In 1977 we commence annual elections, just as Bill James commenced his annual Baseball Abstract. Actually, we picked 1976-1977 as the first annual elections because we were both alive, and Miller, at least, might have been old enough to form a baseball memory or two by this time.
Eric, however, was still in pampers. If you ask his wife, she’ll tell you he still is.
So 1977 brings us only six new candidates. One of them being the best first baseman who was ever a shortstop. Another a U.S. Senator who protected the integrity of the game through Congressional grandstanding that included a number of statements about getting off his lawn, misunderstandings about baseball’s history and the history of its records, idle harumphing about the anti-trust clause, and a convenient skipping over of his own era’s abuse of the PED amphetamine. We also get our first look at Dean Chance whose name sounds like it was someone’s middle name and first pet’s name put together into a “stage” name. Wink wink, nudge nudge. Brock Landers eat your heart out.
Also, my Maloney has a first name, it’s J A M E S….
Anyway, with the start of annual ballots, we also downshift on the number of slots we open up each year. This year two new bunks open in our cozy clubhouse. We carry over two slots from 1906, two from 1921, five from 1931, three from 1941, one from 1956, two from 1961, two from 1971, and one from 1976 for a total of 20 possible honorees. Seriously, guys, we’re working on it. But, man, those last three slots at each position are bloody murder. If you think splitting hairs is hard, just wait until we get to the tail end of right field….
F = Hall of Fame member
M = Hall of Merit member
S = Hall of Stats member
Ernie Banks (F,M,S)
Jim Bunning (F,M,S)