World Series champs nearly always feature Hall of Famers

30 11 2015

As I pondered the Hall of Fame prospects of young members of the Kansas City Royals 2015 World Series champions, I wondered how rare it would be for a world champion to have no Hall of Famers.

While any young star faces long odds of reaching the Baseball Hall of Fame, quick research showed that a World Series winner without anyone making it to Cooperstown is also exceedingly rare.

I just went back to 1947 in answering my question, because, as I noted in an October post, Hall of Fame standards were much lower before baseball integrated.

So I will note year by year the starters and other important contributors of world champions who eventually became Hall of Famers. While I won’t speculate on whether players appeared bound for Cooperstown at the time (the point of yesterday’s post), I will note their ages at the time they won. If a player is in the Hall of Fame, but primarily for his play with another team, I will note that.

Joe DiMaggio autograph

My Joe DiMaggio autograph


Champion: New York Yankees. Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, 22; Phil Rizzuto, 29; Joe DiMaggio, 32.


Champion: Cleveland Indians. Hall of Famers: Larry Doby, 24; Bob Lemon, 27; Bob Feller, 29; Lou Boudreau, 30; Joe Gordon, 33.


Champions: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Mickey Mantle, ’51-3, 19-21; Whitey Ford, ’50 and ’53, 21 and 24; Berra, all years, 24-28; Rizzuto, all years, 31-5; DiMaggio, ’49-’51, 34-6. Johnny Mize, a member of all five Yankee teams, was not a full-time starter most of these seasons. He joined the Yankees at age 36 and is in the Hall of Fame primarily for his slugging for the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Giants.


Champion: New York Giants. Hall of Famers: Willie Mays, 23; Hoyt Wilhelm, 31; Monte Irvin, 35.


Champion: Brooklyn Dodgers. Hall of Famers: Duke Snider, 28; Roy Campanella, 31; Jackie Robinson, 36; Pee Wee Reese, 36.

A ball autographed by "Larry Berra," before he started signing "Yogi."

A ball autographed by “Larry Berra,” before he started signing “Yogi.”


Champion: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Mantle, 24; Ford, 27; Berra, 31. Rizzuto, 38, was a part-time player, as was Enos Slaughter, 40, elected to the Hall of Fame primarily as a St. Louis Cardinal.


Champion: Milwaukee Braves. Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron, 23; Eddie Mathews, 25; Red Schoendienst, 34; Warren Spahn, 36.

Whitey signed this ball "Ed. Ford" before his better-known nickname stuck.

Whitey signed this ball “Ed. Ford” before his better-known nickname stuck.


Champion: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Mantle, 26; Ford, 29; Berra, 33; Slaughter, 42.


Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers. Hall of Famers: Don Drysdale, 22; Sandy Koufax, 23; Snider, 32.


Champion: Pittsburgh Pirates. Hall of Famers: Bill Mazeroski, 23; Roberto Clemente, 25.

My Mantle autograph

My Mantle autograph


Champions: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Mantle, 29-30; Ford, 32-3; Berra, 36-7.


Champions: Dodgers. Hall of Famers: Drysdale, 26, and Koufax, 27.


Champions: St. Louis Cardinals. Hall of Famers: Lou Brock, 25; Bob Gibson, 28.


Champions: Dodgers. Hall of Famers: Drysdale, 28, and Koufax, 29.


Champions: Baltimore Orioles. Hall of Famers: Jim Palmer, 20; Brooks Robinson, 29; Frank Robinson, 30, and Luis Aparicio, 32.

Bob Gibson's autograph, with some Cardinal teammates, on a ball belonging to my son Joe.

Bob Gibson’s autograph, with some Cardinal teammates, on a ball belonging to my son Joe.


Champions: St. Louis Cardinals. Hall of Famers: Steve Carlton, 22; Brock, 28; Orlando Cepeda, 29; Gibson, 31.


Champion: Detroit Tigers. Hall of Famers: Al Kaline, 32; and Mathews (a part-time player in his final year at age 36). Since yesterday’s post was about Hall of Fame projections, I should note here that 24-year-old Denny McLain, who won 31 games that year and won the Cy Young and MVP awards, looked like a lock for Cooperstown, but didn’t make it.


