Thursday, May 21, 2015

Holding Separate Elections For Player and Non-Player Candidates Would Greatly Improve the Hall of Fame's Era Ballot Vote Process



During last July's annual induction weekend, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced a major change to its voting process when it reduced the maximum years a candidate is eligible to appear on the BBWAA ballot from 15 to 10.  This change made big news since the Hall of Fame rarely modifies the BBWAA's voting process.  By contrast, the Hall of Fame's other major voting body, the Veterans Committee, has undergone several revisions, a number of which came in the last two decades.  The most recent of these changes was the splitting of the Veterans Committee into three separate 16-member Era committees, each representing a different era of baseball, with the Expansion Era in charge of the time period after 1972, the Golden Era covering 1947 to 1972, and the Pre-Integration Era judging 1876 to 1946.  Beginning with the December 2010 election, the Era Committees have met once every three years in a rotating cycle, with the Expansion Era voting in 2010 and 2013 and the Golden Era voting in 2011 and 2014, while the Pre-Integration Era voted in 2012 and is slated to vote for the second time in December.  With the recent change to the BBWAA ballot and December's Pre-Integration Era vote representing two full cycles under the current system, it is likely that the Hall of Fame board members will review and possibly make modifications to the Era ballot process in 2016.  One change that would greatly improve the Era ballot vote process would be holding separate elections for player and non-player candidates.

Below are the results from the five Era ballot elections with non-player candidates highlighted in red:

Dec '10


Dec '11


Dec '12

Exp Era
Vote %

Golden Era
Vote %

Pre Int Era
Vote %
Gillick
81.3%

Santo
93.8%

O'Day
93.8%
Miller
68.8%

Kaat
62.5%

Ruppert
93.8%
Concepcion
50.0%

Hodges
56.3%

White
87.5%
Blue
<50.0%

Minoso
56.3%

Dahlen
62.5%
Garvey
<50.0%

Oliva
50.0%

Breadon
<25.0%
Guidry
<50.0%

Bavasi
<18.8%

Ferrell
<25.0%
John
<50.0%

Boyer
<18.8%

Marion
<25.0%
Martin
<50.0%

Finley
<18.8%

Mullane
<25.0%
Oliver
<50.0%

Reynolds
<18.8%

Reach
<25.0%
Simmons
<50.0%

Tiant
<18.8%

Walters
<25.0%
Staub
<50.0%






Steinbrenner
<50.0%














Dec '13


Dec '14




Exp Era
Vote %

Golden Era
Vote %



Cox
100%

Allen
68.8%



LaRussa
100%

Oliva
68.8%



Torre
100%

Kaat
62.5%



Concepcion
<43.8%

Wills
56.3%



Garvey
<43.8%

Minoso
50.0%



John
<43.8%

Boyer
<18.8%



Martin
<43.8%

Hodges
<18.8%



Miller
<43.8%

Howsam
<18.8%



Parker
<43.8%

Pierce
<18.8%



Quisenberry
<43.8%

Tiant
<18.8%



Simmons
<43.8%






Steinbrenner
<43.8%







In the five elections held under the Era Ballot vote process six non-player candidates--Pat Gillick, Hank O'Day, Jacob Ruppert, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre--garnered the 75% of the vote required to be elected to the Hall of Fame by their respective Era Committees.  However, in the same elections just two player candidates--Ron Santo and Deacon White--have been voted in.  The Expansion and Pre-Integration Eras have each had a large number of spots on their ballots taken by non-players with a player candidate finishing no higher than third in their elections.  By contrast, the Golden Era has had just three non-player candidates in their elections, none of whom drew serious support.  Sharing the ballot with non-player candidates has particularly had an adverse affect on player candidates from the Expansion Era as no player has been able to pick up more than 50% of the vote.  Conversely, each Golden Era vote has seen four player candidates amass over 50% of the vote with Santo gaining election on the December 2011 vote and Dick Allen and Tony Oliva each coming just one vote shy in 2014.

