Hall-Of-Fame Adds One
The baseball Hall-of-Fame at Cooperstown is still the toughest of all sports halls in which to gain entry -- and is proud of it. This morning in the first official business of these winter meetings, hall president Jeff Idelson presided over a press conference announcing that former Indians and Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon is the only inductee from among a list of 10 pre-WWII candidates (beginning their careers before 1943). The post-WWII group of 10 was shut out completely. The more familiar names to fans are those on the post-war ballot. The finish in order of closest to the Hall: Ron Santo, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, the late Gil Hodges, Joe Torre, Maury Wills, Luis Tiant, Vada Pinson, Al Oliver and Dick Allen. The voting for this group was conducted among the 64 living hall-of-famers, with 100-percent return of ballots.
The Gordon induction by the Veterans Committee was well-received since it had been the habit lately for the committee (six combined media and front office members and six veteran hall-of-famers who were contemporaries of most of the candidates) to exclude everyone. But Gordon was an extraordinary offensive force as a second baseman in his era, with seven seasons of 20-plus homers and four seasons of 100 RBIs. He played in six World Series. Veteran writer Claire Smith, who was on the voting committee, told a touching story about Gordon that she had heard from the late Larry Doby, regarding Doby's historic '47 season as the first African-American player in the AL. According to Smith, Doby related how on the day of his first game with the Indians, which came mid-season after Jackie Robinson had already broken the NL colour barrier, he was not sure how he would be accepted by teammates, whether he would be able to participate in all the normal team rituals of a major-leaguer. As they emerged onto the field, Gordon walked over and said, "Do you want to throw, kid?" That was the first moment he felt he belonged. Doby is also a Hall-of-Famer.
The ballots for the regular wing of the Hall-of-Fame have been sent out and must be returned by eligible members of the BBWAA by December 31. Rickey Henderson is the leading candidate.