Retired Red Sox Who Should Be in Cooperstown

Baseball fans from all walks of life love to debate which of their favorite non-Hall of Fame players should be enshrined in Cooperstown. Dodger fans want to see Gil Hodges and Maury Wills inducted. Mets fans want to see Davey Johnson in the Hall of Fame. Fans of the Negro Leagues want Buck O’Neil inducted for his contributions to baseball. But which  retired Red Sox players should be inducted in the Hall of Fame who haven’t made it in yet? Let’s take a look at the top three who the BBWAA voters have slighted over the years.

Retired Red Sox Star Pitcher Luis Tiant

There’s probably no one more deserving to be in the Hall of Fame than Luis Tiant. He wonretired red sox 229 games throughout his career. In his 1964 Major League debut against the New York Yankees, Tiant allowed only four hits (all singles). He also struck out eleven in the 3-0 debut shutout. Overall, he was a three-time All-Star and two-time ERA leader with 49 career shutouts. But his masterful performance in the 1975 World Series is what Red Sox fans remember him best for going 2-0, one of which was a shutout against the Reds. His numbers are better than many Hall of Fame pitchers and for that he should be a Hall of Famer.

Red Red Sox Star Outfielder Dwight Evans

His omission from Cooperstown is one of the more glaring mistakes the BBWAA has made in the last thirty years. Evans was a three-time All-Star, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, and a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner during his twenty-year career. He also accumulated over 2400 hits and slugged 385 home runs. His defense alone should have gotten serious consideration. The fact that was an offensive powerhouse too is why fans feel his absence in Cooperstown.

Retired Red Sox Star Infielder Johnny Pesky

I’ll admit that arguing that Pesky should be inducted is a little tougher than Tiant and Evans’ calls for induction. Pesky only played between 1942-1954. Pesky served three of those years in the military during World War II. He barely had any power either; he only hit 17 home runs in his career. But he accumulated 620 hits in his first three seasons in the Majors with 205, 208, and 207 hits, respectively. He coached some of the greatest Red Sox players in history, including Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Johnny Damon. His hitting, coaching abilities, and legendary status in Boston, while not the strongest case for induction, make it hard to ignore him.

Red Sox Outfielder Fred Lynn

Lynn didn’t play for the Red Sox for his entire career. He did, however, achieve some of his best numbers while in Boston. Lynn won both the MVP, Rookie of the Year Awards in 1975, while also collecting a Gold Glove and making an All-Star appearance. Overall, he was a nine-time All-Star who hit 306 home runs during his seventeen-year career. While his numbers don’t quite rival those in the Hall of Fame, his rookie year accomplishments alone should have gotten him more consideration.

Could the Baseball Hall of Fame Remove an Inductee?

In the wake of the recent decision to change the name of Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street, writers like me are wondering if the National Baseball Hall of Fame will follow a similar path. Hall of Famer Cap Anson, the first player to reach 3,000 hits (though that’s debatable), is largely responsible for segregation in baseball. Then there’s Hall of Famer George Weiss, who was general manager for the New York Yankees and New York Mets. According to the book Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee, Weiss allegedly once said out loud at a cocktail party that he “would never allow a black man to wear a Yankee uniform.” So it is possible that we might see the Hall of Fame remove inductees like Anson and Weiss? The short answer is no.

This notion is difficult to consider. On one hand, no one wants racists in the Hall of Fame.hall of fame remove On the other hand, do we risk erasing history? Many writers say no. “…without them we wouldn’t be able to understand history,” says baseball writer Don Tincher. “I’m not a big fan of destroying the past even if we don’t like it. We need to use things like that to teach others.”

“I think the HOF should simply be based on merit, how they played and performed in the game,” says Erik Sherman, author of Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond. “If we start going down a path of who was a model citizen and who was not, it becomes a slippery slope.”

It’s safe to assume that removing inductees from the Baseball Hall of Fame would quickly become a catastrophe. The Hall of Fame could remove Anson and Weiss. However, calls for the removal of other players would make all the inductees vulnerable, making the Hall of Fame a shrine of questionable morals instead of a shrine to baseball talent.

