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Vote on the Golden Era HOF Ballot

By Mike Silva ~ November 7th, 2011. Filed under: Hall of Fame.


Last week, the Hall of Fame announced the 16-member Golden Era Committee will select from the following candidates: Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Gil HodgesJim KaatMinnie MinosoTony Oliva,Allie ReynoldsRon Santo and Luis Tiant,

It’s an interesting collection that has some very intriguing borderline candidates. I have created a poll for the NYBD readers to select their choices and I will announce our selections on December 5th.

When I vote for the Hall of Fame I take a few things into consideration. First, I like to see a period of dominance, preferably for at least a decade. Next, I look at compilation of numbers. Even if they don’t have a long period of dominance, did they have a lengthy period of consistent production that puts them at or in striking range of traditional benchmarks. Finally, did he do something historic that has him stand out above the rest? Throughout all this I also look for precedent. If a similar player has been elected (right or wrong), I believe it opens the door for others. Of course, there is always a fine line between “very good” and “great.” Everyone seems to have their own definition.

I have decided to support Ron Santo, Charlie Finley, and Gil Hodges.

Finley might be the one that raises the most eyebrows. It’s easy to criticize him since he was notorious for his frugality and contentious relationship with his players. Finley threatened to send Reggie Jackson to the minor leagues over a contract dispute when he was coming off a 47 home run season. He took Mike Andrews off the ’73 postseason roster because of critical errors in the World Series against the Mets. His overall record is one of mediocrity as the A’s were largely bad during his 20 years of ownership in Kansas City and Oakland.

He did, however, transcend the game with his antics. You know Charlie Finley because of his passion for baseball, however misguided it was. Many of his players admitted years later they hated him so much they played better because of it. He also tried progressive ideas like orange baseballs, the designated runner, and the 3-ball/2-strike rule.

Gil Hodges has been a hot Hall of Fame debate for years, nearly gaining election in 1993 when he fell short one vote. Hodges has both his record playing first base with the Dodgers and his managerial accomplishments with the Mets. The Hall uses a hard mark for first baseman as only 15 players with 1,000 or more games at first have been selected. Before getting into Hodges record, his career is very similar to that of Tony PerezEddie Murray, and Orlando Cepeda- all in the Hall of Fame.

Hodges does fall into the lower tier of first baseman when using advanced stats like OPS+ and WAR. His 119 OPS+ is lower than all first base inductees outside of High Pockets Kelly. From 1950-1957 he hit 263 home runs, drove in 857 runs, and had a .897 OPS. Only Ted Kluszewski had a higher OPS+ than his 132. When you use WAR, Hodges is 10 wins share better than Kluszewski at 37.8.

Most of his production did occur during that 8 year period, since he totaled 44.6 WAR for his career. Higher than the aforementioned Kelly and Jim Bottomley in HOF first baseman.

If you are the on the fence his work with the 1969 Mets should get him over the top. Yes, he had Seaver, Ryan, Koosman, and McGraw on his historic pitching staff, but to keep that Mets team focused on a pennant even when they were 13.5 games out in August is one of the better managerial jobs in history. He was able to maximize his limited offensive talent with platoons that put players in the best position to succeed. Isn’t that what makes a good manager? Even more important is how he immediately changed the culture of “lovable losers” upon his arrival.

The Hall is even harder on third baseman as there are only 8 in inductees that played 1,000 or more games at the position. Quite frankly, is there a better third basemen in the 1960s? I can’t think of one. From 1963-1969 Santo had an OPS+ of 144, 204 home runs, 727 RBI, and OPS of .881. Brooks Robinson, already in the Hall, is a distant second in most offensive categories. Yes, Robinson is probably the best defensive third baseman of all-time, but Santo won 5 Gold Gloves of his own. His election should have been done years ago, and it’s a shame he has passed and won’t be present if he is selected this year.


Here are short blurbs about why I don’t support any of the other candidates.

Buzzie Bavasi - spent 17 seasons as the Dodgers general manager from 1951-67, leading his team to four World Series titles and eight National League pennants. He then served in similar capacities for the Padres (1968-77) and Angels 1978-84). Most of his success was due to the Dodgers winning in Los Angeles, but the foundation of the Dodgers began with the work of Branch Rickey. It could also be the timing of Bavasi isn’t great because of the presence of Santo, Hodges, and Finley on the ballot.

