With our sixteenth election, it’s time to offer congratulations to our 1976 inductees. Welcome to the HoME Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Robin Roberts, Don Drysdale, Ken Boyer, and Bill Terry. The first five made it on their first ballot. Terry gets in on his seventh try. Eric was voting for him all along, whereas Miller became more of a peak voter this election and voted for him for the first time. As the newest members of the Hall of Miller and Eric, you bring our proud institution to a total of 93 of the greatest players in the game’s history. Because the BBWAA opened the Cooperstown Hall’s doors to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas, we now have 119 more players to elect so our HoME is the same size as the Hall.
Per our rules, players have to be named on both ballots for induction. Here’s how we voted.
Miller Eric 1 Mickey Mantle Mickey Mantle 2 Eddie Mathews Eddie Mathews 3 Robin Roberts Robin Roberts 4 Don Drysdale Ken Boyer 5 Bill Terry Don Drysdale 6 Pud Galvin Bill Terry 7 Ken Boyer Pee Wee Reese 8 Red Faber Urban Shocker
The Class of 1976
Mickey Mantle: To a generation of New Yorkers, no player will ever be as great as Mickey Mantle. While the characterization of his talent may be a stretch, The Commerce Comet was indeed one of the best players ever to don a uniform. Mantle combined blazing speed with light-tower power on his way to sixteen years of All-Star appreciation and three MVP Awards, including 1956 when he won the triple crown. Third on the all-time home run list when he retired, Mantle hit 536 bombs, four times leading the league. He also led in both runs scored and walks five times, OPS six times, and OPS+ eight times. He has the most home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, and total bases in World Series history to boot. And accurate or not, some give him credit for hitting the longest home run in baseball history, a 565-foot shot against Senator Chuck Stobbs in Griffith Park on April 17, 1953.
Eddie Mathews: The greatest third baseman before Mike Schmidt, and quite possibly the second greatest ever, Mathews’ peak began when the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, and it didn’t really end until they left for Atlanta in 1966. During that time, he was in the top-three in the NL in offensive WAR seven times, and he was in the top-six on eleven occasions. He was a Brave in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, becoming the only player with that distinction, and he topped 30 homers ten times along the way. Often overshadowed historically by Hank Aaron, with whom he holds the all-time record for homers by teammates, Mathews was likely the more valuable player for the thirteen years in Milwaukee.
Robin Roberts: When thinking about the best pitchers in baseball history, Roberts’ name doesn’t come up too often. It should. In nineteen seasons, most of which were with the Phillies, the right-hander who threw an outstanding rising fastball, was the definition of a workhorse. He had runs of four straight seasons leading the league in wins, five straight leading in complete games and innings, and six straight leading in starts. During his 1951-1955 peak, he was baseball’s best pitcher by far. He was the best in the game from 1948-1958 and from 1950-1960. These are considerable chunks of time. Perhaps his most important start ever came on the season’s final day for the 1950 Whiz Kid Phillies. On two days rest, in a month where his record was a somewhat unlucky 1-5, Roberts took the mound needing a win. A solo shot by Pee Wee Reese was all the Dodgers could muster in 10 innings against Roberts. The Phillies won, marking the only time from 1915-1980 that they went to the World Series.
Don Drysdale: The total package on the mound and off, Don Drysdale is remembered for many things, but it’s his on-field work we care about at the HoME. Seldom a big winner, the Dodger righty won 20 games just two times in his 14 seasons. One of those times was his Cy Young campaign of 1962, which was one of his eight All-Star selections. Drysdale led the NL in strikeouts three times and starts four more. But the category in which he most dominated was HBP, five times leading the league in batters plunked. He was also a fine hitter for a pitcher, homering 29 times. The greatest run of Drysdale’s career occurred in 1968. In his penultimate season, the Dodger great threw six consecutive shutouts, a record that still stands today.
Ken Boyer: Ken Boyer played for four teams, mainly the Cardinals, from 1955-1969. His seven All-Star games, five Gold Gloves, and the 1964 NL MVP Award just provide some surface justification for his induction into the HoME. Truly a great player, Boyer’s Hall case has been one of bad career timing. He didn’t play during the dark ages of 3B, which basically existed from the beginning of the game until the days of Boyer, Brooks, and Mathews. Add to that the case of another contemporary, Ron Santo’s, becoming a cause célèbre, and it’s easy to see how Boyer could be overlooked. If essentially nobody is better before and then there’s a spate of greatness at 3B, one can get lost in the shuffle. All things considered, Boyer played at an All-Star level in 1956 and 1958-1964. And he was at MVP level in 1959 and 1961. The fact is he’s one of the dozen best eligible 3B in history, who a reasonable person could rank as high as eight or nine. Without hesitation, we welcome Ken Boyer HoME.
Bill Terry: “Memphis” Bill Terry was a left-handed New York Giant first baseman from 1923-1936 who was the last National Leaguer to hit .400 when he hit .401 to lead the Senior Circuit in 1930. Terry is a borderline HoMEr with just one or two MVP-level seasons, though he did put up an impressive six to seven seasons at All-Star level. In fact, it’s justifiable to call him the best player in the National League from 1927-1934. Terry did it not just with his bat, but also with his glove. According to Michael Humphreys’ book Wizardry, he’s one of the dozen or so most valuable defensive first basemen ever. And it’s the combination of offense and defense that gets him into the HoME.
Each season, some guys are elected, while others receive votes from only one of us. Below we’ll explain our reasons for such votes.
Pud Galvin: With apologies to Brian Kenny, whose kill the win campaign will build and build and build momentum in the baseball community until we basically stop paying attention to the statistic, Galvin won 365 games. You can win games if you’re not that great, and you can lose games if you are. But you can’t win 365 games unless you’re one of the all-time greats.
Red Faber: Strangely, Faber is both the ultimate peak candidate – he was the best pitcher in baseball from 1920-1923 – and he was the ultimate career candidate – ranking #43 in career WAR for a pitcher even though he only reached four WAR four times. Detractors might see him like Bob Friend. Proponents look at him more like Don Sutton with a pair of incredible seasons. I’m a proponent.
Pee Wee Reese: Shortstop may have more well-qualified candidates than any other fielding position. Reese appears, therefore, closer to the borderline at shortstop than he is among the totality of all positions. As we move along, the truth that I’m beginning to see is this: We won’t take as many catchers as we will any other position. We probably won’t take as many third basemen as we will at most positions. The same might be true in center field. Right field and shortstop, and possibly first base, will be the primary beneficiaries of the lack of depth elsewhere. However, I’m still sussing this out. Nonetheless, for Reese, it’s hard to imagine him not making it. He’s in a clump with Ozzie and Tinker, and he’s got small advantages over Tinker that make me think I would take Ozzie and Pee Wee rather than Ozzie and Joe. And perhaps this is ultimately a fake choice if shortstop ends up with a couple more inductees than elsewhere.
Urban Shocker: Shocker’s case is fairly straightforward. He’s Stan Coveleski with a hair’s breadth less peak value. Both righty, grandfathered spitballers whose careers ended around the same time. Coveleski was an easy vote for me, and so is Shocker.
Please visit our Honorees page to see their plaques and to see more information about the HoME and those who have been elected.