Hall of Shame or Hall of Blame?

Gary Kodner

A Hall of Shame or Hall of Blame?

Some of baseball’s greatest players have been shunned by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I believe that the hall has been inconsistent, hypocritical, and unfair in their selections. The voters look to Rule #5 of the Hall’s election criteria as their basis for shame and exclusion. The so-called character clause, specifies that admission to the Hall of Fame should be based not just on a player’s record and ability but also on his integrity, sportsmanship and virtue. 

This has been the basis for denying of some of baseball’s best:

Mark McGwire (for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs even though he has never tested positive) along with troublesome, outspoken characters like Dave Parker and Dick Allen, as well as other dislikable characters like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and others. How can they have a museum that is designed to recognize the best-ever to play the game without some of the best?

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Check out this list of Hall of Shamers:

Joe Jackson: .356 career batting avg.

Mark McGwire: 583 HRs, 1414 RBIs

Barry Bonds: MOST MVPs in history (7) , 762 HRs. 8 gold gloves, 3 Hank Aaron awards

Pete Rose: Most hits by any player in history (4256)

Sammy Sosa: 609 Hrs

Roger Clemons: Most Cy Young Awards in history(7)

So then how is it that these (voted in) Hall of Famers elude the Rule 5 (morality standard)?

Tony La Russa: In his Hall of Fame managerial career HE presided over some of the so-called “cheaters” of the game. (McGwire, Canseco, Ankiel). If his players cheated, he cheated.

Ty Cobb: His great career was tainted by his surly temperament, racism, and aggressive playing style. He was described by the Detroit Free Press as “daring to the point of dementia.”Cobb himself wrote shortly before his death, “In legend I am a sadistic, slashing, swashbuckling despot who waged war in the guise of sport.”

Cobb’s life was marked by allegations of racism and violence. I guess racism gets a pass as baseball institutionalized racism and banned players of color throughout Cobb’s career. He was  known to be a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, as was Tris Speaker and Rogers Hornsby. 

The Hall has admitted gamblers, brawlers and defendants in paternity suits. There are numerous drunks, starting with Grover Cleveland Alexander, who Bill Veeck, the colorful baseball executive, once said “pitched better drunk than sober.” Yes, alcohol was once an illegal substance.

Babe Ruth: Frequently fined for violated baseball’s curfew, also drank alcohol during prohibition. Although he was married for most of his baseball career, Ruth stated when Colonel Huston asked him to tone down his lifestyle, “I’ll promise to go easier on drinking and to get to bed earlier, but not for you, fifty thousand dollars, or two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars will I give up women. They’re too much fun.”

Lieb, Fred (1977). Baseball As I Have Known It. New York: Cowar, McCann and Geoghagen. p. 158

Charles Comiskey was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1939.

In 1886, as first baseman/manager of the St. Louis Browns (predecessor of the current St. Louis Cardinals) HE bet $15,000 on the World Series. Later in his career, he was the owner of the infamous White “Black” Sox, who were accused of conspiring with gamblers and throwing the 1919 World Series. Several players were banned from baseball and the Hall of Fame. White Sox owner, Charles Comiskey was given a pass while nine of his players are still banned.

Today, Pete Rose remains banned from Major League Baseball and the Hall. 

Perhaps the biggest Hall of Fame injustice is White Sox star “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who played for Comiskey, was accused of accepting money to intentionally throw the 1919 World Series VERSUS the Reds. 

Innocent until proven guilty is a principle on which our American justice system is based. Jackson was accused of breaking the rules. He faced a career-ending trial and was unable to afford fair representation. There was no evidence to prove Jackson took part in a fix. The statistics show he hit better than any player on either team in that series and didn’t make a single error in the field. Joe Jackson was not just shoeless. He was penniless and illiterate. Despite being acquitted by a grand jury, Jackson was further punished and placed into exile by his stingy boss, Charles Comiskey. 

So let’s create a Hall of Shame and properly recognize those players left out.