Kaat & John have seen vastly different vote totals on the Era ballots
A good example of the effects of having player and non-player candidates on the same ballot is the disparity in vote totals between Golden Era candidate Jim Kaat and Expansion Era candidate Tommy John.  No two pitchers on any of the Era Committee ballots have careers as similar as Kaat and John.  As highlighted on the table below Kaat's and John's career numbers are very comparable and both are the number one most similar pitcher for each other on Baseball Reference's Similarity Scores.


W
L
W-L%
ERA
IP
SO
ERA+
WAR
Kaat
283
237
0.544
3.45
4530.1
2461
108
51.4
John
288
231
0.555
3.34
4710.1
2245
111
62.0

In addition to their comparable numbers, Kaat and John each had three 20-game-winning seasons and had long careers that encompassed a quarter-century or more.  Each pitcher drew about the same support in their fifteen years on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot with Kaat garnering 19.5% of the vote in his debut on the ballot and peaking at 29.6% while John collected 21.3% on his initial appearance and picked up his highest vote total on his last at 31.7%.  From 1963 to 1983, their lengthy careers overlapped, including a brief run as teammates for the New York Yankees during parts of the 1979 and 1980 seasons.  However, since more of Kaat's career took place during the Sixties and early-Seventies, he appears on the Golden Era ballot while John's Hall of Fame case is judged by the Expansion Era Committee because more of his career stretched over the Eighties and the latter part of the Seventies.

Despite having similar careers and BBWAA Hall of Fame support, the two pitchers have had vastly different vote totals on the Era Committee ballots.  With few non-player candidates to contend with, Kaat has picked up 62.5% of the vote on each of his Golden Era ballot appearances--just two marks shy of election.  By contrast, John shared the ballot with several solid non-player candidates on both of his appearances on the Expansion Era vote.  On the 2010 ballot, non-player candidates Pat Gillick and Marvin Miller collected the most votes with Gillick gaining election and the polarizing Miller falling a single tally short.  John's vote totals on the 2010 ballot were not even released by the Hall of Fame who placed him in the ambiguous category of having received "less than eight votes."  The presence of LaRussa, Cox, and Torre--respectively the third, fourth, and fifth winningest managers in baseball history--made the rest of the 2013 ballot an afterthought to the degree that all the other candidates' vote totals, including John's, were listed as "six or fewer votes."  John's support may have also been affected by George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, two controversial but memorable non-player candidates who each appeared on both Expansion Era ballots.  John spent a good portion of his career with the Yankees but sharing the ballot with Steinbrenner--the franchise's long-time owner--and Martin--one of the hurler's managers during his time in pinstripes--likely drew attention away from John.  Having player and non-player candidates share the ballot has resulted in a significant gap in votes for Kaat and John, two pitchers who spent most of their careers as contemporaries and retired with similar accomplishments and virtually identical statistics.

Grich, Evans, Hernandez, & Piniella have yet to make the Exp Era ballot
Another example of the negative effects of having players and non-players on the same ballot is the number of solid candidates passed over for the Era ballots.  Eligible candidates for each Era ballot are screened by the Historical Overview Committee which makes the final selections.  While each era has their share of eligible candidates who have been overlooked, those who have been passed over for Expansion Era ballots stand out more than others.  The 2013 Expansion Era ballot was memorable for the unanimous elections of three of baseball's all-time greatest managers, LaRussa, Cox, and Torre.  However, when selecting the ballot, the Historical Overview Committee excluded three excellent player candidates--Bobby Grich, Dwight Evans, and Keith Hernandez--as well as an impressive non-player candidate--former manager Lou Piniella.  Each of the three overlooked players has a strong Hall of Fame case by traditional as well as advanced metrics, while Piniella has accomplishments that are comparable to many Hall of Fame managers: 

Grich--sported a slick glove and potent bat, winning four Gold Gloves at second base with a 125 career OPS+ as well as a 70.9 WAR which was higher than any other player who was eligible for the 2010 or 2013 Expansion Era ballot.  Reached base at a stellar .371 clip for his career but his .266 average hurt him with BBWAA voters, though it is comparable to several middle infielders in the Hall of Fame including Ozzie Smith, Luis Aparicio, and Pee Wee Reese.  Hit 224 career home runs, which at the time of his 1986 retirement, trailed only six other regular middle infielders.

