By the authority of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) can elect up to 10 candidates to baseball’s shrine of immortality every year. According to the official election rules, there are numerous factors for writers to consider:
“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
Special committees may also elect players, managers, and other figures to the Hall of Fame. A look at the full list reveals that the majority of the 306 members were elected by these committees, rather than baseball writers. It’s an elite club of 306 when more than 135 years of baseball is taken into account. Many of the players missed their initial chances. In 2013, no player was taken, meaning 10 spots were left open. In 2014, just three players joined baseball’s elite.
There are several living players who deserve to be enshrined or at least acknowledged by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Here are cases for four immortal ballplayers.
1. Don Mattingly, New York Yankees
Ask Don Mattingly whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame, and he’ll say probably not. Ask his fans and many writers, and they’ll say there’s no question he should. With a nickname like “Donnie Baseball” and legendary status as one of the few Yankees captains, Mattingly has the mystique factor down cold. However, his stats allow one to make a rousing case for Hall of Fame honors.
Offensive domination: Mattingly was the best all-around player in the game in the mid-1980s, and it started at the plate. He won the batting title in 1984 (.343), led all baseball with 145 RBIs during his 1985 MVP year, led the league in hits twice (238, 207) and total bases twice. “The Hit Man” did not walk his way on base, yet he posted a career .358 OBP to go along with his .307 batting average.
9 Gold Gloves: Since the award was invented in 1957, only one first baseman (Keith Hernandez) has ever had more. Mattingly was as slick at first as can be. He excelled at nabbing popups toward the stands down the first-base line.
X factors: In terms of any of the intangibles, Mattingly’s contribution to his team and the game as a whole can’t be overstated. He represented the purity of baseball better than any player, and his example engendered the style of play that led to four Yankees championships in five years following his retirement in 1995.
Mattingly’s back injury got the best of him and limited his total stats to 2,153 hits and 1,099 RBIs, but there are countless players in the Hall of Fame who never soared on Donnie Baseball’s elite level like he did in the 1980s. He deserved a spot in Cooperstown, but was denied after 15 years of eligibility.