Six individuals were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today, it was announced. Long-time Negro Leaguers Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler were voted in by the. Early Baseball Era committee, while Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Gil Hodges and Jim Kaat were voted in by the Golden Days Era committee.
O’Neil, pictured above with George W. Bush in 2000 at the Negro Leagues Museum, has long been seen as a deserving member of the Hall. O’Neil was a long time player for the Kansas City Monarchs, as well as managing the team. He was the first black coach in the major leagues, spent years as a scout, and was a lifelong ambassador for the game, in particular speaking out and advocating for recognition for Negro League players. What particularly stands out about Buck O’Neil is how he was revered by those around the game who knew him, as a special person who touched the lives of those he was around. Not long after his death in October, 2006, at the age of 94, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by GW.
Fowler, who was born in 1858 and died in 1913, was a player and manager who was the first black player to play professional baseball.
Minnie Minoso was a left fielder who spent most of his career with the Chicago White Sox. Minoso initially played in the U.S. in the Negro Leagues, and like Fowler was a trail blazer — he was the first black player for the Chicago White Sox, and the first black Cuban player in MLB. Minoso had a tremendous nine year stretch where he accumulated 47.4 bWAR from 1951-59. Under Jay Jaffe’s JAWS methodology, Minoso was the 18th best left fielder in MLB history, and the only players ahead of him who aren’t in the Hall are Pete Rose, Manny Ramirez and Sherry Magee.
Tony Oliva, like Minoso, is a native of Cuba who was brought to the United States at the age of 23 by a scout for the Minnesota Twins in 1961. It wasn’t until 1964 that Oliva got a chance to play regularly in the majors, though he took advantage of the opportunity once it arrived, leading the league in average, runs and doubles and leading the majors in hits and total bases. Oliva won the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award and finish fourth in the MVP balloting. That was the first of eight straight years appearing on the MVP ballot for Oliva, who finished second in the voting twice. Oliva’s career was cut short due to knee injuries, and he ended his career with 43.0 bWAR, 42.3 coming in those eight seasons.
Gil Hodges was a long time Dodger first baseman who was a key player on the 50s Dodgers teams. He appeared in seven World Series, winning a pair of rings, and accumulated 43.9 bWAR. He also spent nine seasons as a manager, most notably for the 1969 Miracle Mets.
Jim Kaat was a lefthanded pitcher who won 283 games over a 25 year career, mostly with the Twins. He won 16 Gold Gloves, finished his career with 45.2 bWAR, and has been an announcer since his retirement.
Dick Allen was the closest to enshrinement among those who missed, falling one vote short.