The last time I came up with one of these lists, Jacob Ruppert was on it. Well, shortly thereafter, Jacob Ruppert was elected to the Hall of Fame. I'm still waiting for my check from the Ruppert estate.
But seriously, I can't remember who else was on the list, and somehow I can't track down that column anywhere. It's like Google's dog ate my homework. So I'm just going to come up with another list, and hope I'm neither repeating myself nor contradicting myself (more than usual, anyway). These are 10 people who have good Hall of Fame cases, but are not on the BBWAA's ballot this year and aren't likely to be elected by an veterans committee anytime soon (although I might be proved wrong about one of them next week) ...
There is, of course, exactly zero precedent for enshrining a fellow because of his accomplishments as a doctor. But just as Candy Cummings is in the Hall of Fame for (supposedly) inventing the curveball, Dr. Frank Jobe might be someday elected for inventing Tommy John surgery. While one might argue that someone else would eventually have invented the surgery -- which would have a different name, in that case -- exactly the same might be argued about Candy Cummings. And Jobe's claim of invention actually has more weight.
Ah, but Candy Cummings played baseball. Jobe did not. Well, neither did Henry Chadwick. He, like Cummings, was elected as a "Pioneer", which is an official category. Chadwick was a pioneer of baseball journalism; among other things, he invented the box score. Cummings pioneered the curveball. Jobe pioneered a phenomenally significant surgical technique. And while Bill James didn't exactly pioneer sabermetrics -- he was 60 or 70 years late for that -- James did more to popularize and legitimize modern baseball analysis than anyone before or since. Throw in his three World Series rings while toiling for the Boston Red Sox, and the Hall of Fame seems somehow empty without him.
Campanis played key roles for more than 40 years with a Dodgers franchise that was the National League's best from the 1950s through the early ‘80s. He might not be an obvious choice, considering the haziness regarding qualifications for candidates from the executive category. But it seems that Campanis hasn't even been considered, which I consider terribly unfair.
While we're at it, why not remove Marvin Miller from the "executive" category -- in which he's languished for so long, and now posthumously -- and consider him as a pioneer, too? Miller was hardly baseball's first labor leader, but he did pioneer tough and smart union leadership in the sports world.
Until very, very recently, the Hall of Fame has done an excellent job of electing deserving players. Sometimes it's taken far longer than it should have; Arky Vaughan and Ron Santo come to mind, and they're hardly alone. And there are plenty of undeserving players in there, too. Generally speaking, though, if you were a tremendous player the Hall would eventually open its doors. But in Grich's first appearance on the BBWAA's Hall of Fame ballot, he got 11 votes and was dropped forever. And it doesn't seem he's been seriously considered by any of the Hall's myriad committee since. All because two of the things he did best -- play second base, and draw walks -- have always been criminally underrated by voters of every stripe.
The presence of Al Campanis and Buzzie Bavasi on this list is a testament to the far-sightedness of Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley and his son, Peter. While it might seem profligate to support the election of not just one, but two men who served as general manager of the Dodgers, both enjoyed long and fruitful tenures, thanks in part to the O'Malleys' penchant for stability. Bavasi held his job from 1951 through '68, and Campanis from ‘68 through '87. Walter O'Malley is in the Hall of Fame. Both of the Dodgers' longtime managers, Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda, are in the Hall of Fame. And it seems perfectly appropriate to put both of the Dodgers' longtime general managers in there, too. Especially considering that Bavasi played a key role in the Dodgers' integration efforts in the late '40s, as general manager of two integrated minor-league teams.
It's sort of ridiculous that Breadon's not already in the Hall. Yes, I realize there's no particular standard for franchise owners. But with so many of them -- Jacob Ruppert, Walter O'Malley, Bill Veeck, Barney Dreyfuss, Tom Yawkey, Charlie Comiskey, and Clark Griffith -- already in the Hall, how do you keep out the guy whose team won six World Series in his 28 seasons? And paved the way for Branch Rickey's Hall of Fame career?
So far, the Hall of Fame hasn't created an avenue whereby scouts might be elected. Maybe that's okay. Maybe it's not. Reasonable folks can disagree about it. But if you're going to consider scouts, you might as well start with Krichell, who worked for the Yankees from 1920 to 1957 and came up with Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Phil Rizzuto, and Whitey Ford ... not to mention dozens of other lesser lights who helped the Yankees essentially rule baseball for around 40 years.
And if we're going to consider scouts, why not pitching coaches? I've written about this many times, and I would never suggest throwing open the door to a bunch of them. Some years ago, I wrote a long essay in which I came up with some rudimentary measures for a pitching coach's career accomplishments. One of these days I'll update that. But at the time, I focused Johnny Sain and Leo Mazzone. Since then, Mazzone's reputation has suffered quite a lot, but it's worth noting that Mazzone considered Sain his mentor and Sain coached 16 20-game winners in 17 seasons.
Enough's enough. It's bad enough that many of the best players of the last 25 years can't get elected to the Hall of Fame. Rose's crimes, what we know of them anyway, would have resulted in a one-year suspension if he'd been a football coach. But he was a baseball coach, so he's banned until the sun explodes? I've never had any patience with Rose's apologists. But he's done enough time. More to the point, keeping him out of the Hall of Fame after all these years serves no good purpose at all.