Earlier today Baseball Hall of Fame voting was announced. As expected, Rickey Henderson is in and Jim Rice is too. Good for both of them. I love baseball but I’m not going to spend much time talking about Henderson or Rice. I do have one thing to say about the Baseball Hall of Fame though:
The Baseball Hall of Fame does not matter in the least.
Let me clarify that. There are some fantastic reasons to travel to Cooperstown, New York to visit The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum but the Hall of Fame itself is the least of them. The museum is a priceless collection of memorabilia and exhibits commemorating a game that means a lot to millions of people. The Hall of Fame is a single sterile portion of the building filled with plaques commemorating those who have been deemed worthy of admission. These players may be the best who have ever played baseball but since Hall of Fame voting is largely subjective, frequently politicized and often times inexplicable we can’t say for sure if this is true. For example:
- 28 voters DID NOT vote for Rickey Henderson this year.
- Nearly 80% did not vote for Tim Raines, who is statistically the second best lead-off hitter and base stealer to ever set foot on a baseball field.
- Willie Mays, arguably the greatest all around player the game has ever seen, did not get voted elected to the Hall in his first year of eligibility.
- Phil Rizzuto is in the Hall of Fame.
I could list 50 more oddities in the voting but you get the point, the Hall of Fame voting makes no sense so it’s hard to take the results of their voting too seriously. Furthermore these are just plaques hanging on a wall (and ugly ones at that) that have no real connection to the players they represent and memorialize. I’ve been to the Cooperstown and the Hall has never held my attention for long.
On the other hand, the museum portion of the building is fantastic. The history of the game is not told only by the small handful of players voted into the Hall of Fame. Furthermore it’s the museum that contains the actual uniforms and equipment used by the players. I’d rather look at Babe Ruth’s uniform then a bronze plaque with his name on it. The last time I was at the National Hall of Fame and Museum I arrived when it opened and stayed until it closed. I spent about 30 minutes in the Hall of Fame and the other seven and a half hours in the museum. For my next visit I hope to get the Hall portion down to 15 minutes or less so I can spend more time on the important stuff.
Just for fun I’ve added a poll on this subject: