Last Friday I posted an entry on The Grandstander asking people to justify why Gil Hodges is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Trust me, there is an army of folks out there who believe he should be in the HOF, and will back up their claims with voluminous documentation. I wanted to hear from the Other Side of the Argument. I posted my blog entry on the SABR Listserv board and on several Facebook Chat pages in which I participate.
And I did hear from people. Lots of them. I won't go into all of what was submitted to me, some of it, frankly, was a lot of SABRmetric gobblety-gook, but, basically, it all came down to "Gil was a good to very good ball player, but he was and is, at best, a borderline Hall of Famer, like a lot of other players for whom no one is beating the drums for HOF entry". I also got a lot of arguments along the lines of "two thirds of the guys IN the Hall shouldn't be there, so why compound this error by including yet another borderline guy".
Both sides are correct, I conclude. Hall of Fame immortality is a subjective topic at best. One local BBWA guy in Pittsburgh applies what he calls the "think test" when he fills out his HOF ballot. In other words. "if I have to think about whether this guy belongs in the Hall of Fame, he probably doesn't belong", and I can't argue with that logic. Looking at HOF players I have seen in my lifetime as a fan (1959 to present)...Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Mike Schmidt? Absolutely! Gary Carter, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Jim Rice? Well, those guys I gotta think about, but that's just me, but if someone else, writers or a Vet's Committee, says they are Hall of Famers, I salute them as such.
I recognize the passion of certain fan bases for promoting their favorite sons, and the Brooklyn Dodgers Boys of Summer Cult no doubt plays a large role in the support for Hodges. As a Pirates fan, I am tickled to death that Bill Mazeroski went in in 1999, but I know that there would be a lot of people leading the charge to take him OUT of the Hall of that was ever done. I hope Hodges makes it some day, but if he doesn't, well, that doesn't mean that the other side is wrong.