Ken Boyer - Tough call as he very “Santo-like” from 1958 -1964 (179 HR, .872 OPS, 5 Gold Gloves, MVP) playing for the Cardinals. He was a solid OBP-guy, but he fell off after the age of 33. I am going to say he is just short, but a case could be made.

Jim Kaat- He had a few good seasons during his Minnesota tenure in the early 60s. He pitched 25 seasons, but spent the majority of the last decade as a reliever/swing-man. Known for being one of the better fielding pitchers all-time as he won 16 Gold Gloves. Only Greg Maddux has won more. Very good career, but not a Hall of Famer.

Minnie Minoso - This is a tough call. Played 17 seasons with the Indians, White Sox, Cardinals and Senators, earning seven All-Star Game selections and three Gold Glove Awards as an outfielder. A native of Cuba, he blazed a trail for Latin American players in the big leagues starting in the 1950s. He is the only professional player to have appeared in a game in 7 different decades, as he played for the St. Paul Saints in 1993 and 2003. He is another player that is very good, but doesn’t give you the “feel” of a Hall of Famer.

Tony Oliva - Like Minoso, Oliva is a very good All-Star player. If you don’t want Bobby Abreu or Johnny Damon in the Hall, then it’s hard to support Oliva.  Played 15 seasons for the Twins, winning three batting titles and leading the American League in hits five times. He was named to eight All-Star Games and won the 1964 AL Rookie of the Year Award; impressive, but not Hall of Fame worthy.

Allie Reynolds - If he didn’t pitch for the Yankees dynasty would we even be having this discussion? 131 of his 182 wins came in the Bronx.  He pitched in six World Series, leading the Yankees to six Fall Classic titles in seven years while posting a 7-2 record with four saves and a 2.79 ERA in 15 World Series games. He appears to be a #3 starter-type that stepped up in the postseason.

Luis Tiant - In 1968 he was 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA for Cleveland. Won 20 games three times in Boston. You could make the argument if Catfish Hunter is in the Hall, then Tiant should be as well. My issue is the guy wasn’t all that dominant even in his 20-win seasons. WHIP’s of 1.2 to 1.3 just don’t excite me despite the funky delivery. You do have to respect his 229 wins, but not enough to earn my support.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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15 Responses to Vote on the Golden Era HOF Ballot

  1. RealityChuck

    I would agree with your choices. Santo should be in the Hall. Hodges is more of a close call, but I think that overall, he deserves it. Finlay was a much better owner than his reputation for flakiness grants him. His smartest suggestion was to grant free agency to all ballplayers at once, which scared the hell out of Marvin Miller. It would have kept player salaries down and the Players Association would have been screwed.

    I’d also add Minoso and Oliva, though. The statistics don’t always tell the whole story.

  2. Stu B

    I agree with you on your choices. Regarding Tiant, interesting that he lost 20 for the Indians in ’69, the year after he won 21. Rather Koosmanesque.

  3. Marv

    With you on Gil and Ron Santo. Would trade one Finley for one Minnie Minoso. I grew up out east, and Gil was my favorite player,. Now live in Chicago, and see the same passion for Santo here as we have for Gil “back home.” Minoso is loved in Chicago as well. And generally, if forced to choose, I would vote for players over owners

  4. Ken Bland

    I was enthused by the support of Charlie Finley as a candidate for the Hall. Their records as baseball owners aren’t exactly Siamese twin in path, but I’ve believed that if George Steinbrenner gained admission before Finley, it would be an injustice.

    At the least, I can see why it’s taken so long for both Hodges and Santo to get over the top. Both played in their share of AS games, and both, around age 30 would have been considered good Hall shots with good closeouts to their careers. But there was some degree of slippage, which made it a little harder to recall their more dominant earlier years. In both cases, there’s a lack of presence in MVP results that would add to either’s candidacy. I don’t see a connection between Hodges 1969 Mets work and voting for him for the Hall as a player. I’m pretty neutral on both. If either gets in, I wouldn’t complain, but I couldn’t jump up and down supporting either.

  5. Chuck Johnson

    I voted for no one.

    Why is Dick Allen not on this ballot?

    Hold a gun to my head, the only guy on this ballot worthy of a vote is Kaat.

    Oliva was a great player but injuries killed him, and no one else is worthy of discussion.

