January 18, 2006


This guy sure played a mean game of baseball (Bob Ryan, January 18, 2006, Boston Globe)

The numbers below represent the average 162-game season for some retired major league baseball players.

Hall of Fame numbers

Nos. 1 (Willie Stargell), 2 (Harmon Killebrew), 4 (Hack Wilson), and 5 (Tony Perez) are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many people believe No. 3 should be in the Hall of Fame. Those numbers belong to Jim Rice.

No. 6? Take a look at those numbers. In his average season, this man had 40 homers, 130 ribbies, and slugged .564. The pitchers were afraid of him. The problem is, so was just about everyone else. This year was his first appearance on the ballot and he came perilously close to being knocked off it forever. If only 16 fewer people out of the 520 who voted had not included his name on the ballot, he would have fallen under the required 5 percent needed to remain eligible. This man received 40 votes, or 7.7 percent. How can that be?

Some of you may have guessed the answer already. The player in question is the Pariah of Pariahs, the ultimate Mr. Persona Non Grata.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2006 12:02 AM

Average yearly statistics don't mean much of anything when you're comparing across eras. Not too long ago players went into a statistical nosedive after their early 30's that usually significantly worsened their average yearly stats. That's not so universally true anymore--witness Clemens & Bonds as extreme examples (the latter of whom is a filthy cheater and is the main reason why I care much, much less about baseball than I used to).

Posted by: b at January 18, 2006 11:23 AM

I guess Albert will have to be content with his 40 milion net worth.

Posted by: Bob at January 18, 2006 12:13 PM

Serves him right.

Let's hope that the same thing happens to Terrell Owens in Canton.

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 18, 2006 3:08 PM

The thing that jumps out of those numbers is that Tony Perez should have to buy a ticket to get into Cooperstown. Dude's ops barely breaks .800.

And 96 rbis a year! On that team? Don Gullet could've driven in that many if he'd been at 1t base every day.

I'm surprised Joe Morgan hasn't convinced them to put George Foster and Cesar Geronimo in yet. Just put the whole team in.

Jim Rice and the Goose need to go in soon tho.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 18, 2006 7:28 PM

You left out the good stuff:

It is, of course, Albert Belle. ...

Teddy Greenstein in the Chicago Tribune, who began his column as follows: "He got only 40 votes, or one for every 10 that Bruce Sutter received. So why do I still believe that Albert Belle got way more Hall of Fame support than he deserved? Because I covered him in 1998 when he played for the White Sox."

Belle never did anything to me personally. But I can tell you that in my 38 years here, I have never observed a more negative aura cast on a locker room or clubhouse than the one created by Belle when he played for the Indians from 1991 (his first full year) through 1996. That should have been a happy workspace. The Indians were very good and their manager, Mike Hargrove, was a 100 percent people person. But the room was always tense because no one knew when Belle might erupt.

"I thought he'd get about 25 percent of the vote," says Sheldon Ocker, who covered Belle for the Akron Beacon-Journal. "So I was surprised it was that low."

Shelly Ocker did not vote for Albert Belle.

"I didn't think he played long enough, plain and simple," Ocker says. "And you have to take into context the times in which he played." In other words, '90s numbers were much easier to put up than '40s, '50s, '60s, or '70s numbers.

The career longevity is a legitimate point. Belle had 10 productive seasons before being forced into retirement because of a hip condition at age 34 at the end of the 2000 season. ...

However short Belle's career was relative to such Methuselan sorts as Perez (23 seasons) and Killebrew (22 seasons), no one can deny that it was dynamic. In those 10 productive seasons, he made five All-Star teams while leading the league in RBIs three times, total bases three times, and extra-base hits three times. At one time or another, he also led the American League in runs, OPS, doubles, home runs, and even sacrifice flies (twice).

There is little doubt he would have won the MVP over Mo Vaughn in 1995 -- when Belle became the first man to hit 50 homers and 50 doubles in the same season -- if he weren't so universally loathed. ...

"He just liked to bully people," maintains Ocker, who says he was happy to vote for Rice. "He wanted to scare people, just for sport. And he got about 10 percent worse every year. In the end, he only had two teammates who'd talk to him. But Kenny Lofton gave up on him and began blasting him to the press. And Wayne Kirby gave up about halfway through his last season."

What was truly scary about Belle is that he was smart. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was a rational thug. As Ocker says, "He enjoyed being mean." ...

How'd I vote? Put me down as a negative. As far as I'm concerned, he and Pete Rose can form their own Hall of Shame.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 18, 2006 9:47 PM

Willie Stargell - the Man.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 19, 2006 9:32 AM

He sounds like Ty Cobb.

He was also entirely proper to smash and destroy that little second baseman standing in the basepath, for which he was suspended by the wussy patrol.

You want mean? Sandy Koufax once said "Pitching is the art of making grown men flinch."

Posted by: Palmcroft at January 19, 2006 11:47 AM
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