Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Tommy's Last Chance

While most the country was focused on the New Hampshire primary results, the results of another important vote were released yesterday.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced that the former Yankee Rich “Goose” Gossage would be the only player in the Hall of Fame class of 2008 at Cooperstown, New York later this summer.

The Baseball Hall of Fame voting process is as confusing as an Iowa Caucus with the added secretiveness of the Academy Awards.

Of the twenty four players passed over this year, one pitcher, Tommy John stands out as having more wins than anyone else not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

I have the pleasure of living a few doors down from the former major league pitcher and I have got to tell you nothing thrills me more than to see Tommy play catch with his sons.

You’d never know that the handsome looking guy who drives a Ford, with the modest house and tidy yard once played in the majors, except that he can still put some sting in the glove on the receiving end often noted by his son’s use of the word DAD! With all capital letters!

Tommy is a pleasant reminder that not all professional athletes are tabloid fodder, mug shot super stars, or drive Cadillac Escalades with 25 inch chrome rims.

Tom Singer wrote a piece about Tommy for back on January 3. Tommy John's Second to Last Chance.

I talked with Tom Singer right after yesterday’s announcement. Tom who got to know TJ quite well back when he was with the Angels and I both agree that Tommy John should be in the Hall of Fame.

The trouble with the Hall of Fame balloting process seems to be that many of the writers who where around in the 1970s have aged out…. (read passed away) and their votes no longer count. But for those who were there when a young Tommy John pitched for the Chicago White Sox knew the guy had real talent. He really became a star when he joined the Dodgers and later the Yankees, winning a career total 288 games with 2,245 Strike Outs over 22 seasons.

The one thing that I think that has held him back in the balloting is the elbow surgery that saved his career in 1974. More jinx than curse but somehow perceived as an asterisk.

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