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Get used to the “Roger Maris for the Hall of Fame” arguments

Jul 28, 2011, 8:50 AM EDT

Roger Maris

At the Winter Meetings this December the Veteran’s Committee will be looking at players from the so-called “Golden Era” of 1947-72 for induction into the Hall of Fame.  One of the candidates for whom I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot of agitating is Roger Maris.

Via a link at Baseball Think Factory we are treated to some of the earliest agitating for him in The National Post.  As I expect we’ll see from a number of writers between now and December, however, the case for Maris is couched not in terms of his baseball accomplishments but in terms of him as some moral paragon.  A virtuous figure who we can use to throw dirt on Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and other sluggers of the Steroid Era:

Bonds, McGwire and Sosa put up six seasons between them with more than 61 home runs, the old record held by Maris. Absent the steroid era, Maris would still have the record. If Maris were in the Hall, while the steroid triplets were kept out, it would be fitting way to honour the real home run record — held by a decent man who brought honour to the game.

Yet Roger Maris is not in the Hall of Fame, despite his record, despite being a two-time league MVP, despite various campaigns and petitions to get him inducted. Four years ago I wrote that inducting Maris would be a correction to the steroid era. In the intervening years, baseball’s steroid stain has only spread. Maris is needed now more than ever.

Spare me.  One can admire Roger Maris and loathe Bonds and company all they want, but such moral judgments are not the stuff of a Hall of Fame induction.  As I’ve written before, Roger Maris had two great seasons — although it’s worth noting that in both 1960 and 1961 Maris was not even the best player on his own team — a couple other good ones, and a lot of innocuousness in a short and otherwise pedestrian career.  If you put him in the Hall of fame you are essentially saying that overall career value doesn’t matter, and then you’re inducting guys who had a couple of great seasons like Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela and Tony Conigliaro.

The argument for Maris’ induction to the Hall of Fame is a political argument, not a baseball argument. Given the shabby treatment that Marvin Miller has received from the Veteran’s Committee I suppose that they’re not above politics, but dammit, they should be.

  1. mschempp - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Plus, I’d miss seeing all the cool stuff at the Roger Maris museum at the Fargo Mall.

  2. rrrii - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Craig – you could probably make an argument for Maris in the Hall just based on 1961. Let’s face it, the voting criteria given out by the Hall itself is so vague (based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played) that you could make the case for doing something as monumental as breaking Ruth’s record deserves enshrinment. I’m not saying I’d support the argument, but the criteria for entry is so open-ended that it’s hard to argue ‘against’ lots of players.

    • fquaye149 - Jul 28, 2011 at 11:59 AM

      The hall has very little by way of useful criteria, but there is a very explicit guideline saying that enshrimenet is not intended to recognize single season achievements. Now, Maris had a pretty nice career, but the fact is, any real case for his enshrinement revolves around 1961, and the guidelines of the HOF very specifically say that this should not be the case

  3. phukyouk - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    ” it would be fitting way to honour the real home run record …”
    you spelled Honor wrong…

    • Old Gator - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:09 AM

      North American lexicographical swine.

    • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:26 AM

      either is accepted.

  4. sdelmonte - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    The one thing that marred Jane Leavey’s otherwise strong (if biased) Mickey Mantle biography were her demands that Maris the Good HAD to be inducted. Given how clear-eyed she is about Mantle’s failings as a person and a player, it’s just odd that Maris gets put on the pedestal she was too mature to give to the Mick.

  5. Old Gator - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Isn’t there an empty plaque somewhere in the Hall of Marginals – next to Bert Blyleven, maybe?

    I agree that his overall stats don’t buy him entree, really. But it’s also difficult to discount the argument that he still holds the legitimate single season home run record. Keeping the steroid triplets out is an agenda with which I am wholly on board and though Maris may not belong as a total package, I would like to see his record acknowledged until someone breaks it legitimately. In a weird way, that stupid asterisk is still buzzing around the Hall like a horsefly trapped inside a screen patio.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:44 AM

      Remember, no one thought he had the legitimate home run record for years. After all, baseball had been watered down by expansion and he had 8 more games than Ruth that season.

      Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire still broke the record. You may not like the fact that they used steroids, just like the people in 1961 didn’t like that Maris played a 162 games season. But the fact is, Barry Bonds hit the ball out of the park 73 times in 2001. They all counted as runs on the scoreboard…so why should Maris be considered the home run champ?

      • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        And Maris is also my favorite example of the give people who accuse anyone (Jose Bautista, Brady Anderson ect) of doing steroids because of a huge jump in stats:

        1959: 16 HR in 498 PAs
        1960: 39 HR in 578 PAs
        1961: 61 HR in 698 PAs
        1962: 33 HR in 687 PAs

      • Old Gator - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:10 AM

        Because he wasn’t juiced. This isn’t rocket science. It hardly qualifies as pharmacology anymore.

      • Ari Collins - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:31 AM

        No, no, the point is that he almost definitely wasn’t on anything. Players can just have crazy spikes like that. That IS the point.

  6. tuftsb - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Morality pick? If you want to go there….

    from SI in 1977 – “In one away game, angered by catcalls, he made obscene gestures to the crowd.”

    and the guy ran a beer distributor in Gainesville upon retirement – getting college kids drunk is far more “immoral” than steroid use and has a far greater effect on national health.

    • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:30 AM

      Have you ever been to Gainesville? All there is to do there is drink. Perhaps, he is the savior of the Florida educational system.

    • bigharold - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:40 AM

      “… getting college kids drunk is far more “immoral” than steroid use and has a far greater effect on national health.”

      As a Yankee fan I would have to admit that putting Maris in the HOF on moral grounds doesn’t make sense. Keeping Bonds, McGwire and Sosa out is a completely different issue.

      On the other hand suggesting that Maris’ moral character is suspect because he ran a beer distributorship or that he was in some way responsible for corrupting the health of America’s youth, … well that’s just batSh%& crazy.

      I’ll bet you were a great big fan of the Volstead Act.

      • tuftsb - Jul 28, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        2007 CDC report:

        deaths from steroids, supposedly a major “think of the children” health issue – 3
        deaths from alcohol – 75,000
        deaths from tobacco – 435,000

        Babe Ruth was a repeated violator of the Volstead Act – the law at the time – and as such should have been denied entry to the HOF by sportswriters.

  7. hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    Either put him in or change the name to the Hall Of Excellence. There are maybe 10 more famous players in the history of the game, excluding recent players. My Mom knows who Roger Maris is, but doesn’t have a clue who George Kell is. Honestly, neither do I.

    If I had to make a list of 20 players I would like to meet. Roger is on that list. His bust would draw more attention than anyone else, with a few exceptions.

    • bleedgreen - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      I actually like this argument. Maris has FAME. Its not the Hall of the Most Awesome Players Ever. Its the Hall of FAME.

      • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:41 AM

        So, Jose Canseco of a HOFer in your opinion? What about John Rocker?

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:49 AM

        Completely different. If you have the single greatest season of baseball, and that garners you fame 50 years later, I don’t care that you were only very good most of the other time. To me, the hall of fame is a building, not some mystical, hallowed grown shrine. People here treat it like it’s the Dome of the Rock. I have been there, and enjoyed my time. It won’t be tarnished to have 400 members instead of 300.

      • ThatGuy - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        I think there is a difference between fame and infamy that can allow us to exclude Conseco and Rocker.

      • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:17 AM

        “Single greatest season of baseball”? Certainly you’re not talking about Roger Maris’ 1961? Cause that was no where close to the single greatest season in baseball. For perspective, please remember that 61 home runs is just 4 more than Luis Gonzalez hit in 2001. Maris’ 7.2 WAR that year ranks 486th all time.

        Not that I think WAR is the end all be all or anything, but it provides a solid framework. In fact, Maris tied with Jim Gentile for 5th(!) in the league in WAR that year, behind Mickey Mantle, Norm Cash, Al Kaline, and Rocky Colavito.
        He ranked 5th in OPS!

        The notion that Maris’ 1961 was one of the greatest single season is patently absurd. Yes, it’s awesome he broke the home run record, but that should hardly make him a hall of famer.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:37 AM

        If you have the single greatest season of baseball, and that garners you fame 50 years later, I don’t care that you were only very good most of the other time

        Wow not even close to the single greatest season of baseball. Here’s a list strictly based on oWAR. Maris’s 7.1 in ’61 is tied for 374. There are 48 players who put up 10.0 oWAR in a single season.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:59 AM

        oops let me post the list

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 11:12 AM

        “Greatest Season” can be interpreted many different ways. You have access to numbers others have created. Fantastic, you should be proud. My wife tweets other peoples song lyrics, but in no way does she think she is a creative song writer.

