Baseball has become known as one of the great American pastimes and great stories are imbedded in American history surround the sport and love of the game. American have played baseball for more than 200 years, from parks, playgrounds, back alleys, fields, young and old, raw amateurs, and millionaire professionals, it is a leisurely game that demands blinding speed. Baseball is one of the most deep rooted activities and symbols of what is truly American.
It has brought many great pleasure and enjoyment and others frustration and disappointment. Baseball is a unique sport in many different ways. It is not only a major competitive sport with no time limit but player success ultimately rest in how well you can play not only as an individual athlete but also how well the team plays along with the individual athlete. There are many rules or definitions that determine or measure success of a player’s performance.
‘But most of all baseball is about time and timelessness, speed and grace, failure and success, and in the end coming home’ (Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns). The National Baseball Hall of Fame has caught some flak over the years for their selection and of players. While some may agree and others disagree the recommendations do not come without controversy and questions to why some players are selected and others are merely overlooked.
To ultimately qualify for the ballot, a player must have played at least 10 years in the major leagues and be retired for five. Occasionally requirements are sometimes waived depend on special cases. The history of Hall of Fame elections is filled with policy changes. A committee of six prepares an annual ballot, and selected players remain eligible for 15 year unless they receive less than five percent of the vote.
This system keeps the ballot keeps the ballot from becoming unmanageable and easier for voters to select the 10 candidates per year. Many writers, however, select only a few top choices and leave the remainder of their ballots blank. Electors must have covered major-league baseball for at least 10 years. “Hitting 500 homers, collecting 3,000 hits, or winning 300 games does not produce an automatic ticket to Cooperstown” (Eras Committees). In fact, there is no statistical guideline.
“Voting baseball writers are instructed to judge each candidate on ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contribution to the team or teams on which he played — as well as to baseball in general” (Eras Committees). Indeed, only the true elite are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Many believe the voting process has become water downed. While it is still an important process, it is important to examine and look carefully at those that have been selected and others who have not.
Harold Baines, an outfielder for the White Sox and eventually an outfielder for Chicago. He continued to play for other teams including the Rangers and eventually had his number retired. Baines spent most of the 1990’s bouncing around leagues and always hitting right around .300 and about 20 dingers.
Baines received the minimum number of 12 votes needed to make it to the Hall of Fame. Following his nomination many were troubled as to why Baines got into the Hall of Fame and others had not. From comments about his stats are not good enough, to other saying he really does not have the feel Hall of Famer. Many believed his career lacked the historical milestones that so many before him had.
“Baines was never the best or most feared hitter in baseball, he never won an MVP, he only got MVP votes four times, and despite a solid postseason statline, never had a crowning October moment” (Acquavella, Katherine). This caused many players and people to become frustrated over the whole process and caused many to question why the Hall of Fame was willing to leave out iconic players and admit someone with less of track record like Baines.
“The list of players who put together Hall of Fame resumes who nonetheless find themselves on the outside looking in — whether due to allegations, an overlooked career or anything else – is as long as it is impressive: names like Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, Sheffield, Ramirez, Palmeiro, many find it questionable that the Hall of Fame is willing to leave those iconic names out, while admitting someone with a lesser track record like Baines (Acquavella, Katherine).
Players have traditionally got overlooked for their success on the field for various reasons. With all the restrictions and rules that come along with the Hall of Fame it leave many to wonder if some good players have been missed that were deserving.
Catcher, Thurman Munson made the ballot but his life was tragically ended early as a result of a plane crash. His career produced 16 World Series games, MVP Award, and All-Star teams’ nominations but ultimately never resulted in Hall of Fame. First basemen, Jeff Bagwell, stands to be one of the best of first baseball of all time and is known as one of the best offensive players in his time.
Fell short of nomination because he did not play enough. Lou Whitaker, second baseball, who only lasted one year on the ballot for Hall of Fame has many wondering why he clearly falls with the standards of Hall of Fame and earned a reputation as one of the game’s great defenders. His stats even exceeds those in the Hall of Fame including Ryne Sandbery and Robbie Alomar.
Barry Bonds, outfielder, is probably one that find himself at the center controversy when it come to the Hall of Fame. Although he was involved with drug scandal which centered about performance-enhancing drugs he remain to be one who has achieved high stats and ranks fourth in all time careers in contributions to his team stats.
Being part of a committee that determines such crucial and monumental recognizes is not an easy task for any type of person but especially athletes. Each candidate possess their own individual strengths and weaknesses for which a committee members have to look at and determine if they are worthy of nomination and election in Hall of Fame.
This process is no easy deed and will always come with reasons as to why this or that person should or should not be represented, selected, or elected. Remembering the great icons of a great American traditional will forever hold special memories, stories, and stats. Legends are just that, legends and regardless of what title or election that comes along they will always be remembered for their contributions to the great game of baseball.