D. K. Orlandini (5)

Golden Era Part 5: Round Up

With the Golden Era Veterans committee Hall Of Fame election just a few days away here's some details on a few candidates that I haven't covered previously plus who I'd like to see get elected - and when. (Just a reminder to readers: While not elected, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Gil Hodges and Tony Oliva received the most votes in the last Golden Era election in December 2011.  Luis

Tiant and Ken Boyer are also returnees from that election, but their exact vote totals were never revealed and were listed by the Hall Of Fame as receiving 3 votes or less out of 16.  Players Dick Allen, Maury Wills, and Billy Pierce as well as executive Bob Howsam were not on the Ballot three years ago.)  

Jim Kaat: 

While most HOF voters don't give any special weight to career longevity as a factor that may help a candidate get elected, they may have to make an exception in Kaat's case.  The 25-year major league veteran (1959-1983) was a three-time 20 game winner and with 283 career wins, didn't miss the coveted 300 wins plateau by much.  He anchored the Minnesota Twins rotation (along with some help from curveballer, Camilo Pascual and others, for a team that contended for the pennant throughout the 1960s, and went to the 1965 World Series. Kaat won 18 games that year and 25 the next, his peak years with the Twins.  He won 20 twice with the Chicago White Sox at ages 35 and 36 remaining a starter until his late 30s.  Then he extended his career another five years by working out of the bullpen with the Yankees and especially the Cardinals, where he won his only World Series ring in 1982.

While doing all this he set new standards for fielding the pitching position, winning 16 Gold Gloves.  Once in 1980 a rash of injuries in the Cardinals starting pitching rotation temporarily forced Kaat back into a starter's role.  The 41 year old responded by pitching four complete games and one shutout.

In retirement Kaat was a Yankees broadcaster for a few years, but gained greater prominence telecasting games nationally for ESPN and MLB network. He's highly respected, popular, and his continued presence on national broadcasts increases his visibility and can only help his HOF chances. 

Tony Oliva: 

Oliva burst upon the major league scene with an impact that few players in baseball history can match.  He took the American league batting titles in 1964 and 1965, his first two complete seasons in the majors and added a third batting title in 1971.  With his high average hitting, speed and extra base hit power Oliva was an extremely exciting player in his early years.  Once in a nationally broadcast Saturday Game Of The week when he hit one in the gap and then ran through a stop sign to stretch a triple into a round-tripper he got long time broadcaster Dizzy Dean so worked up that he fumbled the call with Dean declaring "He slides, and Oliva is safe at the plate for an inside the run home park."  Oliva was a solid .300 hitter, but hand and wrist injuries limited him to just over 1,900 base hits and diminished his HOF chances from a certainty to just a maybe. 

Bob Howsam:

As a Cardinals executive Howsam experienced both sides of a situation that GMs are subject to.  He lucked into a situation in 1964 where he was Bing Devine's mid-season replacement at GM.  That team then got red hot and went on to win that year's World Series. He was the beneficiary of good timing (right time, right place).

Conversely, Howsam helped sign, trade for and develop players who would be cornerstones on the 1967 and 1968 NL pennant winners, although Howsam wasn't around to get the credit.  After the 1966 season he left St. Louis to take the Cincinnati Reds' GM job.

You can't dispute that during his 12 year tenure he at Cincy built a wonderful team, "The Big Red Machine" won four NL pennants in seven years and won consecutive World Series in 1975 and 1976.  I won't even offer a prediction in Howsam's case, because it is so difficult to predict the HOF chances of non-players, except for managers. 

One thing I have noticed about executives on Veterans Committee Hall Of Fame ballots is that most of them are "One and done" one way or the other.  If Howsam doesn't get elected this year it may be his final chance or at least his last chance for election in decades. 

Dick Allen: 

My Phillies loyalty aside, it's going to be difficult to elect someone who many people thought had attitude problems and never reached his full potential.  I think that because he wasn't even on the ballot three years ago, the best he and his supporters can hope for is that he gets a decent vote total that will allow him to remain on the ballot in 2017 and then perhaps his candidacy will build some steam towards eventual election. 

Gil Hodges: 

See my separate story where I examine Hodges' case in detail.  I think he's a deserving candidate.  One tidbit that I forgot to include in Hodges story was that with 370 home runs, Hodges ranked 10th in career home runs in baseball history at the time he retired in 1963.  He played at a time where home runs were more difficult to come by than today. In Hodges day the average park was much bigger than today's parks and some were enormous by today's standards.  His 370 home runs was a big deal in Hodges' time.   

Minnie Minoso:

Much underrated, but statistical analysis proves that he was very close to the most complete hitter in 1950s American League play. You might even say he was the best, aside from some superhuman feats accomplished by Mickey Mantle.  His career's debut in the majors was delayed by the racial barrier and I'd really like to have seen what he could have done and what superior career numbers he would have posted if there was no Jim Crowism in the 1940s and he could have reached the majors at age 20.  Minoso also was no slouch with the glove, winning three late career Gold Gloves for outfielding excellence in three of the first four years after the award was given.  He was an all-star at every level:  in Cuba, the Negro Leagues the Major Leagues and even in his 40s in Mexico.

His greatest contribution was opening the door for future generations of Latinos of Color.  Hopefully Hall of Fame voters this year will elect him recognizing him at last as a racial and ethnic trailblazer...as well as being one Hell of a ballplayer.

Luis Tiant

As discussed in a previous column (Bob Howsam photo and lead) Tiant's final career numbers were very similar to those of Jim 'Catfish' Hunter.  While Hunter won 20 games five times, Tiant did it four times.  Their career winning percentages and earned run averages were within a handful of points of each other. Hunter was voted into Cooperstown in just his third year of eligibility while Tiant, 74, used up all 15 years of eligibility on the writers' ballots and a few ballots on the Veterans Committee without gaining election.  Bill James in a book published two decades ago suggested that Hunter, with his North Carolina, "Good Old Boy" personality was a good interview, who dished out some memorable quotes Southern Country Boy Style. 

This may have made a favorable impression with the writers and helped Hunter's quest for the Hall a few years down the road. Meanwhile, Tiant who didn't come from Cuba to the US until age 20, when he started his career in the minors, always struggled with communicating in English.  It's not the whole answer, but you have to factor this in to their dissimilar HOF fates.  With otherwise similar records, you can't totally disregard James' theory.  Tiant had one of the lowest vote totals in 2011 of any candidate who was retained on the 2014 ballot.  If he is to be elected eventually then it's imperative that he make a stronger showing this year. 

