The 5 best shortstops in Yankee history

6 04 2016

This continues a series on the best Yankees at different positionsToday: shortstop.

1, Derek Jeter

My Derek Jeter rookie card

My Derek Jeter rookie card

This call couldn’t be easier.

I’ve already made the case that Derek Jeter is baseball’s best shortstop ever.

I’ve already noted that he’s one of the best players ever at any position.

I’ve already shown that his post-season performances amount to a full season, one of the best seasons ever, facing some of the best pitchers ever.

I’ve already noted that Jeter and Mariano Rivera are the best teammate tandem in baseball history.

What more can I say? He’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, close to a unanimous choice despite the strong anti-Yankee bias of voters.

If Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr., Honus Wagner and Ernie Banks had been Yankees, this would at least be a contest. And Jeter would still win.

2, Phil Rizzuto

Phil Rizzuto's autograph on a ball belonging to my son Mike.

Phil Rizzuto’s autograph on a ball belonging to my son Mike.

Phil Rizzuto is a pretty easy choice for this spot, too. Until Jeter is eligible, the Scooter is the only Yankee shortstop in the Hall of Fame. He played all 13 years of his career for the Yankees (with a three-year break for military service during World War II). He played all but two of his 1,649 career games at shortstop. He was the MVP in 1950. He was a five-time All-Star. He contributed to seven Yankee World Series championships and is sixth all-time in World Series games played, eighth in hits with 45, fourth in walks with 30 and tied for third in stolen bases with 10.

Rizzuto was the best American League shortstop of his time.

3, Bucky Dent

My Bucky Dent bobblehead.

My Bucky Dent bobblehead.

In my ranking criteria, I note that special moments are important to me. And few moments stand out more in Yankee history than Bucky Dent‘s home run to take the lead on Boston in the 1978 one-game playoff. He continued his hot hitting in the World Series, going 10-for-25 with 7 RBI and winning the Series MVP award.

Dent was an All-Star two of his six Yankee years. Based on regular-season performance, he wouldn’t rank this high and might not even make the top five. But Yankee shortstops are pretty tightly bunched behind Jeter and Rizzuto, and Dent’s October performance in 1978 pushes him ahead of the pack.

I have to give my wife, Mimi, some credit here: Earlier in the 1978 season, on July 3, Dent was coming to the plate in a game against the Red Sox. She liked his name and predicted he’d hit a homer. I condescendingly informed her that he was a singles hitter (he hit just 40 homers in his career and just five that season). But two of the homers were against the Red Sox: the one Mimi called in July and the one that propelled the Yankees into the post-season in October.

I generally don’t like sideline interviews before and during games. They are far more filled with clichés than insight or humor. But my favorite such moment was when Steve Lyons interviewed Dent during a Yankees-Red Sox playoff game (in 2003, I’m guessing). Lyons told Dent that he thought Red Sox fans might not know his real middle name, so Lyons asked what it was. Dent deadpanned “Earl.”

I don’t hold his awful 1989-90 managing tenure against him, but don’t look for him in my ranking of best Yankee managers.

4, Tony Kubek

Tony Kubek had a better post-playing career as a broadcaster than Dent had as a manager. But this is a ranking of shortstops, and I give Dent the nod based on his October 1978 play. But you could easily rank Kubek third.

He played nine years for the Yankees, compared to just six for Dent. But Dent played exclusively at short, 694 games. Kubek played more games at shortstop for the Yankees (882), but also played 145 games in the outfield and 55 at third base.

Kubek was a better hitter for the Yankees (.266 to .237) with more power (he hit 14 homers in 1960, and Dent never reached double figures in a season).

Kubek was a three-time world champion and three-time All-Star, one more than Dent on each count.

But Kubek hit .240 in 37 World Series games. Dent hit .349 in 12. Kubek’s career advantages in the regular season are not enough, in my view, to offset Dent’s spectacular play when it mattered most.

