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.
(June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)
Slugging outfielder and 1979 American League MVP, Don Baylor passed away today from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of plasma cells. Baylor his 338 home runs in his career, was an All-Star in 1979, and won the World Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1987. He presided over the Boston Red Sox’s kangaroo court, and fined Roger Clemens $5 for giving up a single to Spike Owen on an 0-2 count during his 20-strikeout game in 1986. He was also the Colorado Rockies’ first manager.
We mourn the loss of former Oriole Don Baylor. Our thoughts are with his family. pic.twitter.com/ewkdpEDAmA
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 7, 2017
Few have worn the Angels uniform with greater pride, loyalty and commitment and few have made a greater impact. RIP Groove. pic.twitter.com/MiwKw2Hkql
— Angels (@Angels) August 7, 2017
We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Yankee Don Baylor. He was a great man & we send our thoughts to his family & friends. pic.twitter.com/3t3UavXPs8
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 7, 2017
We're deeply saddened by the passing of Don Baylor, a beloved member of the '86 Red Sox. Our thoughts & prayers are with his family. pic.twitter.com/NmWT9qq9Db
— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 7, 2017
Sending love to the Baylor family today. RIP Don. pic.twitter.com/sXpafJ9L86
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) August 7, 2017
Very sad to hear about the passing of my former teammate and friend Don Baylor. RIP 🙏
— Bert Blyleven (@BertBlyleven28) August 7, 2017
Very sad last few days as baseball loses 2 strong leaders of the past, Darren Daulton & Don Baylor. Two old school tough baseball players.
— Ken Singleton (@29alltime) August 7, 2017
— Dave Winfield (@DaveWinfieldHOF) August 7, 2017
We are deeply saddened by the passing of original Colorado Rockies Manager Don Baylor. pic.twitter.com/hYo61JP1sF
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) August 7, 2017
The #Cubs mourn the passing of former manager Don Baylor.
We send our condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/LJCwJVRD7O
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 7, 2017
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 7, 2017
— Jim Abbott (@jabbottum31) August 7, 2017
— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) August 7, 2017
— Dontrelle Willis (@DTrainMLB) August 7, 2017
Don Baylor was a great coach, manager, player, mentor, and friend. Above all he was a tremendous human being. Rest easy "Groove".
— Raúl Ibañez (@RaulIbanezMLB) August 7, 2017
Thoughts and prayers go out to the Baylor family. Rest easy Groove!
— C.J. Cron (@CCron24) August 8, 2017
He always gave me confidence after a rough one,always ready to laugh, a great coach,a great friend,with both love and sadness RIP Don Baylor
— Huston Street (@HustonStreet) August 7, 2017
Wade Boggs started eleven straight All-Star games for the American League, and was featured in the 1988 Topps All-Star subset. Gary Gaetti was an easy pick to back up the future Hall of Famer at third. He had just come off two 30-homer/100-RBI seasons, and appeared to be on his way to another. He fell a little short, but his stats at the break were promising enough for manager Tom Kelly to put him on the roster.
Tim Laudner would have been the starting catcher if players controlled the lineups, with Ron Hassey backing him up. It was Laudner’s finest season since he made his debut with the Twins in 1981, and he got a substantial raise in the off-season, but 1989 would be his last as a big leaguer.
See all the TWJ ’88 All-Stars here.
I have been sitting on this post for absolutely no reason other than laziness. I bought a handful of fifty-cent packs when I was in Orlando at the beginning of the month, and scanned a handful of them, even uploaded the scans, but just haven’t been motivated to post them. I have nothing else planned for today, so let’s see what I got…
First up is Eric Davis from the 1987 Fleer Star Stickers set. These cards are very similar to the 1986 set, but with a green border instead of maroon. Either way, the border clashes with the red jersey.
The 1988 Fleer Star Stickers went with a gray border sprinkled with colorful stars. This Don Mattingly is the best card I pulled from that pack.
Back to 1987, and a pair of Reds in a pack: the best centerfielder and the best relief pitcher of the second half of the decade. John Franco is criminally underrated.
I bought a couple of packs of 1990 Donruss. Don’t look at me like that. I did not have any Grand Slammers cards, and I wanted a couple. I pulled the Todd Benzinger from one pack, and Will Clark from another. If I had found another pack with Bo Jackson on top, I would have bought that one too.
I did not know the 1992 Fleer “The Performer” cards came in packs of their own. I assumed they were inserts. In a five-card pack, I pulled Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. And probably some ‘roiders, I can’t remember now.
Art cards will always be my weakness. I’m not sure why I picked up a pack of 1992 Score, but I was happy to pull these bad boys.
Also from the same 1992 Score pack.
There it is. I knew there had to be something cool showing on the top of a 1992 Score pack for me to buy it, even at only fifty cents. Jim Thome is the man.
Kirby Puckett from 1996 Pinnacle Denny’s. Not sure why I bought this one-card pack. Oh well, at least it’s a Hall of Famer.
Think this candy is still good from 1991?
Finally, a couple of 1990 Baseball Buttons. I already have several of these, so I probably shouldn’t have bought them, but it was only fifty cents.
Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend
by Thom Henninger
University of Minnesota Press, 2015
Nearly every team has a player like Tony Oliva: immensely popular among both fans and players, yet forgotten by the world at large outside of their “home” city. Oliva’s career in Minnesota as a player and coach saw him spend time with Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Kirby Puckett. Author Thom Henninger’s new biography, Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend, covers all the bases, starting with his initial failed tryout with the Twins and the young player’s inability to return to Cuba afterward because of the Bay of Pigs operation. Henninger’s follows Oliva’s career, the ups and downs and personal, non-baseball highlights, interjecting memories of his teammates in with the statistical record.
