Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Hall of Fame, 2005

Ron Santo is yet again on the Veterans Committee for induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Joining him are Joe Torre, Tony Oliva, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Richie Allen and a few others.

Back in the day, I saw Torre play with both the Braves (Milwaukee) and Cardinals. Today, he’d be making millions on millions. He could rake plus he had power. He was a decent first baseman, but was moved to third after going to the Cardinals. Tumbs up. I only saw Oliva on TV, but he was born to hit. He did have one odd habit, and that was losing control of the bat when he swung. If you sat near home plate when Oliva was up, you’d better have some body armor. I give him thumbs up.

Kaat was OK, but nothing more than a durable and crafty left-hander. He was the Jamie Moyer of his day. Kaat was a great athlete who could hit and field his position with great skill. Thumbs down to Kaat. As for Richie (Dick) Allen, I am biased. He was my hero in the early ‘60s when he broke into the Phillies lineup. He was a young African American man playing for a racist manager in a racist city. He had amazing raw power, swung something like an 80-ounce bat (I exaggerate) and hit prodigious home runs over the Coke ® sign in left field in Connie Mack Stadium. He was a third baseman converted from left field; he was not the worst fielder ever, but certainly no Brooks Robinson.

Gil Hodges was before my time.

Ron Santo personified the essence of Cub-dom. He was a prototype thirdbaseman of the ‘60s: great power, slick fielding, slow as a horse. He has made headlines for his work for diabetes charities and has lost both legs to the disease. He is Cubs announcer (radio), and an unapologetic Cubs on-air cheerleader. He has been great for the game—thumbs up.