You may recall that I'm involved with the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame (www.phillyhall.org). We just held our 11th Annual Induction Ceremony in November, and inducted a great new class. We are now in the process of establishing the ballot for our 12th Class to be inducted later this year. I'd like to think I have at least a little visibility into a Hall of Fame process. Well, at least an opinion.
I also think my opinions have credence, as a few years ago I wrote this blog: http://stevetallant.blogspot.com/2011/12/rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-needs-to.html
Since then, 3 of the artists I called out as being egregiously missing from the Rock and Roll Hall have been inducted!
I'd like to make some comments about the Baseball Hall of Fame this time.
As I did with the Rock and Roll Hall blog, I'm not going to say that anyone who's been inducted should be shown the door. Per the Baseball Hall of Fame, their mission is to:
to preserve the sport's history, honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball.Seems simple enough.
Rules to get in are simple too.
Candidates to be eligible must meet the following requirements:And yes, those are the only posted criteria.
A. A baseball player must have been active as a player in the Major Leagues at some time during a period beginning fifteen (15) years before and ending five (5) years prior to election.
B. Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons, some part of which must have been within the period described in 3(A).
C. Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election but may be otherwise connected with baseball.
D. In case of the death of an active player or a player who has been retired for less than five (5) full years, a candidate who is otherwise eligible shall be eligible in the next regular election held at least six (6) months after the date of death or after the end of the five (5) year period, whichever occurs first.
E. Any player on Baseball's ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.
Yet, the following eligible players are not in the Hall:
- All-time Home Run Leader, and 7-time MVP
- Best Hitting Catcher of All-Time
- 7-time Cy Young winner
- All-time Hits Leader
I don't care - it's just plain stupid.
The Baseball Hall of Fame started inducting players in 1936. However, Major League Baseball didn't have a minority player until Jackie Robinson famously broke the color barrier in 1947. He didn't end up being the Hall's first black inductee until 1962. Minorities didn't gain over 25% of the playing positions in baseball until the 1970's. You have almost 100 years of institutional bias and racism in the sport. A flawed inductee pool to begin with.
But, there was minority baseball happening in the first half of the 20th century. If integrated, there's no way some of the Hall of Famers would have been Hall of Famers - they may not have even been Major League players! There would be DIFFERENT Hall of Famers - of color. Remember, only 18 Negro League players were elected by the veterans committee into the Baseball Hall. Think about this as well, the Boston Red Sox didn't have their first black player until 1959, the Philadelphia Phillies until 1957.
So, the sport, and its Hall of Fame has flaws to begin with.
Let's not even mention that noted racist and bigot Ty Cobb is in the Charter Class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The members of the Baseball Hall of Fame elected before 1962 do not have an asterisk by their name saying they played in the "Racist Era" of the sport. All the numbers that Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza and Roger Clemens put up are still in Major League Baseball's Record Book. None have been stricken. None are on Baseball's ineligible list. All are eligible per the Hall's own posted rules.
Bonds and Clemens have every indication that they probably are guilty of taking PEDs. Piazza is linked but has no real credible evidence against him. It really shouldn't matter.
Now for a little bit of a slam on a new inductee. Did anyone ever go to a ballpark to go see Craig Biggio play? Nice player. Congrats on getting into the Hall. Like them or not, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza were baseball icons. They packed stadiums, and elevated the game itself. For them to be missing from Baseball's official roster of all-time greats is simply a disservice to the game itself. But, since baseball and its Hall are so flawed to begin with, perfectly appropriate.
I'll get to Pete Rose later.