THE BASEBALL Writers' Association should be applauded for refusing to let any Tom, Dick or Barry who swung a bat or hurled a ball into the National Hall of Fame.
It should be castigated for taking 15 years to induct former Boston Red Sox left fielder Jim Rice.
Rice, it seems, had few friends among the media during his playing days. That can be the only reason why he’s had to wait so long because this eight-time All Star selection had 382 home runs, 2,452 hits and 1,451 RBIs in 16 seasons for a batting average of .298.
To be elected to the Hall of Fame, players require 75 per cent of the vote from members of the Association. In Rice’s 15th and final year on the ballot, he received 76.4 per cent or 412 votes from the 539 ballots cast.
Rickey Henderson, an automatic first-year pick if ever there was one, was still snubbed by 28 of the writers who have a vote.
While you can understand the reluctance of the baseball scribes to vote for players suspected of using steroids, Rice’s exclusion was harder to fathom.
Bonds could be kept out of Cooperstown
Now 55, he made his last appearance for the Red Sox back in August, 1989, and could be forgiven for feeling a little bitter about his long wait.
“If you look at some of the people in the Hall of Fame, my numbers are compatible,” said Rice. “Why it took so long I don’t know. The only thing I can say is that I’m glad it’s over with. I’m not going to badmouth any writers or what have you. I’m just looking forward to things to come.”
Rice and Henderson will be inducted on July 26th in Cooperstown along with the late New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians second baseman Joe Gordon, who was elected by the Veterans Committee last December.
The chances of Mark McGwire joining them any time soon look remote as his support dropped from 23.6% to 21.9%. That doesn’t augur well for Barry Bonds either when he becomes eligible.
I’m all for the baseball writers keeping out the cheats, but surely votes should be based on statistics rather than personalities.