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Monday, January 07, 2008

Hall is lacking without O’Neil

I was reminded of all this with the release of The Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, and with the discussion of whether Roger Clemens and/or Barry Bonds should or would eventually go into the Hall of Fame.

Because, for now at least, I have difficulty getting worked up about Hall of Fame discussions or ignoring the fact that the Hall has jumped the shark. Buck O’Neil is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame; Barney Dreyfuss soon will be. And we’re supposed to take this institution seriously?

You probably aren’t familiar with Dreyfuss, which is entirely the point. He was the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900-32, which has utterly no relevance to modern baseball fans, but didn’t prevent the Veterans Committee from electing him a couple weeks ago.

Dreyfuss’ fellow members in the Class of 2008: Bowie Kuhn, Walter O’Malley, Billy Southworth and Dick Williams. Each of these men played a role in the history of the game, but it’s likely that nobody ever paid a single cent to watch a baseball game because of them.

O’Neil, on the other hand, rekindled a love for baseball in countless people. Yet when a special committee elected 17 Negro Leagues figures to the Hall in 2006 - the final election of people from the Negro Leagues - they didn’t see fit to honor Buck O’Neil.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 07, 2008 at 02:42 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, negro leagues, royals, steroids

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   1. Rally Posted: January 07, 2008 at 03:42 PM (#2662299)
Saw the headline and thought somebody was making a case for Paul O'Neill.
   2. Zach Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:02 PM (#2662309)
Earlier this year, the Hall announced the creation of the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, also known as the "Boy, Did We Screw Up By Not Electing Him" Award.

You have to feel the Hall's pain on this one. They obviously wanted to honor O'Neil. They set up the blue-ribbon committee to elect Negro Leaguers, they created the award when O'Neil didn't get elected. They put some thought into the award -- it rewards people who otherwise might fall through the very crack O'Neil fell through.

The problem is, you'd need something like the blue-ribbon committee to elect O'Neil. He played and managed too long ago, and there's no special category for creating a baseball museum and nurturing a forgotten piece of history. But then the committee went nuts. It elected lots of marginal candidates and passed over O'Neil.

Blame the committee, not the Hall.
   3. Guts Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:06 PM (#2662312)
Saw the headline and thought somebody was making a case for Paul O'Neill.

Me too. That would have been right in line with a lot of the ballots discussed here....
   4. BFFB Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:06 PM (#2662313)
Saw the headline and thought somebody was making a case for Paul O'Neill


This was my immediate reaction o_O
   5. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:56 PM (#2662350)
Something does not have to have "relevance" to "modern" anything to be important. That goes for the HOF--which is a flipping museum--as much as anything else.
   6. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 07, 2008 at 05:16 PM (#2662372)
I thought this article was a nice, balanced mix between good points and stupid ones. The bit about the proper role of the Hall being undefined (and the consequences thereof) is a good one. The bit about Dreyfuss lacking relevance for the modern fan is pretty lame, considering Dreyfuss's role in the creation of the World Series. The gut-level pro-O'Neill reaction as a response to the steroid issue is... unexpected, and kind of interesting. Certainly more so than many columnists' reactions.
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 07, 2008 at 08:54 PM (#2662670)
Dreyfuss’ fellow members in the Class of 2008: Bowie Kuhn, Walter O’Malley, Billy Southworth and Dick Williams. Each of these men played a role in the history of the game, but it’s likely that nobody ever paid a single cent to watch a baseball game because of them.


I don't know - Billy Southworth hit .297 over a 13-year playing career. There must have been some kid whose favorite player was Southworth, and got his family to go to the park to see him play...

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