Here comes a bakers-dozen-plus-one list (additionally, two not quite on the shortlist, but who ought to be considered) of figures I (Evander) would like to see in The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Let the barroom brawl begin.
1. Gil Hodges. C’mon voters! A great player, one of the so-called Boys of Summer, who would pilot one of the most famous, joyous baseball teams ever: the 1969 New York Mets.
2. Pete Rose. Wake up! He has the most hits of all time. Even if banned from baseball, his career is unparalleled.
3. Roger Maris. How much more “famous” can anyone be?
4. Thurman Munson. I never had a doubt, for a minute, that he was better, fiercer, than HOFers Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter.
5. Denny McLain. When will a pitcher win thirty games again, as he did in 1968? No Boy Scout? Cf. Ty Cobb. Short career? Cf. Dizzy Dean and Sandy Koufax.
6. Spud Chandler. Truncated career during the World War II era should not work against him.
7. Tony Oliva. Would flirt with .400 if he were playing in the 1990s-2000s.
8. Tommy John. Hello! The surgery that carries his name makes him a household word.
9. Jim Kaat. Hello! Like Tommy John, won a staggering number of games and might have been the greatest fielding pitcher ever.
10. Marvin Miller. Hello! Come writers and critics throughout the land, don’t criticize what you can’t understand.
11. Jack Morris. A terrific pitcher, he may make it yet.
12. Billy Martin. Controversial (to say the least) player and skipper.
13. George Steinbrenner. Even more controversial and less compelling in his prime, but changed the economics of baseball. Like Jack Morris, he may yet be elected.
14. Curt Flood. A premier center fielder that did the most to liberate players from owners.