Hall of Fame ballot from Era Committees includes a number of strong contenders - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Hall of Fame ballot from Era Committees includes a number of strong contenders

Photo credit: Eric Hartline USA Today Sports

One of the best developments for baseball fans in recent years is the prominence of the Era Committees in Hall of Fame voting. Those are the groups that meet annually to choose players who might have been overlooked in previous Hall of Fame votes, along with managers, umpires and executives who aren’t eligible in the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote.

There are four Era Committees: Early Baseball, which considers candidates whose career concluded before 1950; Golden Days, 1950-1969;  Modern Baseball, 1970-1987; and Today’s Game, 1988-present.

Last year, there was no vote because of the pandemic. This year, the Early Baseball and Golden Days committees will meet and announce their votes on December 5th, the scheduled first day of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.

Each committee will consider 10 candidates. Early Baseball is considering seven pre-Negro Leagues legends, including Buck O’Neil, a Black baseball pioneer who has long deserved enshrinement. New York Yankees pitcher Allie Reynolds is also among those on the ballot.

The Golden Days ballot has familiar names, with few connections to the Orioles. Many are worthy of serious consideration: Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Miñoso, Danny Murtaugh, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills.

While the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, which will be revealed next week, gets most of the attention, the Era Committees have produced some deserving and at least one controversial choice, Harold Baines, who had three iterations with the Orioles.

There are 16 members on each committee. They are made up of media members, Hall of Fame players and baseball executives. A nominee needs 12 votes for election.

Six of the 10 candidates on the Golden Days ballot stand out: Allen, Boyer, Hodges, Kaat, Miñoso and Oliva.

Maris, who is best known for his 61 home runs in 1961, wasn’t the one-dimensional player many thought but his lifetime stats don’t shout Hall of Fame.

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Murtaugh, who had four stints managing the Pittsburgh Pirates, won the 1960 World Series against the Yankees and the 1971 Series against the Orioles, is just 55th on the all-time wins list.

Pierce was a fine pitcher whose lifetime record,  211-169, 3.27 ERA, was comparable to Catfish Hunter’s, but there are better candidates.

Wills stole 104 bases in 1962, but like Maris, is primarily known for an important one-season record.

Allen is the most polarizing name on the list and may be the most worthy. He was the first Black star for the Philadelphia Phillies and suffered awful treatment when the Phillies sent him to Triple-A Little Rock in 1963.

He led the league in OPS four times, a stat that wasn’t commonly used when he played, and hit 319 of his 351 home runs from 1964-1974 while playing in ballparks that weren’t considered hitter’s parks.

Boyer was an excellent third baseman for the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals, a team that included two Hall of Famers, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson. He had an outstanding WAR 62.8 (Wins Above Replacement) at a position that’s historically been underrepresented in Cooperstown. (Allen’s WAR was 58.7).

Because Boyer played with Brock, Gibson, Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon and Bill White, he was often overlooked. His career also partially overlapped with the great Brooks Robinson.

Boyer won five Gold Gloves and the Most Valuable Player award in 1964 and was selected for the All-Star Game in seven seasons. He hit more than 20 home runs and drove in more than 90 runs eight times. He also deserves a place in the Hall.

So does Kaat, who won 283 games in a 25-year career. He also won 16 Gold Gloves. He pitched in the majors from the time he was 20 until he was 44.

The problem with Kaat is that he may have played too long, and his last seven seasons, many of them as a middle reliever, were less than memorable.

However, he shouldn’t be penalized for that, and his lifetime stats are comparable to Hall of Famers Robin Roberts, Ferguson Jenkins and Bert Blyleven.

Miñoso is this year’s sentimental candidate. His case was strengthened when baseball recognized Negro Leagues statistics last year.

He was the first Black player for the Chicago White Sox and suffered discrimination not only because of his skin color but also because as a Cuban, English wasn’t his first language.

Miñoso still hit .299 with an .848 OPS and was a nine-time All-Star and won three Gold Gloves for outfield play. His career was primarily with the White Sox and Cleveland in the 1950s, but he didn’t play on a World Series team.

As Tyler Kepner pointed out in a New York Times column, Miñoso’s Hall of Fame case was weakened because White Sox owner Bill Veeck allowed him to play briefly in 1976 and 1980, making him a five-decade player but delaying his reconsideration until the mid-1980s when many of the voters hadn’t seen him play.

From 1964-1971, Oliva was a huge star for the Minnesota Twins, winning three batting titles and leading the American League in hits five times. But injuries derailed his career, and he ended up with 1,917 hits, and a .304 average and an .830 OPS.

Oliva was Rookie of the Year in 1964, won a Gold Glove and had eight All-Star selections. At his peak, he was wonderful, but the peak was a couple of years too short.

There’s a special place in many older fans’ hearts for Hodges, who received the most Hall of Fame votes without gaining admission.

Hodges was an eight-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner at first base. He was a key component of the fabled “Boys of Summer” Brooklyn Dodgers’ teams, and as a manager achieved fame when his 1969 Mets beat the Orioles in one of the greatest World Series upsets in history.

In 1983, Hodges, who died suddenly in April 1972 at 47, received 63.4 percent of the vote in his 15th and final year of eligibility and has failed to gain the necessary support from the previous Veterans Committee, which is now the Era Committees.

Voters are limited to four candidates. I hope that four of these strong contenders get the needed votes.

