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As the Winter Meetings begin Sunday in Nashville, the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee will meet to consider eight candidates for the Hall of Fame.
It’s a much different election than the more widely followed Baseball Writers’ of America balloting, which is underway.
There are eight candidates: former managers Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella, longtime executives Hank Peters and Bill White and umpires Ed Montague and Joe West.
A 16-member committee comprised of Hall of Fame members Jeff Bagwell, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Bud Selig, Ted Simmons, Jim Thome and Joe Torre, major league executives Sandy Alderson, Bill DeWitt, Michael Hill, Ken Kendrick, Andy MacPhail and Phyllis Merhige and media members/historians Sean Forman, Jack O’Connell and Jesus Ortiz will vote on the candidates.
As in the BBWAA election, a candidate must receive 75 percent (12 votes) for enshrinement.
While only two of the 24 candidates on the BBWAA ballot, José Bautista and Francisco Rodriguez, briefly played for the Orioles, three of the eight candidates being considered by the Era Committee have Oriole ties.
Johnson is being considered only for his managerial record, which is outstanding, but he had a fine playing career, too. He was one of the best second basemen in the team’s history, playing from 1965-1971, and participating in four World Series.
A three-time All-Star (1968-1970) and Gold Glove winner (1969-1971) with the Orioles, Johnson was traded to the Atlanta Braves after the 1972 season to allow an even better second baseman, Bobby Grich, the opportunity to play regularly.
It was a bad trade with Johnson, 20-game winner Pat Dobson, catcher Johnny Oates and pitcher Roric Harrison sent to Atlanta for catcher Earl Williams and infielder Taylor Duncan.
Williams was a disappointment in Baltimore and Duncan never played for the Orioles. Johnson hit 43 home runs in 1973, a record for second basemen.
The Orioles were one of five major league teams Johnson managed. In 1996 and 1997, they were 186-138, and reached the American League Championship Series twice. Johnson was named Manager of the Year in 1997.
Johnson angrily left the Orioles on the day he was named Manager of the Year in a contract dispute with managing partner Peter Angelos.
Peters was the general manager of the Orioles from 1976-1987 and was the GM when the team won its most recent World Series in 1983. Peters also served as the top baseball executive for the Kansas City Athletics and Cleveland as well as the president of minor league baseball.
Most fans don’t remember that Piniella, who managed the New York Yankees, Cincinnati, Seattle and Chicago Cubs, began his outstanding playing career with the Orioles. Piniella had his first four major league at-bats for the Orioles in 1964, though he’s best remembered for 11 outstanding seasons with the Yankees.
He won 1,835 games, 17th most all-time, and more than the other three managers up for consideration. Piniella won the 1990 World Series with the Reds.
Johnson won the 1986 World Series with the Mets, Leyland’s Florida Marlins won the World Series in 1997. Gaston won consecutive World Series in 1992 and 1993 with Toronto.
The Orioles faced Leyland’s Detroit Tigers from 2006-2013 and Gaston’s Blue Jays from 1989-1997 and 2008-2010.
Gaston isn’t remembered fondly by Oriole fans, who accused him, falsely he has long contended, of warming up Mike Mussina during the 1993 All-Star Game at Camden Yards but not using him.
Montague and West both umpired many Orioles games in their career. West holds the record for most games umpired, 5,460.
White, who had an excellent playing career as a first baseman with the Giants, Cardinals and Phillies, was the final president of the National League, a job that no longer exists. He was also an insightful broadcaster of Yankees games from 1971-1988.
Committee members can vote for up to three candidates.
It will be interesting to see if West, who was the most well-known umpire of his generation and the most polarizing, gets in. He deserves a place in Cooperstown on longevity alone.
White’s diversified career should be recognized, and the accomplishments of Leyland and Piniella with multiple teams merit enshrinement, too.
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