A Larger Step for Blyleven
E-mails. There are some that are more enjoyable to get than others. Take this one for instance. About a week before Christmas, I received an unsolicited email from veteran baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby. The message stated, "I voted for Blyleven this year. You won me over."
Not knowing if Tracy was planning on going public with that pronouncement in a future column, I sent him a return email, asking if it would be permissable to write an entry at Baseball Analysts regarding his change of heart. He wrote back:
Between the information you provided and the constant conversations I have had with Blyleven's contemporaries, I became convinced that I had slighted him in the past. He is the first guy I can remember that I have ever failed to vote for on the first time and then added later. I'm a believer, in general, that a player is either worthy or isn't, and put little credence in the first ballot issue. That's a dead issue, in my opinion. It stems from the days when the Hall was in its infancy and there were just so many qualified players that all of them couldn't be voted in at the same time.
Like many other converts, I give Tracy credit for being open minded and man enough to admit his mistake in not voting for Blyleven the first nine years. Like an umpire, the important thing is getting the call right - even if it means reversing your original stance.
Ringolsby is an influential baseball writer. As the 2005 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, Tracy was inducted into the writers wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame last July. He has covered the game since 1976, including the last 15 years for the Rocky Mountain News. A co-founder of Baseball America and former president of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Tracy has been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research for 27 years.
I first got to know Tracy when he covered the California Angels for the Long Beach Independent, Press-Telegram from 1977-1980. I was born and raised in Long Beach and remember reading his articles every day. My Dad's career as Director of Public Relations and Promotions for the Angels also overlapped the first couple of years of Tracy's stint as a beat writer for the Press-Telegram.
Tracy and I met up at the Winter Meetings in Anaheim in December 2004, and he agreed to a hard-hitting interview, mostly about his Hall of Fame selections that year. Although we disagreed on a couple of exclusions (Blyleven and Wade Boggs) and inclusions (Dave Concepcion and Jack Morris), Ringolsby concluded the chat by noting, "It's always nice to exchange ideas with people who realize you can disagree with dignity and respect."
Absolutely, but it's even nicer when you can agree with dignity and respect.