Note: Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash won his second straight American League Manager of the Year Award. Seattle’s Scott Servais finished second and Houston’s Dusty Baker was third. I voted for Servais, Chicago’s Tony La Russa and Cash.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Orial

    November 17, 2021 at 8:20 am

    Hodges,Oliva,and Kaat get my vote. Vaguely remember Minoso but was surprised at his numbers. I was at Yankee Stadium that Oct afternoon in 1964 when Ken Boyer’s grand Slam in the World Series sunk the Yankees(ball landed about 10 rows in front of me). A joyful day it was. Boyer in HOF? uhhhh no. Consistent,dependable though. Wills,Maris, like you said Rich,unfortunately noted more for one season. Allen,Mattingly–great season’s but not enough of them. Great article Rich–what baseball is all about. Sorry but a quick negative spin-baseball’s glorious past is becoming overshadowed by a questionable future. Hopefully the “Powers that Be” treat this iconic sport with the respect it deserves and don’t send it into oblivion.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 17, 2021 at 9:44 am

      Al, I never thought of Boyer as a Hall of Famer until now, but the analytics make a strong case for him. There are fewer third basemen (17) in the Hall than any other position.

      Minoso was before my time, but his numbers and history are compelling. I suggest you read Tyler Kepner’s piece on him.

      Thanks, as always, for the kind words.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    November 17, 2021 at 8:55 am

    No problem at all with your votes on the Manager of the Year Rich, especially the Servais pick.

    If I remember correctly, the talk at the beginning of the year was that Seattle was in a “complete rebuild mode” would possibly lose 100.

    Servais deserves that recognition. What a surprise the Mariners were.

    Mayber the O’s should take some notes on how Seattle went about rebuilding? For one, hey didn’t seem to hold down their young studs or worry about gettting that extra year of control.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 17, 2021 at 9:47 am

      Servals stood out, Ken, because of their strong late play. They were 32-14 to end the season and finished just two games out with a roster that was anonymous.

  3. Birdman

    November 17, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Rich, All of the “Golden Days” candidates had outstanding careers, but it seems to me that the strongest HOF case can be made for Tony Oliva. Oliva won the American League batting title 3 times, led the league in hits 5 times, was an All-Star 8 consecutive seasons, and had a lifetime batting average of .304.

    Oliva was hampered by injuries, and had significantly fewer career plate appearances than most HOFers, and consequently his total career numbers of hits, HRs, and RBI are lower than most HOFers. But Oliva was such a dominant hitter during the the years that he was healthy, I believe that he deserves election.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 17, 2021 at 9:48 am

      Oliva was like Koufax, wonderful numbers but a career cut short by injuries. Koufax was more dominant. I think he’s compelling, but not as compelling as some of that others.

      • Birdman

        November 17, 2021 at 11:08 am

        Agree that Oliva was “Koufax lite” – not as dominant as Sandy … that said, the stat that really stands out for me on Oliva is that he led the league in hits 5 times within a 7 year period – that wasn’t done by Rose, or Gwynn, or Brett, or Clemente – the only post-WWII players that I found who equaled or exceeded that accomplishment were Stan Musial and Ichiro Suzuki.

  4. mmcmillan1123

    November 17, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Oliva and Kaat get my vote! Tony should not get penalized for a career shortened by injury. He was a force to be reckoned with while he played and I think he played long enough to be voted in. Nor should Jim be penalized for too long a career. 283 wins is 283 wins! Anybody who can pitch till he’s 45 is a damn good pitcher. Most of those wins came as a starter.

  5. whiterose

    November 17, 2021 at 11:05 am

    Absolute garbage without DocAdams.
    missed by two votes last time. Not on ballot.??????
    None of these or anyone else in Hall happens without Doc.
    Anyone research before responding.

  6. Buzz1979

    November 17, 2021 at 11:36 am

    Dick Allen is a no brainer, too bad he’s not still alive to see it.

  7. G-man

    November 17, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    Rich, what do you think about Bobby Grich being voted in to the Hall of Fame? I think his numbers are just as good as some of the second basemen that are already in.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 17, 2021 at 12:59 pm

      Grich could next be considered by the Modern Game committee, which meets two years from now. Both he and Lou Whitaker deserve to be in the Hall.

  8. Mikepete73

    November 17, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    when you first look at dick allen numbers he should be in the hall but if he goes in then guys like lance berkman have to be given serious consideration because his numbers are actually better in almost everything then Allen’s. also jim Edmund’s numbers are about the same plus he played great def where allen was terrible defensively. If people say Minnie minoso should get in then so should Cesar cedeno. minoso 53.8 war cedeno 52.8 minoso 130 ops+ cedeno 123. minoso 3 Gold Gloves Cedeno 5 gg. Maury wills should not be in the hof. if you say gil hodges then norm cash should be in then. hodges 43.9 war cash 52.0 hodges 120 ops+ cash 139. Maris didn’t have the overall numbers. buck O’Neil numbers are terrible. Bobby Grich should be in well before any of these guys. ken boyer is close but a guy like Scott rolen beats him at everyrhing

    • whiterose

      November 17, 2021 at 2:58 pm

      Agreed to keep can of worms closed..
      But Buck O’Neil is not about numbers.

    • Buzz1979

      November 17, 2021 at 8:51 pm

      Rolen is 1st ballot on injury HOF, missed way too many games he did not need to miss!

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 17, 2021 at 9:26 pm

      Mike pete, Allen’s numbers were largely achieved playing in pitcher’s parks at a time when home runs were harder to hit. You are correct that Allen’s and Berkman’s numbers are similar, but the times they played were different.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 17, 2021 at 9:28 pm

      Grich should be in, but his era isn’t being considered for another two years.

  9. paulw

    November 17, 2021 at 11:37 pm

    there are too many undeserving figures in the HOF now. With every new going in one should be removed. Charles Comiskey, Kenesaw Landis, Cap Anson, Effa Manley, Bud Selig for starters should go.

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