In the wake of what many of us feel is the continuing injustice of leaving Gil Hodges out of the Hall of Fame, a Facebook group called Something Needs to Change in Cooperstown has emerged. It is dedicated to changing the way the Veterans Committee votes. While I agree the Committee needs some kind of overhaul, here’s my suggest — just get rid of it entirely.
Well, not entirely. It should still exist, but only to vote on managers, umpires and executives. They never had the opportunity to be elected by the usual voting body. But players had 15 years (now 10) to be considered. Perhaps that is long enough.
As evidence, 78 of the 240 players currently in the Hall of Fame were voted in by the Veterans Committee. Here are those players (starting with the most recently elected):
Deacon White, Ron Santo, Joe Gordon, Bill Mazeroski, Hilton Smith, Bid McPhee, Turkey Stearnes, Orlando Cepeda, Smokey Joe Williams, George Davis, Larry Doby, Bullet Rogin, Nellie Fox, Willie Wells, Jim Bunning, Bill Foster, Richie Ashburn, Leon Day, Vic Wills, Phil Rizzuto, Hal Newhouser, Tony Lazzeri, Red Schoendienst, Ray Dandridge, Bobby Doerr, Ernie Lombardi, Enos Slaughter, Arky Vaughn, Rick Ferrell, Pee Wee Reese, George Kell, Travis Jackson, Johnny Mize, Chuck Klein, Hack Wilson, Addie Joss, Amos Rusie, Joe Sewell, Roger Connor, Freddie Lindstrom, Earl Averill, Billy Herman, Jim Bottomley, Sam Thompson, High Pockets Kelly, Mickey Welch, Ross Young, Dave Bancroft, Jake Beckley, Chick Hafey, Harry Hooper, Joe Kelley, Rube Marguard, Earle Combs, Jesse Haines, Stan Coveleski, Waite Hoyt, Kiki Cuyler, Goose Goslin, Lloyd Waner, Pud Galvin, Burleigh Grimes, Tim Keefe, Heinie Manush, Monte Ward, John Clarkson, Elmer Flick, Sam Rice, Eppa Rixey, Edd Roush, Max Carey, Billy Hamilton, Zack Wheat, Sam Crawford, Home Run Baker, Ray Schalk, Chief Bender, Bobby Wallace.
You probably do not recognize most of these names because they played 100 or so years ago. The Veterans Committee was necessary back then to weed out those players, who were forgotten even then. It is impossible to say whether they truly deserve to be enshrined. But look at the more modern names: the Santos, Mazeroskis and Bunnings of the world. With all due respect, would the Hall of Fame be diminished if none of them had plaques in Cooperstown?
So maybe the writers should have the final say on players. If they can’t make it on that vote, perhaps we have to accept that they just do not deserve it.
So here’s what should happen — just like a special committee was drawn up to close the books on Negro League players in 2006, another committee should be assembled to consider every old-timer. Those deemed worthy would be enshrined, and the book would be closed forever on those players, thus ending the Veterans Committee’s players vote.
The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee has become a joke. Maybe the only way to stop the laughter is just to put it out of business.