Evans--won eight Gold Gloves in right field and retired just shy of 400 home runs (385) and 2,500 hits (2,446).  Like Grich, BBWAA voters probably were too focused on his career batting average--an adequate but unspectacular .272--and overlooked his .370 career OBP.  The combination of his underrated hitting and revered glovework are underscored by his 127 career OPS+ and 66.9 WAR.  Played nearly two decades for the celebrated Boston Red Sox franchise and is among the club's all-time top-five leaders for many categories including WAR, hits, total bases, home runs, and RBIs while ranking second to Carl Yastrzemski in games played and trailing only "Yaz" and Ted Williams in runs scored, doubles, walks, and extra base hits.

Hernandez--won a record eleven Gold Gloves at first base, hit nearly .300 for his career (.296), and was voted co-NL MVP with Willie Stargell in 1979.  Hall of Fame case is hurt by a mid-career cocaine scandal but he cleaned up his act and was a leader on the field and in the clubhouse for the '86 Mets--arguably the most celebrated World Series winning team of the 1980's.  Also, played a significant role on the '82 World Championship Cardinals.  Defensive skill set was so unique for a first baseman and his fielding abilities were so impressive that his excellence actually transcended the position.  Career also looks strong through the lens of advanced metrics with a 128 OPS+ and 60.0 WAR despite being dragged down by the positional adjustment penalties assessed for playing first.

Piniella--14th all-time with 1,835 career wins, trailing twelve Hall of Fame managers with just one non-Hall of Fame manager, Gene Mauch, ahead of him.  Unlike Mauch, retired with a winning career record (.517) and led a team to the World Championship (1990 Cincinnati Reds).  Tied a Major League record with 116 regular season wins as manager of the 2001 Seattle Mariners.

Of those four overlooked candidates, only Grich was eligible to be added to the 2010 Expansion Era ballot.  The Historical Overview Committee nominated five position players--Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons, and Rusty Staub, three pitchers--Vida Blue, Ron Guidry, and Tommy John, and four non-players--Pat Gillick, Billy Martin, Marvin Miller, and George Steinbrenner--for the 2010 ballot.  Grich's exclusion from this ballot was not so much the result of having players and non-players share the ballot as it was due to the Committee's reluctance to include advanced metrics in their discussions and evaluate candidates by more than just traditional statistics.  Concepcion, Garvey, and John were understandable choices since they were the only eligible candidates who lasted their full 15 years of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot.  Also, the additions of Blue and Guidry helped bring the ballot a better balance between pitchers and position players.  However, the selections of the three other position players over Grich--particularly Oliver and Staub--reflected the Committee's over-emphasis on traditional stats such as hits and batting average and discounting of advanced metrics like WAR and OPS+ as well as overlooked stats such as walks and on base percentage.

In the three years between Expansion Era votes, overlooked stats started to gain more attention and advanced metrics became more widely accepted by the baseball community, giving Grich and players such as Evans and Hernandez with solid sabermetric career statistics a stronger Hall of Fame case and better chance at being nominated for the ballot.  Yet, when the 2013 Expansion Era ballot was released, neither Grich, nor Evans, nor Hernandez were among the twelve candidates nominated.  Instead, the Historical Overview Committee selected four position players, two pitchers, and a staggering six non-players for the ballot.  Once again, the Historical Overview Committee showed a preference toward players who lasted 15 years on the BBWAA ballot, giving holdovers Concepcion, Garvey, and John another shot on the Expansion Era ballot while adding Dave Parker, the only newly eligible player candidate to last 15 BBWAA elections.  Position player Ted Simmons, along with non-player candidates Martin, Miller, and Steinbrenner also returned as holdovers from the 2010 Expansion Era ballot.  The additions of newly eligible non-player candidates LaRussa, Cox, and Torre gave the ballot an equal amount of non-player to player candidates as aside from Parker, the Committee only nominated one other newly eligible player candidate in relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry who was likely selected with the intention of adding another pitcher because without him, Tommy John would have been the sole hurler on the ballot.  LaRussa, Cox, and Torre were each unanimously voted in on the ensuing election.

