Juan Dominican in the Hall
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:
HIGH-KICKING RIGHT-HANDER FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC WON 243 GAMES AND LOST ONLY 142 OVER 16 SEASONS. WON 20 GAMES SIX TIMES AND NO-HIT HOUSTON IN 1963. LED N.L. IN COMPLETE GAMES AND SHUTOUTS TWICE AND IN ERA WITH 2.10 IN 1969. COMPLETED 244 GAMES DURING CAREER, STRIKING OUT 2,303 AND FINISHING WITH 2.89 ERA.
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.