBI in 12 games.
As a rookie in 1942, Musial proved that his audition in 1941 had not been a fluke as he hit .315 with 72 RBI and 32 doubles as the Cardinals won the pennant and the World Series. Read the rest of this entry →