We Won’t See the Hall of Fame Remove Controversial Inductees, but The BBWAA Will Keep them Out

We likely won’t see the Hall of Fame remove inductees anytime soon. It’s fair to say though that there’s a few eligible former players who won’t make it in because of their inflammatory views and ideas. In the summer of 2015, Curt Schilling sent a tweet equating Muslim extremists with Nazi Germany. Schilling, a six-time All-Star and three-time World Series Champion, received 45% of the vote in 2016, thirty points fewer than needed for induction. While he received 51.2% this year, one cannot deny that Schilling’s inflammatory comments are hurting his chances for induction.

In my opinion, Schilling’s inability to get enough votes for induction reflects the Baseball Writers Association of America’s (BBWAA) belief that there is no more room for players with controversial views in the Hall of Fame. Many make the valid argument that consideration for induction should rely solely on their numbers and actions on the field. But where do you draw the line?

I’m not calling Schilling a bigot; I really don’t think he is. But it’s hard to look past his comments. Major League Baseball wants to promote and celebrate diversity and inclusion. With that said, I can’t see someone like Schilling getting inducted. The MLB doesn’t really have a say in who gets inducted each year. However, it’s clear that the induction of players whose views contradict Major League Baseball’s policy on diversity and inclusion could become a can of worms that the Hall of Fame and the MLB don’t want to open.

The Baseball Hall of Fame probably won’t go the way the City of Boston did with renaming Yawkey Way. It’s also unlikely we’ll see the Hall of Fame remove any players. But that doesn’t mean that the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee won’t scrutinize future candidates. Their opinions, regardless of whether they have anything to do with baseball or not, shouldn’t parallel someone like George Weiss’.

Which Active Red Sox Player Has the Best Chance at Cooperstown?

Cooperstown, New York remains as baseball’s hallowed grounds. It is there whereCooperstown past legends are forever remembered within the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This year, the Boston Red Sox are off to a historic start. Their roster is filled with many talented players. But which of those players has the best chance at going to Cooperstown and joining these hallowed few?

 

 

Craig Kimbrel

Earlier this month, Kimbrel became the youngest closer ever to reach 300 saves. He was also the NL leader in saves from 2011-2014 before joining the Red Sox in 2016. Throughout his entire career as a closer, he has recorded at least 30 saves in each season. In 2011, he was the NL Rookie of the Year and is a six-time all-star, including last season in which he had a 1.43 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. The only active closers with more saves are Huston Street, Fernando Rodney, and Francisco Rodriguez, all of which are significantly older than Kimbrel. When all is said and done, I believe Craig Kimbrel will join Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Dennis Eckersley as the best to ever close.

Mookie Betts

Of any player on the Red Sox in the last decade, Betts has the highest ceiling. The combination of his power, speed, and defensive prowess have put him in the upper echelon of players in today’s game as well as team history. This season he is currently tied for first in home runs, second in average, second in doubles, first in slugging, and first in OPS league-wide. At age 25, Betts likely still has at least ten years of highly-productive seasons left. At the end of his career, Betts will have a good shot at making it to the Hall.

Chris Sale

Few left-handed pitchers have been as dominant in their early careers as Chris Sale.  Among active pitchers, he trails only Clayton Kershaw in career ERA, opponent average, and WHIP. That being said, Kershaw has 29 more career starts than Sale and is slightly older. His win-loss record is 95-59, which is lower than his contemporaries, however he was a part of some poor Chicago White Sox teams. While not even 30, I believe Sale still has the ability for 3-5 more dominant years and 7-9 more strong seasons. To make his way to Cooperstown, he’ll need to avoid serious injury and stay on competitive teams.

Dustin Pedroia

Of any Red Sox, Pedroia is the most intriguing to talk about in terms of Hall of Fame prospects. There is no question that he has remained the heart and soul of this franchise throughout his career, no matter the circumstance. However, he has begun to show signs of physical wearing down via frequent injuries, especially in the second half of his career. That being said, he has never batted lower than .278 in a season and has never committed more than six errors in a season. He is a 4-time Gold Glove winner, 4-time All-Star, a 2008 MVP, and the only Red Sox player other than Kimbrel to win Rookie of the Year. He will forever be remembered as the catalyst for the team in this era.

