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Pirates’ Hall of Fame choices were excellent

Bill Mazeroski trying on his Hall of Fame coat

… and Bonds does not belong

Imagine how good the Pirates were a century ago. Names like Honus Wagner and Lloyd Waner and Paul Wanter and Pie Traynor may not be household names in the 21st Century, but few, if any, contemporary Pittsburgh players will make that list.

The inaugural Hall of Fame class was honored on Saturday night at PNC Park, and in that group were 12 players who have been elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

What made this even classier is that the Pirates accepted four players the black leagues that existed before the Jackie Robinson days.

What made this even better is that the Pirates made the right decision in not including Barry Bonds in that class.

The back story

Here is what happened last Saturday night

The Pirates honored their hall of fame class Saturday night before their game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The class features 12 Pirates inducted the National Baseball Hall of Fame – Honus Wagner, Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, Jake Beckley, Max Carey, Fred Clarke, Arky Vaughan, Pie Traynor, Ralph Kiner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski – and four hall of famers from the Negro Leagues in Ray Brown and Buck Leonard of the Homestead Grays and Oscar Charleston and Josh Gibson, who played for both the Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords …

The Pirates also honored three players who are franchise legends: Blass, Parker and Danny Murtaugh, manager of their 1960 and ’71 World Series champions. Murtaugh led the Pirates to nine winning seasons and five division titles in 12 seasons before his death at age 59 in 1976.

Kevin Gorman, “Pirates honor inaugural 19-member Hall of Fame class, ceremony disrupted by protester,” Tribune-Review, September 3, 2022

The Pirates have been part of Pittsburgh for 135 years, and the move to honor these players has been anticipated for many years. Only three of the inductees are still living: Mazeroski, Blass, and Parker.

Who should be in the MLB Hall of Fame?

Two of those should have been honored by Major League Baseball with induction to their HF in Cooperstown, at least based on their records.

Here are the numbers for Parker,

Parker was a two-time NL batting champion, three-time Gold Glove winner and four-time All-Star in 11 seasons with the Pirates who still ranks in their top 10 in home runs, RBIs, doubles and extra-base hits. He finished his 19-year career with 2,712 hits and 339 homers.

“The Pirates were the most elite team I used to play for,” said Parker, who fainted while posing for a photograph at the end of the ceremony but conducted interviews while seated. “They had unique players — Dock Ellis, Willie Stargell, myself. I used to come in the clubhouse and tell people there’s only three things that are gonna happen today: The sun’s gonna shine, the wind’s gonna blow and Big Dave’s gonna go 4 for 4.”

More impressive is that Parker followed Clemente in right field, maintaining the elite defensive play for the Pirates.

“Dave Parker, all they asked you to do was replace Roberto Clemente,” Blass said. “All you did was take ownership of right field. Boy did you ever.”

Kevin Gorman, Tribune-Review, September 3, 2022

Danny Murtaugh

The other person who belongs in the Hall has better credentials than many managers who have already been inducted,

The Pirates would go on to win the World Series that year (1971), defeating the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in seven games. Baltimore had four starting pitchers who had each won 20 games, and their offense was powered by Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, and Boog Powell. They were led by manager Earl Weaver, a Hall of Famer himself. But Murtaugh outmanaged him.

That was Murtaugh’s second World Series victory as a significant underdog, with the first coming in 1960 against the mighty New York Yankees, who were filled with great players like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford. In that series, the Yankees actually outscored the Pirates 55 to 27. But the Pirates managed to win 4 games to 3. Again, Murtaugh beat a Hall of Fame manager in Casey Stengel.

The 1960 World Series will be forever remembered for Bill Mazeroski’s dramatic walk-off home run in Game 7. It remains the only World Series to end on a home run in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7.

Murtaugh’s teams won over 90 games five times, finished first five times, and saw him accumulate 1,115 career victories, good for a .540 winning percentage. This ranks higher than 11 managers already in the Hall of Fame: Joe Torre (.538), Tony La Russa (.537), Whitey Herzog (.532), Ned Hanlon (.530), Tommy Lasorda (.526), Bill McKechnie (.524), Dick Williams (.520), Stengel (.508), Wilbert Robinson (.500), Bucky Harris (.493), and Connie Mack (.486). He is tied with Leo Durocher.

His two World Series titles are more than nine current Hall of Fame managers and equal to five others.

Dave Cash, “Danny Murtaugh belongs in the baseball,”

Delaware Valley Journal, Dec. 2, 2021

Maz still the most popular

While many of us will never forget Bill Mazeroski because his home run in the bottom on the ninth inning in the 1960 World Series defeated the New York Yankees, he is regarded as one of the best defensive infielders in history,

Perhaps the biggest ovations came for Mazeroski, who won eight Gold Gloves and is regarded as the best defensive second baseman in baseball history but is more famous for the walk-off home run at Forbes Field that beat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

“I was just a ballplayer. That’s all I’ve ever been, just an old ballplayer. I tried to play good, and things worked out: a few World Series, a few All-Star games, a statue and (the Pirates) retired my number,” Mazeroski said. “All that kind of stuff — that doesn’t happen often. That’s living the dream. Doesn’t happen too often, and I’m thrilled to death over it. I’m happy to be in this hall of fame.”

Kevin Gorman, Tribune-Review, September 2, 2022

As for Bonds being excluded…

Barry Bonds may have the qualifications to be a member of the Pirates HF, but the team obviously felt that his used of steroids was so problematic that he did not belong there.

The argument against Bonds is this, made by one of the voters for the MLB Hall of Fame,

A Hall of Fame vote is a large responsibility, and induction an honor that should be reserved for only the best and brightest the game has to offer.

It's not something I take lightly nor give out easily.

Which is why I did not vote for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro. And why, down the road, I will not be voting for Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez or Andy Pettitte.

My reasons for this are several, and not at all personal. I covered Clemens as a Yankee and found him OK to deal with, had numerous chats with Sosa in the opposing clubhouse at Shea Stadium and had at least one memorable, and quite pleasant, conversation with Bonds when the Giants came to Flushing a few years ago. I've never met McGwire or Palmeiro.

But over the past decade in which I have had the privilege -- and responsibility -- of being a Hall of Fame voter, I have taken the time to read the Baseball Writers' Association of America election rules and familiarize myself with the criteria for election.

And no matter how I try to justify it, none of those gentlemen can get past rule No. 5, which reads as follows: "Voting shall be based on the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

It is indisputable that all five of them have the record and the ability to warrant induction, and all made meaningful contributions to their teams.

It is just as indisputable that the methods by which they attained those records are in clear violation of the integrity, sportsmanship and character portion of that sentence.

Steroid or HGH use is cheating, plain and simple. And by definition, cheaters lack integrity, sportsmanship and character. Strike one, strike two, strike three.

Wallace Matthews, “Cheaters don’t deserve a Hall pass,”

ESPN New York, January 4, 2013

Bonds also has a mark against him with the Pirates: His woeful performance in the postseason. He would win MVP awards twice with the Bucs, but in the postseason, here were his postseason numbers,

In 1990, Bonds batted .167 and slugged .167. He managed three singles in 18 at-bats.

In 1991, Bonds batted .148 and slugged .185. He hit three singles and a double in 27 at-bats.

In 1992, he almost doubled his batting average, hitting .261 with six hits in 23 at-bats, including a double and a home run.

Harold Friend, “Barry Bonds blamed his Pirate teammates for not

winning the World Series,” Bleacher Report, September 4, 2011

In short, this is a great class. They have some other players who belong in it, and will probably add some as they years pass. This, however, is a great start.

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