In a couple of hours, the good baseball reporters out in Las Vegas for the winter meetings will file into a ballroom at the Bellagio Hotel for a press conference announcing the former players voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. The tension is palpable. Not really.
The Veterans Committee hasn't always worked this way. In fact, the Veterans Committee hasn't worked at all in the past eight years, failing to elect a single player since Bill Mazeroski walkoff-homered himself into Cooperstown in 2001. This time around, the living HOF members screened a list of eligible players and narrowed it down to a list of ten players from the pre-WWII era and ten players from the post-WWII era.
The ten more modern players included on this years ballot were Ron Santo, Joe Torre, Gil Hodges, Dick Allen, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills. Ballots with these names were sent to all living players in the HOF; they could choose up to four names for election. That last caveat was included to prevent Ernie Banks from checking off all ten names; Banks is just too nice a guy to deny anyone a vote. (this is patently untrue).
Of those names, I'd have chosen only Ron Santo for induction. Cooperstown is severely underrepresented by third basemen and Santo was easily one of the best players at the position. He was a nine-time All Star and a five-time Gold Glover while his offensive numbers were somewhat stunted by playing half his career in an era when pitchers dominated. Still, he managed a career 125 OPS+, higher than other HOFers Charlie Gehringer (124), Paul Molitor (122), and his pal Ernie Banks (122). Also, he has no legs and is beloved by a town full of losers, so he's got that going for him.
So, check back in this space this afternoon and I'll let you know who got in...if anyone.
UPDATE: Meech tells me that it's gonna be Santo, Torre, and Dick Allen. We'll see.