Five-tooler Pinson on Veterans' ballot

Five-tooler Pinson on Veterans' ballot

CINCINNATI -- In the 1960s, center fielder Vada Pinson seemed to do it all for the Reds and was one of the great players of the decade.

Pinson, a consummate five-tool player, could hit for average and power, catch and throw and he was speedy. Those skills resulted in 2,757 hits, 256 home runs, 1,170 RBIs, 1,366 runs and a .286 lifetime batting average over 18 seasons.

The numbers are respectable, but they haven't been enough -- to this point -- to gain Pinson immortality in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But it's the time of year when they are getting another look.

Pinson, who died in 1995, will be considered for the Class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Any player receiving at least 75 percent of the vote from the Veterans Committee, which consists of the 64 living Hall of Famers, will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2009. Results from the Veterans Committee vote will be revealed at 1 p.m. ET on MLB.com on Monday from baseball's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

The other members of the post-1943 Veterans Committee final ballot are Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Dick Allen, Ron Santo, Luis Tiant, Joe Torre and Maury Wills.

Besides playing for the Reds from 1958-68, Pinson also played for the Cardinals (1969), Indians (1970-71), Angels (1972-73) and Royals (1974-75).

Pinson's best years came in Cincinnati, where he hit a career-high .343 as a 22-year-old in 1961 and helped the Reds win a National League championship. His best all-around year was 1963, when he led the NL with 204 hits and 14 triples. He also batted .313 with 22 home runs, 27 steals and a career-best 106 RBIs.

Over his first five full seasons, Pinson batted .310 and averaged 108 runs, 37 doubles, 20 home runs and 26 steals. He also won a Gold Glove in 1961 and was part of two All-Star teams in 1959-60.

The success was sometimes intermingled with controversy. In 1962, Pinson was involved in an altercation with a Cincinnati newspaper writer that led to a court hearing. He also reportedly clashed frequently with the Reds' front office, especially after friend and future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was traded to Orioles in 1966.

Pinson may have been a five-tool ballplayer, but he had the misfortune of poor timing that limited him to just one World Series appearance. He was traded to the Cardinals from Cincinnati two years before the Big Red Machine took off. He arrived in St. Louis the season after it was in the World Series.

Only two eligible players -- Rickey Henderson and Andre Dawson -- have more career hits than Pinson and aren't in the Hall. This is Henderson's first year of eligibity.

Pinson never received more than 15 percent of the vote when under consideration on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. He appeared on the ballot the maximum 15 times. This is his fourth attempt on the Veterans Committee ballot.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.