2013 MLB Hall of Fame: 10 Players/Pioneers Not on Ballot Who Should Be Enshrined
On Wednesday, Jan. 9, the 2013 MLB Hall of Fame class will be revealed. With quite a few first-ballot players along with holdovers, voters, no doubt, had their hands full in deciding who was worthy of induction.
However, there are names not on the ballot who have been worthy of Hall of Fame consideration all along.
For various reasons, these particular players were never inducted, despite accomplishments that suggest their worthiness for a place in Cooperstown.
Here is a list of 10 players/pioneers who have more than earned their place among baseball's greatest in the Hall of Fame.
Note: My thanks to good friend Sal Domino for his collaborative efforts in the preparation of this article.
Indian Bob Johnson
He became the fifth player in Major League Baseball with nine consecutive seasons of 20 home runs or more. He also retired from MLB with the fifth-most home runs in history.
Yet, he still doesn't have a place in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Indian Bob Johnson played for 13 seasons on teams that were usually at or near the bottom of the standings in the American League. Despite his team's lack of success, Johnson himself shined on the field.
Only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott matched Johnson with nine consecutive 20-home run seasons. All are in the Hall of Fame.
Johnson was selected to eight All-Star teams and was a terrific defender, leading the American League with 17 outfield assists in 1934. He moved to center field in 1938, again leading the AL with 21 assists.
The length of Johnson's career likely hurt his HOF candidacy, along with the fact he played for some horrible teams.
But that doesn't take away from the fact that his body of work during those 13 seasons is easily comparable to many players currently enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Over the course of his 15-year career, Dick Allen sparked much controversy. In his book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, published in 2001, acclaimed baseball historian Bill James noted Allen as the second-most controversial figure in baseball history.
However, the statistics don't lie—Allen was worthy of the Hall of Fame.
During the nine years between 1964 and 1972, Allen was a menacing figure. He started his career in memorable fashion, leading the majors in runs scored (125) and triples (13) and leading the National League in total bases (352). Allen easily captured Rookie of the Year honors in 1964.
In 1966, while Frank Robinson dominated in the American League by winning a Triple Crown, Allen hit 40 home runs with 110 RBI, leading the NL in slugging (.632) and OPS (1.027).
After single seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers, Allen took his talents to the American League with the Chicago White Sox. The move to the new league was successful—Allen captured the AL MVP Award in 1972 with a remarkable season.
Allen led his new league in home runs (37), RBI (113), on-base percentage (.420), slugging percentage (.603), OPS (1.023) and OPS+199.
Allen was headed toward another terrific season in 1973 when he suffered a collision with Mike Epstein of the Oakland A's in late June that fractured his fibula. Allen tried to return after five weeks only to have his season end due to recurring pain.
Allen rebounded to lead the American League with 32 home runs in 1974, but his final three seasons were marred by consistent leg pain, forcing his retirement in 1977 at the age of 35.
Allen never received more than 18.9 percent during his 15-year window of eligibility, and the Veterans Committee, thus far, has not recognized his achievements.
It's difficult to find anyone not in the Hall of Fame who was as dominant as Allen during a prolonged stretch of time.
The career of left-handed pitcher Tommy John can essentially be split into two halves—the second half, indeed, being special.
The first 12 years of John's career was actually very good—a 124-106 record with a 2.97 ERA.
In 1974, John got off to a terrific start, posting a 13-3 record and 2.59 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first 22 starts. However, on July 17 of that year, John cut short a start against the Montreal Expos after experiencing pain in his left elbow.
That pain turned out to be a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.
John went under the knife on Sept. 25, 1974. Dr. Frank Jobe used a radical procedure, replacing the ligament in the elbow of his pitching arm with a tendon from his right forearm.
Although the surgery was a success, it was still widely thought that John would not return to pitch. After sitting out the rest of that year along with the 1975 season, John did in fact return in 1976, making 31 starts and posting a 10-10 record and 3.09 ERA.
John would pitch another 13 years after that. His record after his surgery was 164-125 with a 3.66 ERA.
John's 288 wins are the most of any pitcher in the modern era not currently in the Hall of Fame. In addition, his 26 years of service is matched only by Nolan Ryan and Cap Anson.
John wasn't spectacular—he didn't win a Cy Young Award or led his league in wins, ERA or strikeouts.
He was simply reliable and durable and bucked the odds when practically no one thought it was possible for him to play again.
In my opinion, that's more than enough for induction into baseball's Hall of Fame.
The Big Red Machine, the name given to the great Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970s, is well-represented in the Hall of Fame.
Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan, along with manager Sparky Anderson, have earned induction. However, two names are glaring in their absence—shortstop Dave Concepcion is one of those names.
The other one we'll get to later on.
Concepcion spent his entire 19-year career with the Reds, retiring in 1988 after grooming future Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin.
Concepcion was considered the best shortstop of his era, winning five Gold Glove awards during the 1970s. He is arguably one of the greatest fielding shortstops of all time.
