Here’s an old chestnut about baseball and race from the bad old days:
“This team has too many Latinos on it to win,” mused the old scout beside me. “Get too many of them together on a club and they take over. The club divides, has no sense of itself. They might not be terrible. I mean, them boys can play, but they ain’t gonna win no championship. They’re too emotional to go the distance. “No, no”—he shook his head—“I ain’t seen no team with this many Latinos in the lineup win.”
Oh, wait. That’s not from the bad old days. That’s from 2013 and it’s a Blue Jays scout talking about the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays.
That’s passed along by Dirk Hayhurst, who was covering the Jays last year. And he uses that anecdote to do what he does best: tell us about how baseball players, coaches, scouts and executives think and feel behind the scenes when they’re not Saying The Right Things to reporters. This time, about race.
A lot of you get sick of hearing about race in baseball. I assume a lot of that is because you feel like it’s an old topic without any currency in today’s game. As Hayhurst explains in his excellent article, you couldn’t be more wrong.
The Modern Era ballot was revealed last month. The results have been announced on Sunday night. Jack Morris and Alan Trammell will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next summer.
Morris, now 62, pitched parts of 18 seasons in the majors, 14 of which were spent with the Tigers. He played on four championship teams: the 1984 Tigers, the 1991 Twins, and the 1992-93 Blue Jays. While his regular season stats weren’t terribly impressive beyond his 254 wins, Morris has always had a decent amount of Hall of Fame support due to his postseason performances. Morris shut the Braves out over 10 innings in Game 7 of the ’91 World Series. That being said, his postseason ERA of 3.80 isn’t far off his regular season ERA of 3.90. If you ask me, Morris doesn’t pass muster for the Hall of Fame. He now has the highest career ERA of any pitcher in the Hall.
Trammel, now 59, had been unjustly kept out of the Hall of Fame despite a terrific career. He hit .285/.352/.415 across parts of 20 seasons from 1977-96, all with the Tigers. He was regarded as a tremendous defender and made a memorable combination up the middle with Lou Whitaker, who also played with the Tigers from 1977-95. According to Baseball Reference, Trammell racked up 70.4 Wins Above Replacement during his career, which is slightly more than Hall of Famer Barry Larkin (70.2) and as much as Hall of Famer Ron Santo (70.4).
Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, Luis Tiant, and Marvin Miller were not elected to the Hall of Fame. Miller continuing to be shut out is a travesty. Craig has written at length here about Miller’s exclusion.