The Modern Era Committee selected two of the 10 finalists: Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons. Frankly, I was stunned they finally are giving Miller his due. To get selected, a person has to appear on 12 of the 16 committee members’ ballots, and 12 is what he got. It should have been 16. This also comes 7 years after he requested to no longer be considered, and after he passed away. As his daughter put it, “This would have been a great honor 20 years ago.” It is fair to say the game today would have been far different without him, that his influence greatly exceeds that of every MLB exec already in the Hall, including the commissioners. When he took over leadership of the MLBPA, the Reserve Clause was still in place in the late 1960’s and the average ballplayer income was $19K/year. Let those two bits of information sink in. He won the fight to introduce free agency, and turned the MLBPA into the most effective labor organization in the country. By the time he retired from his leadership position after 14 years at the helm, the average ballplayer salary was $240K/year…it is now $4M/year. He will be the first exec in the Hall who wasn’t employed by a team or the MLB front office.
Ted Simmons finally gets his due, and received 13 of the possible 16 votes. He was overlooked by the BBWAA when he was on their ballot at least in part due to being a contemporary of the superior Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, and Gary Carter. How does the 4th best catcher of an era qualify as a HoF member? According to JAWS (see the BBR website), he’s the 10th best catcher ever. He’s clearly Hall-worthy, and this serves as an oversight corrected.
Still being snubbed, at least for now, are Lou Whitaker (6/16 votes) and Dewey Evans (8/16 votes). Hopefully a future Modern Era Committee will fix that. I’d also like to nominate Bobby Grich and Jim Kaat for future ballots.
Also during the MLB winter meeting this past week, the Ford Frick Award was announced. This year’s winner is Hawk Harrelson. He, too, will get his recognition as part of Hall of Fame induction week. I’m sure some White Sox fans will be happy. For myself, he is the epitome of a homer announcer, with over the top bias to the point I generally turned the TV sound way down or off if I was watching a game he announced. Some will now refer to him as a Hall of Famer, and even compare him to past winners like Vin Scully, Curt Gowdy, and Bob Uecker…for which here’s my own take: he doesn’t hold a candle to any of those three. Oh, well, he had a long career and congratulations to him for the honor.