2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot
Bill Heeter - Kauffman Confidential
Okay, here’s how I see this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. I’m sure there will be those of you who will disagree with a lot of my
decisions. All I can say is, this is how I see it.
Players Voting For:
RICH GOSSAGE: Along with Rollie Fingers and Dan Quisenberry, the role of relief pitcher was changed forever because of
Rich Gossage. While the three of them preceded the “closer only pitches the Ninth” approach that led to another nominee,
Lee Smith, becoming the all time leader in saves by a huge number, they helped transform the relief pitcher role from primarily
that of some washed up former starter, to a real “stopper”, who could come in at any time during a game and shut down the
opposition with authority, and do so as the most prominent member of their team’s pitching staff instead of some long
forgotten has been.
BRUCE SUTTER: The split finger fastball changed the careers of many previously average or below average pitchers, and as
the first to successfully employ it as an out pitch, he changed the game as we know it, and forever linked his name in the
game’s history with that pitch.
TOMMY JOHN: There are two reasons why I am voting for Tommy John. First, he was a very good pitcher for a very long time.
26 years, to be precise. And second, how can you ignore someone who offered up his body to serve as a guinea pig for a
medical procedure that would eventually alter the lives and careers of innumerable pitchers. Granted, had it not been for that
transplant, his career would have been over much sooner than it was, but that in no way diminishes the importance his
success following surgery became to hundreds of other pitchers whose careers would also have been cut short but for
Tommy John’s bravery. Some out there will see this as taking into account something that’s not totally baseball related in
casting my vote. I say “So what?”
ANDRE DAWSON: A great player who for a while was one of the best in the game. Unfortunately, his post-season record left
something to be desired. I nearly passed him over on this ballot because several of his contemporaries were in some ways
superior, and have preceded him in the Hall.
Now on to a few of the more notable players I’ve chosen to pass up on.
BERT BLYLEVEN: There are those who would ask how I can vote for Tommy John, and not Bert Blyleven. After all, both of
them were outstanding pitchers throughout their long careers. Let me address the difference like this. Blyleven was a very
good pitcher for a long time, but did he do anything that has changed the game? Not really.
DAVE CONCEPCION: I’ll make this short and to the point. He was a very good player, but not one of the all time greats, period.
STEVE GARVEY: As one of the most solid defensive first basemen in the history of the game, the same case could be made
for electing Garvey that was used to elect Ozzie Smith. However, I just can’t justify in my mind voting for someone because
they were solid. Smith brought something to defense that hadn’t been seen much of before. Garvey was as solid as they
come, but I just can’t say he was ever spectacular. His offense was good, but again not good enough to warrant Hall of Fame
DWIGHT GOODEN: He was brilliant for a time, but for me it simply wasn’t long enough to warrant induction, particularly when
you factor in some of his extracurricular problems.
OREL HERSHISHER: The Bulldog was a great pitcher at times, and a good one at others. Unfortunately, I believe that in
order to include him in the Hall, there would need to be several other players who were passed over for induction that are just
DON MATTINGLY: Easily the greatest Yankee to have never played in a World Series, Donnie Baseball might have stood a
chance had his teams enjoyed more success over the years. As much as anything, the back problems that brought his career
to an early close are probably an influencing factor here as well.
JACK MORRIS: I seriously considered voting for Morris, because I can remember seeing him pitch several times over the
years and being impressed with the way he worked. However, I had to draw a line marking what I considered worthy and what
wasn’t, and when it comes down to it, he just doesn’t fall on the right side of that line for me to vote for his induction.
DALE MURPHY: He was the 80’s poster boy for consistency, staying healthy and putting up good numbers every year for an
extended period. But I just can’t justify to myself voting for him. I can’t even point to a specific reason for that, but it is the way I
DAVE PARKER: I have to admit that I’ve always liked Dave Parker. I thought he was a really good ballplayer. Unfortunately,
there’s just not room in the Hall of Fame for really good ballplayers. That’s an honor that should be reserved for greats, and
those who’s impact on the game surpasses their own records. By those standards, he doesn’t belong.
JIM RICE: Many of the things I’ve said about Dave Parker and Dale Murphy can just as easily apply to Jim Rice. He was a very
good player for a long time, but just simply not HOF material, in my opinion.
LEE SMITH: Smith was an outstanding closer throughout his career, who just so happened to benefit from the fact that
managers had changed the way they used relief pitchers, much to the benefit of the players and their wallets. He broke the all
time saves record by accumulating a lot of “cheap” saves, just pitching the ninth whereas he predecessors would come in
when the game was most in doubt and work until it was over, sometimes going two and three innings at a time. By only
working the ninth he was able to pitch in more games, and accumulate more saves, but where Sutter, Gossage, Fingers, and
Quisenberry were “stoppers” in the sense that they came in whenever they were most needed, Smith and his generation of
relievers would only work their one inning, period.
I hope I’ve managed to explain my thinking on these selections. In some cases, I’ve cast votes as much for the historical
value of the players off the field as on, but hopefully done so in a way that makes sense. My only addendum is that the Veteran’
s Committee, which is not a part of this process, is considering the election of one of the most important figures in baseball
history in Buck O’Neill. He deserves enshrinement for his position as baseball’s greatest ambassador, as the first African
American coach in the Major Leagues, as a manager and scout who brought more black players to the attention of big league
clubs than anyone else, period, and as the man who has spearheaded the effort to make sure the Negro League players he
played with, against, and coached, and their legacies are never forgotten. If I could, I’d write him in on my ballot.