Some of the hoopla surrounding the Hall of Fame vote has died down now, with three players and three managers all set to be inducted this summer. No doubt these individuals recognize what an honor is being bestowed upon them.
The rules for Hall of Fame balloting has evolved over the years. Currently, a player can stay on the ballot for fifteen years without election as long as he maintains greater than 5% of the vote. This has not always been the case. One player lasted longer on the ballot than fifteen years, while several survived for several years without gaining 5% of the vote.
That said, not many players have lasted fifteen years. One has to be pretty good, but not good enough, to stick around for so long. Jack Morris joined this illustrious group this year, while Don Mattingly, Alan Trammell, and Lee Smith are likely to be added over the next three years (assuming Trammell and Smith continue to receive greater than 5% support).
Below is a list of the players at each position that survived for fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot; their years on the ballot and highest support are indicated in parenthesis. There are a few guys on this list that I believe should be in Cooperstown; Dale Murphy is at the very top of my list, with players like Dave Concepcion, Ken Boyer, and Dave Parker trailing him. It boggles my mind that Murph has been excluded and I hope the Veterans Committee rectifies his omission when his name comes before them. All of these players had fine careers, and this would make a pretty powerful team, even if none of them are in the Hall of Fame.
- Joe Torre* (1983-1997; 22.2% in 1997) [Torre will be inducted as a manager in 2014, but stayed on the ballot for fifteen years as a player]
- Thurman Munson (1981-1995; 15.5% in 1981)
- Elston Howard (1974-1988; 20.7% in 1981)
- Hank Gowdy (1937-1939, 1942, 1945, 1947-1956, 1958, 1960; 35.9% in 1955)
- Steve Garvey (1993-2007; 42.6% in 1995)
- Gil Hodges (1969-1983; 63.4% in 1983)
- Ted Kluszewski (1967-1981; 14.4% in 1977)
- Mickey Vernon (1966-1980; 24.9% in 1980)
- Bobby Thomson** (1966-1979; 2.8% in 1975) [No 2B lasted fifteen years on the ballot without election; Thomson was on the ballot for fourteen years]
- Dave Concepcion (1994-2008; 16.9% in 1998)
- Maury Wills (1978-1992; 40.6% in 1981)
- Al Dark (1966-1980; 18.5% in 1979)
- Ken Boyer (1975-1979, 1985-1994; 25.5% in 1988)
- Dale Murphy (1999-2013; 23.2% in 2000)
- Dave Parker (1997-2011; 24.5% in 1998)
- Minnie Minoso (1969, 1986-1999; 21.1% in 1988)
- Tony Oliva (1982-1996; 47.3% in 1988)
- Curt Flood (1977-1979, 1985-1996; 15.1% in 1996)
- Vada Pinson (1981-1983, 1985-1996; 15.7% in 1988)
- Harvey Kuenn (1977-1991; 39.3% in 1988)
- Roger Maris (1974-1988; 43.1% in 1988)
- Jack Morris (2000-2014; 67.7% in 2013)
- Tommy John (1995-2009; 31.7% in 2009)
- Jim Kaat (1989-2003; 29.6% in 1993)
- Luis Tiant (1988-2002; 30.9% in 1988)
- Mickey Lolich (1985-1999; 25.5% in 1988)
- Roy Face (1976-1990; 18.9% in 1987)
- Don Larsen (1974-1988; 12.3% in 1979)
- Lew Burdette (1973-1987; 24.1% in 1984)
- Don Newcombe (1966-1980; 15.3% in 1980)
- Babe Adams (1937-1939, 1942, 1945-1955; 13.7% in 1947)
Jim Umbricht, Houston Colt .45s
Umbricht pitched two very solid seasons as a reliever for Houston, posting ERAs of 2.01 and 2.61, before succumbing to malignant melanoma just prior to the 1964 season. The Astros’ team MVP award is named in his honor.
Elston Howard, New York Yankees
Sandy Koufax, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers
Steve Carlton, Philadelphia Phillies