Concepcion could get it done with the bat when needed as well, winning two Silver Slugger awards and hitting .297 in postseason play.
The Hall of Fame had no issues in electing Ozzie Smith for his defensive abilities. Concepcion was arguably just as good and even better with the bat.
He should absolutely take his rightful place alongside his Big Red Machine teammates in Cooperstown.
While the headline specifically pointed to players not on the ballot who are deserving of Hall of Fame induction, we'll make an exception for the case of Edgar Martinez.
Martinez collected just 36.5 percent in his third year of eligibility last season.
That in itself is a farce.
When Martinez retired in 2004, he had such an impact on the game of baseball that MLB commissioner Bud Selig saw fit to rename the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award in honor of Martinez. At the time, Selig said the award "forever will be known as the Edgar Martinez Award."
Only four other players in MLB history have awards named after them—Roberto Clemente, Cy Young, Hank Aaron and Ted Williams.
All four are in the Hall of Fame—Martinez should be there right alongside them already.
Marvin Miller passed away quietly on Nov. 27, 2012, at the age of 95. He died without the Hall of Fame recognizing his accomplishments.
That needs to be rectified posthumously.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber once said that "Marvin Miller, along with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, is one of the two or three most important men in baseball history."
Other quotes from notable members of the Hall of Fame:
- Hank Aaron: "Marvin Miller should be in the Hall of Fame if the players have to break down the doors to get him in."
- Joe Morgan: "They should vote him in and then apologize for making him wait so long."
- Jim Bunning: "The Hall of Fame is about players, and no one did more for the players than Marvin Miller."
- Tom Seaver: "Marvin's exclusion from the Hall of Fame is a national disgrace."
And finally, this from noted historian Bill James:
"If baseball ever buys itself a mountain and starts carving faces in it, one of the first men to go up is sure to be Marvin Miller."
Miller single-handedly changed the face of baseball with his leadership of the MLBPA from 1966-1982.
It's high time Hall of Fame voters righted this egregious wrong.
In a career that spanned 16 seasons, Gil Hodges was never the primary offensive weapon for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers.
But he was nonetheless invaluable.
Hodges retired after two seasons with the New York Mets in 1963. However, during his heyday with the Dodgers, it's hard to argue that Hodges wasn't one of the dominant first baseman of his era.
Throughout the decade of the 1950s, Hodges was simply a machine. For an 11-year period between 1949 and 1959, Hodges averaged 30 HR and 101 RBI per year. During that span, Hodges was selected to eight All-Star teams and won three Gold Glove awards.
How is that not Hall of Fame worthy?
Buck O'Neill could be regarded as a trailblazer in his own way.
O'Neill played for parts of 16 seasons with the Kansas City Monarch in the Negro Leagues before retiring. However, he would later join the Chicago Cubs, working for years as a scout, discovering college talent.
In 1962, O'Neill was promoted to coach, becoming the first African-American to be so honored in Major League Baseball history.
O'Neill was responsible for signing future Hall of Fame left fielder Lou Brock and worked with the Cubs for many years before returning to his native Kansas City with the Royals.
O'Neill was also a member of the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee for 20 years.
Even with all of the above accomplishments, there may have been no better ambassador of the game of baseball than O'Neill.
It's high time that he was given his rightful spot on the Hall of Fame wall in Cooperstown.
When Shoeless Joe Jackson was banned from baseball in 1921, he ended his career with what is now the third-highest batting average (.356) and 16th highest on-base percentage (.423) in MLB history.
Yet some 92 years later, he still sits outside the hallowed halls of baseball's Hall of Fame.
One of the eight players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, Jackson and his seven teammates were acquitted by a jury in Chicago in 1921.
However, MLB commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis took it upon himself to become judge, jury and executioner, banning all eight players from baseball for life.
Jackson had the admiration of many players from his era, including Hall of Fame center fielder Ty Cobb.
Cobb once told Jackson after their playing days were over, “Whenever I got the idea I was a good hitter, I’d stop and take a look at you. Then I knew I could stand some improvement.” (via official website)
It is time for Jackson to be removed from baseball's permanently banned list and placed in the Hall of Fame.
After all, 92 years should be enough time for his penance.
It has been over 23 years since Pete Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent ban from baseball, making him ineligible for inclusion in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Baseball's all-time hits leader has no plaque in Cooperstown.
Rose admitted betting on baseball just over 14 years after his ban, which included betting on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds.
Here's the issue I have with Rose and his ban—he's served over 23 years with that permanent ban.
Murderers are often released in less time.
The time has come for MLB to remove Rose from the ineligible list. He has admitted his mistakes—albeit in delayed fashion and for financial gain—and has fulfilled all that has been required of him in applying for reinstatement.
Commissioners through the years have talked about protecting the purity of the game, yet they kept a blind eye to greenies, amphetamines and many other performance-enhancing drugs for decades.
It's a double standard that has become laughable.
Rose did the time. It's now time to put him where be belongs.
Doug Mead is a Featured Columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.