The Boss and Billy up for Hall consideration


Even in death, George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin remain linked. The two headline a list of 12 individuals under consideration for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame as part of the Expansion Era ballot in front of the veterans committee this year. Results of the voting will be announced during the Winter Meetings on December 6 at 10 a.m.

To gain entrance into Cooperstown, candidates must receive votes on at least 75 percent of the 16 ballots casts, and George and Billy join ten other former players on this year’s slate. Also up for consideration are former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; and executives Pat Gillick and Marvin Miller. Of the 12, only Martin and Steinbrenner are deceased.

The Expansion Era ballot is something of a new creation. To ensure more veterans earn their spots in the Hall, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors opted this year to split baseball’s history into three eras with a three-year cycle. This year, the Expansion Era (1973-present) receives consideration. Next year, Golden Era (1947-1972) baseball folks will get their due, and in 2012, Pre-Integration (1871-1946) candidates will be up for a vote. If the Boss, for instance, isn’t elected this year, he won’t get another shot until 2013.

“Our continual challenge is to provide a structure to ensure that all candidates who are worthy of consideration have a fair system of evaluation. In identifying candidates by era, as opposed to by category, the Board feels this change will allow for an equal review of all eligible candidates, while maintaining the high standards of earning election,” Jane Forbes Cook, chair of the Hall, said.

Those who will consider the ballot include: Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).

Interestingly, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America put forward the ballot, which means that many of the people who relied on George Steinbrenner for copy consider him at least worthy of consideration. For us, this isn’t the first time we’ve pondered Steinbrenner’s role in baseball history and the merits of his career. In fact, on the week of his 80th birthday and shortly before his passing, I explored this very topic. Both Wallace Matthews and Filip Bondy said the Boss should be in Cooperstown. I wasn’t as sure:

When George’s health started to slip away, the tributes came out in full. Matthews, who doesn’t want to limit the Hall of Fame to only those who were “exemplary human beings,” says Steinbrenner should be in Cooperstown because of his contributions to the game. The Yankees, through their spending, have radically changed baseball economics, and even when the game off the field shakes down to 29 clubs facing off against George’s dollars, Steinbrenner’s clubs have kept on winning. TV deals are more lucrative because of him, and record-breaking crowds flock to see the Yanks both at home and on the road. What’s good for baseball is, after all, good for baseball.

But George isn’t an easy man to pigeonhole. He violated campaign finance laws and was suspended after he sent a private investigatory to spy on Winfield. He was a cranky and temperamental owner whose need to have his finger stirring the pot probably cost the Yankees more championships during his reign than they won. Some would say he ruined the game with his spending.

The question, I said then, remained open-ended, and four months after his death, it’s still as muddied. He changed baseball, some would say for the better, others for the worse. But it might boil down to one simple fact: If Marvin Miller isn’t elected to the Hall of Fame, neither should George Steinbrenner. If Miller gets in, all bets are off.

Categories : News
  • I am not the droids you’re looking for

    George = iN.

    Contribution to the game is outsized, whether you like it (or those changes) or not. That’s “fame” in my book.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    The Golden Era?

    • Pat D

      Yea, Neyer ripped that term to shit when they announced it.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        I agreed with Rob Neyer? I need a shower.

        • Pat D

          Could’ve been worse. You could’ve liked TBS’ announcing crew.

  • ZZ

    The Steinbrenners already ensured George would be enshrined in the Hall of Fame by putting up a plaque big enough to be seen from Cooperstown.

    • JerseyDutch

      Actually I was a little surprised that the plaque wasn’t the same size as the Jumbotron.

      • Esteban

        Should have just replaced the Jumbotron with the plaque.

        • Jerome S

          Should have replaced the stadium with the plaque, then the Yankees would make his eye home plate or something… point is, it would be awesome.

          • James

            ZZ that comment made me laugh out loud. Also I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who throughout the plaque unveiling memorial ceremony was thinking “man… that plaque is fucking huge!”

            Steinbrenner should be in the Hall. I agree he very well may have cost the Yankees more championships than he won, and the foundation to the dynasty of the 1990s was laid by Gene Michael and Buck Showalter while he was suspended but, the truth of the matter is in the 37 years as owner the yankees won 11 pennants, 7 world championships and made the playoffs 19 times…

            Marvin Miller should also be in the Hall of Fame. That crime is almost on a Buck O’Neil level.

    • larryf

      The funny thing is the last line of the gigantic plaque states something along the lines of ” the greatest philanthropy is done anonymously”

      yeah right…

  • Carlosologist

    George should be in the Hall, no doubt about it. He boldly took baseball to new places. He essentially made free agency what it is. He was the only owner who used his money to improve his team. His kids have been able to carry on his philosophy without meddling with the on-field product.

