I admit I had issues with Tony LaRussa‘s selection for the Hall of Fame. His alleged ignorance of what Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were doing in the bathroom stalls never sat right with me. When you look at his success, however, it is difficult to deny his place among the immortals (if you even agree that managers should be in the Hall, which I honestly don’t). LaRussa led Oakland to one World Championship and the Cardinals to two more.
Joe Torre spent fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot as a player, but only received more than 20% of the vote once in that entire time. His time as the Yankees manager, however, made him a no-brainer selection for the Hall of Fame. Under Torre’s leadership, the Yankees won four World Series in five years, and two additional AL Pennants.
Hank O’Day was a player, manager, and scout, but he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as an umpire. He played in the 1889 World Series, and later umpired ten other World Series matchups.
Jacob Ruppert bought the New York Yankees in 1915, acquired Babe Ruth at the end of 1919, and began a winning tradition in the Bronx by building the team that would win the first of 27 World Championships (so far).
The year 2013 was a weird one for the Hall of Fame. The BBWAA failed to elect a single person, and not one of the inductees from the Veterans Committee was living. Deacon White was the only player elected. He is currently the oldest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, born December 2, 1847.
Barry Larkin‘s initial showing on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2010 was disappointing, but not overly surprising. What surprised me was how quickly his support rose; he received 86.4% of the vote in 2012 to gain induction into the Hall of Fame. Larkin was on the 1990 World Championship Reds, won the 1995 NL MVP award, was named to 12 All-Star teams, and collected three Gold Gloves and nine Silver Sluggers.
Chicago Cubs legend Ron Santo was a long overlooked superstar, practically ignored by the BBWAA when he was on the Hall of Fame ballot. Initially dropped from the ballot in 1980 with a paltry 3.9%, he was added back in 1985, where he stayed until 1998. His highest percentage during that time came in his final year on the ballot, when he only received 43.1% support. It took the Veterans Committee another 14 years to make it right, electing Santo in 2012; sadly, the third baseman passed away in 2010 and was unable to enjoy the honor himself.
Pat Gillick served as the Toronto Blue Jays general manager from December, 1977, through 1994. The team that he put together won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. He later worked with the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies, and won his third World Series as GM of the Phils.
Three thousand seven hundred one. When Bert Blyleven retired, he ranked third on the all-time strikeouts list, behind Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton. Despite his penchant for punchouts, it took fourteen voting cycles for the writers to select him for the Hall of Fame…and even then, he only received 79.7%. At least he’s in, where he belongs.
One of the first really big trades I remember was between the San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays. The Padres received Tony Fernandez, who was probably the third-best shortstop in the AL at the time, and up-and-coming slugger Fred McGriff. The Blue Jays picked up Joe Carter, who would become a World Series legend, and future Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar. Of course, no one knew that Alomar would be headed to Cooperstown at the time. With only three years under his belt, he had made one All-Star team for the Padres, but there wasn’t a whole lot of competition at his position outside of Ryne Sandberg. In Toronto, however, he blossomed. At the end of his career, Alomar boasted 12 All-Star games, ten Gold Gloves, and four Silver Slugger awards.
His JAWS score ranks him as the 14th best second baseman in history, which seems a little low to me. Ahead of him are four non-Hall of Famers who have strong cases: Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker, the still-active Robinson Cano and the not-quite-retired-but-without-a-team Chase Utley.