Now we can send the Hall of Fame dispute to the oblivion it so richly deserves, cheer the winners and hope there’s another chance for those who didn’t quite make it.
I’m grateful not to be the only blockhead in the country who didn’t vote for Rickey Henderson. There were 28 blockheads in all. I don’t know their story but mine was simple:
There was every reason to vote for Henderson, I just didn’t. Maybe I was too focused on the eight people I did vote for, and neglected the two other nominees I could have added but for whatever reason, didn’t.
By the time Nick Prevenas, sports editor of the Green Valley News, pointed out my mistake it was too late. The ballot was in the mail.
Then I wrote a column for this paper in which I discussed my ballot. That’s when the burro biscuits hit the fan.
Bloggers found the column and a public hating worthy of Orwell’s “1984” began.
Email from sportswriters and columnists poured in from around the country. Some requested interviews, others requested my head.
I felt like Boris Karloff in his Frankenstein suit, being chased by villagers carrying torches.
The scholarly, informed and well-read Columbia Journalism Review called and was interested in how a columnist from Green Valley, Arizona felt about the overwhelming criticism and ridicule I was getting on the Internet.
I told the reporter I always made it a point to avoid the blogosphere and the reason was twofold. One, I’m not quite sure how to get there and two, I might not be able to escape.
There are snipers in those blogger woods, and creatures not even worthy of a place on the Dark Side. I told the Columbia Journalism Review that most bloggers’ literature is like the stuff you find on the walls of public bathrooms — with the exception that the literature found on the walls of public bathrooms is more respectable.
My no-vote for Rickey Henderson made it to the talking heads of TV, who were more compassionate than the bloggers. They only suggested my right to vote be taken away, and perhaps I be exiled from planet Earth.
The kindest comment I saw was from http://Nationalpost.com">Nationalpost.com, whose reporter suggested that I had “not a discerning eye but a haphazard hand.”
All this because Rickey Henderson, a slam-dunk for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, wasn’t a unanimous choice. I guaranteed it by not voting for him.
That 27 other voters did the same thing hardly matters, I guess.
Anyhow, I find it hard to believe there’s not a historian out there railing against the 11 voters who kept Babe Ruth from being unanimous when he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936. Or the 28 who kept Joe DiMaggio from being unanimous years later. Or the 20 who didn’t vote for Ted Williams, the 23 who snubbed Stan Musial.
Not to mention the 23 who didn’t vote for Willie Mays, the 43 who didn’t vote for Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford (81) or Yogi Berra (57). Cal Ripken Jr., missed by eight, Al Kaline 45.
Jackie Robinson was denied unanimity by 36 votes, Hank Aaron nine, Roberto Clemente 31 and Rogers Hornsby, who once batted .424, highest average ever, missed by 51.
In fact, no ballplayer has ever been elected unanimously. Lou Gehrig was different. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1939, right after it was learned that he was dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” And that was by acclamation.
So Rickey Henderson, who turned 50 last month, has made it to the Hall of Fame and that’s great. “I cannot be any more pleased or thrilled about it,” he was quoted by Jack Curry of the New York Times.
Jim Rice made it, too, in his 15th and final year of eligibility. Those two wonderful ballplayers will constitute the class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies July 26 at Cooperstown, N.Y.
Henderson received 511 votes of the 539 ballots cast. That’s 94.8 percent of the votes. The record is 98.8 percent, by Tom Seaver.
Rice received 412 votes, seven more than the required 405.
Hurrah for both men.
And I hope something important will happen someday in the lives of those who dwell in the blogosphere.
Former Tucson Citizen columnist Corky Simpson writes a weekly column for the Green Valley News.