Congratulations go out to Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre for their election to the baseball Hall of Fame, courtesy the ballot on Expansion Era figures. The three former skippers were worthy of their induction, for few managers in the game’s history have reached 2,000 career wins, and all three men did just that.
On the ballot were former Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion, Cox, hit-machine Steve Garvey, durable southpaw Tommy John, LaRussa, former Athletics and Yankees manager Billy Martin, union head Marvin Miller, slugging outfielder Dave Parker, submarine closer Dan Quisenberry, switch-hitting Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons, longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Torre.
The panel of voters was allowed to cast five votes apiece, with only the three aforementioned managers receiving 75% of the vote. Had a ballot been offered me, I would have cast votes for the three that were enshrined, and added checks beside the names of Ted Simmons and Dan Quisenberry. Not only was Simmons one of the finest catchers of his era—he was a more reliable offensive performer than esteemed peers Bench and Fisk—but he is one of the best backstops of all-time. With Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage in the Hall of Fame, their peer Dan Quisenberry, who was more effective than the two enshrined closers, would have also received a vote from my pen.
Since only five names could have been cast, I would have neglected slick-fielding shortstop Dave Concepcion. Defense was his game but Davey handled a decent stick. Steve Garvey and Billy Martin I consider to be fringe candidates, as well as George Steinbrenner, who, need I remind you, was reviled throughout the majority of his tenure. Tommy John pitched a long time and has never struck me as Hall of Fame material, and had Dave Parker not experienced a mid-career meltdown, he would be a strong candidate for enshrinement, but he rests in the same category as Luis Tiant: players who excelled for years but had seasons in their “prime” when they were abysmal.
As for Marvin Miller, I motion that he be stricken from future consideration. This motion will assuredly offend a great many, who feel his influence on the game of baseball was instrumental, but the Hall of Fame was erected to honor baseball legends, players and executives alike. It was not constructed to honor lawyers, whose tie to the game was strictly of a legal manner. Former scouts, groundskeepers, reconstructive surgeons, public address announcers, all have as much right as Marvin Miller for Hall of Fame consideration, yet who would want to waste one of the dozen spaces on the ballot for someone that neither played the game nor built a contending team? Marvin Miller took a space on the ballot that should have gone to someone like Dwight Evans, Ron Guidry or Amos Otis.