Ken Boyer:

With barely enough votes in 2011 to be retained on the ballot this year Boyer is in the same boat as Tiant.  He needs an improved showing this month just to stay on the ballot three years from now.  Twenty years ago Bill James rated Boyer and Joe Torre as the best third basemen who were not in the Hall Of Fame. Torre was elected this year as a manger and that leaves Boyer. Will he gain election this year or in the near future or will he continue to fall just short of the dividing line?

Boyer was a seven-time all-star (six years in succession from 1959 to 1964). He was the 1964 National League's MVP and its RBI leader. He averaged 24 home runs per year for his first ten years in the majors, actually hitting 24 home runs four years in a row (now that's consistent) with a career high of 32 HR in 1960.  He was also the National League's best fielding third baseman for a decade and second best 3B in the majors, behind only the incomparable Brooks Robinson.

Boyer won numerous Gold Gloves.  His debut in the majors was delayed until 1955, at age 24 due to his call up to military service during the Korean War.  Boyer had almost made it to the top of the Cardinals farm system when the military beckoned.  He missed the 1952 and 1953 seasons to the service, needed another year to reorient himself in the high minors and finally made his debut in the 1955 season opener.  He was a consistent performer for the Cardinals and Mets at the plate for a dozen years through about 1966, but then declined sharply.

Overall he had over 2,100 hits in just over 2,000 MLB games.  He hit over 280 home runs and hit nearly .290 for his career.  Maybe Boyer was too consistent on an everyday basis for his own good and might have attracted more attention if he'd played with a bit more flair.  To this point he hasn't captured the attention, imagination of votes of the Hall Of Fame electorate either.  He may continue to fall just short of the mark.    

A Note on Veterans Committee voting procedures:   

As silly as it may seem that an 87-year-old Billy Pierce or an 82 year-old Maury Wills might have to wait another three years for their HOF candidacy to build some momentum, nevertheless It's True.  Neither Pierce or Wills was on the Golden Era ballot three years ago nor was 72-year-old Dick Allen.  For HOF voters, it's simply a matter of "out of sight, out of mind". The odds of going from off the ballot to being elected next time out are formidable, if not impossible.

These three however could secure decent totals so that they are almost automatically nominated three years from now and from there candidacy could snowball towards eventual election. 

Maury Wills:

This Los Angeles Dodgers and later Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop re-invented the running game along with some help from American leaguer, Luis Aparicio.  In the power era of Post-World War Two Major Leagues Baseball the running game had been so deemphasized in favor of "swinging from the heels" power game that nabbing 25 to 30 steals was often enough to lead the league in SB. 

When Aparicio reached the majors in 1956 those totals began to pick up. By 1960 he was reaching over 50 steals year in and year out. Wills, however took that trend much, much further.  He had a break out season of 104 steals in 1962 and followed with a 94 stolen base season in 1965 - unheard of totals in the modern era.  With 535 steals logged from 1960 to 1969 Wills became the first player to have 500 steals in a decade since the "Dead Ball Era".  He had a long apprenticeship in the minors, not debuting in the majors in 1959 with the Dodgers until he was almost 27. 

Wills was an old-time leadoff man that relied on contact hitting and speed. He averaged only 1.5 home runs per season in a 14 year career.  Wills had to focus on things he could do well: fielding the shortstop position as well as he could, getting bloop hits, getting infield hits, perfecting his bunting skills always looking to take the extra base and of course - base stealing. In the end he was truly a revolutionary player, who made a great impact on how the game has been played from his day to the present.  A final candidate for the first time in a number of years he may not be able to gain election this year, but his time may be coming soon!  

Billy Pierce: 

Like Wills, Pierce is a finalist for the first time under the Golden Era election set-up.  While he might seem like a borderline guy, I wouldn't rule him out for election particularly if you apply some of the newer statistics to analyze his performance.  He won 186 games in 13 years (1949-1961) with the Chicago White Sox and won 211 games overall. He missed he 2,000 strikeouts plateau by a single strikeout and was held in extremely high esteem by his contemporaries, making seven American league all-star teams and he was bestowed with the honor of being the A.L.'s starting pitcher three times.

Now with a lifetime record of 211-169, on the surface 42 games over .500 may not seem like the record of a Hall Of Fame-type superior pitcher.  You have to understand, however, that the White Sox were one of the poorest hitting, good teams that you could find.  You might say they were offensively challenged.

Throughout Pierce's long stay in Chicago, his White Sox teams always had some serious holes in their lineup.  Once you got past Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, and over the second half of Pierce's time with the Pale Hose, Luis Aparicio, White Sox managers Paul Richards and Al Lopez struggled to piece together the rest of the lineup.  From time to time the White sox had other pluses in their lineup such as Gus Zernial, Eddie Robinson and Chico Carrasquel in the early '50s, Dave Philley in the mid-50s and Al Smith and power hitting, but low average hitting catcher, Sherm Lollar at the end of the '50s and into the early '60s. 

That still left gaps in the lineup. A couple of outfield positions and the third base position were never properly filled by some one who could make a major contribution at the plate  .So Pierce won nearly 200 games with White Sox teams that gave him mediocre to poor run support.  The White Sox somehow won the 1959 American League pennant and they were a consistent second or third place team for a decade.  Without Pierce working his magic every fourth day, however, they would have been an under .500, second division team annually. Pierce was dealt to the San Francisco Giants before the 1962 season and it was there that the little lefty (5'10, 160 lbs.) proved that he wasn't done and that his career would have a heroic second act.  Pierce notched his 200th career win that year and went 16-6, while his Giants came storming back from a large deficit in the standings to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers on the last day of the season. The resulting tie forced a Best of 3 game playoff series.  With the Giants' season on the line Pierce pitched a three-hit shutout in Game One of the playoffs defeating Sandy Koufax. After the Dodgers won the next game to even the series the Giants held a 6-4 lead after eight innings of Game Three. Manager Al Dark called on the one man he knew the Dodgers had trouble facing to nail down the victory in the ninth, Pierce. He retired all three hitters he faced to get the save and the Giants took home the pennant, Quite a clutch performance, but one that is often forgotten today.  Pierce managed to have two 20-win seasons and he won at least 14 games ten times with the usually light-hitting White Sox.  Had Pierce been with a team that afforded him better run support (say the Yankees and can you imagine the fits the Yanks would have given opponents throwing top of the line lefties Ford and Pierce at them in the same series.

