Five former Cardinals are among the 10 finalists on the Golden Era ballot under consideration for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Former Cardinals players Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat and Minnie Minoso and former Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam are being reviewed by a 16-person committee. The other five on the ballot are former players Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills.
A candidate must receive 75 percent of the votes (12 of 16) to earn election. Results of the voting will be announced Dec. 8, 2014. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for July 26, 2015, at Cooperstown, N.Y.
The Golden Era committee members are Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton; baseball executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond and Bob Watson; and media members Steve Hirdt, Dick Kaegel, Phil Pepe and Tracy Ringolsby.
Tommy Davis, 75, and Jerry Reuss, 65, are two former long-time players qualified to offer first-hand insights into the Hall of Fame credentials of the Golden Era candidates. The Golden Era category considers performances from 1947-72.
Davis played 18 seasons in the big leagues (1959-76), primarily as an outfielder, and was the National League batting champion in both 1962 and 1963 with the Dodgers. No Dodgers player has led the league in hitting since. Overall, Davis hit .294 in his major-league career.
Reuss pitched 22 seasons in the big leagues (1969-90). His 220 wins rank 75th all-time and put Reuss ahead of several Hall of Famers, including Jesse Haines (210), Don Drysdale (209), Hal Newhouser (207) and Bob Lemon (207), and modern-day candidates such as Pedro Martinez (219), Curt Schilling (216) and John Smoltz (213).
During a visit on Nov. 11, 2014, to Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., I met Davis and Reuss and asked them to assess the players on the Golden Era ballot. Here is what they said about the four candidates who played for the Cardinals:
Allen is on the Golden Era ballot for the first time.
Primarily a first baseman and third baseman, Allen was 1964 National League Rookie of the Year with the Phillies and 1972 American League Most Valuable Player with the White Sox. He led the American League in home runs in 1972 (37) and 1974 (32) and was a league leader in extra-base hits three times.
Dubbed “the bad boy of baseball,” Allen hit .292 with 1,848 hits, 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI in 15 major-league seasons (1963-77).
In 1970, his lone Cardinals season, Allen primarily played first base and hit .279 with 34 homers and 101 RBI in 122 games. Allen and Reuss were teammates that year.
_ Tommy Davis on Dick Allen: “Great hitter. He had a 40-ounce bat that he used. He couldn’t pull the ball, but he could go about 400 feet, 450, to right-center. Easily.”
_ Jerry Reuss on Dick Allen: “Tremendous power. Good teammate. Personally, I like him. Hall of Fame chances: No.”
Boyer received fewer than three votes when Golden Era candidates were first considered in 2011. The committee elected his counterpart, third baseman Ron Santo, even though Boyer was comparable to Santo in every way.
Boyer was the 1964 National League Most Valuable Player with the Cardinals and he won five Gold Gloves as a St. Louis third baseman. Boyer ranked in the top 10 in RBI in the NL seven times and in the top 10 in total bases six times.
In 15 major-league seasons (1955-69), Boyer batted .287 with 2,143 hits, 282 home runs and 1,141 RBI.
He played for the Cardinals for 11 years and hit .293 for them with 1,855 hits and 1,001 RBI in 1,667 games.
Boyer and Davis were teammates on the 1967 Mets and 1968 White Sox. Boyer coached the 1971 Cardinals team that included Reuss as a starting pitcher.
_ Tommy Davis on Ken Boyer: “He was consistent at third base. Good hitter. His defense was so good it was ridiculous.”
_ Jerry Reuss on Ken Boyer: “That’s a tough one. He had leadership capabilities. I don’t know how he stacked up against other third basemen. He’s a maybe, but more toward the no side.”
Kaat received 10 votes, just two shy of election, from the Golden Era committee in 2011.
A three-time 20-game winner, Kaat ranks 31st all-time in career wins (283). Only seven other left-handers have more. Kaat had 15 consecutive seasons (1962-76) with double-figure wins. He was the 1962 American League leader in shutouts (five) with the Twins and the 1966 AL leader in wins (25).
Kaat spent his last four big-league seasons (1980-83) with the Cardinals, winning 19, saving 10 and appearing in four of the seven games of the 1982 World Series.
_ Tommy Davis on Jim Kaat: “He was sneaky. He knew how to pitch. He knew how to set you up. He was a tough left-hander.”
_ Jerry Reuss on Jim Kaat: “Yes for the Hall of Fame. He won 16 Gold Gloves. Enough said.”
Minoso received strong support (nine votes) from the Golden Era committee in 2011.
The outfielder won three Gold Gloves (1957, 1959, 1960) and finished in the top 10 in the American League in hitting eight times. Minoso three times led the AL in triples and three times led the AL in stolen bases.
Playing primarily for the White Sox and Indians from 1951-64 (he appeared in nine games in 1949, three in 1976 and two, at age 54, in 1980), Minoso batted .298 with 1,963 hits, 186 home runs, 1,023 RBI and 205 stolen bases.
In 1962, his lone National League season, Minoso was plagued by injuries and hit .196 in 39 games for the Cardinals.
I didn’t ask Reuss about Minoso because the Cuban Comet’s last full big-league season was 1964 when Reuss was just 15.
_ Tommy Davis on Minnie Minoso: “Good outfielder. He could fly. He was already good when he got to the major leagues. He helped baseball as a pioneer for Cuban ballplayers and later as an ambassador for Chicago.”
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