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And now for a little Hall of Fame perspective

Jan 4, 2011, 11:23 AM EDT

Cy Young

Given that I’ve written approximately ten thousand Hall of Fame posts in the past three weeks, I have no leg to stand on, but something over at MLB.com today provides a good reminder for us not to get too worked up at tomorrow’s vote totals:

First, there were five. Cy Young, whose name graces the highest pitching award in baseball, didn’t make the cut. He didn’t even get 50 percent of the vote.

That was in 1936, when — in order of voting percentage — Ty Cobb (98.2), Babe Ruth (95.1), Honus Wagner (95.1), Christy Mathewson (90.7) and Walter Johnson (83.6) comprised the first class of National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, the very first players on Cooperstown’s hallowed roster.

Baseball history was a different beast then. Nostalgia wasn’t yet invented — George Lucas did that while filming “American Graffiti” over 35 years later — and the giants of the game’s history were mostly still alive and playing golf and stuff.

But it is worth noting that, even if we can get worked up over voting philosophy and sins of both omission and commission when it comes to the Hall of Fame, time usually makes these things seem less important. Cy Young eventually made the Hall of Fame and no one died because he got 50% of the vote in whatever voting procedure they happened to use in 1936.  Likewise, no one’s vote totals tomorrow will cause a national crisis.

Which isn’t to say that the things I’ve been going on about aren’t important.  They’re just of a more localized importance, temporally speaking.  Most of the things with which we occupy our days are not important to the gaze of history.

  1. Matthew Flint - Jan 4, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    I have to tell you, Craig, I am a huge baseball fan and could care less about the Hall. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of it, but I just don’t care because there are too many opinions involved and that takes away from every single person inducted. I’m sure the people voting are qualified, but they’re also human and have biases…conscience ones or not. That makes it not worth getting upset about.

  2. larryhockett - Jan 4, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    There will be anarchy in the streets if Bagwell doesn’t get in and it will be every bit as bad as in 2000 when all the computers crashed!

  3. BC - Jan 4, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Moving forward a few decades, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron weren’t unanimous. Nor Seaver, Koufax, Carlton, Schmidt…..
    You have a sure-fire HOF’er, but you’ll always have some loonies out there that are on the sauce or have an axe to grind with the player. No one will ever be unanimous.
    I do find it interesting that it seems that many players get below 50% on their first try, and then gravitate upward and eventually get in. What, did they suddenly become HOF’ers? They’re not playing any more, so what happened?

    • larryhockett - Jan 4, 2011 at 11:48 AM

      Because merely being a Hall of Famer or not being a Hall of Famer is apparently not a clear enough distinction. There must also be “first ballot” guys and “not first ballot” guys and I guess even “hang on long enough to gather momentum and eventually get in at the last possible moment” guys.

      • diamondduq - Jan 4, 2011 at 1:28 PM

        Is there anything wrong with that? That’s the way it should be. Actually, there should only be “first ballot” guys in there. Honestly, it’s not like you need 90% to be in. If you can’t get 75% of the vote the first year you’re on the ballot, were you really a HOFer?

        I mean, being among the greatest of all-time is no small accolade, which is why we have so many of these ridiculous debates, and it should be fairly clear cut. Sure, a guy probably rubbed a few guys the wrong way, may have had a few down years here and there that put people off but 3 out of 4 for a REAL HOFer should be a slam dunk, and yes, in year 1! And really, guys who “hang on long enough to gather momentum and eventually get in at the last possible moment”? Give me a break! There’s no way they should be in. And to go a step further, look at the guys for whom the veterans committee has opened the door, embarrassing!

        Additionally, no one should ever be inducted unanimously! The precedent has been set when the greatest player of all-time, hands down, not only wasn’t inducted unanimously, but didn’t even have the highest percentage for induction. There has never been, nor will there ever be, another player with even 1 season with a .300+ batting average and 40+ homeruns and another with a sub 3.00 ERA and 10+ wins as a pitcher, let alone 11 seasons with a .300+ batting average and 40+ homeruns and 4 seasons with a sub 3.00 ERA and 10+ wins as a pitcher. Babe Ruth, in case there was a doubt.

      • Bochy's Head/Timmy's Bong - Jan 4, 2011 at 3:59 PM

        @ diamondduq: “If you can’t get 75% of the vote the first year you’re on the ballot, were you really a HOFer? ”

        Paging Mel Ott, Eddie Mathews, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Phil Niekro, Joe DiMaggio! We ain’t dusting your busts no more. Hit the streets, boys.

  4. Jonny 5 - Jan 4, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    The HOF is an exclusive club, and just like all exclusive clubs the entrance criteria tends to be flawed. We don’t have to like it, so let’s not get too upset over it either. Ya know unless you’re in the running to get in and all…

    • Charles Gates - Jan 4, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      But but but…I’m with the band!

      • BC - Jan 4, 2011 at 12:12 PM

        I’m sorry sir, you’re not on the list.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 4, 2011 at 12:45 PM

        Yeah…”I’m with her” doesn’t work either.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 4, 2011 at 12:56 PM

        Well, play me some notes then Charley, and you’re in…. ;)

  5. clydeserra - Jan 4, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Didn’t they limit it to 5? So, its hard to go wrong with those.

    • BC - Jan 4, 2011 at 12:24 PM

      Yeah, I suppose. Where are you going to leave off anyway? Rogers Hornsby didn’t get in either.

      • Panda Claus - Jan 4, 2011 at 1:31 PM

        Yeah, that’s just the way it is. Whoops, confused my Hornsbys. I was thinking about Bruce.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM

        Some things never change.

  6. Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 4, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Cy Young and Hornsby didn’t get in because too many writers lacked the requisite “you had to be there/see him” perspective. Damn lack of TV.

  7. Detroit Michael - Jan 4, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Another reason why Cy Young didn’t make the original 5 Hall of Famers is because the balloting was for 1900-onward, which excluded a significant portion of Young’s career.

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