What’s Wrong With the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Image result for cooperstown


What’s Wrong With the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Nothing. ~ If you take into consideration it’s a human institution ~ created to honor the best of the best in baseball history ~ for the engagement and interest of devoted fans, commercial supporters, the vested management/ownership interests of all MLB clubs and, oh yes, the special economic needs of its permanent and anointed legendary host City of Cooperstown, New York.

Have you ever been to Cooperstown? If not, imagine this. ~ After a long and winding road trip upstate from New York City, you get out of your car and park on Main Street in downtown Cooperstown. You just want to stretch your legs out and get your bearings via a walking pace first personal sight of the Hall of Fame.

You don’t get five feet before it hits you. ~ This place is a dead ringer for Bedford Falls, the hometown of Jimmy Stewart and his family in the classic Christmas movie that some of us know from seventy years after its mid-1940s release as “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

And then you stop in some of the baseball shops on Main Street and you don’t seem to meet a single “Mr. Potter”, the master lying crook of Bedford Falls that Jimmy Stewart finally overcame in the movie on the backs of support he got from the good towns people.

Talk about honesty. Here’s what I mean:

Our only trip to Cooperstown was in June 1994. I asked one card shop dealer during his brief break from heavy traffic business what he did during the snowy days of winter. ~ “Inventory,” he said in a one-word smile.

Here are some other short, clear statements about the Hall of Fame itself. They aren’t so much indictments of the HOF’s integrity as they are examples of the human condition that governs the conduct of their business of honoring the best of the best in baseball history.

About the Baseball Hall of Fame and Human Nature

The Baseball Writer Annual Electors

  1. Sometimes the baseball writers elect the best of the best.
  2. Other times they simply elect the least controversial, most politically popular, at that moment in time.
  3. The writers usually ignore player candidates whose lives are cluttered with doubt on issues of gambling or performance-enhancing drugs, if the weight of evidence or innuendo supports the snubbing.

The Veterans Committee

  1. The Veterans Committee has the power to induct deserving candidates that were ignored by the BBWA during their initial maximum 15-year period of review.
  2. The Veterans Committee has the power to induct undeserving candidates on the strength of emotional/political support from members ~ or through members ~ from those who will champion their cause for personal reasons.

The Hall of Fame Governing Body

  1. Offers no objective statistical parameters for identifying the best of the best players from all eras.
  2. Offers no code of behavior or statement of character that needs to be attached to HOF inductees.
  3. The need for objective and subjective considerations are likely to continue as fodder for debate without change.
  4. Like most enterprises, the Baseball Hall of Fame will continue to operate forever on the Sea of Sociopolitical Economic Opportunity.

The Gist of It

If you are planning a baseball dinner, and you have room for only one more after-dinner speaker, but you do have two comparably well known player candidates to fill the spot, pick the one that tells the funniest stories, not the one who hit the most home runs.

These days, the biggest threat to the Hall of Fame is the same one that threatens all organized sport activities ~ and that’s boredom. And as we move more and more into shorter and shorter attention spans, vis-a-vis digital technology, boredom (stimulation burnout) is happening at scary rates.

We don’t really change anything that needs it ~ until we realize we have no choice. And that’s no criticism of the Hall of Fame. It’s just how the human condition most works. And that is exactly how the human condition is running the Hall of Fame these days ~ even as we conclude today’s column.

Does the HOF need to change anything? Maybe not.

If it does, what needs to change? And how is that ever going to happen?



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle







4 Responses to “What’s Wrong With the Baseball Hall of Fame?”

  1. bobcopus Says:

    I plan on going in the coming years. I will touch base to get your do’s and dont do’s. 🙂

  2. Tom Hunter Says:

    I’ve been to Cooperstown twice and your characterization of it being a dead ringer for Bedford Falls is spot on.

    I’m thankful for the Veterans Committee for recognizing someone like Bill Mazeroski, who won eight Gold Gloves, led the NL in assists nine times, had a .983 fielding percentage, and holds the major league record for double plays by a second baseman. Writers who only looked at his lifetime .260 batting average over looked his defensive prowess.

    But defense is BORING to those with short attention spans and an obsession with the long ball.

  3. Cliff Blau Says:

    But the Hall of Fame wasn’t created to honor the best of the best. “The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor people who’ve been elected to the Hall of Fame.” (Jeff Idelson, President of Hall of Fame)

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