This original post Tuesday at 7 p.m. was updated Wednesday at 10 a.m.:
The list of 50 candidates made eligible for 2014 induction into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals includes 13 newbies.
One is Bob Costas.
One isn’t Vin Scully.
That revelation isn’t meant to pit one famed baseball broadcaster against another. If anything, both should be candidates based on merits and criteria of the organization, and at this point, it’s a bit more surprising that based on the altruistic goals of the Pasadena-based non-profit, both have not been honored already.
No doubt, over the years, we’ve had our favorites come up for discussion and inclusion by this selection committee appointed by the Baseball Reliquary board of directors. But more often than not, we’ve been more intrigued by who the group has uncovered through spirited research and historical digs that result in the eternilization of those who otherwise would not get their due in the “People’s Hall of Fame.”
At date, the list is already at 45 who have been given their plaques by Reliquary executive director Terry Cannon, and each one can be mighty justified.
It’s just that this latest ballot kind of struck us as a case where … if we were to nicely offer our two cents … and would someone be paying attention that might be open to third-party guidance …
Is there an oversight committee?
The only real guidelines for the ballot construction, as per Cannon’s cannon, is that it be comprised of “individuals – from the obscure to the well-known – who have altered the baseball world in ways that supersede statistics.”
Neither Costas nor Scully have stats to base their impact on the game. Just fan connection that goes deep for both, in different degrees probably. Scully, put into the Baseball Hall of Fame’s broadcasting wing with the Ford C. Frick Award in 1982, has the loyal Dodger fans base as well as a respected network career going back to 1950.
Costas, without a connection to a local team, has an exceptional network broadcasting career for decades on behalf of the game. He’s not in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Frick winner, as network broadcasters are finally getting a bit more of their due and it should only be a matter of time when he is recognized for that.
In the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine, there are several baseball authors and writers. But no broadcasters. Yet.
Ernie Harwell, the Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster with the Detroit Tigers, has been on the ballot the last 11 years, without induction. Dizzy Dean, almost as memorable as a broadcaster as he was a player, hasn’t gotten in either after 14 tries.
Harry Caray has been on the ballot in the past, from 2000 to 2003 but the lack of support (less than 25 percent over a two-year period) is reason enough to have him taken off the ballot — with the chance he could come back at a later time. It’s happened as well.
The inclusion of Costas as a Reliquary candidate is surely welcome. Yet it also seems to raise the other eyebrow:
Scully must surely have been part of the discussion, but why wouldn’t the next step be to put it up for a Reliquary membership vote?
“Scully’s name, of course, comes up for our consideration. The major reason we have not yet placed his name on the ballot is we have tried to shine the spotlight on those who are not as well-known or as highly-honored.
“Scully has received every possible honor, from election to the Hall of Fame to Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade. I guess it’s the same reason we’ve never had Babe Ruth on the ballot. This is not to say that Scully will never appear on the ballot, but we are trying to shed light on those who have impacted the game in a myriad of ways, but may not be as familiar as Scully and Ruth.”
Scully is too big for this? And Costas is small enough?
(Thats’s a whole other direction we could go there).
Reliquary Shrine inductees include some very big names as well: Jackie Robinson, Pete Rose, Yogi Berra, Roberto Clemente, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson. All are in the Cooperstown Hall except for Rose, for now, for their statistical numbers as well as their personalities and off-field accomplishments that deserve recognition.
But the longer Scully is left off, and names like Harwell, Dean, Caray and now Costas make it on, an arbitrary discrepancy seems to have come up that’s more confusing than reassuring.
In the Reliquary announcement, Cannon lists Costas’ qualifications in this quick bio: “Boyish, near-ubiquitous sportscaster, interviewer, and baseball savant who has been a fixture on NBC Sports television since the early 1980s. As the prime-time host of nine Olympic Games and a knowledgeable commentator on most sports, Costas is considered by many a worthy successor to Jim McKay, the late ABC broadcast legend. Baseball is his primary passion, however, one that he continues to indulge as play-by-play announcer and host of an interview show, Studio 42 with Bob Costas, for MLB Network.”
