SECOND-GUESSING THE SCRIBES
The Baseball Writers' Association of America last week elected Bob Gibson to the Hall of Fame. That's good news, but it doesn't make sense that Gibson should be the only player selected in a year in which Harmon Killebrew, the greatest righthanded home-run hitter in American League history, and Juan Marichal, whose pitching record was comparable to Gibson's, also became eligible for induction.
The incident in which Marichal hit Dodger Catcher John Roseboro over the head with a bat in a moment of rage no doubt cost him votes, but it must also be noted that both Gibson and Don Drysdale, who finished second to Gibson in the voting, were notorious "head hunters." The list of those slighted also includes Hoyt Wilhelm, the game's most accomplished relief pitcher; Nellie Fox, for many years the AL's premier second baseman; and Fox' double-play partner with the White Sox, Luis Aparicio, who was the best shortstop for more than a decade and deserves credit for reviving the lost art of base stealing. But then, shortstops have always been short-changed in the voting. Where have you gone, Phil Rizzuto, Pee Wee Reese and Marty Marion? Alas, not to Cooperstown.
The procedure for election to the Hall of Fame clearly needs reform. Only writers who have held association membership cards for 10 years are eligible to vote, but this doesn't prevent some writers from being wrongheaded or spiteful, witness the fact that such decent but hardly Hall of Fame-caliber performers as Glenn Beckert, Gates Brown, Leo Cardenas, Lindy McDaniel, Jim Northrup and Sonny Siebert received one vote apiece last week. The explanation may lie in the fact that to be eligible for induction, a player must appear on three-fourths of the ballots actually cast by the writers, who may vote for up to 10 players each. The New York Daily News' Bill Madden says, "Some of the older members don't think any players of the modern era are worthy of the Hall of Fame. They may fill out a bullet ballot with only one name, say, Jim Northrup, on it. That way they use up their vote and deny players who should be in Cooperstown."
Siebert is now in real estate in St. Louis. He once pitched a no-hitter but never won more than 16 games in a season. "I was surprised I got a vote," he admits. "But the thing that shocked me the most is that Sam McDowell didn't get a single vote." McDowell, the American League's strikeout king in the late '60s, doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame, but he outperformed several other pitchers who received votes. Now an insurance man in Pittsburgh, he says, "The whole thing's a joke anyway. We're talking about the same people who made Early Wynn sweat to get into the Hall of Fame. All he ever did was win 300 games."
One measure the baseball writers can adopt is to make the ballots public, as with the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year voting. That way, voters would be held accountable for slighting worthy candidates. As things now stand, a player may be listed on the ballot for 15 years. If he doesn't make it to Cooperstown in that time, he has to wait another five years before the Veterans Committee can consider him. Because of that rule, Rizzuto and Reese are currently in limbo. Rule changes aside, however, it's the writers' minds that must change if deserving players are to find their way into baseball's shrine. As McDowell says, with some justification, "You can only hope that the next generation of writers will be less self-righteous."
WILL DR. J DELIVER, TOO?
In the spring of 1974, while his wife, Turquoise, was pregnant with their first child, Julius Erving led the New York Nets to the American Basketball Association championship. In the spring of 1976, with Turquoise expecting their second child, Dr. J again led the Nets to the ABA title. We're happy to report that the arrival of the family's sixth member (besides 6-year-old Julius Winfield III and 4-year-old Jazmin, Turquoise has a child by a previous marriage) is expected soon after the conclusion of the 1981 NBA playoffs. Does this mean that Erving, who now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, will lead his team to the NBA title? Philadelphia fans naturally hope so. Since the 76ers acquired Erving just before the 1976-77 season, the team has come close—but no cigar.
Lashed by frigid winds that whip across the campus from high, virtually treeless plains, the University of Wyoming has a history of losing its football coaches to warm-weather schools. The latest coach to depart for more agreeable climes is Pat Dye, who quit last month and went to Auburn after shivering through just one season at Wyoming, during which he guided the Cowboys to a 6-5 record, their first winning season in four years. Forced to hire a new coach for the fourth time in six years, Wyoming earlier this month tapped Georgia-born Al Kincaid, the team's former offensive coordinator, for the job, then took a step calculated to keep him around a while. The school agreed to pay Kincaid a $45,000 salary, but specified that $700 per month from that amount be placed in an interest-bearing escrow account payable to him only upon completion of his full three-year contract. In other words, now even part of the Wyoming coach's pay is frozen.
THE WRONG CLIMATE
The news that two or more members of the 1978-79 Boston College basketball team are under investigation for allegedly accepting bribes from gamblers to shave points is jolting. It particularly disturbs Bill Esposito, the sports-information director at St. John's, whose 85-76 win over B.C. that season—the Redmen were favored by 8� points—happens to be one of the games that have aroused suspicions. Esposito is a past president of the College Sports Information Directors of America and, with several others in that organization, has been warning for some time now that heavy betting could result in point-shaving scandals like those that rocked college basketball in the 1950s and 1960s. Esposito lamented last week that those warnings have had little effect. "It's like hollering at people that a train is coming, but for some reason they can't get off the track," he said.