That statistical record plays a major role in the author’s epilogue, “The Hall of Fame Question.” Despite Oliva’s popularity and success in Minnesota, he has not yet been rewarded with the ultimate honor bestowed upon baseball players. Henninger breaks down Oliva’s career, comparing his peak years of 1964-1971 to other men who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, both contemporary and those who came later, making the case that Oliva does belong among baseball’s immortals. It is a compelling case, but still short of a slam-dunk for the Cuban-born player.
Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend is an enjoyable book, one that Twins fans and baseball history fans will relish. Whether or not you believe Oliva belongs in the Hall of Fame, his story is worth reading.
Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie
by Stew Thornley
The History Press, 2014
There are certain names that immediately come to mind when one thinks of the Minnesota Twins: Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Joe Mauer. The franchise’s history reaches much deeper than its Hall of Famers, though. Before the Twins came to town, Minnesotans were entertained by Ollie Bejma of the St. Paul Saints and Willie Mays of the Minneapolis Millers, and the franchise that eventually became the Twins had its own roster of greats, most notably Walter Johnson. After fifty years in Minnesota, however, the Twins no longer have to rely on those stories to thrill baseball fans. They have their own.
Author Stew Thornley has done an excellent job of tracing the Twins’ roots in Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie. Recalling anecdotes of Killebrew and Vic Power, Jim Kaat and Jim Perry, and more recently Mauer and Justin Morneau, the author presents an informative look into this underappreciated franchise. While the chapters are packed with details, the most entertaining part of this book are the asides about the All-Star Games, in-season exhibition matches, and the pine tar incident that occurred years before George Brett’s infamous blow-up.
Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie is a nice primer at only 128 pages to help one start to learn about the Twins baseball club.
The teaser on ESPN‘s site reads, “When there’s no ballot room for players like Jack Morris, it’s time for the HOF to change the rules.” Since I’m not an Insider subscriber, I can’t read the rest of the article, but the inference is that Buster Olney supports Morris’ induction. I don’t argue on that point; Morris was one of the most dominant pitchers of his era, despite his ERA. In fact, two of his Tigers teammates should also have plaques in Cooperstown (Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker), but for whatever reason at least 25.1% of voters disagree on all three counts.
Olney’s insistence that the rules should be changed for players who could not get 75% of the voters to check their name in fifteen years is not new; many have been calling for an updated system for years. However, just because one writer (or 67.7% of the writers) think a guy should be in, that is no reason to change the rules.
Let me repeat: I think Morris should be a Hall of Famer, but I’m not stomping my feet and demanding the Hall of Fame change its rules based on my opinion. There is a reason for the 75% threshold. It is difficult to reach that degree of support, and it should be difficult to gain entrance into the most exclusive Hall in all of sports.
So I clicked on the “read more,” and ESPN delivers another tease before they make you pay for the full article. Olney lists sixteen players he would “definitely vote for” (including steroid poster boys Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) and three others to “consider within the shifting landscape of who is already in the Hall of Fame” (Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, and Trammell).
Do I agree with some of Olney’s choices? Of course. Holdovers Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Morris are on both of our lists. Newcomers that we agree on include Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, and Frank Thomas. But there are others that I see as poor choices, mostly because of the steroid connection. I’m not completely sold on Curt Schilling yet, but I don’t necessarily think his inclusion would hurt the integrity of the Hall.
Again, I’m not an Insider subscriber, so I don’t know what new rules Olney suggests (if any). But I doubt he believes those new rules should deal with the voters. His new rules probably want to either extend the life of a player on a ballot, or lower the percentage needed to be called one of baseball’s immortals, or—and this is the most likely suggestion—increase the number of players a writer can vote for. Any of those suggestions is misguided.
Extending the life of a player on the ballot really does little for guys like Morris. This is his fifteenth year on the ballot; he is getting more press because of that and will receive more votes than if he had another five years.
Lowering the percentage needed for induction does not really lower the integrity of the Hall itself, but it is unnecessary. Guess how many non-Hall of Famers (current nominees excluded) would have been included if the threshold was lowered to 65%: zero. Gil Hodges has the most support at 63.4%, and that came in his last year on the ballot in 1983. Everyone who has received at least 65% of the vote has eventually gotten into the Hall of Fame. In fact, Hodges is the only player to ever receive 60% and still be on the outside. That may change after this vote, but there is still the Veterans Committee to consider in a few years.
Increasing the number of players a writer can vote for is a non-issue most years. There are several newcomers this year that will eventually be inducted, even if they are passed over initially. Most writers do not vote for ten players most years; this year might be an exception, but exceptions to the rule do not necessitate changes to the rule.
The rules are fine, Mr. Olney. Jack Morris is not considered a Hall of Famer by at least 25.1%, as much as you and I would like him to be.
Are you following TWJ Cards on tumblr? A new card is being posted daily (at least so far). We have seen Chris Heisey, Yonder Alonso, Fernando Rodney, Joe Mauer (pictured above), and Adam Lind so far, with Justin Upton, Prince Fielder, and prospect Jurickson Profar coming up soon!
Have any players you would like to see featured on a 2013 TWJ card? Drop me a line via the comments below, e-mail me, or leave me a message on tumblr!