Hall of Fame

There’s only one Hall of Fame.

That, of course, is completely untrue.  (Like so much written on this blog.)  There’s a football HOF, a basketball HOF, one two for tennis (one table-top).  Most academic institutions have one, as do most sporting teams, as do kites, casino legends and–wait for it–quackery (not sure if its entrants are doctors or ducks, though).  Really, there’s a HOF for everything.

But really, of course, there’s just the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, NY (the birthplace of one Abner Doubleday, a man who, we know now, has as much to do with publishing as he did with the invention of our great game).  And yesterday the Baseball Writers Association of America (oh, to be a member of that august group!  Here’s a must read by Ira Berkow) made their annual selection, and it was Andre Dawson.  I’m pleased with that; a stellar career is rewarded on his ninth HOF try, and he’ll go in either with Chicago of the National League or the now-defunct Montreal (we can thank Dave Winfield and King George Steinbrenner for the sensible decision of the Hall now choosing caps).

Still wish he was wearing a New York cap, but...

I was even more pleased to see that Roberto Alomar didn’t make it it on his first try.  First-ballot HOF-ers are really cream of the crop; your Mike Schmidt, your Cal Ripken, maybe, one day, your Albert Pujols.  Certainly Alomar was the dominant second baseman of his era, but I’m biased A) by the fact he never performed well for the Metropolitans in ’02 (and, in fact, didn’t seem to care), and B) the well-publicized spitting incident of ’96.  I have great admiration for umpire (there’s a sentence you almost never see!) John Hirschbeck, and the face he forgave the ballplayer and supported his first-ballot candidacy, but Alomar’ll make it next year, and I’m good with that.

I was even more pleased to see Mark McGwire (best known, of course, as the current hitting coach in St. Louis) received only 23% of the vote.  (I recently happened upon a July 5, 1998 NY Times Magazine cover article proclaiming him, “… the perfect home-run hitting machine…”  Machine. Great word.)  If McGwire isn’t here to talk about “the past”, then he shouldn’t be honored for his past.  (We’ll see what happens when Bonds is eligible in ’13.)  Beside,s Mark can comfort himself with the fact Roger Maris isn’t in the Hall either.

One day I'll be in the winemaking hall of fame too.

I went to beautiful Cooperstown once, as a kid, and would love to go back.  The breathtaking memorabilia, the august brick building– it all conjures pleasant thoughts of Americana and The Game, this game of which Walt Whitman once said: “I see great things in baseball!  It is America’s game!”  I purchased (okay, was given) a complete postcard set of the fabled, legendaryHOF plaques, which I’ve slowly used over the years.  Three of ’em I once kept tacked next to my writing desk: Jackie Robinson (for courage), Joe Morgan(because even blithering idiots can wind up the best in their business), and Tom Seaver (the only person with a NY Mets cap in the Hall, unless, of course, you count the voice of summer, the late, great Bob Murphy (The Murph), who won the Ford C. Frick award in ’94.  And I do).

In fact, our family’s trip was with great friends, true baseball fans, in the summer of ’92 to see Tom Terrific, the Franchise, inducted into the Hall.  I still have amazing memories of that weekend:  Sitting in the hot sun, watching Seaver address the crowd; being with my father when he met his baseball idol, Cleveland Indian pitcher and HOF-er Bob Feller; and just feeling so oddly proud a Met had made the Hall (I was 14…  baseball was my life).

So there you have it, the true Hall of Fame.  I have no tidy way of wrapping this up, only to say, wouldn’t it be good sometimes if life was easy to determine who was Hall-worthy, and who was not?

Really? Really?

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2 Responses to “Hall of Fame”

  1. Alexander Zarwi Says:

    Mark McGwire will be (unfairly) judged for a long time to come. Although he was an Andro user in the 90s, his statistics alone should not be considered tainted in the steroid era. there is too little evidence about too few players to show bias against only one. I predict that he will mend his public persona as he shapes young hitters under tony larussa, and we’ll see him in the hall….in 2018.

  2. thiswaytotheegress Says:

    Alex: Do I agree? No. Am I glad you’re reading the blog? Yes, grateful. Wally

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