Graig Nettles surpassed most Hall of Fame third basemen

10 11 2009

Compare Graig Nettles to the other third basemen in the Hall of Fame and you quickly see that he belongs with them.

Nettles led all third basemen but one in games played at third, assists and double plays. The one guy ahead of him? Brooks Robinson. Nettles couldn’t start winning Gold Gloves until Robinson retired (even though he passed him up defensively a few years earlier), so he only won two Gold Gloves. But if you’re on a short list at third base with Brooks Robinson, you certainly deserve consideration. Read the rest of this entry »

Without Roger Maris, the Hall of Fame isn’t complete

4 11 2009

Update: Now that Mark McGwire has admitted juicing when he broke Roger Maris’ record (which was obvious at the time, by the way), do I think he should be elected to the Hall of Fame? Yes, absolutely. 37 years after Maris gets in.

Roger Maris' autograph, with some St. Louis Cardinals teammates, on a ball belonging to my son Joe.

Roger Maris’ autograph, with some St. Louis Cardinals teammates, on a ball belonging to my son Joe.

When I was a young man, I swore I would not visit the Baseball Hall of Fame until Roger Maris was properly enshrined.

I retreated on the vow after making another vow. My oldest son, Mike, was a Johnny Bench fan. When Bench retired in 1983, Mike asked if he would make it to the Hall of Fame. I assured him that Bench would be voted in on the first ballot. Mike asked what year that would be. I said 1989. Mike asked if we could go to the induction ceremonies. I said sure. What kid remembers a promise like that five-plus years later?

Mike did. And we spent a marvelous weekend in Cooperstown watching Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Red Schoendienst and Harry Caray inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The museum was fabulous, even crowded with induction-weekend fans. I didn’t spend much time in the hall itself. Maris wasn’t there and his absence cheapens the honor for those who are. If the selection process and the electors are obviously biased and skewed, how much can it mean to get in?

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All-time Yankees’ World Series team

1 11 2009

Here’s my all-time Yankees World Series team (based solely on World Series performance for the Yankees):

Catcher: Yogi Berra, all-time World Series leader in at-bats (259), hits (71) and doubles (10, tied with Frankie Frisch), third in homers with 12, second in RBI with 39. Won nine World Series, played in 14, managed in terrific seven-game series lost to Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and a great Cardinals team. His great numbers weren’t just from longevity. He had great Series performances, most notably three homers and 10 RBI and catching Don Larson’s perfect game in 1956. I have two balls with Berra’s signature, one as Yogi and one, when he was younger, as “Larry Berra.”berra Read the rest of this entry »