        He broke THE unbreakable record, despite death threats. It was the single greatest accomplishment over a course of a season, despite what sabremetics say.

    • dan1111 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:38 AM

      That is a decent argument for Maris. It is certainly the only legitimate way to make a case for him. However, I don’t agree with it.

      Despite its name, most people think of the Hall of Fame as an honor for the best baseball players, rather than the merely most famous ones. Players who weren’t very good but got in because they played on famous teams are usually considered some of the worst hall of fame picks. It is considered an injustice when an excellent but under-appreciated player is left out.

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    Putting Roger Maris into the hall of fame would be the final nail in the coffin for the place. It’s one thin to get all high and mighty and keep out legitimate hall of famers like Clemens, Bonds, and the like because of their steroid use. It is quite another to start letting in very good players, like Maris, because they didn’t play in the steroid era.

    I am making it a point to go in the next year because I have a sad feeling the hall of fame isn’t going to mean much in about 4 or 5 years.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:40 AM

      I would agree with you, but then I remember that Catfish Hunter and Chick Hafey* are in the hall of fame. That coffin was nailed shut before I was even born.

      *there are many, many other examples, lest you think I’m picking on Hunter and Hafey.

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:56 AM

        George Kell, Third baseman, same era as Maris. .306 avg 78 homeruns. 870 RBIs 881 runs. If he played 5 seasons, these are terrific numbers. Unfortunately, he played for 5 teams over 14 years.

        Rogers time is past due.

      • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        No, George Kell’s inclusion doesn’t mean Maris should be in. If yo go by that logic, I expect you to be pushing of the inclusion of everyone who had a better career than George Kell, not just Roger Maris.

        Off the top of my head, this list would include Ray Lankford, Dick Allen, Robin Ventura, Fred Lynn, Dale Murphy, ect, ect, ect

        Just because the HOFer voters made a mistake doesn’t mean that have to make more of them to make up for that one! (well, several actually).

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:10 AM

        I am pushing for more. It doesn’t taint any current members legacy to induct 3 players per year instead of 2. The standards are too high. When Nolan Ryan, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Honus Wagner, Willie Mays etc can only 98% or lower votes, maybe the standard is set too high. When I go to that building, it is as much a learning experience as anything else. I would like to learn more.

      • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:23 AM


        Fair argument. I guess you can’t really be wrong in your opinion of what the hall of fame should be.

        I don’t think the hall should be only for the Mays’ and Ruth’s of the world, but there is a pretty big gap between Maris and Mays. For me, my bottom cutoff would probably be a Ted Simmons or someone like that. I think a HOFer should be a guy who was among the top players at his position during their career. I think going beyond that opens the floodgates and being a HOFer loses any and all prestige (as I stated earlier, Chick Hafey and Catfish Hunter proves this prestige doesn’t actually exist).

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:30 AM

        hittfamily, I seem to remember you using the phrase “two wrongs don’t make a right” or something similar to that yesterday. I don’t care about fringe guys who are in the hall even though they shouldn’t be in there. Maris is NOT a hall of famer. Period. There isn’t even a debate on that one.

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:41 AM


        I go into a more detailed view of what my belief the hall is in the next post down, so I will try not to repeat myself and make the same argument.

        I think your agrument is fair. I think everyone’s is fair. I don’t think the Hall should have a line in the sand, and if your stats don’t cross that line, you’re not in. I think a successful 1 term senator can be far more effective and influential than a 4 term senator. I think Roger Maris’ 1 year was more influential and respected than any other single season in the history of baseball. An accomplishment like that is a greater accomplishment than other HOF’ers entire career.

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        @Chris Fiorentino

        I did use the phrase 2 wrongs don’t make a right yesterday. It was a completely different context. You have a very self important view about this, and anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a fool. I was comparing 2 people of the same era, and 1 is in the hall and 1 isn’t. It is a valid comparison. All you have done so far is compare 1 to another. “So and so is better than so and so because his stats are x his stats are y”.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 28, 2011 at 12:27 PM

        hitt, George Kell does not belong in the Hall of Fame either. Putting Maris in because Kell is in is basically saying that two wrongs make a right, doesn’t it?????

