There’s no justice in baseball
The results of the super secret Hall of Fame balloting done by the Baseball Writers Association of America were released today. A player must receive at least 75% of the votes to be inducted into the Hall. Once again, Jim Rice fell short. Needing 408 votes, Rice only received 392. Sixteen people kept him from reaching Cooperstown. Sixteen writers with chips on their shoulders, who didn’t like Rice as a person because he was a difficult interview, who didn’t pay any attention to his accomplishments on the field. There can be no other excuse.
In sixteen seasons, Jim Rice hit 382 home runs. He led the American league in homers three times and finished second another. He started in four All-Star games, showing that fans didn’t care about his poor attitude toward the press. He was awarded the Most Valuable Player award in 1978; five other times he finished in the top five. He was one of the most feared sluggers of his era. Jim Rice’s statistics speak for themselves.
As terrible as his exclusion from the Hall of Fame is, there are others who have not gained the support that Rice has over the years. In his first year of eligibility, Rice did not even receive 30% of the vote. This year, his fourteenth on the ballot, the surly outfielder missed election by less than 3%. But there are others whose vote tallies are so far down the list it is doubtful they will ever receive enough support to enter that Hall of Fame, even though they are deserving. I speak of Dave Concepcion and Dale Murphy. Each received less than 90 votes, hovering around the 15% mark.
Concepcion’s offensive statistics alone are far from impressive, but his defensive savvy and clutch performance made him invaluable to the Big Red Machine of the 1970s–a team that included such huge superstars as Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, and Tony Perez (all Hall of Famers, except for Rose, who should be…but that’s for another blogpost). A nine-time All-Star and five-time starter before Ozzie Smith became the fan favorite, Concepcion won the Gold Glove award five times and finished in the top 15 for Most Valuable Player voting thrice.
Dale Murphy’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame defies all reason. Look at his stats. Murphy played in the era when 400 career home runs (he finished just two shy) was a near-lock for a Hall of Famer, and his other statistics further support his case. He was the back-to-back MVP in 1982 and 1983. Seven times he went to the All-Star game; five times he started. From 1982 through 1987, Murphy was either the leader or second in home runs for the National League except 1986, when he finished fourth. There was no outfielder more dominant in the senior circuit during the 1980s.
A case could be made for several other players–Don Mattingly, Andre Dawson, Jack Morris–but in this blogger’s humble opinion, Rice, Concepcion, and Murphy are the most egregious of the omissions.
Note: While watching the local Cincinnati news tonight, I learned that this was Concepcion’s last chance with the BBWAA. Perhaps the Veteran’s Committee will see fit to right this wrong.