Wednesday, November 8, 2017

It took baseball a while to recognize Aparicio to Fox; will it take just as long to acknowledge Trammell to Whitaker?

Baseball fans of the Detroit Tigers are miffed these days. The Baseball Hall of Fame’s veterans committee acknowledged the list of ballplayers being considered for baseball’s version of immortality, and they see snub!
It took the baseball Hall of Fame some time to acknowledge their greatness

Back in the 1980s into the early 1990s, the strength of the team (including the year they won the World Series in 1984) was their middle infield combo of shortstop Alan Trammell to second baseman Lou Whitaker.

ONLY A COMPLETE fool (and yes, there are baseball fans who are incredibly foolish) doesn’t acknowledge they were stars of that era – and one of the best middle-infield combos to ever exist.

Yet the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., to date, hasn’t thought much of either. The veterans committee this year said it will reconsider the chances of Trammell.

But forget about Whitaker. He’s still out!

There were fans who have long been outraged about what has become of Whitaker – who only got one crack at the Hall of Fame ballot back in 2001, and only got 2.9 percent of the vote. Far less than the 75 percent vote required for enshrinement, and also less than the 5 percent minimum required to be considered again in future years by sportswriters.
Is Lou getting the 'Nellie Fox' treatment?

TIGERS FANS HAVE thought this was a moment of terminal stupidity that would someday be fixed by a veterans’ committee. Except that it’s not so.

There were the people building their hopes on the idea that Whitaker would get consideration, and saw a certain sense of perfection if it were to happen that Whitaker and Trammell (one of the longest-running middle-infield combos ever from 1977 to 1993) would get inducted together.

That could happen in the future, if Trammell gets passed over this year and the two get reconsidered again in the future. Regardless of how long in the future it takes for that to occur.
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I’m wondering if Trammell to Whitaker is destined to become a 21st Century equivalent of the Chicago White Sox’ great middle infield combo of the 1950s. You know shortstop Luis Aparicio to second baseman Nellie Fox -- the stars at the top of the 1959 American League championship ball club?

NOWADAYS, Aparicio to Fox is a Hall of Fame duo. It seems ridiculous that the two weren’t a shoo-in for induction, and that they didn’t get in as a pair.

But they didn’t.

Aparicio became the first Venezuelan-born ballplayer elected to the Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1984, which was about a decade after he retired as a ballplayer and after about five years on the ballot.
Is Nellie any less a baseball immortal because of wait?

Yet he was the downright easy choice compared to Fox. Who one year after Aparicio’s induction came up for his final crack at induction on the sportswriters’ ballot – that was the one where he got 74.6 percent support, which rounds off to 75 percent. But Hall of Fame officials claimed he needed a pure 75 percent vote – and was two votes short as a result.

FOX EVENTUALLY FELL to the veterans’ committee to review, and they wound up inducting him in 1997. It took awhile (and Fox was long deceased, having died from skin cancer in 1975, a complication to those tobacco chaws he was oft noted for), but it eventually happened.

Is that what’s likely to occur for the baseball brethren in Detroit?
Sox duo immortalized in bronze at 35th St. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda
Could Whitaker, now 60, wind up having to wait many, many years before he finally gets his image in bronze, hanging from a hall in upstate New York? Could it wind up being his grand-children who wind up speaking on his behalf to his greatness?

And when it winds up happening someday, will it not seem like such a big deal? Because in the end, all of those bronze images freeze over – and these are the kind of details that get lost to future generations. As both Fox and Whitaker will wind up being remembered among the best second basemen ever.


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EDITOR’S NOTE: The only Chicago-connections ballplayer being considered by the veterans committee is Tommy John, who pitched for more than two decades – including in the late 1960s for the White Sox. No former Cubs are under consideration, although I suppose Cubs fans could remember that home run Steve Garvey hit in the National League playoffs that helped cost the Cubs the league championship in 1984 – the year that Whitaker/Trammell led their Tigers to the ultimate World Series title.

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