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 12:57 PM

        It is your opinion George Kell doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. However, the Veterans Committee disagrees. I have never seen him play, so I can’t say he isn’t worthy. His numbers say he isn’t, but there is more to this game than an equation. It is an inexact science, and when determining a players accomplishments, they have to be compared to others’. I believe Maris’ accomplishments compared to his peers are worthy of infamy. No non-cheating player has ever duplicated his accomplishment.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 28, 2011 at 2:07 PM

        hitt, no offense, but you sometimes make even ME look kooky 😉 I mean, Ryan Howard did something his first four years that no other major leaguer in history except Ken Griffey Jr. did…average 50 home runs and 140 rbis. Yet I wouldn’t in a million years say he is worthy of Hall of Fame status. He will soon have more career home runs and RBI than Maris, have a far better BA, OBP, OPS and OPS+ than Maris, yet if he died after this season, I would never say he is a hall of famer. They both have historical stats that help define their legacies.

        I think your blind-spot is that you are attaching way too much to the whole 61* HR stat.

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 3:05 PM

        I accept the fact that strange records are broken every day. This one is bigger though. Cameras didn’t follow Howard around for the last 1/2 of his chase. Reporters didn’t camp on Cliff Lee’s lawn wondering if he will break the scoreless streak. People didn’t call Andre Eithier’s wife threatening to kill their children while he had a nice hitting streak going. This was the record of all records, and I don’t think you are weighing that enough.

        The rules to enter the hall aren’t clear. I don’t know what the parameters are, and neither do the people who actually vote for it. Ted Williams got 93% of the vote. 7% of the voters didn’t think he was a hall of famer. Crazy, I know!! That alone is a huge arguement against my position, because if Ted’s barely worthy, Maris definately isn’t. However, I could look at that and say the writers are freaking nuts, and the Hall has way too high of standards. If Ted can only get 93%, shut the doors because I’m not traveling to Cooperstown to see only other 15 players or so who are even in the same sentence.

        But everyone has an opinion, and everyone who knows the game has a valid opinion. I don’t think you should use words like “kooky” or phrases like “Maris is NOT a hall of famer. Period. There isn’t even a debate on that one.”, because clearly I am not the only one who thinks this way, or it wouldn’t be brought up every year.

        No one is a sure fire HOF’er or a No Brainer Not HOF’er, because history has proven otherwise, and there is no exact definition of what a HOF’er really is. If there was Ted gets100%. You are very knowledgable, there is no doubt in that, but you should be more open minded about something when there is no absolute right or wrong answer. To me, if I’m voting, I weigh his single season accomplishment a lot in my decision making, and no rule says I shouldn’t.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 28, 2011 at 3:10 PM

        I totally disagree when it comes to Roger Maris’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame. If he is voted in by the Veteran’s Committee then I will call them kooky and, as I said above, it will be the final nail in the coffin of what has become a joke of a Hall of “Fame”. When a top-3 all-time player like Barry Bonds isn’t in and a very good, not great player like Maris is shoved in…well, something stinks. Roger Maris, just like Andruw Jones, belongs in the Hall of Very Good…not Hall of Fame.

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 4:51 PM

        We really aren’t all that far apart. We don’t differ on the point that Maris isn’t the same caliber of Mays or Williams or Aaron or Bonds. But most of the other guys in there aren’t either. Give the best of the best their own wing or something, but don’t keep dominant guys or record setters out because of that. I want more guys in, and you want fewer. I guess our biggest difference is the size of the building, not the talent of the player, and I can live with that.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 28, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        Unfortunately, I have never been to the hall of fame, but I have a hard time believing that there isn’t a plaque or some type of spot showing the bat or uniform that Maris was wearing when he hit #61. Maybe someone else in here knows better than me. That’s perfectly fine with me. all records and other achievements should be in there. But the words “Hall of Fame Right Fielder” should never precede Roger Maris.

  9. thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    If Maris goes to the hall for his 1961 season, I can only assume Norm Cash goes to the hall for his 1961 season also…
    ….Cause Norm Cash was better than Maris in 1961.

    • bigharold - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      Is that the same Norm Cash that got caught using a corked bat in a game?

      Cash night have hit for a much higher average but Maris not only broke the record hit 20 more HRs and won his second straight MVP in 61.

      • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:57 AM

        2008 MVP: Dustin Pedroia (Miguel Cabrera hit 20 more home runs!)
        2007 MVP: Jimmy Rollins (Prince Fielder hit 20 more home runs)
        2002 MVP: Miguel Tejada (Alex Rodriguez hit 23 more home runs)*
        2001 MVP: Ichiro Suzuki (everyone hit 20 more home runs).

        1. Many, many people hit 20 more home runs than the MVP
        2. Just because someone was given the MVP doesn’t mean they deserve it. You know who else had a much better year than Maris in 1961 and actually probably did deserve the MVP: Mickey Mantle

        Roger Maris had a very good year and broke the home run record, but it’s not like it was one of baseball’s all time great seasons or anything. Runs score in other ways besides home runs.

      • hittfamily - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:28 AM

        Kids grow up wanting to be Cabrera, Fielder, Arod, Maris. Not Norm Cash. In my opinion, the Hall isn’t just for the players or the statisticians, it is for the fans as well. When I take my kids there, they don’t get excited by Pee Wee Reese, or Jim Palmer. They get excited by The Babe and Hammerin Hank, because I can tell their amazing stories. It is a very prestigious honor to the player, but to me the Hall is more than that. It is a place to share an experience, to teach your kids the history of baseball, and to learn something yourself.

        Maris is one of the most influential people in the history of baseball, with every kid who ever played little league knowing his accomplishment. He has a story to tell, and I hope it is one day told in the hall.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:52 AM

      Thumbs down vote? Are you too lazy to visit baseballreference?

      Maris 1961: 61 HR, 141 RBI, .269/.372/.620 167 OPS+
      Cash 1961: 41 HR, 132 RBI, .361/.487/.662 201 OPS+

      Maris: 7.2 WAR
      Cash: 10 WAR

      So, edit: ….Cause Norm Cash was MUCH better than Maris in 1961

      Maris was still awesome, but Cash was awesomer.

  10. dohpey28 - Jul 28, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    I like Maris, but he isn’t a hall of famer. The person who should be in the hall from that era is Gil Hodges. Over a 12 year period from 48-59 he averaged 86 runs, 29 homers, 99 rbi, had on ops of .862. He made the All-Star team 8 teams during that period, you know when the game mattered. He also won 3 Gold Gloves. Not to mention the fact that he managed the ’69 Mets to their championship.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:05 AM

      119 OPS+, 44 WAR (top 10 just 3 times), most comparable players are Norm Cash, George Foster, Tino Martinez and Jack Clark.

      So…If I had a vote, that would be a big no. Good player, but he wasn’t good enough for the Hall from 1969-1983, why should he be now?

  11. jabberwock3 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    I’ve got an idea: when a Yankee retires, any Yankee, he automatically enters the Hall of Fame. That way, the rest of us don’t have to listen to all the crap spewed by every Yankee fan as to how medoiocre players who had maybe one or two good years, amassed a lousy lifetime BA and was thoroughly forgetful in the field. A lot of guys fall into that category, a lot more than the number of players who deserve to be there, but, because they did not wear “the pinstripes” (cue angelic choir), are rightly left out, and most don’t bitch. God, this never ends.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:42 AM

      I don’t think the Yankees really have an inordinate amount of undeserving Hall of Famers. As a Cardinals fan, it pains me to say that we may take the cake.

      Among our HOFers
      1. Dizzy Dean: (good when he played, but only pitched more than 100 innings 6 times)

      2. Jesse Haines (210-158, 109 ERA+. Good, but never really great or healthy enough to compile large numbers over his career)

      3. Jim Bottomley: (top 10 in WAR once in his career, 32 for career. Put up numbers that looked like Will Clark, only over a smaller time frame in the best hitting era in Baseball history [for example, Charlie Gehringer’s .330 BA ranked 34th in basball in 1930!]).

      4. Chick Hafey: Good when he was healthy, but managed 400 PA’s just 6 times in his career. Again, his numbers look better than they were because of the era he played in. 1930’s 1.059 OPS actually ranked just 5th in the NL. Career 29.5 WAR

      5. Bruce Sutter: Reliever who was basically done at age 32. Certainly dominate to that point, but really, any reliever not named Mariano Rivera is kind borderline at best, right?

      6. Red Schoendienst: Career 40 WAR, OPS+ over 100 just 4 times, had an Ozzie Smith-esque .337 OBP, .387 SLG without the steals and arguably best ever glove at shortstop.