Pierce's Hall Of Fame-worthiness might have been much more of a certainty.  He'll have to have a fair showing this year and then perhaps his support for Hall of Fame election will pick up steam next time around. Pierce's candidacy may grow on voters over the next few years. 

My vote:  

It's a strong field and I can't say that there is a really bad nominee that sticks out like a sore thumb among the lot. If I had the vote I'd vote for Minoso, Hodges and Kaat this year.  That would result in Wills, Tiant, and Oliva being the strongest remaining candidates and they would be my choices three years from now. Since this is a strong field and I can't say "How in the world did he ever get nominated" about any of the remaining candidates I wouldn't rule out any of them gaining election at some future time.  

Golden Era Candidates: Part 4 Gil Hodges

I was at a monthly Sunday afternoon baseball card show in Northern New Jersey when I struck up a conversation with an affable and chatty card dealer.  His specialty was vintage cards from the 1930’s to the 1950’s.

“Let me show you some stuff I just got in” as he dug an album out of a stack.  He produced an album of early and mid-1950’s stars and commons.  It was a good cross-section of major league talent that covered the years 1950 to 1956. Among his cardboard treasures tucked safely into plastic sleeves on one page was a 1955 Topps Gil Hodges and a 1954 Bowman Minnie Minoso.

“I don’t think the Hall Of Fame should close the books on the 1950s until they’ve elected these two guys” I said as the dealer nodded his agreement.

Unfortunately this conversation took place in 2001 or 2002 and after at least a dozen years these two stars in question are still on the outside looking in of the great Cooperstown hall.

(See separate Minnie Minoso story).

The well of HOF-electable players seemed to run dry in the 1990’s after the elections of Phil Rizzuto (1994), Richie Ashburn (1995), Nellie Fox (1997) and Larry Doby (1998).  At that point the Veterans Committee shifted its focus to stars of the 1960’s.  A few more players whose careers began in the 1950’s, but who reached their peak productivity in the ‘60’s such as Orlando Cepeda (1999) and Bill Mazeroski (2001) were elected, but clearly the HOF voters had become close-minded to electing any more 1950’s stars.

Gil Hodges and Minnie Minoso were the best position players not elected who enjoyed 1950’s stardom and Billy Pierce and perhaps Lou Burdette and Roy Face topped the pitchers from that era that Cooperstown was now ignoring.  Why Gil Hodges has been neglected so long is anyone’s guess, particularly since he was the embodiment of what a 1950’s Brooklyn Dodger should be: athletic, talented, highly competitive, a leader and supremely classy.  He was the complete package that you’d want in your everyday first baseman - a highly productive run producer, a power hitter, and among the best fielding first basemen of his era.

In a complicated fielding stat labeled “Range” Hodges was always #1 or close to the top for first sackers annually. He topped the league in fielding percentage a number of times, as well as handling 99% of his chances (.990 fielding %) with regularity.  He was to right handed throwing first baseman what contemporary Mickey Vernon was to lefties - the cream of the crop.

As a hitter, Hodges was never going to win a batting title, but he was a superior clutch hitter and run producer.  He finished with a .273 career average, hitting .304, .302, .299 and .289 in his four best seasons.  That may not knock your socks off, but then consider that he had a career high of 130 RBI in 1954 and topped 100 RBI seven straight years (1949-1955) and had a near-miss with 98 RBI in 1957, the Dodgers final season in Brooklyn.  From 1949 to 1959 Hodges hit at least 20 home runs in all eleven of those years, topped 30 home runs six years and reached the 40 home run milestone twice.  Reputation-wise, he could not have been held in higher esteem by his contemporaries, making the National League all-star team in eight out of nine years between 1949 and 1957.

I’d really like to discover more about Hodges first game as a pro, because it wasn’t during the spring or summer at some far-flung outpost of the Dodgers empire, at some small city or little town far out west, or way down south, or in some hick mid-west town near Hodges’ Indiana home.

No, it was with Brooklyn in October on the last day of the 1943 season (10/3/43) when he was nineteen years old.  The most notable and amusing thing that jumps out at you from the boxscore of his pro and major leagues debut is that Hodges successfully stole a base that day, one of only 63 steals he’d have in his long career. Shortly afterwards Hodges would go into the US Navy to help the war effort and would miss the 1944 and 1945 seasons entirely.  He wouldn’t get back to Brooklyn until 1947, where he was used sparingly, but finally was able to claim the Dodgers everyday first baseman’s job in 1948 at age 24.  He’d develop quickly and he’d be an all-star by the following year of 1949 at age 25.  Hodges had the raw talent to get to the majors at an earlier age than 23 if not for the war and his subsequent military service.

When he finished his playing career one month into the 1963 season, just after his 39th birthday to take the Washington Senators managerial job his final numbers stood at 1,924 hits and 370 home runs.  Without the delay caused by military service his career numbers might well have exceeded 2,000 hits and 400 home runs - and 400 home runs in those days of a less lively ball and bigger, often enormous ball parks really meant something back then.

Prior to that he’d anchor two Dodgers Worlds Championship teams, the 1955 Brooklyn team and the 1959 “last team standing” in Los Angeles, as well as numerous pennant winners.

I suppose voters are only supposed to vote on Hodges playing career, but I think voters can’t help remembering that Hodges took a New York Mets team that had never come close to playing .500 ball and guided them to the 1969 World’s Championship - working a minor miracle in the process.

If I were on the Golden Era panel of voters next month, Hodges would certainly have my vote.  Why his excellent career numbers have translated into a high of only 63 percent in his best showing on the writer’s ballot and continued rejection by the Veterans Committee is one of those unfathomable mysteries that I’ve tried to understand, but thus far been unable to solve.

Golden Era Candidates: Part 3

Hall of Fame Discrepancies, Issues, News , Notes & Trivia. Evaluating HOF GMs and Executives, Bob Howsam 

Bob Howsam, the General Manager who built the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine of the 1970s is the only non-player nominated for this year’s Golden Era Veterans Committee election.  His nomination brings up some thorny issues such as how great would you rate a General Manager’s contribution to a winning team and how ultimately would you rate a baseball executive’s resume as Hall Of Fame – worthy or not.  

