Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, with lifetime career stats of 342 homers, 2254 hits, a lifetime .277 batting average and numerous gold glove awards narrowly missed becoming inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in the veteran’s committee bi-annual segment of the voting which took place on Tuesday.
Santo just missed the 75% threshhold, polling 69.5 percent of the ballots cast.
Former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo led all candidates on the Player Ballot with 57 votes, totaling 69.5 percent of all ballots cast. Umpire Doug Harvey led all Composite Ballot nominees with 52 votes, 64.2 percent of the tally.
With 82 of 84 (97.6%) ballots cast for the Player Ballot, 62 votes were necessary to meet the 75% standard for election. Eighty-one of 84 (96.4%) ballots were cast for the Composite Ballot (managers, executives and umpires), with 61 needed to earn Hall of Fame election.
MLB.com’s report on the election includes a chart with all of the voting results.
In looking at the players on the ballot, it seems incredulous that Santo didn’t make it. Similarly, it is eye-opening how many other great major leaguers of the past 50 years didn’t even come near the threshhold.
Of particular note in missing the Hall on the vote were;
Former lefthanded Pitcher Jim Kaat, a 25 year veteran who had a number of great seasons with the Minnesota Twins (including 25-13, ERA 2.75, 19 CC in 1966) and two 20 game winning seasons with the Chicago White Sox.
Former Dodgers first baseman and 18 year veteran Gil Hodges who hit 370 homers in his career and who from 1949 to 1959 drove in at least 80 runs a season with the exception of 1958 when he drove in 64. The Dodgers teams he was on went to the world series in 1949, 1953, 1953 and 1956. Hodges finished out his career by playing two partial seasons on the Mets.
Former Dodgers infielder Maury Wills who stole 586 bases in 14 seasons, a 73.8% success rate, including 104 thefts in 1962 and 94 thefts in 1965 and who finished with a lifetime .281 batting average. Wills spent the 1967 and 1968 seasons with the Pirates and part of 1969 with the Montreal Expos before returning to the Dodgers through 1972 to finish out his career.
Former pitcher Don Newcombe who played 10 seasons, 7 of them with the Dodgers, and who won 17 games or more in each of 5 seasons, 3 seasons winning 20 or more games including a phenomenal 27-7, 3.06 ERA in the 1956 season. Newcombe pitched in the both the 1949 and 1956 World Series. He retired in 1960.
Former Braves and Cardinals catcher and infielder Joe Torre, with a lifetime .297 batting average played 18 seasons, 9 of them with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, 6 with the St. Louis Cardinals, including 1971 when he led the NL with a .363 BA and with most hits; 230. He finished his career with 2 seasons and a part of a 3rd with the New York Mets. He has managed the Yankees since 1995.
Chicago Tribune staff writer Paul Sullivan reports on reactions by the Cubs to Santo’s near miss;
Santo was too distraught to talk to the media, and his good friend and former teammate, Billy Williams, said he probably was devastated by the news.
“I felt sorry for him because he was so looking forward to getting the call,” Williams said. “I felt really good about it this year. I talked to Ernie [Banks] yesterday and I think everybody who was involved [wanted it to happen]. Maybe we were a little partial to him because we were teammates, but I really thought with the credentials he had, he was deserving.”Santo was followed in the voting on the players’ ballot by former pitcher Jim Kaat, who garnered 52 votes (63.4 percent). Former Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges finished third with 50 votes (61 percent), while former Twins outfielder Tony Oliva was fourth with 47 votes (57.3 percent). The candidate getting the most votes on the composite ballot, featuring managers, umpires and executives, was former ump Doug Harvey with 52 votes.
Though no one has been voted into the Hall by the Veterans Committee in the three years it has held a vote—2003, 2005 and 2007—Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark said “we feel strongly the process is open and fair.”
But Clark also said the voting process will be re-evaluated on March 13 because no one has been elected under the new system, which replaced a committee that was composed primarily of a select group of baseball writers.
Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan said it was unfair to criticize the Veterans Committee for not voting anyone in because “the writers voted on these guys 15 years without any of them being elected.” Morgan was referring to voting by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, which gives players up to 15 years on the ballot to receive the 75 percent vote total required.
Morgan disputed the notion that the Hall of Famers who are currently voting aren’t studying the candidate’s credentials.
“The players did their due diligence,” Morgan said.
Santo tried to downplay his feelings about the voting last week, but added: “Let’s be honest, I want this badly, mainly because [the voting] is every two years. To me, two years, because of what I have with the diabetes and [getting] older, it’s like eternity. If I do get in, I’d like to enjoy it.”
Santo, who turned 67 on Sunday, said he’s not interested in gaining the honor posthumously. In 2005 he tied for first on the ballot with the late Hodges with 52 votes, but was still eight votes shy of induction. In ‘03 he placed third on the ballot with 46 votes, behind Hodges and Oliva.
Williams was puzzled as to why Santo keeps coming close and missing out. Asked if Santo’s heel-clicking celebrations during the 1969 season had any bearing on the voters, Williams replied: “I don’t know. I hope not. I hope they look at it from the standpoint of what he did in the game of baseball. I know a lot of players in the Hall of Fame don’t look at that.”
Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Santo was worthy of induction and was disappointed when told Santo was denied entrance once again.
“Santo was a dominant player at his position for a long, long time, an All-Star and a Gold Glover and a great ambassador for the game of baseball,” he said. “It’s a shame he just fell short.”
The entire Cubs family shared in Santo’s disappointment. Mark Prior may have put it best Monday when asked how Santo would handle it if he didn’t make it this year.
“Ron’s pretty resilient,” Prior said. “The city has obviously embraced him as one of their own. He’ll get over it. … He’s deserving of the honor, and it will be an awesome day to see him up there giving that speech at Cooperstown.”
The next vote is scheduled for February 2009. Williams believes the Hall of Fame will revise the voting procedure to ensure there won’t be a repeat of the last three ballots. Some believe voting should take place every year instead of every two years.
“That might be a good question that the committee is going to look at again,” Williams said. “Every two years is a long time.”