    • ZZ

      Steinbrenner did not use his own money to improve the team. He used Yankee revenues.

      There have been owners to use their personal funds separate from team revenues, but George was not one of them.

      • Benjamin Kabak

        He used money that he could have taken out of the team for purposes of getting even richer. I don’t think that makes him some sort of altruistic baseball saint. His willingness to spend and take advantage certainly forced baseball to change. Would he have been a great owner though if his bid to buy the Indians a year before he landed in New York had been successful?

        And what of the legal troubles and general brashness? As many like to say, the Yankees in the 1980s suffered because of George. They should have been even more successful under his watch.

        • Ross in Jersey

          He used money that he could have taken out of the team for purposes of getting even richer. I don’t think that makes him some sort of altruistic baseball saint.

          A saint? No. But he did practically invent the “make money because you win, win because you make money” business model that we see today. I’m not sure if it was his idea or not, but when the Yankees decided to make their own network it revolutionized the sport in terms of how teams produce revenue.

          And what of the legal troubles and general brashness? As many like to say, the Yankees in the 1980s suffered because of George. They should have been even more successful under his watch.

          My counterpoint to this would be his considerable charitable donations that he didn’t flaunt, and obviously the championship teams he helped finance.

          • ZZ

            In terms of revolutionizing the sport through television, Ted Turner is really the owner who laid the groundwork for it all and is always overlooked when talking about owners who should be inducted in the Hall.

            With how much money MLB generates through television, Turner arguably had a bigger impact of the business side of the sport than George.

            He really was the brains behind it all.

            • Big Stein

              Turner is really, really under rated as a business man and I don’t know why.

              • Pat D

                He was forced from his own company, most likely.

                • Big Stein

                  he wasn’t forced, he sold his company to Time Warner, he’s still the largest shareholder, but in a minority position. Now, TM never listened to him and he finally got tired of attending meetings.

                  • Pat D

                    I think the AOL merger had more to do with that than anything else.

        • ZZ

          Yeah, George definitely could have taken more out of the pot, but I have to agree it was not some radical idea. He was able to do so, because he had the cushion of being in the best market in the country. Other owners could have taken the same route, or like you mention he could have taken the same route in Cleveland, and the results would probably be much different.

          The Yankees were a smart investment for George, and he handled it like an investment. Selig turned down the opportunity to buy the Yankees before George because he didn’t see the possibilities that George saw.

          The late 80s were bad. I don’t even think people realize how bad they were in the context of this franchise. Many people say that George saved the Yankees when he purchased them. However, the late 80s and early 90s were an even worse time for the franchise than what he “saved” them from. It truly was one of the worst times in the team’s history.

          • Ross in Jersey

            He kept spending even when times were bad though. No one went to the stadium in the 80s, the Mets were the popular game in town especially later in the decade. That didn’t stop George from trying to bring in the big guns, and I think he deserves some credit for that. I realize they only got better after George got suspended, but still.

      • Xstar7

        Jacob Ruppert was a Yankee owner who used his own money to fund the team. He actually used the team to advertise his breweries. He was the man behind all the Yankees early success and is probably the Yankees second greatest owner all time.

        • Pat D

          And also not in the HOF, which is ridiculous.

          • Xstar7

            The Yankees won 9 championships under Rupperts watch. And he turned the franchise around after after it’s humble beginnings in which they won nothing and regularly were in last place. Alot like what George Steinbrenner did with the Yankees in the seventies. Also like the boss, Ruppert only bought the team after he failed to buy the one he wanted first(with him it was the giants). Anyway they should both be in the Hall of Fame.

            • Januz

              There is little doubt that one day the Col. will be elected, it is a gross historical oversight that he has not (Particularly when guys like Yawkey who never won a damm thing are in there). However, since more people are becoming aware of him (Both in not being elected, and the erection of Ruppert Plaza), it increases the odds of him being elected in the future. Another guy I really want to see elected next year is Ron Santo (Nine time All-Star). I wish Billy Martin would get elected, but I doubt he will for quite sometime. In 3 years you have two obvious Hall Of Famers in Torre & Cox, then after that you have LaRussa, Francona & Gaston (Who I think will make it).

              • Pat D

                Gaston won’t make it. Piniella and Leyland have a better chance than him.

                If the Red Sox win another WS with Francona as manager, his HOF induction is assured, as Joe Torre is currently the only manager with 3+ WS wins not in the HOF, and that’s only because he hasn’t been eligible yet.