Hasn’t the groundwork for a championship team often been laid by a GM’s by his predecessor?  When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 was Pat Gillick really the genius who masterminded that team’s fortunes or was he merely the beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time?  Weren’t many of the stars of that team such as Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell drafted and developed during Ed Wade’s regime as GM? 

Howsam definitely was the beneficiary of such a situation when Cardinals’ Bing Devine was fired mid-season in 1964 and Howsam was chosen to replace him.  The Cardinals then jelled and went on to have a blisteringly hot final two months of the season.  With the Phillies collapse they were able to take the pennant and upset the Yankees in the World Series.  Howsam would appear to have had the magic touch but most of the pieces of that Cardinals puzzle were assembled by Devine.

That said, being the man who put together “The Big Red Machine” is an awfully good qualification to have on his Hall of Fame resume.  Howsam was the Reds chief executive for 11 seasons, 1967 to 1977 and in a seven year run his team went to the World Series four times – losing to Baltimore in 1970, losing to Oakland in 1972, scoring a narrow victory over Boston in 1975 and then making Yankees Haters deliriously happy by sweeping the Pinstripers in 1976. 

Future Baseball Executive HOF Candidates: Scheurholz and Cashman When it comes to selecting executive candidates from a more recent era you can’t do any better than nominate and elect John Scheurholz, who was the Atlanta Braves GM throughout their run of 14 straight divisional titles (1991-2005, excepting 1994 when a players union strike prevented the regular season from being played to its natural conclusion.) He’s moved on from the Braves and is still active in baseball.  Perhaps the fact that Schuerholz has not yet retired or taken a less prominent role is the only thing that has prevented him from being nominated already.

Maybe some future day the Yankees’ Brian Cashman will be nominated too.  He’s only 47, but in 17years since taking over the GM position Yankees teams have won 4 World Series, made 14 postseason appearances and won the American League East division title 12 times.  The biggest argument against him would be that he accomplished all this for the Yankees.  He was the beneficiary of the Steinbrenner family fortune in acquiring players through the draft, through trades and in signing free agents.  Still Cashman has shown exceptional skill in engineering trades, pushing the right buttons and plugging holes in the Yankees roster.   

Luis Tiant & Jim Hunter:  Similar Stats, Different HOF Fortunes 

Luis Tiant’s final career numbers were so similar to those of Jim “Catfish’ Hunter that it was like Hunter had a Latino twin.   

                                       Tiant                 Hunter 

Wins                               229                     224

Winning %                     .571                     .574

20 Win Seasons              4                          5

E.R.A.                             3.30                    3.26

Strikeouts                       2416                   2012

The pair’s numbers are very close, with the only major exception being Strikeouts where Tiant was clearly better in topping Catfish’s K total by more than 400.  However their fortunes have clearly differed when it comes to the Hall Of Fame.

The writers elected Hunter in 1987 in just his third year of eligibility.  Tiant became eligible the following year in 1988 failed to gain election in 15 ballots through 2002 and now is up for his fifth election via the Veterans Committee.  El Tiante seems to be following the path of Gil Hodges and Minnie Minoso and is becoming one of the Hall of Fame’s most overlooked major stars.   

Jack Morris’ Future as a Veterans Committee Candidate – which path will he take Fox’s or Bunning’s?

The candidacy of Jack Morris has been controversial to say the least. While his supporters say Morris was close to the best pitcher the American league of the 1980s had to offer, his detractors point out Morris’ relatively high 3.90 earned run average, which his supporters counter by stating that much like Warren Spahn, Early Wynn or Robin Roberts, Morris pitched to the score. 

He didn’t try to shut everybody out. Once he had the lead he protected it well and isn’t winning the most important thing. That was the approach the three aforementioned Hall Of Famers took and Morris was no different.  Having 253 regular season wins and that 10inning shutout he threw against John Smoltz and a couple of Atlanta Braves relievers in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series that enabled Morris’ Minnesota Twins to capture the world title is great to have on his resume.

Any great World Series achievement could be vital to a player’s HOF chances.  Certainly without his 1960 World Series winning home run for Pittsburgh, Bill Mazeroski’s HOF election might not have ever happened or been considerably delayed despite his numerous defensive records at 2B.  In January Morris used up his last shot at gaining election by the writers.  Two years from now he will be eligible for the December 2016 election of The Expansion Era (1973 to 1990s) for the HOF Class of 2017. His chief competition will come from Steve Garvey, Davey Concepcion, Tommy John and Don Mattingly, who like Morris will be before the Veterans Committee for the first time.  Many will rate Morris as the best candidate among that group and certainly no worse than second behind Garvey.

Veterans Committee elections are unpredictable, however. For one thing the nominating committee is never made up of the same people who get the final vote and the Hall Of Fame has taken it upon itself to shuffle the voters around so that the panel of electors for succeeding elections is never exactly the same.  Morris had over 61 per cent of the vote this year, but actually had his best showing the previous year.  

In the 2013 writers election Morris had 67.7% of the vote, not shy of the required 75 % needed for election by a heck of a lot.  How have other near- electees via the writers fared with the Veterans Committee in the past?  In their best vote totals via the writers Jim Bunning and Nellie Fox came much closer than Morris did to getting elected.  In fact, Bunning and Fox missed election by less than one per cent. Aside from the fact that both these stars once got better than 74% of the vote but had to wait years until their cases advanced to the Veterans Committee to gain HOF election their treatment by the Veterans Committee had little in common. 

Bunning who debuted in the majors in 1955, retired after the 1971 season.  In his 15 elections by the writers he peaked with 74.2 per cent of the vote in 1988, when Willie Stargell was the only electee.  Somehow after this near-miss his vote percentage declined in three more elections until he was off the writers’ ballot.  Under HOF rules at the time his case was then taken up in his 24th year after he played his final game.  Under the Veterans Committee election rules in place in 1995, a candidate not only had to have 75% of the vote, he had to be the top vote getter, as only one modern day player could be elected.  Bunning got 75%, but Richie Ashburn trumped him with unanimous support that year to gain election.  In the following year, 1996, in his second year of eligibility, no longer having to contend with the ever-popular Ashburn, it became Bunning’s turn and he made it to Cooperstown that July. 

Much like the excruciatingly close vote total that denied Craig Biggio HOF election this past January, Nellie Fox, one of the premier second basemen and leadoff men of his day (1947-1965), failed to gain HOF election by one vote in 1985, his final year on the writers’ ballot. After a three year waiting period before the case advanced to the Veterans Committee jurisdiction (which has been shortened to a one year waiting period today) the late Nellie Fox’s case came before the Veterans Committee for the first time in1989, back when all 20th Century candidates were voted on annually.

You would have thought that after missing election by one writer’s vote in 1985, Fox’s election should have been an automatic, a given, a slam dunk, a can’t miss – and whatever synonym or phrase you’d choose to indicate that Fox couldn’t lose. Instead the choice that year by the VC was Red Schoendienst. Tony Lazzeri, Hal Newhouser, Phil Rizzuto, Ashburn and Bunning would all be elected in an eight year period while Fox’s candidacy was kept on hold.  

Finally the Veterans committee deigned to elevate Fox to Hall of Fame status in 1997.  It’s obvious that for many a candidate, a good showing in the writers elections that falls a little short of reaching that magic 75% total does not translate into an easy election or carry a lot of weight when the case goes to the Veterans Committee.  When a new set of Committee members are given the vote for virtually every election there are different eyes on the candidates and different minds deliberating on the candidates’ worthiness – which may greatly help or greatly hurt any given candidate.

What might be scary for the supporters of Jack Morris for election to Cooperstown is the fact that one of the current Veterans Committee Golden Era candidates, Gil Hodges, has been an unsuccessful candidate for decades.  His best election total of 63.4% was similar to Morris’ top total of 67.7.and Hodges over the course of his candidacy actually received more support than Morris.  

Hodges topped 50 per cent 11 of the 15 years he was on the writers ballot and topped 60 % three times.  So in the future which path will Morris take regarding the Veterans committee?  Will it be the quick path to election of Bunning or the lengthy delay, but eventual election of Fox?  Hopefully it won’t be the path of rejection and non-election that thus far has been Hodges’ fate.  

The Ticket

Sometimes I think it’s too bad that HOF candidates can’t run in tandem, like on a Presidential/V.P. ticket.  Package candidates on a ticket and if you don’t like one of the two, you’d still be forced to vote for both of them.  You could have the 1960s Minnesota Twins ticket (Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva).  The 1950’s White Sox ticket (Billy Pierce and Minnie Minoso).  The all-hispanic ticket (Minoso, Oliva and Tiant)… or the best remaining position players from the 1950’s (Minoso and Gil Hodges).  When two players are closely identified with each other either by era, position, heritage or team aren’t voters both among the writers and veterans committee electorate subconsciously influenced to vote for both.

Ask Whitey Ford.  In 1973 in his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot he made a good showing, but didn’t come very close to being elected. The following year, Mickey Mantle became eligible for the HOF for the first time and Whitey, in the vice-president’s secondary role was easily swept into the Hall of Fame Class of 1974 on the coattails of President Mickey.

Minnie Could Set A Record

Minnie Minoso’s birthday will come up soon over Thanksgiving weekend on Saturday, November 29. Officially he will turn 89 then, but some people think that birthday might be his 90th, 91st or even his 92nd.  Even if he should be just 89, if he’s elected to the HOF on December 8th through the Golden Era Veterans Committee he would become the oldest living Hall of Famer at the time of election by a large margin.  The current record holder is outfielder Elmer Flick, who starred for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians between 1898 and 1910.  It was more than a half-century after Flick hung up his spikes before the1911 season that Cooperstown came calling.  Flick was 87 when he was finally elected in 1963 and he lived another eight years (1876-1971).

Here’s some info on the oldest 17 at the time of their election.

Player/position/MLB career span/year of HF election/age at time of HOF election.

1. Elmer Flick – OF - (1898-1910) - 1963 -87.

2. Rube Marquard – P - (1908-1925) – 1971 – 85.

3. Harry Hooper – OF – (1909-1925) – 1971 – 84    

4T. Kid Nichols – P –(1890-1906) – 1949 – 80.

4T. Stan Coveleski – P – (1912-1928) – 1969 – 80

4T. Dave Bancroft – SS – (1915-1930) – 1971 – 80.

4T. Bobby Wallace – SS – (1894-1918) – 1953 – 80 

8T. Leon Day – P – (1939-1950 NEGRO LEAGUES) –1995 – 79 

8T. Hugh Duffy – OF – (1888-1906)  - 1945– 79  

8T. Rick Ferrell – C -   (1929-1947) – 1984 – 79  

8T. Travis Jackson – SS – (1922-1936) – 1982 –79

12T. Jesse Burkett – OF – (1890-1905)  - 1946 – 78

12T. George Kelly – 1B – (1915-1932)  - 1973 – 78.

12T. Clark Griffith – P – (1891-1914) – 1946 – 77

15T. Jesse Haines – P – (1918-1937) – 1970 – 77

15T. Phil Rizzuto – SS – (1941-1956) – 1994 – 77

Finally whether you’re Minoso at 89 or those decades younger than Minnie, likely to be elected by the writers this year, Randy Johnson, 51 or Craig Biggio, 49 – there’s one small club no one wants to become a member of.  It’s the small group of those players who lived to learn the news that they had been elected to the Hall of Fame, but who didn’t survive long enough to be inducted.

Three such deaths have occurred in Hall Of Fame history: 

Shortstop Walter ‘Rabbit’ Maranville HOF 1954 – age 62.  A star shortstop from 1912 to 1935, primarily for the Boston Braves, Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pitcher Eppa Rixey HOF 1963- age 71.   He would have been part of the 1963 HOF induction class with oldest living Hall of Famer Elmer Flick.  Rixey died a month after his election. He was a star pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies from 1912 to 1933, notching 266 wins

Leon Day:  Negro Leagues. A pitching star from the late 1930s to the early 1950’s and a member of the1946 Negro Leagues World Series winning Newark (NJ) Eagles as a teammate of Monte Irvin.  Day died on March 13, 1995 six days after learning that he had been elected to the Hall Of Fame Class of 1995 along with MLB executive William Hulbert and major league players Mike Schmidt, Vic Willis and Richie Ashburn.


Veterans Committee Golden Era (1947-1972) Part 2: Dick Allen

by Dennis Keith Orlandini

Dick (Richie) Allen - Dick Allen or Richie Allen as he was known in his first years in the majors was as strong as an ox and hit some balls into parts of the Phillies’ Connie Mack Stadium and its environs that had never been reached before – uncharted territory.   

He had so much talent and the potential to put up even bigger numbers so why did his career flame out at age 35?  By age 34 in 1976 when the Phillies finally won their division for their first first-place finish since 1950, giving Allen and Tony Taylor some sense of vindication since they were the only players remaining from the “Greatest Collapse in history” team of 1964, Allen was merely a contributor and no longer a star (15 HR, 49RBI, .268). In his heyday, from 1964 to 1974, Allen seemed to alternate years that were merely good with years that were pretty awesome.  

He hit .300 seven times, led his league in slugging percentage and on base percentage twice each.  Allen reached 40 home runs once with the Phillies in
1966 setting a team record for right handed hitters in a big park with enormous dimensions and won two home run titles with the White Sox in the ‘70s and was the American league’s MVP in 1972 hitting .308 and leading the league in homeruns (37) and RBI (113). I suppose Allen was an adequate fielder at both third and first bases, but he didn’t earn his keep with the glove.  For fans it was the attraction of the Allen LONG SHOT, those truly legendary blasts that Dick Allen was all about.  

Look at Allen’s final career numbers.

He hit .292, with 351home runs and he drove in 1119 runs. Good numbers for the length of his career, but he played in only 1749 games and had 1848 hits. A 2,000 game and 2,000 hit career seems to be a prerequisite these days for the Hall Of Fame consideration unless there are special circumstances that prevented it such as the racial barrier in Minnie Minoso’s case or war-time military service that may have truncated a player’s career. 

Unfortunately, Allen had many other interests other than baseball. He collected classic cars and owned racehorses. I have to conclude that at times his mind wasn’t totally on the game. He was in supreme physical shape, one of the strongest players ever. If he had been more dedicated to the craft of baseball he might have played until he was 39 or 40 and hit at least another 100 home runs.

The City Of Brotherly Love Allen’s relationship with the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia is convoluted at best.  He’s worked with the team’s Public Relations and Special Events department in recent years.  Back in the late ‘60s, however he was demanding that he be traded and wanted out of the city.

Then in 1975 he was welcomed back for a second stint with the Phils and he was at least partially responsible for the Phillies taking a division title in 1976. Today his main support for Hall Of Fame election comes from the Phillies, their fans and Philadelphia sportswriters ON the positive side, Allen did have a tough road to hoe when he reached the Phillies in September 1963 and in his first full season with the team of 1964 when he was the National League’s Rookie Of The Year.  He faced racial taunts even in his home stadium in1963 when he played for the Phillies farm team of Little Rock, Arkansas and then was called up to a racially divided Philadelphia. Previously, Black Latinos Chico Fernandez, Tony Taylor, Tony Gonzalez, reliever Humberto Robinson and black Virgin Islander Tony Curry had been the only black players to have prominent roles with the Phillies. Allen became the Phils’ first American-born black star.

He entered the majors in an atmosphere where the city was barely able to keep a lid on its kettle of racial differences. One sensed that it could boil over at any instant and that with the smallest spark the city might explode.  On the negative side however, Bill James in his 1995 book “Whatever happened To The Hall Of Fame” claimed that Allen was the most divisive player to ever suit up in a team’s clubhouse.  Allen raised a number of beefs and issues with management AND THERE WAS ALWAYS THE “Allen Camp” and the “Anti-Allen” camp.  You were either for him or against him. “Clubhouse Cancer”?  I wouldn’t go that far, but some writers who covered him claim he was.   


There’s quite a lot of evidence against him that I’ve detailed above. You might think that my vote would be an emphatic “NO” to Allen’s Hall of Fame chances However, for the Class of 2015 and using not in the hall of fame’s standards my vote would be that Allen is probably a Hall Of Famer, but I wouldn’t vote for him at this time, because there are better candidates on the ballot that deserve election more.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m a Phillies fan, and I can’t forget those LONG SHOTS Allen hit onto Connie Mack Stadium’s roof that really got me excited about the game of baseball when I was a kid.

I can’t bring myself to say “NO” to his candidacy outright.  Of the 9 players on the ballot I’d rate Allen roughly in the middle in a virtual tie for fifth place with Tony Oliva.  Dick is ahead of Ken Boyer, Luis Tiant, and Billy Pierce in

My book. If not for Oliva’s hand injuries, which shortened his career, he’d be ahead of Allen, but things being as they are Allen and Oliva are about even. 

I’d have to rate the following above Allen:

Minnie Minoso: Racial & Ethnic Trailblazer for Black Latinos, who finished 2nd to Mickey Mantle in eight major offensive categories for American Leaguers in the period 1951-1961.

Gil Hodges: The heart and soul of those Brooklyn Dodgers teams of the 1950s – a slugger and an outstanding first baseman.  If the Dodgers hadn’t moved and Hodges played his entire career in Brooklyn, with their fan base, he might have been elected 15 to 20 years ago.

Jim Kaat: Three 20-win seasons, and 25 MLB seasons – supreme longevity – 283 wins. If the Phillies hadn’t converted him to a reliever when they did and let him stay in the starting rotation for another year or two Kaat would have been a 300 game winner.

Maury Wills: Wills in the National League AND LUIS APARICIO IN THE American league revolutionized the sport of baseball with their aggressive base stealing.  Instead of playing for a walk, a single and a three-run homer, managers now built runs with SPEED.  In the 1960s Wills took what Aparicio had started in the late ‘50s and took it three steps farther by

Reaching over 100 stolen bases in a season (1962), which was simply unprecedented. 


With the three year rotation of baseball eras for Hall of Fame Voting

(19th Century to 1946, 1947 to 1972, and 1973 to early 1990s) Allen’s candidate group will come up every three years. Unless I’m very much mistaken, if he’s not elected next month his name will not drop off the ballot three years from now.  He’ll gain momentum and maybe by the election for the Class of 2021, he’ll get in.

He wouldn’t be the worst guy to become a Hall of Famer via the Veteran’s Committee…not by a LONG SHOT.  

Veterans Committee Golden Era (1947-1972) Part 1: Minnie Minoso

by Dennis Keith Orlandini

Arguments supporting Minnie Minoso’s Hall Of Fame election usually begin with the fact that his debut in the major leagues was delayed considerably by the racial barrier or by the fact that Minoso was a pioneer blazing a trail for Latinos of Color. (He was the first Black Latino to reach the majors (1949) and the first in that category to become an all-star (1951).

