Friday, January 13, 2012
Vintage Fridays: Frank Robinson, 1966 Topps #310
But look at the voting results from that 1982 ballot. Hammerin' Hank, despite being the all-time home run king and owning all of the sorts of big numbers that have long made baseball writers ooh and aah (3,771 hits, .305 AVG, 2,297 RBI), was left off of NINE ballots, settling for 97.8% approval. That's bad enough, but you can chalk it up to the tiny, moronic cabal that insists that "Babe Ruth didn't get 100%, so no one else should". If we were all bound to the poor decisions of our ancestors, Hank and Frank would never have even gotten the chance to play in the major leagues, so...way to miss the point, fellas.
Look at the next line of results. Frank Robinson got 89.2% of the vote. 370 out of 415. There were 45 clowns that didn't think that big, mean, driven Frank Robinson, with more career homers than anyone not named Hank, Babe, or Willie, with a Rookie of the Year, two MVP awards (one from each league, which had never been done before), a dozen All-Star seasons, the 1966 A.L. Triple Crown, a pair of World Series rings, a .926 career OPS, etc. etc. etc., was either a) worthy of Cooperstown or b) a "first-ballot player" (a fallacy almost as stupefying as the 100% rule). It makes my temples throb just to think about it.
Further down-ballot, we see a full dozen eventual enshrinees who failed to collect the 75% necessary to join Messrs. Aaron and Robinson in the Class of '82. Some are on the outer fringes of Hall-worthiness (Don Drysdale, Red Schoendienst), and surely there were tough choices to be made in filling no more than ten slots on one's ballot, but the notion that it took Juan Marichal three years and Harmon Killebrew (59.3% in 1982!) four years to pass the test is still galling to me. The lesson here is that the BBWAA at large may be creating its biggest mess ever with all of the steroid posturing, but their membership has always acted curiously. It just seems to be snowballing now.