Champion: New York Mets. Hall of Famers: Nolan Ryan, 22, and Tom Seaver, 24.


Champion: Orioles. Hall of Famers: Palmer, 24, and the Robinsons, 33 and 34.


Champion: Pirates. Hall of Famers: Willie Stargell, 31; Mazeroski (playing part-time at 34); Clemente, 36.


Champions: Oakland A’s. Hall of Famers: Rollie Fingers, 25-7; Catfish Hunter, 26-8; Reggie Jackson, 26-8. I don’t count Cepeda, who had just three at-bats for the ’72 A’s and didn’t play in the post-season.


Champions: Cincinnati Reds. Johnny Bench, 27-8; Joe Morgan, 31-2; Tony Pérez, 33-4. Pete Rose, 34-5, would be in the Hall of Fame, but he accepted a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on games.


Champions: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Jackson and Hunter, both 31-2; and Goose Gossage, 26 (’78 only).


Champions: Pirates. Hall of Famers: Bert Blyleven, 28, and Stargell, 39. Dave Parker of this team probably deserves mention with Denny McLain as a player who appeared on his way to the Hall of Fame. Cocaine use sidetracked Parker’s career.

My Steve Carlton autograph

My Steve Carlton autograph


Champions: Philadelphia Phillies. Hall of Famers: Mike Schmidt, 30; Carlton, 35. Rose, 39, was also on this team.


Champions: Dodgers. No Hall of Famers yet. Steve Garvey probably has the best shot of making it someday.


Champions: Cardinals. Hall of Famers: Ozzie Smith, 27, and Bruce Sutter, 29.


My Ripken autograph

My Ripken autograph

Champions: Orioles. Hall of Famers: Cal Ripken Jr., 22; Eddie Murray, 27; Palmer, pitching part-time at age 37.


Champion: Tigers. No Hall of Famers yet. Jack Morris, 29, probably has the best shot.


Champion: Kansas City Royals. Hall of Famer: George Brett, 32.


Champion: Mets. Hall of Famer: Gary Carter, 32. As noted in yesterday’s post, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, 24, of this team appeared headed for the Hall of Fame before drug use stalled their careers.


Champion: Minnesota Twins. Hall of Famer: Kirby Puckett, 27, and Blyleven, 36. Carlton, 42, pitched nine games for the Twins that year, but not in the post-season.


Champion: Dodgers. Hall of Famer: Don Sutton, 43, was in his last year. He pitched only 16 games, none in the post-season. Of major contributors on this team, Orel Hershiser, 29, and Kirk Gibson, 31, may have the best shots at reaching Cooperstown someday.


Champion: Oakland A’s. Hall of Famer: Rickey Henderson, 30, and Dennis Eckersley, 34. This is the first champion where performance-enhancing drugs are keeping a player out of the Hall of Fame (Mark McGwire, 25, for sure, possibly Jose Canseco, 24).


Champion: Reds. Hall of Famer: Barry Larkin, 26.


Champion: Twins. Hall of Famer: Puckett, 31.


Champions: Toronto Blue Jays. Hall of Famers: Roberto Alomar, 24-5; Henderson, 34 (just on ’93 Jays); Paul Molitor, 36 (also just in ’93); Dave Winfield, 40 (only in ’92).


Remember, baseball had no champion in ’94 because of a strike. Champions: Atlanta Braves. Hall of Famers: John Smoltz, 28; Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, both 29. Chipper Jones, 24, appears to be a certain Hall of Famer, but retired in 2012, so he won’t be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration until the 2018 election.

My Derek Jeter rookie card

My Derek Jeter rookie card


Champions: Yankees. Hall of Famer: Wade Boggs, 38. Derek Jeter, 22, and Mariano Rivera, 26, appear certain to reach Cooperstown when they become eligible for election: 2019 for Rivera and 2020 for Jeter. Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada are less likely to make the Hall of Fame, and will be on the ballot in 2019 (Pettitte) and next year (Posada).


Champion: Florida Marlins. No Hall of Famers. Gary Sheffield is another player whose Hall of Fame chances are hurt by PED use.


