Last train to Cooperstown
It was now or never for Maz's Hall of Fame hopes
Updated: Tuesday March 06, 2001 7:35 PM
By Jacob Luft, CNNSI.com
For Bill Mazeroski's Hall of Fame hopes, it was the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 and there were two outs.
Just like he did to beat the Yankees in the final inning of the last game of the 1960 World Series, Maz hit one out of the park to get into Cooperstown.
Sort of a déjà vu all over again.
Mazeroski fell excruciatingly short of induction last year when the Veterans Committee granted him 10 votes instead of the necessary 11. During his 15 years on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot, he never gained more than 43 percent of the vote (75 percent is needed for induction).
If momentum did not carry Mazeroski over the top this year, the competition (Ron Santo in 2002, Mickey Lolich in '03) would most likely have caught up with him. The Veterans Committee can only elect one former major league player a year; it elected none last year.
Among the 15 second baseman in the Hall, Mazeroski has the lowest career batting average (.260) and fewest stolen bases (27). However, he led all major league middle infielders with 714 RBIs during the 11-year span between 1957 and 1967. He was a seven-time All-Star and won eight Gold Gloves and is generally regarded as the best defensive second baseman of all time.
Maz's main competition this season was Gil Hodges, the former Dodgers first baseman who hit 370 home runs in 18 seasons. The late Hodges garnered 872 more BBWAA votes than Mazeroski and came close in 1983 with a 63.2 percent showing.
Hodges' 3,010 cumulative votes are the most among any players not currently in the Hall (see chart, below). Also working in his favor is the fact that the following players finished below him in BBWAA voting before being elected by the Veterans Committee: Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Red Schoendienst, Hal Newhouser, George Kell, Johnny Mize, Nellie Fox, Jim Bunning, Richie Ashburn, Enos Slaughter and Bobby Doerr. Hodges also managed the 1969 Mets to the World Series title.