Here’s nine for the Hall of Fame
Marvin Miller – How is this still a point of discussion? Those who are block this great leader of the Players Association are on the wrong side of history. The MLBPA would not be what it is today without Marvin Miller’s nurturing guidance and there are more than a few who feel that Miller’s wisdom, passion, and negotiating skills are needed once again today. Baseball would not be the sport it is today without Marvin Miller
George Steinbrenner – Loathe him or merely dislike him, George Steinbrenner was great for baseball. He made free agency relevant. He made the Yankees relevant. Steinbrenner’s Yankees compiled a winning percentage of .565 and totaled 11 American League pennants in his 37 full years as the team’s owner. He dominated news cycles. He was obnoxious, full of himself, yet knew how to have fun. He deserves a place in the Hall.
Bill James – Cue the Beatles: “You say you want a revolution; Well, you know; We all want to change the world. You tell me that it’s evolution; Well, you know; We all want to change the world.” Bill James is the greatest baseball analyst of our time. His work not only changed the way we follow baseball, but changed the way the game is managed and played. James is both a revolutionary and an evolutionary.
Sean Forman – In the history of the Internet there have been two great websites built: Google.com and Baseball-Reference.com. Baseball-Reference is Sean’s creation and every fan, researcher, analyst, sportswriter, announcer, player, and historian can attest to its ever-increasing value and importance. What a game changer.
Janet Marie Smith – You want to talk about baseball heroes? That discussion must include Janet Marie Smith, the architect who designed Camden Yards, the ballpark that has served to be an influence on every ballpark built since its debut in 1992. If that project wasn’t enough, it was Smith’s visionary eye that enabled a ramshackle Fenway Park to turn into a prize beyond a glory that had never been previously appreciated. Smith is currently working for the LA Dodgers. By the way, the second oldest ballpark in the National League is Dodger Stadium and it’s great still today in part due to a $100 million renovation led by Smith
Jerry Howarth – If you think being a radio baseball play-by-play announcer is easy to do, just to listen to a bad one (there are many). But if you want to hear a great one, listen to the broadcasts of Jerry Howarth who was the radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays from 1981-2017. Howarth had the unique ability to make every listener feel as if he was talking directly to you. Oh, you just tuned in? Here’s the score, here’s the inning, here’s who’s on the mound, here’s how the runs were scored. Howarth should be the recipient of the Vin Scully Award which should replace the Ford Frick Award. I look forward to Jerry’s speech at Cooperstown that will begin simply with, “Hello friends….”
Nick Cafardo – Sadly we will never get to hear Nick Cafardo’s speech during the induction ceremonies since we suddenly lost this great journalist this February to an embolism. Cafardo joined the Boston Globe in 1989 and brought insights, analysis, and incisive reporting to Red Sox fans throughout the week and to baseball fans nationally each Sunday through his Sunday Notes column. He frequently appeared on telecasts and his 24/7 52-weeks a year work was a testimony to his love of the game. Nick is a worthy recipient of J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
Bob Sheppard – How can the Voice of God not be in the Hall of Fame? Sheppard was the most recognizable public address announcer in ballparks’ history. Sheppard began announcing for the Yankees on April 17, 1951, the day of Mickey Mantle‘s debut with the team. He continued announcing at Yankee Stadium until 2007. It would be of no surprise that next year when Derek Jeter gives his acceptance speech in Cooperstown that he is brought to the podium after we hear Sheppard’s recorded voice intone his name.
Gil Hodges – So you say I need a ballplayer on this list? I say Gil Hodges, the great Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman. Gil was better than many, and not quite to the caliber of many, who are already in the Hall but you can’t really vociferously object to his inclusion. Hodges played with Jackie, Pee Wee, the Duke, Preacher, Campy, and Oisk. As Houston Mitchell wrote in the LA Times, “From 1948-59, Hodges led all first baseman in home runs, RBIs, extra-base hits, OPS and runs created. (I love baseball-reference.com, where I am able to find things like that.)” Mitchell also makes the point that I was going to use as my closing argument as well, Gil managed the 1969 Miracle Mets and as you read more about how the Mets turned around during the Hodges years you realize that he was also a Hall of Fame manager.
Your turn – As you tweet this article, tell me who you believe should be in the Hall.