This is a sports article, OK? And for those who are into sports, in this case baseball, you’ve probably already kicked this one around, or listened to others on radio, television or in print kick it around.
For those not so much into sports, either you’re going to care less about this article or maybe there’ll be something here you’ll find mildly amusing. But that’s probably about the best we can hope for.
The reason for this column is because last week, Mariano Rivera, the great relief pitcher who played for the New York Yankees from 1995-2013, became the first player ever to be unanimously voted into the baseball Hall of Fame.
I have no disagreement with Rivera getting in, or even with him getting in unanimously, but my question is, how in the world is it possible that Babe Ruth didn’t get voted in unanimously? Or Ty Cobb or Willie Mays or Hank Aaron? Or dozens of others whose names I could rattle off the top of my head.
The Hall of Fame started in 1936. The first guys to get voted in were Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth. I won’t get into all their statistics here, but at the time of that first Hall of Fame vote, Cobb had more hits, more runs scored, stolen bases, battling titles and the highest batting average of any player ever. Even 100 years later, he’s still the leader or among the leaders in those and many other statistical categories.
Babe Ruth was and still is the greatest slugger the game has ever known. He had more home runs, runs batted in, total bases, walks, a .342 lifetime batting average and the highest slugging percentage of all time, not to mention a stellar record on the mound. He was the game’s biggest star, and a bonafide American icon. How does he not get every single vote?
If you’re going to have a Hall of Fame, and if the voters are going to be serious about it, then it is inconceivable that either of these players could receive anything less than every single vote. I’ve heard some possible theories about why they didn’t, one being that Cobb was a mean and nasty guy, and some of the writers didn’t like him so they didn’t vote for him. Or, that some of the New York sportswriters were upset that Ruth partied too much in 1926, and because the Yankees lost to the Cards that year in the World Series, a few of them voted no to spite him. I’ve also heard that Boston sportswriters voted no because they were still stewing over him being traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees.
Then, in the years subsequent to that, the voters said if Ruth and Cobb weren’t unanimous, nobody deserves to be. But, still, how in the world do you vote “no” on Willie Mays or Hank Aaron?
As for the many others who come to mind who were deserving of unanimity, due to space limitation I’ll whittle it down to these two dozen — Lou Gehrig, Frank Robinson, Joe Dimaggio, Nolan Ryan, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, George Brett, Rod Carew, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Randy Johnson, Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, Derek Jeter, Paul Molitor, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Roberto Clemente, Pudge Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Gregg Maddux, Al Kaline and current players Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Ichiro Suzuki, Joe Maurer and Justin Verlander.
As for the long absence of unanimity, no one knows why, but everyone’s angry about it, kind of like how things are in our country.
OK, so I guess there was something more than sports that made it into the message of this column.