Whitaker is at risk of being passed over for the 2016 ballot
Due to the lack of space caused by having players and non-players share the ballot, holdovers from the previous election, the Committee's preference for selecting candidates who lasted 15 years in BBWAA voting, and the effort to balance the ballot between position players and pitchers, there was virtually no chance for Grich, Evans, Hernandez, or Piniella to be included on the 2013 Expansion Era ballot.  Barring an overhaul of the current voting process or a purging of most of the holdovers, there will be little room for the Committee to add any previously excluded candidates to the ballot and address what is becoming a growing backlog of overlooked candidates.  Moreover, Grich, Evans, and Hernandez will likely be passed over again in favor of Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, and Dale Murphy--three candidates set to become eligible in 2016 who lasted 15 years on the BBWAA ballot.  Grich, Evans, and Hernandez each have much stronger Hall of Fame cases by advanced metrics than Mattingly, Morris, and Murphy but the lack of support they received in BBWAA voting over a decade ago may doom their chances to make the Expansion Era ballot.  What's more, even a worthy candidate like Lou Whitaker, who is also eligible for the first time on the 2016 ballot, may be passed over by the Committee--despite having fine traditional stats and a higher career WAR (74.9) than any eligible player--just because he did not last 15 years on the BBWAA ballot.  Piniella also runs the risk of being overlooked for the next Expansion Era ballot, as the Committee will undoubtedly nominate newly eligible non-player candidate Bud Selig while also considering Jim Leyland, Davey Johnson, and Dusty Baker--each of whom are slated to become eligible in 2016.

By holding separate elections for players and non-players, the Committee would be able to continue to add candidates who lasted 15 years in BBWAA voting while also having enough room on the ballot for candidates such as Grich, Evans, Hernandez, and Whitaker whose Hall of Fame cases are strengthened by advanced metrics but were too quickly dismissed by BBWAA voters.  In addition, putting the non-players on their own ballot would not only give the Committee space to select a solid candidate like Piniella but could also allow for intriguing non-managerial candidates such as Johnny Sain, Dave Duncan, and Leo Mazzone--each of whom made their mark as pitching coaches--to make their way onto their respective Era ballot.

Revising the voting process and holding separate elections for players and non-players would not be an unprecedented move by the Hall of Fame.  In fact, from 2003 to 2009, the Hall of Fame ran several Veterans Committee elections with player and non-player candidates on separate ballots.  Moreover, just before adopting the Era ballot voting process, the Hall of Fame briefly used a format in which player candidates were split into two separate ballots--one for players who started their careers prior to 1943 and another for players whose careers began in 1943 or later--while non-player candidates were also split into two separate ballots--one comprised of managers and umpires and the other for executives.  Yet, after several elections with players and non-players on separate ballots, the Hall of Fame went back to putting all candidates on one ballot when it adopted the Era ballot process.

In summary, after modifying the BBWAA vote format, changes could be on the horizon for the Era ballot process since December's Pre-Integration Era vote will represent two full cycles under the current system.  The change that would most improve the Era ballot vote process would be holding separate elections for player and non-player candidates.  This would likely eliminate the disparity in votes for Jim Kaat and Tommy John, two candidates with similar careers but vastly different vote totals due to being eligible on different Era ballots.  Separate elections would also give the Historical Overview Committee the opportunity to clear the growing backlog of overlooked candidates by having more space to nominate worthy player and non-player candidates.

