In addition to the regular Hall of Fame ballot that pretty much all baseball fans are following, there are two special committees that will examine the cases of several players who either never got their proper due, or were somehow overlooked.
The “Early Era” committee looks at players and people from before 1950. The “Golden Days” committee covers the years from 1950-1969. Each committee has sixteen members; nominees must get twelve votes to be inducted.
Here are the nominees on the Early Era ballot:
Slugger Bill Dahlen started a 21-year career in 1891. He retired with 548 stolen bases, and 84 home runs – which was the all-time career leader at the time.
John Donaldson spent some 30 years pitching in the various Negro Leagues, and helped establish the “barnstorming” business that allowed many Negro League teams to make money.
Bud Fowler is believed to be the first black professional baseball player.
Vic Harris spent most of his 18 seasons in the Negro Leagues with the Homestead Grays, where he finished with a .305 batting average. As a manager, he won seven pennants and one Negro League World Series in 11 years.
Grant “Home Run” Johnson “was a shortstop and second baseman in the pre-Negro Leagues era who helped form the Page Fence Giants barnstorming team. A powerful hitter and occasional pitcher, Johnson played for early powerhouse teams like the Brooklyn Royal Giants and New York Lincoln Giants.”
Lefty O’Doul hit .349, winning two batting titles and finishing in the top two of MVP voting twice in an 11-year career. Perhaps his greatest contribution is helping to spread the game to Japan. He is credited as one of the founders of Nippon Professional Baseball (their version of MLB). He was the first American inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
Buck O’Neil was one of the most influential people in Negro League history, helping to found the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City and serving as an ambassador of sorts in integration. He’s pretty much the embodiment of what the Hall of Fame refers to as the “Character Clause”.
Dick “Cannonball” Redding was a power pitcher in the Negro Leagues in the ’20s, and was regarded as the hardest thrower in any league.
Allie Reynolds went 182-107 with a 3.30 ERA and was a six-time All-Star over a 13-year career. He won an ERA title, led the league in strikeouts twice and was part of the rotation for six World Series champion Yankees teams. In those series, he was 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA. He threw two World Series shutouts.
George “Tubby” Scales is another star player from the Negro Leagues. He also managed for six seasons in the Negro Leagues and 12 in Puerto Rican Winter League play, taking the 1951 Caribbean World Series title.
On the Golden Days ballot, the nominees are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Minoso, manager Danny Murtaugh, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, and Maury Wills.
They’re all fine and worthy nominees, and deserve spots in the Hall of the Very Good.
But “Hall of Fame”? I don’t know….
If I did have a say it things, I’d definitely vote for Vic Harris, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Dick Allen, Minnie Minoso, and Maury Wills. I’d think long and hard about the others.
Except Gil Hodges. I’ve already looked him over closely, and I cannot vote for him. To me, all the support he gets for the Hall is a combination of residual nostalgia for the Brooklyn Dodgers combined with his one really lucky year as a manager. He’s close, but he doesn’t make the cut in my Hall of Fame.
The committees are scheduled to meet on Sunday, December 5 to make their decisions.