Baseball BeatJune 23, 2008
Juan Dominican in the Hall
By Rich Lederer

How many players from the Dominican Republic do you think have been enshrined into the Hall of Fame? Five? Ten? Fifteen? What would you say if I told you one? That's right, only one player born in the Dominican Republic has ever been voted into the HoF. And the amazing thing is that this player was inducted in 1983. Yes, 25 years ago.

His name? Juan Marichal. His Hall of Fame plaque reads as follows:


I took the photo on the left when I visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum last month. Without thinking it through, I was astonished to learn that only one native of the Dominican was in the Hall. I mean, if you're like me, it is hard to believe that no Dominican has been elected to the Hall in the past quarter of a century. However, it's not as if players from that country have been slighted. Instead, it just seems as if there would have been more representation given the growing influence and success that Latin players have had over the past few decades.

Of note, there are only two players – Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda – from Puerto Rico in the Hall of Fame. If I'm not mistaken, Luis Aparicio (Venezuela) and Tony Perez (Cuba) are the only other Latin players elected to Cooperstown. All told, that makes five.

I guess these things take time. If you think about it, a candidate has to play at least ten years (and most HoF worthy players usually last over 15 years), then sit out five more, meaning it takes a minimum of 15 years and, more likely, 20. And that's, of course, only if a player is elected in his first year of eligibility.

But what's so strange to me is that Marichal played in the 1960s and 1970s. Sammy Sosa is probably the only hope from the 1980s and he made his Major League debut in 1989. Pedro Martinez (1992) and Manny Ramirez (1993) should be elected five years after they retire. Vladimir Guerrero (1996) and Albert Pujols (2001) should join Marichal, Pedro, and Manny five years after they hang up their jerseys. David Ortiz has an outside shot at the Hall but only if he can string together at least five more seasons comparable to his 2003-2007 production. Possible but unlikely.

According to Wikipedia, there were 750 players on opening day rosters at the start of the 2008 season, comprised of the following nationalities:

  • 584 (77.8%) U.S.-born (including Puerto Rico)
  • 166 (22.1%) foreign-born

    Of the latter, 147 (19.6%) are Latin American (76 from Dominican Republic; 44 from Venezuela; 9 from Mexico; 6 from Panama; 3 from Cuba; 4 from Colombia; 2 from the Netherlands Antilles; 3 from Nicaragua) and 19 (2.5%) are Asian (14 from Japan; 3 from South Korea; 2 from Taiwan).

    Here's a partial list of players who are eligible for consideration for the Hall of Fame by the baseball writers over the next five years:

  • 2009: Steve Avery, Jay Bell, Mike Bordick, John Burkett, David Cone, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson, Todd Hundley, Orlando Merced, Charles Nagy, Denny Neagle, Jesse Orosco, Dean Palmer, Dan Plesac, Rick Reed, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn, Matt Williams.

  • 2010: Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Andy Ashby, Ellis Burks, Dave Burba, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McLemore, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Robin Ventura, Fernando Vina, Todd Zeile.

  • 2011: Wilson Alvarez, Carlos Baerga, Jeff Bagwell, Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, Cal Eldred, John Franco, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, Raul Mondesi, Jose Offerman, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Paul Quantrill, Steve Reed, Kirk Rueter, Rey Sanchez, Benito Santiago, B.J. Surhoff, Ugueth Urbina, Ismael Valdez, Larry Walker, Dan Wilson.

  • 2012: Pedro Astacio, David Bell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Scott Erickson, Carl Everett, Jeff Fassero, Alex S. Gonzalez, Danny Graves, Rick Helling, Dustin Hermanson, Jose Hernandez, Brian Jordan, Matt Lawton, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Jeff Nelson, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Joe Randa, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, J.T. Snow, Jose Vizcaino, Bernie Williams, Eric Young.

  • 2013: Sandy Alomar Jr., Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Roger Clemens, Jeff Conine, Steve Finley, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Ryan Klesko, Mike Lieberthal, Kenny Lofton, Jose Mesa, Damian Miller, Eric Milton, Russ Ortiz, Neifi Perez, Mike Piazza, Reggie Sanders, Aaron Sele, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker, David Wells, Rondell White, Bob Wickman, Woody Williams.

    I don't know about you, but Rickey Henderson is the only player from the 2009 class worthy of inclusion. I would be in favor of Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin in 2010 (although I think one or both may find the going difficult) and would be flabbergasted but not necessarily upset if Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff made it. Jeff Bagwell, Kevin Brown, Rafael Palmeiro, and Larry Walker will all get various levels of consideration in 2011. Bags and Raffy should be slam dunks based on the numbers, but I would be surprised if the latter even sniffs the Hall. Bernie Williams is a borderline candidate and will be a tough sell for most voters when his name comes up in 2012. If not for the controversy surrounding steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, the 2013 class, headlined by Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mike Piazza, could go down as one of the best groups of enshrinees ever.