Supporters will also point out that Minoso made the American league all-star team in 7 of his first 10 full seasons and that most of his accomplishments occurred in his 30s, due to racism delaying and shorting his  major league career.

Now you can add to those suppositions of how great Minoso could have been if the major leagues had been open to him at age 20 comes a new generation of baseball metrics that ranks Minoso somewhere between the second and fourth best overall offensive performer in the American league during his 11 year long career peak (1951-1961). His numbers also rank on a par with many already inducted Hall Of Famers, a strong indication that he belongs in Cooperstown.   

Will the December 8 Veterans Committee Golden Era (1947-1972) election results bring the good news that Minoso has so longed hoped to hear?  Although that’s unknowable if there’s any justice in this world Minnie’s election would be assured.

Minoso will turn 89 shortly before the election (some accounts say he will be as old as 92). Until recently he was doing 150 situps a day, (according to Chicago

Magazine) which is consistent with the fact that he was one of the best conditioned players of the 1950s. Minoso may have determined that he will simply outlast those who oppose his HOF election.  He may be going to Heaven some day, but not until he goes to Cooperstown first!

Early Days, Negro leagues and The Long Apprenticeship

Minoso was born in rural Cuba sometime between 1922 and 1925, depending on what version you choose to believe. By the early 1940s he was one of the best ballplayers in Cuba, often competing and succeeding against opposition players who were much older than him. He was brought to America by HOF owner Alex Pompez to play for the New York Cubans late in the 1945 Negro Leagues season.  This team booked home games wherever there was availability in the splendor of Yankee Stadium or The Polo Grounds or in little Oval Park in East Orange, NJ.

Minnie started to really turn some heads with his play in his first full season of
1946. In 1947 he was the catalyst at the top of the lineup for the NY Cubans team that won the Negro Leagues World Series over the Cleveland Buckeyes. He was primarily a third baseman then. Minoso was selected to play in the 1947 and 1948 East-West Negro Leagues all-star games as his reputation for talent and hustle rapidly grew. With the racial barrier falling a little bit at a time he eventually attracted attention from major league teams and the Cleveland Indians signed him to a minor league contract shortly after the 1948 negro leagues all-star game.  (Minoso was convinced that he could have helped that 1948 Indians team to the pennant and World Series and didn’t need any “seasoning” in the minors.

Unfortunately, he got stuck in a “baseball limbo”.  Indians General manager, Hank Greenberg never fully appreciated Minoso’s talents. Except for a cup of coffee with the Indians at the start of the 1949 season, he spent all of 1949 and 1950 with San Diego of the AAA Pacific Coast league.

In addition, the American league was very slow to integrate (the NY Yankees didn’t have a black player until 1955, the Red Sox had no black players until 1959). There may have been a quota system and the Indians were set with Lary Doby and Satchel Paige

Minoso finally made the Indians’ opening day roster in 1951, but as a utility player.  Two weeks into the season he was sent packing to the Chicago White Sox in a three-team deal that also included the Philadelphia Athletics.

Manager Paul Richards inserted Minnie into the lineup on May 1 and Minoso had two hits, including a homer in his first game. Afterwards, Minoso just kept hitting. By July 1 he had been selected to the American league’s all-star team and he would finish in second place in in the league in batting average. He led the league in Triples and Stolen Bases, a power and speed combination so rare that it took a half-century for any major leaguer to duplicate that feat (Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia, National Lg.)

Minoso had arrived. By the end of 1951 he was a full-fledged star... and all he
had needed to prove he as an elite player was the chance the White sox gave him.

Stardom: 1951-1961

Minoso had the daunting task of being the standard bearer for two minorities. He was the first black latino and one of the first blacks in the major leagues - period.  He faced plenty of racism in the early 1950s, particularly on the road. His upbeat personality, athletic skills and above all hustle eventually won over all but the most bigoted fans. He was Charlie Hustle before Pete Rose coined that nickname.

After a short time at third base he’s been converted to a left fielder, a position of the most need for Chicago. He became an outstanding outfielder, definitely some one opposing base runners seldom tried to take an extra base on and with the establishment of the Gold Glove Award in 1957, Minoso won three late career Gold Gloves. He was consistently in the top five or top ten in most major offensive categories and good defensively also. Minoso simply did everything well on a baseball field.

To black fans in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic he was the Jackie Robinson of Latin America and The Caribbean.  He gave inspiration to upcoming ball players like Orlando Cepeda, Tony Perez, Tony Taylor and Juan Marichal.  Reaching and succeeding in the major leagues was now possible for  black latinos thanks to Minoso.  While casual fans probably think that Roberto Clemente was the first superstar of color from Latin America, it’s a fact that Minoso had played on four American League All-Star teams (1951-1954) before Clemente ever faced his first major league pitcher.

Hall Of Famer, Orlando Cepeda has said, “Orestes Minnie Minoso was the Jackie Robinson for all Latinos - the first star who opened the door. He was everybody’s hero. I wanted to be Minoso.  Even Clemente wanted to be Minoso”.

(More on Minoso’s offensive prowess later in this article).

The Ill-Fated 1962 Season

Minnie was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1962 season.  This was potentially a good move.  It would give Minnie a chance to play with some old veterans such as Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Ken Boyer, Curt Simmons, Curt Flood, Dick Groat and the up and coming youngsters like Bob Gibson and Tim McCarver.  The Cardinals were always contenders, so this might be a chance to steal a pennant.  It proved to be Minnie’s worst season and the start of the downturn of his career.  In mid-May Minoso was severely injured as he crashed into an outfield wall while trying to make a catch. He suffered a concussion and hand and head injuries. He missed two months then returned for about four weeks, but was unable to recuperate fully and didn’t play that year after mid-August. With time lost to the injury he missed his chance to reach 2,000 hits and pad his other offensive career stats. Normally logging over 550 at bats per season, injuries limited Minoso to a paltry 97 at-bats in 1962. He played sparingly in 1963 and 1964 and then took a chance to be a player-manager in the Mexican Leagues, remained there for eight years, where he was much beloved and was elected to the Mexican Leagues Hall Of Fame.

Comebacks and Hall Of Fame rules:

Minnie came back for brief stints with the White Sox in 1976 & 1980.  These cameo appearences were publicity stunts that helped sell tickets. Technically he became MLB’s only five decade player, but he couldn’t have possibly have known the negative effect this would have had on his Hall of Fame chances.  Each time he came back to the majors the Hall of Fame, stringently applying it’s rules, set the clock back on his HOF eligibility. The outcome was that now Minoso was on a HOF ballot in the 1990’s being judged by most writers who were too young to have ever seen him play.

