World Champions without Cooperstown

In honor of Hall of Fame week, I was goofing around on and decided to check the connections between winning a World Series and getting enshrined in Cooperstown.  Baseball's Hall of Fame doesn't put quite the emphasis on winning a World Title as the Pro Football Hall of Fame does, but it is interesting to see how many Hall of Famers are on World Championship Teams.

First off, every team that won the World Series from 1903 to 1980 had at least one hall of famer on their roster. This shouldn't come as a surprise. It's been well documented that the players of the 1920s and 1930s were inducted en masse during the 1960s and 1970s.  According to Joe Posnanski, fully half of major league position players who retired in the 1930s with more than 5000 at bats ended up in Cooperstown. It's almost a third of the players of who retired in the 1950s. So it shouldn't surprise us that World Series winners all had Hall of Famers on them. Even during the war years, the Cardinals still had Stan Musial (and Enos Slaughter in 1942) and the Yankees still had Bill Dickey and recent inductee Joe Gordon.  The Tigers who defeated the Cubs in the 1945 World Series got Hank Greenberg back from Uncle Sam on July 1 of that season.  Had the Cubs won Game 7 that year, they likely would have been the first World Champion without a Hall of Famer. However, had the Cubs won in 1945, it's possible Stan Hack would have gotten in to Cooperstown.

Most Champions in the pre-expansion era have at least two Hall of Famers and often more.  Even an almost completely forgotten champion like the 1920 Indians had Tris Speaker and Stan Coveleski. The 1924 Washington Senators had Walter Johnson, of course, but they also had Goose Goslin and Sam Rice. (Bucky Harris was also on that team, but he was inducted into Cooperstown as a manager, not as a player.)

You'd expect those numbers to slow down in the 60s and 70s, but they really don't. Most titles in the first 20 years of expansion were won by powerful dynasty teams--the Dodgers, Yankees and Cardinals in the 1960s and the Athletics, Reds, Orioles and Yankees in the 1970s. But the Tigers snuck in a title in 1968 with an aging Al Kaline as their only HOFer and the Miracle Mets (boo) only had Tom Seaver and some kid in the bullpen named Nolan Ryan.

Almost unbelievably, the first World Series Champion without a Hall of Famer on the roster was the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers.  This was the team at the end of the 1970s Dodgers dynasty that could just never get over the hump until the strike year.  It's surprising because as I've written before, pretty much everyone at the time thought that Steve Garvey was headed to Cooperstown and many would have made a case for Ron Cey as well. They also had a rookie kid pitcher name Fernando Valenzuela who looked to all the world like a potential Hall of Famer. As it stands, the only members of that team now who has any chance at induction would be Mike Scioscia or Dusty Baker, although since they would be inducted as managers, that really doesn't count.

They (along with the 1988 Dodgers) did have a Hall of Fame manager in Tommy Lasorda. So while they had no players in Cooperstown, they are represented.

The 1982 Cardinals had Ozzie Smith and the 1983 Orioles had Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, so the next team without a Hall of Famer is a team ironically often mentioned as the greatest team of the decade: the 1984 Detroit Tigers.  Like the Dodgers, they did have a Hall of Fame manager in Sparky Anderson. It's up to you to decide whether or not that counts.

The 1984 Tigers are not permanently shut out though. I suspect that Alan Trammell will go into Cooperstown one day, although it will probably have to be through a Veteran's Committee rather than the baseball writers. Lou Whitaker and Darrell Evans aren't out of the question either.

The 1988 Dodgers were one of the worst teams to ever win a World Series, and it's reflected in their lack of support in Cooperstown. However, they did actually have a Hall of Famer on the team that year, in that Don Sutton came back to Los Angeles for one last go around that season. But Sutton didn't win a game after May 14 and was released on August 10.  I'm sure he got a ring for his efforts, but he was long gone from the team when Gibson hit that home run off of Eckersly in game 1. It's up to you whether you want to count that

The best player on that 1988 team was Orel Hershisher, whose pitching career was very good but probably not enough of a peak for induction. Then there's Mike Scioscia again, whose only chance at induction would be as a manager of a different team.

Once we get into the 1990s, we've got a lot of question marks as there are players who simply haven't come up for a vote yet. Here's a list of the teams that do not as of yet have a player in Cooperstown and an assessment of the chances of an eventual induction.

1990 Reds: I believe that Barry Larkin will be inducted one day. The odds are very good they will have just one player and possibly a manager in Lou Piniella. If only Eric Davis could have stayed healthy.

1995 Braves: Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Chipper Jones will all go in. It's a lock.

1997 Marlins: Here's a tricky one. It's kind of ironic for a team that got accused of buying a championship, but they don't have a lot of obvious candidates. In fact, it comes down to one player: Gary Sheffield. Now by just looking at the stats, it's clear to me that Gary Sheffield had a Hall of Fame career. But the off-the-field stuff, such as steroids and accusations of being a disruptive force in the clubhouse will likely keep him out for a while.

I think the odds are good that Sheffield eventually gets in as he was just too good a player. But it might take the 2040 Veteran's Committee to do it.  Jim Leyland is also a candidate as a manager.

1998 Yankees (and all subsequent Yankee champions): Jeter and Rivera are locks for Cooperstown. Please note that the 1996 team already has an inductee in Wade Boggs.

2001 Diamondbacks: If Randy Johnson isn't inducted, no starting pitcher will ever get inducted again. Curt Schilling isn't a lock, but I consider him as very likely to go in one day.

2002 Angels: Now we're stuck. The player on this team with the best career was Tim Salmon, but he never even made an All-Star Game (an injustice, to be sure).  Amongst players that are still active, John Lackey would seem to have the best chance at putting together a Cooperstown career, and that seems like a massive long shot at best.  Manager Mike Scioscia has a chance, of course.

2003 Marlins: Unless the Hall drops a huge black ball on anyone with any suspicion of steroids on them, I think Ivan Rodriguez will end up in Cooperstown. Josh Beckett still has a chance to put together a Hall of Fame career.

2004 Red Sox: If Pedro Martinez doesn't go in, then no starting pitcher will ever get inducted again. Curt Schilling and his bloody sock will likely join him.  Manny Ramirez's case is like Gary Sheffield's, only more so.  He should go in one day.

2005 White Sox: Here's a case like the 1988 Dodgers. The White Sox had a no-doubt, first ballot Hall of Famer in Frank Thomas. Of course, he only played 34 games that year and none of them after July 20. I think that counts anyway since he gets the ring, but I can see the case otherwise.  No one else on that White Sox team is a serious candidate.

2006 Cardinals: Albert Pujols could retire today and still get into Cooperstown, and he's only 30. Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen will have their supporters as well.

2007 Red Sox: See Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez. Along with Josh Beckett, we have no idea what kind of a career Dustin Pedroia is going to put together.

2008 Phillies: It's still early, but Chase Utley has put together the first half of a Hall of Fame career. Ryan Howard has too, as long as he doesn't eat his way out of the game.

2010 Giants: Way too early to tell what kinds of careers Tim Lincecum or Buster Posey are going to put together.

So to conclude, it's looks like the only two teams sure to not have a player inducted into Cooperstown are the 1981 Dodgers and the 2002 Angels. You can add the 1988 Dodgers and 2005 White Sox, depending on how you feel about Hall of Famers who didn't actually play for the team in the post-season.  The 1984 Tigers and the 1997 Marlins have a real chance to be shut out.  And World Series champions are no longer virtually guaranteed two or more Cooperstown inductees.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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