    The latter year should make for all kinds of interesting stories. Bonds and Clemens. Clemens and Piazza. The greatest home run hitter of all time. The greatest pitcher of the post-war era and perhaps ever. The best-hitting catcher in the history of the majors. And, yes, there will be dozens of other storylines when it comes to this class. I can hardly wait. Not.

    But, as it relates to Latin players, only Alomar stands a realistic chance of making the Hall over the next five years. There will be several more over the ensuing years (including the Domincans mentioned above, as well as Mariano Rivera) but perhaps not as many as I would have thought before going through this exercise.

  • Comments

    wow, 1? that surpised me too

    well, Pujols is no longer Dominican technically ;)

    A-rod might be considered semi Domican.

    your forgetting that Pudge Rodriguez should have a legit shot. albeit pending future steroids allegation meh

    Bonds on the stats sheet is a top 3 all time hitter, the only guys even remotely in his realm are legends amoung legends. Ruth / Williams are the only equals, while Gehrig / Hornsby is close.

    They are not listed there, but it is looking increasingly likely that Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling will also be on the 2013 ballot. The concentration of talent is mind boggling.

    When did Canada and Australia join the USA? You have 166 foreign born, of whom 147 are Latin, and 19 are Asian. There are at least 12 Canadians (probably more) and a couple of Aussies.

    Good point re Canadiens and Aussies. I didn't do the research myself and that's why I referenced and linked to Wikipedia. I would be happy to post the correct numbers if you have them.

    The Latin players already elected are 7, including Rod Carew (Panama) and Martin Dihigo (Cuba).

    How about Juan Gonzales? When is he eligible? He has a surprisingly strong case for the hall. 2 MVPS, 430+ HRs.

    I'm surprised I missed on Carew but had a feeling I would leave out one of the players from the Negro Leagues.

    Juan Gonzalez should be eligible in 2011 (provided that he doesn't make a successful comeback) and is listed in the article above. I think he not only falls short of the Hall but believe he won't be treated kindly by voters. Perhaps a strong candidate for the fictional Hall of the Very Good but not quite up to the standards of the Hall of Fame.

    Baseball Canada lists 22 Canadians in the league. And just to talk about HoFers, we have one (Ferguson Jenkins). I would guess that Larry Walker has a chance to get in - not a great chance, but he has to be in any discussion (.965 career OPS is pretty good, with good defence and an MVP)

    David Ortiz also recently became a naturalized American citizen, but the Hall's citation for Marichal did read "Born in the Dominican Republic."

    It seems to me like Kevin Brown will be a decent litmus test for how Schilling will be treated by voters. Schilling is the better candidate due to postseason heroics and 300k seasons, but Brown is the surprisingly similar (Brown is Schilling's best sime score match, they have the same ERA+). Schilling will probably get all of Brown's voters and more, but if Brown only gets 10% it could be hard for Schilling to get in. Don't forget Smoltz for '13 as well.

    Smoltz pitched in 2008. If Smoltz never pitches again, he will be on the ballot for the first time in 2014. The 2013 class will be made up of players who retired after the 2007 season.

    The way to think about it for someone like Smoltz is in terms of five retired years (2009-2013) plus the next summer (2014) when the players are actually enshrined. As such, it takes six years when you view it in that manner.

    Brown / Schilling / Mussina are all fairly close # wise. of the 3 Schilling will probably be the most marketable to the voters. I think Mussina holds some edge over Brown too (particularly if he can keep pitching his Jamie Moyer impression for a few more years)

    Ricky says ricky is going in first vote., and inner circle, thank you very much.

    Bags, Biggio and Piazza first vote.

    Bonds, Clemens...hmmm it'll be interesting to see if the voters have changed attitudes by then. M. Macguire by then? On numbers though, a resounding yes.

    The rest you listed after Alomar and Larkin won't make it. IMHO though Alomar was just awesome in his prime.

    Alomar was one of those no-brainer Hall of Famers who just aged all-of-a-sudden, kind of like Dale Murphy (see Bill James in 1986 Baseball Abstract: "Dale Murphy will be in the Hall of Fame").

    Frank Thomas will probably be inducted in 2014 as the first full-time DH. He may open the door for Edgar Martinez.

