Where the Hall of Fame Went Wrong

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When it was announced that Pete Rose would be put in the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame in  June, it brought back from its grave the tedious subject of putting him into the real National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

If God is a baseball fan, as I fondly hope he is Pete Rose never gets in any more than Shoeless Joe and his 7 fellow low lives, Prince Hal Chase or any other gambler who took a shot at the game.

A subject hasn’t come up that probably should have somewhere along the way. Is the term Hall of Fame de-valued when individual teams and yes even radio stations have a Hall of Fame?  The station I began broadcasting with, Wgls/FM 89.7 in Glassboro, NJ has a Hall of Fame. (Why I wasn’t put in it long ago is beyond me. lol.)

Other Hall of Fames should be called something else. Some teams have a Ring of Excellence or Wall of Excellence. The Yankees have Monument Park. The football Hall of Fame should be called “Cell Block 2.”  The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame should be called what it is-an unmitigated  joke. I mean, Johnny Cash is in it. He was the best country singer ever in my opinion after Hank Williams, but a rocker he wasn’t.

Did Judge Landis, Abner Doubleday or anybody related to  baseball coin the term Hall of Fame?  It turns out no baseball man did. The initial  use of the term ‘Hall of Fame’ came about in 1900 with the creation of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, part of the original New York University. Rather than in Greenwich Village where NYU is, the original Hall of Fame is on the campus of what is now Bronx Community College after NYU sold the campus to the city in 1973.  Only 102 persons have been elected to it since its dedication on May 30, 1901.

While you’ll find Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and Alexander Hamilton (check your $10.00 bills,) the only athlete who ever made it was Jackie Robinson.

Either that Hall of Fame’s creators in 1901 or somebody at Cooperstown in 1939 should have tried to get a trademark on the term Hall of Fame to keep smaller organizations from using the expression. Between the Depression, the looming start of World War II and his own fading health Judge Landis had more urgent fires to put out, and once he was gone baseball never elected anybody to the office of Commissioner who would have thought of taking such a step. Maybe Ford Frick, but certainly nobody after him. So now everything has a Hall of Fame including the Cincinnati Reds. And that gives  Pete Rose an entree into a_ Hall of Fame, even though it isn’t the one just outside of Syracuse.  Even this minor recognition seems wrong considering all the years the man lied about his gambling on baseball. he only came clean when he was trying to sell a book, and that after more than two decades of trying to sell the baseball world a bill of goods.

To start today’s birthdays, David Eckstein is 41 today. With Fred Patek a dim memory, Eckstein is about as short a player as you’ll see in modern baseball, at five feet 8. The little guy was the big man in the 2006 World Series winning the MVP as the Cards beat the Tigers. He had also played for the 2002 Angels when they took the Series from the Giants-literally. He was an All-Star in both 2005 and 2006 as a Cardinal.

Ozzie Guillen is 52 today.  He has been one of baseball’s more controversial figures of recent years. He played a dozen years for the White Sox and also managed 8 seasons on the south side of Chicago.  He was brought in for  one season  to manage in Miami which started with a disastrous statement in favor of Fidel Castro and just got worse. His son Ozzie JR. now broadcasts games in Spanish for the White Sox on WRTO.


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