Who makes it to Cooperstown?

Cooperstown, NY.  This is the city that houses the building where baseball greats and legends are remembered. The Baseball Hall Of Fame, often referred to as Cooperstown, is the place where those who excelled the most at the sport are forever remembered with their name and face engraved in an iron plaque. Or is it really? How is it decided who makes it to Cooperstown? And why? Might there be a reason why certain people are not remembered?

The Rules for Election: Every year active and honorary members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote on who will be enshrined in the HOF. Pretty much, anyone who has played in the MLB for a minimum of 10 seasons and has been retired for a minimum of 5 years is eligible to be voted in and to be voted in, you must receive at least 75% approval of the ballots cast to be inducted.

Voting is not based solely on performance however. From the Baseball Hall of Fame website, “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Note the words integrity and character. These words alone make the difference on who is ultimately remembered in the sport.

One instance where the integrity of the game played a huge factor in whether a player was inducted into the hall of Fame was in the case of Barry Bonds. He is currently MLB’s Homerun leader, a feat he achieved after hitting his 756th homerun, breaking current hall of famer Hank Aaron’s record of 755 homeruns. He was one of baseball’s most feared hitters. However, he is currently being rejected admission into the Baseball Hall of Fame due to his involvement taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). Although his ridiculous numbers would make anyone else a first-ballot Hall of Famer, the fact that he has cheated the game of baseball using PEDs has for now kept him out of the Hall of Fame.

YEAREND BBN-BONDS 10 SA

Barry Bonds rounding the bases after he hits his historic 756th homerun.

Another interesting case is that of Pete Rose. He arguably had one of the greatest careers in baseball history. He currently holds 17 MLB records including most career hits, most career singles and most career games played, which show that he was an exceptional hitter not only for a season, but for a long time. He is a 17 time all-star, won the championship 3 times and was even voted into the Major League Baseball All-century Team, where the best 30 players in the 20th century are selected to create the best possible team.

pete rose

Pete Rose Sliding into 3rd base

 

However despite his many accomplishments, he is currently being left out of the Baseball HOF because he had wagered money on baseball games. Many baseball fans, analysts and writers currently argue on whether he should be included in the HOF because he didn’t directly cheat in those baseball games. He never took any PEDs and those records he holds are because of his extraordinary talent and dedication to the game. Nonetheless, those who are in charge of the Baseball HOF argue that he jeopardized the integrity of the game, and that he will never be voted into the HOF.

Players and coaches aren’t the only ones invited to Cooperstown. Lee MacPhail was an MLB executive who was actively involved in the game of baseball for over 40 years. He is remembered for improving many facets of the game and is most remembered for bringing an end to the 1981 Baseball Strike.

lee-macphail

Picture of Lee MacPhail

From the examples above, it is clear the baseball HOF chooses to remember the rich and positive history of baseball. Yes, the main purpose of a Hall Of Fame is to remember the best players to play the game but the baseball HOF does not care only about statistical greatness. To be in the Hall Of Fame one must not only be great on the field, but also show integrity and bring pride to the game. By leaving out players such as Rose and Bonds, choosing to only remember the players who positively impacted the game. This would be an example of a presentist approach to collective memory. As Dee Britton explains in her piece What is Collective Memory, “Groups select different memories to explain current issues and concerns.  In order to explain the present, leaders of a group reconstruct a past using rationalization to choose which events are remembered, those that are eliminated, and rearrange events to conform to the social narrative.” Here, the MLB is trying to tell present and future players, as well as the public, that if you do not abide by what is seen as an exemplary player, then you will not be remembered as a Hall of Famer. This in turn is beneficial to the overall image of baseball. Since they have refused to allow cheaters into the Hall of Fame, it has set a precedent that will discourage the use of PED’s and any other form of cheating or dishonesty.

References:

Armour, Mark. “Lee MacPhail.” Society For American Baseball Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/641271d3&gt;.

“BBWAA Election Rules.” National Baseball Hall Of Fame. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2015. <http://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/bbwaa-rules-for-election&gt;.

Britton, Dee. “What Is Collective Memory?” Memorialworlds. Memorial Worlds, 27 June 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.

Davidoff, Ken. “Barry Bonds Must Be in Hall of Fame after Courts Clear His Name.” NY Post. New York Post, 22 July 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.

Neyer, Rob. “Rethinking Rose’s Reinstatement.” Just a Bit Outside. FoxSports, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.

4 thoughts on “Who makes it to Cooperstown?

  1. Is there anything that I could add to additionally supplement the text other than the pictures? The layout is very basic but how can I add to it and make it more appealing? Any other tips to make my blog post better?

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  2. I feel that this blog has a lot to offer and is very nicely set up. However i am a little unclear as to if Cooperstown is a place with a hall of fame or if it is simply a historical place for baseball? I feel that that information is important so maybe that could be added just to be clear for people who aren’t familiar with the subject. Maybe a couple more pictures of Cooperstown. Overall, its a great blog.

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  3. I really like how the images you chose correlate with the context of the blog. I think it may be helpful if you include some hyperlinks to extra information about the Hall of fame. Overall I think it is very well written.

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