Given that I’ve written approximately ten thousand Hall of Fame posts in the past three weeks, I have no leg to stand on, but something over at MLB.com today provides a good reminder for us not to get too worked up at tomorrow’s vote totals:
First, there were five. Cy Young, whose name graces the highest pitching award in baseball, didn’t make the cut. He didn’t even get 50 percent of the vote.
That was in 1936, when — in order of voting percentage — Ty Cobb (98.2), Babe Ruth (95.1), Honus Wagner (95.1), Christy Mathewson (90.7) and Walter Johnson (83.6) comprised the first class of National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, the very first players on Cooperstown’s hallowed roster.
Baseball history was a different beast then. Nostalgia wasn’t yet invented — George Lucas did that while filming “American Graffiti” over 35 years later — and the giants of the game’s history were mostly still alive and playing golf and stuff.
But it is worth noting that, even if we can get worked up over voting philosophy and sins of both omission and commission when it comes to the Hall of Fame, time usually makes these things seem less important. Cy Young eventually made the Hall of Fame and no one died because he got 50% of the vote in whatever voting procedure they happened to use in 1936. Likewise, no one’s vote totals tomorrow will cause a national crisis.
Which isn’t to say that the things I’ve been going on about aren’t important. They’re just of a more localized importance, temporally speaking. Most of the things with which we occupy our days are not important to the gaze of history.