Reaching twenty elections feels like a milestone, right? Indeed, I think it is. In 1980, we elected three newcomers to the ballot – Al Kaline, Ron Santo, and Juan Marichal. That’s it. We’re now at 109 of the greatest players in the game’s history. We have 103 more to go, and it’s not like things are getting a lot easier. Every election there’s tremendous debate about who should get a vote and who shouldn’t.
Per our rules, players have to be named on both ballots for induction. We finally delivered one of the short ballots that we expected when we went to annual elections. And for the second consecutive year, Miller put more names on the ballot than Eric. Also for the second consecutive election, every player who Eric named got in. Here’s how we voted.
Miller Eric 1 Al Kaline Al Kaline 2 Ron Santo Ron Santo 3 Juan Marichal Juan Marichal 4 Red Faber 5 Pud Galvin 6 Whitey Ford
The Class of 1980
Al Kaline: Kaline was one of the great young players in history, the youngest ever to win a batting title. Likely the sixth best right fielder ever behind Ruth and Aaron and then some combination of Ott, Clemente, and Frank Robinson, Kaline had a terrific all-around game. Though he never hit 30 homers and fell one shy of 400 for his career, he did hit 25+ on seven occasions. He boasted a very impressive arm when he was young and was a talented right fielder overall who won 10 Gold Gloves. His Black Ink doesn’t jump off the page – just one title each in H, 2B, BA, OBP, SLG, and TB. But he did have an MVP-level season, eight more when he was at least at the All-Star level, and seven additional seasons when he was worth around three wins or more. For his trouble, he went to the All-Star game 15 times.
Ron Santo: Unconscionably passed over by those who vote for the Hall of Fame until after his days on earth ended, Ron Santo may be able to lay claim to the fifth spot on the all-time 3B list. Or maybe he can’t. But nobody can seriously bump him outside the top-10. He played three seasons at an MVP level and another four or five at an All-Star level. At his very best, from 1964-1967, Santo was arguably the best player in all of baseball, competing only with Willie Mays for the honor. In his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot, he received only 3.9% of the vote. Just 15 writers found him worthy. In his first year on the HoME ballot, he went two-for-two. Congratulations, Ron.
Juan Marichal: The Dominican Dandy is a bit of a deceptive candidate. With 243 wins, it seems like he’s a career candidate. But he really did most of his damage in just a few seasons. He may well have been the best pitcher in the game from 1963-1969, during which he posted all of his best six campaigns. He won 20 games in each of those six years, and 25 in three of them. What might be even more surprising about the nine-time All-Star is that his peak is essentially the same as that of Sandy Koufax, though they’re obviously thought of differently. Now, however, they’re the same. Both in the HoME.
For the second consecutive election, only Miller had solo votes. His very brief explanations are below.
Red Faber, Pud Galvin, & Whitey Ford: I don’t feel great about any of them, but I do feel decent about all three. There are eight players in the Hall of Fame, the Hall of Merit, and the Hall of Stats who we haven’t yet elected. These are three of those players. (In case you’re wondering, the other five are Jake Beckley, Joe Medwick, Jim O’Rourke, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Early Wynn). As long as we reach 60 pitchers by the time the HoME is filled, and I think we will, there’s space for Faber, Galvin, and Ford.
That’s all for our 1980 election. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.