Cooperstown Breakdown

So who has the best chance of these four? The easy answer is that it depends. I think the best way of looking at Hall of Fame prospects is three-pronged. The first is did they win during their careers; was their impact big enough to yield pennants and championships. Between the four, only Pedroia has a World Series ring. However, all four have been a part of winning teams, even though they’re all in different parts of their careers.

The second, and most obvious, is their career numbers and stats. Frankly, I would not have written this article if it weren’t apparent that these guys had the accolades to be in the conversation.

That leads me to the last and most intriguing factor: their era and its comparables. In other words, what was the climate of baseball at their respective position in terms of character, performance, and competition? For Sale, he’s had Kershaw and Madison Baumgarner, as well as Justin Verlander. For Kimbrel, he entered the league as Rivera and Hoffman were leaving. Betts will always have the Mike Trout and Bryce Harper comparison on his back. Pedroia’s main counterpart throughout his career was Ian Kinsler, but Kinsler never really won anything. His other main comparison was always Robbie Cano, but Cano’s latest PED scandal will likely dampen his reputation a bit.

Given all these variables, I believe that Kimbrel has the best chance because there are few closers in his era to compare him to besides Aroldis Chapman, who has character problems of his own. If Betts and Sale can continue dominating and avoid the pitfalls of free agency, they could make it there too. Should Pedroia finish strong like I expect, he’ll always have my support too.

Show me your thoughts!

I ran a Twitter with a similar question last week, and this is what I gathered. Feel free to tweet with your thoughts or leave comments below. 

The Red Sox Owe Jim Rice More Respect

Jim Rice played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1989. He was an 8-time All-Star and American League MVP in 1978. After years of waiting, Rice finally received induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 in his final year of eligibility. Some argue that Rice isn’t a Hall of Famer because his numbers fall just below the unofficial standard. Others argue Rice’s induction took too long and his numbers prove his worth. Regardless of what you might think, the Red Sox owe Jim Rice more respect, especially after retiring so many other numbers in the last three years.

The Red Sox used to have three rules to retire a number. 1) Play ten years with the RedRed Sox Owe Jim Rice Sox. 2) Retire as a Red Sox player. 3) Be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jim Rice is one of the few players who actually fulfilled all three requirements. In fact, he was the last to fulfill all those requirements. Since then they’ve retired Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, and David Ortiz’s jersey numbers. None of those three players fulfilled the requirements.

I’m not saying that there’s a retired number that doesn’t belong up there. But why did Jim Rice have to wait so long while other players got ushered to the front of the line? Few other players hustled harder than Rice did. It’s easy to look at his numbers and say that they’re good but not great. But it’s impossible to quantify Rice’s contributions to the game. He helped lead the Red Sox to the World Series in 1975 (an injury kept him out of play) and also in 1986. Additionally, Rice is one of only two players to lead the American League in both triples and home runs in one season. On top of that, he is still the only player who has ever led the majors in triples, home runs and RBIs in the same season.

Red Sox Owe Jim Rice An Apology

The fact that Jim Rice waited so long to see his number retired while others didn’t is becoming the white elephant in the room. While you can argue that players like Ted Williams and Joe Cronin waited too, the Red Sox didn’t actually start retiring numbers until 1984, and their numbers were among the first to get retired.

Jim Rice paid his dues. He waited patiently not only to see his number retired, but to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Red Sox insulted the man by making him jump hoops. They took those hoops away though from Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, and David Ortiz. Boggs jumped ship to the Evil Empire. He even had the nerve to wear his Yankee World Series ring to his ceremony!

Red Sox Owe Jim Rice A Statue Too

At the very least, the Red Sox could erect a statue for Jim Rice. Or they could name something in Fenway after him. No matter what, the Red Sox owe Jim Rice something to make up for the way they shafted him. He stayed loyal to Boston when he could have left for more money.

