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Friday, February 21, 2014

Leigh Montville: The BBWAA should rescind its 2011 award to Bill Conlin

Pulling the one chair out from under Conlin.

The picture of the late Bill Conlin that is used most often in stories about him these days (including this one) is a shot from the ceremonies in Cooperstown. He is wearing a pair of those old man glasses with yellow lenses and he has the white hair and the little white beard and he is at a podium that reads “National Baseball Hall of Fame” on the front. His right hand is in the air and he is reading from a prepared script and no doubt he is being loud and strong and opinionated, the way he was during his 45 years as a Philadelphia sportswriter.

This was his day of days. July 23, 2011. He was the recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which moved him into a small corner of sportswriter immortality near the best of the baseball players he covered. His name was now on a list with Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner, Red Smith, Jim Murray and assorted other famous baseball wordsmiths.

...The J.G. Taylor Spink Award is chosen by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the same BBWAA that chooses the baseball players for the Hall of Fame. Conlin received 188 votes from 434 ballots cast by BBWAA members to win the 2011 award. These are the same people who have wrung their hands in the past few years, held their noses and refused to allow the all-time leading home run hitter, the all-time hits leader, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner and other assorted famous players into the building for assorted transgressions. If they had known about Conlin’s transgressions, there is little doubt that they also would not have allowed him to enter.

All they need now is a second chance. Change some bylaws. Bend some rules. Take a vote to rescind the 2011 vote. This is an arbitrary election, an arbitrary process. Miss America, for example, would have been dethroned in a heartbeat for much less serious charges. There does not have to be any due process. There does not have to be any statute of limitations.

Just get the guy out of the picture.

Repoz Posted: February 21, 2014 at 05:30 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bbwaa, history, hof

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   1. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 09:05 AM (#4660138)
Be a lot braver to have started talking about this before Conlin was dead and unable to kick up a fuss.

Still, better late than never.
   2. McCoy Posted: February 21, 2014 at 07:46 PM (#4660579)
How would it have been braver to pick on a pedophile while they were still alive? How many vocal pedophiles do you know? If you ever want to see what shooting fish in a barrel looks like in the real world then pick on a pedophile.
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 21, 2014 at 07:57 PM (#4660581)
All they need now is a second chance. Change some bylaws. Bend some rules. Take a vote to rescind the 2011 vote. This is an arbitrary election, an arbitrary process.

Weak argument for airbrushing history. It's not like the BBWAA gave him a Parent of the Year award or vouched for his character. They gave him an award for his career covering MLB. Period.
   4. McCoy Posted: February 21, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4660585)
When a group of people get up on their high horse over a subject they leave themselves open to others pointing out that their horse is standing in a pile of shvt.
   5. Publius Publicola Posted: February 21, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4660589)
Does the character clause apply to writers as well? Please advise.
   6. AJMcCringleberry Posted: February 22, 2014 at 08:27 AM (#4660669)
Why? Did Conlin use steroids?
   7. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 09:15 AM (#4660675)
How would it have been braver to pick on a pedophile while they were still alive?


Conlin could have pointed to the rules and bylaws, and noted that he was a BBWAA member in god standing who had been convicted of no crimes. He would have had no reason to hold back from embarrassing the BBWAA, and they would've had to give his statements equal time in the press, in the interest of fairness. Now that he's dead, they can do whatever they want, and no one will fight it.
   8. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 22, 2014 at 09:18 AM (#4660677)
Should irrevocable proof emerge that Ted Williams bet on the Red Sox to win games he played in during his career, should he be kicked out of the Hall of Fame?

And to answer my own question, I'd say "no". Nor would I kick out Conlin, though in both cases it wouldn't be an easy call, given the nature of the offenses.
   9. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 22, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4660705)
What they really should do is stop giving out a Spink award and a Frick award every year. There just aren't that many deserving candidates. Forget the character clause. Apply the 75% standard.
   10. McCoy Posted: February 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM (#4660709)
Conlin could have pointed to the rules and bylaws, and noted that he was a BBWAA member in god standing who had been convicted of no crimes. He would have had no reason to hold back from embarrassing the BBWAA, and they would've had to give his statements equal time in the press, in the interest of fairness. Now that he's dead, they can do whatever they want, and no one will fight it.

Yes, you run across a lot of vocal and very public known pedophiles out there in the real world. Conlin basically vanished from the public scene once the accusations came out. He wasn't going to get on a soapbox over a BBWAA squabble.
   11. Morty Causa Posted: February 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4660713)
The point is that he could have, isn't it? And even if he doesn't directly engage in the cogitations, it can be done on his behalf. Fairness doesn't require anything more. If he chooses not to engage, that doesn't magically stymie the public vetting of Bill Conlin. It doesn't mean he can't be judged on what is known and out there. He's only given a chance. He doesn't have veto power. But, yes, it doesn't redound to anyone's credit that this issue has not been more seriously debated.
   12. McCoy Posted: February 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4660719)
So what if he could have? The point is that it is picking on a pedophile is a pretty safe thing to do. You really think others were going to come to Conlin's defense and that their defense would have worked? How did that work for Poz and hell, he was only sort of defending the boss of a pedophile. The reality is that virtually no one would have been intimidated talking tough about Conlin while he was alive and it is absolutely silly to call someone a coward because they spoke ill of a dead pedophile.

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