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.

About JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Posted on January 8, 2008, in baseball and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. tidewaterjackson

    Thanks for checking out my HOF article and asking about Dale Murphy. I replied back there, but wanted to comment to tell you that I enjoyed your post above. I think it’s crazy that Rice didn’t make it. Hopefully he gets in next year (despite Ricky Henderson being eligible for the first time). As the Mitchell mess goes on, Rice’s numbers continue to look more impressive.

    As for Concepcion, I was a big fan as a kid but don’t think he was a HOFer. Does the Big Red Machine win with Alan Trammell at short. Of course they do. And until Trammel gets in (don’t hold your breath), I don’t see how you can argue for Davey.

  2. Back in my baseball card collecting days (1980s and 90s), I separated my cards into categories…”stars,” “commons,” and “future HOFers.” Trammell was always in the future HOFer shoebox, along with several others who have not made it yet (Murphy, Mattingly, etc.).


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  4. Just heard some discussion on sports talk radio today about whether or not players should be eligible year after year, and at what length? One person’s logic was, if they don’t get three of four votes their first year of eligibility, what exactly does it mean when they get in years later? How do they improve from year to year while being more removed from their careers year after year? I think these wind up being popularity contests anyway but it is rather bizarre how guys “get better” as their years of eligibility go on and on. Maybe it is as simple as only being on a ballot for a year or two?

  5. Maybe fifteen is too long of a period, but then you would get ballots like this in 2012: Vinny Castilla, Bill Mueller, Brad Radke, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Bernie Williams, Tim Worrell. Honestly, should these guys even BE on the ballot?

  6. I had the Hall of Fame built up in my head as this place of amazing grandeur. I have always been pissed that Pete Rose has been omitted from the HOF.

    If they keep him out, Barry Bonds shouldn’t show up on the ballot, ever in my opinion.

    After going to the Hall of Fame last summer, and seeing that the players elected to the HOF get a small plaque on the wall, I was greatly disappointed. I expected the mighty HOF to be something much more special than that. It sucked the passion about it right out of me.

    I don’t care if anyone ever gets elected into it now.

  7. I loved my visit to Cooperstown back in 1991 or 92. I can’t remember the year now. They had some great exhibits. Yes, the plaques are small, but I believe they are well done and dignified. Of course, if Bonds gets in, they’ll have to either use a headshot from his Pirates days or give him a plaque triple the current size to fit his head on it.

  8. The thing that I thought was funny…….

    They won’t elect Pete Rose to the Hall of Fame, but they have no problem showing tons of his old bats, jerseys etc there. It is just weird.

  9. It’s all about money, Rob. When baseball needs to make money, they let Pete participate. It happened when they did the All-Century team (sponsored by MasterCard…$$$), but if baseball doesn’t get anything out of it, he is banned from participation.

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