Reggie Jackson is apologizing to the family of Gary Carter for saying that Carter should not be in the Hall of Fame.
“I am very disappointed that’s out there and I am embarrassed,” Jackson said, according to the New York Post. “I have a number for his wife and I want to talk to her and the family. That needs to be noted. I am calling to apologize for inappropriate comments while I was talking to friends.”
One of those “friends” was Sports Illustrated writer Phil Taylor, who included the following quote in an article about Jackson in the current issue:
“I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice, I’m not so sure he’s a Hall of Famer.” As far as Bert Blyleven, who was inducted last year, Jackson said, “No. No, no, no, no. Blyleven wasn’t even the dominant pitcher of his era — it was Jack Morris.”
Jackson’s comment is seen as insensitive since Carter died so young and so recently. But aside from that, is what Jackson said all that bad?
When you look at Carter’s raw numbers, they really aren’t Hall worthy: 324 home runs, 2092 hits, a career .262 batting average. However, it appears Jackson did not take into account that Carter did this while playing catcher, the most demanding position in baseball. Carter was a perennial All-Star and was the dominant player at his position, so he absolutely deserves to be in the Hall.
I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment of Sutton, whom I always felt was the worst player in the Hall of Fame. Yes, he won 324 games, but it was only because he hung around for 23 years. He made just four All-Star teams. Not only was he never the dominant pitcher in the league, he was never even the best pitcher on his team.
Niekro is sort of in the same boat as Sutton, but Niekro was way better than Sutton.
Puckett, who was just 45 when he died in 2006, only got in because he was forced to suddenly retire young due to glaucoma, and because he performed well in the post season. Don Mattingly has very similar numbers to Puckett and he’s never gotten close to enshrinement.
I disagree with what he said about Rice. Although Rice didn’t have the monster numbers of many Hall members, he was one of the most feared hitters of his era.
Jackson was just saying, correctly in my opinion, that the bar has been lowered for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. It is no longer just the elite players — now players who were only very good are getting in. I can understand why that would bother Jackson, who was one of the elites; he probably just should have picked his words a little more carefully. For a guy who has never had a filter, that is probably a hard thing to do.