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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Gatekeepers need to relent

  • Quiz time! Quick, tell me: What do the names Heinie Manush, Kiki Cuyler, Al Barlick, Effa Manley, Cum Posey and Mule Suttles have in common? (I mean besides the fact that they are fun to pronounce.)
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  • Quiz time! Quick, tell me: What do the names Heinie Manush, Kiki Cuyler, Al Barlick, Effa Manley, Cum Posey and Mule Suttles have in common? (I mean besides the fact that they are fun to pronounce.)
    You're right! They are the names of six people you've never heard of who are in Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame. Boy, you guys are good. I didn't think you'd ever get that one.
    OK, this one's harder: What do the names Roger Maris and Shoeless Joe Jackson have in common? Too easy still, huh? Yeah, those are the names of guys you HAVE heard of who are not enshrined in Cooperstown.
    I can't get anything past you guys, can I? You're too smart for me…Well then, answer me this: WHY aren't Roger and Shoeless Joe in the Hall? Hmmm… I can sense the wheels turning in those noggins of yours.
    Well, you say, Shoeless Joe was implicated in the 1919 Black Sox scandal wherein 8 members of the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in return for payoffs from gamblers.
    It is still controversial whether Shoeless Joe actually participated in the fix. His defenders claim he actually tried to rat out the other conspirators to his boss, White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey, but was ignored.
    It is claimed that he never accepted any bribes and that his performance in the Series was hardly that of one who was trying purposefully to lose.
    Also, a 1921 Chicago grand jury acquitted the 8 accused White Sox of any wrongdoing. (Not that being found 'not guilty' by a jury makes one innocent. Does anyone really believe Roger Clemens wasn't on the juice?)
    Despite all that, however, Jackson and the other 7 conspirators were removed permanently from Major League Baseball by Commissioner of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
    The only thing keeping Shoeless Joe out of the Hall is the dark cloud from the Black Sox scandal. He certainly had the credentials on the playing field: 3rd highest career batting average in major league history; holds White Sox and Indians club records for triples in a season; batted .408 in 1911.
    What about Roger Maris, then? Playing most of his career as a New York Yankee, he was a two-time American League MVP; he was in the All-Star Game from 1959-1962; he won a Gold Glove in 1960.
    I've still never gotten over the play he made in right field in the 1962 World Series against my boy Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants that saved the series for the Yankees.
    Of course, his most notable accomplishment was breaking the single season home run record of 60 held by Babe Ruth since 1927. In 1961, Maris clubbed 61 big flies to set a new standard.
    Page 2 of 2 - That record would last until 1998 when he was eclipsed (in dubious fashion given it was the steroid era in MLB) by Mark McGwire. So Maris' home run record lasted longer than the Sultan of Swat's.
    So why isn't Maris in the Hall of Fame? The answer given by the people who control such things is that Maris only put up great numbers for a few years.
    They say he didn't have great stats except for a brief stretch of time in the early 60s. They cite a lack of sustained excellence over a period of time as justification for denying Maris a berth in Cooperstown.
    To borrow a clichéd phrase, c'mon man…It isn't called the Hall of Longevity. It isn't called the Hall of Statistics. It's called the Hall of FAME!!
    And by any definition of the word, Roger Maris is famous. And he should be. If for no other reason, he deserves to be in Cooperstown as the man who held the MLB home run record longer than anyone else ever has.
    I suspect the true reason Maris has been snubbed by the baseball establishment is that he was perceived as being surly and uncooperative by the media.
    A Midwesterner, Maris didn't "take" to the persistent New York media. He wasn't a schmoozer. And the baseball writers' fraternity has been getting back at him ever since by continuing to deny him his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
    For the record, Maris' career did fizzle out rather rapidly in the middle 60s, being injury riddled and eventually traded from the Yankees to the St. Louis Cardinals. His last hurrah was helping the Cards to two pennants in 1967 and 1968, after which he retired.
    But even so, Roger Maris deserves to be in Cooperstown if Heinie Manush, Cum Posey and Kiki Cuyler do. If you agree and would like to express your view somehow, you can do so online. Just go to www.petitiononline.com/hofmaris and vote.
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