Golden Era Committee to choose among 10 candidates
A 16-person electorate will unveil first phase of the 2015 Hall class on Monday
By Barry M. Bloom
SAN DIEGO -- The National Baseball Hall of Fame intends to announce the first phase of its Class of 2015 on Monday, during the first day of the annual Winter Meetings.
Nine former players and one executive make up this year's recently released 10-person Golden Era Committee ballot. The 16-person committee will meet on Sunday, then vote Monday only hours before the 2 p.m. ET announcement.
The nine players include first basemen Dick Allen and Gil Hodges, third baseman Ken Boyer, outfielders Minnie Minoso and Tony Oliva, pitchers Jim Kaat, Billy Pierce and Luis Tiant and shortstop Maury Wills -- the first player in history to steal more than 100 bases in a single season. The late Bob Howsam is being considered for his accomplishments as general manager of the Cardinals and Reds.
Any candidate who earns 12 of the 16 votes from the Golden Era Committee -- which considers candidates whose careers were prominent from 1947-72 -- will be inducted into the Hall along with those elected from the just released Baseball Writers' Association ballot during Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, scheduled next year on July 25-26 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Pitchers Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez are considered the first-time candidates with the best chance of making it. Houston's Craig Biggio missed the cut on last year's ballot by only two votes.
All elections for the Hall require 75 percent of that particular voting body. Allen, Howsam, Pierce and Wills are all on the Golden Era ballot for the first time. When this committee met most recently in 2011, late Cubs third baseman Ron Santo was elected. That year, Kaat received 10 votes, Hodges and Minoso nine each, Oliva eight and Boyer and Tiant less than three each.
Monday's announcement begins a month of festivities for the Hall. On Tuesday, the BBWAA will announce the winner of its annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award for a meritorious career in baseball writing. The candidates are the late columnist Furman Bisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tom Gage, the long-time Tigers beat writer for the Detroit News, and Dan Shaughnessy, a former beat writer and now general sports columnist for the Boston Globe. New Yorker magazine writer Roger Angell received the award earlier this year.
On Wednesday, the Hall will announce the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually to an announcer with a long and impressive career in baseball broadcasting. The 10 candidates this year are from what the Hall is calling the Living Room Era, which features broadcasters whose main contributions to the sport came from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s. That list includes Richie Ashburn, Spanish radio's Billy Berroa and Rene Cardenas, Dizzy Dean, Dick Enberg -- currently a TV voice of the Padres -- Ernie Johnson Sr., Ralph Kiner -- already elected to the Hall in 1975 as a player -- Ned Martin, Joe Nuxhall and Jack Quinlan. The most recent winner was long-time Rangers radio broadcaster Eric Nadel.
Like the current iteration of the Veterans Committees, the Hall now cycles the Frick Award each year between announcers of three distinct eras.
On Jan. 6 in New York, the Hall will announce any of the electees from the current BBWAA players' ballot, which was released on Nov. 22, completing the Class of 2015.
As far as the Veterans Committees are concerned, the three committees are the Pre-Integration Era Committee, which analyzes the careers of players, executives, managers and umpires, whose careers began prior to 1947, the Expansion Committee, whose demarcation line is post-'72, and the Golden Era Committee. The committees meet every three years, with the Pre-Integration Era Committee cycling back next year. Last year, the Expansion Era Committee unanimously elected managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, who were all inducted this past July 27, along with three BBWAA electees -- pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux and slugger Frank Thomas.
The 16-person Golden Era Committee, which like all the committees, is reconstituted each time it meets, consists this year of Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton; current and former baseball executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond and Bob Watson; and veteran media members Steve Hirdt, Phil Pepe and MLB.com's own Tracy Ringolsby and Dick Kaegel, who only recently retired.
