ON THE TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS August 6, 2012 #396 Coming up next…Reggie!
After further review…The 2012 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction honored only two of baseball’s best. While other professional sports honor several inductees each year, MLB’s selection committee makes it very difficult to be selected. There are so many great players, coaches and umpires overlooked that it begs the question: Is this exclusivity an injustice to worthy candidates, or a greater honor for those selected?
48-year-old Barry Larkin was a Reds fan from birth. Born and raised in Cincinnati, he attended Moeller High School, and after a stellar college career was drafted by his hometown heroes in 1985. He played his entire 19-year career at shortstop with the Reds. . Although the marketplace beckoned, Larkin never left “The ‘Nati”. Can you imagine playing a game you love, in a city where you grew up, for a T*E*A*M you love, and in front of your family and friends? Does it get any better than that?
Ron Santo, who died in 2010, was represented by his wife Vicki, who accepted the honor on behalf of the beloved Cub. Santo shared a similar tenure with Larkin, playing most of his career at third base with the Cubs. After retiring in 1974, Santo eventually joined the Cubs’ broadcast team. Bladder cancer claimed Santo, but he had been battling type 1 diabetes since he was 18, and did not disclose it until he knew the end was near. During retirement he was an activist for diabetes education and awareness.
There’s a certain irony in each of these selections. Larkin paid tribute in Cooperstown to his idol Pete Rose, “Charlie Hustle”, whose ban from the Hall for gambling has been an ongoing controversy. Santo, for his part, had been denied entry on every ballot since 1980, until the reformed Golden Era Committee evaluated him in historic terms in 2011. He is only the 16th third baseman in the hall.
The 2013 selections are sure to be controversial as both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be eligible. They will join prior candidates Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Mark McGuire, and Rafael Palmeiro all alleged users of performance-enhancing drugs. This is where #44, Reggie Jackson logs-in. “Mr. October” has been outspoken about those who “cheated’ their sport and diminish the honor of induction by using PED’s. Reggie has support from many other inductees.
Will you log-in with your view on eligibility for those players tainted by PED stain?