      7. Stan Musial: Couldn’t even get to 500 home runs. And only 7 batting titles? Whatta pussy.

  12. 18thstreet - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    If one is making moral arguments for who is and who is not deserving of the Hall of Fame: First, take out Cap Anson.

  13. kellyb9 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    “Absent the steroid era, Maris would still have the record.”
    As bad as the steroid era was, this sentence deserves an asterisk. There’s no way to definitively say one way or another whether this would be the case.

    • thefalcon123 - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      Or, as people said in 1962:

      “Absent the new 162 game schedule, Babe Ruth would still have the record”.

    • nategearhart - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      YES! How do we know that in ’01, Bonds wouldn’t have hit 63 without steroids?

      • kathyjo1 - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:36 PM

        @ nategearhart…….

        How do we know that I wouldn’t have scored the best on a test if I hadn’t cheated? That’s the point! These steroid idiots CHEATED so they FAILED. Whatever they did on steroids is cancelled, X’d out, disqualified, forgotten, gone down in flames of shame. What they might have done if they hadn’t taken steroids matters as much as how fast I ran in the Boston Marathon IF I had run in the Boston Marathon! When we cheat we fail, there is no if, and’s or but’s. And, another point, how many more games did Ruth play than the guy who held the Home Run record before him?

        Mommas use to teach their kids that cheaters never win….

  14. Jack Marshall - Jul 28, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    The argument for Maris is the unfortunate slippery slop extension of the Hall of Fame morals and character requirement, which was intended to make sure that deserving and qualified players also met minimum standards of good sportsmanship, character and team play. The purpose was never to make sportsmanship, character and team play reasons for enshrinement by themselves, to lift mere excellence in a career to greatness. It’s interesting, and probably predictable, that the problem of the steroid cheats has led to two diametrically opposed responses: those who want to eliminate any character requirements at all, and those, like the Maris supporters, who want to make character an even stronger qualification.

    I hate both of them, but if forced to choose, I’d rather see the character clause go. The Hall of Fame needs to be filled with great players, not great people. (I still like the idea of having great players who weren’t also rotten people.) Let in Maris, and soon we’ll have serious campaigns for Johnny Pesky, Rick Monday, Doc Medich and Tim Wakefield.

  15. Jack Marshall - Jul 28, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    One mild objection to a fine post, Craig—Tony C. doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, but he is a special case unrelated to players like Gooden and Fernando. He was obviously on a Hall of Fame path until his eyesight was permanently altered by his beaning in 1967. He belongs in the group of great players whose careers were shortened and derailed by injuries, illness and tragedy, not those who couldn’t sustain a flashy start.

  16. aaronmoreno - Jul 28, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    I thought *61 was a pretty good baseball movie.

    • kellyb9 - Jul 28, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      We should induct that movie into the Hall of Really Good.

  17. tuftsb - Jul 28, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    Sportswriters are not exactly qualified to make ethical judgements on players. Scribes have a tough enough time using statistical analysis, let alone a moral compass.

  18. Chipmaker - Jul 28, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Maris’ continuing prominence isn’t based upon one season — it’s based upon one number. Take his 1961 season, subtract 2 homers, give him, oh, eight more doubles to make up for it, and this half-century old clamor would never have arisen, let alone endure.

    Maris had a nice career, and gathered an appropriate amount of honoraria. He did not reach Hall measure.

  19. jeffrp - Jul 28, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    “it’s worth noting that in both 1960 and 1961 Maris was not even the best player on his own team”

    No it’s not.

    I agree that Maris shouldn’t be inducted into the HOF, but let’s not resort to silly arguments to make that point. Does Gehrig’s Hall worthiness suffer because Ruth was better?

  20. johndavidstutts - Apr 23, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    “George Kell, Third baseman, same era as Maris. .306 avg 78 homeruns. 870 RBIs 881 runs. If he played 5 seasons, these are terrific numbers. Unfortunately, he played for 5 teams over 14 years.”

    Seeing as how Kell’s last year (1957) was Maris’ first, I don’t see how they are of the same era. But forgetting the obvious differences in the years they played, the game itself was quite different for each man. I hope I don’t have to explain the differences between the eras of 1943-1957 and 1957-1968.

    By the way, while I do think Kell is one of the lesser Hall of Fame choices, I don’t see why his playing for 5 teams in 14 seasons should make a difference. If it does, then it should also make a difference for Maris, who played for 4 teams in 12 seasons.

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