----by John Tuberty

Photo credit:  Jim Kaat & Tommy John 1980 Topps; Bobby Grich, Dwight Evans, Keith Hernandez, & Lou Piniella 1987 Topps; Lou Whitaker 1984 Fleer

Other Articles By Tubbs Baseball Blog:
Bobby Grich Was The Victim of Some Bad Baseball Cards and Some Even Worse Hall of Fame Voting

Dwight Evans' Strong Sabermetric Statistics Underscore His Overlooked Hall of Fame Case 

Keith Hernandez, Whitey Herzog, and The Controversial Trade That Revived The New York Mets

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Minnie Miñoso - Golden Era Hall of Fame Candidate and Baseball Pioneer

Minnie Miñoso 1954 Bowman
Minnie Miñoso is one of ten candidates eligible for the Golden Era Hall of Fame vote that will take place during December's Winter Meetings in San Diego.  The Golden Era Committee votes on candidates who made their biggest contributions to the game between 1947 and 1972.  The Committee is a 16-member panel made up of retired Hall of Famers, Major League executives, and veteran media members.  Each member of the panel can vote for up to four of the ten candidates.  A candidate must carry 75% of the vote to be elected.  December's vote will mark the second meeting of the Golden Era Committee, which previously voted in December 2011, electing Ron Santo who picked up 15 of 16 possible votes.  Miñoso was one of four other candidates that drew promising support on the 2011 ballot, picking up nine votes--tied with Gil Hodges for third highest, just behind Jim Kaat, who collected ten votes, and ahead of Tony Oliva, who garnered eight.  Miñoso will, once again, share the ballot with Kaat, Hodges, and Oliva as well Ken Boyer and Luis Tiant--who also appeared on the 2011 ballot--along with Dick Allen, Billy Pierce, Maury Wills, and Bob Howsam who are each newcomers to the ballot.  Miñoso was one of baseball's most exciting and well-rounded players during the 1950's and early 1960's.  Miñoso has an intriguing Hall of Fame case that goes beyond just his impressive numbers and on the field accomplishments but also includes his pioneering role of being one of the first black superstar ballplayers in the early days of integration as well as Major League Baseball's first black Latino player.

Born in El Perico, Cuba on November 29, 1925, Miñoso's name at birth was Saturnino Orestes Arrieta Armas.  Early in his life Miñoso started going by his middle name Orestes.  Orestes had two older half-brothers who played baseball for a local factory team and he would accompany them to games so he came to be referred to by their last name Miñoso.  Orestes would later pick up the nickname Minnie during his first season as a member of the Chicago White Sox.

Miñoso began his professional baseball career in his native country during the mid-1940's.  As a black Cuban, Miñoso found his path to the Major Leagues blocked by the color barrier.  Nevertheless, Miñoso made his way to the U.S. in 1945 to play in the Negro Leagues for the New York Cubans, a team largely comprised of Cuban-born players.  On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson integrated the Major Leagues when he made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  That same year, Miñoso helped the Cubans win the Negro League World Series.  Late in the 1948 season, Miñoso was signed by the Cleveland Indians and assigned to their minor league affiliate Dayton where he hit a blistering .525 in 11 games.  Miñoso made Cleveland's big league roster out of Spring Training in 1949 and in the process became the first black Latino and eighth overall black player to break the color barrier in the Major Leagues.  Despite his talent, Miñoso struggled to find playing time on Cleveland's veteran roster and was sent down to the club's Triple-A affiliate in San Diego.  Miñoso dominated Triple-A pitching but was kept in San Diego for the remainder of 1949 and all of 1950.  In the early days of integration, even forward thinking franchises like Cleveland are believed to have employed an unofficial quota system under which they were reluctant to have what might be perceived as too many black players on their roster, as a result obviously talented black players like Miñoso were kept in the minors.  Miñoso made the Indians for a second time out of Spring Training in 1951 but once again had trouble finding playing time.  Fortunately, just a couple of weeks into the season, new Chicago White Sox skipper Paul Richards--who had managed against Miñoso in Triple-A--requested that his club trade for Miñoso.

When Miñoso suited up for Chicago on May 1, he was first the black player to take the field for the franchise.  Even though the color barrier had been broken four years earlier, the integration of baseball had been a slow process--particularly in the American League.  In fact, the White Sox were just the third AL team to integrate and Miñoso was one of just four black players active in the league at the time.  Moreover, the other three black players, Larry Doby, Luke Easter, and Harry Simpson played for Cleveland, Miñoso's former club.  And, it would be more than two years before another AL team took the step of integrating their roster.