Kubek’s most memorable post-season moment was the bad-hop groundball that hit him in the throat in Game Seven of the 1960 World Series. It was a potential double play, but instead it left two runners on base with no outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Pirates went on to score five runs that inning, taking a 9-7 lead and setting the stage for Bill Mazeroski’s Series-winning homer after the Yankees tied the game in the top of the ninth. The bad hop wasn’t Kubek’s fault, but Dent’s big moments in the Red Sox playoff game and against the Dodgers in the World Series place him ahead of Kubek.

5, Frankie Crosetti

Frank Crosetti's autograph (just above a Whitey Ford autograph) on a ball belonging to my son Tom.

Frank Crosetti’s autograph (just above a Whitey Ford autograph) on a ball belonging to my son Tom.

You could also rank Frankie Crosetti third or fourth. With 17 seasons as a Yankee, eight of them as the starting shortstop, and many more years coaching, Crosetti’s Yankee tenure seemed endless. His playing career spanned from the late years of Babe Ruth’s career to the early years of Yogi Berra’s.

Crosetti was a two-time All-Star, but was relegated to a backup role in 1941, Rizzuto’s rookie season. He led the league seven times in getting hit by pitches and in 1938 led the A.L. with 27 stolen bases. But Crosetti was a weak hitter, .245 for his career and twice leading the league in strikeouts. Though the Yankees won six of the seven World Series he played in, Crosetti hit only .174.

I feel comfortable ranking Dent and Kubek ahead of Crosetti, because they were better, but he played almost as many games at shortstop for the Yankees as the two of them combined. So he gets the fifth spot on the list.

The rest

The Yankees didn’t have a lot of great shortstops. Mark Koenig started four years, including for the great 1927 Murderer’s Row Yankees and hit .319 one year. Everett Scott was even more unremarkable as a three-year starter earlier in the ’20s. Leo Durocher, better known as a manager (but not for the Yankees), played two seasons at shortstop for New York.

You’d have to be a hard-core Yankee fan to remember the nine starting shortstops who filled the gap between Dent and Jeter. I couldn’t until I looked them up.

Joe Sewell, a Hall of Fame shortstop, finished his career with Yankees (1931-33), but he had moved to third base by then.

Update: Stuart Warner pointed out on Facebook that I omitted Tom Tresh. I liked Tresh as a young Yankee fan, but correctly remembered that he played more outfield than shortstop (only 351 games, including 1962, when he was an All-Star and Rookie of the Year. He doesn’t belong on the top-five list, but definitely among “the rest.”

Comparing shortstop traditions

There’s not a clear team with the strongest shortstop tradition, but the Yankees are in contention.

The Pirates (with Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughan and Rabbit Maranville) and Orioles (Cal Ripken Jr.Luis Aparicio and Bobby Wallace when they were the St. Louis Browns) each have more Hall of Famers at shortstop than the Yankees, even if you count Jeter before his election makes it official. The Giants had 19th-Century shortstops George Davis and John Ward, plus Travis Jackson, one of the most outrageous examples of how easy Hall of Fame selection has been for players from the 1920s).

The White Sox (Aparicio and Luke Appling), Cubs (Joe Tinker and Ernie Banks) and Indians (Lou Boudreau and Sewell) each match the Yankees with two Hall of Fame shortstops (counting Jeter).

I’m not going to study the other teams’ shortstops who didn’t make it to Cooperstown, but I’d guess the Pirates (who also had 1960 MVP Dick Groat) might have the best tradition, with the Yankees ranking about fifth.

Ranking criteria

I explained my criteria in the post on first basemen, so if this seems familiar, it’s because I cut and pasted that explanation here, then adapted it for shortstops.

If a player is in the Hall of Fame (Rizzuto) or bound to get there (Jeter), that carries considerable weight with me.

