Year Inducted: 1936 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 189/226)
The Washington Senators were renowned for being the worst team in the American League during most of their existence. As many people said, they were “First in war, first in peace and last in the American League.” That’s why there are so few of their players in the Hall of Fame, especially considering that they have existed since the beginning of the American League. If a team is poor, the players won’t get as much recognition. This was especially true during the newspaper era of sports reporting. However, the Senators had one thing going for them in the early years of the game. They had the greatest pitcher of all-time, Walter Johnson on their team.
Year Inducted: 1991 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 401/443)
There are some players who can just work wonders with a bat in their hands. There are players that can just, like clockwork, be penciled in to hit .300 at the start of a season or consistently get 200 hits a year or will always hit 30 homers. What made a player like Hank Aaron or Eddie Murray so great was that they could consistently perform at a high level. And, like was mentioned in the George Sisler post, a player that can consistently put up a high average and beat the trends is indeed a great player. One of the best at it, a true magician with the bat, was Rod Carew.
Year Inducted: 1968 (Veterans Committee)
The Washington Senators, for many years, were a second division team through the 1920’s. This is even with the greatest pitcher possibly of all-time in Walter Johnson on the staff. But owner Clark Griffith knew they were missing something to take them into contention; they needed a big bat. Griffith was friends with the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, who were an International League team, Jack Dunn. Dunn had secretly found a special prospect from SoCal that he wanted to sign for $5,000. Griffith discovered the name of this prospect from a golfing buddy, flew immediately to SoCal and offered Goose Goslin a $6,000 contract. Goslin would go on to help the Senators win their first World Series title in 1924, and eventually a Hall of Fame career.
Year Inducted: 2011 (BBWAA, ballot #14, 463/581)
There are some pitchers that become synonymous with a particular pitch. Classic examples include: Phil Niekro and his knuckleball, Mariano Rivera and his cutter, Bruce Sutter and his split finger, Pedro Martinez and his changeup and Nolan Ryan and his fastball. All of these pitchers, of course, are either in Cooperstown already or going to be in very soon. The curveball, according to lore, was first developed by Candy Cummings, and while many have thrown it very few have become linked to the pitch. The man who is most linked to the curveball is Holland’s own Bert Blyleven.
Year Inducted: 1984 (BBWAA, ballot #4, 335/403)
Batting average is the one of the oldest stats kept in baseball. It’s quick, easy to calculate and easy to understand. If a player gets 5 hits in 10 at bats, he’s hitting .500 which means he gets a hit every other at bat. But, it doesn’t tell enough of the story. If a player hits .270, he can be more valuable than a player who hits .300, if the former is hitting for power and drawing walks. Sometimes, the BBWAA can temporarily forget that small detail, and players like Harmon Killebrew have to wait for induction when they should be first ballot inductees.
Year Inducted: 2001 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 423/515)
Another great center fielder, another legally mandated clip:
Gotta love Jack Buck.
Sometimes, life isn’t fair. Sometimes an injury curtails an awesome career well before it should have. Sometimes there is seemingly no event or action to cause it, a guy just wakes up and his vision is gone in one eye forever. Hopefully, if that guy is a truly great player, justice is done and he is voted into the Hall of Fame before passing away. Thankfully, that was the case for Kirby Puckett.
Year Inducted: 1963 (Veterans Committee)
The Hall of Fame can seem very strange sometimes. How can players like Fred McGriff, who may not have been the best but certainly has a case for induction, or Mike Mussina be so far from being inducted, while players like Chick Hafey and Tommy McCarthy have gained enshrinement? Why did Bert Blyleven have to wait so long for induction while Tom Glavine made it on his first ballot? It can sometimes feel like there isn’t as much consistency among the voters. Likewise, it can sometimes seem like this ranking may be a tad random. How does a player like Sam Rice rank higher than, say, Willie McCovey? Well, let’s find out.