Hall of Fame Thoughts
Sunday, July 31, 2005, 1:19 pm
Random Thoughts As I Watch the Induction Ceremony
Four truly deserving Hall of Fame honorees this year in inductees Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg and honorees Peter Gammons and Jerry Coleman.
I have had the honor of visiting the Hall of Fame twice with the White Sox when we played the annual exhibition game and one other time to represent the team at the induction of catcher Carlton Fisk.
My two best stories … as an almost 40-year-old (now), players like George Brett and Mike Schmidt were my childhood stars. During induction weekend, they close the Otesaga Hotel to only Hall of Famers, their families, media and baseball execs. The hotel is on the lake, with beautiful grounds and a wide veranda with rocking chairs. Picturesque.
Well, anyway, late one evening I needed to visit the men’s room. As I stood there, who should step up beside me but Brett on one side and Schmidt on the other. They were arguing loudly about something from their playing days. I remember thinking, "Wow, this is pretty amazing" as I stood between them. Then, I thought, "Wow, this is one of those really cool moments in your life, and it is happening to me in a rest room."
The night before the ceremony, the Hall of Fame itself is closed to only the HOFers, their family, media and baseball execs. As you wander through the exhibits, you see Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, etc. I came around one corner to see Sparky Anderson, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan standing in front of the Big Red Machine exhibit talking to their kids and grandkids about the team and their shared experiences. Pretty neat.
If you are a baseball fan and haven’t been to Cooperstown, please take the trip. It is well worthwhile.
The Wall Street Journal recently (July 28) ran a compelling article about **** Allen being the best player eligible for the hall of fame who was not enshirined.
I have the personal pleasure of knowing three gentlemen I believe should be in the Hall of Fame.
The first is Sox left-hander Bill Pierce. If you took Whitey Ford’s statistics and Pierce’s and put them next to one another without the name, you could not tell the difference. Head to head, Billy more than held his own with Ford. Ford is in the Hall because he pitched for the Yankees and sports several World Series rings. Bill was just as good a pitcher — you can check the stats yourself — and I believe he belongs.
The second is Minnie Minoso. Baseball has done a great job correcting past injustices when in comes to Negro League greats. I think Minnie is penalized because his career spaned integration. Even with his career "shortened" by his years in Cuba and the Negro Leagues, you can make a statistical arument for Minoso’s inclusion. If you project a full career for Minoso, it is a no-brainer. This is a man who came to a new country, overcame racial and language challenges and still managed a standout career. Minnie belongs.
The third is Roland Hemond. I cannot imagine another baseball executive to have accomplished as much in over 50 years in the game. In addition to the usual accomplishments by general managers (trades, division titles, etc), Roland has fought for years for benefits like a MLB pension plan and the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT), which helps former players, executives and their families who might be in needs of help. Even now, Roland is working on a project to help players continue their educations (in the offseason or after they are done playing) through the University of Phoenix. Roland does more for other people than anyone else I have met in this game. Whenever, he decides to "retire", a foreign concept for him, he should go into the Hall of Fame.
Just my opinion. And I admit to being passionately biased toward these three guys.