13) When Rickey Henderson was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, 28 people didn’t vote for him; how the BLEEP could you not vote for Rickey Henderson?
Well, he’s not alone; here are some other great ballplayers, and how many people didn’t vote for them to be inducted in Cooperstown.
Note: Mariano Rivera is the Hall of Fame’s only unanimous choice.
43— Mickey Mantle (43 people didn’t vote for Mantle???)
23— Willie Mays, Stan Musial
20— Ted Williams, Steve Carlton
16— Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, Greg Maddux
13— Tony Gwynn
11— Babe Ruth
9— Hank Aaron, George Brett
5— Tom Seaver
You get the point; Hall of Fame voting becomes personal, which is wrong.
12) There are unusual parallels between the careers of Sandy Koufax/Clayton Kershaw:
— Koufax led the NL in ERA five times.
Kershaw led the NL in ERA five times.
— Koufax led the NL in WHIP four times.
Kershaw led the NL in WHIP four times.
— Koufax won three Cy Young awards and an MVP.
Kershaw has won three Cy Young awards and an MVP.
— Koufax had a career record of 165-87
Kershaw has a career record of 187-84.
There are also a couple differences:
— Koufax threw 137 complete games, including 54 his last two seasons.
Kershaw has only 25 complete games in his career.
— Koufax was a good basketball player; he made the team at U of Cincinnati as a walk-on, later earned a partial scholarship.
Kershaw was a center on his high school football team; the QB on that team was Matthew Stafford.
12) Koufax had a weird major league career:
— First six years: 103 starts- 36-40, 4.10. 683 K’s in 691.2 IP
— Last six years: 211 starts- 129-47, 2.19. 1,713 K’s in 1,632.2 IP
He retired when he was 30, after a 27-9, 1.73 season.
11) Who was the first pitcher to strike out 3,000+ hitters, while walking less than 1,000?
Ferguson Jenkins pitched for 19 years in the big leagues, winning 284 games. Career ERA of 3.34, career WHIP of 1.14. Hell of a pitcher.
10) Detroit Tigers’ star Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off homer in his first MLB game; his next double will make him the fifth player ever with 500+ homers, 600+ doubles.
Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012, hitting .330 with 44 homers, 139 RBI
9) In 2004, Barry Bonds was walked intentionally 120 times; before that, the record for most intentional walks was held by another Giant, Willie McCovey.
McCovey got 45 intentional walks in 1969, 40 more the next year. In a game against the Mets, McCovey was walked intentionally in both the first and second innings.
Giants got really lucky in 1955; they held a tryout camp in Melbourne, FL, which is where they found both McCovey and Orlando Cepeda, two damn good players.
8) There were 1,469 players taken in the 2001 baseball draft; Justin Verlander wasn’t one of them. Instead, he went to Old Dominion and played college ball.
Three years later, these were the first two picks of the draft:
— San Diego took P Matt Bush with the #1 pick.
— Detroit took Verlander with the #2 pick.
7) Frank Thomas didn’t get drafted out of high school, either; instead he went to Auburn and played a few games as a backup tight end, while also playing baseball.
When he was a sophomore, Thomas led SEC in hitting; he was the 7th pick in the 1989 draft.
Thomas was a great hitter; seven years in a row, he hit .300+, walked 100+ times, scored 100+ runs and knocked in 100+. Those 100+ walks made the 100+ RBI a lot harder to get.
6) When he was a little kid, Brooks Robinson threw left-handed, but he broke his left arm and switched to throwing righty. Good thing for the Orioles.
Robinson was a paperboy; one of his customers was Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey.
He knocked in 118 runs in 1964, winning AL MVP. Robinson hit 268 career homers, and made the All-Star Game 15 years in a row.
4) Good trivia: Rickey Henderson led the American League in stolen bases every year in the 1980’s, except one; in 1987, Harold Reynolds stole 60 bases, beating Willie Wilson by one steal. Henderson stole 41 bases in that injury-plagued season.
3) Frank Robinson was a great ballplayer; 586 homers, .926 career OPS, 1,829 runs scored, 1,812 more knocked in. MVP of a World Series, MVP of an all All-Star Game. Great player.
At the end of his career, Robinson was making $173,000 a year; I always wonder if guys like Robinson, great ballplayers who were born too early, resented the ludicrous money ballplayers make nowadays?
You could make the argument that Robinson is the most underrated player ever; he was also the first Black manager in the major leagues. If he was in his prime today, $173,000 would be his tipping money.
2) When Roger Clemens was a senior in high school, he didn’t get any Division I scholarship offers, so he pitched at San Jacinto College, a junior college. He wound up pitching at Texas, became a big star, was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 1983— he got the major leagues the next season.
I saw Clemens pitch at Cooperstown, in the Hall of Fame Game; he wasn’t a big star yet, just a young prospect recovering from arm surgery (back then, just about all the pitchers from Texas had their arms operated on).
In 13 years with Boston, Clemens was 192-111, but only 40-39 the last four years. After he left Boston, Clemens went 162-73, 3.21, won four more Cy Young awards.
By way of comparison, these are the CAREER stats for Sandy Koufax:
165-87, 2.76 ERA, three Cy Young awards.
Clemens’ postseason record: 12-8, 3.75 in 34 starts, which ain’t spectacular, but boy, what an awesome career he had.
1) Willie Mays was called up to the major leagues at age 20, he was hitting .477 in AAA, with 29 extra base hits in 35 games; what took them so long?
New York Giants trailed Brooklyn by 10.5 games in August, back when there were no playoffs, just the World Series between the teams who won the NL/AL. Giants made a great run, tied the Dodgers for first place, beat them in a playoff but lost the World Series in six games.
Mays hit 660 homers, and missed two years for military service; he had a .940 OPS, scored 2.068 runs, knocked in 1,909 more.
Mays hit 523 doubles, 140 triples, 660 homers, stole 338 bases. The great writer Joe Posnanski calls him the greatest baseball player ever. Who am I to argue with that?