Ken Burns Owes Ty Cobb’s Family a Redo

Ken Burns’ Baseball first premiered on PBS in the fall of 1994. For many, it marked their birth for the love of the game. The documentary, however, is not without flaws. Burns’ portrayal of some ballplayers angered historians. The worst was his portrayal of Ty Cobb, who he painted as a racist and self-centered ballplayer. In light of an insightful biography debunking many of the myths surrounding Cobb, Ken Burns owes it to Cobb’s legacy to revise the episode containing flawed information.

Released in 2015, Charles Leerhsen’s Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty was met with praise.Ken burns owes Allen Barra of The Boston Globe called it “a major reconsideration of a reputation unfairly maligned for decades.” What makes Leerhsen’s biography strong is its detail to accuracy and corrections. Baseball fans were abhorred by Cobb when they saw in Burns’ documentary. Burns’ documentary claimed that Cobb assaulted blacks, bullied his teammates, and abused his wife and children. These inaccurate claims stemmed from a biography released in 1994 called Cobb: A Biography. Its author, Al Stump, worked as Cobb’s ghost writer for his autobiography before Cobb’s death in 1961. Initially, Stump’s biography gave readers a look into Cobb’s turbulent life and quickly became a bestseller. Since Stump’s death in 1995, however, historians have discovered a number of issues with the book. Stump allegedly fabricated details to create interest and drive up sales.

Among the biggest inaccuracies is that Cobb opposed integration. In fact, he championed it. He said the Giants’ Willie Mays was the only ballplayer he’d pay money to see play. Additionally, Cobb likely didn’t sharpen his spikes to intimidate opposing players. These myths were born out of Ken Burns’ Baseball. However, it’s not fair to fault Burns. Like many baseball fans at the time, he trusted Stump’s biography and used it as a basis for the documentary. In fact, one baseball expert recently stated he would welcome the opportunity to explain himself. According to a Facebook message posted by Ty’s granddaughter, Cindy Cobb, writer Daniel Okrent, who initially commented on Cobb for the documentary, wrote that Leehrsen’s 2015 biography of Cobb “led me to re-assess my view of Cobb, and if Burns ever does an update, I’ll insist on the opportunity to say so!”

Ken Burns Owes It To Cobb’s Family To Set the Record Straight

In 2010, Ken Burns released “The Tenth Inning” as the next chapter in the series. After the Cubs won the 2016 World Series, Burns hinted he might add their historic win to the next chapter. If Burns were to create another chapter, it would be the perfect time to address the inaccuracies of “The Third Inning” that include the inaccurate details about Cobb. It is only fair to Cobb’s legacy and surviving family members.

Ken Burns owes it to Cobb’s family to revise his documentary to reflect newfound information.

PawSox Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Announced

Former Pawtucket Red Sox and Boston Red Sox players Carlton Fisk and Mo Vaughn, along with former PawSox and Red Sox manager Joe Morgan, have been selected asPawSox Hall of Fame 2017 PawSox Hall of Fame inductees.

The second-ever PawSox Hall of Fame class was once again chosen by a 15-person panel, which includes club executives, print and broadcast media members, long-time fans, and historians.

Ben Mondor, the late long-time PawSox owner, along with former Pawtucket Red Sox and Boston Red Sox legends Wade Boggs and Jim Rice, both National Baseball Hall of Fame players, comprised the inaugural 2016 PawSox Hall of Fame inductees.

Details on events surrounding this season’s PawSox Hall of Fame ceremonies will be announced early in the 2017 season.

“The PawSox Hall of Fame recognizes the most impactful figures in club history,” said PawSox Executive Vice President/General Manager Dan Rea.  “We are especially pleased that our fans have the opportunity to celebrate some of our franchise’s greatest names, and we look forward to another special event this season.”

Carlton Fisk played just one season with the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1970 when the club was the Double-A Eastern League affiliate of the Red Sox.  However, once Fisk arrived in Boston for his first full season in 1972 he earned American League Rookie of the Year honors and went on to play 24 seasons in the majors with the Red Sox (1969, 1971-80) and the White Sox (1981-93).  He retired with the most games caught (2,226) and most HR (351 of career 376) of any catcher in MLB history and he is one of only three catchers with more than 300 HR, 1,000 runs scored, and 1,000 RBI.

