Who the heck is Barry Stanton?

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Since that ESPN ballot started making the rounds, complete with a guy named Barry Stanton voting for B.J. Surhoff and Tino Martinez of all people, the most frequent question populating my email box and Twitter feed is “who the heck is Barry Stanton?”

Some folks over on this BTF thread did some Googling, and it was discovered that Barry Stanton spent 25 years or so writing for the Journal-News of Westchester, New York, just outside of New York City.

The fact that he’s from Westchester is a possible explanation for his vote for Surhoff, who was a Westchester prep star.  The fact that he likely got his BBWAA ticket covering the Yankees or the Mets might explain the Tino Martinez vote. I’m sentimental sometimes myself, so I guess I understand it even if I don’t approve.

Oh, and then there’s this.  Seems Stanton left his job eight years ago after he was caught plagiarizing a Posnanski column. Ouch.

To be clear: I don’t link it to slam the guy or to discredit his ballot on that basis. The guy lost his job and I assume learned his lesson. There are few mistakes in life that people should be expected to pay for forever, and lifting some prose is not one of them. And hey: given the nature of his Hall of Fame ballot, one thing we know for sure about Stanton is that, in this instance, he’s not copying anyone.

That said, a lot of people marvel at the breadth of the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame electorate.  There are guys voting there who haven’t covered baseball for years.  One is a political cartoonist in Montreal. Another is a college football writer.  This one was found to have committed journalism’s greatest sin. In light of all of that, is it crazy to ask whether it’s worth the BBWAA’s time to reconsider who gets a vote and who doesn’t?

The BBWAA is hyper-selective at who gets to vote for awards: only 28 or 30 guys each, all actively baseball writers.  They get it right for the most part too.  The Hall of Fame has hundreds of voters from all over the place, and they’re increasingly screwing the pooch.  Isn’t there a happy medium to be found? Is it time to look for one?

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.