The Hall of Fame released its 10-person “Golden Era” (1947-72) Veterans Committee ballot today, and making the cut was Michigan’s own Jim Kaat.
Kaat, who turns 73 in a few days, spent 25 years in the major leagues as a crafty left-hander, after growing up in Zeeland, Mich., and attending Hope College. He was 283-237 with a 3.45 ERA, and spent time with five teams, but mostly the Minnesota Twins.
It’s always tough to gauge just how well a Veterans Committee candidate will do; after all, a candidacy can simply come down to who has the most buddies on the 16-member committee, which includes the likes of Mr. Tiger Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda and Brooks Robinson. To be elected, a candidate must receive 75 percent support, or 12 votes.
The last two years, longtime executive Pat Gillick, manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey — each of them fine candidates — were elected. But the Veterans Committee has shut out groundbreaking players association chief Marvin Miller, who made many players super rich while ticking off many executives (a handful of whom make up the committee).
Kaat was a fine pitcher, known for his exceptional defense. Every year from 1962-73, he won a Gold Glove. He wasn’t overpowering though; he allowed more hits than innings pitched, and he struck out just 2,461 in 4,530.1 innings. He did win a World Series, though, with the ’82 Cardinals.
Also, using BaseballReference.com’s super-cool similarity measurement, of the 10 players Kaat’s career is on par with, seven are in the Hall of Fame.
Here are the other nine candidates:
- Buzzie Bavasi: Longtime general manager, won four World Series and eight NL pennants with the Dodgers.
- Ken Boyer: Played third base, mostly for the Cardinals, and finished with a .287 batting average. Won MVP in 1964 (119 RBIs).
- Charlie Finley: Owned the Athletics for 20-plus years; oversaw the building of those great ’70s A’s, who won three straight World Series.
- Gil Hodges: A slugging first baseman mostly for the Brooklyn and L.A. Dodgers, he had a seven-year stretch of 100 or more RBIs.
- Minnie Minoso: White Sox legend and Cuba native was a trailblazer for Latin America players in the 1950s. He hit .298 with considerable speed.
- Tony Oliva: Played his entire 15-year career with the Twins, and hit .304 for his career to win three batting titles. He played mostly right field.
- Allie Reynolds: Right-hander was 182-107 in his 13-year career, spent with the Indians and Yankees. He was key to six Yankees world titles.
- Ron Santo: A sentimental pick following his death last December, he’s a Cubs legend — from his time on the field (third base) and in the booth.
- Luis Tiant: A right-hander with an usual pitching motion, he’s beloved in Red Sox Nation. In a 19-year career, he won 20 four times.
The Veterans Committee will convene and vote, the its pick(s) will be unveiled at the winter meetings in Dallas in early December.
The “Pre-Integration” (1871-46) ballot will be back for the 2012 winter meetings, and the “Expansion Era (1973-present) ballot will return in 2013.