Fisk became the 13th catcher to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 and was selected for the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.  He was the all-time Red Sox leader in games caught (990), until that mark was broken by Jason Varitek in 2006. A 7-time All-Star for Boston (1972-74, 76-78, 80), he appeared in 11 All-Star Games overall including his last in 1991 with the White Sox at the age of 43.  His 12th-inning, game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series at Fenway Park is remembered as one of the most dramatic moments in baseball history.

Fisk, who will turn 70 this December, was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont and went to the University of New Hampshire on a basketball scholarship.  He committed to baseball after being selected in the 1st round of the 1967 draft by the Red Sox.

Mo Vaughn was a popular player for the PawSox for parts of three seasons (1990-92) and went on to a stellar 12-year Major League career with Boston (1991-98), Anaheim (1999-2000), and the New York Mets (2002-03).  He finished his big league career with a .293 average along with 328 HR & 1064 RBI in 1512 games.  Mo was a three-time American League All-Star with the Red Sox (1995, ’96 and ’98) and the American League MVP in 1995 when he hit .300 with 39 HR & 126 RBI.  The “Hit Dog” followed that up with a sensational 1996 campaign for Boston batting .326 with career-highs of 44 HR & 143 RBI.

Vaughn, who will turn 50 this December, was born in Norwalk, CT and starred at Seton Hall University.  He was chosen by the Red Sox in the 1st round of the 1989 draft and began his pro career with Double-A Portland that year.  He spent all of 1990, at the age of 22, with the PawSox posting a .295 average with 22 HR & 72 RBI in 108 games.  He would split the 1991 season between Pawtucket and Boston, returned briefly to Pawtucket in 1992 for 39 games, but then spent the rest of his career in the majors.

From 1996-98 with the Red Sox he hit .315 or higher and averaged 40 homers and 118 RBI.  After the ’98 season he signed a free agent contract with the Anaheim Angels where he hit 30-plus homers and knocked in over 100 runs in both 1999 & 2000.  He missed the entire 2001 season due to injury and was traded to the New York Mets that off-season.  A knee injury ended his career just 27 games into the 2003 season.

Since he left baseball, Vaughn has found a niche in business across a variety of platforms.  In 2004 he founded a real estate company (OMNI New York LLC) that, among other things, rehabilitates distressed housing in the New York City boroughs.  In 2010 he launched a trucking company called Mo Vaughn Transport in Ohio.  Mo most recently became the face of a big-and-tall clothing company called MVP Collections.

Joe Morgan is the dean of PawSox managers spending nine years as PawSox skipper from 1974-1982 while compiling a franchise-most 601 career managerial victories.  He is the only man to win the International League’s Most Valuable Player and Manager of the Year Awards.  His MVP came in 1964 with Jacksonville (the IL affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals) and his Manager of the Year came with Pawtucket in 1977.

Morgan was an infielder with three different IL clubs…Charleston in 1961, Atlanta in 1962-63, and Jacksonville in 1964-65.  He managed three different IL affiliates as well with Columbus in 1970, Charleston in 1971 & ’73, and Pawtucket from 1974-82 posting 845 wins as an IL skipper.

Morgan, now 86, is a native and lifelong resident of Walpole, MA who attended Boston College where he played both hockey (an All-American while leading the Eagles in scoring his junior year) and baseball (elected team captain his junior year).  His first professional baseball contract came with the Boston Braves and the lefty hitting infielder/outfielder played parts of four seasons in the majors with five different clubs.

 

After his 9th and final season as PawSox skipper in 1982, Joe was a Red Sox scout (1983-84) and then a Red Sox coach (1985-88).  During the 1988 All-Star break, with Boston hovering around the .500 mark under John McNamara, Morgan was promoted to interim manager on July 14, 1988.  The Red Sox promptly won their first 12 games under Morgan (and their first 20 home games in a row) and rode “Morgan’s Magic” to the 1988 AL East pennant.  From 1988-1991 with Boston, “Walpole Joe” posted a 301-262 record along with two AL East Division titles (1988 & 1990).

Morgan was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2006 and the International League Hall of Fame in 2008.