    Santo is so overrated it’s ridiculous.

    I really hope the Cubs win a title soon so they can stop whining about irrelevant players from 40 years ago and Steve Bartman.

  6. Stu B

    @Ken: With Hodges, we must consider his entire body of work as a player and a manager. There are no separate voting processes for players and managers.

  7. Chuck Johnson

    Gil Hodges as a manager;

    Nine seasons, .467 winning percentage, three winning seasons, one season of 85 wins or more, one postseason appearance.

    You better hope the voters FORGET his managerial record, Stu.

  8. Ken Bland


    If you say that the managerial part is a factor, you may know more than me. I’m not being sarcastic, i thought it was a separate entity.

    And I would not try to minimize one of baseball’s great stories ever in the ’69 Mets, but Chuck has a valid point in the managerial record as a whole.

    To Chuck,

    Crash Allen is not on the ballot because the writers did not total out with enough vote to keep him on for the Veteran’s Committee (or whatever it’s called now) to consider him. Jim Bunning was especially miffed at the lunacy of the writers deciding who the committe could even consider.

  9. Al

    We shouldn’t even be talking about Gil Hodges if Norm Cash isn’t in the HOF. Their stats are scarily similar, but Cash played in a much tougher era so he ranks quite a bit higher in terms of Wins Above Replacement. But if you look at the list of most similar batters to each (baseball-reference.com) you don’t see ANY Hall of Famers, just a bunch of guys like Boog Powell, Tino Martinez, George Foster and Jack Clark.

  10. Dave

    Don’t understand not supporting Kaat. Only 7 Left handers have more than his 283 wins. 16 gold gloves. Was good enough to make the majors for 25 seasons. My question is, why isn’t he going in with Blyleven.

  11. Anonymous

    Does anyone support Paterno? Do you think he might be able to land a gig outside of football ?

  12. Anon.

    Reynolds was certainly NOT a #3 starter.

    As for Hodges, how about taking into consideration (and no disrespect intended to him) that he played in a bandbox, 351 to LCF (or, 13 feet LESS than to the same approximate spot in today’s Camden yards), then went to the L.A. Coliseum with its ridiculous 251 down the line, 320 to LCF?

  13. Ron

    Finley was a buffoon.

    Reynolds was a #1 Starter for the Yankees and the heart of the pitching staff that won 5 consecutive World Series. He also threw 2 No Hitters. His regular season wind were purposely lowered by Yankee management by not starting him towards the end of the season when the Yankees had already won the pennant for salary negotiation reasons. He is a definite Hall of Famer!!!

  14. Russ Cress

    I guess I’m in the minority here but I’d vote for none of the above

    Finley’s teams won in spite of him. He had good drafts but that was based largely on having high picks and taking guys from elite college programs who were no-brainers. He was his own GM and really didn’t make any great moves. His radical ideas don’t really matter because none happened.

    Hodges to me is a regional, sentimental choice. He won one season, even if it involved a great comeback. What’s the difference between Hodges & Bob Lemon as a manager? I don’t get it.

    I could see Tiant for cultural reasons but his numbers aren’t overwhelming. Same for Minoso

    Kaat was a compiler, I just see no difference between him and Tommy John and they only get discussed because of their win totals

    Santo has the best case because of the dearth of 3B and his numbers do stack up with the others at his position that are in.

    Buzzy Bavasi is interesting to me in that he was the baseball guy who is overshadowed by the business moves of Rickey & O’Malley.

    I’m just not a fan of anyone on this list for the HOF. Now, when it’s Marvin Miller time, I’ll be quite vocal in my support

  15. Fran

    Sorry, Mike, but your reference to Kaat being a “swingman” the last decade of his career is incorrect. last five years, from 1979-1983 was a swingman role, well done I would add, but up until then was still almost exclusively a starter. Don’t believe me though….look it up on http://www.baseballrefeerence.com Additionally, if not for Cy Young Rules prior to 1967 then Kaat would certainly have won it in 1966 (25 win season would have been rewarded). Can’t blame writers of that era for voting for Koufax in 1966 given that only one pitcher was recognized. Still….

    I am glad Santo was recognzied with HOF this year. Just wish it would have come when he was still alive. Was clearly the best NL 3b in the 1960s/ early 1970s, until Schmidt surpassed him. Defensively comparable to B Robby, although not quite with that flash in the field.

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