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Oh, Pioneers!…and Executives!

This man is a Hall of Famer, and virtually nobody in America can identify him. Hint: His name appears once in this article.

This man is a Hall of Famer, and virtually nobody in America can identify him. Hint: His name appears once in this article.

We’ve made the fateful decision to press onward in our mission to show the Hall just what they should be doing. We’re going to tackle the pioneer/executive group.

These folks will be a stretchier stretch than what’s come before. With players, we were on steady ground all the way because the soft factors are virtually non-factors. The stats describe everything that occurs on the field, and that’s really all we cared about. Then came the managers, where to some degree, we had to account for some off-the-field factors. That explains why neither of us cared much for Billy Martin, and why Tommy Lasorda hung around to the bitter end. Now comes two types of candidates for whom narrative plays a much larger role.

And let’s not kid ourselves, we are actually dealing with two very different general types of candidates, and within those two types are at least half a dozen kinds of candidates. The execs are easier to define. It’s a decision maker in a baseball organization. Now the question comes at the level of the organization and the level within the organization. The organization might be all of MLB, one of the leagues, or one of its teams. Which means that commissioners, league presidents, owners, team presidents, general managers, farm directors, scouting directors, and probably other titled individuals are up for grabs.

On the pioneer side, we have to step back a second. See the Hall doesn’t really draw any distinction between execs and pioneers in its voting rules, yet it basically hasn’t elected a pioneer in about a thousand years, all its pioneers appear to be people from the pioneer era of American history, and those it has elected aren’t always easy to tease out from the execs. We’ll write more about this in the near future, but we will be taking a more expansive view of pioneers. We want to honor those people who have made a crucial, positive, and lasting mark on the game regardless of their title or the era during which they contributed. That may mean we elect some surprising people in this category, or that we may appear to be going somewhat further afield than the Hall does. That’s exactly right. What we’re trying to get across in these elections is that we believe that the Coop has an unnecessarily limited view on what a pioneer (and an executive) is.

A couple groups bear special mention here. First, scouts. Scouts aren’t exactly executives, and they may or may not be pioneers. But we do believe that scouts merit inclusion in this process. They provide massive amounts of value to teams, and history’s best scouting groups don’t just happen to belong to history’s best teams. Coaches probably fall under pioneers, but we don’t wish to rule them out either. A few coaches stand out in the game’s history with reputations for getting outstanding results from their charges. We’ll take a look at them too. Lastly, umpires. We’re not going to be voting on umpires. Not in this group or likely ever. We’ll just have to trust the Hall on this one. Wow, now that’s a dubious statement!

In all, we’ll be matching the 28 Hall members who bear the designation of pioneer/executive and who were not inducted on the basis of their contributions to the Negro Leagues. Those folks are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Ed Barrow
  2. Morgan Bulkeley
  3. Alexander Cartwright
  4. Happy Chandler
  5. Charles Comiskey
  6. Harry Chadwick
  7. Candy Cummings
  8. Barney Dreyfuss
  9. Ford Frick
  10. Warren Giles
  11. Pat Gillick
  12. Clark Griffith
  13. Will Harridge
  14. William Hulbert
  15. Ban Johnson
  16. Bowie Kuhn
  17. Kennesaw Mountain Landis
  18. Larry MacPhail
  19. Lee MacPhail
  20. Walter O’Malley
  21. Branch Rickey
  22. Jacob Ruppert
  23. Al Spalding
  24. Bill Veeck
  25. George Weiss
  26. George Wright
  27. Harry Wright
  28. Tom Yawkey

We think you won’t be shocked to learn that we are immediately predisposed to tossing 10 of them on the trash heap with little or no review. Another two (the Wright brothers) are already HoME members in other categories, and, unlike the managers, we are choosing not to elect anyone we’ve already elected through another category. Among the remainders we see ten as immediately electable. In fact, we also already agree on a few others as no-brainers who aren’t on this list. So that’s how we’ll roll out our results. The first half of our results will come to you weekly based on the individuals we strongly agree on. As that process plays itself out, we’ll be behind the scenes doing our usual thing, and figuring out the remaining honorees.

Because so many of these candidates are merely names, if that, to people in greater baseballdom, we will go a little further than usual to provide information on them. We feel it’s a little service we can do on behalf of people who brought a lot of baseball-good into the world. These latter elections will be two-week cycles like our player elections were, and should take us all the way down to the next Veterans Committee meeting in December. Maybe the VC will give us the gift of an additional pioneer/executive or manager election this time around. With Bud Selig and Jim Leyland on the docket, we suspect at least one non-player member will be enshrined in 2017.

Until then, enjoy our latest foray in baseball electioneering. In the near future, we will be providing a posts in our How the Hall Failed series talking about executives and pioneers (a different article for each) as well as posts that outline how we approach the many different types of candidates we’ll be looking at.



One thought on “Oh, Pioneers!…and Executives!

  1. My problem with the Hall of Fame and its “pioneers” is that it’s almost all executives. George Wright is the only person on your list elected as a player. No Joe Start. No Davy Force. No Lip Pike. All were guys who had great careers prior to the establishment of the NL (And I don’t mean to imply any of them should be in the Hall–the one in Cooperstown or yours–merely use them to point out the type of people I mean) and none have gotten a whiff of the Hall.
    As I said earlier, good luck on getting through the mythology. 🙂

    Posted by verdun2 | February 29, 2016, 8:24 am

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