Here are thumbnails of the 10 candidates on this year's Golden Era Committee ballot:
Allen: A seven-time All-Star, Allen played primarily for the Phillies and White Sox from 1963-77. He was the American League Most Valuable Player Award winner and home run champion in 1972, when he hit 37 for Chicago and led the Major Leagues with a .420 on-base percentage, .603 slugging percentage and 1.023 OPS. He led his league in OPS four times, the highest being 1.027 for the Phillies in 1966.
Boyer: The third baseman was a seven-time All-Star and National League MVP Award winner in 1964, when he led the NL with 119 RBIs and the Cardinals defeated the Yankees in a seven-game World Series. Boyer hit a grand slam to win Game 4 of that Fall Classic, during which his brother, Clete, played third base for the Yankees. The older Boyer brother played 11 of his 15 seasons with the Cardinals.
Hodges: Like Santo before him, Hodges' candidacy has been heatedly discussed for years. He was passed over 15 times by the BBWAA and really hasn't come close in any edition of the many Veterans Committees. His proponents argue that he was the first baseman for the legendary "Boys of Summer" Brooklyn Dodgers, playing with Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider. Hodges was a member of Brooklyn teams that went to the World Series six times from 1947-56 and again in '59 after a move to Los Angeles. The Dodgers won in '55 and '59. An eight-time All-Star in the nine seasons from '49-57, Hodges hit 370 career homers and batted .273. In a separate issue, he was also the much-beloved manager of the '69 "Miracle Mets," who surprised the baseball world by defeating the powerful Orioles in a five-game World Series.
Howsam: As general manager and club president of the "Big Red Machine" teams, Howsam won four pennants during the 1970s and back-to-back World Series titles in '75-76 -- the most recent NL team to accomplish that feat. Among his deals were those that brought Joe Morgan and George Foster to Cincinnati. Previously, Howsam replaced Bing Devine as GM of the Cardinals in '64, and that team went on to win three NL pennants and the World Series in both '64 and '67. Howsam had a long career in baseball, and he and his family built the stadium that eventually was expanded to become Mile High Stadium, longtime home of the NFL's Broncos and first home of the Rockies. The Broncos were an original American Football League team that he and his family founded in '60.
Kaat: The left-hander Kaat pitched in 25 Major League seasons, winning 283 games and recording double-digit victory totals in 15 consecutive seasons from 1962-76. He won a career-high 25 games for the Twins in '66 and was a 16-time Gold Glove winner.
Minoso: Closely associated with the White Sox, for whom he played 12 of his 17 seasons, Minoso was a seven-time All-Star who twice led the Majors in triples and hit better than .300 nine times. He played from 1949-64, ending his career with promotional appearances in '76 and '80.
Oliva: A .313 hitter from 1962-72 for the Twins, Oliva spent his entire 15-year career in Minnesota. He led the AL in hits five times from '64-70 and was a three-time AL batting champion, eight-time All-Star and twice runner-up for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
Pierce: Another left-hander, Pierce went 211-169 in his 18-year career, spent mostly with the White Sox. He led the AL with a 1.97 ERA in 1955 and was also a seven-time All-Star.
Tiant: Known for his unusual right-handed delivery in which he turned his back to the hitter, Tiant had a 19-year career that was essentially two chapters -- the first with the Indians, for whom he was a 21-game winner in 1968, and the second with the Red Sox, for whom he won 20 or more games three times in a four-year span and went 121-74 from '72-78 after coming back from injury. He was a two-time AL ERA champion and finished with 229 victories.
Wills: As mentioned, Wills was the first player to steal 100 bases in a season when he swiped 104 for the Dodgers in 1962, adding 94 more in '65. He led the NL in steals in six straight seasons and compiled 586 steals in his 14-year career, good for 20th on the all-time list. Wills was a five-time All-Star, the NL MVP Award winner in '62, and he starred for four Dodgers teams that went to the World Series from 1959-66, starting all 21 games. He was a .244 hitter (19-for-78) and stole six bases in those World Series, which the Dodgers won in '59, '63 and '65.