Although he was the sole black player on the White Sox, the trade ended up working out well for Miñoso since Chicago, in contrast to Cleveland, made a point of finding a spot for him in their starting line up--rotating him between third base, right field, and left field.  Finally granted regular playing time, Miñoso immediately established himself among the game's elite during his rookie season, hitting an outstanding .326, second to only Ferris Fain for the AL batting crown.  Miñoso showcased his speed by leading the AL in triples and stolen bases while also finishing second in the league in runs scored.  Yet despite his excellent season, Miñoso was narrowly beat out for the Rookie of the Year Award by New York Yankees infielder Gil McDougald in a close vote.  However, Miñoso drew more support than McDougald in the MVP vote, finishing in fourth place--five spots ahead of the Yankees infielder.

Miñoso proved his stand out rookie season was no fluke, becoming one of baseball's most dominant players throughout the 1950's and early 1960's.  During his career, Miñoso regularly placed among the league leaders in nearly every major offensive category and led the AL on at least one occasion in hits, total bases, doubles, triples, stolen bases, sacrifice flys, times hit by pitch, and games played.  Miñoso was a seven-time All-Star and drew MVP votes in eight different seasons.  Although he never won the MVP Award, Miñoso did pick up one or more first place votes on three separate occasions and finished fourth in the vote four times.  Though he was never a threat to lead the league in home runs, Miñoso generated enough power with doubles and triples to regularly finish among the AL leaders in extra base hits and slugging percentage.  In addition, Miñoso had four seasons in which he drove in over 100 runs as well as four campaigns where he eclipsed 100 runs scored.  Miñoso hit over .300 eight times and in five of those seasons finished fifth or higher among AL hitters.  The combination of Miñoso's high batting average, patience at the plate, and tendency of getting hit by pitches enabled him to also stay among the league leaders in OBP.  Miñoso's speed and aggressiveness on the basepaths kept opposing teams off-balance and made him a constant threat to swipe a bag or take an extra base.  On three occasions Miñoso led the AL in stolen bases and triples.  Few players were as consistent as Miñoso, whose impressive rookie campaign marked the first of an eleven-year stretch, from 1951 to 1961, in which he hit .280-or-higher each season with an OBP no lower than .369.  Miñoso could also be counted for durability, never missing more than 16 games in a season during the same eleven-year stretch.

Minnie Miñoso 1958 Topps
In addition to his offensive excellence, Miñoso also evolved into one of the game's best defensive players.  After initially seeing action at third base and all three outfield positions over his first two seasons, Chicago settled on having Miñoso primarily play left field in 1953.  The permanent move to left helped Miñoso make positive strides defensively and he proved to have one of the league's most dangerous throwing arms, leading AL left fielders in assists six times, while finishing as runner-up on three other occasions.  Miñoso's outstanding defense was recognized when he was part of the inaugural Gold Glove Award class in 1957 when the award was voted on by sportswriters and honored just one player from each position.  Miñoso also won Gold Gloves in 1959 and 1960 when the honor was bestowed on one player from each position in each league and voting was done by the players themselves.  Most of Miñoso's career took place before the existence of the Gold Glove Award but had they been given out from the onset of his career it is likely he would have received the honor several more times.  With a slick glove and strong throwing arm to go along with his potent bat and speed on the basepaths, there were few players as well-rounded during the 1950's and early 1960's as Miñoso.

Miñoso played his final big league season in 1964.  Throughout his playing career and for several years afterward, Miñoso's date of birth was listed as November 29, 1922.  In actuality, Miñoso was born a full year three years later in 1925 but had used the 1922 birth year to acquire a visa when he lived in his home country of Cuba, something Miñoso revealed in his 1994 autobiography, Just Call Me Minnie.  Being recognized as three years older may have hastened the end of his Major League career since he was thought to be in his early-40s when his skills began to erode instead of his late-30s and that may have turned teams off from giving him a chance to prolong his career.

