Next Sunday will be Major League Baseball's annual Hall of Fame induction, a ceremony that won't be honoring Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or anyone else whose dominance came in the tainted Steroid Era. It will be a ceremony honoring Hank O'Day, an umpire from the first World Series, 110 years ago; Jacob Ruppert, who happened to own the Yankees during the Ruth-Gehrig glory years; and Deacon White, a catcher and third baseman who played before your time, your father's time and your grandfather's time, maybe even before your great-grandfather's time.
But this isn't a screed about this year's Hall of Fame induction dud. Instead, let's talk about players who might not have Cooperstown credentials (although some clearly do; you be the judge) but did have particularly memorable, distinguished careers. If they can't be in a hall, maybe they can be in a foyer.
Introducing the 2013 induction of players into the Foyer of Fame.
Right-handed pitcher: Luis Tiant. El Tiante was a four-time 20-game winner, a three-time American League leader in shutouts and two-time leader in ERA. His career numbers (229-172, 3.30 ERA, from 1964-82), while somehow not good enough for the Hall, will be celebrated in the Foyer.
Left-handed pitcher: Vida Blue. A three-time 20-game winner with a career 209-161 record, Blue's 1971 season with the Oakland Athletics remains one of the most dominant of the post-Dead Ball Era: 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA, 24 complete games, eight shutouts and 301 strikeouts in 312 innings.
Catcher: Joe Torre. Known to younger fans as a manager, Torre had more than 2,300 hits and batted .297 over an 18-year career (1960-77) that included an NL batting title (.363 in 1971). Also played first and third.
First baseman: Gil Hodges. Among the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers' Boys of Summer, Hodges averaged 29 homers and 100 RBIs over a career that spanned 17 seasons (1947-63). He drove in at least 100 runs each year from 1949 through '55. He won three Gold Gloves and would have earned more if the award for defensive excellence had been started before 1957.
Second baseman: Ron Hunt. One, and only one, key stat for Hunt: HBP. Hunt led the majors in getting hit by pitches for seven consecutive seasons (1968-74). That's either gutsy or nutty but it's certainly something. And here's the stat that gets Hunt in the Foyer of Fame: In 1971, he was hit by a pitch 50 times, a record that will stand forever.
Third baseman: Richie Allen, a.k.a. Dick Allen. He was an NL Rookie of the Year (1964) and an AL Most Valuable Player (1972). One of the most feared sluggers of his time, Allen averaged 33 homers and 104 RBIs over a career that spanned 15 years (1963-77). Also played first base and the outfield.
Shortstop: Bert Campaneris. Campy was the spark plug of those great A's teams that won five consecutive division titles (1971-75) and three World Series championships in a row (1972-74). He averaged 45 stolen bases and led the AL six times in a career that spanned 19 years (1964-83) and totaled 649 steals.
Left fielder: Orestes Minoso, popularly known as Minnie. For the 10-year span of 1951-60, he was the best all-around player not named Mays or Mantle. At one time or another, Minoso led the AL in hits, doubles, triples, stolen bases and hit by pitch (although he was no Ron Hunt). Minoso had four seasons with 20 or more homers and 100 or more RBIs. Oh, yeah, after years of playing first-rate defense before Gold Glove Awards were established, Minoso still won three of them. Also starred in the Cuban and Negro leagues.
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