by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
January 9, 2007
Immediately following last year's Hall of Fame voting, I naturally defended
those players who I voted a "2" for that nevertheless fell off the ballot.
Today, I'd like to talk about three candidates who fell off our ballot despite
my voting just a "1" for them. All three of these candidates are primarily
Most everyone knows Dick Williams as the manager who guided Oakland to two of
its three consecutive World Series titles in the 1970's. I assume part of
the reason he's neither in Cooperstown nor in our Hall of Fame is that the A's
were able to win that third World Series title without him. How valuable
could he have been?
On the other hand, he did turn the A's team that had been 80-something game
winners between 1968 and 1970 into 101 game winners in 1971, his first year with
the franchise. Those Athletics were famous for being a disagreeable,
ornery bunch, but Williams somehow managed to form them into a cohesive unit,
and one of the greatest dynasties of all time.
The other knock on Williams is that despite his being the 17th winningest
manager of all time, his career winning percentage was just .520. But
after his tenure with the A's, Williams took on four coaching jobs with recent
expansion franchises. He was quite successful with the Montreal and San
Diego ballclubs, but failed with the lackluster California and Seattle
franchises. In fact, if you eliminate his tenure with the Angels and
Mariners, his career winning percentage jumps to .543. Will history
condemn Lou Pinella for his three years in Tampa Bay that dipped his winning
percentage below Williams' .520 mark? It's a tough question to answer, and
part of the reason that I wish Dick Williams was still on our ballot.
I'd also like to point out that in 1984, Williams led the Padres to the first
victory in a five-game postseason series coming from a 2-0 deficit. In
fifteen years of division series play prior to that comeback, no team had ever
done what Williams' Padres did. I'm not saying that Terry Francona should
automatically gain entrance for the Hall of Fame based solely on his 2004
postseason and 3-0 deficit comeback against the Yankees. But won't that be
factored in when we evaluate his career as a whole?
Again, I'm not certain that all of these accomplishments add up to a spot in
the Hall of Fame for Williams. If I was, I'd have voted him a "2."
But he certainly had a noteworthy career full of unique accomplishments, and I
regret not being able to consider them any longer.
Grimm has the 16th best winning percentage for all managers with over 1,000
career victories. He is perhaps best known for managing the Chicago Cubs
in their last World Series appearance in 1945.
Looking solely at Grimm's managerial achievements, he is but a borderline
Hall of Famer. However, for five of his 19 managerial seasons, "Jolly
Cholly" was a player/manager. He played a total of 20 seasons
as a first baseman, collecting 2,299 hits en route to a .290 career batting
average. He did not have good power numbers for a first baseman of the
1920's and 30's, but he did lead hid league in fielding percentage seven times.
Does 20 seasons as a useful major league player bump Grimm up to Hall of Fame
status? Evidently not, as he is now ineligible for our ballot.
This is one of the only instances form last year's ballot that I regret not
voting a "2" for someone. Leo Durocher is one of nine men in all of
history to win 2,000 games as a major league manager. It is true that in
24 managerial seasons, Durocher only got his team to the postseason three times,
and that his 1969 Cubs suffered one of the most egregious collapses in baseball
history. But I think that a little perspective is in order.
During a span of over 40 years in which Wrigley Field was the only park not
to have lights installed, the Cubs made the postseason just once (1984).
Between 1947 and 1988 (when lights were finally installed at Wrigley), the Cubs
finished with a winning record exactly eight times. One of those times was
the aforementioned 1984 season, and another was in 1963 when manager Bob Kennedy
led them to a whopping .506 winning percentage. The other six occasions
were from 1967 to 1972, with Leo the Lip at the helm.
After that string, the Cubs would not have back-to-back winning seasons again
until 2003 and 2004. Durocher must have been doing something to counteract
the inevitable tiring of baseball players who play only day games at home.
Obviously, the Cubs still struggled even as they gradually phased night games
in, as frequent day games following night games necessitated a stronger bench
than most teams required.
Basically, the man is the ninth winningest manager of all time and proved
that he could succeed consistently in a situation where no one else could.
It is an absolute travesty that he is not eligible for our Hall of Fame, and I
officially submit Leo Durocher's name for re-nomination.
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at email@example.com.