As the first black Latino to play in the Major Leagues, Miñoso had to endure his share of racism and deal with the difficulties of playing in a foreign country while trying to learn a different language and culture.  Not only did Miñoso have to deal with the racial prejudices of the time but he often found himself a target of racially-tinged taunts and bench-jockeying from opposing teams.  Miñoso was also the victim of beanballs throughout his career.  By his own admission, Miñoso did crowd the plate and picked up the break of the ball late, thus he was often inadvertently struck by errant pitches.  However, in the first several seasons after integration, pioneering black players Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Luke Easter, Sam Jethroe, and Miñoso usually finished at or near the top of the hit by pitch leaderboard in their respective league--lending credence to the theory that black players were thrown at and knocked down more than white players.  And, no player during this time was beaned as much Miñoso who led the league a record ten times in hit by pitch and was plunked a total of 192 times in his career.  One manager is known to have ordered one of his pitchers to throw at Miñoso's head.  Disturbing incidents like this imply that at least a few of the beanings he endured may have been due to the color of his skin--something the jovial Miñoso chooses not to dwell on.

Minnie Miñoso 1955 Bowman
The late 1940's and 1950's were a pivotal time for pioneering black baseball players and the game itself.  Tasked with the enormous responsibility of proving themselves worthy of playing alongside white athletes, Miñoso and his fellow pioneers faced these challenges with grace and dignity, proving to be role models to not only their peers but future generations as well.  Over the years, most of the key pioneer black players have been elected to the Hall of Fame:  Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella were voted in by the BBWAA during the 1960's.  Satchel Paige and Monte Irvin were largely elected for their careers in the Negro League, each gaining induction through a special Negro League Committee which met from 1971 to 1977.  Despite being the second black player to break the color barrier and integrating the American League, Larry Doby had to wait until 1998 to be voted in.  Doby's long overdue election came through the Veterans Committee, the predecessor to the Golden Era Committee which will judge Miñoso's Hall of Fame candidacy.  With each of those deserving pioneers elected, Miñoso looms as the Hall of Fame's most glaring omission from the early days of integration.

Miñoso collected 1,963 career hits in 1,835 games along with 186 home runs, 1023 RBI, a .298 batting average, and .389 OBP--strong career numbers that likely would have been even more impressive had his Major League career not been delayed by several seasons due to the color barrier and the reluctance of teams to carry what could be perceived as too many black players on their roster in the years immediately following integration.  During the 1940's and 1950's, it was not uncommon for a player to crack the team's starting line up in their late teens and early-20s.  When finally given the chance to play everyday at 25-years old, Miñoso proved he was not only good enough to belong in the Major Leagues, but immediately established himself as one of the game's most dominant players.  Author and University of Illinois professor Adrian Burgos, Jr. perhaps described it best:  "Miñoso was the first black Latino in the majors--and was one who was not just able to survive, but achieve excellence."  While it is impossible to quantify what Miñoso's career numbers could have he been was it not for the color barrier and other factors, the combination of his solid career and unique pioneering role as not only one of the first black superstars but also the Major League's first black Latino player make Minnie Miñoso an ideal choice for the Hall of Fame.

----by John Tuberty

Sources:  Baseball Reference, Baseball Reference Play Index, SABR, Minnie Miñoso's SABR Bio, Baseball Almanac, Google News Archive, Eugene Register-Guard, Reading Eagle, MLB, Minoso By Any Other Name by Richard C. Lindberg from The National Pastime:  A Review of Baseball History, William M. Simons-The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, 2009-2010 (McFarland), Bruce Markusen's Cooperstown Confidential, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Chicago White Sox, White Sox Interactive, Baseball Hall of Fame, Southside Sox, Lou Hernández-Memories of Winter Ball:  Interviews with Players in the Latin American Winter Leagues of the 1950s (McFarland), Peter C. Bjarkman-Baseball with a Latin Beat:  A History of the Latin American Game (McFarland), Minoso HOF pdf by MLB.COM

Other Tubbs Baseball Blog Articles:

Will Minnie Miñoso Finally Get To Deliver His Long Overdue Hall of Fame Induction Speech Next July?

Dwight Evans' Strong Sabermetric Statistics Underscore His Overlooked Hall of Fame Case

Bobby Grich Was The Victim of Some Bad Baseball Cards and Some Even Worse Hall of Fame Voting