How Did Barry Larkin and Hundreds of Players Get Better After They Retired?

Harold FriendChief Writer IDecember 5, 2011

CHICAGO - JULY 21:  Barry Larkin #11 of the Cincinnati Reds waits for a Chicago Cubs pitch during a game at Wrigley Field on July 21, 2004 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Reds 5-4. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Hall of Fame has become a joke. Both the Baseball Writers' Association of America players list and the Veterans Committee ballot for this year don't contain a single player that was an all-time great.

Barry Larkin appears to be the favorite to be voted in this year. It is his third year on the ballot. Ron Santo was just voted in by the Veterans Committee after gradually earning more votes by the year on the writers' ballot before he ran out of chances that way. 

If Barry Larkin (and many others) didn't receive enough votes the first time they were on the ballot, how did they improve so that they increased their chances of being elected? 

Did Larkin have great 2010 and 2011 seasons that now enable him to be a Hall of Famer?

Many individuals think that only the greatest of the great should get in the first time and that the other eligible players should wait a few years, which is ridiculous. A player is either a Hall of Famer or he isn't.

It doesn't take more than once to decide. If five years after a player retires isn't enough time to gain perspective, increase the waiting time.

No player was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1950. The top players on the ballot are all in the Hall of Fame. They are considered among the greatest of the great.


Name    Votes    PCT
Mel Ott    115    68.45
Bill Terry    105    62.5
Jimmie Foxx    103    61.31
Paul Waner    95    56.55
Al Simmons    90    53.57
Harry Heilmann    87    51.79
Dizzy Dean    85    50.6
Bill Dickey    78    46.43
Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951. The rule was that a player became eligible to be listed on the ballot after one year of retirement, which means DiMaggio was eligible in 1953. He didn't make it.

The year 1954 graphically illustrated the idiocy, incompetence, bias or all three of the rules and possibly some of the voters. Here are the results.


Name    Votes    PCT
Rabbit Maranville    209    82.94
Bill Dickey    202    80.16
Bill Terry    195    77.38
Joe DiMaggio    175    69.44
Ted Lyons    170    67.46
Dazzy Vance    158    62.7
Gabby Hartnett    151    59.92
Hank Greenberg    97    38.49
Joe Cronin    85    33.73
Rabbit Maranville was a shortstop, primarily but not exclusively for the Boston Braves. He batted .258/.318/.340. Over about 23 seasons, his WAR was 38.2, although in 1953, the voters didn't know it.

Shortstop Joe Cronin played for the Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox from 1926-45 as a regular. He batted .301/.390/.468. His WAR was 62.5.

Maranville was a better defensive player than Cronin, but Cronin's offense greatly overshadowed Maranville's.

How could Maranville receive 82.94 percent of the vote while Cronin, who was elected in 1956, receive a mere 33.73 percent?

There was a "back up" of great players from baseball's early days, which partially explains why some players had to "wait their turns," but that changes nothing.

To modify an old example of absolutism, a player is either a Hall of Famer or he isn't. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, "I know it when I see it."

Fans know a Hall of Famer when they see him.