There must be something about second basemen. The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee just announced the results from the voting for the Class of 2009, adding slick-fielding and power-hitting second baseman Joe Gordon. He was the first player added via the Veterans Committee route since 2001, when Bill Mazeroski joined the ranks of the immortals.
The vote this year continues the disappointment for Ron Santo, who missed once again, snagging the highest vote total of the Post-1942 Ballot … 61 percent. Kibitzing about Hall-of-Fame voting is one of my favorite pastimes, and it’s hard not to opine that giving the nod to Gordon while offering yet another thumbs down to Santo and Gil Hodges(shown at left) seems hard to understand.
That is until you remember that Gordon’s election required nine out of 12 voters (he got 10), and the Post-1942 guys were voted on by the full body of Hall of Famers (I refuse to include the redundant “living” modifier that usually appears in such instances. Unless you’re in Chicago, who else but the living would have a vote?).
I have a lot of sympathy for the Hall officials, who continue to tinker with the voting process to ensure as much fairness as possible in what still ends up being a highly subjective system. There was a good deal of grumbling seven years ago – including among Hall of Famers themselves, allegedly – about the Mazeroski nod, and the subsequent tightening of the procedures produced blank slates from the Veterans Committee for the next seven years.
The complaint that used to dog the Committee many years ago was that certain “favorites” seem to emerge – sometimes seemingly out of the blue – to be elected, apparently at the hands of powerful members able to steer the voting. It’s hard to see how that can be avoided on a panel of 12 voters; the alternative, having the full body of HOFers do the voting, would seem to yield a different puzzle of being able to find enough voters to get anybody at all elected.
I suspect that would be the lament of Santo and supporters of Hodges, Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, the top four vote-getters from the Post-1942 Ballot. for those keeping score at home, the rest of the results would be (in order): Joe Torre (30 percent), Maury Wills, Luis Tiant, Vada Pinson, Al Oliver and Dick Allen.
I at least give the Hall a lot of credit for paring the list to that group. Honestly, I’d have less of a beef about most of those guys gaining admittance than I would of Gordon, and there are several I’d actively campaign for (Santo, Hodges, Oliva, Wills and Dick Allen).
Torre doesn’t need my help. He’ll go in as a manager for sure, and if you like irony, his offensive numbers as a player are significantly better than Gordon’s in several important categories. Still, Gordon was regarded as an extraordinary talent in the field, hence the nickname Flash. (OK, there's that comic book character, too)
Gordon was also a manager for several seasons in the 1960s, but that probably didn’t do much to aid his standing, though it may have given him some additional opportunities to meet and befriend some of the guys who might have voted him in (e.g. Phil Niekro and Don Sutton). It also seems likely that being on the Yankees didn't hurt him either.
And speaking of opining, I blogged several weeks back that the very nature of the voting made it tough to guess about results, but of course I did so anyway. And I got it wrong.
Methinks we haven’t heard the last of all of this, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.