His candidacy was set to advance to the Veterans Committee in 2002.  There he would be judged by senior writers, executives, broadcasters and baseball historians.  In a small committee like that his candidacy had a fair chance of succeeding. After the 2001 inauguration the HOF changed its rules for Veterans Committee candidates. (Bill Mazeroski was the last Vets. committee candidate elected under the old rules.

The vote was turned over to an 80 plus man electorate made up largely of living Hall of Fame players. It turned out that these HOFers jealously guarded their HOF status.  It was their private club and they weren’t accepting any new members.  In four elections under this system 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 not one Veterans Committee candidate was elected.  The Hall of Fame realizing that the system was broken has since gone back to a 16 member committee and stripped that large body of living Hall Of Famers of their vote.

Other Obstacles:

The difficulties of Split Career HOF election

Evaluating the careers of players whose careers were split between the Negro leagues and the major leagues has historically proved difficult. The dual career can cloud the issue and is inherently a challenge, particularly since Negro league statistics can at best only be labeled as approximate numbers as conscientious record-keeping was sometimes lacking. With the exception of the ultimate trailblazer, Jackie Robinson, most players who starred in both the negro and major leagues and who reached the HOF did so with considerable delay.  (Monte Irvin was elected in 1973 - 17 years after his retirement and Larry Doby - elected in 1998 was elected 39 years after his retirement).

Negro leagues special election of February 2006

Minoso was among 39 final candidates up for a Special Hall of Fame election for negro leaguers in the winter of 2006. Although he and Buck O’Neil were the only living candidates and having their reminiscences of their negro league days was the type of a Oral History story that should have been told, neither Minoso or O’Neil was elected.  O’Neil’s rejection was quite puzzling and it’s rumored that he missed being elected by only one vote. Minoso’s case was different.  Too many voters on the 16 member committee viewed him as a major leaguer and would not give him their vote for just over three years’ service in the negro leagues.  They could have elected Minoso BASED ON HIS OVERALL CONTRIBUTION TO THE SPORT IN CUBA, THE NEGRO LEAGUES,

MAJOR LEAGUES AND IN MEXICO but narrow-mindedly limited their concerns to his negro leagues career and due to the brevity of that career in the negro leagues rejected him.  Minoso had some support from Latinos on the committee and some baseball historians - but not enough.

Both Raw and Advanced Statistics Support Minoso’s Hall Of Fame Election

Overall Minnie Minoso must rank no lower than fourth among 1950s American league offensive performers.  For his peak years he has few peers.

Minnie Minoso For the period 1951-1961 and his ranking among American League players:

Outfield Assists: ranked #1 for this time period among all American leaguers.

Hit By pitch: Minoso ranked #1 with 178 HBP- led the A.L. 10 out of 11 years.

Total Bases: 2879 rank #2 (leader: Mickey Mantle).

Hits: 1861 - rank #2 - (leader: Nellie Fox).

Runs Scored: 1078 - rank #2 (leader mantle).

Extra Base Hits: 579 - rank #2-(leader: Mantle).

Times On Base: 2806 - rank #2 (leader mantle)

Batting Average .305 - rank 5th (leader Ted Williams)

On Base Percentage:  .395 - rank: 4th (leader - Ted Williams).

Triples: rank 2nd (Leader: N. Fox)

Stolen Bases: rank 2nd (leader; Luis Aparicio)

Runs Created: 1145 - rank 2nd (leader: Mantle)

Wins Above Replacement (WAR) - rank 2nd (leader; Mantle)

Win probability: Minoso ranks 3rd (behind mantle & Williams)

Power-Speed Number: 2nd - Minoso loses #1 rank to mantle in a very close call.

Win shares (1947-1972):  rank: 9th. Every player in the top 13 is in the HOF except Minoso.

OPS: on base plus slugging - ranked in the top 10 eight times in a 10 year period.

Slugging percentage: Even in a Mickey Mantle-dominated era Minoso manged to lead the American league in Slugging percentage one year (1954).

Minoso ranks far above the average Hall of Famer in:

Hits after the age of 25

Hits after the age of 28 - and of course you have to ask yourself what final numbers he would have finished with if the racial barrier hadn’t prevented him from reaching the major leagues at a much earlier age.

The Grey Ink Test: finishing in the top 10 in major offensive categories. He’s done that more often than most hall of Famers.

Stats guru, Bill James ranks Minoso as the 10th greatest left fielder of all-time,
ranking him higher than 12 Hall of Fame leftfielders.

Notinhalloffame ranked Minoso as 26th among those not yet in the hall of

Fame, but actually he ranks 2nd among those who are eligible for this year’s Golden Era election.

The MLB Network did a program on the same topic and picked it’s top 40 who were not yet in the Hall of Fame. In that program Minoso ranked 4th on that list and he ranked #1 among players whose candidacy had advanced to the Veterans Committee.

There is a growing feeling that the Hall Of Fame roster of 1950s stars will not be complete until Minnie and the late Gil Hodges are elected.


Minoso’s success helped quicken the American league’s integration. Many  American League club owners dragged their feet on integration when compared to the National League. Minoso, however, was so exciting a player, likeable, and a fan favorite that “the great experiment of integration’ began to flourish instead of dying out in the A.L.

Baseball historian Adrian Burgos claims that Minnie Minoso was the key figure in the “Latinization” of major league baseball.  About One-third of today’s major

leaguers are Latinos and many of them are black or of mixed race heritage. Several generations of Latinos of color have followed Minnie Minoso to the major leagues.  Before 1949 there were zero major league players in that category. It took one man, Orestes, Saturnino ‘Minnie’ Minoso to knock down that barrier and to open the floodgates.  If Minoso is not elected in next month’s election then shame on those committee members who failed to do their homework or failed to appreciate Minoso as an ethnic and racial trailblazer.  It’s an ironic twist of fate that a number of Latinos of color who grew up following Minnie’s baseball exploits and derived inspiration and impetus from Minoso’s success have reached Hall Of Fame status while Minnie still hasn’t received recognition of being among the game’s all-time greats from Cooperstown. In December, hopefully that will change.

We here at Notinhalloffame would like to thank Dennis Keith Orlandini for his valuable contribution to our website, and we officially welcome him aboard!