                • Carlosologist

                  I think Francona locked up an HOF spot when the Sox won it all in 04. That was historical what he did.

                  • Pat D

                    I’m pretty sure you’re being sarcastic, but if you’re not, then Ozzie Guillen also has to go in for ending the White Sox’ (longer) drought, and whoever the lucky guy to take the Cubs all the way has to get elected, too.

                    See how that doesn’t work?

        • ZZ

          Ruppert was the greatest Yankee owner of all time.

          He is the one that really built the Yankees. He is the one who created what George cherished so much and tried to bring back.

          George comes in at number 2 for me in terms of Yankee owners.

          • Big Stein

            odd how a creep like Cominsky is in the HOF, but not Rupert.

            • Steve H

              How about Tom Yawkey? A racist who never won anything? Let’s put him in the Coop!

              • Pat D

                When it comes to the owners/execs who are/aren’t in the HOF, it’s pretty funny, really.

                Yawkey is in but Ruppert and Sam Breadon (Cardinals owner when they won a lot) are not in. And it took until a few years ago to induct Barney Dreyfuss adn Walter O’Malley, who both did much more as owners than Yawkey or Comiskey.

                Bob Howsam and Buzzie Bavasi aren’t in, and they were kind of important as GM’s.

                Also, I’m not sure if it’s entirely sure that Yawkey was racist or not. Joe Cronin was running the team during the integration years, and it wasn’t until after he left to become president of the A.L. that Pumpsie Green debuted. I always thought Cronin was the racist there.

        • MikeD

          Ruppert is number one of the list of Yankee owners. His ownership not only changed the Yankees, it altered the entire landscape of baseball, even more so that GS. Amazing he’s not in.

  • Pat D

    Based upon the makeup of the voting committee, I’m just not optimistic about George’s chances, or Billy’s chances for that matter. Actually, I don’t know who from this list will be selected. Marvin Miller wouldn’t surprise me, and frankly neither would Dave Concepcion given the presence of Bench and Perez, but I’m not sure who else will get enough votes. Can’t wait till next year’s Golden Era ballot includes Ron Santo and Jim Kaat again.

    I say George belongs in. I also say Billy does, too, because, quite frankly, Billy Martin was a far better manager than, say, Whitey Herzog. And probably some other guys in the HOF as managers, too, not that I’ve looked.

  • Big Stein

    George will probably have to wait. The four executives will likely vote against him, meaning he’d have to carry every other vote (12 for 12) which is tough.

    See ya in the hall in a couple of years, George.

    • MikeD

      Reisendorf and Steinbrenner were good friends.

  • Januz

    I am strongly in favor of George being elected to Cooperstown, and I think he will be (I really expect Gillick to join him, he is very well deserving). I also hope that Miller, Billy, and Tommy John are elected. After the labor problems and the steroids, baseball is finally getting its house in order (While the NFL, NBA & NHL are having labor problems), and putting Miller in the Hall would be a way to help erase some of the hatreds and mistrust of the past.

  • the other Steve S,

    Gawd, Billy looks like an ass-clown in that picture.

    • Poopy Pants

      Why the homophobic remark?

  • Mister Delaware

    I wish there were a special designation for guys like Tommy John (and Curt Flood and Larry Doby) where they could be in the Hall for contributions beyond the statistics.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Seems to me that you’d want Dr. Frank Jobe in the Hall of Fame and not Tommy John. The pitcher was just the patient. Jobe’s the one who came up with the procedure and performed it. Perhaps that’s too technical of me, but I’d rather give credit where credit is due.

      • Pat D

        You’re right, Ben. If someone’s getting in for that, it should be Jobe.

  • MikeD

    Those who say Steinbrenner ruined the game clearly do not understand the game.

    Steinbrenner was far from perfect, and the 1980s was a needlessly lost decade because of his meddling, yet his impact on the Yankees and baseball is obvious. Put him in.

    I’m going to have to think about the other names on the ballot. Martin is one of the few managers I’ve seen who clearly could make a team better, yet his personality would eventually be a negative. As brilliant as he was as a manager, I don’t think he did enough to overcome his negatives. I’m a yes on Simmons.

    • Pat D

      I’m torn on Simmons. Comparing him to other HOF catchers, he has pretty good raw numbers, though largely due to playing more games. His OPS+ is only better than 3 of the catchers in the HOF. I’d have to think about him.

      For the rest of the players on this ballot, I really don’t think any of them quite add up to HOF worthy. Just looking at their career stats, I think that Oliver and Staub might have the best cases to be made, but I don’t think they were good defenders?

