The Veteran’s Committee Hall of Fame nominees are out

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If you’ll recall, the Veteran’s Committee for the Hall of Fame now votes on nominees on a rotating basis, with each year covering a different era. This year it’s the “pre-Integration” era, consisting of players, managers, umpires and executives whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from the 1876-1946.

This year’s nominees have been announced. There are ten:

  • Marty Marion: Played from 1940-50, took a break for the Korean War and then played in 1952-53, batting .263 with 36 home runs. A slick fielding shortstop. His best years where during WWII when all of the best players were gone. Seems like a poor candidate.
  • Bucky Walters: Pitched from 1934-1950 compiling a 198-160 lifetime record, with a 3.30 era. Three FANTASTIC seasons in 1939, 1940 and 1944 (though that was a war year) with a lot of filler surrounding. Won the 1939 MVP.
  • Jacob Ruppert: Owner of the New York Yankees from 1915 through 1939 which, if you weren’t aware, was when they became THE NEW YORK YANKEES. I’m rather shocked he’s not already in the Hall.
  • Bill Dahlen: Played from 1891-1911, mostly as a shortstop. He retired in 1911 as the active home run leader with 84. Some old timer probably called him “the REAL home run king” for a long damn time after Home Run Baker and Babe Ruth and those guys came along.
  • Wes Ferrell: A 193-128 record with a 4.04 career ERA (116 ERA+) from 1927-1941. He won 20 games four times to kick of his career and did it two more times later, which gives him some curiosity points, but he flamed out young and was quite ordinary for much of his career. A nice career, but really, if this guy gets in, do we really have standards for pitchers anymore? How is he different from any number of very good but not necessarily great pitchers like Dennis Martinez and the like?
  • Tony Mullane: Won 284 games in 13 major league seasons from 1881-1894. 468 of his 504 games were complete games. Old Hoss Radbourn used to mock his stamina.
  • Deacon White: Played from 1871-1890. The Hall of Fame website calls him “one of the finest barehanded catchers of his time.” Ouch.
  • Samuel Breadon: Long time owner of the Cardinals, who hired Branch Rickey and helped form the modern minor league system. The Cardinals won nine pennants and six World Series on his watch.
  • Alfred Reach: Player, sporting goods mogul and the publisher of the Reach Guides, which published statistics and stories and things and which now serve as great historical documents from the deadball era.
  • Hank O’Day: An umpire from 1888 through 1927. He also played and managed, often in some of the years covering that umpire stretch. I have no idea how that worked. I also have no idea what the standards are for a Hall of Fame umpire. Pioneers notwithstanding, the best ones should be the ones you don’t hear about, right?

The inductees will be announced on December 3 during the Winter Meetings.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.