Archive for Days of Yore
The BBWAA announced the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot today, which you can see right here. It runs a ridiculous 36 players deep. Nineteen of those 36 players are eligible for the first time, including all-time greats Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas. Former Yankee Mike Mussina is among the first timers as well. He is right on the Cooperstown bubble — I think he belongs — and there are good arguments to be made on both sides.
Don Mattingly will be on the ballot for the 14th time, but he received only 13.2% of the vote last year. He’s a long way off from the 75% needed for induction with only two more years of eligibility. Other former Yankees on the ballot include Armando Benitez, J.T. Snow, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, Roger Clemens, and Tim Raines. Obviously some have greater legacies than others. Voters can only vote for ten players maximum, and there looks to be about 15 Cooperstown-worthy player on the ballot this year. These next few years will be messy.
George Steinbrenner, Joe Torre, and Billy Martin are part of the 12-man Hall of Fame ballot to be voted on by the 16-member Expansion Era Veterans Committee next month. Marvin Miller and former Yankee Tommy John are also on the ballot, which you can see right here. Twelve votes are required for induction. Electees will be announced on December 9th, the first day of the Winter Meetings in Orlando. The Boss should be a lock, but who really knows with this stuff.
Former Yankees right-hander Johnny Kucks passed away at age 80 last week, according to the AP. The Hoboken native spent the 1955-1959 seasons in pinstripes and is best remembered for throwing a three-hit shutout against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game Seven of the 1956 World Series, when he was only 23. Kucks was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in 1959 and went 54-56 with a 4.10 ERA (93 ERA+) in parts of six big league seasons. Condolences to his family and friends.
I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but at some point recently the Baseball Hall of Fame partnered with the Scout of the Year Foundation to create a free and searchable online database of old scouting reports. The data is very incomplete — it doesn’t include every player and it only goes back so far — and the database itself can be slow and a bit of a pain, but those are minor nuisances compared to the wealth of information available.
Thanks to the database, we can look back at what professional talent evaluators — people who do this for a living — had to say about our favorite players once upon a time. For example, here are some bits and pieces of reports from various teams about a young high school senior from Michigan named Derek Jeter back in 1992:
You can click every image in those post for a larger view, and I highly recommend you do just that.
Within those report snippets, future first ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter is described as having:
- a good face
- a hi butt
- an impact both offensively and defensively
- makeup 2b a star
- some hot dog in him
Once upon a time, Jeter was a showoff. Wrap your head around that. All of the reports agreed he was a future star though, and in the end that is what was most important.
After the jump — lots of images and I don’t want to cripple anyone’s computer — are some opinions on Alex Rodriguez back from 1993, when he was a high school senior:
Via Anthony Sulla-Heffinger: Reggie Jackson is putting the jersey from his three-homer game in the 1977 World Series up for auction. The proceeds will go towards his family and his charity, the Mr. October Foundation for Kids. Reggie hit three homers on three pitches off three different Dodgers pitchers in Game Six to help clinch the team’s 21st championship.
“Give someone $100,000 and it changes lives … I collected because I was a fan, and that stuff has turned into significant value. I’ve never sold anything except my stuff, because my stuff I guess is not as important to me as some of the other things I’ve collected,” said Jackson. The jersey will sold as part of an online auction at the California-based SCP Auctions from April 10-26. Late last year Don Larsen sold his uniform from his 1956 World Series perfect game for $756k at auction.
Via Ian Duncan: Long-time Yankees right-hander “Bullet Bob” Turley passed away on Saturday morning after a bout with liver cancer. He was 82.
Turley, who pitched for the Yankees from 1955-1962, won the 1958 Cy Young Award after going 21-7 with a 2.97 ERA (4.04 FIP). He was named World Series MVP the same year. Turley spent parts of 12 years in the show and also pitched for the Browns, Angels, and Red Sox. Supposedly there is some distant relation to current Yankees farmhand Nik Turley — I remember Michael Kay mentioning it during a Spring Training broadcast — but I can’t find anything to confirm that. Condolences go out to Turley’s family and friends.
Sad news today. Right-hander Virgil Trucks, who was the oldest living Yankee, passed away at age 95 today according to the team. Right-hander Rugger Ardizoia is believed the oldest living Yankee at 93.
