Six elected to the Hall of Fame
With the lockout and the transaction freeze that came along with it, there has been basically nothing in the way of league-wide news over the last week or so, leaving this MLB Roundup section empty. One thing that is unaffected by the lockout, however, is the Hall of Fame, and six names were elected on Sunday. The main ballot is still being filled out by the BBWAA writers, but two special committees (often referred to as a veterans committee) announced their results over the weekend, with players making it from the Early Days (1871-1949) and the Golden Days (1950-1969). Here are the six who will be enshrined in Cooperstown next summer.
- Buck O’Neil may be the most notable name on here, and it’s a shame he wasn’t inducted before his death in 2006. One of the best ambassadors the game has had, O’Neil was a player and manager in the Negro Leagues, mostly with the Kansas City Monarchs, and was the first African-American coach in the majors. O’Neil was also a great scout. Shakeia Taylor had a great write-up of his impact and legacy at FanGraphs last week.
- Bud Fowler was the other Early Days player who was elected, with his playing days coming back in the 19th century. Fowler was the earliest-known Black professional player, and while he never made it up to the majors due to the color of his skin he did barnstorm around the parts of the country in which he was allowed to do so.
- Minnie Miñoso was born in Cuba and spent the early parts of his career in the Negro Leagues before heading to the majors in the late 40s. Through the 50s and early 60s he was one of the very best players in the league, and it’s been a long time coming for him to have this honor. Miñoso received MVP votes eight times in his career, finishing in the top five in half of those occurrences.
- Gil Hodges, prior to this election, was the player who had been named on the most Hall of Fame ballots without being elected. Spending most of his career with the Dodgers (mostly in Brooklyn, with a few years in Los Angeles as well), Hodges was one of his generation’s best power hitters. He finished with 370 career homers and had a stretch of five straight seasons with at least 30.
- Jim Kaat had a long career as a left-handed pitcher, spending 25 years in the majors and racking up over 4500 innings. He’s perhaps best known for his fielding acumen as he finished his career with a remarkable 16 Gold Gloves, and he had a stretch in the mid 60s in which he was one of the more valuable pitchers in the game.
- Tony Oliva was a teammate of Kaat’s in Minnesota in the 60s, though he was on the position player side of things. The outfielder started his career by winning Rookie of the Year, and that season was the first of eight straight in which he was named an All-Star and received at least one MVP vote, finishing as high as second in ‘65 and ‘70.
Now, the six players who were elected by the special committees is more than we typically see from these kinds of votes, in part due to a crowded ballot and in part due to a logjam after COVID cancelled one ballot last year. Still, there was a pretty big snub with Dick Allen once again being denied an opportunity for enshrinement. One of the best hitters of his era, Allen won the ‘72 MVP, received votes six more times, and finished his career with 351 homers in 15 years to go with a 156 OPS+. He’s absolutely better than players who have been inducted, and he deserves his time sooner than later.