Scully’s bio would take more than a few neat paragraphs. To his Reliquary determent?
Maybe we’re too close to the forest to see the trees in Southern California. With Harwell, whose qualifications seem as much in line as Scully’s as a Midwest broadcasting icon with Southern roots, at least he made the ballot and continues to be included.
Cannon points out that Harwell is in a group of that “continually gets a decent percent of the vote, just not enough to finish in the top three.” In 2012, Harwell was on 15 percent of the ballots. Last year, he was on 20 percent. That two-year total of 35 percent keeps him.
Dean had 30 percent in 2012 and 31 percent in 2013.
To get into the top three, you usually need to be on 33-to-40 percent of the ballots.
When the ballots go out in April, whoever pays their Reliquary annual dues get an equal voice. The three top vote-getters will be enshrined on July 19 in Pasadena. Maybe Costas will be Greg Maddux-like and get in on the first crack.
That Reliquary list for 2014 includes:
== Laurie Brady: Hired as a PR ploy by Oakland owner Finley in the mid-1970s who predicted on the eve of the ’76 season that the A’s would “go all the way.” They finished second. She was fired.
== George Brunet: A left-handed pitcher for nine teams in 15 seasons (including the Angels from ’64-’69) who gained pop culture fame with his inclusion of Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four,” revealing he refused to wear undershorts.
== Margaret Donahue: Recognized as the first female executive in the big leagues promoted through the ranks by Chicago Cubs president William Veeck, Sr.
== Harvey Dorfman: Famed sports psychologist.
== Charles Fairbanks: A Bell Telephone engineer who in 1964 invented the “beep” baseball for the blind.
== Bill Faul: Eccentric pitcher from 1962-70 with a 12-16 career record.
== Mamie “Peanut” Johnson: The first female pitcher to play in the Negro Leagues, going 33-8 with the Indianapolis Clowns.
== Denny McLain: Baseball’s last 30-game winner with the Detroit Tigers also known for arrests for drug trafficking and embezzlement, out of the game by age 28.
== Dave Parker: A 19-year big-leaguer, 7-time All-Star and one-time NL MVP known as “The Cobra” and the first professional athlete to earn an average of $1 million a year was also a key figure in the game’s early-1980s investigation into cocaine and amphetamine use.
== John “Bonesetter” Reese: Known in the early 1900s for his ability, without a medical license, to treat physical ailments to players such as Honus Wagner, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby and Walter Johnson.
== Rachel Robinson: Widow of baseball and civil rights pioneer Jackie Robinson.
== Hy Turkin: New York sportswriter who collaborated on the first baseball encyclopedia in 1951.
The rest of the ballot (with years they’ve been listed, in alphabetical order):
Eliot Asinof (11); Sy Berger (4); Steve Bilko (3); Chet Brewer (15); Glenn Burke (7); Bert Campaneris (3); Jose Canseco (3); Octavius V. Catto (2); Rocky Colavito (2); Charles M. Conlon (13)
Lisa Fernandez (14); Charlie Finley (4); Rube Foster (16); Bo Jackson (2); Annabelle Lee (3); Effa Manley (16); Dr. Mike Marshall (9); Tug McGraw (11); Fred Merkle (8); David N. Mullany (2)
Hideo Nomo (3); Joe Pepitone (4); Phil Pote (12); Vic Power (6); Dan Quisenberry (8); Pete Reiser (2); J.R. Richard (15); Annie Savoy (4); Rusty Staub (9); Fay Vincent (13)
Rube Waddell (16); John Montgomery Ward (8); John Young (2); Don Zimmer (10)
And those who are already in:
Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Roger Angell, Emmett Ashford, Moe Berg, Yogi Berra, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Bill Buckner, Roberto Clemente, Steve Dalkowski, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Eisenreich, Dock Ellis, Eddie Feigner, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Ted Giannoulas, Josh Gibson, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Pete Gray, William “Dummy” Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Dr. Frank Jobe, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Manny Mota, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Lester Rodney, Pete Rose, Casey Stengel, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck, Jr., Maury Wills, and Kenichi Zenimura.