HOF: Baseball bureaucrats – by G. Scott Thomas

You may recall the story I posted three weeks in the past about baseball’s final rulers and the Corridor of Fame. “There’s no compelling justification for the inclusion of commissioners within the corridor’s famend gallery,” I wrote.

Nicely, the identical goes for front-office executives and league presidents.

There are a number of exceptions, after all. Department Rickey, Larry MacPhail, and Invoice Veeck have been revolutionary geniuses who modified the course of baseball. They clearly belong in Cooperstown.

However that’s not true for a lot of the different 37 males who’ve been inducted within the “pioneer/executive” category. They both benefited from operating golf equipment with bottomless treasuries within the nation’s largest market (Ed Barrow, Jacob Ruppert, and George Weiss), or they served time in high-ranking positions with out important affect (Clark Griffith and Will Harridge), or they have been competent, albeit colorless, basic managers (Pat Gillick and John Schuerholz).

All of those males have been profitable, sure, however do they belong within the plaque gallery? I’m not sure, although I’m inclined to say no.

However I really feel extra strongly about a number of different executives within the corridor. It’s extraordinarily troublesome for me to grasp how the six honorees mentioned under efficiently navigated the highway to Cooperstown. Their tales, to be blunt, merely defy logic.

Learn concerning the Corridor of Fame’s checkered historical past (and unsure future)

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A brand new committee was added to the Corridor of Fame’s choice mechanism in 1937. The grandly titled Centennial Fee comprised Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the presidents of the American and Nationwide Leagues, and three different functionaries. “They have been, in brief, the individuals who held the facility in baseball on the time,” wrote Invoice James, “and just about may do regardless of the hell they needed to.” Which is what they did.

Landis & Co. proceeded to make probably the most absurd choices in Corridor of Fame historical past. Morgan Bulkeley had been appointed as president of the Nationwide League in 1876 after his identify was drawn from a hat. Bulkeley served for a single 12 months as a figurehead for William Hulbert, the true energy behind the NL, after which left to pursue a political profession. He left no imprint in anyway on baseball, but the Centennial Fee — for causes that have been by no means defined — determined to immortalize him on a plaque in Cooperstown.

Giles, who was the president of the Cincinnati Reds, got here near being elected the commissioner of baseball in 1951. He ran neck and neck with Ford Frick on 16 ballots, with neither candidate in a position to safe the mandatory two-thirds help. The choice assembly was getting into its tenth hour when Giles lastly withdrew.

He acquired a pair of comfort prizes. The primary was the presidency of the Nationwide League (1951-1969), a job that got here with an august title however few obligations. The second was his election to the Corridor of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1979.

Giles was a pleasing man with nothing distinctive on his resumé. “I assumed Warren was a jolly, type of dumb man,” mentioned famend sportswriter Purple Smith. “Pleasant, very likable. Sort of a dummy.” Giles’s Corridor of Fame plaque amounted to nothing greater than an award for lengthy and trustworthy service.

The Veterans Committee’s 1980 selection of Tom Yawkey was really baffling. Yawkey had owned the Boston Purple Sox between 1933 and 1976, presiding over lengthy durations of mediocrity whereas dragging his heels on integration. The Purple Sox waited till 1959 to make use of a black participant, the final big-league membership to take action. There was nothing in Yawkey’s report that made him even vaguely worthy of induction.

However Yawkey had one power, a pleasing disposition. “I by no means keep in mind anybody ever saying something dangerous about him personally,” marveled a fellow proprietor, Walter O’Malley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Two of Yawkey’s former gamers, Birdie Tebbetts and Joe Cronin, served on the Veterans Committee in 1980. (Cronin had additionally been a supervisor and basic supervisor of the Purple Sox.) The pair pushed their buddy by means of. “He by no means bothered anyone,” Cronin mentioned in protection of Yawkey’s choice. “He had an excellent really feel for the gamers and sometimes would drop within the clubhouse to speak to a participant who is perhaps having some issues.” It was a really skinny reed certainly.

Lee MacPhail, who was tapped by the Veterans Committee in 1998, served as president of the American League and in front-office roles with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees. He was the primary son of a Corridor of Famer to hitch his father within the plaque gallery.

Larry MacPhail, inducted in 1978, had been a bombastic and artistic govt, really worthy of inclusion within the corridor. His son was mild-mannered and affected person. He additionally lacked his father’s compelling credentials, which made his induction a bit stunning.

“Sadly, an individual with Dad’s expertise comes alongside solely as soon as each 50 years,” the youthful MacPhail conceded. “I’ve by no means considered imitating him.”

The Veterans Committee stirred itself into uncommon frenzy in 2008, selecting an unusually giant group of 5 inductees, together with a pair of membership executives.

The choice of Barney Dreyfuss got here as a shock. The proprietor of the Pittsburgh Pirates was nothing if not obscure. He had been useless for 76 years.

Walter O’Malley was well-known, but overrated. His plaque hailed him as a “visionary proprietor who impressed baseball’s transfer west” by shifting the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, a declare that was overly beneficiant.

California’s financial potential had been evident to everyone lengthy earlier than O’Malley hit the highway in 1957. “Capital of the film business, middle of types, a metropolis of some million and one-half, Los Angeles can’t be denied its place within the solar,” the ever-cautious Sporting Information had concluded as early as 1941.

O’Malley was clearly a profitable proprietor, however he most definitely was not a person of imaginative and prescient. But there he’s within the Corridor of Fame, together with Barney Dreyfuss, Tom Yawkey, and all of the others.

Go determine.