Joining his Tigers teammate on the stage in Cooperstown this year will be pitcher Jack Morris, one of the best pitchers of the 1980s. While some believe his election lowers the bar for pitchers, I believe you have to judge them among their contemporaries. There were few starters sharper than Morris in the 1980s, and he was always considered to be a future Hall of Famer by those who saw him play. The Veterans Committee agreed, and Morris and Trammell are the first living inductees by the Veterans Committee since Bill Mazeroski in 2001.
Alan Trammell was the slick-fielding shortstop for the World Champion Detroit Tigers in 1984, and almost won the AL MVP in 1987. Overshadowed throughout much of his career by Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, Trammell still managed to win four Gold Glove Awards and was selected to six All-Star Games. He is one of two Veterans Committee selections for the Hall of Fame class of 2018.
Generally, I am against non-players in the Hall of Fame. Managers, general managers, commissioners…let them have a special wing dedicated to them, but keep the Hall of Fame portion for players only. But I have a soft spot for Sparky Anderson. He was the man that led the Reds to four World Series appearances and two Championships in the 1970s…the skipper of the Big Red Machine! But he didn’t stop there…
In 1984, Sparky led the Detroit Tigers to the World Championship, becoming the first manager to win the World Series in both the National and American Leagues. I guess if you have to include managers in the Hall of Fame, Sparky is a pretty solid choice.
For the first time since 1971, the BBWAA failed to induct anyone in 1996. On the writers’ ballot were future BBWAA inductees Phil Niekro, Tony Perez, Don Sutton, Jim Rice, and Bruce Sutter, and future Veterans Committee selections Ron Santo and Joe Torre (who was inducted as a manager, not a player). Thankfully, the Veterans Committee saw fit to honor a handful of previously overlooked individuals in 1996.
Jim Bunning pitched in the big leagues for 17 years, winning 224 games with a 3.27 ERA and 2855 strikeouts. JAWS ranks him as the 57th best starting pitcher in history. Bunning was on the BBWAA ballot for 15 years, and almost reached the 75% threshold in 1988, his twelfth year on the ballot, falling just four votes short. His support dipped dramatically the next three years, never reaching even 65% again. The Veterans Committee deemed him worthy of baseball immortality in 1996, five years after his final appearance on the writers’ ballot.
Bunning was also known for his political career, which started as a city councilman in my hometown, Fort Thomas, in 1977. From there, he moved up to the Kentucky State Senate in 1980, then to the US House of Representatives in 1987, and finally the United States Senate in 1999. He also had an unsuccessful run at the Kentucky Governor’s office in 1983, losing to Martha Layne Collins.
Hal Newhouser never really came close to Cooperstown via the BBWAA; his highest percentage was in 1975 at 42.8%, but he usually hovered around 20-25%. The pitcher won back-to-back MVP awards in 1944 and 1945, winning 29 and 25 games, respectively. In 1945 and 1945, he kept his ERA under 2.00, and he came in second in MVP voting in 1946, losing to Ted Williams. That amazing three-year stretch was not enough for the BBWAA, though, and it took the Veterans Committee to induct Newhouser in 1992.
The Veterans Committee voted today on the Hall of Fame “Modern Era” ballot. Several worthy candidates were included on the ballot, and ultimately two players were selected to join the elite in Cooperstown next summer.
Alan Trammell manned the shortstop position for the World Champion 1984 Tigers, and was named MVP of the Series that year. Overshadowed throughout his career by Cal Ripken, Trammell was named to six All-Star teams and won four Gold Glove Awards. In 1987, Trammell racked up more offensive WAR than anyone else in the American League, and narrowly lost the MVP race to Toronto’s George Bell. In fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot, Trammell’s best showing came in 2016 with 40.9%. Fortunately, the Veterans Committee recognized his worth and decided he belonged among the legends.
Another star of the 1984 Tigers, Jack Morris had a reputation as a big game pitcher for Detroit and Minnesota. While his career totals are somewhat lacking, his postseason prowess put him over the top. He collected 254 regular season wins and struck out 2478 batters in eighteen seasons.
Trammell and Morris will join those who receive 75% support from the BBWAA ballot, to be announced next month.
Detroit Tigers’ general manager Al Avila traded his son Alex Avila (along with Justin Wilson) to the Cubs. According to Jon Morosi, this is the first time in almost fifty years this has happened at the MLB level. The best reaction on Twitter, and perhaps the best Tweet of all-time:
Theo like "uhhh Justin Wilson please and the blood of your first born" pic.twitter.com/8oJd0MLTC8
— Zack Goldman (@DaRealGoldMan) July 31, 2017
Morosi failed to provide the last dad-sends-son-packing deal in his report, however. In 1968, another Al—Dodgers’ GM Al Campanis—dealt his boy Jim Campanis to the expansion Kansas City Royals “as part of a conditional deal.” Dad’s reasoning was that Jim was more likely to get playing time with the new team rather than the established Dodgers. Perhaps the elder Aliva wanted Alex to have a better shot at a ring. The Cubs are the defending World Champions, and currently sit atop the National League Central division, while the Tigers aren’t even playing .500 ball.
(October 23, 1931 – May 26, 2017)
Nine-time All-Star and former United States Senator, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning passed away yesterday. He was the second pitcher to collect 100 victories and 1000 strikeouts in both the American and National Leagues, threw a perfect game, and one of just seven pitchers to throw a no-hitter for two different teams. In fifteen years on the Hall of Fame ballot, Bunning never received the necessary 75% support from the BBWAA. He fell four votes short in 1988, his twelfth year on the ballot. He was finally inducted in 1996 via the Veterans Committee.
A few years ago, Gary Cieradowski did a great piece on Bunning at The Infinite Baseball Card Set.
The sixth 2016 TWJ pre-season card was posted tonight at TWJ cards on tumblr. So far, we have seen Pete Rose, Bip Roberts (by request), Frank Robinson, Don Drysdale, George Scott, and Greg Luzinski. A couple of Hall of Famers, a legend, and some fan favorites. They all share another thing in common: each was selected to at least one All-Star team during their big league careers. That is the one prerequisite for inclusion in the 2016 TWJ pre-season set: an All-Star roster spot.
Who else might be appearing in the set? Obviously, I won’t be making a card for every All-Star ever. So if you have a request, you better make it known! It doesn’t matter how well-known the guy is, as long as he has made an All-Star team, he is eligible for the set!
Want a preview of who is on the horizon? How about Mark, Tim, Dave, Tom, Mike, Joe, and another Mike?
What, you wanted to see a card before it appears on the tumblr? Fine…
The Bird himself, the late Mark Fidrych. An All-Star in his first two seasons, before injury derailed his career.
Be sure to check out TWJ cards on tumblr to see all the 2016 TWJ pre-season cards!