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Hall of Fame announces Modern Baseball Era ballot

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The ballot includes one man who should have been inducted long ago.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In addition to the annual Baseball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame ballot, the Hall has four committees who vote in players who might have been overlooked by the BBWAA as well as managers, executives and umpires.

This fall, the 16-member Modern Baseball Era Committee will meet and consider men from this group:

Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker are the candidates the Modern Baseball Era Committee will consider for Hall of Fame election for the Class of 2020. All candidates are former players except for Miller, who was the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966-82. All candidates except for Miller and Munson are living.

No one connected with the Cubs is on this year’s list, but I thought it was worth a look at these names.

Among the nine players listed above, all of them are Hall of Very Good, in my opinion, with the following exceptions. Lou Whitaker’s double-play teammate Alan Trammell was inducted into the Hall two years ago. The two were teammates for 19 seasons and won a World Series together in 1984. Neither played for another team. Whitaker was the 1978 American League Rookie of the Year, a five-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner. His three top similarity scores on his bb-ref page are Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar... and Trammell.

I suspect the committee will vote him in.

Tommy John also deserves induction. Not even considering the fact that he was a pioneer to the surgery that now bears his name, he was a very, very good pitcher for a long time. He had four top-10 Cy Young voting finishes, won 284 games in a time when wins still meant something, ranks 11th among post-World War II pitchers with 4,710 innings and pitched in five postseasons. His playing career alone should have gotten him in long ago. The surgery puts him over the top, in my view. And for those who say, “He only got the surgery, the doctor is the one who pioneered it,” I say, “Sure. Dr. Frank Jobe should be in the Hall of Fame too.”

Those are the only two players on the list who I’d vote for if I had a vote on this Committee. As for the others, there are several who had great beginnings to careers but had them derailed for various reasons (Mattingly, Parker, Murphy). Simmons and Evans are borderline to me. Garvey isn’t even close, in my view. Munson is a special case because of his tragic death in a plane crash 40 summers ago. Looking at his numbers, it appears he was beginning a career decline at the time of his death. I just don’t see that as a Hall of Fame career.

Lastly, it is one of the biggest slaps in the face to players everywhere to not have Marvin Miller in the Hall of Fame. Miller is arguably one of the five most important figures in modern baseball history for the effect he had on the game.

After Miller failed to receive induction five times in the first decade of the 21st Century, he told the BBWAA and Hall to stop nominating him:

“Paradoxically, I’m writing to thank you and your associates for your part in nominating me for Hall of Fame consideration, and, at the same time, to ask that you not do this again.”

Miller added: “The antiunion bias of the powers who control the hall has consistently prevented recognition of the historic significance of the changes to baseball brought about by collective bargaining. As former executive director (retired since 1983) of the players’ union that negotiated these changes, I find myself unwilling to contemplate one more rigged veterans committee whose members are handpicked to reach a particular outcome while offering the pretense of a democratic vote. It is an insult to baseball fans, historians, sports writers and especially to those baseball players who sacrificed and brought the game into the 21st century. At the age of 91, I can do without farce.”

Miller said he planned to write a separate letter to the Hall of Fame board asking them to withdraw his name from consideration. “I simply want to make sure that they know how I feel,” he said. “I don’t want to be nominated again. By anybody.”

Miller’s beef was mainly with the way the voting was conducted by the then-Veterans Committees. That type of voting has changed and resulted in the current structure. Miller died in 2012, but his influence over the game is still felt. He absolutely deserves induction.

Voting by this Committee will take place December 8 at the Winter Meetings.