There have been several former Cleveland Indians announced on the Golden Era Ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Outfielder Minnie Minoso, pitcher Luis Tiant and pitcher Allie Reynolds all spent time with the Indians and are on this year’s ballot, the final results of which will be announced on December 5.
A bit of background on the ballot – baseball is split into three eras, the Pre-Integration Era (1871-1946), the Golden Era (1947-1972), and the Expansion Era (1973-the present) for voting purposes. The Baseball Writers Association of America’s Historical Overview Committee focuses on one specific era and nominates players that may have been overlooked for entry into the Hall of Fame. Anyone with at least 10 years of service is eligible for consideration on the ballot.
This year there were 10 finalists named from the Golden Era, two executives and eight players – executives Buzzie Bavasi and Charlie Finley, and in addition to the three former Indians, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva and Ron Santo will also appear on the ballot. A player/executive will need 75% of the ballots cast in order to earn induction to the Hall of Fame.
On the ESPN SweetSpot blog, David Schoenfield looked at the candidates and who deserved entry into the Hall of Fame. Basically, he said that Minoso and Santo should be in the Hall of Fame, while the others fell short.
He makes a very good point, and this is one of those times where I’m kind of afraid that my bias is clouding my vision. While I agree with Santo and Minoso (particularly Minoso), I’ve always been a big fan of Luis Tiant. While he is likely a marginal candidate, I’d still like to see him enter the Hall of Fame.
A bit more about the three former Indians:
Minnie Minoso: Even though Minoso made his Major League debut with the Indians in April of 1949, it wasn’t the first time he played baseball in Cleveland. Minoso played in the Negro Leagues with the New York Cubans, who defeated the Cleveland Buckeyes in the 1947 Negro League World Series, 4 games to 0. Even though Minoso eventually played the outfield in the Major Leagues, he was a third baseman in the Negro Leagues, appearing in both the 1947 and 1948 East West All Star Games. When I was doing research for my book, I found a number of articles from the African American weekly Call and Post that expressed support for Minoso. In fact, when the relationship between the Indians and the legendary pitcher Satchel Paige started to sour, the Call and Post suggested that Paige’s roster spot could go to another young player like Minoso or slugger Luke Easter.
Minoso was with the Indians until 1951, when he was part of a three-team trade between the Indians, the Philadelphia Athletics and Minoso’s eventual destination, the Chicago White Sox. The Indians also sent Ray Murray and Sam Zoldak to the Philadelphia Athletics and received Lou Brissie in return. Prior to the 1958 season, the White Sox traded Minoso back to the Indians along with Fred Hatfield for Al Smith and Early Wynn. The Indians once again trade him to the Chicago White Sox prior to the 1960 season along with Dick Brown, Don Ferrarese, and Jake Striker in return for Norm Cash, Bubba Phillips, and John Romano. Minoso’s stats with the Indians include a .302 average, .382 OBP, .476 slugging, with 349 hits, 46 home runs, 175 RBI and 22 stolen bases. Over his career, he had a .298 average, .389 OBP, .459 slugging, with 1,963 hits, 186 home runs, 1,023 RBI and 205 stolen bases.
Luis Tiant: The Cuban born pitcher also started his Major League career with the Cleveland Indians in July of 1964. He was part of a dynamic pitching staff on the Indians during the 1960s, a group that racked up large quantities of strikeouts (the 1960s-era pitching staff is something I’ll discuss in more detail later this off-season). Prior to the 1970 season, the Indians traded Tiant, along with Stan Williams, to the Minnesota Twins for Dean Chance, Bob Miller, Graig Nettles, and Ted Uhlaender. During his time with the Indians, Tiant went 75-64 with a 2.84 ERA and 1,041 strikeouts. Over the course of his career, Tiant went 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA and 2,416 strikeouts.
Allie Reynolds: Even though the pitcher was best remembered as a member of the New York Yankees, he also made his Major League debut with the Indians in September of 1942. The Indians traded him to the Yankees in October of 1946 for Joe Gordon, who would be a big part of the Indians’ championship run in 1948. In his five years with the Indians, Reynolds was 51-47 with a 3.31 ERA and 456 strikeouts. In his career, he was 182-107 with a 3.30 ERA and 1,423 strikeouts.
In the fall of 2012, the Baseball Hall of Fame will consider players from the Pre-Integration Era; in 2013 they will consider players from the Expansion Era.