Yes, this post is a couple of days late. After reworking the center field post to up the median, it made sense to do it in right field as well, since the Veterans Committee has really watered down each position. There were 10 center fielders voted in by the Veterans Committee, compared to eight by the BBWAA. Out of the 24 right fielders inducted into the Hall of Fame, 11 were inducted by the Veterans Committee, and with very few exceptions are some of the lowest ranking players in Cooperstown. As such, instead of the typical median score, a modified one using the lowest ranking BBWAA-inductee (Wee Willie Keeler) as the base score will be used. That gives a median score of 29056, between Roberto Clemente and Paul Waner.
Year Inducted: 1936 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 215/226)
In 1947, much as they did to honor Lou Gehrig, the Yankees held a tribute day to honor one of their greats. Thirteen years after he had worn a Yankee uniform, the Bronx Bombers were honoring Babe Ruth one more time before his inevitable end due to throat cancer. Thousands of people packed Yankee Stadium, with millions more listening via radio and speakers lining the streets of New York, as former opponents, managers, teammates and friends saluted a man who reinvented the game of baseball and was truly the game’s greatest player. The sight of this once great man, this giant who always was larger than the game itself as now a frail, suffering man pulled at everyone’s heartstrings. Ruth would give a small speech as his voice was practically gone that, while not on Gehrig’s level in terms of grandness, was still as emotional and impactful as ever as Ruth, one final time, walked off the field as the greatest player who ever lived.
Year Inducted: 1982 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 406/415)
Bobby Thompson is forever known as the player that hit the “Shot Heard Round the World”, a home run to win the 1951 NL Pennant for the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers on the last game of the season. Three years later, Thompson found himself on the Milwaukee Braves. In Spring Training of 1954, Thompson broke his leg. While he was sidelined, the Braves decided to give one of their young players a chance in the outfield. Twenty years later, that player stood taller than anyone ever thought possible as he passed Babe Ruth for career home runs.
Year Inducted: 1982 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 370/415)
Sometimes, it takes years after a trade is made to tell how impactful it was for both sides, despite how lopsided it looked at the time. Sometimes, it’s easy to tell right away. After the 1965 season, the Reds had one of the best right handed hitters of all-time on their roster. This player had compiled a batting line of .303/.389/.504 in the prior 10 seasons, and hit more than 300 homers. Reds owner Bill DeWitt thought the player was now an “old 30”, so he traded him to the Baltimore Orioles, where he immediately won the Triple Crown in 1966 and led them to two World Series titles. Frank Robinson certainly had a lot of great years left in his bat when traded, and as a result shunned the Reds for a long time.
Year Inducted: 1951 (BBWAA, ballot #3, 197/226)
Like with many things in life, in baseball hope can spring eternally from tragedy. The Cubs waited 108 years to win a World Series title, but the seasons before that were filled with shattered dreams, bad luck, and strife. When Ray Chapman died, it opened up a spot for Joe Sewell, who would go on to a Hall of Fame career for the Indians. And, when Ross Youngs died, it opened up a spot for another player that would have a Hall of Fame career of his own, even though he was only 19 at the time. For Youngs’ tragic passing opened up a slot for Mel Ott to become the best New York Giant of all-time.
Year Inducted: 1980 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 340/385)
One of the more fun things to do in the offseason, especially around Hall of Fame ballot times, is to try to piece together each team’s all-time greatest team, and even compare them to each other. Of course every person will probably have a different team for each franchise, but the Yankees would obviously be the best in the AL, with the Red Sox and A’s vying for second, but the Tigers shouldn’t be overlooked. For their outfield, the Tigers would have to choose three of Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann and of course, the great Al Kaline.
Year Inducted: 2001 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 435/515)
There are some players that get treated somewhat unfairly due to defensive metrics. A player like Reggie Jackson, for instance, provided a ton of value for the bat, but his defensive stats show that he gave up quite a bit of value with the glove. Most sluggers, actually, give up a lot of value defensively. Players like Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew and Ralph Kiner all had at least -100 defensive runs in their careers, and in cases like McCovey -200. Is that fair? Well, to a degree it is as not many people would say that any of the above mentioned players were good fielders, so they must have given something back with the glove. However they were each paid to hit the ball hard, which they did incredibly well. This is all equally the case as a guy like Dave Winfield, another big slugger who has a claim as one of the worst fielders ever.