THE ENVELOPE PLEASE
The Veteran’s Committee will announce their selections for the Hall of Fame later this afternoon. Who is going to make it? The one name I keep reading about is a logical one: Marvin Miller. Alan Schwarz has an excellent two-part interview with the former head of the Player’s Union this morning at ESPN.com.
Schwarz asked Miller about Curt Flood, who is also up for selection:
Miller: I’d vote for him. He is the ideal one for this. The statistics stand up, I think. I haven’t examined them closely. But for a number of years he was the outstanding center fielder in baseball. It was a period when Willie Mays was admittedly entering his last days as a player. But Curt Flood was clearly the best center fielder in baseball.
And his off-the-field thing … let me tell you a story when he was deciding about the lawsuit. He’s all gung-ho. I felt it was my responsibility to play devil’s advocate. It was easy to do because I really felt pessimistic about the whole thing. The court was never going to reverse itself. So I ply him with all the reasons that any sane person would decide not to do this: “I don’t think you can play and do this lawsuit. You’re 32 years old and I don’t think you can take a year off. Furthermore, I don’t think (the owners) would let you come back. They have long memories. And it’s million-to-one shot — the Supreme Court almost never reverses itself. Finally, I threw him the final punch — even if you prevail against the odds and they rule for you, you will not benefit. They won’t assess damages retroactively. Curt, as far as they’re concerned, you’re dead. You’re not gonna be a player, you’re not gonna be a coach, you’re not gonna be a scout.”
“I won’t get any benefit?”
And he said, “But it would benefit all the other players and the others to come, wouldn’t it?”
And he said, “That’s good enough for me.”
That’s why I think Curt Flood belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Rob Neyer, makes his case for Ron Santo, Wes Ferrell, Carl Mays and Minnie Minoso.
Here is the case for Minnie:
Minoso isn’t going to get elected, because not enough voters saw him play. But Minoso almost certainly does belong in the Hall of Fame. It’s hard to say exactly when he’d have first played regularly in the major leagues if not for the color line, but it stands to reason that it would have happened before he was 28.
But instead, it did happen when he was 28. Minoso spent a couple of seasons in the Negro National League, then graduated to so-called “Organized Baseball” with a couple of fine seasons in the Pacific Coast League. And then in 1951, he finally got his shot, with the White Sox. When he was 28.
Minoso’s career “rate stats” are outstanding: .389 OBP, .459 slugging percentage. He was exceedingly durable, especially for a player who led his league in HBP no fewer than 10 times. But he finished his career with “only” 1,963 hits, which of course isn’t a lot for a Hall of Fame outfielder who wasn’t a big power hitter.
It’s fairly safe to assume, though, that if Minoso had grown up in Georgia with pale skin rather than in Cuba with dark skin, he’d have reached the major leagues three or four years before he did. Let’s be conservative, and give Minoso four more seasons. He was good for approximately 175 hits per season, and 175 times four is 700 hits. Add 700 to 1,963, and you get 2,663 hits.
There are, to be sure, players with more than 2,663 hits who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. But I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody with 2,663 hits and Minoso’s broad base of skills who hasn’t been elected or won’t be. Bill James rates Minoso as the 10th-greatest left fielder ever, and I think that’s just about right
I’m rooting for Minnie, and Flood, even though I’m not convinced Flood should make it, regardless of the stand he took against the Reserve Clause. I’d put my money on Miller though. Who else? Hodges, Torre, Oliva, Dick Allen? We shall soon find out.