Now that we’ve elected Frank Jobe, we’ve reached the end of Phase I of our pioneers/executives elections. We promised we’d match the Hall of Fame’s total of 28 people honored for their contributions to Major League Baseball, so we have another 14 folks to enshrine.
You might call Phase I the Acclamation Phase or the Easy Ones. Doesn’t take much brains or guts for us to tell you that Branch Rickey did more than damn near anyone in baseball history to shape the modern game. That’s the sort of analysis you can get for free anywhere. Luckily, we don’t charge you anything but the time you spend reading our (hopefully engaging and energetic) prose.
That said, perhaps Frank Jobe, Doc Adams, and a couple others didn’t seem like no-doubters to you? That’s OK because the other aspect that made Phase I distinct was how easily we tripped over ourselves in agreement about the candidates we elected. If either of us had even a moment of hesitation, we didn’t add the person to our first 14 pioneer/executive honorees.
Now, in the second half of this group, we face the formidable challenge of not only mutually agreeing on fourteen more candidates, but also figuring out who the hell to vote for. Those of you who have followed along so far during this pio/xec journey know that we’re actively sifting through general managers, logging every move that BBREF has record of…and some it doesn’t. Of course, that ain’t all. We’re going to be looking at a variety of types of candidates. Here’s a few:
- League officials: Most of them did little, some hurt the game, and a couple require a deep look
- Owners: Especially those who either made a massive impact on the game or who fall into the owner/operator model and doubled as general managers.
- GMs: Of course
- Scouts: You wouldn’t believe how much value some scouts found and signed for their big-league employers (think over a thousand for the high man), and we don’t know whether it’s still enough
- Coaches: A few are famous and/or well reputed, we’ll be examining them closely
- Pioneers/innovators: Jobe and Adams fit this category, and so do many others across history; the key question for each is whether their innovation is worth our vote
No, we’re not touching umpires. We just have to assume the Hall has that one covered.
Naturally, some people may qualify multiply, and the sum of their greatness may not be reflected by a single role. Someone like Al Campanis or Harry Dalton did amazing work as scouting director before becoming a very good GM. Someone else like Larry MacPhail has credentials as both an innovator and a GM. They’ll all get their fair hearing.
There is one other category of potential honoree that I haven’t mentioned. In fact, we remain a little unsure ourselves of whether this kind of figure fits our mission. That’s the lifetime-achievement candidate. We think of this person as someone who has a strong resume in at least two of our major groups of honorees (players, managers, and pioneer/executives), but whose credentials in any one category may not quite be enough for a plaque by itself. We’ll soon present the pro and con sides to this discussion to you as well as our final verdict, but needless to say there are precious few of these people, and you may well be able to name them yourself on the fingers of just one hand.
So here’s what we’re going to do. From here on out, we’ll be sharing our latest elections on a biweekly basis. We have more arguing and deliberating to do between plaques now, and a lot more research. In between elections, we’ll be presenting our latest researches as well as the cases for some of the most interesting candidates. And as we learn about different categories of candidates, we’ll also share what we think would make an electable person in each category.
We’ll soon be updating the election schedule to reflect this biweekly routine. Those 28 weeks will take us into roughly December, when we will learn whether the Hall’s latest flavor of Veterans Committee will elect anyone in the pioneer/executive group (and for that matter, managers or players). Maybe we’ll have an extra person or two to elect at that juncture. For now, we hope you enjoy learning along with us about some of baseball’s least known greats.