I was excited about the “Modern Era” ballot. So many fantastic players, and I was looking forward to seeing some of these larger-than-life personalities get their just due in Cooperstown.
Then Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller were selected.
Both are solid choices, sure, but neither is particularly exciting. I’m still against the practice of putting non-players on the same ballot anyway, so I was opposed to Miller’s very inclusion on the ballot. Why should he (or any other non-playing person) take votes away from the guys on the field?
In the meantime, here are a couple of “Baseball Immortals” cards for the newest Hall of Famers…
Roy Green was a 2-time Pro Bowler for the St. Louis Cardinals and was the 16th member inducted into the Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor in 2016.
Tom Kelly and Whitey Herzog led their teams to the World Series in 1987, but 1988 was not as kind to either manager. Kelly did get mentioned in the AL Manager of the Year voting, but the Cardinals’ 5th place finish in 1988 ensured that Herzog would be ignored at the end of the season. Kelly was at the beginning of his managerial career; he stayed with the Twins through the end of the 2001 season. Herzog was nearing the end in 1988; he was dismissed after 80 games in 1990 and never managed in the big leagues again.
I have enjoyed making these “fun cards” and researching the players that appeared in the 1988 All-Star Game, one of the first I remember and one of the most fun because of how close it was to me.
The National League was absolutely loaded with starting pitchers in 1988. At the end of the year, it was a three-man race for the Cy Young Award, but at mid-season the field was wide open. Dwight Gooden got the starting nod. You would not have convinced me in 1988 that he would never be on another All-Star team.
Next up was Houston’s Bob Knepper, the only Astro on the team. I shook his hand during the All-Star workout the night before. I didn’t have anything to get signed with me, and he was the only one that acknowledged my existence.
David Cone is another one of the borderline Hall of Fame cases. I wouldn’t vote for him, but there are a lot of Coneheads who believe he was snubbed by the voters.
I never would have guessed that Kevin Gross was an All-Star. He did have 10 wins at the break, though, and 2.47 is a pretty good ERA. He just doesn’t register as an All-Star in my brain.
Mark Davis got a hefty raise after his 1989 Cy Young season, but he never pitched like he did in 1988 and 1989 again.
As names go, “Walk” may be one of the worst for a pitcher. “Homer” beats it, but “Walk” is not far behind. Fortunately, Bob Walk never appeared in the top ten for walks.
Orel Hershiser spent 18 years in the majors, winning 204 games for the Dodgers, Indians, Mets, and Giants. 1988 was his greatest season, winning the Cy Young Award, the NLCS MVP, and the World Series MVP.
Just as Tom Kelly chose his closer for the American League roster, Whitey Herzog named his closer Todd Worrell to the National League team. Worrel actually got into the game and retired the side in the top of the 9th: George Brett, Cal Ripken Jr., and Don Mattingly.
Greg Maddux made his first of eight All-Star teams in 1988, but didn’t pitch in the game. Am I the only one who thinks eight is way too low of a number for one of the greatest pitchers ever?
Danny Jackson was one of three Reds on the roster, but didn’t get to play in the game. There should be a rule that all players from the host city get to play. Jackson only made one more All-Star roster; while with the Phillies in 1994, he faced Scott Cooper, Kenny Lofton, and Will Clark without getting an out. He allowed two inherited runners and one of his own to score.
The National League took six outfielders from four teams to the midsummer classic in 1988: starters Darryl Strawberry, Vince Coleman, and Andre Dawson, and backups Willie McGee, Rafael Palmeiro, and Andy Van Slyke.
I love the nicknames of the 1980s. The Straw, Vincent Van Go, The Hawk…the nicknames of players today just don’t have the same panache.
Not everyone liked their nickname, though. Case in point, Willie McGee hated the name “E.T.” He hated it so much, it became a national news story. The New York Times reported in 1982, “Willie McGee won’t elaborate on his dislike for the nickname. Perhaps he thinks that it’s a racial slur since E.T. is dark-skinned. Perhaps he’s embarrassed because he has the hooded eyes and pinched nose similar to that of the little creature; he also wobbles when he walks, as E.T. does in the movie. Whatever the reason, Willie McGee is entitled to prefer his name to that nickname, even though he has virtually landed in the World Series from another planet.”