    Thomas might play in 2009. Wonder whether a couple of Latin players wore down earlier or got satisfied with retiring earlier due to playing a lot of winter ball and otherwise might have had another 10% career stats and a couple of years to have the good fortune to get a Mazeroski moment to make the Fame part of an HOF career.

    All I have to say is:

    Bonds the "greatest home run hitter of all time"? Umm, nope, he cheated. (Plus, where did Babe Ruth go all of a sudden? Anyone remember that he pitched for a number of years? I'm a Red Sox fan and even I admit that all debates begin after Ruth).

    And Clemens, the "greatest pitcher of the post-war era"? Umm, no again...he cheated too.

    Seriously, how can we just pretend to play dumb here? Why don't we just attach robot arms to people and see what kinds of numbers they put up...which would be the same as both of these bums.

    Honestly, who would call Clemens greater than Nolan Ryan, who had a very similar career, but...did it for real. If Clemens is the best pitcher ever, let's start counting the created player I made in a video game years ago who has a .900+ career winning percetage. And if we're actually going to count Bonds as eligible for "best home run hitter ever", let's just give Sadaharu Oh the title, okay? Sheesh!

    While I disagree with your view of Bonds and Clemens (and I hate Clemens) I also respect it...but these guys did what they did when at least half of the rest of the league was doing the same thing. Clemens struck out plenty of hitters on 'roids, and Bonds hit plenty of homers off pitchers on 'roids - so by and large, in my opinion, the playing field was pretty level the majority of the time. can you say that Clemens and Ryan had similar careers? Yeah, they're both from Texas, pitched well into their 40's, and struck out a ton of guys...but that's it. (And Nolan is my favorite pitcher all time to watch - well, until Tim Lincecum came along - and I despise Clemens...but still - look at the #'s).

    Clemens ERA+ 143
    Ryan Era+ 111

    Clemens Cy Youngs Awards - 7
    Nolan Ryan Cy Youngs - um....

    Clemens All-Star - 11
    Ryan All-Star - 8

    Clemens Career Best ERA+ - 226
    Ryan Career Best ERA+ - 194

    Clemens Seasons ERA+ over 140 - 12
    Ryan seasons ERA+ over 140 - 3

    Of course, Nolan does have the no-no's, which were pretty awesome (and I was lucky enough to see him no hit the A's in 1990 for #5), but honestly, as much as it pains me to say comparison at all

    (Sorry for the double post before)

    Actually, I'm glad you called me on my oversimplified statement before about the similarities between the two pitchers. The similarity I meant to emphasize was longevity, a combination of skill retention and post-40 success that makes the two almost unique. It is virtually a sure thing that Clemens would have lacked both the quality and quantity of his later years without steroids...take that away (which, in terms of his "greatness", we should), and he becomes far more ordinary. Sure, that still makes him a career ace with a number of great seasons, but he goes from "best pitcher of the post war era" to a rich man's Mike Mussina.

    And there is NO question that we are forced to question essentially everything he has done since he left Boston (and it looks like Dan Duquette will never be made fun of again). And don't overlook how much the quality of his career has been skewed because of the steroids. Basically 3 of his 5 or so best seasons came in the period we have to question...isn't that a problem?

    He should have been at the beginning of his decline period in 1995, so how many of those great ERA+ seasons, all star appearances, awards, etc would he have never gained were it not for the assistance? Remember, like with Bonds, I'm not saying that we should forget they played the game, or overlook how good they were when they likely were not cheating. I just think it's insulting and wrong to award them hyperbolic titles without question, especially when they almost certainly would have never been close to those titles without the substances they used.

    As for Nolan Ryan, we all know he wasn't quite the quality pitcher that many people assumed during his career, but his value came from the fact that he was a horse, gave us those no hitters, and was an almost unique speciman for his age. Now he has company in that latter-most category that should never have been there.

    Unique means one of a kind. Somebody is unique or they are not unique. There is no rather unique, totally unique, kind of unique, very unique, or almost unique. Sorry if I sound like a jerk.

    Most K's in baseball, ever. I don't see anyone hitting Nolan's mark

    Also Ryan is BB leader all-time with 2,795 (second place has 1,833, and most by an active players not in his 40's is 943). That's what separated him from belonging to the real elite of baseball pitchers.

    There is an outside shot at seeing Smoltz, Maddux, Glavine, Johnson, Schilling, and Pedro on the same HOF ballot.

    Cristobal Torriente, Jose Mendez, and Martin Dihigo are the other Cubans in the HOF. Dihigo is the lone person to be in the HOF for three different countries (Mexico, Cuba and the U.S.)