I rank players primarily on their time with the team, so Jeter, Rizzuto, Kubek and Crosetti stand out not just for their great careers, but because all their time was spent with the Yankees. Aparicio made it to Cooperstown and had Hall of Fame seasons for both the Orioles and White Sox, so he counts heavily for both teams, but not as heavily as Jeter or Ripken, who spent their full careers with one team. And Aparicio wouldn’t count much for the Red Sox, because his career was in decline when he reached Boston at age 37.

I value both peak performance and longevity, but peak performance more. That’s why Kubek finished ahead of Crosetti. Measures of peak performance, such as MVP awards and leading leagues in important stats, will move a person up my list. Rizzuto is the Yankees’ only shortstop MVP, but Jeter was too far ahead of him in other respects for that to matter and led the American League twice in hits and once in runs.

Few ballplayers actually matter in the broader culture beyond baseball, but Jeter did (maybe Dent, too) and that counted for them.

Time at the position is important, too. Banks had his best years at shortstop, so he counts heavily for the Cubs there, but he actually played more games at first base, so you can’t count his full career.

Post-season play and championship contributions matter a lot to me. I should add that I don’t consider those to be the same thing. Kubek and Crosetti contributed to more championships than Dent, but Dent played better in the post-season.

This factor didn’t play into any of these decisions, but if two players were dead even at a position for the Yankees, I would have moved the one with the better overall career ahead. For instance, if Dent and Kubek had been equal as Yankees, Dent’s four years with the White Sox, including one year as and All-Star and finishing second for Rookie of the Year another, would have broken the tie.

Special moments matter, too. Dent’s special moment, combined with the excellent World Series that followed, was a difference-maker here, separating him from both Kubek and Crosetti.

Who was best?

I wish the Polldaddy version with WordPress let you rank, rather than just voting for the best. I think I know how this will come out if people vote seriously:

Rankings of Yankees by position

Starting pitchers

Catchers

First base

Second base

Third base

Left field

Center field

Right field

Designated hitter

Relief pitcher

Manager

Other rankings of Yankee shortstops

Uncle Mike’s Musings

Source note

Unless noted otherwise, statistics cited here come from Baseball-Reference.com.

Advertisements




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

1947

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

1948

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

1949-53

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.

1954

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

1955

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.”

1956

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.

1957

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.

1958

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

1959

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

1960

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

My Mantle autograph

My Mantle autograph

1961-2

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

1963

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

1964

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

1965

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

1966

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.

1967

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

1968

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.

1969

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

1970

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

1971

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

1972-4

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.

1975-6

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.

1977-8

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

1979

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

1980

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

1981

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

1982

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

1983

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.

1984

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

1985

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

1986

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.

1987

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.

1988

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.

1989

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).

1990

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

1991

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

1992-3

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).

1995

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

1996

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).

1997

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

1998-2000

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.

2001

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.

2002

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

2003

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.

2004

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.

2005

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

2006

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

2007

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 Baseball-Reference.com team rosters for the championship years.





Comparing Yankees to other teams in starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame

20 10 2015

This continues my series on Yankee starting pitchers.

Six pitchers might seem like a lot of Hall of Famers, and it is.

The Yankees have six starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame who pitched primarily for New York. But if great pitching wins championships, a team with 27 champions ought to have more than six pitchers in the Hall of Fame who primarily pitched for that team (keep in mind that Jack Chesbro, one of the six, pitched for the New York Highlanders before any of the Yankee championships).

Though I’m focused on starters here and only counting them, I also should note that the Yankees were the primary team of Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage. And Mariano Rivera is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer, presuming his reputation remains unscathed the next few years.

But the starting pitcher is the most important player in every game and a team can’t win a championship without solid starting pitching. And you can’t win a bunch of championships without a bunch of great starting pitchers.

Let’s see how other teams stack up: Read the rest of this entry »





Changing standards for the Baseball Hall of Fame always favor white players

6 10 2015

If you’re a borderline candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame, it sure helps to be a white guy.

Rules, standards and the election process to the Hall of Fame have changed a lot over the years, but one thing is certain: Except for special committees to consider Negro League players, the voting has always been skewed toward white players.