Champions: Yankees. Again, Jeter, 24-6, and Rivera, 28-30, are certain Hall of Famers. Roger Clemens, 36-7, pitched for the ’99-2000 Yankees, but suspicion of PED use is keeping him out of Cooperstown. Tim Raines, 38, a ’98 Yankee, got 55 percent of the baseball writers’ vote last year and almost certainly will make the Hall of Fame someday, but mostly for his play for the Montreal Expos.


Champion: Arizona Diamondbacks. Hall of Famer: Randy Johnson. Curt Schilling will certainly join him. He got 39 percent of the writers’ vote last year, his third year on the ballot.


Champion: Anaheim Angels. No Hall of Famers and no likely prospects.


Champion: Florida Marlins. Miguel Cabrera, 20, is a Triple-Crown winner and two-time MVP. He’s still playing and only 32 years old but certain to make the Hall of Fame if he stays free of scandal. Iván Rodríguez would be a certain Hall of Famer if not for allegations that he used PEDs.


Champion: Boston Red Sox. Hall of Famer: Pedro Martínez, and Schilling will follow. David Ortiz, who’s still playing, would be an automatic selection if not for his failed drug test. Manny Ramírez won’t be on the Hall of Fame ballot until 2017, but drug issues are likely to keep him out of the Hall of Fame, too.


Champion: Chicago White Sox. Hall of Famer: Frank Thomas, a part-time DH at 37.


Champion: Cardinals. No Hall of Famers yet, but Albert Pujols, a three-time MVP, is a lock if he can avoid scandal.


Champion: Red Sox. This seems a good place to stop this exercise. No star of the ’07 Red Sox, or any subsequent champion, is already in the Hall of Fame, and most aren’t even eligible yet. I’ve already addressed Schilling, Ortiz and Ramírez. While I projected the Hall of Fame chances of the 2015 Royals, I’m not interested in doing that for the young stars of other recent teams.

What does this mean?

Obviously, the numbers or Hall of Famers on some of these teams, especially the more recent ones, will grow, as Morris, Raines, Schilling and others eventually get elected.

But already the vast world-champion teams have multiple Hall of Famers. In a 60-year stretch, only five teams don’t have Hall of Famers yet. From 1947 to 1980, the 1960 Pirates and ’68 Tigers were the only World Series champions without at least two Hall of Famers elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

All of the champions with no Hall of Famers or even just one played since 1980, so many of their best players aren’t even eligible for Hall of Fame consideration yet (or are being kept out of Cooperstown because of drug suspicions). Few of the contenders who aren’t automatic Hall of Famers have had second chances yet through the Expansion Era Committee.

As I noted in yesterday’s post, I expect at least two players from the 2015 Royals to join the Hall of Fame. If I’m wrong, they will be one of few exceptions among World Series champions.

Source note: Players’ ages are taken from the team rosters for the championship years.

Yankees among the best almost everywhere but starting pitcher

21 09 2015

Look around the baseball diamond, and at nearly every position, a Yankee was one of the best ever. But not at starting pitcher.

We say that pitching wins championships, and the Yankees through the decades have had excellent depth in good starting pitchers, and sometimes great starting pitchers. But none of the all-time greatest starting pitchers spent most of their careers with the Yankees.

The only Yankee pitcher you might see on a list of the 10 best starters ever is Roger Clemens, and his best years were with the Red Sox. Clemens won 20 games only once in his six Yankee years. His Yankee years wouldn’t rank him among the best Yankee starters ever, let alone among baseball’s best. (For purposes of this discussion, I’m dealing with actual performance, not trying to decide whose achievements to discount because of suspicions about use of performance-enhancing drugs.)

If you expand your best-ever list to 20 or 25, Whitey Ford usually gets a spot, but Yankees remain notably absent, or low, from any best-ever discussion of starting pitchers. And they’re prominent in such discussions at nearly every other position.

At six positions, at least one Yankee is either the best ever or one of two to five stars contending for the top spot:


Yogi Berra often loses the best-catcher-ever debates to Johnny Bench, but he’s always in the discussion. With three MVP awards and more championships than anyone, plus still-impressive offensive numbers, Yogi figures prominently in discussing best catchers ever. And Yankee Bill Dickey would be on anyone’s top-10 list, maybe even top five. Read the rest of this entry »

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?

Read the rest of this entry »


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