January 06, 2010
It isn't often that you get a rush of baseball excitement in the dead of January, but Wednesday afternoon's Hall of Fame announcement somehow provided both the highs and lows of an October postseason. While many expected that an entire trio would punch its ticket together, only Andre Dawson earned an invitation to rural New York this July. Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, meanwhile, were basically told that they're plenty welcome in Cooperstown— but not until the summer of 2011.
It's actually somewhat of a shame. While Dawson, the stoic superstar, finally gets in on his ninth try by collecting 77.9 percent of the vote — 75 percent is required for election — the fact that first-ballot guy Roberto Alomar (73.7) and 13th-ballot guy Blyleven (74.2) just missed ranks as equal of a story. Both will likely be inducted the next time around, but it's hard to imagine that they'll be any more worthy after a year spent in a holding pattern.
(The temporary exclusion of Alomar is particularly shocking — if only one guy was going to be elected, I figured it'd be him — but I think it clearly demonstrates that there's a ridiculous portion of the electorate that "honors" only certain players with their first ballot vote.)
Back to Dawson: His election will likely raise eyebrows in some circles as the Hawk's batting average and on-base percentage will rank as the lowest among inducted outfielders. But Dawson was also an eight-time All-Star, won the 1977 NL ROY and 1987 NL MVP and hit 438 home runs. He did all of this while playing on a car wreck set of knees and did so with class and dignity. If the Hall insists on penalizing certain players for character defects, then I have to insist that the opposite also be true. Dawson is going to be a great Hall of Famer and his example is a great one for future ballplayers.
Other items of interest from Wednesday's revealing include strong first showings from Barry Larkin (51.6) and Edgar Martinez(notes) (36.2), more shunning (for different reasons) of Tim Raines (30.4) and Mark McGwire (23.7) and three different players — Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen and David Segui — somehow getting a single sympathy vote before being booted off the ballot.
We'll have more on the vote in a bit. Until then, here's a little graph I made this morning on Dawson and Blyleven's travails over the history of their candidacies.