If Palmeiro had a nickname, what would it be? “Finger-pointer”?
Kirk Gibson is the only difference between the players’ top six and the actual roster. Gibby was the eventual National League MVP and had one of the most dramatic home runs in World Series history, but his invite to the 1988 All-Star Game was evidently lost in the mail.
- Darryl Strawberry 118
- Andre Dawson 100
- Willie McGee 71
- Andy Van Slyke 57
- Kirk Gibson 37
- Rafael Palmeiro 32
- Vince Coleman 25
- Tim Raines 25
- Barry Bonds 20
- Tony Gwynn 10
- Dale Murphy 8
- Gerald Perry 7
- Eric Davis 5
- Will Clark 3
- Tom Brunansky 3
- John Shelby
- Candy Maldonado 2
- Brett Butler 1
- Dave Martinez 1
- Casey Candaele 1
- Jeffrey Leonard 1
- Danny Heep 1
- Kevin McReynolds 1
- Keith Moreland 1
- Mike Aldrete 1
- Gerald Young 1
- Albert Hall 1
Say what you will about the ’90s shortstop revolution, I’ll take the ’80s defensive wizards any day. Ozzie Smith was the no-brainer fan pick, starting his sixth straight All-Star Game; he would start the next four straight before passing the mantle to Barry Larkin. Lark would end up starting five ASGs in his career, and being on the roster for seven more. The other backup in 1988, Shawon Dunston, was only named to two All-Star teams in his career, but man he had a rocket for an arm.
The players poll showed that those who shared the field with the Wizard agreed wholeheartedly with the fans’ choice.
- Ozzie Smith 143
- Shawon Dunston 17
- Barry Larkin 11
- Jose Uribe 8
- Garry Templeton 2
- Dave Anderson 1
- Alfredo Griffin 1
- Rafael Ramirez 1
It took far too long for Lee Smith to receive the honor of baseball immortality. After fifteen unsuccessful years on the BBWAA ballot and reaching 50% of the vote only once, the Veterans Committee finally recognized the greatness of the dominant reliever. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer with Harold Baines, Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and the late Roy Halladay.
The first non-Hall of Famer in this series, but the closest Rockies alum to Cooperstown so far. He has one shot left, but another 20% jump seems unlikely for the Canadian-born Larry Walker. He will probably have to wait for the Veterans Committee (or whatever it’s called now) to consider his career.
Former Cardinals player, coach, and manager Red Schoendienst passed away on Wednesday at the age of 95. He was a popular figure in St. Louis sports and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 7, 2018
It was a privilege to know and learn from one of baseball’s best, Red Schoendienst. Truly one of the greatest mentors in the game. He always made time for me and I will cherish the great times we spent together. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. pic.twitter.com/c3UDDBx3lF
Red Schoendienst was with Grampa and his best pal Joe Garagiola that day in 1942 when they all tried out for the #STLCards. Branch Rickey passed on Gramp, signed Red and Joe, and the rest is history. But the friendships lasted their lifetimes! #LoveRed2 #MLB #Yankees @Yogi_Museum pic.twitter.com/dUalqBmqHo
— Lindsay Berra (@lindsayberra) June 7, 2018
Condolences to the family and friends of baseball legend Red Schoendienst. He was 95 years old.
— The Twins Almanac (@TwinsAlmanac) June 7, 2018
Red Schoendienst and his 1967 World Champion Cardinals pic.twitter.com/pGYErBD9Ub
— Dan Hirsch (@DanHirsch) June 7, 2018
MLB Network mourns the passing of Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst. pic.twitter.com/V7AhI7EnFz
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 7, 2018
Red Schoendienst & Stan Musial in their red blazers at @Cardinals games was our chance to see baseball royalty and history. Such a joy, such gentlemen.
Sad that time is over, happy we had Red so long.
— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) June 7, 2018
Whitey Herzog led the Kansas City Royals to three first-place finishes in the 1970s, but couldn’t get past the Yankees in the ALCS. He moved across the state in the 1980s, taking the helm of the St. Louis Cardinals. There, he was able to lead the team to the World Series three times, winning in 1982 over the Milwaukee Brewers while falling to the Royals and the Twins in 1985 and 1987, respectively.