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Looking at the 10-man ballot under consideration by the Modern Era edition of the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee, a decent attorney could make a solid case for any of them.
The ballot is headed by Dale Murphy, who won consecutive MVP awards, but also features Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly, Dave Parker, and Thurman Munson, who won one apiece, and the original director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Marvin Miller.
Also under consideration are Dwight Evans, Tommy John, Ted Simmons, and Lou Whitaker.
Conspicuously absent, however, are two influential but controversial former club owners, George Steinbrenner and Charlie Finley, as well as big-game pitcher Luis Tiant.
To win election, a candidate must receive 75 per cent of the vote, or at least 12 cast by the 16-man selection committee. Results will be announced live from San Diego, site of the 2019 Baseball Winter Meetings, at 8 p.m. EST Dec. 8 on MLB Network. Winners would be enshrined July 26, 2020 along with any announced on Jan. 21 by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
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Miller, who headed the players union from 1966-82, is 0-for-7 in previous ballots by the various Veterans Committee and his family has requested that his name be removed from future votes. He and Munson, who lost his life in a 1979 plane crash while still an active player, are the only deceased candidates on this year’s ballot.
CIRCA 1970’S: Executive Director Marvin Miller of the Major League Baseball Players Association … [+]Getty Images
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A Historical Overview Committee appointed by the BBWAA compiled the ballot, considering only players who played 10 major-league seasons and have been retired at least 15 seasons plus managers, umpires, and executives active in the game for at least 10 years. Current executives who have turned 70 were also eligible to be included.
One of four rotating Veterans Committees, the Modern Baseball Era panel judges candidates who made their greatest impact from 1970-87. The voting panel, appointed by the Hall of Fame, has not yet been announced.
The group consists of 11 historians, many of them former baseball beat writers for major newspapers. They are Bob Elliott, Jim Henneman, Rick Hummel, Steve Hirdt, Bill Madden, Jack O’Connell, Jim Reeves, Tracy Ringolsby, Glenn Schwarz, Dave van Dyck, and Mark Whicker.
The election of Harold Baines by a different Veterans Committee last winter has strengthened the case for Murphy, whose resume includes five Gold Gloves and seven All-Star selections in addition to 398 home runs and a 30/30 season. He was National League Most Valuable Player in both 1982 and 1983 while playing for the Atlanta Braves but never reached the World Series. A strong-armed centerfielder who started his career as a catcher, Murphy spent 18 years in the majors before bad knees forced him to retire.
2017 Major League Baseball World Series Game Seven: Houston Astros v. Los Angeles Dodgers
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 1: Dodger legends Rick Monday, Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax and Steve … [+]MLB via Getty Images
Garvey had fewer home runs (272) but a better batting average (.294) during a career spent mainly with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He still holds the National League record of consecutive games by a first baseman (1,207) and MVP awards for the regular season (1974) plus two each in the All-Star Game and NL Championship Series. He won four Gold Gloves.
Like Garvey, Parker played 19 years and was an All-Star regular (seven times). A two-time NL batting king, he had a lifetime .290 average plus 339 home runs, three Gold Gloves for his play in right field, and the 1978 MVP trophy. He spent 11 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mattingly and Munson both played for the New York Yankees, though both had relatively short runs. The former, now managing the Miami Marlins, hit .307 with 222 homers in 14 seasons while winning nine Gold Gloves, six All-Star selections, a batting crown, and an MVP (1985).
Munson, who preceded Mattingly to the Bronx, was American League Rookie of the Year in 1970 and Most Valuable Player six years later. One of two catchers to hit .300 with 100 rbi and 180 hits for three straight seasons, he was an All-Star seven times and Gold Glover three times.
New York Yankees
NEW YORK – CIRCA 1987: Tommy John #25 of the New York Yankees looks on from the dugout prior to the … [+]Getty Images
A third former Yankee on the Modern Era ballot, Tommy John won 288 games but is best-known as the pioneer patient for the surgery that bears his name. A durable lefthander who pitched for five clubs in 26 seasons, John posted a solid career earned run average of 3.34. He made the All-Star team four times – three of them after returning from surgery to replace the ligament in his left elbow. With the exception of suspected steroids user Roger Clemens, he has more wins than any pitcher not yet in Cooperstown.
One of the batters John faced often during his Yankee tenure was Dwight Evans, rifle-armed rightfielder of the Boston Red Sox for 18 seasons. Evans, who also spent a year in Baltimore, won eight Gold Gloves and went to three All-Star games while hitting 385 home runs. He had a career on-base percentage of .370.
Like Evans, Whitaker not only had a productive tenure in the American League but teamed with Alan Trammell in Detroit to form the longest-running double-play tandem in baseball history (19 seasons). Now he hopes to follow Trammell, elected by the Veterans Committee in 2017, into Cooperstown. A five-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove recipient at second base, the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year hit 244 home runs while collecting 2,369 hits.
Washington Nationals v Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MI – JUNE 28: Former Detroit Tigers infielders Lou Whitaker (L) and Alan Trammell talk … [+]MLB Photos via Getty Images
Ted Simmons starred in both leagues, first for the St. Louis Cardinals and then for the Milwaukee Brewers. A switch-hitting catcher with power, he hit .285 with 248 home runs, earning eight trips to the All-Star Game. He was also among his league’s Top Ten hitters six times in a 21-year career that concluded in Atlanta.
If players were voting for the Hall of Fame, Marvin Miller would have been enshrined years ago. The former head of the U.S. Steelworkers Union succeeded in boosting salaries tenfold between the time he was hired, in 1966, until his retirement in 1982. He also had well-publicized feuds with team owners and executives, especially Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn, and was the central figure in five work stoppages, many of them while arguing against a salary cap.
The Modern Era Veterans Committee will convene again in the autumn of 2022. It is mandated to meet twice in any five-year span.