Trucks only spent half-a-season in New York, going 2-1 with a 4.54 ERA in 39.2 relief innings in 1958, his final season as a big leaguer. He spent the majority of his career with the Tigers, pitching to a 3.50 ERA in just over 1,800 innings for Detroit from 1941-1952. Trucks also suited up for the Browns, the White Sox, and the Athletics. He is most famous for throwing not one, but two no-hitters during the 1952 season.
There are countless prospect ranking publications out there, but I think we can all agree that Baseball America is among the absolute best. They’ve been doing the prospect ranking thing for 30 years now, long before the internet made everyone an expert. Their editors and contributors do a wonderful job of culling together information from those within the game and presenting it to their readers in a concise and easy to understand way. They’re the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned.
Baseball America recently posted their entire team top ten prospects list catalog online, dating all the way back to 1983. The index can be found here, but you’re going to need a subscription to go see the individual lists. Thirty years of prospect lists are sure to produce some interesting stories, which is what we’re going to look at today. Here’s the link to their 1983-2003 lists for the Yankees, now let’s see what we can dig up.
- John Elway, of
Oh hell yes. Right off the bat we’ve got a gem. The Yankees drafted Elway out of Stanford in the second round of the 1981 draft and signed him for $140k, which was huge dollars back then. He was a star in the outfield and a bigger star at quarterback, but George Steinbrenner wanted him in pinstripes. The Boss handed over the big check and allowed Elway to continue playing football for Stanford while mixing in some professional baseball. As a 22-year-old in 1982, Elway hit .318/.432/.464 with four homers, 13 steals (in 16 attempts), 28 walks, and 25 strikeouts in 185 plate appearances across 42 games for Short Season Oneonta. That was it, he never played baseball again. The Baltimore Colts selected Elway with the first overall pick in 1983 NFL draft, and he used the Yankees as leverage to force a trade to the Broncos. The rest, as they say, is history.
The greatest hitter and the greatest pitcher many of us will ever see were on the ballot, but that didn’t matter. The BBWAA elected a total of zero players to Hall of Fame this year, the first time that’s happened since 1996. Craig Biggio led the voting with 68.2%, but players must receive 75% for enshrinement. Tim Raines (52.2%), Roger Clemens (37.6%), Don Mattingly (13.2%), Bernie Williams (3.3%), Kenny Lofton (3.2%), David Wells (0.9%), Mike Stanton (0%), and Rondell White (0%) represent the crop of former Yankees on the ballot. Players receiving less than 5% of the vote drop off the ballot next year. Full voting results are available at the BBWAA’s official site.
Given the overwhelmingly deep ballot, it’s pretty ridiculous no players will be inducted this year. Beyond Barry Bonds and Clemens you have absolute no-brainers like Mike Piazza (greatest hitting catcher of all-time!), Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell. I count no fewer than 15 players on the ballot who, at the very least, deserve serious consideration for the Hall. My personal and mythical ballot, seen on Twitter and included in this YES Network feature, was ten players deep. It would have been a dozen had the ballots not been capped at ten. Never really got that rule.
More than anything, this year’s lack of inductees confirms the voting has become more about the writers than the players. The Hall of Fame is a museum and an archive of the game first and foremost. We can’t exclude the parts people don’t like just because. There’s zero evidence (zero!) guys like Bonds, Clemens, and Piazza used PEDs. No failed drug tests, nothing. Suspicion does not equal guilt, yet the ballot this year shows the BBWAA is treating these players as guilty until proven innocent. How someone would go about proving they didn’t use something, a PED or otherwise, is beyond me. Nevermind that the burden of proof falls on those making the accusations.
Anyway, the already overcrowded ballot will get even more crowded next winter when players like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and former Yankee Mike Mussina will be Hall of Fame eligible for the first time. If they don’t change the rule and allow writers to vote for more than ten players in a given year, the voting process is going to be a cluttered nightmare in the coming years. For now, we get an empty 2013 class and a nine-month reprieve until the next ballot is announced and the same inane arguments begin again.
Former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert has been elected to the Hall of Fame by the Pre-Integration Committee, the Hall announced. Ruppert owned the club from 1915-1939, so he was at the helm for the Babe Ruth acquisition and the construction of the original Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won nine pennants and six World Series championships under his watch.