The Hall of Miller and Eric now has 43 elections in the books. In 2003 we added two more greats to our illustrious collection. On their first ballots both Ryne Sandberg and Eddie Murray have become HoMErs.
There were no real surprises this election that saw the only two Hall of Famers on the ballot reach our level of exclusivity with relative ease. Sandberg did it with an early-career MVP and a sustained four-year run in his 30s where he may have been the game’s best hitter from 1989-1992. Murray did it with fewer MVP-type seasons than any 1B in the HoME, yet one solid season after another made him one of only four players ever with 3000 hits and 500 homers.
Our 1980s stars bring the HoME total to 173 of the greatest players in history. There are now only 42 spots remaining through our 2015 election. That means exactly 35% of the remaining 120 players we’ll consider will one day find spots in the HoME.
Let’s look at our 2003 ballots.
Miller Eric 1 Ryne Sandberg Ryne Sandberg 2 Eddie Murray Eddie Murray 3 Pud Galvin 4 Sal Bando
The Class of 2003
Ryne Sandberg: Were it not for Ernie Banks, perhaps Ryno would have been called “Mr. Cub.” Almost a career Cub, the second sacker made ten All-Star teams, won nine Gold Gloves, and was the 1984 NL MVP when he almost led the Cubs to the World Series. On June 23 of that year he had what must have been his best game, homering off Bruce Sutter in the ninth to tie it and homering against Sutter again in the tenth to retie it before watching his teammates pick him up and win it in 11 innings. He fights with Roberto Alomar and Lou Whitaker for the #9 spot all-time at 2B, and at the position his six seasons of 6-WAR ball are matched by only a half-dozen HoFers.
Eddie Murray: Consistently strong performances over more than two decades show that Murray deserved the nickname “Steady Eddie.” The eight-time All-Star and 1978 AL Rookie of the Year seldom led his league in anything, just 11 points in terms of Black Ink, but was often among the leaders, 181 points in Gray Ink. He hit 504 career home runs without ever topping 33 in a season. Among HoF 1B, he’s in the lower tier but still deserving. His five seasons at 5+ WAR were supported by another five at 4+ and five more at 2+. Trivially, he has the most career RBIs for a switch hitter as well as the MLB record for sacrifice flies. And along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Rafael Palmeiro, he forms the very exclusive 3000 hit, 500 home run club.
The solo votes keep coming, at least from Miller. Those explanations, sort of, are below.
Pud Galvin: Last election I mentioned that almost all of the pitcher spots in the HoME are spoken for. The likes of Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux are going to have a place without any difficulty. And there are others going quite easily as well. In all, the Hall has 68 pitchers among its 215 players. In the HoME, we have 47 or 48 pitchers (we don’t categorize positions as bluntly as the Hall does). That would mean we have room for as many as 21 more hurlers. Well, 16 of those spots are almost certainly spoken for, and there’s nothing in our mission that says we have to match the number of hurlers in the Coop. Rather, we think we’re going to take 64-67. I continue to see Galvin as one of those guys. And if the number ends up at 67, I have a lot of confidence Eric will join me eventually. If it’s 64, I have no such faith. Pud might be mud.
Sal Bando: It’s very hard for me to deny the leader of the great A’s teams of the early-1970s and the game’s best non-pitcher by WAR from 1969-1973. How many times in baseball history have we seen a player take such a title and not make it to the HoME? Last week, I told you it’s just two plus Bando. And my pal Sal doesn’t suffer from the same negatives as the other two.
Our 2003 results are now complete. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.