By Jon Weisman
Given how difficult it is for former players to reach the Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee, it’s not really a surprise that Dodger greats Gil Hodges and Maury Wills fell short of election today. In fact, none of the 10 candidates made it in.
Another former Dodger, though one less identified with the uniform — Dick Allen — came closest to election, joining Tony Oliva in finishing exactly one vote short. Allen had a .395 on-base percentage and .468 slugging percentage with 23 home runs in 1971 (all team highs), his only season with the Dodgers. Allen had been acquired by the Dodgers after the 1970 season for former National League Rookie of the Year Ted Sizemore and young catcher Bob Stinson, then was traded to the White Sox in December 1971 at age 29 for infielder Steve Huntz and … Tommy John. John had a 2.89 ERA for the Dodgers in 1972, while Allen won the American League Most Valuable Player Award (.420 OBP, .603 slugging, 37 homers, 113 RBI).
I am a little surprised that Wills outpolled Hodges in this weekend’s vote, and by such a significant margin. Wills received nine votes from the 16-person committee (12 were needed for election), while Hodges was relegated to the “fewer than three” ranks. Without diminishing Wills, I would have thought Hodges’ success as both a player and manager (in the vein of Joe Torre), along with how close he came to election from the Baseball Writers Association of America, would have flipped that result.
“It was a very, very difficult decision for each and every member of the committee in this process,” Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick, a member of the committee, said on MLB.com. “I think there were very, very healthy conversations on each candidate — the pros and and cons – and most of the conversation yesterday was on the very, very positive of these candidates. It’s just unfortunate that one or two didn’t get in. I am disappointed, but again it points out how very, very difficult it is to earn a plaque in Cooperstown.”