Monday, March 6, 2006

The Hall of Fame, Emotions and Controversy...

Last week, the Hall of Fame announced that 17 Negro League and Pre-Negro league players, owners and such had been voted into the Hall of Fame. The noise in the media hasn't been about who got selected, but who got snubbed.

Outrage has been the word since Buck O'Neill and Minnie Minoso were not included in the list of 17 to be honored. I doubt you could name more than 2 of the 17 inducted, but you damn sure know that Buck and Minnie got "screwed!"

Which is a pity, because the Ehshrinees are the ones getting screwed over. Again, to be honest. They got discriminated against and weren't allowed to play Major League Baseball, which is why the Negro League committee was formed in the first place. I've enjoyed jumping all over Bud Selig for all sorts of things, but this isn't one of them. He should get a pat on the back for jump starting this long overdue process. That it has taken so long for this to happen is a shame. That it's being overlooked because of who didn't get in is a shame. That the 17 ensuring and their families are being ignored yet again is a travesty.

Maury Brown wrote a compelling article about this on The Hardball Times. You can read it here. You can also read the Official Release from the Baseball Hall of Fame here. You should ignore Keith Olberman at all costs on this issue because he is irrational and emotional about this.

I can't say whether Buck O'Neill belongs in the Hall of Fame or not. To me, it's not a slam dunk notion. And I don't believe that Minoso belongs based on his Negro League career, which was why this Committee was formed to begin with. I do believe that emotional overreaction has been the word since the announcement, with a complete ignoring of the actual records (incomplete as they may be) and that's a shame. Especially since there has been so much outrage over players who some feel don't belong based on the numbers. (Bill Mazeroski, anyone?) So, I find this argument that O'Neill should be in the HoF simply because he's been a great ambassador for The Game, when his numbers (that we are privy to) don't quite make the case to be disingenuous at best, and sad at worst.

Buck O'Neill is a Baseball Treasure. There is no doubting this. What he has done for the game, both inside and out has been tremendous. His contributions will never be forgotten, nor should they be. You only have to stroll the Negro League Museum in Kansas City to see what I'm talking about (and if you've never been, go there now!). But his lack of inclusion in the recent Negro Leagues balloting is no reason to ignore again the contributions of those who were selected.

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