      I still just think it will be hard for anyone to get 75% of this committee’s vote.

  • kosmo

    In my opinion Simmons deserves to be in the HOF but will probably have to wait.
    Billy Martin turned around teams such as Minnesota,Detroit,Texas,Oakland as well as his beloved Yankees.As far as I´m concerned he was one of the best if not the best on the Field manager I´ve ever seen.
    He leaned heavily on the bottle and had a tendency toward self-destruction which eventually led to his demise.A somewhat pathetic human being.
    His off the field exploits are well documented and more than likely have kept him out of the HOF.
    But he gets my vote !

    • larryf

      Agree totally with this. This guy would outmanage Joe G with instincts and situational play. No binder for Billy. He certainly was a bad influence on Mantle. Those guys drank and partied in the 50’s like you wouldn’t believe. Mantle wasted so much talent and still was unreal!

  • tarheel yank

    the man was thrown out of baseball twice. not exactly the kind of thing that you want on your plaque in cooperstown.

  • Brian in NH

    Anybody think that this “era” setup is really just laying the groundwork so they can delineate the “Steroid Era” that I bet they would end with 2009 or so. Seeing how this was the “Year of the Pitcher” and all

    • Pat D

      Considering that they have defined the Expansion Era as 1973-present, no.

      Of course, they could always just go change the procedure again in about 10-15 years, so who knows?

  • nsalem

    Surprised not to see more opinions and discussion on Billy Martin.

    • kosmo

      I have to agree it is a bit surprising .Billy Martin is from a bygone era most of the folks on this blog were too young or not even born when he managed the Yanks .

      • Benjamin Kabak

        It wasn’t the focus of the post. I’m on the fence with Billy. He has major character issues, and voters do consider that. He also managed just one World Series win and one other appearance over his lengthy managerial career. He was thought of as a fixer in the Buck Showalter mode, it seemed. To what standard what you hold him that gets him into the Hall?

        • Xstar7

          as a player Billy won several other championships during the Yankees dynasties of the 50’s. Remember his amazing catch of Jackie Robinson’s pop up in game 7 of the 1952 WS? And his performance in the 1953 WS was worth even more mention. He had 12 hits eight RBI’s in that series and scored the series clinching run.

  • don draper

    The Boss, yes.Billy Martin….NO.A total degenerate,and thats putting it mildly.

  • Pat D

    A brief rundown of Billy Martin as manager.

    Billy Martin ranks 34th all time in managerial wins. Non-HOF managers ahead of him: Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Gene Mauch, Lou Piniella, Ralph Houk, Jim Leyland, Jimmy Dykes, Dusty Baker, Chuck Tanner, Charlie Grimm and Bruce Bochy. The only HOF manager trailing Martin is Billy Southworth, who managed 3 fewer (and shorter) seasons.

    Martin ranks 29th all time in managerial win %. The non-HOF managers ahead of him who managed a comparable number of games: Davey Johnson, Steve O’Neill and Cox. Martin has a better win % than Sparky Anderson, Leo Durocher, Whitey Herzog, Tommy Lasorda, Bill McKechnie, Dick Williams, Casey Stengel, Wilbert Robinson, Bucky Harris and Connie Mack. Most of those guys managed more, and in some cases many more, years than Martin.

    In terms of playoff appearances, the non-HOF managers ahead of or equal to Martin are Cox, Torre, LaRussa, Piniella, Mike Scioscia, Ron Gardenhire, Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Danny Murtaugh, Terry Francona, Baker, Mike Hargrove, Leyland and Bochy. Obviously most of those guys have managed in the wild card era, making playoff apperances easier to obtain than when Billy managed.

    Billy won 1 World Series. Only Earl Weaver, Whitey Herzog and Durocher were inducted as managers with exactly 1 World Series win.

    Billy won 2 pennants. Torre, LaRussa, Cox, Houk, and Grimm won more and aren’t in. Al Lopez and Wilbert Robinson won exactly two pennants and were inducted as managers, and no one with exactly one pennant or fewer has been inducted.

    So, I think Billy would fall in the bottom half of HOF managers if he were inducted. I am of the opinion that he’s a better manager than Whitey Herzog, being that Martin’s teams always beat Herzog’s teams, but how much of that is attributed to the manager in reality? Hard to say. That’s also a weak argument for the HOF, of course, that he’s better than one of the lesser members.

    So who knows what happens? FWIW, I know most of us don’t like Rob Neyer, he has said he’d vote for Billy.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Just to clarify: Torre, LaRussa and Cox will all make the Hall of Fame once they’re eligible.

      • Pat D

        Yes, obviously. I basically figured everyone would know that.