Time now, perhaps,
to call a halt to the Baseball Hall of Fame balloting lest the mechanics of the
voting elevate to the Cooperstown shrine grist, of ball players who don't
properly belong. The dangers of the annual ballot are now becoming
elections have been skimming the cream off the top of the player lists, which
are now so thinned out that players who couldn't command a half dozen votes a
few years back have vaulted among the leaders in the balloting. It could lead
to a gradual cheapening of the honor of being in the Hall of Fame.
It is significant
that players who weren't deemed worthy of Cooperstown and were steadily
rejected in the voting a few years ago are now being dragooned into the Hall of
Fame. Their stature hasn't increased, obviously, but the standards are being
lowered by the demand that somebody must be voted for each year.
calls for a pause of a few years in the voting to permit fame to catch up with
some of the players, or vice versa. There are some names near the top of the
list like Hank Greenberg and Joe Cronin who deserve enshrinement, but most of
the other current leaders are pale company for such as the
It is apparent,
too, that the game, currently, isn't producing the giant-type performer of the
past. I would be reluctant to name more than three players now in the game who
honestly deserve enshrinement at Cooperstown at the level on which the Hall of
Fame was originally established.
Stan Musial will
certainly qualify for Cooperstown at the end of his playing career and so will
Ted Williams and Bob Feller. They are the only stick-outs in the majors.
Consistent stardom ought to be a prime requisite for Cooperstown. Even such a
fine pitcher as Bob Lemon doesn't have a big enough spread. To suggest such as
Willie Mays for Cooperstown after one good season, sensational as it was, would
be to profane the entire Hall of Fame array. Willie could make it by putting
together some more like that.
This is not to
quarrel with the induction of the latest four into the H. of F. DiMaggio
certainly deserved the honor, and so did Ted Lyons and Gabby Hartnett. Dazzy
Vance, in my opinion, didn't quite rate with that trio, but that is mere
opinion. Beginning next year, however, promotion to the Hall of Fame could
become almost automatic, because candidates will be moving up almost by
It was on
September 28, 1938 that Hartnett took his biggest stride toward the Hall of
Fame. That was the day the Cubs were trying to win the pennant from the
Pirates, who had led the National League since July 12 and already had their
World Series tickets printed. In a little more than a month, the Cubs had
gained nine games on Pittsburgh.
The Pirates still
held a half-game lead that fateful day in Chicago. The score was tied in the
ninth 5-5, two were out, Hartnett was up for the Cubs and Mace Brown had a
count of two strikes, no balls against him. The next pitch: Home run into the
left field bleachers and the Cubs wound up as pennant winners.
once upon a time was talking about catchers. That old National League-hater,
who wouldn't concede that the NL was even a major league, finally made a
startling admission. "Best catcher in baseball," he whispered as if
afraid of being overheard, "is that feller Hartnett, even if he is in the