We talked about this some last summer, but Bill Madden of the Daily News reminds us today that the Hall of Fame debates which raged before and after last Wednesday’s announcement — and which will rage every year forever more, it seems — have to do with a hell of a lot more than history and honor:
His value just increased threefold and he can count on making millions in autograph signings for the rest of his life . . . If he hasn’t already, Dawson will quickly find out from his fellow Hall
of Famers how the road to Cooperstown intersects with Easy Street. For
example: Goose Gossage went from getting $3,000 an appearance as a perennial also-ran on the
Hall of Fame ballot to $25,000 an appearance after he was elected, as
his autograph increased from $10 to $50.
Madden quotes that baseball card guy “Mr. Mint” as saying that the election could mean a million bucks to Dawson’s bottom line. As the Wall Street Journal reported last July, even dead guys can make bank on this sort of thing, as the heirs of Shoeless Joe Jackson could see as much as $500K a year in marketing opportunities if and when he’s ever inducted. Presumably that won’t involve any appearance fees at card shows, because that would be kind of gross.
Madden suggests that this Hall of Fame loot could be one reason why Tony La Russa hinted that he might activate Mark McGwire, thereby extending his Hall of Fame clock and allowing him to cash in one day. Given that McGwire made $75 million in salary alone as a ballplayer, I’m guessing this little Hall of Fame bump wouldn’t be a big motivator.
But it’s a little more easy to see the motivation of a Bert Blyleven or a Dave Parker or other guys of that vintage, who made a fraction of that over the course of their careers. Yes, I’m sure they want the honor and the glory most of all, but the next time you hear lobbying on their behalf — or from them directly, as we often do from Blyleven — let us not forget that more than mere acclaim comes with being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.