As I noted in the last post, only one Latino player (Orlando Cepeda) and one African American player (Larry Doby) have been chosen to the Hall of Fame by Veterans Committees, the second-chance committees that have chosen most white players in the Hall of Fame.

Part of that is a function of time. Baseball was integrated in 1947, so a player starting a 20-year career in 1950 would retire in 1970. That player then would have to wait five years before going on the writers’ ballot (1975), then, if not elected by the writers, would not become eligible for Veterans Committee consideration until about 1995. So we’ve had roughly 20 years of Veterans Committee consideration of retired black and Latino “major” league players.

And that timetable has pretty much worked out. Three minority players (other than Negro Leaguers) were elected to the Hall of Fame before 1975:

  • Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in 1947 and played only 10 years in the “majors.”
  • Roy Campanella, Robinson’s Dodger teammate who started playing in 1948 and whose career was curtailed by a car accident in 1957.
  • Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972. The Hall of Fame waived the five-year waiting period and he was elected immediately, the first Latino in the Hall of Fame.

After those three, Ernie Banks‘ election to the Hall by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1977 started a steady stream of black and Latino Hall of Famers. He was one of nine selected over the next 10 years. Read the rest of this entry »





A champion like Bernie Williams would be a sure Hall of Famer in football or basketball

13 01 2013

If Baseball Hall of Fame selection worked the way the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Basketball Hall of Fame selections work, Bernie Williams would be heading for Cooperstown someday. Instead, he dropped off next year’s ballot, getting only 3 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America last week.

The most comparable NFL teams to the Bernie’s Yankees were the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s and ’90s, the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s and the Green Bay Packers of the 1960s.

I’ll leave the 49ers out of this consideration for a couple reasons:

  1. Their titles were more spread out, four titles in nine years, five titles in 14 years. With a wider spread of years, they had more turnover of players. In fact, they have two quarterbacks from that era, Joe Montana and Steve Young, in the Hall of Fame.
  2. More of their players remain in Hall of Fame consideration. Charles Haley is a finalist this year. Maybe Roger Craig, John Taylor, Ken Norton or Randy Cross will make it someday, too. So it’s harder to say how many 49ers will eventually make it to Canton. (Montana, Young, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott,  and Fred Dean are already in the Hall of Fame, along with Coach Bill Walsh and three players who made most of their case for the Hall of Fame with other teams, Deion Sanders, Rickey Jackson and Richard Dent).

Instead, we’ll examine the Steelers and Packers. The Yankees won four championships in five years (and made two more World Series in the next three years). The Steelers won four championships in six years. The Packers won five championships in seven years (and played for the title the year before winning their first championship). So all three teams won at least four championships over six years. These were some of the greatest dynasties in sports history.

Here are the Steelers from that era in the Hall of Fame: Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Mike Webster (plus Coach Chuck Noll). That’s nine players, or 41 percent of the 22 starters (with only one full-time placekicker and no full-time punters in the Hall of Fame, we don’t need to count them). That’s close to a complete list, but some people still are campaigning for L.C. Greenwood.

Here are the Packers from that era in the Hall of Fame: Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Forrest Gregg, Paul Hornung, Henry Jordan, Ray Nitschke, Jim Ringo, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Willie Wood, plus legendary Coach Vince Lombardi. That’s 10 of 22, and Dave Robinson is a finalist this year who could make it 50 percent of the starters. And don’t count out Jerry Kramer, a five-time All-Pro who threw maybe the most famous block in NFL history.

Let’s say that the eight daily position players, the designated hitter, the five starters and the bullpen ace are equivalent to the starters on the football team, 15 people playing roles that give you a shot at the Hall of Fame. So if the Baseball Hall of Fame selections worked the way that the Pro Football Hall of Fame does, 40 to 50 percent would mean six to eight Yankees from the 1990s would make the Hall of Fame. Read the rest of this entry »